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Best of Native Cooking '06

You know that song about ''Havin' Too Much Fun''? Well, how can you have too much good food? You can have too much food, but not too much good-tasting food. Everything else is just filler items. So with this in mind, here are some of my favorite picks from 2006. I hope you like them too!

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Incredible Buffalo Stew

2 pounds buffalo rump roast, cut in 1-inch cubes

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 medium yellow turnip, cut in 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium onions, chopped

1 cup dried sweet corn, ground

4 large potatoes, cut in large chunks

3 tablespoons corn oil

1 14-oz. can beef broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of each: cumin, thyme and sage

Pan-roast the artichokes, turnip, onions and potatoes in corn oil, turning frequently. Set aside. Add a little more oil to the same pan and brown the meat. Put all in a cast-iron Dutch oven or slow cooker and sprinkle with salt, pepper, corn and herbs. Add broth or water and cook for at least 3 hours (longer is better) or until meat is tender. If you are using your oven, preheat it to 325 degrees; or if using a slow cooker, use the low setting.

For a little perk, add 1/4 cup of dried cranberries just before serving.

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Warm Bean Salad with Bacon

2 strips thick-sliced bacon

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1-1/2 cups light red kidney beans, drained

1-1/2 cups large lima beans (frozen, then cooked)

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Salt to taste

1 large bunch arugula (or 2 cups mesclun)

1 lemon, cut in wedges

Cook the bacon slowly in a large saute pan. When crisp, remove and set aside to drain on paper towels. Pour the bacon fat in a heatproof bowl and reserve. Do not wash the pan: add the olive oil and garlic to it. Cook the garlic until golden and remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the pan.

Now turn the heat up to medium-high and add the kidney and lima beans. Push them around frequently for about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice, stir again and crumble bacon over all; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the arugula or mesclun as a bed on serving plates (3 or 4). Spoon warm beans over the greens and garnish with a lemon wedge.

This is one of those recipes you can enhance with leftover cooked chicken or ham to make a more complete dinner meal. Add corn muffins or crusty bread.

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Bleu Cheese Buffalo Burgers

There are many ways you can perk up any type of burger by adding ingredients to the meat itself before forming the patties or by applying additions to the top of the meat. I have had bleu cheese burgers with the cheese applied on top and they are fabulous, but you need to broil the tops to get the cheese bubbly. This recipe includes the cheese in the ''body'' of the patty.

1 pound ground buffalo

4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

1 small onion, minced

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

1 egg, to bind all ingredients

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a fork gently. Form into thick-ish patties and place on waxed paper. Cover all with plastic wrap and chill for about an hour before grilling. (Chilling helps the burgers hold together.) Add barbecue sauce for added flavor while grilling.

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Quinoa and Potato Bake

1 cup quinoa, red or white, cooked

1 cup evaporated milk

4 medium potatoes, a mix of gold, white or sweet potato

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons corn oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

1 small can chopped jalapenos

2 tablespoons flat-leafed parsley or cilantro, minced

2 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

Cook the quinoa according to directions, set aside and stir in evaporated milk. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch chunks; cook in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the corn oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes. Now lower the heat and put in tomato sauce, parsley or cilantro, and jalapenos. Add the quinoa/milk mixture, the potatoes and half the cheese. Stir gently to blend.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking dish. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and top with the rest of the cheese. Bake about 25 minutes, or until cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

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Notes and Tips

-- I made a note to myself to ask YOU what you would like in the way of recipes and food tips. Information from you on traditional preparation methods would be very welcome, or on places you've been and enjoyed the food.