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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

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Mid-June is near perfection time, weather-wise. Guess this is why so many weddings are in June. Celebrations of all sorts are happening now. There are graduations, baby or wedding showers, family reunions, engagement parties, and get together socials for absolutely no reason at all but fun. Seems to me that every weekend from now into November, is a chance to celebrate something, anything!

In a couple of weeks our family will celebrate two birthdays and a house closing with one buffet. When you ask people to bring something they always surprise and delight me with something new. Where else are you going to get new ideas and taste sensations? Have you ever noticed that whenever people are asked to bring something to a social it always works!

Sometimes I like to fantasize that it is 400 years ago and I'm on the coast of New England somewhere just bending down and picking up lobsters, clams and oysters. They are all so big! The waters are teeming with fish and shellfish, the thought of going hungry is absurd. Whoa! Snap out of it. Back here in reality the prices of seafood have gone a little crazy along with a lot of other things. The environment does not go on forever, in fact, I think it's a little exhausted right now, needs a rest and renewal time.

Thrifty shopping and planning help a lot. Pasta is cheap. It's good for salads, baked casseroles, many meal ideas and it is easy to store. Combined with fresh vegetables, it's a light healthy choice for summer dining. On the other hand, barbeque is tempting and fun too. A lot of meats are terrific this way. One of my favorites is shish-kabob, especially lamb. Chicken, beef, buffalo and pork all have a place by the grill. Grilled buffalo sausage is especially good split and grilled with barbeque sauce, corn fritters, and any kind of salad.

Buffalo Sausage

2 pounds of ground buffalo

1/2 pound ground pork

2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons ground sage

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly in a large bowl. Form the meat into a roll with a diameter of about 2 inches. Wrap in waxed paper and chill overnight. For patties, cut the chilled roll into 1/2 inch slices and saut? in a pan over medium heat until brown on both sides.

To make link sausages, stuff casings before chilling the mixture. (Casings are available from most butchers) For other game sausages, follow this recipe but change the seasonings to accommodate the type of game. For example, use a few pinches of ground juniper and cloves, eliminate the thyme. For rabbit, replace the sage and thyme with minced tarragon and a pinch of ground nutmeg.

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice is a combination that might describe a perfect marriage. It is served at pow wows everywhere, sometimes with the addition of corn, meat or greens. Cooked with marrow bones of bison, beef, or pork, this dish takes on a richer character.

1 pound of dried red beans (kidney or pinto)

1 ham bone with some meat on it

2 cups of chopped onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 dashes of hot sauce to taste

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4 ounces tomato sauce

Salt to taste

3 cups of cooked white rice

In a large non-reactive soup pot, cover the beans with water and soak overnight. Drain. Add the ham bone to the beans and cover both with fresh water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer remaining ingredients, except the salt; cook another 1-1/2 hours.

Remove from heat, cool and salt to taste (remember, ham is salty). Remove some of the beans to a bowl and mash them to return to the rest of the beans in the pot as a thickener. Reheat the beans over a low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot over the cooked rice or gently fold the rice into the beans and serve as one.

Apricot Bars

1 cup of dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup of orange juice

1-1/2 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup of butter or margarine, softened

1-1/2 cups of quick cooking oatmeal

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1 cup coarsely chopped nuts, walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Put the apricots, cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Now crush the fruit to make a thick paste. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the softened butter until the mixture is like large crumbs. Now add oatmeal, coconut and nuts and mix to blend. Press half of this mixture into the baking pan.

Gently spoon the filling over that and sprinkle top with the rest of the crumb mix. Bake for one half hour. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Notes and Tips

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