My immediate family and I have never had a Thanksgiving together until this year. I know many of you would find it odd to hear that. Many factors contributed to this: we emigrated to the US in the early 80s, so it really wasn’t part of our parents’ culture, my parents weren’t exactly on good terms with each other and other family, and my parents divorced in 1989. Thanksgiving really is only part of my sister and my culture since we grew up here.
When I was in high school, my mom took my sister and I to my maternal uncle’s house for Chinese-style hot pot a few times for Thanksgiving, where the table was mostly Asian food unless the kids forced the adults to buy a pie or something to be more “American.” We never had a holiday thing with my dad. Christmas was very much the same or nonexistent. On Xmas eve and Xmas day, my cousins and I would often end up at the movie theater with all the Jewish kids, other non-Christian Asian and Asian-American kids and others whose families didn’t celebrate those “American” holidays.
When I went to college, I started my own traditions and cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas orphan dinners for myself and friends. After both my sister and I moved to California, away from our parents in Texas, I continued my own tradition and hosted holiday dinners for her, my friends, my soon-to-be ex and brother-in-law’s family. My mom, dad and stepmom had never come to participate in the celebrations (again, it’s not really part of our culture and tradition) and the few times I went home during the holidays, we just ate regular meals at home or went to a Chinese restaurant.
This year, my sister, her boyfriend, their dog, my dad, my stepmom and a good friend of mine all came out to visit for Thanksgiving. A first for all of us! So I cooked up a feast that included a brined turkey and about 8 other dishes. All the dishes were gluten-free and vegetarian, except the turkey, of course (sis and her bf are vegetarians and both sis and I are on gluten-free diets as well). It was quite a delight and fun having our first family Thanksgiving. My sister and I always have a good time hanging out with my dad and stepmom, and I know that they enjoyed the experience and all the good eats as well. I hope that this may be the start of a new bicultural tradition for our small little family. My only regret in this is that we won’t ever get the chance to share this with our mom, though I’m sure wherever she is, she’s happy for us.
I am thankful everyday for my life, friends and family. I hope that all of you had a wonderful weekend, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.
1. Turkey brining, 2. Butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese & gluten-free crust, 3. Wine-roasted pears with super gingery ginger snaps, 4. Gluten-free kabocha pumpkin pie, 5. Roasted Turkey with fennel, carrots and baby potatoes, 6. Cornbread stuffing (sister made), 7. Harvest medley of purple yams, jewel sweet potatoes and pears, 8. Vegan Almond & Cashew nut loaf, 9. From-scratch green bean casserole (sis’s boyfriend made), 10. Teff muffins with almonds, flax & cranberries, 11. Cranberry-Orange relish and Mushroom ragout, 12. Thanksgiving spread
Many of you friends, fans and followers have requested the recipes for some of my gluten-free dishes. I’m working on getting them out and will post them shortly!