Many won’t agree with me, but I’m not a Thanksgiving fan.
We were taught that Native Americans aided the first pilgrims, showing them where to source and grow food and hunt so they could survive … only to have their lands confiscated as more settlers arrived, their food sources obliterated, then herded onto poor country and denigrated thereafter.
I do recall many pleasant Thanksgivings crowded with grandparents and relatives, playing 500, mashing vats of potatoes, and always the big turkey in the oven to serve with fancy Jell-O side dishes, cakes, and pies.
If only I could deprogram myself to see the holiday as Cousin Lois does – an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, good food, and time with loved ones.
Thanksgiving triggers other disquieting thoughts for me.
I haven’t been able to eat turkey since living across the street from a processing factory in Willmar, Minnesota, where a group of us shared a rustic apartment above the town’s grain store in our first year away from home.
One night the factory caught fire, leading to a Silence of the Lambs scenario with screaming turkeys and lingering odors of singed feathers and cremated turkey flesh.
But don’t mind me. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and, in Cousin Lois’s spirit of harmony and gratitude, share an old Stearns County recipe for pumpkin pie.
In New Zealand we eat pumpkin as a roasted vegetable and in soups and curries but not in pies. As with cherry pie filling, you can’t buy cans of pumpkin pie filling here. If you’re desperate for pumpkin pie in New Zealand, you have to make it from scratch.
Fluffy Pumpkin Pie
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
15 ounce can pumpkin puree
2 cups milk
In a large saucepan mix sugar, cornstarch, spices, salt and brown sugar. Then add the eggs, canned pumpkin and milk (you can separate the eggs and use the whipped whites for meringue on the pie if you wish). Cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Add vanilla. Pour into baked pie crust. Chill and serve with whipped cream.
Sally Maritsch’s recipe from my mother’s St Anthony’s Christian Women 60th Anniversary cookbook, 1982.