A Thanksgiving Turkey to remember starts with my mother’s mother.
My mother’s Mom was born in Spain, but raised in Mexico where she would later marry my grandfather, move to the U.S., and happily become an American. I tell you this because I think it is always better to hear the voice in your head when reading a story, as you can imagine it, and Maria had a distinct Spanish accent her entire life. My grandmother was the worst cook ever; I really do mean it. She had eight kids and a husband to feed, but food was never what you ate because it was delicious. Instead, you just needed it to survive. She loved the whole idea of Thanksgiving, although not growing up in the U.S., she had no idea how to cook it. As a matter of fact, for years she just took a big pot and boiled the turkey. That’s right – nothing like pale, bland, overcooked turkey to make one thankful for the blessings of the year. It wasn’t until her daughters were older and learned to cook (from others, obliviously) that she herself learned to cook a bird, but not without strife on the road to perfection. My mother was talking to grandmother on the phone one day and mentioned to Grandma that she had picked up her ”browning bag” at the store to cook her turkey. Grandmother listened intently, though asked no questions, and devised a plan that she herself would use a bag to cook her turkey in. Thanksgiving arrived, the large family started to trickle in, and my Mom and her sisters arrived to help get the meal going. Upon entering the kitchen, my grandmother proudly proclaimed she already had the turkey on. Everyone looked around for the boiling pot and asked if she had remembered to remove the giblets, instead grandmother pointed to the oven. Low and behold as they opened the oven door there was the bird although you couldn’t see it because all 20 pounds of turkey was crammed inside a brown paper grocery bag. Chaos ensued. First, she had the oven cranked up as high as it would go and the fat from the bird was being soaked up by the bag quickly. Essentially, it was like a giant turkey candle waiting to go up. All grandmother could say was, “You tella me to cook in a browna bag fromma the store. I use the browna bag from the store!” Poor thing had no idea that you could buy a browning bag made by Reynolds, she thought the store was giving her a free turkey paper bag that they also packed her groceries in. Thankfully my mother had brought a “back up bird” so there was descent turkey to be had. Everyone laughs about it now, plus, I never see a brown paper bag without a snicker. So, here’s to motivating you to enjoy what comes to the table and be thankful for laughter and learning that are always welcomed side dishes. And remember…Butterball has a 24 hour turkey talk-line.