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Dale Carson Recalls Her Mother's Kindness and Simple Recipes

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Since many Native American nations are of matrilineal origin and lineage, it is just logical that Mothers Day is a special event to be celebrated. I never heard of it when growing up, it was not yet imbedded in the commercial "make a buck" world back then.

I honored and loved my Mother every day and still do, though she’s been gone many years. Still, I don’t think there is a day now that I don’t give a thought or have a mental question for her. I wish I had anticipated and asked more questions. She was a gentle force unto herself and all who knew her.

People who knew her still come up to me and tell me how much she meant to them and how she helped them through personal issues. Once I told her she should hang out a sign as a psychologist, but she just laughed and said, “All people want is to be listened to.”

This is a truth mothers know, and she was right. She always listened to me and was never judgmental, which caused me and everyone else, I presume, to look within themselves with kindness to find the answers they sought. Her own mother, born in 1863, must have had that same gene for when I was very young we would always be taking her to visit one or the other of her old friends in nursing homes or wherever they lived for a talk even into her 90s. We had rarely lived apart, so when my children were growing up they only needed to cross the yard to visit with their grandparents. An extended family is just the best and way too rare today. I am very grateful to have had this for myself and my children.

My mom, unlike me, cooked very plainly without the gourmet tendencies I must have inherited from my father who fancied fine French cuisine. But, the kicker is that I remember more tender. thoughtful times with my mother just having a simple something and talking, laughing, being "in the moment" together.

As for my kids, two beautiful daughters and two incredible sons, I only need to say two words and they all appear: "Clam Cakes!" Other times it is "Peking Duck" or "Peaches and Crepes." Now and again, there are simple requests like grilled cheese or "tootsie rolls"—not what you’re thinking; a little cream cheese smeared on a piece of celery, topped with walnuts and raisins. One daughter loves a simple saltine cracker with a tad of blue cheese, because it reminds us both of Grandma. Grandma also loved raw clams—pure and fresh nutrition.

A Simple Canned Meal ala My Mom

1 can sliced beets

1 can of corn kernels

1 can leaf spinach

Sometimes this simple vegetable meal served as dinner with a little cider vinegar as a condiment. It was all we needed.

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Clam Cakes

1 can minced or chopped clams and juice


4 ounces fresh clams and juice

1-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg white

Pinch each: salt, pepper, sugar

Mix dry ingredients together; add clams and juice to make a thick batter. Drop by tablespoons into very hot vegetable oil—about 1 inch in a cast iron skillet works well.

Cook until golden. It only takes a couple of minutes so don’t go away. Drain on a screen, then on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: New Native American Cooking, Native New England Cooking and A Dreamcatcher Book. She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.