Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Today I will play with food to be ready for tomorrow's gathering of sailor and baker and paper mache creature maker along with the other various and assorted who gather each year for a feast of food and thanks.

This year I'm fixing a turkey, something I haven't done in probably 15 years. Oh, I've been AROUND fixing turkeys, but either I was living where I didn't have my own oven or having a traditional gathering with friends on one island or another where someone else was always in charge of the turkey. This year I'm housesitting where there is an oven! And it works! (ah you sharp eyed one, how, you are wondering, does she bake all of those muffins and breads with no oven? Easy, in one word. Elves). I thought I'd try something I've never done, to celebrate the turkey, so this year I'm trying brining it before roasting it. I thought about grilling, but that means hauling that rather large bird BACK over to my yard where the grill is. Of course, I'm going to have to haul it anyway....maybe I'll have a change of heart, despite the oven!

Usually my contribution to dinner is garlic mashed potatoes and this year will be no different, except I might add some yuca, looking more for a garlicky semi-island mash, a la Susie. Her's has another ingredient as well, but I'll be lazy and not add it. I also made a cornbread with chorizo stuffing...the jury is still out on it. I'm not sure why I made this, as I don't care for cornbread or chorizo, but it just sounded so good, I had to try it. I'll let you know the verdict.

De-cased chorizo and a bunch of other fixin's

Cornbread and raasting garlic

Thanksgiving is my personally favorite holiday as well as our nationally most confusing holiday. I'm getting the confusing part out of the way today so tomorrow I can just enjoy the Thanksgiving part. Because the truth is, we have this National Day of Thanks, based on what is basically a myth, perpetuated throughout American classrooms across the country, disguised as actual history. I'll let you suss out the details yourself for the real story of Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective, but from an historical perspective, this extract from The Farmer's Almanac gives another eye opener on our rather misunderstood holiday.

Thanksgiving Day (U.S) began in the early 1600s when our forefathers in Massachusetts and Virginia feasted in heartfelt gratitude for survival, but most of the Thanksgivings in early U.S. history were to celebrate victories in battle.
The Continental Congress proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving on December 18, 1777, to celebrate the defeat of the British at Saratoga. These national observances were patriotic occasions, quite separate from the local harvest festivals.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to God, combining patriotism, harvest time celebrations, and religious observance.
It was not until 1941 that Thanksgiving Day was fixed on the fourth Thursday in November

And what do we end up with? This whole holiday that celebrates an event in our history that never really happened.* For myself, I can go with the whole idea of setting aside one day for sheer thankfulness. While I think my thank-o-meter is usually pretty close to full, there can really never be enough thanks in the world. As I'm known to be a bit...gushy (yes, on more than just Thanksgiving, but that day in particular), it's sort of like finding a sushi bar with a big Welcome MJ, everything is free and we brought in oysters just for you! sign in the road of my life, one day a year.

Another reason it is my favorite holiday is that Thanksgiving Day is the one American holiday that isn't exploited except in a gluttonous imbibing of food, which makes it a day that a lot of hungry people get fed through the generousity and willingness of people to serve others less fortunate. You know, the quiet people. Take a moment to be thankful for them, and if you are 'them' thank you! We all need to remember to share the wealth.

None of these people will be having dinner with us tomorrow, but I think
some of their relatives will be there - I've seen that hat before...and the dog too

And to my son-in-law Ryan - who does more for his tribe than they'll ever know, and other First People friends (whose cultures had a variety of Thanksgiving days throughout their yearly calendar long before we came along), I'll keep spreading the word. Yep, you all got screwed (and died of the diseases and wars to prove it), and the justice balance still isn't right. Maybe as people learn more, they will do more to see that happen. In the meantime, I give thanks for you and your ancestors, with an apology on my lips and sorrow in my heart.

Ok, that's done, the feast! Have a sticky hands and lots of dishes Wednesday getting ready! Oh, and there's cranberry jelly at Cheli's and Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix at Milka's - save one for me!

*For another look at Thanksgiving based on the rather twisted memories of one young man, go here - and remember, if you don't know Squanto, you don't know squant..


  1. On a conference call this morning with several Americans, a Romanian, a Finnish person and an Eastern Indian, the discussion naturally ('cause who wants to conduct business near a holiday) turned to traditions and customs in our respective countries. All of the persons on the call currently live in America. The Indian guy said that his son is getting all of his Thanksgiving history lessons from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on TV, and had asked his Dad about how "his people" came to America. It took Dad a while to realize his kid didn't quite understand there was difference between Native American Indians and his own family. It was hysterical in the retelling. Maybe you had to be there. . .

    2 more days!!!

  2. Nope, I totally get it! What a great conversation that must have been...beside being funny. Yes, good ol' Christopher didn't do faux historians any favors thinking these were East Indians...but hope springs eternal. If you name them they will be?

  3. JD, Amy's better half, brined the turkey and it was YUMMY. hope yours was as good!

  4. I was (and am, I saved half of it) pleased with how it turned out. Nervous because I'd never done it, but you know I'm a major fan of marinades so, why not? and why not will be fun to play with again. Might experiment with whole chickens during between holiday times...

  5. oh. yum. Phil and i will bring the wine. thanks for the offer. :)

  6. No problemo, chica! Wine is good, bring cheese and crackers too - that will count as your *dish*