Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

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Native food can be interpreted in many ways. One is purely traditional. Another is to use indigenous ingredients prepared in a number of modern ways. As a child, I noticed that my family liked things pure and simple. With the exception of soups and stews, each item of food was usually eaten "as is" or lightly seasoned. That is probably the healthiest way to eat, and I know my mother never changed her ways about that process. Raw clams went "down the hatch" without benefit of lemon juice or cocktail sauce. Edible greens were washed and eaten raw or steamed without benefit of dressing or condiment of any sort, often not even salt.

As I grew, I realized that being a curious sort, it was important for me to try everything at least once, in the culinary world. I would not go as far as monkey brains on toast points, slinky snake saut?, or any road kill ragout though. Ethnic food has always been of keen interest to me. Funny thing is that most cuisine that is considered "ethnic" by other cultures relies, often heavily, on American Indian ingredients; pizza, Kung Pau, curries and so on.

Picadillo Tacos

This Latin American and Southwest spicy mixture of minced meat makes a great dish for a crowd when you double or triple this recipe. It can be served plain or as you would serve tacos with all the accessories.

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 small can or 2 tablespoons fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped

3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup water or beef stock

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 slivered almonds

1/3 cup green olives, stuffed with pimiento, sliced

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Saut? the onion, garlic and a wee bit of oil in a large heavy pan. When they are soft, add the green peppers and the jalapenos and cook for just a couple of minutes. Add the ground beef and brown it, then stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer this on low for about 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins, almonds and olives. Heat through and taste to check seasonings. This Picadillo can be made in advance. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.

One Dish Garden

8 ears corn, washed and cut from cobs

10 small green and/or yellow squash, washed and cubed

2 tablespoons shortening

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 green chili peppers, chopped

2 large tomatoes

2 cups fresh lima beans

2 cups fresh green beans, cut

1 cup water or stock (vegetable or chicken)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add all the vegetables except the corn. Saut? until the vegetables are cooked the way you like them. Add water or stock and corn. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Chutney is a lot like salsa, but sweeter. We like mango chutney with a lot of different meats like lamb or beef kabobs; however I have just discovered that it is perfect with crusty sea scallops.

Sea Scallops

30 sea scallops

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine everything but the scallops and oil or butter in a small bowl. Transfer this to a strong food-size plastic bag and put the scallops in the bag, a few at a time, and shake until all the scallops are coated. Heat the olive oil or butter in a 12-inch frying pan and saut? a few scallops at a time until they are tender, about two or three minutes. Serve with mango chutney, white bean salad and crusty bread. Serves 4 - 6.

Peach Delight

2 large cans of peach halves in

heavy syrup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon butter per peach

Lemon juice

Cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the peaches, reserving the syrup. Take 1/2 of the syrup and mix it with the brown sugar. Place the peaches pitted side up on a flat baking pan and put 1/2 teaspoon of butter in each peach, pour the syrup mixture over the peaches and sprinkle with cinnamon and dash of lemon juice (lemon helps keep the color from browning). Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla or peach ice cream. It can be topped with Cool Whip or whipped cream in place of the ice cream for variation.

Notes and Tips:

*Some people (especially Plains nations, have food allergies to shellfish). Shellfish do contain the fat known as Omega 3 which is actually good for the heart. They also contain lots of vitamins and minerals. The downside is that shellfish do contain cholesterol and have high sodium counts.

*Peppers are not only delicious, they are good for you. They contain capsaicinoids which make them taste "wow," and they release endorphins which are our body's built-in painkillers.

*This is good advice. It came in a forwarded e-mail as "Dust," author unknown:

I can't tell you how many hours I have spent CLEANING! I used to spend at least 8 - 12 hours every weekend making sure things were just perfect - "in case someone came over." Then I realized one day that no one came over - they were all out living life - having fun! Now, when people visit, I find no need to explain the "condition" of my home - they are more interested in hearing 'bout the things I've been doing while I was away living life and having fun! Life is short, enjoy it!