Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fifteenth Weekend

Well, I am certainly behind a bit on writing about our adventures! The fifteenth weekend of our trip, the weekend of November 22, we had Friendsgiving. Many of Jeff's friends from long ago when he was a student in Denmark came to visit- from Aarhus and Copenhagen, mostly. We had most of the typical American Thanksgiving foods -Turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, sweet potato casserole, gravy, rolls, mashed potatoes. The turkey cooked much faster than we anticipated! And we were told that the green beans were very trendy -crispy ones! We decided to opt out of the green bean casserole, and just went for green beans instead.

Saturday morning before the guests arrived, Anders and Torben and I went over to the folk school library to set up and decorate the tables. I gave the boys the candles (unlit), several tablecloths, a bucket of pine cones and dried chestnuts, glasses, plates, and utensils, and asked them to make it look nice. This was what they came up with!

 We set out the famous folk school songbooks on the tables, as well, so that we could sing a few songs. While the boys were decorating the tables, I was practicing to see if I could learn them well enough to play on the piano. We ended up singing only one. I think I didn't get enough practice time.
 It was very nice and cozy to have the 22 of us seated around a U-shaped set of tables. The children were placed at the ends so that when they all went to bed, the grownups could just continue conversation without shuffling around too much.
 By candle light, the room looked even more cozy. "Hygge" (hoo-ga, roughly) is the word here, and it's a feeling as well as an ambiance. It was such a great space to have our dinner, and the children all played really well together.

 A few pictures below are from the preparations, which began a few days before everyone arrived. Jeff did almost all of the cooking and baking. This is the crust he made for the pumpkin cheesecake. It was fantastic! I was glad there was a bit leftover so I could eat it the next day as well.
 Cooking the cheesecake in a waterbath ensured even cooking with no cracks. It was perfect!
 We had to rearrange the shelves for a couple of days to accommodate three turkeys for all of us! They thawed nicely, though.
 The gorgeous pumpkin cheesecake. It was so hard not to dig into it when it came out of the oven like this!
 Ah, and the pumpkin pie! Also turned out terrific. Jeff made the crust on this as well, and vowed to buy it in the future.
 It was fun to watch the boys come up with a way to set and decorate the tables. I gave them no instruction other than "set the tables and put out decorations" so I really enjoyed watching them do that. Anders primarily took charge of the plates and cups and utensils. Torben took care of the decorations. I don't remember if they discussed each taking part of it, or if it is something of the unspoken language between them that they just know what to do and do it. My grandma has remarked before that Jeff and I often do this -a project gets done with each of us doing different parts of it, even though we didn't decide beforehand who would do what. Maybe the kids picked it up.
 I thought it looked very fall like, and festive, the way Torben decided to put out pine cones and surround them with chestnuts. It sort of looked like a lot of little campfires on the tables!
 And here is the completed tablescape.
 I thought I would try making giblet gravy, so while Jeff was over at the folk school kitchen cooking most of the dinner, I boiled the daylights out of the neck and giblet bag, along with some salt, pepper, and sage. After a couple hours of cooking, the house smelled fantastic! I took the necks out of the water to cut them, and Anders and I were too grossed out and decided to toss them instead. I did manage to chop up all the other parts (mostly) and sauteed them in a pan with butter and onion, then put them in this bowl while I did the thickening of the gravy. By the time it was time to put the giblets back in (per the recipe I found from Paula Dean on Pinterest -yay Pinterest!) Anders and I again agreed that we just couldn't put this stuff in there and eat it. So we left the giblets out. The gravy was very good without the chunks.
 Svea was the youngest kid there, and enjoyed sitting at the piano for much of the evening. She can't hit the keys very hard, so it was pretty quiet playing. She was content, and everyone else could still talk!
We had a fantastic time. Some of these people Jeff hadn't seen in twenty years! So everyone's lives are very different now from when they knew each other before. They started arriving in the early afternoon, and we had crackers and cheese and vegetables out for people to munch on. We ate the full Thanksgiving meal around 7, and the kids played until about 9:30 when they started going to bed. The folk school library has six guest rooms in it, so it worked out really well that there were rooms for all of the families to stay. The students from the folk school were still out of the country on their various trips, so it was basically empty except for us. We hired one of the headmaster's daughters to watch out kids, so about 10 she and I walked the kids home to put them to bed, and then I went back to join the grownups for a while. I turned in for the night around 11:30, when some of the other spouses also left. Jeff got home just before 4am. 

The air turned very cold over night! The grass was frozen and crunchy, and we woke up to snow! It was beautiful, just a light blanket covering the grass and trees. 

We were up again at 8, and went to the folk school to have breakfast with our friends as well. Jeff made an American breakfast, too, for fun. We had American (small and fluffy) pancakes, bacon, yogurt and toppings, and fruit. It was delicious! Then Jeff gave them all a tour of the folk school before they had to start heading back home. It was a few hours' drive for most of them, and apparently Copenhagen got almost a foot of snow. 

It was a very fun, and very busy weekend. They all said they'd love to come back in the spring for a BBQ outside, too. So we will start the planning of that as well. 

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