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Native cooking column

Whether it is rainy, raw and cold or lovely, sunny and crisp, Fall days make a ton of memories return from wherever they are stored. The smell of burning leaves (yes, we used to do that) is soup to me, onion soup mostly. When it first starts to get a tad chilly the thoughts of warm, tasteful "Mommy" food won't leave my head. I had the luxury of having my grandmother at home while mother worked. After school she always made me a snack of some sort, but my favorite was very easy, - molasses and bread.

Grandma would have made me a full course meal if I asked. She was that kind of a grandma. When my own children were growing up, again, I had the luxury of having my mother live with us. One of us was always here when the school bus dropped kids off. Kids are hungry after a grueling day of school. The after-school snack is a welcome respite before delving into massive homework or massive play. Either one needs energy. You can't always think of creative things for kids on a moment's notice so I write ideas down to refer to when needed.

After-School Snack Ideas
Molasses and bread
Dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, ...)
Fresh fruit (apples, pears, ...)
Peanut butter & jelly on crackers
Celery, cream cheese & walnuts
Smoothies or juice
Mini pizzas or bagels
Cubed cheese & olives
Artichokes & dip
Salsa & corn chips
Herb dip & raw vegs (carrots ...)
Crackers & cheese
Mini quesadillas
Pita bread with hummus
Shelled & roasted nuts
Trail mixes
Rice cakes & peanut butter
Instant soup cups
Seasoned or plain popcorn
Yogurt cup
Mini frybreads with assorted toppings (powdered sugar, honey, molasses, ...)
Sweet potato chips
Homemade granola with honey

I just realized this list could become endless and I think there are enough ideas to get started. Some of them are good to keep ready in the fridge or on the counter in case you can't be there when they get home.

Onion Soup

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 large onions, 1 sliced and 1 chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
5 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper

For Topping:

Slices of French bread
Cheese (Parmesan, Swiss or Cheddar)

Saut? the onions in the butter or oil, cook slowly and add the sugar and flour. Stir and cook for one minute. Add the beef broth and season with salt & pepper. Stir to mix, spoon into oven-proof bowls and pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

For four to six bowls, slice French bread thick and toast the bread. Put a slice on the soup in each bowl and add cheese. Any one of the cheeses will do, but a combination of the three above makes it extraordinary. Bake until cheese melts and serve immediately on a luncheon plate with a warning not to touch the hot-baked soup bowl.

Oxtail Soup

1-1/2 to 2 pounds oxtail, cut in 2-inch lengths
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons solid shortening
2 quarts beef broth
1 cup carrot, chopped
1 cup yellow turnip, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Sprinkle the oxtail with flour, salt and pepper, saut? in the shortening about 5-8 minutes to brown them on all sides. Transfer to a soup pot if necessary and add the beef broth and some water to cover the meat.

Cook until the meat falls off the bones. Remove the bones and add the vegetables, simmering them until soft. Now add the lemon and Worcestershire sauce and a little more water or broth. Heat and serve.

It is never too soon to start thinking about appetizers that are new and different for the holidays when people come visiting. This one is so popular at my house that even an ex-son-in-law called me for the recipe!

It is also a good one to bring along when you visit.

Artichoke Appetizer

2 jars artichokes, marinated (or 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and marinated overnight in Italian dressing)
1-1/2 cups onions, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 eggs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
2 shakes of chili pepper sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup other cheese, grated (Munster, Jack, Swiss, Parmesan ...)
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped fine

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 7" x 11" or an 8" x 8" baking pan. Warm the artichokes, jarred or marinated over medium heat and saut? the onions and garlic in the marinade with the chokes until soft. Remove the artichokes, garlic and onion with a slotted spoon and set aside. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Stir in the breadcrumbs, oregano, salt and pepper and the hot pepper sauce. Add the chokes, onion & garlic to egg mixture along with the cheese and parsley. Pour into pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden. Cut into squares and serve.

Notes & Tips

oNo, globe thistle artichokes in jars and cans are not Native American, BUT, eating good food and celebrating with our families and friends is very much our way.

oRecent studies indicate artichokes have a compound called silymarin, which is used in an ointment to prevent skin cancer. They are also a good source of magnesium, which helps muscles, as well as fiber and folate, a B-vitamin important to fetal development. A medium sized artichoke also contains 12 milligrams of Vitamin C, one-fifth of the daily requirement.

File-worthies:

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The best mirror is an old friend.