Chapter OneTHE FIRST THANKSGIVING
One cold day late in November 1620, a British ship named the Mayflower laid anchor off the tip of Cape Cod in present-day Massachusetts. The Mayflower was supposed to land in what was called "Northern Virginia," but the ship landed farther north instead. The passengers on the Mayflower were mainly Pilgrims from England who wanted to separate from the Church of England. They had spent a hard two months at sea to get to the New World because they felt it was the one place where they could practice their religion as they wished.
In a short time, the Pilgrims established their settlement on the shores of nearby Plymouth Bay. The area around Plymouth Bay was once inhabited by the Patuxet tribe. However, the Native American tribe had all been wiped out by 1618 by disease (probably smallpox) carried by earlier European explorers.
The first winter was very tough for the Pilgrims. They had only limited housing and food, and many died of malnutrition, exposure, and illness. Only half the original 102 settlers lived through to spring. In the spring, however, the Pilgrims' fortunes changed when they met Squanto, a member of the Patuxet who had grown up around Plymouth, but was kidnapped by an English captain and sold into slavery in Spain. Upon escaping from Spain, Squanto went to England where he was able to get on a ship sailing to the New World. Unfortunately, when he returned to his old village, he discovered that his people had all died. Using the English he had learned from his captors, Squanto was able to show the Pilgrims how to plant corn, catch cod and herring, tap maple trees for their sweet sap, and trap deer and other game (wild animals that are hunted).
Squash, beans, and a type of corn called maize were very important crops for the Native Americans, and they became important to the Pilgrims and future colonists as well. Native Americans showed the Pilgrims how to plant five kernels of corn into a mound of soil. Then, when the corn stalks were two or three feet tall, beans and squash were planted around the stalks. The cornstalks supported these plants and shaded them from the hot summer sun. Native Americans then taught the Pilgrims how to harvest the corn, grind it into cornmeal, and use it in cooking and baking.
The Pilgrims' first autumn was beautiful and their harvest was plentiful, and they decided to have a harvest feast. The Plymouth 1621 harvest feast included lots of food, games, and ninety Native American guests. It probably took place in late September or early October. Squanto was asked to invite braves from the local Wampanoag tribe and their leader Massasoit to the feast. Venison (deer meat), goose, duck, wild turkey, lobster, Indian corn, wild grapes, and puddings were some of the featured foods.
Golden Harvest Pumpkin Bread
Time 25 to 30 minutes to prepare plus 1 hour to bake
Tools 5 x 8-inch loaf pan dry and liquid measuring cups measuring spoons 2 medium bowls sifter wooden spoon 1 small bowl fork wire whip zipper-lock plastic bag rolling pin rubber spatula oven mitts wire rack
Makes 1 loaf
The first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims was an awesome feast, but we don't know much about the specific foods or dishes served. There certainly would have been pompion (pumpkin), but not in pompion pie. The pumpkins would probably have been stewed or boiled. Here's a way to make pumpkin a bit tastier.
vegetable oil cooking spray 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/3 cup margarine or butter 3/4 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 cup canned pumpkin puree 1/3 cup low-fat or skim milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/2 cup pecans 1/2 cup raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 350?F. Spray the loaf pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. These are the dry ingredients.
3. In the other medium bowl, cream the margarine and sugar by pressing the ingredients against the bowl with the back of the wooden spoon until soft and fluffy.
4. Break the eggs in the small bowl, and mix with a fork. Add the eggs, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla and mix with the wire whip.
5. Place the pecans in the plastic bag and zip the bag closed, making sure all the air is gone. Crush the nuts by rolling the rolling pin over the bag several times until the texture is coarse.
6. Add the creamed mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together just until the ingredients are well moistened.
7. With the rubber spatula, fold in the raisins and pecans.
8. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan.
9. Bake for 1 hour, or until the bread is firm and deep golden brown. Using oven mitts, remove the bread from the oven.
10. Let the bread cool on the wire rack for 20 minutes. Turn the pan over onto the wire rack and shake gently to remove the bread.
Cornmeal Blueberry Mush, or Sautauthig (Sawf-taw-teeg)
Time 15 minutes
Tools dry and liquid measuring cups colander measuring spoons 3-quart saucepan and lid wooden spoon wire whip small bowl
Makes 9 1/2-cup servings
This recipe was a favorite dish of the Native Americans of the Northeast. It was a simple pudding made with crushed dried blueberries, cracked corn (called samp), and water. Later, settlers added milk for additional richness. The Pilgrims loved sautauthig and many historians believe that it was part of the first Thanksgiving. Here is an updated version so you can try it too!
2 cups fresh blueberries 1 1/2 cups low-fat or skim milk 1 1/2 cups water 3/4 cups cornmeal 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons maple syrup 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 tablespoon sugar
1. Put the blueberries in the colander and rinse them under running water. Gently pat them dry.
2. Combine the milk and water in the saucepan.
3. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and stir constantly with the wooden spoon until bubbles form around the edges of the pan.
4. Using the wire whip, slowly stir in the cornmeal and salt and whisk constantly until there are no lumps in the mixture.
5. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
6. Turn off the heat and fold in the maple syrup and blueberries.
7. In the small bowl, mix together the nutmeg and sugar. Sprinkle on the top of the mush and serve immediately.
The Ultimate Roasted Turkey Breast
Time 10 minutes to prepare plus 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook
Tools paper towels roasting pan with rack measuring spoons pastry brush small bowl wooden spoon meat thermometer oven mitts serrated knife cutting board
Makes 4 to 5 servings
Turkey, ducks, geese, and venison (deer meat) were the main attractions of the first Thanksgiving feast.
3- to 4-pound turkey breast 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 teaspoon ground sage 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon dried rosemary 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 325?F and remove the turkey breast from the package.
2. Rinse inside cavity of turkey breast under running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
3. Place breast skin side up on the rack in the roasting pan.
4. Using the pastry brush, brush the turkey with the vegetable oil.
5. In the small bowl, mix together the sage, thyme, rosemary, paprika, salt, and pepper.
6. Sprinkle the spices on the turkey.
7. Place the turkey on the center rack in the oven and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. To check for doneness you will need a meat thermometer. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of breast without touching the bone. The meat is done when the temperature on the thermometer reaches 170?F.
8. When finished, take the turkey out of the oven with oven mitts. Let the meat rest for a few minutes.
9. Have an adult help you carve with a serrated knife on a cutting board.
Traditional Cranberry Sauce
Time 20 minutes to prepare plus 2 hours to chill
Tools dry and liquid measuring cups measuring spoons colander paper towels 3-quart saucepan wooden spoon heatproof bowl
Makes 8 1/4-cup servings
Berries and dried fruits were considered delicacies and were a main part of the first Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims may have made cranberry sauce sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar. Cranberries, which grew in wet swamps and marshes, were plentiful in the area. Native Americans also picked and ate cranberries, and used them to make pemmican. Pemmican, often referred to as "trail cake," was made of dried meat that had been pounded into a powder, fat such as deer fat, and dried cranberries or other dried berries. Pemmican was an easy-to-carry nutritious food that was always ready to eat.
1/2 pound cranberries 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Wash the cranberries in the colander, then pat dry with paper towels. Pick out any cranberries that are bruised or green.
2. In the saucepan, mix the sugar, water, and salt together with the wooden spoon. Place on top of the stove over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Bring the sugar mixture to a low boil. Ask an adult to add the cranberries to the pan.
4. Boil the cranberries for 5 minutes or until all of the skins stop popping.
5. Turn off the heat and allow the cranberry sauce to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
6. Transfer the sauce to the heatproof bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.