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Native cooking column

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While researching various grains and reading about them, I came across one that I always thought was a grain - quinoa, (keen-wa). A friend introduced me to it about ten years ago when it was just starting to find a remote place in some health food stores as an exotic "new" food then. Well, it is really a very, very old food grown for centuries in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru. It is the dried fruit of an herb that grows in the mountains of these countries. It must have been very important to the Inca people because they named it "mother grain."

For people who are trying to limit meats in their diet, it is an excellent source of protein, it is low in calories and high in fiber. It also contains four milligrams of iron, three times more than brown rice, and is also a source of potassium, zinc and many of the B vitamins. It does have a very mild flavor and is softer than rice in texture. It plumps to four times its own size, like wild rice does, making a little go a long way. Quinoa is a near perfect food as it contains all the amino acids that our body needs. It is growing in popularity as a substitute for rice, barley or bulgur. Try it in some of your recipes where you would use rice like stuffed peppers or as a vegetable side dish. It is grown in Colorado now and is probably available at your local supermarket.

Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms

10 large stuffing mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup of minced leek
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Take the stems off the mushrooms and chop them up and set aside. Use a grapefruit knife to scrape some more out of the mushroom caps, this makes more room for the filling. Be gentle.

Brush to caps on both sides and set them open side up on a cookie sheet. Saut? the garlic, leek and chopped stems in the butter until soft, just a few minutes, then stir in the quinoa and chicken broth and bring all to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Check frequently, it takes about 8-10 minutes. Now stir in the walnuts and parsley, season with salt. Now pack the filling in the mushrooms, rounding the tops. Use a teaspoon. Use the rest of the oil to drizzle over the packed mushrooms and bake them for 10 minutes. Serve them warm or hot.

*Note: These mushrooms don't have to be an appetizer, you can serve them as a side dish. For a variation, use Portobello mushrooms and add 1/2 cup of corn to the filling as it saut?s.

We are getting into "game time" of year. In the crisp weather we always tend to think about simmering soups and hearty roasts, beckoning aromas wafting through the air. I know I've said it before, but, if you work outside of the home, the crock-pot can make your life easier. Why not? This recipe can double that ease by using, gulp, yes, soups.

Easy Roast Meat

Any 3-5 pound roast (buffalo, beef, elk, pork, etc.)
3 tablespoons shortening
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 package onion soup
1 tablespoon gravy master

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Melt the shortening in a heavy pan and brown the meat on all sides. Transfer it to the crock-pot and add the soups and gravy master. You can add a can of water or wine and water at this point. Let it cook all day on low or 4-5 hours on a higher setting.

*Note: A beef shoulder roast is very tasty done this way.

Pumpkin-Walnut Bars

1 basic piecrust
1 cup canned pumpkin, (fresh if you have it)
3 eggs
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup evaporated milk
Topping: 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan. Place the piecrust in the pan and brush with a little egg white.

Combine the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, and spices in a large bowl. Stir or whisk to blend. Stir in evaporated milk slowly and blend. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and let stand aside for 5 minutes but leave the oven on. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, flour and butter until crumbly, then add walnuts, stirring to blend. Sprinkle over the pumpkin filling and return to oven for 15 minutes. Cool on a rack before cutting into bars.

Notes and Tips:

Store coffee in a cool dark place, not the refrigerator. If you don't need it right away, store in the freezer, tightly wrapped.

For meatballs, try ground venison, ground turkey and ground veal together. The taste is lighter and more flavorful than just venison.

Before adding milk to potatoes for mashing, put the desired amount in a Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 30-40 seconds. Cold milk will cool off the potatoes too much.

File-worthy: Take time to listen to your children, to watch a sunset, to make cookies or draw. If time doesn't stand still once in awhile, it will pick up speed and go faster.