For a Native American with a long history of Indigenous ancestry, the holiday of Thanksgiving offers a mixed bag of emotions. United States history would have you believe Thanksgiving was a time when Pilgrims (colonists) had a meal where they fed the Indigenous souls who inhabited what is now the United States. Of course, my ancestors were treated as “hostile” because we fought when having our lands taken away from us by laws that excluded us from owning the lands on which we hunted and gathered our food, raised our families, and build our habitats. Be that as it may, we Natives continue to celebrate a National Day of Mourning to acknowledge an era that would change our lives for ever.
My family celebrated and continues to celebrate a Thanksgiving meal with thoughts that turned to what our ancestors’ experiences and when their lives changed after colonization. Because of the time of the year, we also used it as a time to honor our Creator for the bounty of food given to us from the land, from the seas, and from all the elements that made life possible. So I continue that tradition today.
Let’s discuss what was on my table on “Thanksgiving Day.” A thwarted trip to my home state (Colorado) because of heavy snows, a rock slide on one of the mountain passes, and sloppy driving conditions gave the green light for us to “stay put.” We decided to stay home, cook the big meal, and find someone to feed. I learned from my Mother’s holiday meals that they had to be vast, take a long time to cook, and had to have a variety of offerings on the table. Here’s my menu:
- Aperitif: Sweet Vermouth
- Roast Turkey
- Sauteed, Buttered Brussels Sprouts with Sliced Almonds
- Savory Dressing
- Squash “Boats” (recipe follows)
- Pickled Beets
- Relish Tray
- The Ubiquitous Two-layered Jello Salad
- Baked Beans
- Cranberry Apple Orange Spice (CAOS) Jam
- Sourdough Bread
- Cava (Sparkling Wine from Spain)
- Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream for Dessert
- Creme Sherry
I began my own tradition of making my “signature” Cranberry Apple Orange Spice jam, also known as “CAOS” (pronounced, Chaos) because I loved the taste of the combined fruits with the added Chinese 5 Spice, and I didn’t like the store-bought cranberry in a can that came out like a lump! I love the aroma of my CAOS even more! Next time you create your “Cheese Board” or your “Charcuterie Board”, I highly recommend pairing CAOS with brie, fried Mexican panela, or with goat cheese. The flavors come together quite nicely. Also, I make a Fig Apple jam that goes nicely with cheeses. I had spoken of CAOS in one of my previous posts. Let me know if you want the recipe.
Here’s the recipe for my “squash boats”.
- Wash and slice two acorn squash. Clean out seeds. Assemble on a baking pan. You should have four “boats” into which you add this mixture:
- Two apples: Cored and diced with skins. I like honey crisp.
- Two oranges: Diced with peels
- 3/4 cup (96g) raisins
- 3/4 cup (96g) Walnuts
- 2/3 cup (85g) salted butter
- 2/3 cup (85g) brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (96g) brandy
Preheat your oven to 365 degrees (185 Celsius).
Add ingredients (#2 to #8) in a bowl. Mix well and spoon into prepared squash.
Put an additional pat of butter on each boat before you put into oven. Bake until the squash is soft and the fruits are bubbly. Serve whole boats on table.
I knew I wanted to cook a large meal, but most people we knew had plans, and we’ve only lived in this town since last May. I called one set of our best friends who live a little more than two hours away. Their daughters would not be joining them for Thanksgiving, so I said, “Come spend a few days with us, and eat Thanksgiving!” They agreed, and we had a marvelous time! I am so grateful for friends. I miss our children and grandchildren, and my family, and I am so fortunate to have friends. I see them as “adopted” family, certainly.
Our lovely day, filled with warmth and laughter, ended with turkey sandwiches and more laughter.
Thank you for reading.