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Native Cooking

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Hot, and hotter! Well, that's what to expect in the middle of summer so you might as well enjoy it. I did recently when it was one of those over 90 degree days. It was a green corn festival, I made corn chowder in one of my clay pots over a nice hot fire. It really wasn't too awful, this was a group of people really interested in Woodland culture, they didn't want to move and were hungry. They all seemed to appreciate the hearty corn flavor, asking intelligent questions between bites.

Green corn festivals are historically varied. Some people celebrate when the first green shoots appear, others when the first crop is ready. Still others celebrate at the full moon or at any time they choose to give thanks and forgiveness. It can be a one-day affair or over several days. Some people fast, and this is known as a busk. In nearly all celebrations of green corn festivities it is a joyful time, a new beginning. Most ceremonies take place before anyone eats the new, ripe corn.

Green corn festivals are one of the few thanksgiving traditions that have survived into the 21st century; however, many rituals

and ceremonies are being renewed with great reverence by Native people now. Traditions are gifts of the Creator. To honor and apply them to this time in history is a gift to the Creator.


Your Own Corn Chips

Why bother, you may ask - well, because they taste fantastic!

6 cups flour

3 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon adobo powder

3 cups water

Mix all the dry ingredients together very well. Add the water slowly to form a dough. Wrap and chill dough until ready to use. (Overnight is OK.) When ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out as thin as you can and cut into the size you want. Put on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 8 - 10 minutes. Note: These chips are best served as nachos or with any kind of dip.


Mohawk Corn

4 - 6 ears fresh corn kernels to make 2 cups

3 tablespoons butter or substitute

1/2 cup black walnuts, chopped rough

1/2 teaspoon black walnut flavoring

Saute the corn in the butter; add walnuts and flavoring. Serve warm.


Pretty Good Salsa

2 big tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 cup corn kernels

2 tablespoons onion, minced

1 green chili, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine

2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons black olives, chopped

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Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature for a couple of hours so the flavors can get to know each other. Chill for a couple of hours and serve.


Corn Delish Relish

18 ears fresh corn, kernels only

1 bunch celery, chopped fine (include leaves)

1 quart of a mild vinegar

4 onions, sliced fine and chopped

1 green bell pepper (or hot one if you like), chopped

1 sweet red pepper, chopped (for color punch)

2 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Place kernels in a large saucepan or soup pot. Add the chopped celery, then add the vinegar, onions, and green and red peppers. In a separate bowl, blend sugar, flour, salt, dry mustard, cayenne and turmeric. Add mixture to the vegetable mixture. Bring vegetables and seasonings to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Makes 4 to 5 pints.


Corn Chowder

1/2 dozen ears of fresh corn, scraped OR

2 cans (14-1/2 oz.) each: creamed and kernel corn

2 large onions, chopped

3 stalks celery, sliced thin

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 or more potatoes, cut in edible chunks, not peeled

6 or more cups water or chicken broth

2 slices bacon

1/2 teaspoon each: salt, cayenne, sage, parsley, thyme

Cook the bacon until crispy; remove, drain and set aside. Saute the onion and celery in one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Cook the potatoes and carrot in the water or broth for about 20 minutes, then add corn, onion, celery, herbs and crumbled bacon. Let this simmer for 10 minutes more. Add just a touch of flour if you want it thicker, but it's delicious either way. Let it cool off a bit before serving so flavors can mingle together.

Note: You can make this a meal by adding cooked chicken, ham or other cooked meat.


Notes and Tips

* Use a vegetable brush to remove corn silk while holding it under running water.

* Dry corn cobs now to use later. Kids can make dolls or ornaments with some pipe cleaners for arms, beads for faces, even cut small gourd necks to slip over cobs, and then paint faces on.

* Wrap celery in foil to store it. It will last longer than in a plastic bag.