Sunday, November 22, 2009

T-Day cookin' & bakin' in Austria...takes more plannin' than normal

We are lucky and have two Thanksgiving celebrations with friends while in Österreich. Yesterday afternoon we went to my friend Bettina's house. I met her back in April at the English club (remember she let me borrow her bike and I rode down her huge hill with my Ikea meatballs?)...she grew up in California, moved to Graz after college and ended up staying here forever. It helped that her mother was from Austria and taught her German from a young age. Not fair.

There were three other families there as well as bundles of kids..cute kids speaking German...again, makes me feel quite stu-pee. Bettina asked me to make a vegetable (the forgotten dish), so I picked green beans. I've never cooked for Thanksgiving (or really at all for that matter before Austria)..I always let the wondey McConn ladies take care of it...they are experts! Anyways, I found Giada's green beans and thought they sounded good. I didn't realize that the THREE stores I went to the day of would not have fresh green beans. NOT ok. Ok, well, one store had these tiny packages of organic green beans with about 12 in the pack and they were 2 € each and I would need about 8 of those useless packs and they only had 3 anyways! So, I bought frozen well as a huge bag of Elsie's dog food and trucked it home. Yes, I walked and it wasn't so close. This was my third store mind you. I had no time to be waitin' on the ole bus. Every time you wait, it ends up that it would have been faster to powerwalk home. Well, this would have been much faster to wait for the bus as it sped past me.
Frozen green beans come out much soggier and this recipe definitely needed hard ass green beans so that by the time you cooked them for the required time with all the extra stuff, they are the perfect consistency. Mine were soft to start with after cooking the frozen ones and a mush pile once done. Now Giada's parmesan crisps..that go on top of the green beans for some zest...those saved the day. I ate half of them before they made it to the green beans. You just grate fresh Parmesan and put it in little heaping mounds (tbsp full) on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake them for 4 or 5 minutes and you get these delish Parmesan chips! Fresh grated parmesan is also quite fine by itself.
We had a great meal and conversation. Bettina also had a coffee/espresso maker that I want now on the double. It makes such good coffee. We had baked apples and pumpkin pie (pumpkin ingredients from the States) for dessert. Both delicious...I almost passed on the apples thinking...I don't want no cooked fruit...give me the sweets, but then when Bettina busted out the homemade vanilla sauce to go on top I was like bring those apps on over Bettina. They were REAL good. Put some sauce on the pumpky pie too.

Then after dinner, naturally the thing to do is sparklers! The kids (some were only 2 but they get them also...some things Austrians aren't strict is prob. not the best one to let your over-the-top, strict rules slide on, but oh well...not my kids) well, they of course LOVE this. Sparklers are a big part of Christmas as I think it's tradition to put them on your Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Someone was telling us all the traditions, but by this time I had 2 champagnes (I rarely drink so this was plenty) and I was licking my vanilla sauce so I didn't quite catch it all. (and I have zero pics because my battery ran out..hence the internet photos for some visuals to break up my long, rambling text..thanks Martha)
Whoa...this post is getting out of control long. I haven't even written about trying to plan for our next Thanksgiving meal this Thursday, the actual Thanksgiving, with our American & Swedish friends from Art's office. Every time I look at a recipe it's like "oh, chocolate chips...or pumpkin puree either (I am NOT making my own, k?)..oh, no cream of this..will I be able to find Nappa cabbage? and so on.) So, I have to be very quite careful. My Pumpkin Spice Cake from last year (in America)...was really good, but is out of the question as I can't get canned pumpkee. A chocolate dessert could be quite nice but I'm not so sure you can find unsweetened baking chocolate. I haven't seen it yet. I cut my own chocolate chips for about 40 minutes the other day to make chocolate chip cookies (with my cherished vanilla!) It was actually worth it to taste that ole Nestle Tollhouse recipe that reminds me of mama.

So, thank goodness German Class 1 is finished and I can grocery hop this week to figure out what I'm workin with here. I also have our English Club dinner on Tuesday at an Indian restaurant featuring a belly dancer (she's in the club!)...I'm not missin that!
Happy Happy Thanksgiving!
(something tiny to be thankful for is limitless variety and foods in American grocery stores! and of course the big to celebrate with)


Anonymous said...

So glad we will get to celebrate Thanksgiving together! It's tough to miss family this time of year, but we will party with viel Gemütlichkeit... and maybe a little bit of wine... to make up for it. :)

Justin said...

Just wait til New Year's! I went out to Hauptplatz and the Kunsthaus with my visiting girlfriend, and it was pretty scary stuff. She was afraid for her life due to all the people throwing firecrackers and bottle rockets right about our heads. Crazy stuff.

Kristen Kirsh said...

Get a Keurig. They are AWESOME! We got one as a wedding present. It will change your life...and is most likely German, judging by the name :-)

Anonymous said...

I concur with Justin. Our first New Years here was insane. We thought it was a bomb raid before we went outside, judging by the sound of it. Then we went outside, and it might as well have been! The city was a sea of fireworks and we saw one guy get a (lit) roman candle stuck in his hoodie when it was set off in the crowd. We went up to Schlossberg and watched the whole city light up in fire and smoke. Sparklers are tame, by comparison!

VictoriaArt said...

Oh, darling, you sound a little whistful, but I am sure your cooking was fine and I am glad you are surrounded by friends who know how to cheer you up!!!I so understand how hard it is to start out all anew in a foreign country, with no idea about culture, language and the food! OMG, I still crave certain foods and when I go back 'home' to Germany I eat and drink and shop til I run out of possibilities...sausages, coffee, baked goods, pudding, candies, one does not know how one is attached to such things until you miss it, right? But it will be better, you will eventually find your things in Austria and believe me, you gonna love the expirience too.
This mountain climbing tour sounded great. We did some climbing years ago at the Wilde Kaiser (Elmau),
in Zillertal and of course in the Deutsche Alpen...I love the views, it's to die for!

I am sure your German will be fine soon! Hang in there!
Sounds like the Austrians have a very fiery way of celebrating....
Happy Thanksgiving!

XX Victoria

PS :You guys are such lovely young & handsome couple...

Aqida said...

It's probably too late, but you can find chocolate for cooking... I bought some at Hofer.

P.S. Krampus Parade at Herrengasse today (29th November) at 16:00. If you still don't know what it is, youtube it.

Carolyn said...

Aqida - We are going! Can't wait to see this craziness!

BETH said...

I loved this post! Thanks for the laugh :)

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