Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I've Been Cooking

I've been really busy with homeschooling, so I haven't had nearly as much time for blogging as I would like.  I'd like to spend so time getting caught up.  Here's a rundown of what I've been cooking of late in the native vein.  

First up a really easy and delicious way to make native salmon cakes.  This recipe comes from The Art Of American Indian Cooking by Jean Anderson and Yeffee Kimbal.  I've served these with two sides this week:  Southern Cheese Grits and Slaw.

Native Northwest Style Salmon Cakes

Two cans of Salmon, flaked with can liquid
4 Juniper Berries*, crushed well in mortar and pestle
1/3 cup plain cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup whole milk or powdered milk whisked with 1/3 cup water
Native oil or other for greasing tins
Two muffin tins or individual cupcake molds

Simply mix all ingredients together well.  Grease the tins and in spoon mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  These may be served hot or cold.

*Truly edible juniper berries grow wild in the northwest and usually come from the Juniperus communis subspecies depressa.  They were, and still are, used as both a food and as a medicine.  They commonly are found in salmon recipes and can be easily ordered on-line.  I got mine from a vendor selling on Amazon.

Basic Cheese Grits

There is really nothing to making grits, or cheese grits for that matter.  They are a real southern comfort food and solidly have their origins in Native America.  Here in the south you simply cannot have a fish fry without cheese grits!!  But they do go well with other fish dishes as well.  They are also sometimes served at breakfast.

Pinch Salt
Grated Cheese

Measure out however much grits that you will need according to package directions and add the appropriate amount of water, add only a pinch of the salt though (you can always tweak this later).  Allow to fully cook (it will depend on what type of grits you have as to how long that will take, mostly people use the instant type these days), add more water as needed, don't let them become too thick, as cheese is a natural thickener.  Add in at least 1 cup of shredded cheese, add more if you are making a large batch.  Traditionally the orange cheddar is used in the south, but I really like the white cheddar; but really, used what you like!  Smoked cheese makes an interesting dish!  I will also admit to using pregrated cheese from time to time as well.  It's just convenient.

For the slaw, a truly native take on it is made with jicama and cabbage.  Food writer Dale Carson (Abenaki) who is the food editor for the online Native American newspaper Indian Country Today.  The recipe that I used was hers published in the above newspaper and can be found here.  I like to increase the amount of cilantro, I also used bagged slaw mixed and added extra carrot, you can tweak it any way that you like.  The dressing is also good for a mixed green salad as well.  I haven't tried the Celery Root Slaw yet, but it looks good.  If you don't want to got the trouble of making a slaw from scratch, just buy a bag of slaw and some slaw dressing a mix it up.  Coleslaw is another southern must have for a fish fry.

Low Carb Turkey Taco Wrap

This is not a strict low carb house, but every once and a while I like to try out low carb recipes in the Native American vein so that I can properly post them with relevant information for people who are on a low carb diet and still want something New World.  They are made the way I really like my homemade soft taco, with the shell being lightly fried.  I ran across these in the Good Cook Brochure.  It is a completely modern recipe, and does use prepared taco seasoning, but you could just as easily use chili powder or pure ground chile with some salt.  The recipe is still in native vein and made with the native turkey, and really it beats fast food!

1 tbsp. olive oil (it doesn't need to be the expensive stuff)+ Extra
1 lb. turkey cutlets
Taco seasoning
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup red onion, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
4 Low carb tortillas (these days they come in flavors, I used sun dried tomato shells)
1/2 bell pepper (any color), cut into strips
Fresh or jarred salsa (sugar free)

1.  Season the cutlets with the taco seasoning.  Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large skillet.  Add the turkey and cook two minutes per side.  Transfer to a carving board.

2.  Add the onions, cilantro,  and sour cream to the skillet.  Cook 1 minute.  While this is cooking, slice the turkey into strips and add to the pan (be sure to add any juice from the cutlets as well).  Cook the mixture over low while to tend to the tortillas.

3.  Meanwhile heat more olive oil in another skillet, when it is hot, fry the tortillas one at a time as you prepare the tacos.  

4.  To assemble the tacos, place some of the turkey mixture in the middle of the fried tortilla.  Add some of the fresh bell pepper strips and top with salsa.  I just used some homemade Salsa Fresca and blended it (consisting of peeled tomato (canned tomatoes work great for this!), white onion, seeded jalapeno, cold water and salt).  Wrap up the mixture like a package, cut in half and serve with extra salsa.


Of course you can vary this in any way that you like.  Change the meat, add fresh slices of avocado, sliced radish and/or Jicama slices.  

Use a low carb whole wheat tortilla

If you are not worried about carbs, tuck the filling into corn or regular flour tortillas.

If you like spicy, replace all or part of the bell pepper with slices or seeded jalapeno or add pickled jalapenos.

Let the filling cool, then lay on a bed of shredded lettuce, top with the bell peppers, sliced black olives and some slice fresh tomato.  Nice lunch idea.

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