“Forever on Thanksgiving Day The heart will find the pathway home.”

It was not a hallucination. I swear when I first woke up this morning there was sun. I smiled, turned over, went back to sleep and missed it. By the time I woke up for good, it was gone; however, these familiar clouds have proverbial silver linings. On the weather last night we were fifteen degrees warmer than Boston and Southern New Hampshire. The weatherman said it was a combination of the warmer ocean and the cloud effect so I have stopped complaining about the lack of sunlight. I’ll just take more vitamin D than usual.

With Thanksgiving being an American holiday we still had to teach when I was in Ghana, but that didn’t stop us from honoring the day. We had a huge Thanksgiving dinner one year with several guests, one turkey, a few chickens, side dishes and pies. The owner of the turkey was a hard bargainer and Thomas, the cook, had to follow the man all the way to his village before he’d sell the turkey. When I was in Bolga last summer, I was amazed by the number of turkeys wandering around. In my two years living there I saw only that one which ended up being the showcase of our feast. The chickens you bought live, still do. You get to pick yours like we pick lobsters from the tank. The man hands you the chicken by its bound feet. I used to hang them from the arms of my moto (motorcycle) to get them home. Someone else always sent the chickens to their heavenly reward. I never could. The year of the giant feast we plucked the chickens. All of them, already having met their demise, were brought to us in a huge bucket. All of a sudden a few of them popped right out of the bucket onto the ground. No, they didn’t run around without their heads. They just popped. I knew scientifically why that had happened but it was still sort of amazing in its own weird way.

That was the year I made my very first pies ever, pawpaw pies. I made the dough, cut up the pawpaws and then added sugar and cinnamon. The cookbook Peace Corps had given us, Ghana Chop (chop being food), said that pawpaw pie would taste just like apple when you added the spices. I brought the two pies to the school’s beehive, clay oven. The cooks put them on the side of the oven away from the intense heat of the middle, but they still took only about 15 or 20 minutes to cook. They were delicious and they tasted exactly like apple pies.

That Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorites.

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7 Comments on ““Forever on Thanksgiving Day The heart will find the pathway home.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    I would have tried that pay if it wasn’t for the price on pawpaw’s 🙂 So I’ll keep on using apples 🙂 But I guess apples is hard to fin in Ghana, to hot to grow them there.

    We used ton have turkey for christmas when I was a kid but since we really have no experience with so big birds they always cut it up before cooking it. The best turkey I’ve ever eaten was when my friend and I traveled in Portugal. We were invited to a Portuguese family and they served a delicious turkey. Unfortunately the father (who seems to have been the chef in the family) refused to give me his recipe 🙂

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • Kat Says:

      Christer,
      The turkey comes out of the oven in one glorious piece, its skin browned by the oven.

      People cook turkeys all different ways: in the oven, deep-fried in hot oil, pre-brined then baked and even grilled. Some people inject the turkey with honey and other ingredients while others put whole bay leaves or even rosemary under the skin. My mother always basted her turkey with butter then with turkey juices from the pan. That’s the way my sisters and I still cook ours.

      When I was a kid we had turkey for Christmas too, but when I was older, my mother alternated but a roast beef of sorts, like a crown roast, was a favorite as was a crown roast of pork. They both looked great on the table.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Your chicken popping story reminded me of the first time we slaughtered the chickens. My father and 3 of his friends shared livestock that we cared for on land owned by one of them. Each man bought 25 chickens, 1 pig and 1/4 of a steer. The pigs and the steer went off to the abattoir for professional doing-in but one of the friends did the chicken chopping. He had a system: knock the chicken out by hitting its head on the block, chop the head off and then dunk the body into a pail of hot water. He worked like a machine. But one time he dropped a headless chicken as he was putting it into the hot water and it did run around for a bit until it hit the side of a shed. I was probably 9 or 10 and absolutely hated chickens owing to a previous encounter with the evil, vicious things when I was 3. But after the Great Chicken Slaughter, I began to feel a bit sorry for them. Not a lot sorry, mind you, just a bit.
    Sunny with some clouds up here. It’s supposed to be lovely for the next several days. Warmish, too. Maybe you early morning sun is a precursor to some actual sun that will leak south later this week. I hope so. 🙂
    Enjoy the warmth, anyway. 🙂

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      That sounds even better than my chicken story. Yours ran around; all mine did was hop out of the buckets though there were a few hoppers! We had also put them in hot water first as it makes the plucking easier. The water loosens the pinions, a fact I learned in Ghana. Plucking is a skill I also learned there and haven’t ever had the need to use here, but I’ll be ready should a plucker be needed!

      The sun never did appear here, still a dark, cloudy day.

      • Caryn Says:

        If I don’t pluck another chicken in my next three lifetimes, it will still not be long enough to get over plucking 100 chickens every Labor Day weekend for several years in a row. My fingers hurt just thinking about it. 🙂

  3. Bob Says:

    I just arrived back home from a short two day trip to Phoenix. The DFW airport was filled with a mass of humanity moving in all directions. I can only imagine how bad it will be tomorrow.

    I am not a fan of turkey. I don’t like the breast meat and commercial turkeys have very little dark meat. I don’t know where the tradition of having turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas came from. I don’t think the pilgrims were brought turkeys by the native tribes on that first thanksgiving in 1620. I have read where they did feast on oysters and venison.

    • Kat Says:

      Bov,
      I missed you!

      Miss Scarlett’s Farm is close by here, and they sell fresh turkeys and you get what you get in regard to dark meet. When I was a kid, we all wanted white meat but now I prefer the dark.

      I really like turkey and have it at other times of the year as well. I never have it on Christmas though we did when I was a kid. There were turkeys in Plimouth (the old spelling) as well as the oysters and venison.

      I once travled for Thanks giving to Tempe, Arizona but left on Tuesday and returned home on Saturday and managed to beat the mass of humanity.


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