Food Fun and Facts - The Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving Recipes and Stories

The Pilgrims First Thanksgiving

This following little piece is called "The First Thanksgiving."

The brave little band of Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 almost perished in the long, hard winter because of inadequate supplies and no knowledge of how to conquer the wilderness in the New World.

They found unexpected assistance in the last days of the winter when an armed Indian, Samoset, walked into their council meeting and amazed them by saying in English, "Welcome!"

Samoset, an Abenaki Indian, had heard of the landing of the English Party.

He helped them by acting as ambassador between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, the Wampanoag chief.

Later tow other English speaking Indians appeared, Tisquantum, usually called Squanto, and Hobomok

Each in his way was a tower of strength in the early struggles of the Pilrims.

They taught them the lore of the forest, methods of fishing and hunting, and first introduced them to the growing of corn which they planted along with their supplies of wheat and rye seed.

At the first harvest in the fall of 1621, Indians and Pilgrims joined for a harvest feat and celebration, with the Indian and Pilgrim hunters supplying deer, duck and geese.

Although the feast was in October, it was the forerunner of our own Thanksgiving celebration, first proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863 for the last Thursday in November.

The Above Little Story is from the book "The Plimoth Colony Cook Book" by the Plymouth Antiquarian Society.
Date Published Unknown.

Photo of a Cranberry Bush in Fruit

Plymouth Curiosities

Cran Berry or Bearberry, because the bears use much to feed upon them, is a small trayling plant that grows in salt marshes that are overgrown with moss.

The Berries are of a pale yellow color after-ward red, as big as a cherry; some perfectly round, others oval; all of them hollow with a sower astringent taste and
they are ripe in August and September.

The Indians and English use them much boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their meat;
and it is a delicate sauce, especially for roasted Mutton; Some make tarts with them as with Goose Berries.
The above Cranberry Information is from "New England's Rarities Discovered" by John Josselyn (1672),
Which was published in "The Plimoth Colony Cookbook" published by the Plymouth Antiquarian Society

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Native American Prayer of Thanksgiving

O Great Spirit, Creator and source of every blessing, we pray that you will bring peace to all our brothers and sisters of this world.

Give us wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect and to be kind to each other.

Help us to learn to share all the good things that you provide for us.

Bless all who share this meal with us today.

We ask your special blessing on those who are hungry today, especially little children.

Help us to be just and to bring your peace to all the earth.

Praise and Thanksgiving be to you, my Lord. Amen

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Eat Pork!"

A Pilgrim Breakfast

Here are 4 recipes from "The Plimoth Colony Cook Book"

These are recipes for a Pilgrim Breakfast that is served at the Harlow Old Fort House in Plymouth, Ma.
These breakfasts are served outdoors in the summertime and they are served by waitresses dressed as pilgrims.

Recipe for Harlow House Fish Cakes


4 cups potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 cup salt fish, picked and shredded
2 slightly beaten eggs


Boil together the potatoes and fish until potatoes are tender.

Drain, mash and beat in the eggs.

Drop by spoonfuls in hot fat (390 degrees F) and fry for 1 minute.
Drain on absorbent paper.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe for Harlow House Baked Beans


2 pounds pea beans
1 onion
2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons salt
3/8 pound salt pork


Pick over, wash and soak the beans overnight.

In the morning, drain, rinse and cover with cold water, bring to a boil and cook until the beans can be pierced with a pin.

Drain, put in bean pot with an onion in the bottom.

Add mustard, molasses, and salt.
Scrape and score the pork and bury it in the beans so that only the top shows.

Cover with water and bake in a slow oven (300 degrees F) for about 6 hours, adding water as needed.

Uncover the pot for the last hour to brown the pork.
6-8 servings.

Menu #2

AppetizersCream of Tomato Soup and Cheese Straws
Main Entree Roast Turkey
with Oyster Stuffing and Turkey Gravy
Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes
Tiny Green Peas with Celery
Relish Tray
Hot Rolls
Mince Meat Pie
Coffee, Tea or Milk

Menu #4

AppetizerCream of Mushroom Soup
Main Entree Roast Duck
with Wild Rice Stuffing with Gravy
Green Lima Beans and Pickled Beets
Hot Rolls
Orange Sherbert in Orange Cups
Fresh Fruits, Cheese and Nut Platter
Coffee, Tea or Milk

The above Menus were taken from the old book "The Successful Hostess, published in 19449 by
Elizabeth Hedgecock, the food editor of the Winston Salem Sentinel and Journal

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Recipe for Harlow House Doughnuts
Often called "Wonders"


1 cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3-4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt


Beat sugar, eggs and milk together, add butter.

Sift the 3 cups of flour with the rest of the ingredients and then add to the first mixture and stir until smooth.

Add more flour, if necessary, to make a soft dough.

Chill dough overnight.
Roll out on floured board and cut with a doughnut cutter.

Fry in fat hot enough to brown a 1 inch cube of bread in 40 seconds (375 degrees F.)

As doughnuts rise to the top, turn and brown on the other side

Remove Doughnuts carefully and drain on paper towels

Harlow House Mulled Cider Recipe


3 quarts cider
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
ginger, optional
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/3 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt


Add the spices and salt to the heated cider and simmer 10-15 minutes.
Makes 24 punch cup servings.

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