Thanksgiving – Past and Present – with recipes!

Thanksgiving is coming up and I’m having some issues with the tradition of the friendly pilgrims inviting Native Americans to a community meal as a new light on the subject shows that’s false news. So, this year we will search for heritage-based foods that the Native Americans would have eaten, which includes wild rice and cranberries. I’m not talking about Uncle Ben’s version of wild rice or the cranberry sauce that you pop out of the can, though I’ve enjoyed both of these in the past! If you’re feeling the same, I’ve linked here a Native American wild rice company.


The author and her best
friend from second grade.

My family of three spends Thanksgiving Day with my best friend from second grade and her family. I can’t remember how many years this has been a tradition. Maybe seven? This year will be the first year without her mother and she will be missed. We’ll be a small party of six to eight adults, now that my son is eighteen, and we enjoy sitting on her enclosed back porch and talking. Sometimes there’s even a real fire in the fireplace, if the weather in the South Carolina Lowcountry is chilly, which is rare.  


The day after Thanksgiving a few years ago at
Santee Canal State Park in Moncks Corner, SC 

I take a Winter Fruit Salad and another side dish. I found this recipe online years ago. It’s super easy to fix, light, refreshing, and full of a lovely assortment of fruit.


Winter Fruit Salad

I “think” this is for six people, so if you are having fewer than that, adjust as needed.


3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp granulated sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 Tbsp honey

2 tsp poppy seeds


              8 Mandarine oranges, peeled and segmented

              4 apples (preferably 2 gala and 2 golden delicious)

            4 ripe kiwis peeled and diced

              4 pears, peeled and diced                  

1 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1 large fruit)


Getting together with my friend and her family reminds me of when my parents and their friends would meet up in a cabin on a mountain lake for a weekend. 

My daddy would make his Country Breakfast. It included; fried quail, fried fish, fried chicken, grits, breakfast shrimp gravy, biscuits, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit, and more. Quite a Southern feast. 


Here’s a photo of one of those weekends where the majority of the attendees (not me) went to a Clemson football game. I’m the blond in the front row holding hands with one of my bonus dads who loved Clemson. Bless his heart. I set the camera and had to run to my place for the photo. 


Another bonus dad is standing on the far right. There’s a couple of bonus moms in the photo too! My daddy is in the brown shirt and my mom is directly below him in the blue jacket. My younger (but bigger) brother is standing in the grey shirt behind the lady in the orange sweatshirt. 


I just realized my brother and I had the same haircut. Oh my.


I also did the math and I’m now older than the age of the majority of the people when this photo was taken. Gracious, time does fly.


This group is a mixture of neighbors and SLED family friends of my parents. Did you have large gatherings in your past? And hopefully future? Reminiscing is making me want to plan a weekend away with friends.


Here’s my daddy’s recipe for Breakfast Shrimp Gravy. You may have heard of shrimp and grits, this is the origination of that famous dish. He probably got it from the Junior League of Charleston Receipts cookbook. My dad used bacon instead of Liquid Smoke but I don’t eat land meat, so I substitute.


         Bob’s Breakfast Shrimp Gravy with a Robin (pescatarian) Twist 



         Grapeseed Oil 

         Liquid Smoke 

         1 sweet onion chopped fine 

         1 cup Bella mushrooms thinly sliced 

         2 tablespoons wheat flour 

         salt and pepper 

         1 cup almond milk  

         ½ pound raw shrimp (8-10 ct) 



         Chop each shrimp into three pieces. Set aside. 

         Sauté the onion and mushrooms in the grapeseed oil in a large pan. 

         Add a couple of drops of Liquid Smoke. 

         Move onion and mushrooms to a bowl. 

         Brown the flour in the sauté pan. Add salt and black pepper (the more pepper the better!). 

         Stir in almond milk and scrape the pan to make your gravy. 

         If too thick add some water or more almond milk. 

         Add shrimp and cook until done. It does not take long. 

         Add onion and mushrooms. 

         Serve over grits. 


         You can pre-cook the shrimp if you like. You can “popcorn” it by putting a very small amount of water in a saucepan and adding the shrimp. Cover and cook over high heat and “popcorn” it by shaking the pan until shrimp are cooked. Again, it only takes a short time to cook shrimp! 


How do you spend your Thanksgiving? Will it be different this year?


Did you have bonus parents growing up? Do you keep in touch with them?





Robin Hillyer Miles is an alumnus and avid fan of the University of South Carolina and their Fighting Gamecocks. She lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband and son and three dogs. She’s currently published with a short story in an anthology. She has finished the first draft of a new novel and it is with the editor. Hopefully, it will be published in the new year. Keep an eye out for “Cathy’s Corner!”


You can find her on Facebook here:

1 reply
  1. Paula Gail Benson
    Paula Gail Benson says:

    Robin, this is sooooo cool! Thank you for the great recipes. Everyone looks like they are enjoying themselves in your photos. Hope it's a great holiday season for you!


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