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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

We are still in the moon of the mozak (moose). I have only seen moose twice in my life. They are huge and majestic, yet gentle and graceful although you wouldn't think so. They are able to hide themselves very cleverly, almost like "shape-shifting" - very unusual for such a large mammal.

Big game like moose, elk, and their cousin deer are delicious, and free protein. Like the bison, they are herbivores, so hunted in the wild there is not much danger of chemicals in their systems. This time of year is perfect to get out the haunches, stew meat and other odd cuts from the freezer.

In the heyday of pow wows of the '80s and '90s here in New England, there was one food booth that had very long lines. This belonged to a special Wampanoag woman. She arrived at the site with her own refrigerator, generator and frying equipment. Her clam cakes are legend, causing the longest lines. After hours, she provided for the rest of the vendors such delights as frog's legs and red beans and rice, not to mention fabulous breakfasts. A dynamo and a heroine to me, her name is Owamaskqua. When I was asking around if anyone had a good recipe for moose or elk, she sent me the following:

Owamaskqua's Big Game Chili

2 pounds of ground elk (moose, venison or bison)

1 chopped medium onion

1 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon oregano

3 fresh bay leaves

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Large can of tomato puree

1 can red kidney beans

1 - 2 cups non-alcoholic beer

Salt and pepper to taste

Saut? ground game and chopped onions in oil until pink has gone. Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 40 minutes. Serve over rice.

A Different Succotash

3 cups corn kernels

2 cups lima beans

2 onions, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

3 tablespoons butter

Salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, saut? the peppers and onion until they are slightly soft, add the corn and mix well. Add the broth, lima beans, butter, salt and pepper. Simmer all for 20 to 25 minutes.

Herbed Bannock Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, sage and thyme

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon lard

Water

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and herbs together, then add onion. Cut the lard into this mixture and blend well. Now add just enough water to form a stiff dough. Make patties about a half to three-quarters of an inch thick and place in a pre-heated, greased frying pan. Cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes per side, or less, watch carefully.

I keep thinking back to the moose, elk and venison still waiting in the freezer. If you have a bunch of stew meat that you want to use, it's ok to mix any of these three, especially if you have small amounts of one and a lot of another. Marinate what you have in this mixture and cook it for a long time before adding any vegetables.

Marinade for Big Game

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup white wine

2 onions, sliced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated

1/2 cup molasses

Combine all and pour over meat in a bowl or bag large enough to cover most of the meat with this liquid. Marinate overnight.

While we're using up odd meats from the freezer, you may also have some winter squash still in the cold cellar. I know that I have been able to keep some butternut until even the end of March. This squash side dish goes nicely with the chili.

Butternut

2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed, cooked till soft

3 scallions, sliced very thin

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon fresh dill

Salt & pepper to taste

Cook and drain the squash then put it in a blender with the scallions, syrup, salt and pepper. Puree and return to saucepan, add the dill and check on the seasonings. Simmer for a minute or two before serving.

Notes & Tips

*Good time to find bargains in the dairy department so this may be the time to try out those "low-fat and no-fat" sour creams, yogurt, butter, etc ...

*Trying to cut back on mayo use? Spread your bread with a low-cal salad dressing like Thousand island, creamy Italian or other.