When Gaby Baca was growing up, her Mexican mother did not know how to fix the box of stuffing mix her family got for Thanksgiving.
On Thursday, Baca, now studying social work at the University of Kentucky, pitched in as Mexican immigrants in the Club de Madres (Mothers' Club in English), meeting in a church basement, learned how to cook an American Thanksgiving dinner.
About 30 moms, along with a cluster of babies and toddlers, packed the Russell Cave Church of Christ kitchen to learn such skills as how much milk to use to cut some stiff mashed potatoes, how much upper arm work goes into blending your pumpkin pie filling and what exactly is the American fascination with the cranberry.
Isabel Gereda-Taylor, multicultural affairs coordinator with the Urban County government, told the women about American Thanksgiving traditions and described some of the foods that are associated with the holiday.
The group substituted chicken for turkey and made sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
One participant had never tasted cranberry sauce. Another had never had a bite of American stuffing.
Taylor, who grew up in a multicultural household herself, said that when she first started preparing her own Thanksgiving dinners, "Stuffing was new to me, too ... I didn't really like it. I thought it was kind of bland."
And what country would think of smashing together cream of mushroom soup, fried onions and green beans into a casserole?
Cathy Sutphen, coordinator of the Russell Cave Elementary School Family Resource Center, started the Club de Madres 17 years ago. For the last three years, she has held the Thanksgiving cooking seminar.
It gives the participants, many of whom are at-home moms, a chance to get out and re-establish the kind of community they had back home, she said.
"It has become this huge friendship among these women," Sutphen said, as mothers comforted others' crying toddlers, reunited families whose younger members had wandered off, and laughed as they meticulously washed the prep dishes.
Baca first came to the Club de Madres as a child; now she's an adult, interning with the Russell Cave family resource center.
Dulce Cortez, who has been in the United States for more than a decade, said that when she was first informed what American Thanksgiving meant, she was told: "It's Thanksgiving because God gave you everything."
Cortez will fix an American Thanksgiving dinner, sort of, but may add distinctive Mexican dishes such as tamales. Another mom working nearby said that she would add a bowl of guacamole to her Thanksgiving spread.
Nonetheless, Cortez's favorite Thanksgiving food is thoroughly all-American: mashed potatoes.
Ymelda de Leon, stirring her pumpkin custard with gusto, said that it was the first time she had ever made a pumpkin pie.
Would she have pumpkin pie for her own Thanksgiving? Sure, she said, pausing to rest her weary arm, "But I'm buying mine."