I know most of you will be traveling today and not spending much time online ... so here is some boring history stuff that I like, but you may not.
For many Americans, the Thanksgiving meal includes seasonal dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. The holiday feast dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration, an event regarded as America’s “first Thanksgiving.” But what was really on the menu at the famous banquet, and which of today’s time-honored favorites didn’t earn a place at the table until later in the holiday’s 400-year history?
While no records exist of the exact bill of fare, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow noted in his journal that the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the three-day event. Wild—but not domestic—turkey was indeed plentiful in the region and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely that the fowling party returned with other birds we know the colonists regularly consumed, such as ducks, geese and swans. Instead of bread-based stuffing, herbs, onions or nuts might have been added to the birds for extra flavor.
Turkey or no turkey, the first Thanksgiving’s attendees almost certainly got their fill of meat. Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag guests arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and that the colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.
'First Thanksgiving' Was Actually Not the First
Anyone who grew up in the United States know the story of the first Thanksgiving. But that portrait might not be so accurate.
Nearly 400 years ago in 1620, more than 100 people sailing in a ship called the Mayflower left England bound for the New World. Many of those on board were part of a religious group intent on separating from the Church of England, their beliefs outlawed in their home country. Because of the religious intent of their journey, these people referred to themselves as Pilgrims.
Instead of arriving at the southern coast of what would become the United States as intended, their ship instead drifted further north, landing them in Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts. They eventually settled in an abandoned Native American village that they named Plymouth.
During the first year in the New World, the colonists did not fare well. They arrived at the start of winter, so they couldn’t plant crops. Most didn’t know how to hunt game and in were in fact afraid of the wilderness.
Half of the colonists died that first year and the rest would have followed had it not been for the aid of the Wampanoag Indians. In exchange for protection against rival tribes, the Wampanoag allowed the colonists to live on their land and taught them how to grow crops, as the grain varieties they brought from England were ill-suited for their new home. The natives also instructed the Pilgrims on how to hunt and fish.
The Truth About Tryptophan
Every year at Thanksgiving, most of us engage in an annual rite of passage: stuffing ourselves mercilessly with turkey, cranberry sauce, and pie. Not a bad way to spend a Thursday. But inevitably, in that hour between feeling so full you think you'll explode and gearing up for round two with the leftovers, your relatives can find you conked out on the couch.
Along comes Aunt Mildred with her armchair scientific explanation. You're tired, she tells you, because the turkey you just ate is laden with L-tryptophan. Tryptophan, she says, makes you tired.
So is your aunt right? Is the turkey really what's to blame for Thanksgiving sleepiness?
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid. The body can't make it, so diet must supply tryptophan. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. Foods rich in tryptophan include, you guessed it, turkey. Tryptophan is also found in other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs.
Tryptophan is used by the body to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for digestion, skin and nerves, and serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that plays a large role in mood) and can help to create a feeling of well-being and relaxation. "When levels of serotonin are high, you're in a better mood, sleep better, and have a higher pain tolerance," says Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of numerous nutrition books, including her latest, Eat Your Way to Happiness.
Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
Combine the water, apple juice, salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, dried rosemary, and orange peel in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you're ready.
To brine the turkey, remove the turkey from wrapper, remove interior bags (set aside; refrigerate), and rinse turkey thoroughly under cool water.
Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag or a very large pot.
Pour the cooled brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to completely cover the turkey. Seal the bag or cover the pot and allow the turkey to brine in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours before roasting.
Before roasting, remove the turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Then soak in a sink full of fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat dry. Discard brine. (This soaking process will decrease the likelihood of too-salty gravy).
Preheat the oven 275 degrees F.
Truss the bird and place it breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover the turkey tightly with heavy-duty foil. Make sure it's entirely covered (cover over the bottom edges of the pan). Place in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes per pound (a 20 pound turkey will roast for about 3 1/2 hours).
Remove the turkey from the oven and increase the temperature to 375 degrees F. Remove the aluminum foil and set aside. Mix the softened butter with the rosemary and orange zest and rub all over the skin of the turkey, covering every single inch of the skin. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, near the hip joint. Place the turkey, uncovered, back into the oven. Continue roasting the turkey, basting with butter every 30 minutes, until the thermometer registers 170 degrees F and until the juices are no longer pink.
Remove from the oven and cover with foil until you are ready to carve and serve. Reserve pan juices to make gravy. - From The Food Network
Thanksgiving Trivia Time!
When the guests around your Thanksgiving table are busy stuffing their bellies today, here's one way to break the lull in conversation: dazzle them with some tasty turkey trivia.
Here's 9 to get you started. We bet you they'll eat them up!
1. A tradition is born: TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving -- by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side?Thus, the first TV dinner was born!
2. Going shopping?: Not if you're a plumber. Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for them, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation's largest plumbing service. After all, someone has to clean up after household guests who "overwhelm the system."
Austin Powers: Who does Number 2 work for? Who does Number 2 work for?
Cowboy in the next toilet stall (Tom Arnold): Yeah, that's right! You show that turd who's boss!
3. This land is my land: There are four places in the United States named Turkey. Louisiana's Turkey Creek is the most populous, with a whopping 435 residents. There's also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, let's not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!
4. Leaving a legacy: When Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. Her other claim to fame? She also wrote the nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb."