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Native Cooking

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At a gathering this past weekend, I was reminded, quite wonderfully, how rich our culture is and how very important it is to keep good traditions.

Our host had all the guests, about 50 or more, form a circle. Latecomers joined as they arrived. He introduced each person and told how they were important to his life and family. Many of us were old friends who had not connected in years; others were new to us as friends to be. After a smudging ceremony, we mingled and feasted with musician Joseph Fire Crow’s live flute melodies and velvet voice in our midst.

We were reminded how long we have known one another and how our traditional pow wows were changing, that the new generations do not seem to have the passion for the culture that we do. I hope that is not true, that it will emerge in its own time. It was a great gathering that reinforced my belief in the goodness of people and the values we all shared that evening.


Anasazi Beans

2 cups dried Anasazi beans

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 small jalapenos, chopped fine

3 – 4 basil leaves, chopped fine

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

6 – 8 cups beef broth

Rinse and sort beans, cover with water and let stand overnight; drain. Put beans and rest of ingredients in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally and adjust seasonings.


Fried Green Tomatoes

4 – 5 large green tomatoes

1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal

1/4 cup flour or plain bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter and oil or bacon fat to saute

Wash and thickly slice tomatoes; pat dry. Mix cornmeal, flour or bread crumbs, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish. Coat both sides of the tomato slices in the cornmeal mixture and saute in butter/oil mixture or bacon fat. Drain and devour.

This is a great way to use up those late non-ripeners and save for winter use. They can be frozen, then baked later with a little cheese topping.


Baked Eggs and Hash

4 eggs

1 can corned beef hash

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup cottage cheese

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1 small can chopped jalapenos

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine eggs, cheeses, jalapenos and onion in a bowl. Use a separate bowl to combine hash with 1 cup of the egg mixture, then stir bread crumbs into this and stir well. Lightly press the hash mixture into a 9-inch square baking dish and top with the rest of the egg mixture. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes.

For low-fat or other diets, you can get substitutes for the eggs and the cheese. Combined like this, you can hardly tell the difference.


Soft Chicken Tacos

1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)

1 chorizo sausage

1 yellow summer squash, chopped

1 green summer squash, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 dash cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup low-fat sour cream

1 package white corn tortillas, warmed

Cut chorizo into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat a little vegetable oil in a large saute pan and add the sausage and chicken. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the chicken starts to brown. Now add the squashes, chili powder, cayenne and salt. Stir, then add the sour cream and lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes or until squash is soft. Put cooked mixture on individual tortillas and wrap. Serve with a salsa or guacamole.


Easy Apple Corn Muffins

2 packages corn muffin mix

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

2 apples, peeled, cored, grated

3 tablespoons sugar or substitute

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan or use paper liners. Combine mixes, eggs, milk, apple, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Fill cups with about 1/2 cup of batter each. Bake for l5 – 20 minutes until lightly browned around edges.


Notes and Tips

* Got lots of squash, tomatoes and other vegetables hanging out? Good time to make vegetable “lasagnas” which freeze well. Add some ground meat and grated cheese to the mix and you have full meals. If you grow a lot of eggplant, it works well in layers and with other ingredients. You can use it as a meat substitute.

* Apples are great food. They help lower cholesterol and provide fiber – and this is a soluble fiber that helps diabetics regulate blood sugar. When the Europeans came to New England, they brought seeds which mixed with our native crabapples and brought forth completely new varieties. Today, 2,500 known varieties of apples grow in the United States. Globally, there are 7,500 varieties.