Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving in Ukraine!

I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in Ukraine this week with my friends from my Peace Corps training cluster, our Language Facilitator Larysa and our Technical Facilitator Ludmyla. It was awesome, and we even went around the table to say all that we are thankful for! I am thankful for all of my new friends here in Ukraine, for my health, for my wonderful Ukrainian host family and my family at home in California!
Our little Thanksgiving dinner!

Thanksgiving was a really busy day for us, starting out with Russian class in the morning and then I went with my host mom to see my sister off at the train station. My host sister left to go work in beautiful Crimea :( and I will miss her dearly. She is hilarious and fun to have around the house.
At home with my host mom Sveta and my host sister Inna!
My host mom and sister on the platform, ready to go.

First, we wrote a huge text in Russian explaining what the American traditions for Thanksgiving were. It turned out really cute, and our flipchart explains that eating turkey and giving thanks are two Thanksgiving traditions.  I didn't know that there were so many theories on why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving!
In our Russian language classroom with our Thanksgiving flipcharts…

We also wrote a little recipe for stuffing, adapted to what is available here in Ukraine (meaning that it contains parsley and dill instead of oregano or Italian seasoning). Heather and I made the stuffing from this recipe, and it actually turned out pretty well!
Is my Russian handwriting better than my regular English handwriting?
Mmmmm, stuffing!

For dinner, we cooked 2 chickens instead of a turkey (turkey is expensive here). I wish that I could say that we picked out fresh chickens from the back yard, but our chickens came from the supermarket. We were kind of creative and spread mayonnaise all over the chickens, which actually didn’t turn out as strange as it sounds. Then we spiced them with some packet of chicken seasoning, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, dill and parsley. And when I say we, I mean that Nathan prepared the raw chicken while the rest of us worked on cooking the other dishes.
Nathan hard at work.
Two seasoned chickens.

We made mashed potatoes (without a potato masher), which was really interesting. Since we didn't have a potato masher, we just smashed the boiled potato chunks with a fork first and then a big soup spoon. The potatoes didn’t turn out as smooth, but they were still tasty! We totally forgot about making gravy with the juices from the chicken though.
Monica and Heather peeling potatoes with knives.
Heather and I dicing the potatoes.

Jakob used an old family recipe and cooked an awesome macaroni and cheese casserole! It had layers of macaroni, Colby cheese (or the closest that we could get to Colby here), butter, milk, and some crushed Tuc crackers sprinkled on top. Tuc crackers are just like Ukrainian version of club crackers and they are awesome. Our adopt-a-cluster Margo recommended them to us, and she was right – the crackers are a delicious salty snack.
That casserole has a whole kilogram of cheese!
Laura slicing butter.

“That’s too nostril-y!” snacking on some cheese with Heather and Nathan.

After about three hours of cooking together in Larysa’s kitchen, our food was finally ready! The whole apartment smelled delicious and I’m sure the whole building could smell it too.
The finished mac and cheese casserole and our pot of veggies.

I've never cut a whole chicken before, usually I only buy parts of chicken like thighs, legs, etc. But it really wasn't that hard, there was plenty of chicken to go around and everyone got their preference on light or dark meat. 
Monica and Nathan with the chickens.

We set up the table and ate like a little Peace Corps Ukraine family. I love my cluster :)

We are all ready to eat!

Only 2 more weeks of Training left! We all taught our last lessons at school this week, and our classes all said that they would miss us.
Nathan's class made him a card and put up ballons!
 Monica's 4th form students were so sad to see her go that many of them wrote her thank-you cards and even gave her small gifts :) My last 10th form lesson was a fun one - we played tic tac toe with some of their vocabulary words and also worked on translating the Thanksgiving posters from Russian to English.
My last 10th form class, with my turkey day posters and their turkey hands.

For homework last Wednesday, I assigned my 10th grade class to write 4 sentences about what they were thankful for on the 4 fingers of a hand-traced turkey. I wish I had the resources like colored paper, scissors, crayons, and glue to actually make paper turkeys here... that was one of my favorite things to do in school when I was little, along with making pink and red heart-shaped paper valentines.
Turkey hands are adorable.

Guess what else happened this week? It SNOWED last night!!!! OMG SNOW!! We were all really excited to see snow, and one of my Ukrainian friends from dance class even called me to tell me that it was snowing outside. I haven't seen snow since... last January when there was a random snowstorm in Atlanta. I forgot how beautiful everything is when it is covered with snow.
Two words: snow angel.
The playground in front of my building, all covered with snow!


ворон said...

I'm on the phone with you right now! Great blog by the way!


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