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Native Cooking column: Fall is in the air

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Fall is definitely with us, you can smell it in the air and it's a good smell. Simmering soup or chowder is another great fall aroma. Hope you like these.

Sweet Potato Soup with Corn and Chili

3 tablespoons corn oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 pinch ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup light cream, optional

In a pot or large saucepan, heat oil over medium - high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the jalapeno and cook another 1 or 2 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, stock, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Puree all from the saucepan or pot in a food processor (in batches if necessary). Transfer the puree to a clean saucepan and add the corn kernels, seasonings and cream (if desired). Reheat the soup until it just comes to a simmer. Serve immediately.

Vegetable Bif or Buff Soup

1-1/2 pounds beef bones or chunk of buffalo
6 cups water
1 can white northern or butter beans
1 cup fresh green beans, cut in 1/2-inch slices
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 large onion, chopped
1 package frozen peas
1 small zucchini, sliced
1/2 of a small cabbage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon basil, dried
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
Fresh ground pepper

In a large soup pot, combine the beef or buffalo, water salt, beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onion parsley, basil, pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add cabbage. Simmer at least one hour, longer is better. Remove the bones or meat. Cut into small pieces and return meat to soup. Stir in the peas and the squash and simmer all a few minutes longer.

These two soups reminded me of a stew, I guess that's what you'd call it, that is something you would long for on raw, rainy days. I am sure it is hard to get buffalo sausage in some parts of the country, so I would highly recommend sweet Italian sausage as a substitute. With either one, it is delicious.

Buffalo Sausage Stew with Roasted Barley and Onions

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound buffalo sausage, cut in 1/2-inch slices
2 onions, finely chopped
6 ounces medium to large barley
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons fresh minced or 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups of beef stock salt & pepper to taste.

In a heavy-gauge saucepan or small Dutch oven, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the sausage and onion and cook over medium heat until the meat is brown on all sides and the onion is golden. Add the barley, stir to coat with oil and allow the flavors to mingle a bit, 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the cumin, sage, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pour the beef stock over the sausage mixture, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 60 minutes. Check frequently, stir and add water or more stock as needed. Serve hot with crusty sourdough bread on the side.

Butterscotch Bars

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2-1/4 cups flour
1-3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup butterscotch chips
1-1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Sift or mix together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a large bowl combine the brown sugar and softened butter and beat by hand or mixer until light. Add the vanilla and stir in the dry ingredients, the butterscotch chips and walnuts. Blend, then spread in the baking pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The edges should begin to brown and pull away from the sides of the baking pan. Cool on a rack. Cut into bars when cool enough to touch.

Notes & Tips

oEver need a quick substitute for sour cream? Try mixing cottage cheese, a little lemon juice and a little milk until smooth. A mini food processor works well.

oFor holiday parties, hollow out a pumpkin and use it for cider, punch, cranberry juice, maple drink... Hollowed out round bread loaves make pretty containers for dips or thick soups.

oFor a change of spices for your chicken, try some grated nutmeg or ground mace and saute it in a little butter. Or, you can go with cumin and curry and saute in a little butter.

oTo enrich the dirt around your blueberry bushes, sprinkle your used coffee grinds around them.

Workplace Vocabulary

MOUSE POTATO - The online equivalent of the couch potato.

OHNOSECOND - That fraction of time when you realize you've just made a BIG mistake.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE - The art of whacking an electronic device to make it work again.

GENERICA - The American landscape that is exactly the same no matter where we are such as fast food places, stripmalls, subdivisions.

PAGEGO - Page yourself over the intercom and do not disguise your voice.