Thanksgiving - bez Turkey.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; but I love it for more than the three-day-food-comma and hours of endless football viewing. Take a look at this picture. That is my family. My amazing, constantly growing, fun-filled, life-giving, fabulously spontaneous, wholesome and encouraging . . . 

My parents (the two pilgrims in the middle) believe that community (not meaningless possessions) makes you rich, so they have always focused on living their best lives intermingled with the lives of others. When I was a kiddo, my parents started doing just about everything with three other young families. So we're not 'technically' related, but we are just about as close as any family could every hope to be. We all grew up together - went on houseboat trips every summer - shared a ski lodge in the winter - traded prom dresses - got into mischief - fell in love and then fell out of love - went to each and every graduation and birthday party - found any excuse for a dress up party (as seen in the picture above) - and walked through really good and really hard times together. 

This picture speaks a thousand 'Thanksgiving' words!

It is not at all politically correct to dress up like pilgrims and Indians, but we do it almost every year and we take loads of pictures, enjoy a tasty potluck, and the lay around for hours enjoying the company and laughter. 

Maybe it all clicked on our wedding day - when a torrential downpour tried to ruin our entirely outdoor wedding and the "first day of the rest of our lives," - maybe that is when Chris and I realized that our lives would never be "typical." When we watched all of our friends and family salvage our fairytale, perhaps in that moment, we realized that we could never do life alone. We were created for community, and we felt it deep in our souls. Maybe that was the moment when we realized that our hearts were longing for something different - for an adventure that would shape us and mold us into a dynamic couple that deeply loved others. We promised each other in that moment that we would never do life alone and that where ever life put us, we would be part of a vibrant, loving community of people. 

- Thanksgiving 2011 -  

I wanted to make Thanksgiving special for our new friends in Serbia, but it had to be done "bez" (without) turkey. You can find turkey here, but my tiny oven would not accommodate a turkey, casserole, and a pie all at the same time. So, adios turkey tradition. I hope they don't mind chicken instead!

While I am used to a Thanksgiving where you can hardly count all of the dishes, I have never actually brought anything to contribute to the potluck. How, you may ask, did I manage to get a free ride to family dinners for 28 years without contributing one morsel of food?? I asked myself the same question! Perhaps this year was my year of payback! All of our Sebian friends offered to bring food, but I insisted that I would prepare everything myself. This was an American holiday after all, and I wanted to treat them. 

I started researching Thanksgiving food (cause remember, I have never done this on my own before), and  I used google translate to figure out how baking powder and cream of mushroom translated in Serbian. My sticky notes, containing my shopping list in Serbian, and I headed out to the grocery store in search of all necessary Thanksgiving ingredients. I quickly learned that ALL casseroles contain some sort of canned ingredient that is impossible to find in Serbia, but I found a recipe online for homemade cream of mushroom. There is a wealth of random stuff online! During my supermarket excursion, I was able to find baking soda, not baking powder. I bought baking soda for my cookies . . . that's almost the same as baking powder, right? 

Chocolate chip cookies = a very American dessert! 

You can look forever, but don't expect to find chocolate chips in Subotica! For a second I was sad, but then I got resourceful and turned two chocolate bars into scrumptious chocolate chunks. Instead of brown sugar, I added extra white sugar and a spoonful of honey. The cookies turned out really well, and one of our guests said that the cookies were his favorite part of the meal. Housewife score! Forget the fact that I labored for hours over the meal! The cookies took about 10 minutes to make!
Hey, at least they were a hit!

After about six hours in the kitchen, this is what we ended up with! Two salads, corn, a broccoli casserole, white wine chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, an apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, and wine of course! Chris was worried that I had overcommitted myself, but with his help, we were done on time, and we all enjoyed a great meal. 

Where is your dishwasher when you really need one?! Ohhhh . . . yeah, that's right, I am the "housewife-dishwasher" these days! Chris watched football, and I tackled this dissaster.
Did I sign up for this? 


  1. I love it...what a fun adventure! Enjoy ever minute of it! :)

  2. Fantastic! It's actually an adventure to find substitutes for American fare in Serbia! I don't know if you already found out, but baking powder is "prasak za pecivo" and you can find it right with the soda bikarbona in any store; it's just as readily available! I did exactly the same thing as you for "chocolate chips"! I used to freeze my chocolate bar and then bash it on the floor with a meat mallet until it was in "chip" size pieces!! Fun times! Looks like you had a great time and you truly have a great group of Serbian friends! Love your family memories, too!

  3. Fabulous Kitty! Thank you for the translation!! I think I may have actually found prasak za pecivo, but Google Translate told me if was baking soda rather than powder. Glad I found and used the right thing. . . and the cookies were fabulous, if I may say so myself. I ate about 4 of them in one sitting! Ops!

  4. I am here for you if you need any food translations! I love to cook, so I deciphered all Serbian ingredients and I know the American equivalent! Love to help you out! Those Google translations are atrocious (for the most part!), but can be REALLY entertaining!! :)

  5. Dearest Lana, I am so very proud of you! And I wish I was there to enjoy this scrumptious meal!! Hey Chris, you gotta help with the dishes! That's always been my way to make life easier for Mom. Look forward to being with you guys some day soon.

  6. Great Thanksgiving! you did an excellent job. :) I do the same for my Choc chip cookies in Serbia... crushing a choc bar. There is brown sugar there. They call us zuti secer or yellow sugar. I would love to help if you have any other questions. It is always an adventure finding the right ingredients.
    Happy Holidays!

    Tina from Chronicles of Serbia

  7. Thanks Lafemmet (Tina)! I may contact you next time I take on a huge dinner!


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