Immigrating to Canada with my family at 18 years old, I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving. While my family did buy and roast a whole turkey in our first couple of years in Canada, we resorted to buying sides from the grocery store. It was convenient and it did the job for a big family of seven – we didn’t really know what we were doing anyway.

Our must-haves:

Slowly, we moved away from buying these to making them ourselves instead. It first started with my mom making cranberry sauce from scratch (it’s a world of a difference, I tell you). Then my brother and I followed suit and made own our bread stuffing and dessert in the following years. The only thing my family still can’t get away from is the canned gravy… but that’s pretty forgivable.

By the way, because Canada is further north than the US, our last harvest (and therefore Thanksgiving) comes earlier in the year (second Monday of October).

I haven’t celebrated Thanksgiving at home in the last two years. I was always scheduled to work at the mine (last year I was even on night shift!). While our company treats us with feasts when we work on holidays (Christmas is just LAVISH), there’s nothing like eating a home cooked meal with your own family. This year I was beyond excited for Thanksgiving because 1) I wasn’t scheduled to work, and 2) it would be my first with my husband after our wedding, in our new apartment in Québec City! (The first reason doesn’t really matter now, because I am off on disability with my neck injury.)

Thanksgiving dinner yesterday was nothing short of grand. It had been less than a week since I arrived from Toronto after my neurosurgeon finally allowed me to fly here to be with my husband. Since it would be so much work to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for only two people, we debated on whether to invite some friends over or not (not that we have that many here anyway… seriously, we just moved here in January). We decided to have a nice, special dinner alone, since it was our first Thanksgiving after getting married. And we have so many things for which to be thankful this year, including being together as a healthy and happy couple despite the accident on our honeymoon.

I cooked 95% of our menu which, I’m proud to say, was ENTIRELY from scratch! (Yes, including the pie crust and chicken stock! No more cans and boxes of stuffing in this household.) My husband’s small yet valuable contribution of 5% involved bringing the turkey in and out of the oven for basting, since I can’t carry more than five pounds with my neck injury. He couldn’t help much because he had an assignment due the next day.

I prepared some stuff the night before and cooked like a madman from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm on Thanksgiving day itself.

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Excuse the mess, I was still “moving in”

Our menu:

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  • Turkey roasted with lemon, parsley, and garlic butter. This was the FIRST time that we BOTH cooked a whole turkey. Wouldn’t you be nervous too? Luckily, YouTube came to the rescue. We marinated the turkey overnight in ginger ale to ensure it would be moist and flavourful. I used this recipe and method of preparing the turkey from Gordon Ramsay (no bacon) and cooked it at 325ºF for 2 hours and 45 minutes, basting every 30 to 45 minutes. The smallest turkey we could find weighed around 4.5 kg.

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  • Oven-roasted beets
  • Oven-roasted brussel sprouts

  • Bread stuffing. I used intégral et noix bread from our neighbourhood bakery. I made 1/3 of this recipe. This was the first recipe I used to make homemade bread stuffing and I’ve never looked back. I love the combination of herbs and spices here, especially the rosemary and fennel seeds!

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  • Maple orange cranberry sauce. I didn’t want to use refined white sugar and we had so many cans of Grade A Québec maple syrup here waiting to be used. (It also gives it a nice Canadian touch!)

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  • Homemade gravy. I used some chicken stock I made a couple of days prior (plus a bit of vegetable stock I made the night before). I made 1/2 of this recipe. I didn’t have any turkey drippings to add because it had been already flavoured with the lemon, parsley, and garlic butter. I just boiled and chopped the turkey giblets according to the instructions here and added them to the gravy for added flavour.

  • Peach pie. My husband wanted a fruit pie, no questions asked. There aren’t many great fruits for pie-making in season right now, except apples and pears. I saw peaches at the grocery store and immediately suggested peach pie. My husband was skeptical about having it because he’d never had any before – but he’s clearly missed out all his life on Jollibee peach mango pie from the Philippines. I used my ultimate pie crust recipe (will share soon here!) but forgot to add the lemon juice in the filling.

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The result:

All things considered, our first whole turkey was a success. It was cooked throughout and perfectly moist with a good touch of flavour. Though it didn’t brown evenly, it was still great! The lemon garlic butter flavouring didn’t end up tasting too strongly, but I’m not sure if it was supposed to anyway.

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My pride and joy… peach pie with lattice pie crust and leaves around the edges. Isn’t it so beautiful??? 😊 I was inspired by this.

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The rest of our table:

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HONESTLY, everything was delicious except for the gravy 😞 The flavour in the turkey drippings would have been a welcome and necessary addition. I must try again!!! The beets were also a bit undercooked.

Obligatory plate picture. DON’T JUDGE – I JUST ATE THE THIGH AND NOT THE DRUMSTICK BECAUSE I WAS TOO STUFFED

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We had to go for a long walk to digest that scrumptious meal! Walking up to Haute-Ville sure burned some calories!

We later had dessert with green tea from Maison de Thé Camellia Sinesis, a fancy tea house near our place. Once again my pie crust was perfect but the pie itself could have used more filling. I didn’t want to have an overfilled pie so I erred on the side of caution. The pie was pretty darn yummy, even if I forgot the lemon juice. (The recipe reviews said that it adds a nice tartness to the peach.) My husband was a skeptic no more!

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After our Thanksgiving, I called home to find out how my family’s went. My brother was in charge of the turkey this year and it apparently turned out perfectly. He also made a delectable leche flan for dessert. Just the idea of eating leche flan sort of made me wish I was home!

Today we ate all our leftovers for lunch AND dinner. We plan to make a turkey pot pie and homemade pasta with turkey pesto sauce this week with the rest of it! Although we’ll be sick of eating turkey, the next big turkey-filled holiday won’t be until Christmas anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving from us! 🍗

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