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Native Cooking

Spring is probably the most intense "feel good" season there is, and I
believe fall is a close second. I am planting herbs and lettuces in
containers near our porch this year. This way I can keep a close eye on
marauding bunnies and other troublemakers. I am probably fooling myself -
they'll find a way to get to the goodies.

Delicate spring greens of all sorts are on my mind, as well as light and
flavorful dressings. Being on a diet of late, I try to make a meal of a
salad by adding small cubes of cheese and a smattering of some kind of
meat. Crumbled bacon, still warm, is usually fine, but cold chicken,
shrimp, turkey or any leftover cooked meat might work. Unusual additions
like artichokes, jicama, sprouts or celery root are usually just enough
taste and texture to make the ordinary extraordinary.

These things are all fine, however, there is even more waiting outside to
be picked and used. I'm thinking chive, fiddleheads, cat tail, sorrel,
mint, mustard greens, dandelion, day lilies and so much more, but that is
here. Every cultural area in Indian country has different wild edibles
known to most people born and raised in that place. I would love to hear
from people who have unusual plant food and recipes for them.

Another Good Watercress Salad

2 bunches of watercress, washed

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into slices

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons Feta (goat) cheese, crumbled

Brown the pine nuts lightly in a frying pan, set aside. Break up the
watercress into the serving bowl and add the rest of ingredients except
Feta. Toss lightly, add nuts and crumbled cheese.

A note about croutons. I usually use leftover white bread for French toast
or bread pudding, but it makes wonderful croutons. So much cheaper than
buying them. I just never buy them, too expensive, but we all love them.
Cut the bread in smallish (whatever size you like) cubes and place in a
jelly roll pan or large, flat bottomed baking pan. Sprinkle with olive oil,
garlic powder or salt, basil, oregano and a little parsley for color. Bake
at 250 degrees for about a half hour. Turn cubes over at least once during
the baking process. Store in a tight lidded jar. For a variation, sprinkle
with Parmesan cheese one time, try dill weed another time.

Mushroom Side Dish

8 ounces of Portobello mushroom caps cut into slices less than 1/4 inch

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 green onions, sliced thin

1 small tomato, diced

1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic,
onion, mushrooms and tomato. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and
cook for about seven minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Now add the
broth and cook uncovered for a few minutes more. This can be served as a
side dish or a topping for crusty Italian bread.

Vegetable Quesadillas

6 ounces fresh spinach, chopped

1 pound mushrooms, mixed varieties, sliced

2 onions, chopped

2 scallions, chopped, use some green

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

8 8-inch flour tortillas

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a little olive oil in a large frying
pan over medium heat. Add the onions, scallions, spinach, mushrooms and
cilantro. Stir and cook for about 20 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.
Sprinkle all with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for
another minute or so, then taste the seasonings.

Spray or oil a large cookie sheet and place 4 tortillas in a single layer.
Sprinkle with the cheese divided evenly over each tortilla. Use a slotted
spoon and put one fourth of the mushroom and spinach mixture on each
tortilla, then top with remaining tortillas, pressing down gently. Brush
the top of each with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.
Remove from oven and serve cut in quarters.

Super Jicama Slaw

1 carrot, shredded

3 cups cabbage, shredded

1-1/2 cups jicama, peeled and cut in very thin strips

2 scallions, sliced thin, use some green

Combine the above in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Dressing:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

Combine the dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar, cover and shake well.
Pour over the cabbage mixture and toss lightly. Cover and chill for at
least two hours. You can even keep it overnight in the fridge.