Corn Casserole: A Holiday Recipe With Some Thanksgiving Story

Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday. It is the celebration of a partnership between unlikely allies, but it is also a time to celebrate the harvest season and all that has to happen to make a plentiful one.

Most of us accept that the first Thanksgiving was a 1600s celebration between the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims. However, some argue the first Thanksgiving was even earlier with the French or Spanish in Florida.

Regardless of which story you believe, we can generally agree that Native Americans were a part of the equation. For those early English settlers, Native Americans were the ones who taught them about corn and how to farm in unfamiliar territory. Since 1990, the month of November has been designated as the month of Native American Heritage and the day primarily known as Black Friday is now also Native American Heritage Day. We think it is only fitting–in honor of Native Americans and Thanksgiving–to share our recipe for a corn casserole.


Recipe: Garlic Corn Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 30 oz. Cream Corn
  • 30 oz. Whole Kernel Corn (drained)
  • 16 oz. Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 2 Cups Daisy Sour Cream
  • 2 Cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Cup melted unsalted butter
  • Garlic (minced or powder) to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, stir together all of the ingredients except the garlic, salt, and pepper. Add salt, pepper, and garlic lightly to taste.*

*For a lighter note, use garlic powder; for stronger garlic flavor, use at least a teaspoon of minced garlic. For a completely mild version, omit the garlic, salt, and pepper.

Once your mixture is fully stirred together, pour it into a greased 9×13 pan and smooth it evenly across the top.

Bake for 1 hour or till browned, bubbly, and cracking on top. Serve warm and enjoy.


Christmas Version:

  • (2) Frozen Birds Eye McKenzie White Cream Corn, 20 oz, thawed
  • (1) Can Whole Kernel Corn, 16 oz, drained
  • (1) Frozen Green Giant Simply Steam Seasoned Honey Roasted Sweet Corn, 9 oz, thawed
  • Jiffy Corn Muffin mix, 2 Cups
  • Daisy Sour Cream, 16 oz
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese, 2 Cups
  • Melted unsalted butter, 2 sticks

When you make this dish, imagine you are at the table with my family this Thanksgiving. You are having at least one of the dishes on our plates.

As you count your blessings this year, know that you are a part of mine.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, and I pray for you often.

Go in peace, friends. See you at our next posting!

The Language of Oppression

The language of oppression hides

in bitterness and hate, cowers

beneath tables and folds

of a woman’s skirts, lowers

its head and hands

to the feeding trough, surrenders

its body while its insides

scream defiance and resistance

The language of oppression chokes

out Truth, stifles

what really happened

to our mixed race

American



I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. I’m wrapped up in poetry and editing books where I am taking the last classes of my master’s degree in English. After reading a lot of Native American poets like Layli Long Soldier, I was moved to respond to the way so many Americans are stuck looking backwards. Even though their narratives are stories happening right now, they are influenced by a perception that some Americans are victims who are owed something by other Americans who were oppressors. There is something wrong with that.

On this blog, I shared a very personal poem from my own struggles with identity and heritage. That poem went on to be published by Sylvia Magazine.

No one would imagine I would have such issues, though, because I am as white as white can be. In our culture, white is synonymous with oppression. In the South, I am particularly aware of the hateful stares of my “minority” neighbors. Everyone assumes that I have had an easier life because I am white and that my ancestors owned their ancestors. If they asked, I’d tell them the truth: my ancestors lived in tiny rooms with newspaper walls on land they did not own. They worked alongside former slaves; they didn’t own any slaves of their own.

Racial identity is a complicated thing in America. We want to claim a strand of our DNA like we are pure bred of that nationality. The truth is that we are all mixed. If it were not so, we would not have survived in this brutal, foreign land. For love or survival, we formed alliances with other cultures and mixed our blood with our neighbors.

I can look back on that and say my poor ancestors were taken advantage of by an oppressive majority race, or I can look back on that truth and say my ancestors made sacrifices to afford a better quality of life for their offspring. I believe both are true, but which one perpetuates peace and harmony in society today?

We can’t change the past. At some point, we have to make peace with what happened to our ancestors and be thankful for the sacrifices that were made to provide a chance for a new life for all of us. The American melting pot is not easy or beautiful to all groups of people, yet we all are that pot. We need to realize that it says more for our resilience and determination that we are still here despite all the atrocities of the past than it does to point fingers at others and claim we are better than them because we were victims. In every family tree, there are both victims and victimizers. Instead of more protests, insincere apologies, and tax-paid handouts, we should embrace our own life story and make the most of the days we are given.

Looking back on history is not where we find our identity; it is where we learn how to do better in our own lives. True identity can only be found in Christ.

Do We Love To Hate Or Hate To Love?

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart.”–Nelson Mandela

I have always played my political cards close to my vest. I don’t advertise my party affiliations not because I am embarrassed of the person I voted for in our last Presidential election but because I have learned that doing so brews hatred. For similar reasons, I avoid watching the news. Nevertheless, I don’t have to monitor my Twitter feed to catch the pulse of our nation; I read it every time I enter my classroom.

My students are over saturated in news media. They are constantly watching and reading about people on social media and streaming channels. This does not mean, however, that their education is a quality one. They know more about George Michaels than they do about George Washington.

What are they really learning?

What are they really watching?

My nieces–who are still between the ages of 7 and 13–recently showed me some shows they were watching on YouTube. In the show, blocky Minecraft-like characters wobble around hitting each other while screaming and laughing and singing silly songs. The show is supposedly made by video gamers sharing their “craft”, but it has no substantial value. It does not encourage craft in gaming. It does not encourage healthy social behavior. It does not help my nieces become better human beings. I have seen some adults watch the same types of shows and games and call it “informative”. At the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned, out-of-touch person on a rant, let me just tell you that it is mind-numbing crap.

There are voices out there on the internet to fit any slant you want to hook into and believe–in any language you want to hear it in. If you think the government is corrupt and out to hurt you, there are websites and shows you can watch to support that point of view. If you think one racial group is always the enemy of another group, there are plenty of channels to support your view. Several guest speakers are lining up to help you rally a protest on that idea too. If you think the media is biased and corrupt, go underground and find an unfiltered channel sneaking out the “real truth” to you. If you care little about the rest of the world, that’s okay too; Hallmark has some nice, happy endings for you.

No matter where you sit in the spectrum of perspectives I just mentioned, you have a place in the United States of America, and that place is protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. If you have never heard about the Constitution of the United States, if you have never read it, Google it; it’s online too. Before you burn that flag or bend a knee during the National Anthem or spit on all things American again, realize men and women have a long history of fighting and dying for your freedom to do just that in this country. If you protest a country that gives you the freedom to protest, what exactly is your point? And if you hate this country so much, why are you in it?

So much of what I see today is angry people with no sense of their human history. History should be our friend and allie, not the thing we avoid like the Black Plague. Instead of blindly believing the many filtered voices offering “truth”, we should all pursue truth from the source. Watch the speech and read the document; don’t just accept what others tell you about it. Don’t just spout racist ideals like bullies in a school yard when you don’t even understand half the words you are using.

What started all this anger, and what fed it into a raging wildfire? I believe it started in childhood with the way we chose to raise our children.

Right now, generations are closer in age then they have ever been before. Children are raising children who are raising children. Clueless, overwhelmed adolescents leave babies to parent themselves through devices and social media. Those babies grow up without social skills or the confidence that the world is their oyster. For them, the world is against them and every person in it is set out to hurt them. They stumble into adolescence and adulthood, get pregnant, and repeat the cycle of what happened to them. They seek to redeem their world through the spoilage of their child and end up acting more like a friend to them then a parent. If I were raised like this, I’d be angry too.

How can we stop the cycle?

How can we show each other more love than hate?

Historical Downtown New Bern, NC

There is a place that I like to go to at the end of Highway 70 where time is frozen. It is a town once build by the Swiss, named for their beloved homeland, bearing its shield, and revealing its artistry in rooftops.

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An old church surrounded by dogwood blossoms and Spanish moss remembers the times George Washington visited its doors.

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Gravestones in its yard tell stories of valiant men, women, and children who died in a period of illness that swept the town.

Across from this, an old soda shop remembers when Pepsi Cola got invented there, and it still makes you floats with local ice cream and Pepsi at its bar.

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Commercialization creeps in–that’s to be expected. There are Pepsi company products at the soda shop, tours of the old church, and dozens of shops along the streets. But none of this bothers me. I am just excited to see downtown New Bern, NC alive and thriving.

Take a drive a little further down these downtown streets, and you’ll reach the inlet. Anxiously moving cars rush across criss-crossing bridges over water.

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Sailboats are often docked at fancy hotels along the water. A simple open park gives a patch of grass for paused reflection. A walkway around the grass leads to odd concrete steps into the water.

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Walk in and get your toes wet. Feel the water lap around your ankles. Feed bread crumbs to the gulls circling around you. But don’t jump in for a swim. Though the waterway is wide open for wading and one could easily jump into the deeper water from there, you can’t trust the current–or anything living in the water–from there.

It isn’t hard to love the culture of downtown New Bern. Whether for water, history, or shopping, there’s something in this little spot for everyone. Enjoy!