Native Cooking

Wow, there’s a lot going on right now. We all have gardens to get in, friends to see, socials and other celebrations, picnics, spring cleaning, sun sittin’, berry pickin’, herb gatherin’ and more to pack into our infinitely busy lives. We are pulled in a million directions, and happily so when the sun shines. Mother earth shakes herself off and stands up straight and lovely, so it’s a good year to eat right and buy smart.

Start with planting a native garden with heirloom seeds. Look for environmentally sound sources for your foods – not just produce, but organically grown meats and dairy products.

I’m finally learning to keep a garden journal and to plant things like lettuce in successive sowings.

Actually, I planted two types of regular lettuce, “Black Seeded Simpson” and “Salad Bowl” together and one package of “Bloomsdale” spinach. I put the spinach in a window box when it was still quite cold here and it is doing nicely. Both spinach and parsley like colder temperatures. Hey, this isn’t a gardening column: but growing, cooking and eating what you grow are part of a healthy lifestyle.


<b>Honey-Mustard Dressing</b>

1/3 cup honey

3 tablespoons grainy (Dijon-type) mustard

1 lemon, squeezed for juice and seeds removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

Salt and pepper to taste

Discard lemon rind and seeds. Whisk all other ingredients in a jar or small bowl until blended.


<b>Honey-Garlic Dressing</b>

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together except the oil. Keep whisking and slowly drizzle in the oil until well blended.


<b>Iroquois Soup</b>

1 pound fish

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

2 quarts beef broth

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 large onion, chopped

1 package large frozen lima beans (or 1-1/2 cups dried)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon parsley

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh, chopped)

Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

Saute garlic, onion and fish in butter, stirring frequently to break up the fish into pieces. Transfer this to a medium-large soup pot and add the broth, mushrooms, parsley, basil, cornmeal, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. This is great with bannock or a simple frybread.


I have had butternuts that kept over winter so well that I was forced to find recipes like this one to use them up. For filling, I use ground turkey, minced onion, basil, a little cream, salt and pepper. You can also use any plain cheese. It’s easy, freezable and delicious. The first time you make it, I recommend using the amounts below, but next time double the recipe in two batches and freeze one – it’s that good!

<b>Butternut Pasta Squares (Ravioli)</b>

1 cup cooked, mashed butternut squash

2 eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups semolina or regular white flour

1/2 cup fine yellow corn flour

Using a food processor, beat together the squash, eggs, oil and salt. Add the flour slowly so the dough becomes a ball. Knead for two or three minutes and then chill the dough for one hour.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (or use a pasta machine) and cut into squares for filling. Fill with about 1 tablespoon filling of your choice: meat, cheese or vegetable. Cover with another sheet of rolled-out dough and press the edges around the filling. Cover with a damp cloth while bringing salted water to a boil.

Add the pasta squares, a few at a time, and cook until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon, keep warm and serve with a tomato, cheese, or other sauce like butter and sour cream. A light green salad and good bread make a meal.


<b>Notes and Tips</b>

Here are some good Web sites where you can find organically grown meats and dairy products: www.eatwellguide.org, www.eatwild.com, www.foodnews.org, www.farmaid.org and www.localharvest.org.

* Keep your barbecue ready. After it’s been used and while it’s still warm, sprinkle with baking soda and let it sit overnight. In the morning you can wipe it clean easily with a damp rag.

* Plant mints, herbs and/or lettuces in containers near your back door so they are easy for you to get at, and not easy for the rabbits and deer. Put some herbs in between flowers in a window box.

* I used to think I was saving money by adding water to liquid condiments like ketchup, stir-fry sauce, barbecue sauce, etc., until it was pointed out to me that the water itself may contain bacteria as well as dilute the preservatives and reduce their strength. So, the answer is to take what you need from the bottle and dilute it just before use.

* No spoon rest handy? Use an end piece of bread.