Friday, November 28, 2008


thanksgiving is a huge deal in the states, almost on the level of christmas. i've been asked several times why it's celebrated a full month earlier in canada, or even at all since we don't have fond images of "pilgrims" in our history books, and why monday, and now that i've looked it up, i've found there is no succinct answer. there is an amusing blog article that documents the origins and permutations of the canadian thanksgiving.

canadians give thanks for a successful harvest, and due to the colder climate, this happens a month earlier than their southern counterpart's. however, canadian thanksgiving underwent a tumultuous history of dates. a Martin Frobisher, trying to find a passage to the orient, happened upon the canadian continent and celebrated one of the first thanksgivings in 1578. in 1872, a date in april marked the first post-confederation thanksgiving to celebrate the recovery of King Edward VII from a serious illness.

thanksgiving was observed every year after 1879, but the date was proclaimed annually and changed year to year on a thursday in november, till 1899, when it became a thursday in october, with a few variations here and there. after World War I, both Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11 occurred. ten years later, the two days became separate holidays, and Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and thankgiving became the second monday in october, which means it currently falls on the same day as America's Columbus Day.

i have three american thanksgivings under my belt, and with it being such a huge deal here, all of our friends have very family-oriented celebrations, so i take it upon myself to band together with a fellow canadian or two. jason park came from nothern BC our first year, and laurie has stopped by two years in a row.... except this year we didn't really have turkey because i filled us up with butternut squash soup and spinach salad with pears, avocados, and fennel. and then there was spaghetti squash with spicy sausages, sugary molasses yams topped with pecans, and my mom's stuffing recipe, which i foolishly added walnuts to. that, and the turkey finally made its way out of the oven at about 8 o'clock. i also had a truckload of pears from costco so i made a pear crisp.

best butternut squash soup ever. my first year i used a different recipe and it was overwhelmingly full of cumin.

Gingered Butternut Squash Soup

1 onion, chopped fine
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled butternut squash
2 1/2 cups water
2 garlic cloves, mined and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh gingerroot
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

In a heavy saucepan cook the onion in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened, add the squash and 2 cups of the water, and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Stir in the garlic paste and the gingerroot and simmer the soup for 1 minute. In a blender purée the soup with the remaining 1/2 cup water and stir in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

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