Thursday, November 27, 2014

You Can Hear It In My Accent When I Talk

Holidays are hard when I'm so far from family, but are marginally easier when there are no social cues to make me feel left out. I remember the first time I was in another country for a major holiday, when I was in Tokyo at Christmas. I was there at Thanksgiving too, but I don't remember feeling any particular sense of dislocation at the end of November; however, by the end of December things were really weird, all of the commercial excess without any hint of religion, which makes sense, of course. The over the top Christmas displays were all that is bright, though there was no hint of calm in the streets.

Here in this corner of Devon it's very quiet. The decorations are up over the High Street of Kingsbridge, and I hear they'll be lit tomorrow. I think there's a Christmas parade going to Modbury on the other side of the hill here, but I doubt they'll be going down the road at the end of the upper field, so I think I'll give that a miss.

I do miss being with everyone at Thanksgiving, our yearly dairy-free soy-free gluten-free feast (now with more vegetarians!), but there are so many things going on with work and travel planning that today sort of snuck up on me. Christmas will be harder, so it's a good thing I'll have two cats to snuggle, and Skype on my computer.

I never celebrated Thanksgiving while I was in France, and it's not a holiday here either. In fact, I couldn't find any turkey at the local butcher shops. They're taking orders for Christmas, however. I think English cooks might stuff their turkeys with chestnuts as they traditionally do in France, because I'm seeing boxes of vacuum-packed chestnuts for sale in Tesco. There are shelves full of nuts and dried fruit for baking, and fresh cranberries in the produce aisle, though I'm not sure what people are doing with them a month in advance. I bought another pint of them yesterday for my Thanksgiving feast, and went to the butcher shop for chicken legs and a bit of streaky bacon to wrap them in. Herbs were on sale, three packets for two pounds, and I bought fresh chives to go with the chicken, plus garlic and parsley for more cooking this weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you're having a delicious day.

Roasted Chicken Stuffed With Mushrooms And Chives

two largish chicken legs, skin on
a dozen or so large mushrooms
one large bunch of fresh chives
one pint fresh cranberries
four slices bacon (smoked streaky bacon in the UK)
a bit of olive oil and some Cornish sea salt flakes

Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until chopped fine. Heat a splash of olive oil in a skillet and dump in the mushroom bits with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid has evaporated. Mince the chives and add most of them to the mushrooms; stir for a minute or so, and remove from the heat to cool. Carefully loosen the skin from the chicken legs to make a pocket between skin and meat, and stuff half the mushrooms in each pocket. Wrap each chicken leg in two slices of bacon, pour the cranberries into a roasting pan just large enough for the chicken, put the bacon-wrapped chicken on top, and put the roasting pan in a preheated 400F/200C oven for an hour, or until the chicken is completely cooked. Baste with the pan juices a few times in the last 20 minutes. Serve with something healthy like steamed green beans to offset all the yummy fat and crispy skin.

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