Kid-friendly Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

Recipe: Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Peredniankina/Shutterstock.com
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
30 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

In Indigenous American culture, beans, corn, and squash are known collectively as "The Three Sisters." Long ago, Indigenous Americans discovered that when they planted corn, beans, and squash together, the crops grew strong and tall. The cornstalks became ladders for the beans to climb, the beans added nitrogen to the soil, and the ginormous leaves of the squash plant shaded the ground and kept it moist. As each plant grew, it used its own strengths to support the others. Just like sisters! 

Legends about the three sisters and their significance differ across North American tribes, but female strength and nurturing are common themes. It's also worth noting that all three crops contribute to a nutritious diet. Corn is a carbohydrate and provides fast energy, beans are high in protein, and squash contains vitamins A and C!

The "Three Sisters" are often prepared as a hearty stew, but our recipe's "Three Sisters" combines zucchini, black beans, and corn in a delicious casserole! Enjoy!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • crack :

    to break open or apart a food to get what's inside, like an egg or a coconut.

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • whisk :

    to beat or stir ingredients vigorously with a fork or whisk to mix, blend, or incorporate air.

Equipment Checklist

  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Whisk
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Large skillet
  • Can opener
  • Dry measuring cup
  • Heat-resistant spatula or pancake turner
  • Blender (or pitcher + immersion blender)
  • Strainer (optional)
scale
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Ingredients

Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

  • 4 eggs **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/4 C silken tofu + 1/2 tsp baking powder)**
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 C water
  • 2 bread slices, white or wheat **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free bread)**
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 12-oz can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 C corn (fresh or frozen)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

  • Egg: For 4 eggs in the Casserole, substitute 1/4 C silken tofu + 1/2 tsp baking powder.
  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free/nut-free bread for white or wheat bread in Casserole.

Instructions

Giving Thanks First Nations Three Sisters Skillet Casserole

1.
recipe tip

Many home cooks use milk when cooking eggs; however, water is the better choice. Water will result in a fluffy, finished egg, whereas milk creates a denser (sometimes rubbery) egg.

2.
crack + measure + whisk

Crack 4 eggs into a bowl with 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 cup water. Whisk to combine and set aside for later.

3.
chop + sauté

Chop 2 bread slices and 1 small zucchini into small pieces. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet and turn the heat to medium. After about a minute of heating the oil, add the chopped bread, chopped zucchini, 1/2 can of black beans, and 1/2 cup corn. Sauté this mixture for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

4.
bake + slice + serve

Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour the egg mixture into the skillet. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil to create a bit of steam, and cook for 15 minutes without stirring. The casserole should have a golden brown bottom with a light yellow top, and the eggs should be fully cooked. If any runny whites are visible, cover and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes until all the eggs are fully cooked. Slice the casserole and serve!

Surprise Ingredient: Eggs!

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Photo by Circlephoto/Shutterstock.com

Hi! I'm an Egg!

"Specifically, I'm a chicken egg! Of course, there are eggs from all sorts of other creatures, but humans primarily eat the eggs of fowls, mostly chickens. Although, they will eat the eggs of ducks, geese, and even ostriches (the same as 24 chicken eggs!). Some people also eat reptile eggs and fish eggs (think caviar!)."

History

  • Some animals reproduce by laying eggs (or reproductive cells). These animals include fish, reptiles, insects, a few mammals, like the platypus, and birds, including ducks and chickens. 
  • What came first? The chicken or the egg? Were chickens first domesticated for their meat, or were they raised to gather their eggs for food? When early man first began raising chickens sometime before 7500 BCE, it may have been for their eggs. 
  • Eggs used to be carried in baskets. The first egg carton was invented in 1911 by Joseph Coyle, a newspaper editor from British Columbia, Canada, to solve a dispute involving broken eggs delivered in a basket. His design was improved upon in 1921 by Morris Koppelman, and then in 1931, Francis H Sherman of Massachusetts developed a carton from pressed paper pulp similar to what we use today. Egg cartons can hold 12, 18, or 30 eggs.
  • The white Leghorn chicken is commonly used for laying white eggs, and the Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire Red breeds, both reddish brown, are the primary sources of brown eggs.
  • The brown-colored egg tends to be more expensive than its white counterpart, usually because the hens laying brown eggs are larger and eat more feed, increasing costs to the farm. Other than color, there is no difference between a white and brown egg.

Anatomy 

  • Chicken eggs contain a yellow yolk, semi-transparent white, and an outer protective shell. A membrane (film layer) lines the eggshell; however, it is usually not visible unless you peel a boiled egg.  
  • The egg yolk provides the most nutrients for a developing embryo because it has more protein than the white. The yolk also contains all the fat and more vitamins, especially fat-soluble vitamins.
  • The egg white or albumen is about 90 percent water and contains no fat or cholesterol. It protects the yolk and is also a source of protein and a few vitamins for an embryo.
  • Chicken eggshell membranes can be used as a dietary supplement. The membranes are made up mostly of fibrous collagen type 1 fibers. 
  • According to the USDA, the eggshell comprises about 94 percent calcium carbonate and some additional elements, including protein. The calcium carbonate from eggshells is used as a dietary calcium supplement for people who do not get enough calcium from their food. 
  • There are 7 to 17,000 tiny pores on the shell surface, with a greater number at the large end. As the egg ages, these minute holes permit moisture and carbon dioxide to move out and air to move in to form the air cell. The egg can also absorb refrigerator odors through the pores, so always refrigerate eggs in their cartons.

How to Buy & Eat

  • You can buy eggs from farm stands and at grocery stores. Always open the lid of a carton and check the eggs you want to purchase to avoid buying eggs with cracked or broken eggshells that would have to be thrown away. Any bacteria present on the eggshell could enter through a crack and contaminate the egg inside.
  • Aside from their color, brown and white eggs are the same in every way, including taste and nutrition, so choose eggs based on price and quality, not on color. 
  • The three grades of eggs that determine the quality of the egg and condition of the shell are: Grade AA, A, and B. According to the USDA, Grade AA eggs have thick and firm whites and yolks that are high, round, and practically free from defects, with clean, unbroken shells. Grade AA and A eggs are preferred when frying or poaching. You would seldom find Grade B eggs in stores because they are mostly used to make liquid, frozen, and dried egg products. 
  • Various types of eggs are available at the grocery store, and some are more expensive than others. These include eggs from hens raised outside a cage but not necessarily outdoors (cage-free) or allowed to roam free outdoors in a pasture (pasture-raised). 
  • Eggs contain some omega-3 fatty acids, but eggs labeled as high in omega-3 fatty acids have more due to flaxseed or fish oil being added to the hens' diets. Other eggs are labeled "organic" if the hens are not raised in a cage, can access the outdoors, are fed organic feed, and are not given hormones or antibiotics. "Vegetarian" eggs are from hens that do not eat feed containing animal by-products. 
  • Store eggs in the refrigerator to keep them fresher, as they will age faster at room temperature.
  • Eggs are available year-round to provide delicious meals on their own and as an essential ingredient for the many baked goods and sauces that would never be the same without them.
  • Eggs are enormously versatile. The chef's hat, called a "toque" (pronounced "tōk"), is said to have a pleat for each of the many ways you can cook eggs.
  • You can tell whether an egg is raw or hard-boiled by spinning it. Because the liquids have set into a solid, a hard-boiled egg will easily spin. On the other hand, the moving fluids in a raw egg will cause it to wobble.
  • Whole eggs are eaten soft or hard-boiled, fried, or poached, or they are added to cake and other batters. Egg yolks are used in pasta, sauces, fruit curds, crème brûlée, and ice cream. Egg whites are part of meringues, angel food cakes, French macarons, and coconut macaroons. You can also use whipped egg whites to leaven (raise) a cake.  

Nutrition

  • A large, boiled egg is a good source of low-cost, high-quality protein, providing 12.6 grams with only 78 calories. 
  • Eggs are rich in vitamin B12 and riboflavin (B2) and supply varying amounts of many other nutrients, including a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals. In addition, the yolk contains a higher percentage of an egg's vitamins than the white, including all of the vitamins A, D, E, and K. 
  • Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. They also have choline. This essential nutrient benefits your brain, nervous system, liver function, and cardiovascular system.
  • Some people have an allergy or food intolerance to eggs, especially egg whites. It is one of the most common allergies in babies but is often outgrown during childhood.

History of the Three Sisters!

Photo by igorsm8/Shutterstock.com
  • The "Three Sisters" are the name for the three main crops of North American indigenous peoples: squash, maize (corn), and beans. These three crops are often planted close together (companion planting) and support each other in different ways. 
  • The cornstalk acts as a trellis to support the vines of the climbing beans, the beans supply nitrogen to the soil, and the squash leaves provide shade, maintain soil moisture, and help prevent weeds.  
  • The people of Mesoamerica domesticated these plants thousands of years ago, starting with squash, then maize, and finally beans. They remain a staple of Native American diets.

Let's Learn About Indigenous Americans!

Photo by SALMONNEGRO-STOCK/Shutterstock.com (Indigenous grandmother and granddaughter from Guatemala)
  • Indigenous Americans are related to people who populated the Americas before the arrival of European settlers in the late 15th century. 
  • Historians previously thought the Clovis people were the first to arrive and dwell in the Americas. They were paleolithic hunter-gatherers who crossed over the Beringian land bridge from Siberia to Alaska about 11,500 years ago, during the last ice age. However, archaeological evidence in Chile and Mexico indicates that humans reached the Americas earlier, sometime between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.  
  • Many indigenous groups living in North and South America were hunter-gatherers, and others were farmers or fishers. Some lived in highly-developed cities, cultures, and empires, like the Aztecs and Incas. Others lived more nomadic lives, following the herds, like bison.  
  • Although indigenous populations decreased dramatically during European colonization and expansion, native people still live in many parts of the Americas. There are large numbers of indigenous inhabitants in Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, and the United States.
  • Indigenous languages are still spoken in many of these countries. For example, Mexico recognizes 63 indigenous languages, with the Nahuatl language spoken by over one million people. In Peru, Quechua is spoken by almost 14 percent of the population. 
  • The indigenous peoples of Canada consist of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis (mixed First Nations and European, mostly French). The previously-used terms of Indian and Eskimo are considered disrespectful and offensive. 
  • Native Americans in the United States make up a little over one percent of the country's population. In the 2020 census, almost 10 million people identified as fully or partially Native American or Native Alaskan.
  • In 2021, Deb Haaland was named Secretary of the Interior, the first Native American to be part of the president's cabinet. As of 2022, eight indigenous Americans serve in the US Congress. 
  • Indigenous cuisine varies across North and South American countries, and the following are examples of foods from a few different regions.
  • In the northern regions of Canada, Western food is expensive to import, so they rely on traditional "country" foods, like berries, fish, caribou, moose, geese, and seals. 
  • In the Eastern Woodlands, the Three Sisters (squash, corn, and beans), maple syrup, cornmeal, blueberries, cranberries, and nuts are prominent foods. 
  • In the Southwest, diets include corn, squash, beans, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, trout, turkey, and venison.

That's Berry Funny

What kinds of beans can’t grow in a garden? 

Jelly Beans!

Lettuce Joke Around

Why shouldn't you tell an Easter egg a good joke?

It might crack up!

That's Berry Funny

What did the chicken say when it laid a square egg? 

"Ouch!"

The Yolk's On You

What bean is the most intelligent? 

The Human Bean!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call a hen who can count her own eggs?

A mathmachicken! 

That's Berry Funny

What did the egg say to the other egg?

"Let's get cracking!"

The Yolk's On You

What did one egg say to the other? 

"Heard any good yolks lately?"

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