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Native Cooking

All over the country this year I am sensing a subdued holiday spirit. That
is perfectly understandable considering the economy, the election and the
war. Decorations seem to be of natural materials more than ever. Not so
many outdoor lighting extravaganzas either, a good thing with the energy
crunch.

Maybe the American Indian message of respecting the environment is gaining
more converts in mainstream America. That would be nice. May take a century
or more for that notion to fully take hold - or not. While we're waiting,
and we do that very well, we need to eat and be strong.

Johnny Cake Custard

1 cup whole milk

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup white cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large
bowl. Beat the eggs lightly in a separate bowl then add them to the dry
mix, now beat in the buttermilk. Add the whole milk last and blend in fast.
Pour the mixture into a greased baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes.
Serve right away.

Buffalo Stew with Dumplings

3 pounds of buffalo stew meat

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of chopped onions

1 medium onion stuck with 4 to

6 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 cup chopped celery

2 cups chopped carrots

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds potatoes, cut in chunks

Dumplings:

2 cups of biscuit mix

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Put the flour in a plastic food bag and add a few pieces of meat at a time
to coat with flour. When it is all coated, brown the meat in the olive oil.
Remove the meat to a heavy pan like a Dutch oven. Saute the onions, celery,
carrots and garlic in the remaining olive oil until soft, add to meat. Now
add water and/or beef broth to cover the meat.

Simmer all for two to three hours or until meat is tender and falls apart.
Now add the potatoes and cook for about 40 minutes more until they are
tender. While the potatoes are cooking, make the dumplings into a batter.
Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto the simmering stew. Cook
uncovered for 10 minutes, cover and cook for 10 more minutes.

Quick Sauteed Succotash

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 bell peppers, red, green, orange or yellow, chopped

1 large red onion, chopped

2 cups of corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1 can large Lima or Butter beans, drained

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic and peppers in the olive oil in a large frying pan.
Keep stirring over medium heat for about five minutes. Now add the corn and
beans and stir them in for another two minutes. Remove from heat, season
with salt and pepper and blend in parsley just before serving.

Green Pepper Jelly

1 cup jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

2 cups green bell peppers, seeded and chopped

6 cups of sugar

1-1/2 cups cider vinegar

1 package liquid fruit pectin (6-oz)

Green food coloring (optional)

Blend the peppers until smooth in a blender or food processor. Pour in a
non-aluminum pot. Add the sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring
constantly for five minutes. Now add the pectin and food coloring and boil
hard for one minute. Skim off the foam and ladle into clean half-pint jars.
Leave 1/4-inch headroom and wipe jar rims with a wet paper towel. Adjust
the lids and process in a boiling-water bath for 15 minutes. Don't start
timing until the water boils.

Notes & Tips

A great idea for a food basket is a good salsa, a jar of chili sauce,
jalapeno-stuffed olives, sundried tomatoes, package of pine nuts and blue
corn chips. Another would be homemade jam or jelly, pickles, vinegars,
quick breads like pumpkin or cranberry, a homemade pot holder, napkins, all
in a pretty basket. During the year thinking along these lines, you can
pick up some great items at tag or garage sales and squirrel them away.

Save the peels from oranges and lemons. Dry them and mix in with your
kindling wood. They burn slowly and give off a nice aroma.

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.