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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

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I was thinking about things in general the other day, and, they are quite a bit off in this country, indeed, in this world. Cycles in life are important. There are 13 moons in a year; women have cycles of 28 days. So why is a year squished into 12 months?

The Christmas holiday comes a mere month after the national Thanksgiving. That convoluted holiday should be in early to mid-October so people have a chance to enjoy it.

Hearty Black Bean Soup

5 slices of bacon cut in 1/2-inch slices

2 large sweet onions, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

6 cups of chicken stock

2 cups of water

1/2 pound smoked venison

3 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground coriander seed

3 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

3 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 3-ounce can of chopped jalapenos

1 pound of dried black beans

Salt to taste

In a large, heavy pot, saut? the bacon, onions and garlic over medium heat until bacon is cooked and onions are transparent, about five minutes.

Add the next 10 ingredients to the pot. Stir in the beans. Over high heat, bring soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer, partly covered for about three hours, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if the soup is getting too thick. After soup has simmered, remove about half the beans with a slotted spoon and puree them in a blender or food processor. Stir this puree back into the soup and cook on simmer for about 10 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Ladle the hot soup into large bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions or tomatoes.

Wusswaquatomineug (Walnut) Bread

Walnuts, both black and butternuts, are prized by the Narragansetts in the Northeast for their oils. The black walnuts grow with a green pulp covering them but this pulp turns black once it drops off the tree. The black pulp is what is used for dying plant fabrics and leather. Of course, the nuts themselves are a valuable food.

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 3/4 cups white flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 cups sour milk*

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons finely shredded orange or lemon peel

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1 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup raisins

*To make sour milk, put four teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice in a glass measuring cup. Add enough fresh milk to make two cups liquid. Stir and let stand one minute.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two loaf pans. Sift together the flours, soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the eggs, sour milk, molasses, honey and the peel. Add to the flour mixture and stir until blended. Then stir in the nuts and raisins. Spoon batter into the loaf pans and bake for 55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cover with foil for the last 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Baking Powder Biscuits

1 cup flour

2 heaping teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lard

1/2 cup water or milk

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, stir flour, baking powder and salt together, and then work in the lard. Combine water or milk and baking soda, stir into flour mixture. Pat out dough and cut with a biscuit cutter (or use a jar top). Put biscuits on baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or until golden.

Sausage Stew

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound sausage, buffalo, sweet Italian

or both, cut in 1/2-inch slices

2 onions, finely chopped

6 ounces medium barley

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons fresh minced sage leaves

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 cups or more beef stock

Use a Dutch oven or 3-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sausage and onion and cook over medium heat until browned on all sides. Add the barley and stir to coat with oil and add cumin, sage, cayenne, salt and pepper, stir some more. Pour in the beef broth, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 60 minutes. Check frequently and add more beef stock or water as needed. Serve with crusty bread. Sour dough is a good choice or baking powder biscuits.

Notes & Tips

oI like to get my money's worth from laundry products, so I keep a black permanent marker near them. When I get a new jug of detergent or fabric softener, I mark the date before opening. It won't tell me how many washes I did, but it will let me know when I should think about getting more.

oMore "ever wonder"


Can you cry underwater?

If money doesn't grow on trees then why do banks have branches?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?