It has been a rough couple of weeks for me lately, as–aside from some longer-term health issues that we both dealt with–I am struggling with an intense wave of homesickness. I experienced it occasionally in my first six to nine months of being in Germany, but the last year or so I haven’t had much of an issue, thanks in large part to our trip to the US, all the friends and family who flew out for the wedding, and the visits in-between. But to say that, with the holidays approaching, I am a little more affected than I imagined would not be an understatement.
M. does his best to be understanding, but it’s not easy; he has lived his entire life in Berlin and all of his immediate family is in the city, so the idea of homesickness is something he can’t relate to completely. Also, it’s tricky, as I don’t really miss California (I do, but not in this sense), but rather the people I left behind. Berlin is my home now and it feels more like home than any other place. But when I talk about homesickness, I mean being close to my family, or having people I can call at a moment’s notice to talk to or go do things with. The latter I have in varying degrees here, but let’s be honest: it’s not the same.
There are also a few other issues bothering me, namely the overworked/underpaid aspect of my life that makes me feels as though I never have time to rest, and when I do, I can’t enjoy it because there are other things I should/could be doing. That’s frustrating. M. and I had a long talk about it last night and came to some temporary solutions, one of which is drastically cutting back on the work I am doing next year because of how clearly I am undervalued for the work I do and how little I am paid based on what my qualifications are. I am hoping that the excess of free time will help me regain mental clarity, and I am looking forward to investing my energy in myself and M.
On a more positive note, the past month has been filled with some good things too:
Hanging out with my new Swedish pals in EF and watching an incredible show
…plus other stuff that can be found on Instagram.
On another note, it’s almost Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays because it combines my favorite things–that is good vegan food and quality time with loved ones. We went shopping today and got most of the ingredients for our planned menu, which is as follows:
Seitan Roast Stuffed With Shiitakes And Leeks
Nearly every year I ask for a recommended “main” for Thanksgiving, and nearly every year my pal J. send this my way. I have never made it because I don’t like mushrooms and because it seems like too much work. But I am sick of homemade Tofurkey so I wanted to try something new, and now I am sucking it up and making it. But there will be two this year: one with mushrooms and one with our favorite Demeter tofu.
Carmalized Onion-Butternut Roast with Chestnuts
This is from the Veganomicon, which M. bought me last Christmas after I dropped some not-so-subtle hints. I finally broke it in this past month and made this recipe. My first thought is that chestnuts are a pain in the ass to peel. My second was that this would be a great Thanksgiving side. So there you have it.
Mashed Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Another recipe from Veganomicon. Looks simple and based on the ingredient list, you really can’t go wrong.
Smoked Apple Sage Sausage Stuffing
I have made a few different stuffings over the years but again wanted to mix it up a bit, and this sounded good. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find Field Roast sausage and even the Tofurkey sausages were out of stock at the vegan grocery stores in town, so we got a different brand of fake sausages that we will try out. Which means I may have to ramp up the apple sage flavors on my own, but this will be an experiment that hopefully produces delicious results.
Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds
With all the bread and potatoes and fake meat, I wanted to incorporate some vegetables into the mix, so this recipe stood out. It also comes from Veganomicon and looked tasty but easy.
Pumpkin Coconut Soup
Roasting pumpkin used to scare me but now it’s no big deal because canned pumpkin is next to impossible to find here, unless you go to specialty shops or happen to be looking at the right time – and even then it’s expensive. Not only that, but I like to avoid processed foods when I can simply make them on my own. I digress. Anyway, I saw this recipe and it seemed simple but with ingredients I like. I tried it and have made it three or four times already. Delicious and easy. Plus I can’t recall ever having soup at a Thanksgiving so I think I would be nice.
Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Last year I tried out this recipe and it was a total hit. I admit that I was skeptical about how it would turn out, but I mostly didn’t want to deal with the annoyance of making a pie crust. Turns out everyone loved this, so I made another one the following week that also went fast.
In addition to making these, some guests with be bringing drinks and other food, including brussel sprouts and apple pie. There will also be mashed potatoes, although I don’t really have a recipe for them yet; they may just be basic and I may just make M. make them, since he does better than I do. I may also try to wrangle a guest into bringing a salad and I have also thought about making a cherry pie (just because), but we will see how ambitious I get.
By the way, I was interviewed by a former Berlin resident about my expat experience, so if you want to read more about my ups and downs living abroad, head over here.