A "Native" American Thanksgiving Feast for Campers and RVers
If you are lucky enough to be camping or Rving this Thanksgiving - that is quite enough reason to be thankful. But my guess is that you have many things to be thankful for this year. This year give thanks the way early American settlers and the lands native people did by creating a feast featuring the bounty of the rich and fertile land, sea, rivers and lakes of these great United States. Read on for a little history and some great recipes to make this a Thanksgiving to remember.
Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes:
Bread Pudding with Pumpkin and Cranberries
Native American Dishes
It's no wonder that we associate many Native American dishes with Thanksgiving. Foods like cornbread, cranberry relish, blueberries, hominy, and turkey are all truly American in origin and have been adapted from Native American cuisine. Fry bread is another popular Native American dish that's fun to try at home.
In the Southwest, native cooks specialized in succotash, a stew that blends beans, corn, and squash or pumpkin. Not only does this dish provide complete protein, but it also makes sense in the growing process. Bean plants (and all legumes) are nitrogen fixers, which means they naturally leave nitrogen behind in the soil. Corn is a heavy nitrogen user, so when corn stalks are planted together with beans, they benefit one another. Also, the twining bean plants can use the corn stalks as a trellis. Squash, with its runners and vines, fits easily between the plants, providing shade for the roots and reducing evaporation, so the gardener doesn't have to use as much water. If you season your succotash with onions, tomatoes, tomatillos, wild ginger, salt, allspice, or pine nuts, you're creating a fully native meal.
Nuts and Berries
Our country is rich in native nut-producing trees and fruit-rich berry bushes. From the pecan groves of the south to the hazelnut groves of Oregon, we have a true wealth of nuts. Today, you can collect pine nuts and pinyon nuts from many state parks in Utah and the high desert regions. Look for chestnuts and hickory nuts in the east, sunflower seeds in the Midwest, and acorns all across the country.
You'll find wild currants, blueberries, huckleberries, juniper berries, and cranberries in different regions of the U.S. Many areas have their own special wild berries, from salmon berries and thimble-berries in the Pacific Northwest to chokecherries, gooseberries, and blackberries in the eastern states.
Honey is a natural sweetener that can be found in any part of the country. And of course, it's terrific drizzled on cornbread! If you live in a northern state, you might also have access to real maple syrup, a sweetener that's been used for hundreds of years. Long ago, people made maple syrup cakes that they could use to sweeten dishes for the whole year.
Meats and Main Dishes
Of course any native animal, from elk and deer to turkey and quail, would provide an excellent main course to your all-American feast. If you'd rather not do the hunting yourself, check your grocery store for bison, venison, or duck. Of course, turkey is easy to find at any time of year. Our coastal areas are rich with foods, from fish to crabs, oysters, clams, and lobster. Rivers, streams, and lakes also hold a bounty of fish. Beans and peanuts also provide excellent protein in a native vegetarian dish. And with all the nuts and seeds you can add, you'll have no trouble making something rich and satisfying.