Sunday, November 18, 2012

International Thanksgiving Feast 2012!

The Traditional Meal Selections - 4 Tables Long
From age 8-17, I used to assisted my mother in cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 4-70 international students and immigrants.   I remember complaining each year about everything smelling like turkey days after every scrap of food had been consumed.

This year, Truro Anglican Church teamed up with Sovereign Grace Church to introduce traditional Thanksgiving celebrations to all of our international friends and visitors.  I was privileged enough to be able to assist along side this efficient army of volunteers in preparing and serving food for the 350+ people.  It was a wonderful success with LOADS of good food.

Sovereign Grace had their team of kitchen helpers divided into shifts to come and go through out the prep & service time.  Their sweet youth group members cheerfully provided parking assistance, greeters, created name tags, coat check cards, table and food service.  They even made cute little tags for the side dishes folk brought in for the potluck portion of the event in order to list ingredients in case of food allergies.

The International Potluck - 6 Tables Long

Though we had enough of the traditional meal items for everyone - turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and stuffing - guests were encouraged to bring a side dish and/or dessert to share.  From the potluck table we had everything from assorted vegetable sides, empanadas, Chinese dumplings, cold Korean-style noodles, kimchi, multiple rice & pasta dishes, jelly fruit salads, and fresh salads, just to list a few.  With over 20 countries represented, the food choices were vast.

I think every continent was represented except for Australia and Antarctica!

Desserts were pre-plated by kitchen helpers and the pie selections included traditional favorites such as pecan, sweet potato and pumpkin pies (of which there were probably 10 pumpkin pies) to peach, cherry, apple, blackberry, lemon and cream pies.
<-- This picture was take an hour before everyone was set to arrive and by the time we were ready to plate the desserts, this area was 3-4 boxes deep in cakes and pies.  I'm not sure how we even had enough hands to slice up and dish all the cookies, pies and cakes; but we mustered through.

There was one homemade apple pie that was so juicy and sugary, I felt the need to test a piece while cutting it up.  If I had known who made it, I would have stalked them for the recipe.

I wish I had taken a photo of the kitchen volunteers.  They were AMAZING!  Melissa headed up the organization and cooking of the food with Angela playing second in command.  Both ladies have had lots of experience cooking for large groups of people.  Melissa's family has owned a restaurant and Angela cooks the meals for Love The World, a ministry and church to homeless families and individuals in Fairfax that is run out of Truro.  It was an honor to work beside these women and see them in action pulling and carving turkey, making gravy from scratch and mixing truck loads of mashed potatoes and stuffing.  There were approximately 6-8 women helping prep and cook food from 2pm-7pm.  It reminded me of working in a super happy restaurant kitchen (if there is such a place).

I helped Carol and Sammi stir 4 double batches of pearled dehydrated potatoes till our arms ached.  It paid off though; I couldn't believe how scrumptious the potatoes were for not being "real."  Maybe it was all the additional melted butter I insisted we slather into the process?!   :)   Quite a few of the helpers stuffed fingerfuls of the sticky potatoes into their mouths as I walked the bowl over to be cleaned.  (Yes, they washed their hands afterwards.)  It was too buttery and creamy to resist!

Sovereign Grace Kitchen

Though I'm thrilled to bits to no longer be standing, I had a blast getting to know some of the youth group kids and the kitchen volunteers.  People had the biggest servant hearts tonight and it shone through.  The tables looked amazing with their festive decorations and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves during the program that David Case put together.  I'm especially thankful I was able to participate in such grand style since I will not be able to get away to be with family this Thanksgiving.  As always, Karen Kirk and the rest of the TIPS (Truro International Programs & Services) volunteers did a stunning job coordinating and arranging this event and I can't say enough about the lovely attitudes displayed by the Sovereign Grace volunteers who hosted this evening.   Truly the best way to celebrate a blessed year - being blessed by others.  I can't wait until next year's event!!

Please Note:  All the "traditional" side food items, dry goods and service ware were purchased at CostCo.  Table decorations, name tags and Thanksgiving stickers were purchased at Target and Walmart.

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