Thanksgiving in Kenya

In the US, we share Thanksgiving with our family. The menu is arranged in advance, everyone brings something, and we all eat together. Here, we share Thanksgiving with friends. Each year, we invite different people to eat with us. Sometimes they will bring something to go with the meal, but as for my favorite Thanksgivingy foods, I cook it all by myself. This is a big undertaking with an American kitchen. With a Kenyan kitchen, it takes meticulous planning. First, let me show you what I'm up against.

I have four burners on my stovetop. However, I've never been able to use all four of them at the same time. Here it is with a 12" skillet and a 2 quart saucepan. I could fit my tiniest saucepan on the front left, but the back right is completely un-usable with the skillet there. I don't even have a big saucepan for the stovetop because it's easier for me to cook multiple things in smaller batches than to cook one thing at a time.


The oven is super small, too. It's difficult to take pictures inside a black oven, but here it is with a 13x9x2 pan. (I'll explain the thermometer in a minute.) You can see better in the picture on the right that the pan is not sitting on the rack. It's suspended by its own handles along the next-level guides for the rack.

These are the controls for the oven. This is the reason for the thermometer. How hot is big flame and how hot is small flame? Well, it varies: the longer the flame has been lit, the hotter the oven will be. Since it doesn't maintain a temperature on it's own, I have to monitor it constantly, adjusting the flame size, cracking the oven door open if it gets too hot or closing it if it cools off too much.

Then there's this little guy. I call it an electric roasting pan, but it's so much more. It's a slow cooker, a deep fryer, a skillet. I can bake in it, roast a chicken (or a beef roast), make soups/stews/chilis/beans, stir fry, deep fry. As long as the power is on, there's not much I can't do with this. Plus, it's bigger than all of my pots for the stovetop. AND it doesn't heat up the 80-degrees-on-a-cool-day kitchen.

Back to Thanksgiving. My plan has worked pretty well the past couple of years, though my menu has evolved.


  • veggies and Ranch dip (this is ambitious of me because I have not been able to find dill in any store, but I have found seeds and am attempting to grow some to make dip with)
  • tortilla chips with guacamole
  • creamy parmesan green beans
  • dressing
  • turkey
  • chocolate pie (with optional sweetened whipped cream topping)
  • buttermilk pie

T-2 days (i.e. 2 days before Thanksgiving dinner)

  • make pie crust dough, put in fridge to chill overnight
  • bake cornbread (in the oven or electric pan - I don't like the texture of cornbread in the electric pan, but since it's for dressing, the texture is moot)
  • make Ranch dip

T-1 day

  • bake the pies
  • make the dressing

T-6 hours (start time, but the last items are done just before we eat)

  • put turkey in electric pan to slow cook
  • prep veggies for veggie tray
  • make guacamole
  • whip cream
  • cook green beans on the stovetop
  • reheat dressing

Who's hungry?


Popular Posts