My favorite thing to do in the whole wide world is to make a big meal and eat with people I love. If I could feed 10 friends every night, I would be very, very happy. So, usually, Thanksgiving (or as my family calls it, Senguiben) is one of my favorite times of the year. This year is different. Thanks to the water protectors at Standing Rock, I am more aware of Native American suffering and human rights violations than I ever have been. Instead of spending money on fancy ingredients and decorative gourds, I decided to donate that money to Standing Rock. Here is the link to donate. And in case you haven’t heard about the people who have gathered in prayer to protect the water, sacred grounds, and indigenous sovereignty, here are a few links I used to learn about the water protectors and why they are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.
ARTICLE Read about Standing Rock and Native American history. “[T]he tribes gathered at Standing Rock today are trying to stop a natural gas pipeline operator from bulldozing what they say are sacred sites to construct a 1,172-mile oil pipeline. The tribes also want to protect the Missouri River, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Reservation, from a potential pipeline leak.”
PODCAST This week’s episode of Another Round is about Standing Rock and the conditions water protectors are currently facing. “Heben talks with Dr. Adrienne Keene about Standing Rock and the #NoDAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) movement in North Dakota. We hear stories from people on the ground about preparing for winter, police violence, and healing.” VIDEO The Standing Rock Sioux recently released an eight-minute documentary about the ongoing struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. “ ‘This film tells the story of our prayerful and peaceful demonstrations by water protectors that have motivated thousands of tribal members and non-Native people around the world to take a stand,’ said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Chairman, Dave Archambault II in a release. ‘In it, you hear the voices of people fighting for their lives, because water is life.’ ”
BLOG POST Dr. Adrienne Keene’s photos and first-person account of being at Standing Rock, reflections on seeing the violence inflicted by police, and how we can help. “All day I had been—without hyperbole—nearly certain I was going to watch someone die, and the stress weighed heavy. The next morning I tried to work on another piece of writing, and broke down in tears when Word ate it. The tears were not for the lost words, but for the fear and frustration and sadness at what I had watched on the plains. This is hard. With each day I am reminded again and again of how little we as Native peoples matter to US settler society.”
This morning I got permission to share my favorite Thanksgiving recipe from Nextdoorganics. Nextdoorganics is a local food subscription service that Devin and I get on a weekly basis. Aside from bringing us fresh organic fruits and vegetables from nearby farms (and New York City rooftops!), Nextdoorganics also sends weekly email newsletters with recipes, and maintains social media accounts, like this Pinterest, that make it easy to learn how to make new things. We love it because we can pay by the week and skip weeks when we’re out of town. We could also cancel at any time (but why would we want to?). It’s a great way to support local farmers for people who don’t have the funds or stability to join a CSA program.
Anyway, enough with the testimonial, let’s get to the food! Until last year, I’d never made cranberry sauce, but when we got cranberries in our Nextdoorganics package and I saw the recipe in the newsletter, I decided to give it a try. This year I couldn’t wait to make it again. It’s really easy, but the flavors are beautiful and complex. It’s a fancy food with minimal effort, a.k.a. my favorite kind. I like eating it with my Thanksgiving dinner and using it in sandwiches or as a jam for weeks afterward. It’s good with everything!
12 ounces of fresh cranberries
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon orange zest
Juice from 1 orange (about 3 to 4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Instructions: Add all of the ingredients to a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Simmer the mixture for 15-20 minutes, until the cranberries have burst and the sauce has reduced slightly. Give it a taste (be careful, it’ll be hot!) and adjust the seasonings. You may want it to be a bit sweeter. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick and discard. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill. The cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
On Sunday Devin and I hosted a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner. The food was great, but the best part was how many of our friends came with such short notice.
About the food: I know Tofurky is controversial among vegetarians (not to mention everyone else!), but I am really partial to the way Devin makes it. He bastes, seasons, and roasts it with pride and precision. It is a whole production, much like baking a real bird might be, so it feels absolutely festive, and it tastes delicious, too! As for my contributions, I am most proud of helping make these rolls, little butternut squash tarts from a word-of-mouth recipe (not pictured), and my very favorite recipe for beets. I could go on and on about those beets with pomegranate and pistachios. At this point, I think I’ve made them for everyone I love.
Fun fact: we met all but one of the friends pictured above in college, in Portland (Oregon, not Maine). How cool is it that we all live in Brooklyn now? It’s kind of mind-boggling, actually. (Lauren, who we met in New York through Tasha who knows her from high school, might as well be an honorary Portlander because she’s been hanging out with us for three years and counting.) My advice for making friends when you move to New York is…don’t bother. Just bring all the friends you already have. ; )
In between dinner and dessert, we walked to Prospect Park, played American football by lamplight, and ran into a raccoon.
Then, we came home and had the most heavenly babka and pecan pie and many other treats I wish I were eating riiiight now.
The whole day was a good reminder for me that having to change your plans can turn out all right sometimes, especially if you have good friends who don’t mind changing theirs.