I have been back in Abu Dhabi since Nov 10 arriving late at night to the excited twisting and hassling of my beloved Graziella and a tired but grinning John. Unfortunately, while I have been off playing in Europe, John has been working six day weeks with long 12 hour days. He is tired and not seeing an end in sight for a while. So he is glad to have me back home again.
My days over the last two weeks have been a little crazy. First things first---a pedicure for my tired, worn out feet---second a cut and color! A day or two of recuperating and then off to the races. We are planning to host a Thanksgiving feast for all of John's office and all of the people who have traveled over to Abu Dhabi to work with John for about 8 weeks. Latest head count was 33 people!!!!
Shopping in Abu Dhabi can be mind boggling because there is so much----or so little. Depends on what you are trying to buy! Grocery shopping can be a challenge on any day. When you are shopping for a special "American" feast, it becomes more so! The stores are aware of many of the expatriate holidays that are celebrated in their city and do try to stock many of the items. The challenge is that all the stores do not stock everything you need. Abu Dhabi has several big grocery stores like Super Walmart or a big Publix---only it is Carrefour and Lulu's Hypermarket. They also have smaller stores that remind me of the small town groceries where I grew up---Abela's and Spinney's. Now they have several of these stores throughout the city. Just because one of the chains has an item does not mean one of their other stores has it. So if you are looking for something, you must check them all. I have spent the last two weeks literally trudging from one store to the next looking for such items as: pumpkin, cranberry sauce, marshmallows, buttermilk, flavorings, frozen pie shells, graham crackers, to name a few. I looked for pumpkin four days in a row. Cranberry sauce has been searched for over 7 days. I finally found cranberry sauce.....guess where?.....in the sauces.....next to the barbeque sauce and worchestershire sauce......I died laughing when I finally found my cranberry sauce! What a funny place to put it---but when you don't know what it is, then the sauces make sense! Frozen pie shells do not exist here so I am, for the first time in my life, making my own pie crust dough and rolling it out the old fashioned way. I went today and bought a rolling pin---not to be used to hit John over the head but to roll out my pie crust. Tomorrow I tackle this endeavor and make the first pumpkin pie. If all goes well, I will make the other three. The graham crackers came from the little shoppette on the base---John found these. Buttermilk is not to be found, although Shirly the housemaid swears that previous employers have found it. I couldn't find it and finally just got tired of looking! Today I made the trip to do the final buying of all the fresh vegetables. I also got the eggs today for the deviled eggs. The last thing will be some kind of bread. I'll buy that on Wednesday or Thursday. Since everyone has to work on Thursday until late in the day our Thanksgiving Feast is going to be held on Friday.
I had an open house on Thanksgiving in 2002 when John's squadron was deployed and hosted dinner for 30 people. I had people there I had never met before!!! People (mostly the wives and children of the squadron; a few straggler squadron members who were left behind for one reason or another; and a couple of new pilots that came in while the others were deployed) began arriving at 10:00 bringing plates of food. The last person left that night at 10:00. What a wonderful day we all had! I still have people write me and mention that dinner on occasion and remember what a good day it was! It means so much to military members to have a traditional Thanksgiving when they are far from home. And especially to be able to have one in someone's home surrounded by your "military family."
Most of the people who will be attending our festivities on Friday are far from home away from loved ones. It gives me so much pleasure to plan this meal and open my home to all of these hardworking folks. Most of them are working very long hours six and seven days a week! When they sent out the invitation in the office, the flyer read "Traditional Home Cooked Thanksgiving Meal." The crew is looking forward to having a little piece of "home" at the Owens' residence on Friday. I can't wait!
Busy days are ahead for me and Shirly as we prepare for Friday. She laughed today after she unpacked today's groceries saying just looking at all the food made her tired! She knows how many potatoes we have to peel!!!! We have one turkey to bake on Thursday and another one on Friday; many onions and peppers to chop; tea to make; and, of course, all the sweets to make. I'll be making my Mother's Holiday Cranberry Mold and John's Mother's Cherry Delight and Pumpkin Pie. I have my own version of Pecan Pie to stir up. Shirly is adding her touch with a fruit jello mold and a caramel pudding. It's exhausting but so worthwhile. I'll see more smiles on Friday than I have all year long. What satisfaction.
I'll tell you all about it next week!
In case you have to use buttermilk again, here is how you can make it:
1. Buy the ingredients. Buttermilk can be made from whole milk and cream of tartar or lemon juice.
2. Add one tablespoon of cream of tartar for every cup of whole milk. (If using lemon juice you'll need about the same.)
3. Stir and allow to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
4. Repeat stirring after 15 minutes when the milk has started to curdle significantly.
5. Serve the buttermilk.
6. Refrigerate the buttermilk. It should keep for several weeks, at least to the date originally on the whole milk container.
Hope Thanksgiving went well. We were in Flores so we had lumpia and fish and chips for our Thanksgiving dinner!