Thinking inside the bag this Thanksgiving

The girls and I decided to spend the this past weekend back in Western New York State with my family since Country Boy was busy going on a bear hunt. 

[As a side note, I dare you to read that last sentence and NOT have the old kids song “Going on a bear hunt. Gonna catch a bear. I’m not afraid…” in your brain for the next three hours.]

When I told Mom about the idea of us coming in for a visit, she said that maybe we’d have a mini-Thanksgiving since most of the family will be apart on the real holiday this year.

[Another side note – when you come from a family with 9 kids, a “mini” anything is usually big.]

So, Saturday came and what transpired was culinary perfection all-american style.

The traditional turkey in our home growing up has been and continues to be cooked in a brown bag. It’s a method passed down from my Albanian Grandmother to my Mom and now to those in my generation who are lucky (or unlucky, depending on your cooking desires) to host. What I like about it is that it cooks the turkey fast (24 lbs in 5 1/2 hours!) and without any need to think about the turkey after you put it into the oven. Plus what you get out at the end is this:


Worthy of being on the Food Network!

A perfectly brown in color, perfectly juicy bird. Yum! Martha Stewart would be proud.

Zoe and my sister are the Gluten Free members of the family, so Mom decided to forgo the traditional stuffing of the bird this year to make sure it was good for them. Instead, she loosely filled the bird with apple and orange slices, I think some onion, and various herbs.

 who knew gluten free would be better than regular?!

It really gave the turkey a delicious flavor, and one that I think I like even better than when it’s stuffed with regular stuffing.

The one thing our family never does is carve the turkey at the table. Dad always does it in the kitchen and brings out the platter with the cut meat at dinner time.

It could have been a holdover tradition from my childhood days. Can you imaging 9 kids all angling to get pieces of turkey and having to wait for them to be cut? Whew, I’m certain that doing so would’ve resulted in a few noogies and several whines before we were all served. Instead, they put the pieces on the platter and everyone dove in when grace was finished. 

Like I always say, my parents are smart people.

There is one thing that Madeline and Zoe love about big family dinners at Grandma and Grandpa’s.

It’s not probably found most tables for Thanksgiving.

You definitely won’t find it on the menu of fancy establishments.

But for me and my girls, the holidays just aren’t special without Grandma’s Special Jello.

There IS always room for Jello

Jello, marshmallows and whipped cream. What’s not to love?!

So, with the holiday fast approaching, I hope you have your fill of good food and great times with family. As for me, I’m going to have some leftovers tonight.

That is if the girls left any jello for me…



About CountryBoyCityGirl

A city girl who fell in love with a country boy. Found bliss, along with large piles of mule droppings for her and two little girls to now try to avoid.
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2 Responses to Thinking inside the bag this Thanksgiving

  1. Susan Adams says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Janice! So good to see photos of your parents! I think of them and pray for them often! The turkey looked amazing and thanks to you I also use and love the brown bag method!

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