Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Thanksgiving DinnerFor some of us, feasting at Your Thanksgiving Dinner Table will be nothing like feasting At the first Thanksgiving table. How was it back then, and what would be the difference between the two tables? Let’s take a look and see what has changes.

We’ll start with a look at our own Thanksgiving table, or take a look at an iconic American picture of this holiday feast. Chances are, in the center of the table sits a big turkey stuffed with all kinds of savory goodies. Then you’ll find bowls of whipped potatoes and hand made gravy, plus a bowl of sweet cranberry relish, alongside piping hot dishes of the ever popular green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and cheesy macaroni with golden buttery topping. Pumpkin pie is certain to be on the dessert menu as well as a few other dessert items.

This list is just a few dishes we think of when we imagine a Thanksgiving table in America. There would be others depending on where you live and what the family might be able to afford. How many of these dishes actually reflect the original feast? Probably not that many. Let’s take a look at what we might find and what it took to get it to the table.

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We start with The Hunt
A big golden brown turkey stuffed with an abundance of bread dressing takes center stage at most American tables during the Thanksgiving feast. But, that twenty pound bird is really the product of modern times.
According to historical notes, a hunting trip was organized for the first harvest feast, which First Thanksgivingwas a three day affair. The hunting group would have bagged whatever was plentiful, which was very likely a mix of duck and geese, along with other small wild fowl, with a few wild turkeys along the way and perhaps a rabbit or two. The birds would have been stuffed with onions and herbs, and not with any sort of bread-like stuffing.

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Thanksgiving With a table filled with wild game birds, you would think there would be no need for other meat. However, deer was plentiful and was actually given as a gift from the Wampanoag tribe to the Pilgrims for the feast. This venison would have most likely been roasted over an open fire pit, some served immediately while the the remaining meat slow simmered for stew to be served over the next few days.

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Next there would be Fresh Pickings
Because this three day celebration was held during the fall season, we know the foods harvested in this region’s climate would have included onions, carrots, cabbage, beans, gluten free Thanksgivingturnips, and even some late season corn.
The onions may have been used to flavor other dishes, but would also have been roasted and served as a side dish by themselves. Flavored with herbs, large pots of carrots, cabbage, and beans were also roasted on open fires.
Corn was not the super-sweet and tender variety we are familiar with today. Late season corn, in particular, would be a bit starchy. It would have been cut from the cob and thrown into a skillet to simmer, probably along with other vegetables. Some of the corn would have been dried and ground to make a coarse meal suitable for making bread.

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Even though the settlers had learned to enjoy some tubers, like turnips, they never really caught on to potatoes, either russet or sweet. Introduced by Spanish explorers, the European settlers passed on potatoes for many years, making this one veggie that wasn’t on the first Thanksgiving table.

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berriesFresh fruits and berries would be plentiful at this time of year. Plums, gooseberries, raspberries, and cranberries were served in a variety of ways, none of which would be sweet. Since sugar was scare, the dishes made with fruits and berries would typically be tart. We would definitely not have the sort of cranberry relish we know today.

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And Fresh From The Waters
Along with game and fresh vegetables, fruits, and berries, the region also had an             abundance of seafood. Mussels, oysters, fish, clams, and even lobster were part of the diet grilled fishin the region, so it makes sense that these foods were part of any feast.
Large fish may have been stuffed with onion and other vegetables and herbs, then roasted over an open fire. During one of the three days, this may have actually been served as the main dish.

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About the Pumpkin Pie
And, finally, we come to one of the dishes we all can agree has Thanksgiving stamped all over it – pumpkin pie. Although it is true that pumpkin was found on tables in this region during the time of the first Thanksgiving feast, it would not have been in the form of a pie.
The settlers did not have fully equipped kitchens or pantries such as we know today. They cooked in fire pits, not ovens. And the pantry didn’t have butter or refined flour to produce a tender pie crust.
Instead, we have documentation that shows the settlers created a sweetened pumpkin dish by carving out the pumpkin and filling the insides with honey, milk, and even berries, then putting the top back on the pumpkin and roasting it whole in the fire pit. Once removed and cooled slightly, the creamy insides were scooped out and served warm. Aside from the crust, this sounds pretty close to what we have today for pumpkin pie.

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The next time you picture a typical Thanksgiving dinner, try throwing in a few images of the First Thanksgiving and see how your table-scape changes.

Now here’s a little secret that you many not know. In Mexico we still eat family meals cooked in the same way as the Pilgrims. In the cities there are ovens and stoves and baked goods just as in the states, however in most of the regions outside the larger cities,

cooking on a stove in Mexico last year

cooking on a stove in Mexico last year

people still cook without an oven. We live in one of those areas and many of our friends have adjusted to that lifestyle as well. The corn is not the sweet corn found in the states and the bread is the well known tortilla, made with a recipe that might be much the same as the the pilgrims recipe for bread. We grind the corn and make corn tortillas. You won’t find much Turkey but there is a lot of pork dishes, chicken dishes and wild caught fish at most larger parties. Celebrating Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Mexico however many of us from the states still get

My wife grinding corn for tortillas last year

My wife grinding corn for tortillas last year

together to celebrate it with a specially  prepared meal. November is the warm season in the part of Mexico we live in, so most all of the afternoon meals are eaten outdoors. We also cook outdoors to avoid over heating our homes. I don’t think the pilgrims would have had to consider the heat at the time of year they enjoyed the first Thanksgiving, and this year it is so cold across the United States that I am sure that most of the dinners will be served indoors.

I hope you enjoy a Happy and warm Thanksgiving!

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Enjoying A Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving TurkeyWe can Enjoy A Healthy Thanksgiving by Staying Focused on Friends and Family and not so much on the “all you can eat” offerings on the dinning room table. As hard as this might sound, keep in mind that between Thanksgiving day and New Years day there are going to be many many opportunities to eat, some of them healthy and some of them, well maybe not so healthy.

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Compared to other holidays in America, it seems that our Thanksgiving has taken Continue reading

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A Little Thanksgiving History

Carving the turkeyIt’s time to share A Little Thanksgiving History and how the transformation of Thanksgiving traditions has changed over the years. The Wampanoag tribe were the Indians that helped the settlers and were there for the first Thanksgiving. We do not hear much about them except for this time of the year when most of the country celebrates Thanksgiving.

The settlers had reason to celebrate; it was their first real harvest, and they wanted Continue reading

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Water to Grow Beef

raising cattle for foodThis past week I wrote and article that included a little about the Water to Grow Beef. Namely I mentioned that between 1,500 and 3, 000 gallons of water is used to produce one pound of beef. You can read the complete article at; http://www.healthyfoodanddiet.com/meatless-monday-and-your-environmental-footprint One of my  friends has suggested that perhaps my information is incorrect and that it takes only about 30 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.  My friend felt that I had Continue reading

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Meatless Monday and Your Environmental Footprint

Meatless MondaysMeatless Monday and Your Environmental Footprint are connected in ways that many of us overlook yet are very important.  We kind of just think, well it’s good for me so I will go one day a week without meat for my health.

As you plan your meatless meals this Monday, think about this,  Our environmental footprints are directly measured by the amount of demand we make on Earth’s ecological system.

To calculate the impact of environmental footprints, Continue reading

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Gluten-Free Tomato Soup

Tomato SoupIt is starting to look like I will be making a lot of soups over the next few months. Homemade Gluten-Free Tomato Soup is perhaps one of my favorites because it reminds me of my school years. Of course during the days we were in class we always had enough to eat. In fact we were required to eat some of everything we cooked. The days when there were no classes was the challenge. Money was in short supply and for meals eaten at home, we always looked for the most inexpensive but filling foods available. One meal that was very popular was tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Today I usually forgo the grilled cheese and replace it with some rye bread or a Sourdough baguette. I’m trying to cut back on the cheese a little and dunking a piece of sourdough into tomato soup is just as filling. The hardest part is finding a gluten free sourdough baguette. I can find the gluten free baguettes at my local grocery store once in a while but they are so expensive that it is a special treat. I do have a good recipe for making sourdough bread and I will share it with you as soon as I start baking again.

Gluten-Free Tomato Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: International
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of gluten-free chicken stock
  • 3-4 large tomatoes (equaling 3 cups) of peeled, seeded and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. of oregano
  • ⅛ tsp. of marjoram
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper
Method
  1. In a large pot, add the tomatoes, garlic cloves, onion, oregano, marjoram, and fresh basil. Next, add the gluten-free chicken stock
  2. Mix everything together.
  3. Bring the items to a boil in the pot
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes
  5. Remove from the heat and.allow the soup to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Once it has cooled some, blend the mixture a little at a time in a food blender,
  7. When it is all blended return it to the pot, and warm it up before serving.

 

Often on a chilly day I will sip this soup from a cup while working on the computer, in place of hot coffee.

One of the side effects of living a gluten free lifestyle is that you do a lot of your own cooking from scratch. This is really a much healthier way to eat and once you get into the practice of cooking your meals it actually becomes very gratifying.

Chefs Note: If you wish to have the soup a little creamy you can add a cup of soy milk or rice milk when you reheat the soup. I do this with Gluten-Free Tomato Soup and some of  the other soups I will be sharing with you this winter. Of course heavy cream is also an option as it is gluten free but it also will pack on the calories if that is a concern of yours.

Today is Meatless Monday so how about a nice bowl of homemade Gluten-Free Tomato soup for lunch.

 

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Gluten Free Halloween Candy

Gluten Free CandyYe Gads it’s almost the end of October and Halloween is upon us. So the big question might be, What are my choices for Gluten Free Halloween Candy? Well they are quit good. Actually they are better than I believed at first. This list is long so I am going to give you a web sight to visit and get all the information needed.

Please keep in mind that the candies listed are considered to be gluten-free by their United States manufacturers as of 2013 and if it does not state “gluten Free’ on the package, read the ingredients list carefully. OK, visit;

http://celiac.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Halloween-Candy-List.pdf

This will take you to information on products by Hershey, Necco, Tootsie Roll, Just Born, Gluten Free Halloween CandySmarties, Nestle, Jelly Belly, Surf sweets, Justin all Natural and Wrigley.

So with a little research You can have your Halloween candy without the scary part, unless of course you get all dressed up and go knocking on doors. That’s the spooky stuff.

Relax and have fun.  Celebrate the month with all the things that make Halloween fun besides just the candy – crafts, pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving, and enjoying the falling leaves.  If you have children that must remain gluten free then it might be a great idea to have a party at your house so you can control the Gluten Free Halloween Candy they eat. If they must go trick-or-treating, have a lot of gluten candy at home and when you get back, go thru their candy bag and trade them 2 gluten free candies for each candy you must take away. They will love the deal and you will remain in control.  When your in control it can be great fun.

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Friends I’ve Met Online Pt.2

FriendsToday I would like to introduce you to another of the friends I have met online. We will call this Friends I’ve met Online Pt.2 because a couple of weeks ago I wrote the first article about another of my friends. When you spend as much time writing at your computer and you have an active blog it is not long before you find people that spark you interest in what they write and you begin to follow them on a regular basis. Over time you develop a friendship with them as you exchange ideas and articles. This is about one of those people.

It might be a surprise to find out that even Chefs have other chefs that they enjoy and learn from. After all they can teach us only so much in school before we go out into the world to ply our trade. We must continue to learn to become ever better in our profession.

The first great chef to grab my attention when I was just starting out was James Beard. Known as the “Dean of American cookery” he helped bring American cooking to the forefront and let the rest of the world know that we have a national cuisine.

Then there was Justin Wilson, a showman in the kitchen who was so much fun to listen to and watch during his weekly television show. His story telling while cooking his brand of Cajun cuisine put life into kitchen life.

There are others, such as Bobby Flay and Jamie Oliver that I enjoy watching do their magic in the kitchen and then there  is the Chef that I want to introduce you to today.

Her name is: Anita-Clare Field and her blog is Lover of Creating Flavours which English Marmitekind of describes her and yet there is so much more that she shares with us. She introduces us to many different people such as her fish Monger and her Cheese Monger, she takes us to visit people that produce cheese, and hogs and chefs that she admires. She also has a thing about Marmite, as I believe everyone in England has. I really don’t know why but then it has been years since I visited England and tasted it so I am  not completely sure of the flavor. I did really learn to enjoy orange marmalade on scones during my visits. Perhaps I didn’t spend enough time with marmite to learn to enjoy it as much as Anita-Clare Field does.

She shared with us her wedding to Caro Field and all the behind the scenes preparation that went into making sure that everything would be perfect on the wedding day.

In this past few months she has shared in the development of her and Caro’s latest adventure “La Petite Bouchee” and some of the meals that they prepare to serve in the limited space they have to work in. It really is worth a visit to her website to see this little marvel of Ingenuity.

What really stands out for me as a Chef is the background that Anita-Clare Field shares with her readers with every recipe that she shares with us. Before you get the recipe for Carpaccio of Geoduck With Horseradish Cream And Lime, you will get a lesson on just what Geoduck is, where it hails from and how to prepare it. Likewise with the recipe for African Peanut Stew you will learn all about the Selim Pepper including where it is grown and how it is used. All of her recipes include a little history about one or more of the ingredients that are being used. That makes serving the dish so much more exciting. You can share with your guests great food and at the same time impress them by sharing your new found knowledge about what they are enjoying. She brings to her blog recipes from around the world, and in every case you will also get this background information that will bring the recipe to life.

So treat yourself and take a few minutes and visit my friend Anita-Clare Field at Http://LoverofCreatingFlavours.co.uk If you enjoy knowing about food and it’s history as well as learning a few new recipes, you will be glad you did.

 

 

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Winter Dinners In A Hurry

Clean Eating is Healthy EatingIf preparing Winter Dinners In A Hurry sounds good to you then here are a couple of recipes that just might fit your needs. On the cold days ahead things can get ahead of us and it is almost dinner time before we are ready. Wintertime means comfort foods. But many of those comfort foods can be time-consuming. Sometimes you really just need something you can whip up real quick, but that’s hearty and warming. Here are some winter dinner ideas that you can do on the fly. They’ll taste great and won’t take you long to cook.

Creamy Chicken Stew
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • ¾ lb small red potatoes (about 8), quartered
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • ¼ cup gluten free Italian salad dressing
  • 2 cups frozen stew vegetables
  • ½ cup sour cream
Method
  1. Place potatoes and water in a microwave safe dish and cover. Microwave on high 7 minutes or until fork tender. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add potatoes, condensed milk, dressing and vegetables to saucepan. Bring to boil; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are heated through.
  3. Stir in sour cream; cook 1 minute or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

 

Serve the chicken stew with a small salad and you have a nice dinner in only a matter of minutes. Hopefully those vegetables were harvested from your garden. If not, look for organicly grown vegetables whenever possible.

 

30 Minute Chili
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef or turkey
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ bottle (6 ounce) of beer
  • 1 14 ounces beef broth
  • 1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 oz gluten free smoky barbecue sauce
  • 3 tbsp hot sauce
  • 6 oz shredded smoked cheddar cheese
Method
  1. Heat oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beef and brown for another 3-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add beer and allow it to reduce by half.
  2. Stir in broth, paste, chili powder, cumin, barbecue sauce, and hot sauce. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Top with cheese. Great served with corn chips.

 

Hopefully you have made some homemade beef stock over the summer and have some stored in the freezer. I do not like to use the canned broth because of the excess salt.

 

Crispy Chicken Cutlets
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs chicken cutlets
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1 cup gluten free Italian breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ – ½ cup grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp poultry season
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 jar (3 ounces) pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 farm fresh eggs, beaten
  • Olive oil
Method
  1. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish and turn cutlets lightly in flour.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, red pepper flakes, poultry seasoning, garlic, pine nuts, and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse to evenly mix. Transfer the mixture to a plate. Beat eggs in a separate shallow dish.
  3. Heat a thin layer of oil, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan, in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Coat cutlets in eggs, then bread and place in hot oil. Cook cutlets in a single layer until breading is evenly browned and juices run clear, 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate.

 

You will notice that these recipes are written with a gluten free lifestyle in mind. I live a lifestyle that is gluten free by choice and not for medical reasons. I will explain a little more about that but first another recipe.

 

Vodka Cream Pasta
 
[b]Please Note: If you are on a Gluten Free Diet for any reason, be sure that the Vodka you use is not made from wheat.[/b]
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 cup gluten free vodka
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces gluten free pasta
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Method
  1. Boil water for your pasta.
  2. Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently sauté garlic and shallots for 3-5 minutes. Add vodka and stir. Reduce vodka by half, 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock and tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble, then reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
  4. Stir cream into vodka sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves.

 

There are several gluten free vodkas on the market but you must be aware of what you are buying. For example Blue Ice Vodka makes two different vodkas. The one in the blue bottle is a potato based vodka while the other one is a wheat based vodka. Another Vodka, Bombora Vodka is a grape based vodka and is gluten free. There are others, so do a little research and you will find one that fits your requirements.

 

Balsamic Pork Tenderloins
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ pounds total)
  • Balsamic vinegar (about 3 tbsp)
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, cracked
  • 2 tbsp sea salt and fresh ground black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs each rosemary and thyme, finely chopped
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Trim silver skin off tenderloins.
  3. Place tenderloins on a non-stick cookie sheet with a rim.
  4. Coat tenderloins in balsamic vinegar, rubbing into the meat.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil to coat.
  6. Cut small slits into meat and place chunks of cracked garlic in the meat.
  7. Combine salt and pepper with rosemary and thyme and rub on the meat. Roast in hot oven 20-25 minutes.
  8. Let meat rest, then slice and serve.

These are just a few quick and hearty meals for the winter.  I promise that I will add more as we move along into the winter months. Some of these will be from the collection of Mexican recipes I have from my life while living there.

Now I promised to tell you about why I chose a gluten free lifestyle when I did not need to according to any medical history or advice from any doctor I visit from time to time. As a Chef I have always had a battle with my weight. Way to much rich, fattening food at my fingertips in an environment where you do not set down to eat as you keep working.  At one time not to many years ago I reached 337 pounds and at six feet tall that was a big problem. I do believe I tried every diet out there from weight watchers (a very good food program I must add) to the Atkins diet which I would not recommend to any of my friends, to the South Beach diet which might work for some but not for me. For me it must be a complete lifestyle adjustment which is more than a diet.  What changed it for me? I read a book that made complete since to me. The concept is that we are Hunters or we are Farmers. Turns out that after taking the test in the book, I am a Hunter. Dr. Liponis  suggests that for hunters it is wise to cut way back on gluten, which I have done. I am happy with the success I am having with his advice which includes some other lifestyle changes hunters can make for better control of their body and mind.

You can probably find the book in your local book store. If you click on the picture above, it will take you to my affiliate sight. That means that while you will not pay more for the book, the book seller will send me a few cents somewhat like they would pay a store employee. I liked the book enough to buy a copy so I wanted to tell everyone about it.

We will be adding a lot of new gluten free recipes over the coming weeks so please check back often.

You should be able to find almost all of the above gluten free products at your local health food store and even perhaps at your local supermarket. However if you can not find something, take a look at Chef Williams Nutrition Store If it is something I use I like to offer it to others. I make a few cents on each sale which helps support my blog post,

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Quesadillas and Tacos

Gluten freeThis past week I shared a recipe about quesadillas and I was asked what exactly a quesadilla is. That was a very good question. When you make a lot of Mexican food like we do, it is easy to forget to explain what the difference is between Quesadillas and Tacos.

All of the following items have one thing in common, they all start with a tortilla. Sometimes it’s corn and sometimes flour but the tortilla is the container that will deliver the food. Often times these can be eaten directly from your hand, sometimes they will Continue reading

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