In the tradition of some of my recent posts, I thought I’d shower you with some traditional American Indian recipes — specifically Plains Indians. Now, before I get started, let me reference the cook book that I’ll be using. The info I’m giving you comes directly from the book Cooking With Spirit by Darcy Williamson and Lisa Railsback. Grandfather George just gave this cookbook to me, so as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to share it with you.
This is the url that will take you directly to Amazon and the book — there are no pictures available for the book cover at Amazon. Sorry. It’s a beautiful cover that I was hoping to share with you also.
Have you ever wondered how to make pemmican, Indian Plains Corn Bread, Sioux Jerky — or maybe Sioux Prairie Turnip Pudding?
You will find these recipes and many more in this book. But what I love about his book is that it not only gives you the recipe, but it tells you a bit of history of the recipe. It also gives you foods that you can use and pick and eat in times of trouble — survival foods that are okay to eat when you don’t know what else to do. Good info to have — just in case.
Okay, let’s take up Sioux Jerky — again this is from the book, Cooking With Spirit. In cutting up the meat, don’t cut across the grain, and cut the meat into very thin slices. One then hangs the meat on poles and makes sure that pieces of meat don’t touch one another. Let them dry in the air naturally and cover at night. It’s “done” when it’s hard and dry. By the way, when I make jerky, I usually marinade the meat in red wine and/or soy sauce and then I usually dry the meat in a dehydrator.
A friend of mine, who is Blackfeet, smokes the meat first, then dries it in the sun, or in a smoking house specially made for making jerky. The above, by the way, is a Traditional recipe from the book. Okay, here’s another recipe from this book: Pemmican: I’m quoting here: “Dry long, thin strips of buffalo meat. Pound meat to a coarse powder. Cut raw fat into walnut-sized pieces and melt over the slow fire. Pour fat over pounded meat and mix in some dried serviceberries. Mix it well and pack in parfletches.” By the way, it was said that a few handfuls of this pemmican could nourish and keep a man going all day long.
And here’s another traditional recipe: Coal Roasted Buffalo:
Ensure meat is at room temperature. Rub the meat all over with garlic and place the meat directly on the coals (wood coals). If one wished a rare roast, one roasted it about 15 minutes per pound, or if medium, about 20-25 minutes per pound. Actually this sounds delicious. There’s also A Wind River Reservation recipe for Lena’s Water Crackers, as well as Roasted Antelope, Pawnee Prairie Chicken and popped wild rice.
But most of all I thought I’d leave you with this quote from the book, which I found fascinating: “Many of the plants are healers and grow in families or tribes. They can be sun plants or moon plants, their sap or “blood” moving with the rising and setting of the sun(male) or waxing and waning of the moon (female). There is a chief (sun) or mother (moon) plant that is the guardian of the family and it is to them an offering is made (usually tobacco or corn pollen) in exchange and recognition of their healing powers…
“When any leaf or stem, flower or root is taken, consideration is given as to where the sap’s power is most prevalent. ..
“When medicine is sought for healing, one must bear in mind that plants taken with consideration and reverence, that medicine will have far superior curing power because of the care and knowledge that went into its harest. One cannot harm one living being and then expect to use it to cure another. For example, taking a plant without consideration created an imbalance. Therefore, the purpose of hearling is thwarted or defeated, as a balance of health is what is sought in the first place…”
I loved this. There is much, much more wisdom that has been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s not simply the Plains Tribes recipes that figure in the book. There is music, songs, poems and much, much wisdom in this book. I recommend it highly.
I hope you’ll bear with me a moment as I thank Grandfather George for giving me this wonderful book. If you like to cook, if you like unusal and traditional recipes, you’ll love this book.
I also hope that if you haven’t already done so, please pick up a copy of my latest book, Black Eagle, either here online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders or at your local bookstore.
What are your favorite recipes? Did your elders teach you traditional ways of cooking or of preparing foods? Come on in and let’s talk.