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1025 Beach Avenue
Cape May, NJ 08204

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Happy Thanksgiving from Harry’s! Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy delicious food with friends and family. It’s also a time to reflect on the holiday’s message of peace, especially in the tri-state-area. After all, it’s not too far from Cape May that Plymouth, Massachusetts colonists celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

Ever wonder what the first Thanksgiving was like? It was certainly different from our traditional Cape May Thanksgiving, but how?

To start, Plymouth colonist relied on the food they were successful in harvesting and hunting. So, experts believe the first Thanksgiving dinner was loaded with fruits, herbs, vegetables, wild game, and seafood.

Sound good? Want to recreate your own colonial Cape May Thanksgiving? Here’s how to prepare a delicious colonial dinner.


Colonial Cape May Thanksgiving Menu

  • Succotash
  • Green Beans Splashed with Cider Vinegar
  • Squash Medley with Onion
  • Colonial Fish Muddle
  • Spiced Cider
  • Turkey
  • Steamed Pumpkin Pudding



Succotash is a dish typically made with sweet corn, lima beans and other shell beans. Colonists kept a root cellar to store some of these ingredients for winter eating.


  • 2 cups fresh lima beans
  • 2 ounces salt pork
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (if available)
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups fresh whole kernel corn
  • 1/3 cup light cream or 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


In a saucepan, mix beans, pork, water, salt, sugar and pepper. Cover and simmer a few minutes until beans are nearly tender. Next, mix in corn, cover again and simmer until vegetables are fork tender.

Then, remove salt pork and blend cream slowly into flour. Stir in vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly.


Easy Green Beans Splashed with Cider Vinegar

An early colonial favorite recipe called for freshly cooked green beans splashed with apple cider vinegar and lightly topped with crumbled bacon or pork.


  • 1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar, or to taste
  • Bacon Crumbles
  • Green Beans


Boil green beans until tender, then salt and pepper to taste. Splash with cider vinegar and top with warm bacon crumbles. Stir to combine.


Squash Medley with Onion

Fun fact, in colonial America, squash and pumpkin were often used interchangeably. For this recipe, we’ll use yellow squash plus zucchini, and onions. We’ll save the pumpkin for dessert.


  • 1 yellow Squash, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, Sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper


In a large skillet melt butter and add squash and zucchini. Sauté until tender. Then, salt and pepper to taste.


Colonial Fish Muddle

Try adding fish muddle to your authentic colonial Thanksgiving menu. While not common additions to the contemporary holiday table, fish and mollusks played an important role at the first Thanksgiving. Plus, fish muddle is a dish that has survived the test of time. It’s still served on the east coast today!


  • 2 tablespoons meat drippings or olive oil
  • 1 whole leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite fresh herbs
  • 20 fresh mussels with bears cut off, scrubbed
  • 20 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound firm fleshed white fish, cut into cubes
  • 1 pound scallops
  • 1 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • Toasted fresh bread
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper


Heat the drippings or olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium-high heat. Add the leek, celery, onion and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables are soft but not brown. Add the wine and stir until well coated. Add tomatoes, stock, and herbs. Then, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare all seafood and fish. Place shellfish in a heavy skillet over high heat and, shaking the pan, cook until the shells open. Remove from pan and set aside. Strain remaining liquid and add to muddle. Salt and pepper to taste.

Next, blend the minced garlic and tarragon with mayonnaise and set aside. Add shrimp, scallops, and fish to the muddle. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and stir in parsley. Cover and leave for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle muddle into bowls, and arrange mussels and clams on top of each serving. Spread the seasoned mayonnaise on the toast and serve with the muddle.


Spiced Cider

It’s no surprise that one of the many uses of apples in early America was to make cider. Here’s a simple cinder recipe that takes just a few minutes to make.


  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice


In a large pot heat cider, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Strain and serve. You can make this simple recipe into a punch. Just chill and add citrus slices.


Colonial-style Turkey

There’s still some debate on whether or not a turkey was actually served at the first Thanksgiving. But, it’s traditional now, so here’s a very simple and old-fashioned Thanksgiving turkey recipe.


  • 1 turkey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1/2 small onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots
  • Parsley sprigs, Rosemary, sage leaves, thyme leaves
  • 1/4 pound salt pork
  • 4 slices bread, torn into cubes


Clean Turkey and remove giblets, then rub with salt. In small bowl, combine salt, pepper, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Rub some inside cavity and set aside remainder.

For the stuffing, chop onion, carrots, and celery, then combine the torn bread cubes. Add the salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Pack turkey with stuffing and fasten with cotton string. Tuck in wings and fold tail over stuffing.

Place thin strips of salt pork just under the breast skin to keep the meat moist. Brush turkey with melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until cooked-through.


Steamed Pumpkin Pudding

Steamed pumpkin pudding is a delicious way to round out your colonial Thanksgiving menu. In the 17th century it would have been served with heavy cream, but you can serve with homemade whipped cream if you prefer.


  • 6 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 11/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup mashed cooked pumpkin (or canned pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk


Cream butter and sugar until light, then beat in eggs.

Stir in combined flour, salt, soda cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg followed by combined pumpkin and buttermilk. Spoon into greased and floured ring mold. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 for one hour. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with fresh heavy cream drizzled over top.

There you have it, a delicious colonial Cape May Thanksgiving. For more yummy recipes, try these costal recipes that are great all year long. Harry’s wishes all our guests, friends and family a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!