Skip to main content

NATIVE COOKING

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

I

t must be a cyclic thing, because every year at this time I get excited about cooking and reading about cooking. I’m thinking about food all the time. What is that? Maybe it’s our human way of fattening up for winter as our ancestors did. Animals do it; and we’re animals, aren’t we? Most of us don’t need to “fatten up” any more than we already are, that’s for sure.

There are those who are less fortunate and need to have more to eat – more of the right things to eat. We must never forget them. A gift of food is a gift of life and love, so think about this when you’re making jams, jellies, breads, one-dish meals, anything that you have in abundance to cache for winter use.

All those pumpkins you grew can become pies to freeze, so give some away. All that squash, corn and beans you grew, or got for bargain prices, can become soups, stews, or even canned or frozen by themselves. It’s a great chance to have a good time while you’re at it. Get a bunch of friends together. If you have a lot of friends, maybe a community center, school or church would let you use their kitchen. You could work a trade deal if they charged rent, but that’s not likely (I hope).

Any time you get people and food in the same location there’s bound to be a lot of laughter and a good time. You could either make tons of one good thing, pies, for example, or have everyone bring a special recipe they would like to try plus any odd ingredients needed. Say, “Come to a pumpkin party.” See how many different things you can all make with that one thing. Then, maybe give some to a local nursing home or senior center: any place or a person who would surely appreciate your efforts.

***

A few years ago, I had crabapples at a friend’s house at Odanak in Canada. They were out of this world, an unlikely treat, a surprise delight.

Spiced Crabapples

6 cups early crabapples, with stems

2 cups water

1 quart vinegar

4 cups sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon mace

1 tablespoon allspice

Wash, but don’t peel, crabapples. Put water, vinegar, sugar and spices (break cinnamon sticks into pieces) into a large heavy pot. Boil until this syrup coats a spoon. Reduce heat. Add the apples, stirring gently to coat all, and simmer for just a few minutes to cook the apples but avoid bursting the skins. When apples are tender, pack into hot, sterile jars, cover with the hot syrup and seal.

***

Pretty Pumpkin Side

3 cups pumpkin, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces

2 cups (or 1 can) chopped tomatoes

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup large lima beans

1 tablespoon corn oil

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup broth or water

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Salt and pepper

Saute the onion in the oil and butter for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (drain if using canned), garlic, corn, limas, pumpkin and broth or water. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook vegetables until they are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Other uses for pumpkins

Use the cleaned-out shell for serving other things like cranberry juice, stew, soups, cooked vegetables, condiments, etc.

Coat pumpkin seeds with a light vegetable oil, spread flat in a baking pan, sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 1-1/2 hours at 225 degrees.

Pumpkin stuffed with seasoned, cooked wild rice is an elegant Native presentation. Complete the picture with roasted turkey and cranberries.

Wusswaquatomineug (Walnut) Bread

2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1-3/4 cups white flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups sour milk*

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons finely shredded orange or lemon peel

1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

3/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans. Put dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to blend. Then add the nuts and raisins. In another bowl, combine eggs, sour milk*, molasses, honey and peel. Add to the dry ingredients. Spoon into loaf pans and bake for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cover with foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes. Cool loaves on a rack before serving.

* To make sour milk, put 4 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice in a glass measuring cup. Add enough fresh milk to make 2 cups liquid. Stir and let stand for 1 minute.

***

Notes and Tips

• To keep squirrels and raccoons away from plants and garbage cans, fill a spray bottle with a mixture of white vinegar, cayenne pepper and a little water and spray where they’re likely cause trouble.

• If you have fruit flies in your house, take a saucer or dish with sides and put some cider vinegar in it with a few drops of dishwashing liquid soap. The combo with attract them away from your fruit.

I

want to thank all of you who have sent in suggestions and ideas to NativeCooking@aol.com. I am always learning things. Please let me know what YOU want to see for recipes in this column.

Dale Carson is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking” (temporarily out of print), “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.”

For ordering information write to Dale Carson, P.O. Box 13, Madison, CT 06443 or e-mail NativeCooking@aol.com.