Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson


Here it is June and many folks are - and have been - hitting the pow wow trail. If you travel far and wide in this endeavor, you may be the luckiest people alive. It gives you an opportunity that our ancestors did not often have - the ability to taste regional favorites. We may be one people, but with many nations with much diversity within each nation.

Native people are - and always have been - accomplished creative cooks. As you travel this summer, hopefully you will seek out the variety of local cuisines.

People who do travel the pow wow circuit are also pretty accomplished at packing pickups and RVs. I heard of something that should be considered. If you have access to a copy machine - there is usually one in even the most remote town - make a copy of your license, registration and credit cards. Leave the copy home or with someone in case you lose your wallet.

Things not to forget are many. Do take some proof of insurance, auto and health, extra water for either you or your vehicle. Paper towels and a bunch of plastic bags, all sizes, are good to have along as well.

Speecy-Spicy Chicken

This chicken is meant for use as a filling for quesadillas. Using a flour tortilla, layer cheese, jalapenos and some fresh cilantro, and the chicken, top with another tortilla. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons of oil

1/2 chicken broth, white wine or beer

1/2 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon each, cumin and thyme

1/4 teaspoon red cayenne

Mash together the garlic, onion, red cayenne, cumin and thyme until it is like a paste. Cut the chicken into thin strips and coat with the paste. Let the chicken marinate in this mix for about two hours in the fridge (overnight is okay too). When ready, heat the oil and saut? the chicken over high heat for a few minutes, turning frequently. Now reduce heat, add liquid (broth, wine or beer) and cook until chicken is cooked through and glazed, about five to eight minutes. Cut or shred the chicken strips into small pieces. Now assemble and layer the tortilla. (Avocado slices and/or salsa are also nice additions.)

There is a delightful sauce for meat, fish and poultry which has its origin in South America. In fact, there it is used as liberally as ketchup or barbeque sauce is used here.

Chimichurri Sauce

1 bunch of basil, chopped or substitute fresh


1 bunch cilantro, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup of onion, minced

1/3 cup of good balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon oregano, fresh minced

1/2 teaspoon red cayenne

1/2 cup corn oil

Salt and fresh ground pepper

It is fine to mix this in a non-reactive bowl, but it really comes out more uniformly emulsified if you can make it in a blender. Combine everything but the oil, salt and pepper. After the other ingredients are blended, add the oil very slowly with the machine running, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Let the flavors blend for at least an hour before use. Use at room temperature (especially good on grilled trout or salmon).

While we are on the subject, another amazing Native marinade or sauce is chipotle. You will need a can of roasted chipotle peppers in adobo sauce which is available at some gourmet food stores or in the Mexican section of most regular supermarkets.

Chipotle marinade

2 Chipotle peppers in adobo, fine chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon basil

Mix all marinade ingredients in a glass bowl. If you are not using it right away, store covered in the fridge until needed (this marinade is especially good for chicken wings).

Notes & Tips

*If you buy fresh fruit, wash it as soon as you bring it home from the store, even if you won't be eating it right away. Fruit fly eggs are usually on the skin of the fruit you bring home, but they don't hatch until the fruit is overripe.

*Want to make cookies but all you have in the house is cake mix? That's okay; try adding two eggs and 1/2 cup vegetable oil to make a batter. Drop by spoon-loads on to an ungreased cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes. Experiment with chocolate chips, nuts or raisins.

*Keep an extra salt shaker by the toaster. Fill it with sugar and cinnamon for quick cinnamon toast.

*To make your house smell nice, mix one cup of water with two teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. Either boil the water in a small pan on the stove or put the mixture in a glass dish in the microwave, zap for one minute, then let it sit in there with the door open a little bit.

*I read an article that said the typical symptoms of stress are eating too much, impulse buying and driving too fast. Are they kidding? That is my idea of a perfect day.

*Be careful. If you hang something in your closet for too long, it shrinks two sizes!