Thanksgiving Recipes:Channeling the Pilgrim

The pilgrims and the indians seem to have had quite a protein heavy feast for all the harvest celebrating they were doing.  We know they had corn…for heaven’s sake. Probably sweet potatoes and beans.  They also had venison and fish.  There is a wide degree of speculation, by those who seek to discredit nearly everything good, regarding whether or not they actually ate any turkey or if it was just an ingredient in the aperitifs.


For our purposes, the pilgrims had turkey and all this other stuff.  I think they would have enjoyed more antioxidants and dietary fiber in the form of various vegetables smothered in “processed product” that is only one molecule away from the same chemical structure as the plastic bowl it is served in.  Bless my soul.

As I mentioned in the first post in this series, these will not change your life, improve your health or solve your problems.  They are basic and reflect a tradition I’d like to share with someone who might not have their own.  They are delicious.

Here follows Ye-Olde-Sides-The-Pilgrims-and-Indians-Wish-They-Had:

Sweet Potatoes–  I have tried to like them.  They look good.  They smell good.  They contain all ingredients that make anything better–butter, brown sugar,nuts, sometimes even marshmallows.  There is inevitably a relative or a guest for whom it is impossible to “channel the pilgrim” without sweet potatoes.  If no one eats them you can take them to the office on Monday and write your name on the foil and someone (who isn’t you) will enjoy them.  And you will have given to the less fortunate this holiday season.

And no, I am not taking up the ‘yams v. sweet potatoes’ debate.  Get the one labeled the way you like.  If it is unavailable, buy the other one.  It will work.

Here is a recipe if you need one.  It is the one I would use if I were in charge of this dish.


Sweet Potato Casserole

4c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes              1t. vanilla

1c. sugar                                                                   1/2c. whole milk

2 eggs beaten                                                         1/2c. butter, softened


1c. brown sugar                                      1/3c. flour

1c. chopped pecans                              1 stick butter

Mix with mixer first 6 ingredients and place in buttered 9×13 casserole. Mix next four ingredients and sprinkle on top. Bake for @ 350 for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly.


Cranberries are my all time favorite.  The only bad cranberry thing that I’ve found is cranberry gelatin*.  It tastes like cherry gelatin made with glass cleaner.*

I don’t know if the pilgrims had cranberries.  They were in the right area of the world. I like to think they did.  If you don’t like them, maybe it is because all you have ever had is can-shaped slices like they used to serve on school lunch.

Years ago, there was a recipe for cranberry relish on the back of the bag. I have modified the recipe for our families use, and no matter where I take it, it goes over like a huge gourmet success.  Which makes me laugh.  It is so simple.

The main modification here is that the printed recipe on the back of the package says not to peel the orange.  Trust me; peel the orange.


Cranberry Relish

1 bag cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 orange

Place 1/2 the cranberries, 1/2 the sugar and 1/2 the orange in the bowl of a food processor and process until it is a thick sauce, there are no berry pieces larger than 1/2 a berry and the orange is no longer discernible.  Remove to serving bowl. Repeat with remaining ingredients.


Green Beans with cream–I know it sounds dumb.  Give it a test run.

Canned green beans to serve your crowd(we use three cans for about 10 people)

1 T. butter per can

whipping cream

drain beans (mostly. they can be pretty wet), add butter and cream until not quite covered. Heat through. Serve.

I am so not kidding.



Broccoli Rice and Cheese

This is far and away the family’s most favorite side dish.  It is another for which recipes abound, but the true tradition is that I pull the recipe out of my…hat every year.  Incidentally, I know the pilgrim’s didn’t have Cheez Wiz.

10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli                                  3c. cooked rice

2 T. butter                                                                            1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 small onion chopped                                                    1 can of milk

1 celery stalk chopped                                                   1/2 to 3/4 c. Cheez Wiz

Cook the broccoli.  Saute the celery and onion in the butter.  Mix celery and onion with rice, Cheez, soup, and milk. Add broccoli.  Pour into buttered 2 qt casserole.  Bake uncovered @ 350 for 30 minutes.


In writing about my dear celebration, I realize I have gotten a little cynical(I think I’m funny, see) and fear that it may be misunderstood as disrespect to other people’s preferences or cultural celebrations.  I think it is really trying to cover a certain amount of vulnerability in sharing something really important to me.  The truth is my heart is tendered and I trust in the story of the pilgrims and indians as a good thing…much as some people believe in Santa Claus.  And I need the reminder to be thankful because I am not so terrific at remembering in, say, May.

*only my opinion.  Obviously, the manufacturers of this product test marketed it.  The emperor was there, though; he had no clothes on.

**who apparently did not employ a home economist.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thanksgiving Recipes:Channeling the Pilgrim

  1. Jenn says:

    Oh, you make me long for Thanksgiving. Its not celebrated here in the UK, strangely enough – and cooking a full dinner for 4 people – one of whom will only eat buttered bread – was crushing last year, so I’m not doing it again

    However, I would give my first born for a can of cheez wiz OR a block of Velveeta. They don’t do that here, either. Damn imperialists.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s