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To fill out your Thanksgiving menu, go to the library

By Chelsea Childers

Rowan Public Library

After Halloween and before the Christmas tree goes up, don’t forget to be thankful!

Every year the spooky costumes and candy bustle in a new desire to be on Santa’s good list. With all the disasters going on around us, it is important to stop and think about how blessed we are. Too often the holidays exhaust our anxieties, bank accounts and minds.

Don’t overlook a chance to be thankful for the blessings all around. Be grateful for the little things we might take for granted such as electricity and running water. Make time to show someone they are appreciated.

Thanksgiving began as a day to give thanks for the harvest. What better way to celebrate than to cook up some traditional Thanksgiving dishes? Thanksgiving Dinner is generally referred to as a feast. There are too many items on the menu to cover, but here are a few with some history. While the first Thanksgiving was not even called that and not annually celebrated until much later, we can’t help but picture the Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered around a big table together. More information on the history of this holiday can be found at the library.

Let’s start with the turkey. William Bradford accounted in his journals that the colonists hunted wild turkeys in the fall of 1621. Since turkey is a uniquely American bird, it became the popular meal of choice after Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. A turkey is usually large enough to feed many people, making it ideal for family gatherings.

Succotash is an authentic Thanksgiving dish combining sweet corn and lima beans. Tomatoes, green or red peppers and okra may be added. The casserole form, with a light pie crust on top, resembles a pot pie. Beans, tomatoes, and peppers were New World foods, distinguishing this dish as American. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says that the English word succotash comes from the Narragansett Indian word sohquttahhash which means broken corn kernels. There is substantial historical evidence this was served at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

Add succotash to your own table this year with my tasty recipe:

  • 6 slices bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (16 oz.) package frozen or 2 cups fresh butter beans
  • 4 ears fresh corn kernels cut from cob
  • 4 large fresh tomatoes cut into chunks or 1 package cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 cups sliced okra
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • Dash of smoked paprika

Cook bacon in large skillet and set aside, leave drippings in pan.

Sauté onion and garlic in hot drippings over medium heat 5 minutes.

Stir in corn cook about 6 minutes, stirring often.

Pour in chicken broth, beans and okra.

Add butter, basil and tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes or until everything is tender but not mushy and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Pour into serving bowl and crumble bacon on top, then sprinkle with smoked paprika.

For a vegetarian option, replace chicken broth with vegetable broth. Omit bacon and replace drippings with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

Green bean casserole is delicious and has been known to convince most children to eat their vegetables. Invented in 1955 by the Campbell Soup Company to promote the use of cream of mushroom soup, this was the ultimate casserole. It was originally called the Green Bean Bake and contained these six ingredients: cream of mushroom soup, green beans, milk, soy sauce, pepper and French’s Fried Onions. This recipe is still available at www.Campbells.com.

Pie anyone? The first pies were filled with meat. The colonists would not have had the butter or flour needed for the crust, and certainly not the sugar. So why do we eat pie on Thanksgiving?

Sarah Josepha Hale, a widow with five children, was a huge fan of this holiday. She worked as a writer and magazine editor to support her family. Hale lobbied for 17 years for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday as she thought it would help unite the country as a moral benefit for families and communities.

Lincoln’s declaration of the last Thursday in November (changed six years later to the third Thursday) as a national day of Thanksgiving was then promoted by Hale when she published recipes for turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. According to “Eating in America: A History,” “Both squash and pumpkin were baked, usually by being placed whole in the ashes or embers of a dying fire and they were moistened afterwards with some form of animal fat, or maple syrup, or honey.” It’s likely that Hale was inspired by those stories when pumpkin pie appeared in her culinary descriptions.

Here’s a fun Pumpkin Sugar Cookie recipe, courtesy of Aida Garwood in the children’s room.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix in a bowl butter (room temperature) and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes. Mix the pumpkin puree until smooth.

Beat in vanilla extract and egg.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder and salt with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer, turn out the dough onto a countertop surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.

Chill the dough 20 minutes. Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut.
Bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack. Yields about 36 cookies.

A wonderful children’s book about the woman who saved Thanksgiving is “Thank You, Sarah,” by Laurie Halse Anderson, and can be found at all three branches of the library. A few more seasonally related children’s books are: “All of Me! A book of thanks,” by Molly Bang; “Thank You for ME!” by Marion Dane Bauer; “In November,” by Cynthia Rylant; and “Run, Turkey, Run!” by Diane Mayr.

Thanks for being thankful this holiday season and we hope to see you at the library soon.

Job fair: Nov. 9, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., headquarters. Network with local employers who are recruiting to fill open positions and learn about the job-seeking process. No registration required. Staffing agencies will assist job-seekers; other organizations will be on site recruiting for current vacancies. Attendees are encouraged to bring  resumes. Open to the public. Questions? Call 704-216-8242.

Traveling exhibit: The Story of BBQ in North Carolina by the N.C. Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, headquarters; open Oct. 26-Nov. 30. The exhibit teaches how growing and cultivating hogs emerged in the state and examines the East versus West debate about the best recipes for sauces and condiments. View the exhibit in headquarters’ lobby during business hours.

History of BBQ Celebration: Headquarters, Nov. 10, 2-4 p.m. View pictures and memorabilia showcasing the vital role that agriculture has played in Rowan County over the years. Learn what goes into making delicious BBQ and how that process has changed over the years. Free, open to public. Questions? Call 704-216-8243.

Mystery Machine: East, through Nov. 30. Scoooooby Dooby Doo! A monster scared away Scooby’s best friends. Find them all and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. This Scavenger Hunt will run through Nov. 30. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Cards for a Cause: All branches. Now-Dec. 18. Create holiday cards that will be delivered to active service members in the U.S. Armed Forces and to veterans at the Hefner VAMC in Salisbury. Patrons can specify their card(s) is delivered to a certain branch of the armed forces or to the VA. Cards submitted for a branch do have specific deadlines: Nov. 7 for cards distributed internationally, Dec. 10 for cards distributed stateside. Cards submitted Dec. 11-18 will only be delivered to the VA. Questions? Call Tammie at 704-216-7842.

STEAM into Adventure: Slime Art, headquarters, Nov. 10, 11 a.m. Gain the experience of making your own slime and then painting with that slime. Geared for ages 6 to 11. For more details, call 704-216-8234.

• STEAM into Adventure: South, Nov. 10, 11 a.m. Children ages 6 to 11 may participate in hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) activities and crafts. For more details, call 704-216-7728.

Chapter Chats: East, Nov. 6, 5:15-6 p.m. Weekly book club for teens 14-17, intended primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, though all are welcome. For more details, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Teen Throwback Night: Headquarters, Nov. 6, 4-5:30 p.m.; South, Nov. 7, 4-5:30 p.m. Relive your favorite childhood games and TV shows. For more information, contact Hope at 704-216-8258 or Hope.Loman@rowancountync.gov.

Technology Club: South, Nov. 6, 7 p.m. For people who enjoy learning about technology in a friendly, casual atmosphere. Each month, learn, discuss, and experiment with technology. All ages and experience levels welcome. Light refreshments. Need more information? Call Paul at 704-216-7737.

Lunch at the library: East, Nov. 9, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy a clean, Wi-Fi-accessible and peaceful place to enjoy your lunch. The East Branch meeting room will be open to all 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Lunch not provided, but tables, chairs and ambiance supplied. While in the library, check out upcoming programs and free resources. For more details, call 704-216-7841.

Classic Cinema Series: “Top Hat,” East, Nov. 9, 2 p.m., 1935 film, not rated, 101 minutes. Part of Adult Outreach Services and designed for retired individuals, this free event is open to the public, all ages welcome. For more details, call 704-216-7842.

Displays: Headquarters, TBA; East, World War I memorabilia by Gleen Hinson; South, Patterson Farm Photowalk exhibit, by Paul Birkhead.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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