It’s that time of the year again for a Thanksgiving holiday celebration in America. Today, I am writing about the way we celebrate our Thanksgiving day in our house here in the Philippines, and the food that we prepare.
Thanksgiving is celebrated every fourth Thursday of the month of November. Here at our house we celebrate our Thanksgiving on a Saturday, since during Thursday our kids has school (Thanksgiving is not a holiday in the Philippines). We want our kids to enjoy and can stay up later than bedtime, so we decided to move our celebration to Saturday then. We also want our kids to remember the reason we are celebrating Thanksgiving. We want them to remember the way Bob’s family celebrated the holiday tradition when he was a kid.
It was really a fun learning experience for me the first time celebrating with Bob’s family and the whole time I was living there in the US. I learned all about the Thanksgiving celebration and the cooking with the help of Bob and his mom. It was really a fun experience for me. Living now here in the Philippines, we celebrate the Thanksgiving the way the Martin family did with a little of my style in it. We are intending to keep it that way till Bob and I pass on.
The food that we are preparing will be the typical food in America during Thanksgiving Day. Me and my niece Glenda usually prepare everything, I mean the cooking and the table decorations and arrangements. But now with Jean taking off from school for a year like AJ, she’ll definitely help with the cooking too. She’s really a big help for me. She’s in-charge with one of the pies. We always do our pies a few days before Thanksgiving. We bake different kinds of pies. But of course the main pie that we will be making is the pumpkin pie. She will help me and Glenda on the pumpkin, but she’s in-charge with the chocolate chess pie and the pecan pie will be new for us this year to make.
Living here in the Philippines, finding ingredients sometimes can be a challenge. Thank goodness for the sprouting malls for the past years. Not so hard to find ingredients, “sometimes I guess”. Well to make it easier for us I will just substitute it with the ingredients that can be easily find here. I am not going to wait few months or never before the next shipment of the items to come here in Davao. Sigh. LOL. I will give you details of the ingredients that I will be using for the menu during Thanksgiving that can be a bit harder to find sometimes or the mall might be out of it.
Making Pumpkin Pie with local ingredients
One of the menu is the pumpkin pie. Sure you can buy pumpkin pie in the restaurant. A few years ago we did order at one of the restaurants here. But it’s too expensive. We paid like 600-700 pesos per pie if I remember on that. And you know in my household 1 pie ain’t enough here. We have boys that can eat pretty well. So I have to order at least 2 or 3 (just one kind of pie) to satisfy all of us. So that got me thinking, if I don’t do anything, a big chunk of my budget will just go to the pie from the resto. So that’s when Bob told me that “I think you can cook the pumpkin hon, homemade”. He really had confidence in me. Thanks Honey. So I tried to research it and viola got the recipe and I tried it and it worked. At that time I was really using the pumpkin in a can (imported). So then, I realized that sometimes the mall doesn’t have shipment of the pumpkin in a can, I had to do something. I research again and invented a recipe of how to make pumpkin pie out from Kalabasa (squash that’s what we have here). Guess what it worked really good too. Bob and the kids love it. So it’s been 5 or more years now that I’ve been using the kalabasa for my pie. Way cheaper than before. I guess with the S & R now here in Davao, they are selling pumpkin pie for 300 pesos plus, you can purchase from there. But I’m just sticking with my kalabasa “pumpkin” pie. I can’t be so sure if S & R will have it when I go there the day before Thanksgiving. They might run out.
Another menu in mind that I’m using substitute: “Yams”, I found sweet potatoes in a can here before. It’s one of those thing, that the mall order it and will have at their shelves if they felt like having it. It’s not so popular with the Filipino families. So why stock when they are not sure they will sell the items as quickly as they want to. In our household, Thanksgiving won’t be complete without yams. So I had to do the thinking and researching again. Sweet potato in the US, I compared that to “camote”. At first I tried to bake the camote and do some tweaking to be so close to the taste the way my mother-in-law cooked there. With the bake camote, it’s not even close. It’s to dry, even I put lots of butter. It didn’t work. So that got me thinking, with the dryness what if I boil the camote and put some sugar to make it sticky a little and to sweeten a little bit before baking. I will just add more sugar as the cooking goes along. And you know what it work. I had it boiled and bake it later with marshmallow and wow it really work and it taste good. Even my mother-in-law was impressed when she was here spending the Thanksgiving with us.
You guys probably wonder where in the world will we get the turkey (Butterball) here. Iv’e heard people saying that they can’t find turkey here. People of the world – we have turkey here in the Philippines in nearly every mall in fact, and its year round too you guys. So turkey for Thanksgiving is not extinct here in the Philippines. Aside from all the malls here in Davao, you will see turkey at the deli shops here too like Swiss Deli and Gourmet Deli shop in Chimes. They even have turkey ham. With the S & R now in the Philippines, they have plenty of turkey there. Also they are selling turkey breast and turkey legs. The only thing that’s different here the turkey here are smaller than the turkey in the States. But I’m okay with that.
Cooking the turkey
How do you guys cook your turkey here? Well, for us, we used to roast the turkey in the oven. You can even buy the turkey bags where you can put your turkey inside the bag before you put in the oven to make it stay moist. For us now we cook our turkey roasted outside in the rotisserie (lechon style). After I cleaned the turkey I rub butter and salt and peeper in the turkey inside and out. Then I stuffed the turkey with the typical stuffing with sausage. Then seal and tie the turkey after putting to the rotisserie rod. We use charcoal for roasting the turkey. Really keep an eye of how much fire under the turkey. Use a thermometer to check if the turkey is cooked or not. That way you really know.
What about stuffing?
Another menu item we have: ” The Stuffing”. I am making homemade stuffing. I used french bread for croutons. I buy the bread few days before Thanksgiving. Then I will cut the bread into cubes (bite size), just leave in the cookie sheet over night. Then like few hours before cooking for stuffing put it in the oven to brown. Keep an eye to not burn. Let it cool before mixing it to the other ingredients for the stuffing. Cooking the stuffing with the homemade breakfast sausage, onions, celery, chicken stock, thyme and salt and pepper and mix the croutons. Eyeball the mixture with the wetness of the croutons and the stock. Let if cool before stuffing the turkey.
Our food that we will have during Thanksgiving:
- Turkey – While turkey was cooking at the rotisserie, it’s stuffed inside with the croutons and sausage mixture. The extra stuffing that won’t fit inside the turkey, bake it in the oven maybe with the turkey neck or legs on top to have the turkey taste.
- Mashed potato – Boil the potato until it’s soft when poke with a fork. Put butter, milk and salt and pepper and mashed it. Eye ball with the consistency you want.
- Stuffing – Cooked croutons and sausage that was stuffed inside the turkey or the one that was cooked in the oven.
- Beans – Cook beans and put butter (just keep an eye of how much you want to put), onions sliced into cubes, bacon (fried to almost crispy-save the grease for your future use) and salt & pepper to taste.
- Rice – Of course don’t ever forget to serve the rice to the Fil-Am family.
- Yams – The cooked yams and bake in the oven with marshmallows.
- Gravy – Home made gravy either from the turkey drippings or if lechon turkey just cook other parts of the turkey and use the drippings for the gravy.
- Pies – We will have “pumpkin pie”, “chocolate chess pie” and “pecan pie”, sounds so good to me.
- Eggnog – Our homemade eggnog here in the house.
We prepare our table somewhat the formal way. With our good china and good silverware. Our kids were already used to that. They want it that way. They told me that everything has to be nice because we are thanking God for whatever we have that He gave. So even with the hard times that the Philippines experienced right now, still we are thankful that we are alive and did our share of helping them there (The Visayas people). It’s so unfortunate that too many people lost their lives over there. I know people think they just help out a little but because a lot of the people help out, still it makes a difference to someone’s lives over there. It’s not an easy year here in the Philippines, it’s going to be hard for a lot of our kababayans from the Visayas. We will just continue praying for them for the years to come that they can rebuild and move on with their lives.
What about you, how would you celebrate your thanksgiving? Feel free to share here. We will be happy to hear from you.
HAPPY GOBBLE, GOBBLE DAY AMERICA!