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Native Cooking

So, what we have here is another year to live even better than all the years before. It's a new chance, an opportunity to right wrongs, to eat better and improve all the lifestyle goofs of the past. Fresh starts are always welcome and it is such a miracle to see that there are always new ways to do old things. There is an old saying: ''There is nothing new under the sun, but a new combination of the old can be devastating.'' How true.

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This recipe may be because I think of smoked salmon and cream cheese on fresh bagels in January; it keeps salmon on my mind. It's great in the middle of winter for a change of pace.

Baked Salmon with Lemon-Garlic Butter

2 - 3 pounds thick salmon fillets

2 large onions, sliced thick

2 lemons, sliced

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 clove garlic (or more), minced

Pinch of cayenne

1 tablespoon parsley or cilantro, chopped fine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take a large sheet of heavy-duty foil, enough to wrap the fish up, and place it on a baking sheet. Make a bed of the onions and place the fillets, skin-side down, on them. Melt the butter and add the garlic, cayenne and parsley to it in a small bowl. Gently spoon the butter mixture over the fillets, top with lemon slices, and pull foil up and wrap tightly. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

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Split Pea Soup

2 quarts water

1 ham hock, plus some cut-up ham if handy

1 pound dried split peas

1 large onion, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

1 bay leaf

Dash Worcestershire sauce

Put all ingredients in a large soup pot (you can also use a crock pot for this recipe) and cook on low for 3 hours. Remove the ham bone, cut off the meat and return it to the pot. You can add extra meat at this point. (Note: You can add 1/4 cup of barley or brown rice when you cook the dried peas, just for variety.)

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Oven Bison Ribs

4 pounds buffalo, beef or pork ribs, bone-on

1 1-liter bottle ginger ale (or 2 cans)

Sauce:

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 cups ketchup

2 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon dried onion flakes

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

Put ribs in a shallow baking pan and cover with ginger ale. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge. Use a medium saucepan to combine all sauce ingredients and simmer for about 30 minutes.

When ready to bake the ribs, pour off the ginger ale and coat the ribs with the sauce. Set the oven to 325 degrees and place the ribs on a rack in the baking pan. Cook long and slow, about 2 hours, checking frequently and turning the ribs. Use any extra sauce for dipping. (Note: You can add some apricot jam to the dipping sauce to extend it.)

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Baked Butternut Squash with Cheese

1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs

1/2 cup grated hard cheese (Parmesan, Cheddar or other)

Parboil the squash for about 20 minutes. Drain and place in a shallow baking dish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees now. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper, dot with butter or drizzle with oil. Mix the bread crumbs together with the cheese in a bowl. Sprinkle this mix on top of the squash and bake for 30 minutes. Turn heat up to 400 degrees and cook for 5 more minutes.

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Delish Duck Soup

2 cups cooked and shredded duck

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 cup dried corn

1/2 teaspoon each: thyme, ground sage, parsley

1-1/2 cup cooked wild rice

6 cups water or chicken broth (or 3 cups of each)

Combine all ingredients in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour to be sure the carrots are cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Notes and Tips

-- If a soup is too salty, add some potato slices, let them cook a few minutes, then remove.

-- Some things should never boil. Soup is one of them. Anything with milk or cream in it, as in chowders, must always simmer.

-- Try to use up any holiday leftovers like meats or nuts in the shell as soon as possible. Cookies, pies and breads can be frozen.

-- Compile some recipes for stew, casseroles, one-pot meals and soups. This will cut down a little on energy bills instead of having four or five pots going at once. Even this little bit helps.