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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

Pity the poor breakfast, the most forlorn and forgotten meal of the day. With the chilly mornings of late, fueling up before leaving the house for work or school is not just a good idea, it is healthy and important. A slurp of coffee and a sugary donut will provide a false sense of well-being and let you down mid-morning. I have had anxious days when I skipped everything just to get some work done ahead, physical work. After about an hour, I feel faint and weak. I stop and go for some granola, yogurt or just plain toast. Long, long ago and in some places, yet even today, people wake up to traditions still held. Many have the bread of their nation, some have a dish or bowl of something, perhaps a grain-based cereal, maybe a stew or a pudding.

Johnnycakes

1 cup of white cornmeal, stone-ground

1 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon molasses, or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons shortening

Mix cornmeal, water, molasses and salt. Heat the shortening in a large frying pan or griddle. Drop large spoonfuls of the batter onto the pan or griddle. Cakes should be about 3-inches in diameter. Cook for five minutes per side until golden.

Breakfast Burritos

1 dozen eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup corn kernels

4 ounces chopped green chilies

1-1/2 cups of grated Monterey Jack cheese

6 8-inch flour or corn tortillas

Salsa and sour cream as optional garnishes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Put tortillas in oven to warm while you heat the oil in a large frying pan and saut? the corn and green chilies for a couple of minutes. Add the eggs to the pan and stir gently until the eggs are the way you like them. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and remove tortillas from oven. Spoon about 1/2 of the egg mixture onto a tortilla. Top with a little salsa and sour cream if desired. Fold burrito and devour.

Fresh fruit is one of the best foods for morning. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat fruit, morning is a good time for another try. They are still sleepy, all refreshed and agreeable. If a nice banana or slice of cantaloupe doesn't cut it for them go to dried fruits - apricots, craisins, raisins, prunes ...

Some people skip breakfast altogether because they are trying to lose weight and think that skipping will save some calories. Doing this just lowers your metabolism and the body will burn calories at a slower rate.

Corned Beef Hash

1 pound cooked corn beef

1 large onion, chopped

4 large potatoes, peeled and cooked in chunks

1/4 cup shortening or vegetable oil

Shred or cut the meat into small pieces. Saut? the onion in the shortening and add the meat and potatoes. Move them about gently over medium heat. Serve when potatoes are just a bit crusty and golden, about 10 minutes.

When my kids were small, I tried everything to get them to eat properly. I put a small amout of cream cheese on a leaf of green lettuce, rolled it up and told them it was a "tootsie roll." Cream cheese spread on celery with some walnuts became "a walking salad." The best was the sundae.

Sundae

1 cup of plain yogurt

2 tablespoons wheatgerm

2 tablespoons honey

Put the yogurt in a dish or parfait glass. Sprinkle the wheatgerm over yogurt and drizzle the honey on top. Delicious.

Native Mush with Wild Mushrooms and Onions

1-1/4 cups chicken stock

1 cup cornmeal, salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons hazelnut oil or butter

1 cup sliced onions, yellow or white, Vidalia or leeks

1 cup sliced assorted wild mushrooms (morels, chanterelles, oyster ...)

3 ounces minced ham (optional)

1 dash cider vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons minced rosemary

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans

Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly add the cornmeal to the boiling liquid, stir constantly to prevent lumps. Lower heat to medium and cook mixture, stirring often, until thick but creamy, about 20 minutes. While the cornmeal mush is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet until hot, not smoking. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until they become translucent, about 2 or 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and ham and saut? 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the remaining stock, vinegar, rosemary and raisins, bring to a simmer, season with salt and pepper and simmer a bit longer until mush is thicker. Add more stock if necessary. Put mush into a serving dish and top with the mushroom-onion mixture, garnish this with the toasted pecans.

Notes & Tips

*Don't throw out the ends of bread if they're not eaten. Put them in a freezer bag and start a collection. When you have enough to make French toast for your family, the partially defrosted bread will be easier to run through the batter.

*Cutting back on butter? If you need to get a substitute, look for 100 percent corn or safflower oils.

*If you have room in your fridge, paprika, curry and chili powder last longer in there and keep their color as well.

*Some people like their hash with a little gravy. After browning it, just add a little chicken or beef broth and stir for a minute or two.

*How do you catch a unique bird? - Unique up on it.

How do you catch a tame bird? - Tame way, unique up on it.