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Thanksgiving in Israel

So what’s it like to prepare for Thanksgiving in Israel? Actually not too bad if you are willing to put in the work. Adjustments certainly had to be made, but feeling like home is priceless, right?

The Food
Arguably the most important part of the celebration. We really weren’t missing much, but I had to take a different, more from-scratch approach this year.

What you can get here: Turkey breast, canned green beans (but not French cut), dried cranberries. You can get a whole turkey here if you order one, or are lucky enough to get one of the two from the butcher counter at Tiv Taam.

Tiv Taam Turkey

What you can’t get here: French’s Fried Onions, canned broth, canned cream of mushroom soup, canned pumpkin, boxed cornbread mix (for making cornbread into stuffing)

Fresh pumpkin, baked and pureed.

What you have to do instead:

  1. I still haven’t found a replacement for French’s Fried Onions. I tried making my own thin-sliced onion rings. While not a total FAIL, certainly not FTW. I gave up on the fried onion dream and used panko crumbs instead. It wasn’t really great, but it was passable.
  2. I cooked a whole chicken overnight in the crock pot, then made my own broth the following day. I used the same process with turkey legs to get drippings for the turkey gravy.
  3. I have a recipe for making your own cream of mushroom soup, but I took a shortcut instead and used cooking cream, white wine, and powdered mushroom soup mix. Again, not great, but passable. I really miss Trader Joe’s Cream of Portabella soup. Sigh.
  4. I bought a huge wedge of fresh pumpkin, baked it in the oven, then pureed it. This one was FTW. I’ve never been big on pumpkin pie, but I make a mean pumpkin cake roll.
  5. I made cornbread from scratch. With buttermilk. Also FTW.
  6. Because my oven is so tiny I found a recipe on the web to make a turkey breast in the crock pot so I can free up the oven for other stuff. I modified it with broth, sage, and thyme to give it a real thanksgiving taste. Not quite the same as roasted, but still very, very good.

Homemade cornbread and other ingredients, ready to become stuffing.

I know all of this extra work sounds coo-coo for cocoa puffs, but I really love Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s my favorite comfort food in the whole wide world. So much so, that I usually repeat it for Christmas and make it at least once in the spring and summer because it’s just too good for once a year.

Pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese filling

Decorations
I would normally consider this kind of corny, but with the lack of Thanksgiving-ish stuff to choose from in stores, I really appreciated the Disney Family website printables. I used the drink labels for everyone and the activity placemats for the kids. There was also an autumn leaf sponge painting project that looked awesome if you have the time and patience for it. I’ve yet to find a craft store here, so I think I”m skipping this one unless I can find a bath sponge at the pharmacy… hmmm.

Entertainment
Well, football was out. We asked Liam to be in charge of the entertainment and this is what He came up with: Kinect Bowling tournament, post bowling rock-n-roll (thanks to our friends the Coriells for bringing Rock Band), and post rock-n-roll theater (courtesy of the kids in their Halloween costumes.) Since Thursday night is pretty much the equivalent to Friday night in the West, I don’t think our neighbors thought we are too crazy. We were very, very loud.

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  1. Sarah
    November 26, 2011 at 17:52

    Okay that pumpkin roll looks delicious! Thanksgiving has never really been my favorite top-10 or top-5 holiday…..but with that roll it could be!

    • November 26, 2011 at 19:54

      It’s actually ridiculously easy to make, and so totally worth it. I’m toying with the idea of doing a red velvet one for Christmas.

  2. Manette Gutterman
    November 26, 2011 at 17:57

    It all sounds very delicious to me!! Happy Thanksgiving from afar!

  3. Denise
    November 26, 2011 at 18:35

    Sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving. Going the extra mile sure is worth it. Thanksgiving is also my favorite holiday meal of the year.

  4. November 26, 2011 at 19:17

    I think you have a back-up career as a food stylist. Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • November 26, 2011 at 19:55

      Thanks Mark. The stuffing pic turned out really nice, huh?

  5. Tbrein
    November 26, 2011 at 23:09

    Sounds like you guys really had a great meal and time with friends. And that is what it’s all about anyway, right??

  6. William H Harkins
    November 26, 2011 at 23:38

    Tracy, Stace and Liam,

    Glad to hear that you’all had a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.Thank you for these posts letting us know about your life in Israel.

    Love,

    Dad and Susan

  7. November 28, 2011 at 17:08

    Wow, looks like a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thx for sharing!

  8. November 29, 2011 at 03:01

    I admire your dedication — the food looks fantastic! You can find most (maybe all?) of the items you were missing at an American-owned imported food store called Meat Land on Ahuza St. in Ra’anana, if you’d like to save some time next year 🙂

    • November 29, 2011 at 10:40

      Thanks Katie. We’ll be back on US soil next year, but I’ll pass it on!

      Funny side note: Most of the pumpkin I’ve used back home lately came from my friend Sue’s pumpkin patch. She just does all the baking and puree-ing(?)for me.

      The chicken and broth is so easy and good that I might not go back to canned except in emergencies. 🙂

      But nobody can beat Trader Joe’s Cream of Portabella soup. Nobody.

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