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Native Cooking

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The little people are in charge of the care of strawberry plants. They’ve done a good job of it this year: there are so many for we big people to eat.

Wonder how they got their name? Wild strawberries were, and are, distributed by birds, so why not “Birdberries”? The mother plant strews and scatters new plants by sending out runners; how about “Strewberries” or “Scatter-berries”? It does not matter how big or small the strawberries are; they all deliver big flavor.

This year I tried planting the berries in one of those little pots with the side pockets called a strawberry jar. I didn’t see how it could work, but it’s working just fine and I suppose it keeps the berries from rotting on the ground if you don’t pick them right away. In June, you’ll find the sweetest and juiciest berries at your local farm stands (the same is true for produce).

Throughout Indian country this month, there are numerous strawberry festivals. In New England, the Narragansett, the Pequot and Wampanoag have their events; and in New York state, the Seneca also celebrate. I would love to hear about other strawberry events, or upcoming food-oriented celebrations: so please write to me at Box 13, Madison, CT 06443; and thank you.


<b>Strawberry Ices</b>

This recipe is for making ice cubes to flavor many kinds of summer drinks. Kids like a cube or two as a snack on a hot day. It’s especially good in strawberry drinks, lemonades, limeades or punch. For a punch, freeze it in a plastic container as a large block.

2 cups fresh wild or commercial strawberries, hulled and crushed

4 cups water

2 cups sugar or equivalent substitute

Juice of one lemon

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for about one minute. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.


Some nights we like to have a cold supper of potato salad, poached salmon or marinated herring, a mixed-bean salad and the beet salad below. It’s just a nice change from the ordinary, not to mention a break for the cook.

<b>Beet Salad</b>

1 can sliced beets, drained

2 tablespoons red onion, minced or chopped

3 tablespoons light olive oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a small bowl and chill for at least an hour.


This salad is one of my favorite lunches. It can even become a heartier meal if you add some Cheddar or Swiss cheese, pine nuts or walnuts, a little shaved ham, or a cut-up tomato.

<b>Supplimentable Spinach Salad</b>

8 oounces fresh spinach, washed

4 white mushrooms, sliced paper-thin

2 slices bacon, warm and crumbled

3 tablespoons bleu cheese

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1/2 cup croutons

Combine all and toss lightly. Serve with a simple vinaigrette or your favorite salad dressing.


<b>Buffalo-Noodle-Spinach Bake</b>

1 package wide noodles, cooked

1 1-pound package ground buffalo (beef or ground turkey)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced petite tomatoes, or 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 teaspoon each: oregano, basil, garlic salt

1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 cup low-lat sour cream

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

Drain and set aside noodles. Cook buffalo (or other meat); add garlic, tomatoes and herbs. Combine spinach, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream and egg in a large baking dish, then gently fold in noodles. Sprinkle this with a half-cup of the Parmesan cheese and top with buffalo, then the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes.


<b>Wild and Crazy Rice</b>

2 cups cooked wild rice

2 cups of cooked white or other rice

1 small can chopped jalapenos

1 medium onion

1 tomato, chopped or diced

1/2 can onion soup

1/2 can water

Saute the onion in a tad of olive oil and add the other ingredients. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until liquid is mostly absorbed. Serve with any entree. To make a richer rice, add some grated cheese on top before serving.


<b>Notes and Tips</b>

* Wild, brown or white rice is always good to have on hand at least once a week. You can do so many things with it and it’s even good cold as a salad base. It helps to stretch a dish if you need to.

* Cooking on the grill tonight? Save yourself work and cut up veggies in the morning and store in separate containers. Set up a tray as a mini-salad bar so you can relax while the meat is cooking.