Donna Maurillo, Food for Thought

When we think of the original Thanksgiving celebration, what do we imagine? Tradition says Pilgrims and Native Americans organized a feast to honor a successful harvest. But history says otherwise.

To start off their celebration, the settlers fired cannons and guns. This alarmed the local natives, early Wampanaug people, who came to investigate. Not trusting the Pilgrims’ explanation, they stayed at the outskirts of the settlement for a few days, eventually sharing some of the food.

It was not the turkey, stuffing, yams, and cranberry sauce we serve today. Likely it was fish, eels, lobsters, squash, beans, and probably traditional English food such as cabbage, parsnips, and the like.

This year, how about adding Native American dishes to the menu? I don’t mean just corn and pumpkin, which is the limit of what most of us know about Native food. For some good ideas, pick up a copy of the James Beard Award winner, “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen” by Sean Sherman, an Oglala Lakota caterer and chef. (Published by University of Minnesota Press, 226 pp, $34.95 hardcover.)

Each recipe includes its English name and its Sioux name. Wild Greens Pesto is also called Wathotho Yuzapi, and Wild Rice-Crusted Walleye is called Hogan, for instance.

Other recipes include Rabbit Braised with Apples and Mint; Autumn Harvest Cookies; Maple-Brined Smoked Turkey; Tatanka Truck Fried Wild Rice Bowl; White Bean and Winter Squash Soup; Old Fashioned Cornmeal Mush with Poached Eggs; Maple-Sage Roasted Vegetables; Three Sisters Salad; and Stuffed Squash Blossoms.

Other chapters feature edible flowers, chestnuts, several teas, Native herbs and seasonings, culinary ashes, and recipe contributions from chefs of other Indigenous nations—Navajo, Six Nations, Inca, Muckleshoot, and others.

If you wish to celebrate the various moons throughout the year, dinner menus are given for the Flower Moon, Chokecherry Moon, Midsummer Moon, and even for Indigenous legends such as Owamni and the Buffalo Sky.

Definitely a winning book! And I love the clever “Sioux chef” moniker.

Order from Pino Alto

Culinary students at Cabrillo College have had a challenging year, learning to cook while social distancing. But they’re at the ready with your turkey dinner!

Phone 831-479-6524 for the a la carte menu and pricing, which includes whole cedar-brined turkey, or stuffed breast, or seasoned legs, all ready to roast. Sides include cranberry chutney; stuffing; garlic herbed mashed potatoes; roasted heirloom carrots and purple yams with miso citrus glaze and walnut pesto; fresh baked sweet French rolls; mini pumpkin tart; fruit crisp; and much more.

NOTE: Place your order by 8 p.m. tonight (Wednesday)! Pick it up next Wednesday 4-7:30 p.m., or Thursday 9-10 a.m.

Distanced Turkey Day

Thanksgiving certainly will be different, as we continue to quarantine. Gary jokes that it’s impossible to find a 5-pound turkey for just the two of us. So, we may have to “make do” with bacon-wrapped turkey breasts, or even better, roasted drumsticks, which I’ve always loved.

Smaller meals. Smaller gatherings. Smaller everything. You still can do a distanced dinner outdoors. Just keep the group arranged by contiguous household. That means if the person doesn’t actually live with you, then remain at least six feet apart. Save Aunt Ellen’s hugs for next year.

Or have a virtual dinner on Zoom. Set the laptop computer on the table and carry on as if everyone is there in person. Although we’re celebrating in a different way, we still have a lot for which to be thankful. If we have good health, or even halfway-decent health, let’s help each other keep it that way. We are tough. We can do this!


How to get burned-on grease off the bottom of a pot? I used a bit of salt and a wet sponge. It worked really well.


This year, try this Native American-inspired roast turkey. Skip the juniper berries if you can’t find them. And use white mushrooms if you can’t find the wild variety.


Serves 8


1 small (10-12 pound) turkey, rinsed well, patted dry

1/4 cup hazelnut oil (my note: or another nut oil)

2 tablespoons chopped sage

Coarse salt

Crushed juniper berries

2 cups stock made from corn, wild rice, turkey, chicken, etc.

4 wild onions, or 2 large yellow onions, quartered

1 cup wild mushrooms, chopped (or regular mushrooms)

2 cups cubed winter squash

1/8 cup maple syrup

Cranberry sauce

7-8 cups cooked wild rice


1.     One hour before roasting, remove turkey from the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature. In a blender, puree the hazelnut oil and sage. Rub all over the turkey. Season with salt and juniper.

2.     Preheat oven to 450F. Place turkey into a roasting pan, add the stock, and place in the oven. Roast until turkey is light golden brown, about 45 minutes. Reduce oven to 350F. Continue roasting for 1½ more hours.

3.     Scatter the onions, mushrooms, and squash into the pan. Baste the turkey and vegetables occasionally with pan juices. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh (but not touching the bone) registers 160F, about 30-60 minutes longer. Brush turkey with maple syrup.

4.     Remove turkey from the oven. Transfer to a cutting board. Arrange vegetables on a platter. Carve the turkey and arrange over the vegetables. Drizzle pan juices over all. Serve with cranberry sauce over a bed of wild rice.

NOTE: For wild rice stock, simply save the water in which wild rice has been cooked. For corn stock, place corn cobs in a pot with enough water to cover them by an inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about an hour. Refrigerate or freeze either stock in a covered container.

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