Coffee Klatsch, Cuisine, Memories, Occasions

Thanksgiving Reflections

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.

Colonization isn’t something to celebrate in my view, and we debate this in New Zealand, too, where our annual Waitangi Day is controversial for similar reasons.

It’s a personal thing; Thanksgiving gives me the ick.

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

3 eggs

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.

Photo: istock

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Reflections”

  1. Lois Thielen says:

    This is the most unusual pumpkin pie recipe I have ever seen! More of a refrigerator pie. Just for fun, here’s my go-to recipe I have been making since high school.
    1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
    2 eggs, slightly beaten (do in measuring cup)
    1 15- or 16-oz. can of canned pumpkin puree
    (not pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin)
    3/4 c. sugar
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. ginger
    1/4 tsp. cloves
    1 & 2/3 c. evaporated milk (12 fluid oz. can
    or can use same amount of light cream)
    Make crust, set in refrigerator while making filling. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour eggs into large bowl; add sugar, salt and spices and mix well. Add pumpkin. Stir in milk or cream. Pour filling into pie shell. Carefully place on middle rack of preheated oven. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between middle and edge comes out clean.
    Enjoy Thanksgiving in whatever way is meaningful to you. My American friend who lives in Mexico every year makes a traditional Thanksgiving meal for all her Mexican friends and they all dine at tables outside in her yard. Don’t like turkey? Make chicken, or ham, or steak. Make it your holiday.

  2. Editor says:

    Thank you Lois! A Lois recipe is always a winner.

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