thanksgiving, taiwan style

as promised: the long and elaborate story of how I celebrated my first Thanksgiving as an expatriate.

my thursday morning started off rainy and kindof mopey, with coffee [as usual] and checking the happenings on the internet. which led to me writing this last post and pumping myself up to make the best out of what I had.

step one? deciding that even though I do not have an oven or a mixer or even measuring cups I would bake something to bring to the potluck dinner. because mashed sweet potatoes are tasty but not really a fun party food. because as much as I try to tell myself I don't miss baking because of the gluten and it's too difficult/expensive to keep that hobby in Taiwan I actually do miss it. and because I knew that Husband was bummed about having to work on Thanksgiving and making one of his favorite things from home would cheer him up.

enter: the olive cheese tart. something that requires minimal baking time, no harmful raw ingredients [in case the toaster oven under cooks], and has been made gluten-free with success in the past. AND I had most of the ingredients on hand. all I needed was some cheddar cheese and butter.

the morning that had started gloomy and rainy had turned into a gorgeous day. I'm talking 75 F and sunny. so I scooted over to Big City Mall for some seriously overpriced dairy from the fancy import store. [seriously. same price at Costco for 2 pounds as the little 8oz bar at City Super.] I wandered around a bit and then nearly fainted when I spotted this display:

essie. in Taiwan. I don't even know if it is legitimately supposed to be sold in this country. but there it was... the fall 2012 collection and a handful of completely random shades. including the ever-elusive mint candy apple. [seriously, I was starting to think it was an urban myth] how could I not buy it? the amount of joy from snatching up that bottle - completely irrational.

then again, I don't think joy is supposed to be a rational emotion. what makes us happy, makes us happy. and for me that includes finding not only my favorite brand of nailpolish, but a color which I had searched for high and low in the states and could. not. find. anywhere.

coincidence? serendipity? just the night before I had read the chapter of the happiness project on money, and this seemed the perfect small splurge. completely irrational, yes. but I practically bounced out of the store and smiled the whole way home. worth it.

//end of nail polish tangent.

once I got home it was time to start cooking. I threw on my most random but favorite playlist and got my butt in the kitchen. I started the sweet potatoes without really thinking about it being a potluck and just followed my usual recipe for 2. so then I got to make a second, larger batch while my butter was coming to room temp for the tarts.

it took a bit of internet hunting to figure out how to convert the olive cheese tart recipe to grams for butter and ml for the cheese and flour. [did you know that the "cup" measurement is not actually standardized?] I halved the recipe and still ended up with extra dough... not my day for portion estimation.

I measured the ingredients in our "water/juice" glasses and mixed it with the back of a tablespoon... and in the process broke a nail. kitchen ninja. I baked the tarts in our toaster oven and they came out just the crispy side of perfect. and just in time to head upstairs for the potluck.

we had ourselves a nice little feast! Jackie and Sean hosted, and they [and Jackie's mom who was visiting] made mashed potatoes and green bean casserole, Ruth and Ben ordered a turkey for a restaurant and used the school's oven to cook it, and I don't know who else brought what but there was food aplenty.

I was definitely not my best photographer-self that evening. I couldn't hold my plate and my camera at the same time... or my wine. but it was a great evening with lots of friends and good conversation.  [a few who are pictured above.] Luke and I feel very thankful that we are in this great little community of friends, and that we were able to have a little bit of home here for the holiday.

[then I skyped with my family the following morning, so I still got to "see" everyone and catch up a bit.]

and that concludes your Thanksgiving expatriate tale.


  1. i love it! i think the essie gods threw you a bone there with the mint candy apple find! it sounds like the perfect ex-pat thanksgiving esp since you got to ride your scooter out shopping. oh - and i love the blue painted flat xx

    1. they really did, I still can't believe I found it! the blue flat is our friends... they call it the aquarium :) ours is mostly white aside from the chalkboard walls I've painted.

  2. yum! Olive cheese tarts sounds like a tasty contribution!


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