24 November 2008

Giving Thanks

In 1620 Edward Winslow and his wife Elizabeth arrived on the Mayflower. Of the 102 to arrive, Edward Winslow was one of the 55 who survived the first winter. He remarried the widowed Mrs. Susanna White in 1621, the first marriage in the Plymouth Colony. The lone account of the first Thanksgiving was written by Edward Winslow.
"Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."




If you are interested in history as a side to your turkey, give this book a serious look: Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie by Kathleen Curtin, Sandra L. Oliver, and The Plimoth Plantation. Plimoth Plantation is the leading authority on Thanksgiving. This beautiful book collects history, photographs and recipes to form a lively account of Thanksgivings from Edward Winslow to Macy's, from deere to tofu turkey, from Indian pudding to Karo pecan pie.

In a world of electronic media when "the book" is often looked upon as a relic, Giving Thanks is an homage to what book publishing can be. The book is printed on thick, glossy paper with great photography and pretty great recipes to boot!



We doff our pilgrim hat to the folks at Clarkson Potter.

I stopped by the post office today, and I had my copy of Giving Thanks in hand. Nelda, the post mistress, chatted with me and said she was thinking of making a cranberry salad her mother made but she didn't have the recipe. I flipped to the index and quickly found Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad, which was pretty much the salad her mother made for years. As with so much in this book, we not only get the recipe but why we eat such things:

According to Laura Shapiro's Perfection Salad, these tidy salads were heavily promoted by reform-minded domestic scientists, who saw them as a way to make a neat, pretty package out of a mixture of disparate ingredients that would other wise look sloppy on a plate.
Well sloppy or not, here it is. By the way the "red gelatin dessert" would be Jello!!

Thanksgiving Cranberry Salad

1 3-oz. package of red gelatin dessert
3/4 cup boiling water
1 16- oz. can of whole-cranberry sauce
1 small orange, seeded and chopped or ground with the peel
1/2 cup chopped peeled apple
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Oil a 5-cup mold or six individual molds. In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the gelatin dessert in the boiling water. Stir in the cranberry sauce. Chill the gelatin thickens but does not set. Add the orange, apple, celery and pecans and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared mold. Chill until firm.
Nothing says Thanksgiving like a congealed salad!

Be sure to add Giving Thanks to your cookbook library. While you're at it, add Laura Shapiro's Perfection Salad. It has been reprinted on numerous occasions, a testament to it's enduring legacy. For more information on early America visit Plimoth Plantation.

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