We had planned to cook a meal for our neighbors this year - a homegrown feast to celebrate good food, family, and friendship. But 2020 is like the temporal version of the honey badger: it just doesn't give a shit.
So we used Face Time and Whatsapp to connect with our U.S. family on Thursday, and celebrated among ourselves today. It was beautiful here so the kids rode their bikes and ran along a stone wall that separates our front yard from the cow pastures. It may not sound like much fun but they really enjoy it.
We spent more than an hour together this morning making the same kind of pie I've eaten every Thanksgiving for more than 40 years. The original recipe is for pumpkin pecan pie, but since moving to France we've adapted to more readily-available ingredients. We have a couple of walnut trees so that's our new nut of choice, we use acacia honey instead of Karo syrup, and we can't find vanilla extract so we use a packet of vanilla sugar. The pie doesn't taste exactly the same but it's surprisingly similar and keeps the tradition going.
Wendy made a delicious prime rib dinner with horseradish sauce, roasted potatoes, and stuffing. We chose beef over poultry because we didn't raise a turkey this year but we do have a freezer full of Brown Cow beef. Last year our electrician gave us a piece of her horseradish plant; it has since grown and Wendy used some of the newly-formed roots for tonight's meal. And while much of what we try to grow doesn't quite take, potatoes do well here. So Wendy removed some of the summer's harvest from the freezer and roasted them. Finally, Wendy prepared a three-tree stuffing that included walnuts, apples, and chestnuts from the farm.
As an extra-special treat, Wendy and I have been saving a couple bottles of eau-de-vie our neighbor Serge gave us. Literally translated into "water of life," it's basically a clear, colorless fruit brandy. Serge made one from cherries and the other from plums. I really wanted to like it but WOAH! I've never had moonshine but that's how I've always imagined it tasting. I'm sure it will find a place in our bar anyway though. It is alcohol, after all.
All in all, it was a beautiful Thanksgiving Day despite the constraints of social distancing. Now the kids are asleep, the wood stove is doing its job nicely, and a second round of pie awaits, so it's time for me to go.