How does it go? In 1492, Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue. Five hundred and twenty-seven years later, Federal Banks are closed as Americans rush to the shopping malls for Columbus-Day specials. Hum, not so sure how I feel about that. One thing I can tell you is that you aren’t going to find me in a mall. While there might be things I’d like to have, there is nothing I need so much that I am willing to fight through a crowd of crazed bargain shoppers.
How did Columbus Day become a Federal Holiday and why all the shopping? The shopping part is easy. Stores feel compelled to offer special pricing on any and all Federal holidays. It’s their patriotic duty to separate us from our dollars and common sense. Veterans Day, Memorial Day, whatever the day, they will have a sale to honor the fact that shoppers have the day off. Don’t you want to spend your day off in a shopping mall? No? How about if you could score a discounted price by doing so? Now it’s more tempting, isn’t it? And as long as your are out shopping anyway, have a meal out, pick up things you really don’t need, go for the gusto. That’s what businesses are counting on.
As for Columbus Day itself, that all started on the 300-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ achievement of landing in what is now the Bahamas. Keep in mind, he never actually reached North America, nor did he find a route to India and their prized spices. No matter, he found “new” lands for European explorers and that was accomplishment enough for New York City to throw a big parade in 1792. Not to be outdone by a local government, one-hundred years later then President Benjamin Harrison issued the first official proclamation urging all Americans to celebrate the day. This went over well with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization that was largely Italian. They lobbied heavily for states and the Federal Government to declare Columbus Day as an official holiday. Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937; Richard Nixon established the modern holiday by Presidential Proclamation in 1972. While there has been pressure to remove Columbus Day from the recognized Federal Holidays by Native American groups that find it offensive, retailers have pushed back hard. After all, Columbus Day is the first big sale day after the Back-to-School rush.
I suppose, as an American Federal Holiday, I should be putting together a purely American supper. However; since Columbus never reached the good old U.S. of A; I’ve gone ahead with a Caribbean dish instead. If you aren’t a fan of the Sweet Potato, use regular potatoes instead or a combination of the two to please everyone.
Caribbean Sweet Potato Pot Roast
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
2 large carrots, sliced
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 boneless beef chuck roast (2-1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoon baking cocoa
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
Place potatoes, carrots and celery in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown meat in oil on all sides. Transfer meat to slow cooker.
In the same skillet, saute onion in drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, seasonings, orange zest and cocoa. Stir in tomato sauce; add to skillet and heat through. Pour over beef.
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender.