Native Cooking

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I've known a lot of good cooks in my life and a few terrible ones, but, I
have never known a Native American, man or woman, who was not a good or
great cook. Why would this be? Is it genetic? I suppose it is, to a degree.

Ancestral traditions are gems to treasure. A lot of people have paid
attention to the old ways and respect the way and reasons that food was
prepared in long, slow, often labor-intensive procedures. Man ate raw meat
and/or plants first, I'm sure, but it may be likely that the next oldest
food on earth was soup. The aroma of soup cooking brings back a flood of
memories with spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup coming at me from my
mother's hand. I think of corn soup, squash bisque, clam chowder, potato,
mushroom, watercress, bean soups and my favorite, tomato-garlic. Soup is
the quintessential comfort food, homemade bread right on its heels.

Good 'Ato' Soup

3 sweet potatoes

3 potatoes (Yukon gold, all-purpose)

2 large tomatoes

1 carrot

1 stalk celery

2 tablespoons butter

6-8 cups beef stock

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream - optional

Chop tomatoes, carrot and celery. Saute in the butter until soft, add the
stock. Now chop or slice all potatoes and add to vegetables in stock. Cook
all gently for about 30 minutes. At this point, you can add the cumin, salt
and pepper and spoon into bowls, or put all in a food processor and puree,
then serve with a bit of sour cream or regular cream stirred in.

Bannock Bread

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons melted bacon fat

1 or more cups milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a large cast-iron pan and place it
in the oven to heat up. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then
blend in the bacon fat and milk to form a dough. Flour a board and knead
the dough on it until it's elastic. Carefully remove the preheated
cast-iron pan from the oven and put about half the dough in it for a few
minutes on one side, then turn it over to get some bacon fat on both sides.
Flatten the dough down and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat procedure with
the other half of dough. Serve hot, plain or with sugar, jam or butter.

Buffalo Bullet Soup

This is a Plains/North west culture recipe which is reminiscent of what is
called Italian Wedding soup. The Italian version uses oregano and basil to
season the meat (pork or beef), this one uses sage and dry mustard.

For the meatballs:

1-1/2 pounds ground buffalo

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon each: Sage, dry mustard, salt and pepper

Put all the above in a bowl and mix well. Form 1-inch balls and put them in
the fridge for one-half hour.

Soup:

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons oil

3 cups water

5 cups beef broth

1/2 cup wine (optional)

3 carrots, diced

4 potatoes, diced

1 cup corn kernels

2 stalks celery, diced

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 tablespoon parsley

1 can diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

Saute the onion and garlic in the oil in the bottom of a large soup pot.
Add the flour and stir to blend, pouring a little broth in slowly. Keep
stirring to prevent lumping. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring all
to a boil. Drop the meatballs into the boiling soup and cover. Reduce heat
and simmer for about 30 -40 minutes. Check a couple of times and stir
before serving.

Notes & Tips

For mineral deposits on your showerhead, remove it and boil in a half and
half mixture of vinegar and water.

To discourage deer visits near your garden, hang strips of cloth that have
been soaked with strong detergent like Lysol or Lestoil. Car fresheners
work well, too, but are a bit costly.

I hope you never have the problem of getting out bloodstains, but if you
do, make a paste of cold water and corn-starch. Let it dry, then brush it
off. You may need to do this several times. Always use cold water, hot
water will set a stain.

Need a spoon rest quick? A piece of bread works well in a pinch.

The definition of a will is a dead give away.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

A lot of money is tainted - it taint yours and it taint mine.

A little fortune teller who escapes from prison is a small medium at large.

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.