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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Pilgrim Onion Marmalade:Recipe

One of the many things I love about Thanksgiving is the idea that it commemorates a time when the pilgrims and native peoples got along. With such a well-documented sad history of native Americans being mistreated, it's nice to remember that for a moment at least everyone was at peace. This Thanksgiving I'm using the cocktail hour to pay honor to those who were here before us with some "pilgrim and indian" inspired appetizers.

Foods of the Americas, Native recipes and traditions published by Ten Speed Press is a new book published to coincide with the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. A gorgeous coffee table book with beautiful color as well as vintage black and white photography, it includes stories, essays and poems; great source material for learning more about the traditions of the people who came before us. It also has 140 recipes inspired by native Americans from all over the United States and beyond, using native ingredients.

While I plan to make a couple of recipes from the book, in particular the Potted Smoked Salmon and the Cornmeal Crackers, I will also make a dish based on a pilgrim recipe to pay homage to that rare, peaceful moment in history.

For my pilgrim recipe I was inspired by this account of early settler cooking:

"In another home, a homemaker was cooking a "sop of onions" over the hearth: First she boiled down the onions, then added peppercorns, "raisins of the sun," salt and vinegar for flavoring. The whole mess would be spread on bread"

Note: Here's the recipe I created for the onion marmalade, I just can't bring myself to call it sop! You could serve this alongside the turkey or on toast slices.

Pilgrim Onion Marmalade


1 Tablespoon oil
4 medium red onions, quartered and sliced thinly
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup water
plenty of black pepper
pinch of salt
Pine nuts, optional


In large skillet, heat oil over low heat. Add onions and sprinkle with salt and sugar. Meanwhile soak the raisins in one cup boiling water. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Add vinegar, pepper, raisins and soaking water and simmer until the raisins plump, adding more water as needed. Cook for another 15 minutes or until fairly dry (no extra liquid in pan) and glossy. Pulse mixture in food processor to a thick spreadable consistency. Top with toasted pine nuts if desired.