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Native Cooking

I can't believe it, we are almost done with February. February! Heart
month, chocolate, warm soups, all kinds of root veggies, game meats, and,
with all that goodness, the need to lose a few pounds - spoiler! Obesity is
caused by eating too much, but you knew that. No matter how well you eat,
you won't lose unless you exercise along with your diet. Walking is good,
picking stuff up off the floor is good: anything that gets your heart rate
going a bit is going to help.

Just because you start to exercise doesn't mean you can eat more. The best
way to curb overeating is to eat very slowly and just plain stop when you
are satisfied. A lot of people grew up with parents who said, "clean that
plate or else you can't ..." It is not a good thing to waste food. Take a
reasonable amount, just what you are certain you can eat. Think about what
is on your plate, how much fat, sodium, preservatives, white flour and
sugar. Speaking of white flour and sugar, many people have mentioned to me
how they lost weight and felt better just eliminating those two things.

Remember, "a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips."

Delightful Deggie Salad

1 pound of mixed salad greens

2 avocados, chopped

3 small carrots, shredded

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced paper thin

3/4 cup dried cranberries (or substitute raisins)

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 4-oz. package goat cheese Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

3/4 cup commercial balsamic vinegar and oil dressing

Combine all ingredients except salt, pepper and dressing. Salt and pepper
the salad, drizzle dressing over salad and toss gently to coat just before
serving. You might want to sprinkle some croutons on top, but that's
optional.

Classic Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup sour cream

2/3 cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons chopped scallions

4 tablespoons fine chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 small cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Use or
refrigerate for up to three days.

These muffins are not Native, but they are very good. The ingredients are
good for you if you don't use too much butter on them.

Bran-Carrot-Walnut Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat bran

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup applesauce

1 large egg

1/2 cup shredded carrots, packed down

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease the cups of a muffin pan, or use
paper liners and set aside. Put the dry ingredients, flour, bran, brown
sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger and cinnamon in a
mixing bowl and set that aside. In a larger bowl, whisk together the oil,
applesauce and egg. Add the carrots, walnuts, crystallized ginger and fresh
ginger. Now add the dry ingredients to this and stir until combined and
divide equally into the muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, then cool on a
wire rack.

Lima Bean Bake

1 pound of large dried lima beans

6 cups water

1 medium onion, thin sliced

4 slices bacon

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 cup maple syrup

Put the beans in a large pot, cover with water and leave overnight. Next
day, drain water off, return beans to pot and cover with cold water. Bring
to a boil, cover, then turn down heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Preheat
oven to 300 degrees. Drain beans, reserving liquid. Put the beans in a
2-quart baking dish. Cut the bacon across into 1/4-inch slices and cook in
a small skillet, and then drain on paper. Put molasses, chili sauce, brown
sugar, vinegar, salt and dry mustard on the beans, add the bacon and mix
all well with the beans. Bake for 90 minutes, then stir in maple syrup and
continue baking another hour. Add some of the bean liquid that you reserved
if the dish starts to dry out during baking.

notes & tips

I've been noticing nice fresh dandelion greens in the market lately.
Dandelion from your own yard away from the road or driveway is usually
best, but the dandelion that appears in the supermarket is cultivated and
grown specifically for sale and is usually larger in size. All dandelion
salads taste a bit better if you add 1/2 teaspoon of light brown sugar to
the dressing.

If an egg drops on the floor, cover it with lots of salt and let stand for
half an hour. Then you can sweep it up easily.

To thicken stew, put a handful of mashed potato flakes in and stir.

Does anyone know of a study connecting lactose intolerance (or allergy to
milk) to specific ethnic groups such as American Indians? I have had an
inquiry, but cannot seem to find any information about this subject.

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.