Manataka American Indian Council
The land, the streams, and the lakes of the Eastern Woodlands filled the larders of the Indians living there. The earth itself was their oven.
Along the Atlantic beaches, women of the Narragansett and Penobscot tribes dug deep pits in the sand, lined them with hot stones, filled them with shellfish and seaweed, and invented the clambake.
They baked dried beans in much the same way, sometimes leaving them buried in the ground for several days to bubble gently with maple sugar. After such long and slow cooking, the beans came from the oven nutty and rich and lightly glazed with fragrant sugar syrup.
A particular delicacy to these coastal tribes, as it is with us today, was the giant lobster, which the women steamed and seasoned with the sweet oil of sunflower seeds.
The Iroquois of New York's Finger Lakes roasted succulent ears of green corn in the husk or baked young milky kernels into puddings and cakes. They picked tart wild cherries and simmered them with maple sugar, and also made an applesauce all the richer for the skins having been included.
They smoked eel and blended them into savory stews, stuffed wild ducks with apples and grapes and turned them slowly over crackling flames so that the skin was browned and crisp, the meat tender as butter.
Indian women of the Eastern Woodlands were particularly accomplished and creative cooks. Also, as among the Hopi of Arizona and others, they occupied a place of respect within the family because it was through them that the lineage descended.
The Iroquois women were property owners. The longhouses, or communal lodges, belonged to them as did the fields and the crops.
At corn-planting time, whole villages of women would go to the fields and offer a prayer, each repeating, "God, our Father, you see me and my children. We stand in the middle of the field where we are going to plant our food. We beg you to supply us with an abundant yield of corn." Sometimes the men of the families chanted prayers, too: "In the sky you live, Haweni'yu'. We are ready to place in the ground the corn upon which we live. We ask for assistance and that we may have a plentiful crop." Then the women began to work.
Together they sowed the seed, weeded the rows, and gathered the bounty, not only because many hands made light of their labor, but also because they simply enjoyed one another's company. Fields rang with song as they tended their crops.
Europeans first traveling among the various Eastern tribes found them a hospitable people. Whenever a stranger entered a longhouse, the woman's first duty was to set food and tobacco before him. Neglecting to do so was considered an inexcusable affront. Only after the visitor had dined to his satisfaction was he asked to state the nature of his business.
Unlike the Salish, Tlingit, and others of the Northwest Coast, most eastern tribes enjoyed only one full meal a day~ A combination of breakfast and lunch, which they ate before noon. This was the time for hearty food, a robust rack of game or broiled fish, a crisp salad, baked pumpkin or squash, and crunchy hazelnut cakes.
The men ate first, usually from wooden or earthenware bowls. Afterward, the women and children ate what was left. Meals were usually silent affairs with each family member sitting or standing. If a guest was present, it was etiquette for him to say, upon finishing his meal, "Thanks," to which his host would reply, "it is well."
Parents carefully disciplined their children and taught them to give thanks for each meal. If a child failed to do so, he was told he would be punished by a stomach ache. Though there was no formal breakfast or supper, there was always food on hand, usually a gruel or hominy, for those who were hungry in the morning and evening, and for the stranger who might wander into the village.
John Bartram visited the Iroquois in 1743 and described a feast he was served: "This repast consisted of three great kettles of Indian corn soup, or thin hominy, with dry'd eels and other fish boiled in it, and one kettle full of young squashes and their flowers boiled in water, and a little meal mixed... last of all was served a great bowl full of Indian dumplings, made of new soft corn, cut or scraped off the ear, then with the addition of some boiled beans, lapped well up in Indian corn leaves, this is good hearty provision."
Feasts and ceremonies were popular among the Eastern Woodlands tribes, particularly among the Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, and Mohawk, who comprised the Iroquois League. Most were solemn, religious affairs, seasonal thanksgivings such as the Maple, Planting, Strawberry, Green Corn, Harvest, and New Year's festivals.
The woodsmen of the East could be thankful for a land that was good to them. We today can be thankful to these tribes for many dishes that have become New England classics: Soufflé-light codfish balls, clam chowder, Boston brown bread, cranberry pudding as moist and feathery as the finest of England, satin-smooth pumpkin soups, and wild beach plum jam to name a few.
Indeed, we have the Native American Indian to thank for the very idea of Thanksgiving
Source: The Art of American Indian Cooking, by Yeffe Kimball & Jean Anderson, ©1965.
MORE RECIPES & CRAFTS
HONORING OUR WOMEN
EVENTS AND CEREMONIES
STORIES AND HISTORY
The First Thanksgiving:
Honoring The Foods Shared By
Our Native American Ancestors
This is the time of year all
Americans become New Englanders. It was in the fall of 1621 that 90
Wampanoag Indians and 52 English settlers shared the food from the
season's harvest. Since then, the Thanksgiving season has been
celebrated with foods based on the hearty, simple cuisine the
pilgrims brought with them and adapted to their new environment.
Note: You may have a surprise or two regarding some of the foods that are considered
Pilgrim contributions, but were actually introduced to them by our Native Americans!
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
In a small bowl, mix together thyme, marjoram and parsley. Sprinkle
chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper. Rub herb mixture into
chicken, covering all sides.
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onons and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the clam juice, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in the milk, clams, and lemon rind. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 1 minute.
Place the arrowroot or cornstarch in a small bowl. Add the half-and-half and stir until smooth. Gradually stir into the soup. Add the Worcestershire sauce and parsley. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve dusted with paprika, if desired. Makes 4 Servings.
Per Serving: 324 Cal; 8 g Total Fat (4 g Sat Fat); 37 g Carb; 60 mg Cholesterol; 353 mg Sodium; 26 g Protein. Exchanges: 2-1/2 Starch; 4 Very Lean Meat; 2 Fat.
MOLASSES BROWN BREAD
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9- x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Combine all-purpose flour, graham flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and molasses; mix well. Stir in raisins and nuts.
Spoon batter evenly into pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.
Transfer pan to wire cooling rack; let stand 10 minutes. Turn bread out onto wire rack and cool completely. Cut into slices. Serve at room temperature with cream cheese, if desired. Makes about 18 (1/2-inch thick) Slices.
Per Slice (w/o cream cheese): 175 Cal; 3 g Total Fat; 35 g
Carb; 1 mg Cholesterol; 166 mg Sodium; 4 g Protein; 2 g Ditary
Fiber; 17 g Sugars. Exchanges: 2 Starch/Bread;
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
In a saucepan mix brown sugar, maple syrup, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cranberries. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or till cranberry skins pop, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in orange peel. Serve warm or chilled with roast poultry, pork, or ham. Makes about 1-3/4 cups.
Per (1 Tbsp) Serving: 28 Cal; 00 g Total Fat; 7 g Carb; 00 mg Cholesterol; 1 mg Sodium; 26 mg Potassium. Exchanges: 1/2 Fruit/Carbohydrate.
HOT BUTTERED CIDER
1 quart apple cider or apple juice
In a medium saucepan, combine apple cider or apple juice, honey, and lemon juice. For spice bag, place the cloves, allspice, and stick cinnamon in a double thick, 6-inch-square piece of 100 prcent cotton cheesecloth. Bring the corners of the cheesecloth together and tie them with a clean string. Add spice bag to cider mixture.
Cover saucepan, and heat cider through but do not boil. Discard spice bag and stir in brandy. Ladle the hot cider mixture into mugs; float about 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine atop each serving. If desired, serve the cider with cinnamon sticks as stirrers. Makes 6 (6-ounce) Servings.
Per Serving: 149 Cal; 2 g Total Fat (1 g Sat Fat); 29 g Carb; 5 mg Cholesterol; 25 mg Sodium; 210 mg Potassium. Exchanges: 2 Fruit.
5 cups sliced, peeled cooking apples, pears or peaches
1 (9-inch) Classic Crisco Shortening Single Crust dough (see Holiday Pies: A Delicious Slice For Every Taste for directions)
2 tsp skim milk
12 Tbsp whipped topping, frozen and thawed OR made from dry mix
For Filling: Toss apples with maple syrup, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Spoon into 8-inch square glass baking dish. Dot with Butter Flavor Crisco.
Heat oven to 400°F.
For Crust: Roll dough into 8-1/2 to 9-inch square between lightly floured sheets of waxed paper on dampened countertop. Peel off top sheet of waxed paper. Flip dough over on top of apples. Remove other sheet of waxed paper. press dough down along insides of dish. Trim pastry along inside edge. Cut large vents to allow steam to escape.
For Glaze: Brush with milk. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is light golden brown. Remove from oven.
Cut pastry into 2-inch squares. Spoon juice from bottom of dish over entire top of pastry. Return to oven. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top is deep golden brown. Serve warm with whipped topping. Makes 8 Servings.
Per Serving: 285 Cal; 11 g Total Fat (1 g Sat Fat); 45 g Carb; 00 mg Cholesterol; 145 mg Sodium; 3 g Protein. Exchanges: 2-1/2 Bread/Starch; 1/2 Fruit; 2 Fat.
1 (1 lb. 13-ounce) can pumpkin purée
Heat pumpkin purée, milk, butter, and honey together slowly in a large saucepan, stirring.
Combine maple sugar, marjoram, pepper, cinnamon, mace, and salt, and stir into pumpkin-milk mixture. Heat slowly, stirring, to simmering point. Do not boil.
Add the orange juice, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Serve hot. Or, for a refreshing summer soup, thin mixture with 2 cups milk, chill and serve icy cold. Makes 10 Servings.
Per Serving: 131 Cal; 5 g Total Fat (3 g Sat Fat); 20 g Carb; 14 mg Cholesterol; 311 mg Sodium; 353 mg Potassium; 4 g Protein; 2 g Dietary Fiber. Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Fat.
1-1/2 cups seedless raisins
Add the raisins to the hot milk. Mix 1 cup of the cold milk with the corn meal, then stir into the hot milk. Heat very slowly, stirring constantly, for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
Mix in the molasses, salt, sugar, ginger, nutmeg and butter. Pour into a buttered 2-quart casserole. Then pour the remaining 1/2 cup cold milk into the center of the pudding.
Set dish in a pan of cold water, and bake in a slow oven, 300°F, for 2-1/2 hours. Let cook for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Makes 8 Servings.
Per Serving: 320 Cal; 5 g Total Fat (3 g Sat Fat); 65 g Carb; 15 mg Cholesterol; 411 mg Sodium; 758 g Potassium; 7 g Protein; 2 g Fiber. Exchanges: 2-1/2 Bread/Starch; 1-1/2 Fruit; 1/2 Milk; 1 Fat.
2 cups flour
Sif the flour with 1/2 cup corn meal, the baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter or margarine. Quickly add the boiling water, mixing in well.
Divide the dough in half, and pat half of it in an 8- x 8- x 2-inch baking pan or dish which has been sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon corn meal.
Mash half of the gooseberries in their syrup, then stir in remaining gooseberries, honey, and lemon juice. Pour over the dough.
Top with remaining dough; sprinkle with remaining tablespoon corn meal.
Bake in a very hot oven, 425°F, for 30 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cut into squares and serve. Makes 8 Servings
Per Serving: 258 Cal; 10 g Total Fat (6 g Sat Fat); 39 g Carb; 30 mg Cholesterol; 401 mg Sodium; 5 g Protein; 5 g Fiber. Exchanges: 2 Bread/Starch; 1 Fruit; 1 Very Lean Meat; 2 Fat.
3 Tbsp light or reduced-fat
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the beans, corn, water and pepper. Cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetabhles are tender.
If you like creamy succotash, stir in the milk and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly. Serve hot. Makes 6 Servings.
Per Serving (with milk):
149 Cal; 5 g Total Fat (3 g Sat Fat); 22 g Carb; 13 mg Cholesterol;
87 mg Sodium; 424 mg Potassium; 7 g Protein; 3 g Fiber. Exchanges:
ACORN SQUASH STUFFED WITH
1-1/2 cups whole fresh or
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut each squash in half; seed and trim the bottom ends so that the halves will stand upright in a baking dish.
Bake the squash in the center of the oven, cut side down, for 35 minutes. Remove squash from the oven and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine cranberries, applesauce, orange peel, sugar and oil. Spoon the mixture into the squash cavities. Return filled squash halves to the oven and bake for 25 to30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Makes 4 Servings.
Per Serving: 207 Cal; 4
gTotal Fat (<1/2 g Sat Fat); 48 g Carb; 00 mg Cholesterol; 19 mg
Sodium; 909 mg Potassium;
MAPLE BAKED BEANS
4 cups water
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add water and beans to a large pot. Bring to the boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the liquid. (Add water to make 2 cups, if necessary).
In a small skillet, heat the oil or melt the butter. Add the onions and sauté until golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the onion, salt, maple syrup, dry mustard, and ginger to the beans, and transfer mixture to a 2-quart (oven-proof) baking pot.
Cover the pot and bake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours. Occasionally check the beans and add more water, if necessary. After 2 hours, uncover the beans and bake an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot. Makes 10 Servings.
Per Serving: 254 Cal; 2 g Total Fat (trace Sat Fat); 50 g Carb; 00 mg Cholesterol; 362 mg Sodium; 587 mg Potassium; 10 g Protein; 11 g Fiber. Exchanges: 3 Starch; 1 Very Lean Meat.
HICKORY NUT DROP CAKES
1 cup hickory nut meats
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Fold nut meats, sugar and baking powder into egg whites. Add a pinch or two of flour to crate a stiff batter.
Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake in center of oven for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove cakes to rack to cool. Makes 24 cakes.
Per Cake: 71 Cal; 3 g Total Fat; 10 g Carb; 00 mg Cholesterol; 31 mg Sodium; 2 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 8 g Sugars. Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Fat.
NARRAGANSETT STRAWBERRY BREAD
1/2 cup light butter such as
Sunsweet Lighter Bake® Butter
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray an 8- or 9-inch quare baking pan or dish and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until smooth.
Add flour, ground nuts, baking powder, and salt. Stir and add milk enough to make a stiff batter.
Gently fold in the strawberries and turn batter into prepared baking dish. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Let cool before slicing. Makes 9 Servings.
Per Serving: 243 Cal; 4 g Total Fat (< 1/2 g Sat Fat); 47 g Carb; 24 mg Cholesterol; 194 mg Sodium; 153 mg Potassium; 6 g Protein; 2 g Fiber. Exchanges: 3 Starch; 1 Fat.