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Thanksgiving Recipes and Resources - Fact, Fiction, Fun and a First Beer Fest

Updated on November 21, 2021
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty collects customs, recipes, and gadgets from the past and is particularly interested in Early American and Indigenous Peoples.


Make of Thanksgiving What You Will

Modern Thanksgiving is held in the Western Hemisphere in at least two nations: Canada (October) and USA (November). Before this modern version of the holiday was declared, it was celebrated by Spanish settlers and Native American Nations according to their own many-centuried traditions. Other cultures also hold a long tradition of giving thanks for the harvest, for rain, and for a number of other things necessary in life. An official holiday puts a logo on it.

American Thanksgiving history is very interesting in that it is often taught incorrectly in K-12. It was initially not happy, there were no black-clad "pilgrims' (the term was adopted in 1840) and there was no pumpkin pie - pumpkin squash puddings were good, though. This is all clear from the diary of one of the first male settlers, preserved in Plimouth Plantation Museum in Plymouth today.

The solemn black clothing of the settlers was invented by early image manipulators in an 1840 magazine and news ads in the Easter US to make us all think that these were people more holy and good. There was no flour for pie crusts and, in fact, there was no food at first, just beer.

Thanksgiving Brew


Beer Fest

The first Thanksgiving had a deficit of food among colorfully-clad poor white folks that called themselves saints. They did have big barrels of beer the men had brewed and brought abroad their ship. Shot turkeys and other supplies were kept in a locked area of the village by Governor Bradford. Thus, the First Thanksgiving would have been a drinking holiday, but was saved by Indigenous Peoples.

A single Native American man was invited, and by custom, he brought 90 of his village members along and they all brought food. The settlers' women cooked with their native friends. However, the beer worked a problem and drinking among the whites got out of hand, with wild gunfire into the air and days later, bloodshed following.

The first Canadian-inspired Thanksgiving seems more pleasant, a ceremony on board the ship Judith before successful landing at Countess of Warwick Island (Robert Ruby, in An Unknown Shore) in August 1578 by Martin Frobisher amid extended search for the Northwest Passage. It was an English prayer service, considered a first Thanksgiving in the New World. Many accounts list the shores of Newfoundland for the ceremony, but the respected Mr. Ruby is adamant that the evidence is otherwise.

Religious Holiday

Declared a religious national holiday sometime between 1859 and 1879, it was put on a Monday and more declared secular in 1908.

In 1957, Thanksgiving officially became the second Monday in October, " a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed" (data from York University, Toronto) -- Churches celebrate the Monday holiday tradition, but the day is one for secular celebrations as well. Not all Canadian provinces celebrate the holiday in the same ways, according to several accounts.

In the 21st Century, we can make our own family traditions for Thanksgiving and take the best parts of the Canadian and later American festivities. We needn't ruin the holiday by overemphasizing the bad starts, but we need to tell the kids the truth at some point.

Please enjoy all the offerings below, while I start off with some unique holiday soup recipes you might enjoy this year.

A Saint Called "Remember"

Duck Broth

Turkey is not the only poultry available for Thanksgiving meals. Other options are duck, pheasant, goose, quail, and others. This Duck Broth is light and a perfect balance for a heavy turkey dinner as a first or second course.

Serves 2-4, depending on size of bowls. This can also be a small course, served in a cup.


  • 18 oz vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tsp ground red pepper
  • 3 - 5 pieces lemon grass
  • 1 Tbsp orange blossom honey
  • 2 duck leg quarters, skinned or 1 duck breast, halved


  1. Pour stock into a pot and boil.
  2. Add all of remaining items except duck and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat; add duck and cook on both sides until fat melts and meat begins to brown.
  4. Remove duck heat and let ir rest for 5 minutes. Nexr, cut duck into serving pieces.
  5. Pour broth into serving bowls and add duck.

Light Carrot Soup

Serves 4- 6


  • 2 Cups sliced raw carrots
  • 8 oz vegetable stock
  • 1/3 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 2.5 Cups milk substitute - rice milk or soy milk
  • 3 oz cream cheese, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 Cup chopped Cilantro


  1. Boil carrots briefly in stock. Reduce to simmer and add sugar and cilantro, stir, and cook until tender.
  2. Sauté onions in oil add flour and make a roux. Then add milk substitute an cook and stir until thick.
  3. Pour 1/4 of the hot mixture into a bowl containing cream cheese, stir, and pot back into the skillet.

Buttermilk Soup

This is another good option for Thanksgiving meals and seems to go well with harvest plant and animal crops.

Serves 6-8


  • 4 Cups buttlermilk
  • 1 Tbsp each milk and flour
  • 1/2 Cup raisins
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • Sugar to individual taste
  • 1 Cup whipping cream


  1. In a small bowl, thoroughly mix flour and milk.
  2. Put buttermilk in a large pot and place over medium heat nd rasie to the boil.
  3. Add flour-milk mixture, stir until blended, and add all remaining items.
  4. Cook until raisins are soft and runt off heat.
  5. Serve with sugar and whipped cream.

Thanksgiving Resources

The following groups of links provide a number of free, public domain Thanksgiving Coloring Pages that you print and share with others, unbounded by copyrights; gifts, histories and points of view, and many good recipes for this Thanksgiving Holiday season in America and Canada, as well as in other parts of the world among different peoples.

North American Thanksgiving Activities

National Day of Mourning for Native Americans

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS


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