Indigenous Food Traditions: Frybread

by: Aji

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 17:10:55 PM EST



By request, this will be, I hope, the first in an occasional series about some of our traditional foods.  Where appropriate, I'll include my own recipes, which everyone should feel free to borrow.  Just be warned:  I tend to be a "pinch of this/dash of that" kind of cook, so you may need to adjust things to your own tastes.  

Another caveat:  I'll include relevant history and cultural notes where appropriate, but there will be few, if any, links in these.  I'm taking the oral tradition approach, and simply speaking from our own experiences. With nearly 600 recognized tribes (and hundreds more that have been decertified, or have merged over the centuries, or simply no longer exist), our histories and experiences and cultural traditions will vary widely. These are simply ours.

Over the jump, more about that sinful staple of the Indian diet:  Frybread.

Aji :: Indigenous Food Traditions: Frybread
Frybread has no doubt been a staple since our ancestors first taught themselves, in ancient times, how to grind grains into meal. From that point, it's no great leap to realizing that you could mix the meal with water to form a paste, and fry it in animal fats. It would have been hot and filling, both necessary (although clearly not sufficient) for the ancient indigenous diet.

Today's frybread, though, is very different from those early versions of fried dough. Some activists criticize it as supremely unhealthy - but, it turns out, not really any more unhealthy for our peoples than anything else with modern processed flour, and less so than garbage with high-fructose corn syrup in it, or even dairy products. Those, though, are future diaries. And if you approach it the way we do - which is to have it as an occasional treat, maybe a half-dozen times per year - well, how many people do you know who limit themselves to, say a half-dozen candy bars per year, or a half-dozen beers?

Still, there's a long history here, and as always, a fraught one. Early frybread was probably mostly made with ground cornmeal. It probably wasn't until the latter stages of the colonial invasion that wheat flour became readily available to Indians - and even then, it was in a back-handed way. On the Long Walk, the Trail of Tears, and other forced marches to "reservations" and death camps, the U.S. Army found itself responsible for the care and feeding of thousands of Indian prisoners of war, ranging in age from infancy to elder status. There was probably little variety in the provisions available for the soldiers themselves; still less would have found its way to captive Indians. But a couple of things were often in fairly good supply: wheat flour and lard. And with those two provisions, the modern frybread (sometimes all our captive ancestors had to live on) was born.

Now, it's become a staple of American Indian cuisine. It's one part comfort food; one part cheap and [relatively] easy; and one part nod to the obstacles our ancestors overcame.

What follows is my recipe, with some additional annotations about variations and other uses.

Indian Frybread

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached wheat flour
1 to 1-1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/8 cups warm water
1-2 cups lard for frying

Preparation:

Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Slowly add warm water until the mix reaches a consistency similar to pie crust. Mix thoroughly, using your hands, if necessary, but do not overwork it. Leave dough in bowl; cover and allow it to "rise" for 30 minutes.

After dough has risen, add the lard to a cast-iron skillet and heat it to just sizzling. While the lard is heating, turn the dough out, separating it into 6-8 balls. Each should be larger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball. Take the first ball and flatten it slightly on floured surface.

Once your dough is flattened and in the desired shape, gently poke a small hole in the center with your thumb. This will help with allowing the frybread to "puff" properly. Holding the dough by one edge, gently slide it into the heated oil. Once it's covered by the oil, use a spatula or other utensil to spoon the oil repeatedly over the top of the fryread; this will also help it to "puff."  Once puffed and beginning to turn golden at the edges, gently use your spatula and another utensil to turn it over; then continue spooning the oil over that side.  After a minute or two, turn back over; if golden brown, use utensils to lift it out of the skillet and drain the oil, then place, puffed side up, on a paper towel to drain.

Repeat with next ball of dough, until all pieces are fried.  Makes 6-8 pieces of frybread.  

Serve hot, with butter and honey.

Notes and caveats:

Ingredients: First, of course you can use regular wheat flour, but we try to stay away from refined flour and sugar as much as possible for health reasons. Stone-ground wheat flour, however, doesn't produce the proper texture. Since we eat it relatively rarely, unbleached wheat flour makes for a good compromise, but doesn't affect the texture or taste.

Second, you'll notice a range for how much baking powder and salt to use. Most recipes call for the upper end of each. With ground sea salt, I use about a teaspoon. With baking powder, it depends on the brand: more with Calumet or Clabber Girl; less with Bob's Red Mill, which has a saltier, more acidic flavor.

Third, around here, a lot of people commonly "cheat" by using yeast.  Yes, it'll rise a bit more, but not appreciably so; the baking powder will suffice, provided that you let it rest for half an hour. More to the point, if you're a purist like me, it's not really "traditional." For our parents' and grandparents' generations, yeast was expensive and hard to get - especially so for Indians. To me, adding yeast is cheating, and honestly, much as I dearly love yeast bread, it doesn't taste right in frybread.

Finally, you'll note that I use lard, NOT shortening or vegetable oil. Some people do use the latter two now, but ask any Indian: What it produces is NOT Indian frybread, but merely fried dough. It's the animal fats in the lard that gives frybread its traditional flavor. That said, if you're vegetarian/vegan, or do not eat pork, you can make a facsimile of it with shortening or vegetable oil.

Forming the dough:  Traditionally, fryread pieces are formed by taken the flattened disc of dough and slapping it together rapidly between one's hands - back and forth, flattening it with each pass. If you're like me now, my hands can no longer take it. It's perfectly acceptable to flatten and shape it on the countertop with your hands, or to roll it out with a rolling pin. Traditionally, they are round-ish in shape, but they can be formed into other shapes, if you prefer (Wings's mother used to make them square, so I sometimes do that for him, too). Additionally, don't worry of they are not perfectly round - frybread, when done, is puffy and bumpy and full of texture, so it doesn't need to be a perfect circle.  Done properly, it all tastes the same.

Cast-iron v. other materials:  Traditionally, you would use a cast-iron cauldron or pot, but I don't have one, and it wouldn't fit on this tiny stove-top anyway. But cast-iron is key; it works far, far better than any other material I've ever used. You can, of course, use more modern cookware, but the texture never comes out right, in my experience.

Variations: You can make yellow corn or blue corn frybread by substituting yellow or blue corn flour for a portion of the wheat flour. If you simply want a hint of color and flavor, use a half-cup of corn flour to 2.5 cups of wheat flour. If you want more corn flavor and texture, you can 50% corn flour and 50% wheat flour. And if you want what's known here as pah'wen, which is much like a thick, chewy corn tortilla, you can use two cups of corn flour to one of wheat flour (which is what I made yesterday).

You can also use the frybread as a base for an entrée instead of a snack or dessert. The Indian Taco is actually no taco at all, but a combination of meat, vegetables, chile, and cheese atop a piece of frybread. Variations of the Indian Taco are another diary altogether.

Finally, leftovers: You can reheat frybread in the microwave on high for 10-20 seconds to make it soft and warm again.

Future diaries in this series: My own food traditions come from the Anishinaabeg of the Upper Midwest; Wings's are from Taos Pueblo (and much of what people think of as "Mexican food" is actually indigenous, so we'll cover some of that, too. Some will include modern variations; some will be very traditional. If you have requests for foods you'd like me to cover in future diaries, just let me know.

Poll
What traditional Indian recipe would you like to see next?
Chile
Posole
Tortillas
Something with wild rice
Something with buffalo
Something else

Results

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Two more caveats: (2.00 / 38)
For blue corn frybread (or yellow), you muse use corn FLOUR, not corn meal.

And second, I'll just point out FTR that it took me longer to find all the alleged HTML errors, USING THE HTML BUTTONS, MIND YOU, than it did to write the diary.

Urgh.

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Use the GOS diary editor :) (2.00 / 24)
Then cut and paste over here.

Why waste a perfectly good subscription, right?

NOW! GOING TO MAKE COFFEE AND COME TAKE NOTES!

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu


[ Parent ]
I did that finally, but sweet jesus! (2.00 / 20)
I've spent way too much time on this now, and none on what I was . . . erm . . . supposed to be doing.

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[ Parent ]
Where do you find (1.95 / 20)
corn flour? I have made something similar before and it was so delicious, I would love to try a corn version! I love any type of quick fried or grilled bread - naan, tortillas, etc. Yum, thanks!!!

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

[ Parent ]
Do you have a grocery that sells bulk food items? (2.00 / 20)
We're lucky here that we have what I jokingly call our "granola shop" - it's a full-sized organic grocery, and they sell things like various flours, grains, rice, beans, nuts, sugars, etc., in bulk.  I just buy a small bag every now and then.

If not, you may be able to get it pre-packaged in the baking goods aisle, or in the ethnic [Mexican] foods aisle, packaged as "atole."

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[ Parent ]
Yes, (2.00 / 6)
I never even thought of that, thank you! I'll bet the blue fry bread is gorgeous!

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

[ Parent ]
some stores sell it (2.00 / 6)
as polenta.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

[ Parent ]
Nope, it's not. Polenta is corn meal, which won't work. (2.00 / 6)
You need the corn FLOUR, which is more finely ground.  Out here, it's called atole, which is a Spanish word that also applies to the sort of breakfast-cereal result that is it's common use.  Or masa, but some masa is not finely ground enough to substitute in frybread.  Corn meal (polenta) can only be added in very, very small amounts, like maybe 1/4 cup, for it to come out right - although it works in lot of other things.

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[ Parent ]
oh, thanks. (2.00 / 6)
But if you had a home grinder, maybe you could grind the polenta down more?

I'll do some poking around in various specialty stores. I'm pretty sure there's a Mexican one around here somewhere.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous


[ Parent ]
Now, THAT might work. (2.00 / 6)
But my hands ain't so hot anymore, and besides, I am Teh Lazy, so I buy it already ground into flour.  

We have a local Hispanic man and his wife [elders] who do their own, and occasionally sell some of it by the side of the road.  Whenever Wings sees them out, he stops off to buy from them, because they do a really good job - and not just the masa.  They have beans, hominy, and chile in both dried diced and ground forms, and it's much better than what we can get commercially.  Sadly, I'm out of theirs right now.

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[ Parent ]
so, random thought (2.00 / 4)
Would it be practicable to mail things like hominy or chile? Wondering about possibly buying from them by mail order. Which leads to thinking about how possibly to support small businesses.

Although I assume they're not set up as a shop but maybe just selling out of the car trunk or some such.

Oh, just ignore me. Having one of those bright-idea moments.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous


[ Parent ]
No, actually, it IS a bright idea. (2.00 / 4)
Although in the case of this particular couple, I don't know if it's workable.  I'm not sure whether they produce enough to sell that way (and use it to make their living), or if they only sell what excess they have.  But I can ask Wings to check with them the next time he sees them.  If they DO produce in large enough amounts to sell that way, I'd like to see them get people's mail-order business.

I can also check around and see whether anyone else locally is selling that kind of thing mail-order, of you like.  No promises on how soon I'd find someone who actually does it, but I can try to find out.

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[ Parent ]
oh, OK (2.00 / 4)
I was thinking along the lines of peeps out of the area who might want to buy good, authentic foodstuffs. But things would have to be mail-able, non-breakable or non-perishable, and sellers would have to have some kind of info sheet listing products, size/weight, price.

I love buying from small local, producers. For years, I've bought soaps and the world's best hand/face cream from a woman who says she operates out of a holler in the Ozarks. And if she has a stainless-steel lab in Little Rock, I don't wanna know about it.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous


[ Parent ]
Thank you so much for this. (2.00 / 21)
I have had fry bread, but I had no idea how to make it.

You're welcome! (2.00 / 20)
I gather that, to folks new to it, it's kind of like making pie crust - it might take a couple of tries before you find your preferred rhythm.  I've been doing it so long that I don't really even think about it anymore - kind of on autopilot. :-)

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[ Parent ]
the description (2.00 / 6)
makes me think of Indian naan. I'll have to try this to see what it's like, assuming of course I can get it to work with GF flour and a bit of xanthan gum. We shall see.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

[ Parent ]
Flavor and texture are a bit different, but concept's the same. (2.00 / 6)
As I said elsewhere, some variant seems to exist in every indigenous culture I've ever encountered.

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[ Parent ]
I read the Wiki page (2.00 / 6)
and I like this part:
The meaning of Anishnaabeg is 'First' or 'Original Peoples'. Another definition - possibly reflecting a traditionalist's viewpoint with a certain moral dimension - refers to "the good humans", or good people, meaning those who are on the right road/path given to them by the Creator or Gichi-Manidoo (Great Spirit). The Ojibwe scholar, linguist and author Basil Johnston, who explains the name in a creationist context, states that its literal translation is "Beings Made Out of Nothing", or "Spontaneous Beings", since they had been created by divine breath and were made up of flesh and blood and a soul or spirit - instead of rock, or fire, or water, or wind.

"created by divine breath", nice.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous


[ Parent ]
It's partly accurate. (2.00 / 6)
I do wish they'd get people from the various NDN nations to write, rather than non-NDNs, because they always get their info from non-NDN sources, which means that it's invariably got errors.  Like, say, the misspelling of Anishinaabeg.  You can have the double or single "a," but AFAIK, the second "i" is not optional. Slightly elided in pronunciation, but there nonetheless.

The literal translation of our name is more or less "from whence first [wo]man was lowered."  As in, lowered from the heavens [not in the Xtian sense; simply "where Spirit dwells" so to speak] by Spirit.  But it's evolved to have all sorts of secondary translations that are more commonly in use, and I generally just use "The People" as my everyday interpretation.

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[ Parent ]
I think you can edit (2.00 / 4)
on Wiki, although I don't know the procedure for gaining admittance.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

[ Parent ]
My blood pressure couldn't take it. (2.00 / 4)
As soon as I corrected something, some non-NDN disciple of Sun Bear would come in and re-edit it to be wrong.  I saw something on some entirely unrelated Wiki page the other day about what a certain landmark means in our language - which, of course, bears ZERO resemblance to what it actually means.  [Sigh] and then there's all the faux ceremony crap and attempts to out stuff that's not for public consumption . . . .

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[ Parent ]
Got it. (2.00 / 4)
I am thinking of a conversation we had recently on this general topic. So just don't read those pages, 'K?  

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous

[ Parent ]
Fabulous! Looking forward to more of these! (2.00 / 20)


Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.
                       - Bertolt Brecht


[Snort] we'll see what my energy levels are like. (2.00 / 20)
"More" might mean once every three months. :-D  Although it's looking like I'll have to post my chile recipe next, if the poll's any indication.

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[ Parent ]
I voted chile. (2.00 / 19)
You need to post it before winter is over because it is a winter food.

See what happens when you post? People want more more more. ;)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


[ Parent ]
Feh. I knew this was trouble. :-D (2.00 / 15)
Yes, chile's comfort food for this time of year.  And I make it hot in both senses of the word - usually accompanied by flour tortillas.

Hmm . . . might have to do some later this week.

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[ Parent ]
Look forward to your recipe and thanks (2.00 / 11)
for this one. Have only had fry bed when I've traveled so am very excited about having it at home. Thanks so much.

[ Parent ]
You're welcome! Hope you like it. n/t (2.00 / 10)


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[ Parent ]
That's fine, we don't only enjoy having you here as a diarist, (2.00 / 17)
Take care of you first, that's what's most important. I hope you appreciate the more relaxed pace here, and for heaven's sake don't feel pressured to do ANYTHING. Just come over and hang out when you can. It's all good.

Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.
                       - Bertolt Brecht


[ Parent ]
What does this look like? I am not much of a cook, but I like to eat and (2.00 / 17)
I think I may have had this once.

Here is link to a few images of frybread.

If you tell me which one it looks like, I will steal borrow the image and link it here for those of us who need pictures.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


Second row, second image, . . . (2.00 / 18)
probably looks most like mine. :-)

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[ Parent ]
That looks really good. (2.00 / 14)
I'm drooling now!

[ Parent ]
This? (2.00 / 15)


Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


[ Parent ]
"Indian" taco, sort of. (2.00 / 15)
Looks like a vegetarian one, which takes out of the realm of real NDN food. :-D

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[ Parent ]
Works better for me. (2.00 / 11)
I am mostly vegetarian.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


[ Parent ]
Duh - I just realized what you meant. (2.00 / 11)
The photo to the right of that one in the link you sent me is the one that looks kind of like mine - the row of them spread out on top of each other.

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[ Parent ]
Ah! I believe the link does not give you the same images (2.00 / 10)
s in the same order as I get them in.

This one?

Or this one?



Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


[ Parent ]
The one on the bottom. (2.00 / 13)
 photo Frybread_zps6d32d4ce.jpg

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[ Parent ]
My mother makes a fried bread dough. (2.00 / 13)
It is a French Canadian thing. I think it may be similar to that.  

We used to have fried bread dough on meatless Fridays. Slathered in butter and syrup, like pancakes would be.


Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.


[ Parent ]
Fried dough, of one sort or another, . . . (2.00 / 12)
seems to be indigenous to just about every culture.  And across the board, it's comfort food. :-)

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[ Parent ]
Sounds delicious, I'll have to try it! (2.00 / 16)
Oh, and I voted for posole but that's just because I have no idea what it is and I'd love to learn. If the next post is about something else, that's great too!

I love food posts, because to me, they're the ultimate illustration of how the personal is political. Politics and history have shaped and changed this traditional recipe, and cultural efforts are still being made to preserve it which is wonderful. But in the end, it's a nourishing choice of food you can consume to sustain your body. Voting with your fork (or fingers, as the case may be). ;)


LOL - these days, what with factory farms and . . . (2.00 / 16)
antibiotics and hormones and GMOs, food is VERY political.

And I can do posole [pronounced poh-SOH-lay] soon.  It's a pork stew made with hominy and chile.

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[ Parent ]
Er, maybe it's the non-American in me... (2.00 / 3)
... but I've got to ask. What's hominy?

[ Parent ]
Oh! Sorry. (2.00 / 1)
It's corn kernels, washed in lime for an extended period and then dried.  When you cook them (which involves hours of soaking and boiling), they burst open.  The result is sort of a soft, moist popcorn-looking thing.  Some people drain them and simply eat them plain (well, with salt and pepper, or butter, or whatever, but I mean as a side dish on a plate).  More often around here, they get put into the pork and chile stew called posole.

Before the advent of modern food storage, the liming and drying process was a good way to preserve corn to last throughout the winter.

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[ Parent ]
First two questions (heh) (2.00 / 14)
When you make a hole with your thumb, does the raw product look something like a donut? That kind of hole?

Where do  you get your lard? I stopped making refried beans years ago when my grocer wouldn't carry it any more; is it back and readily available?

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu


No, not that big a hole. :-D (2.00 / 15)
Your dough should be five or six inches across, and you just want to put the tip of your thumb into it - just enough for a tiny opening.

The lard they sell around here is Manteca, and we can get it at Smith's (do you have them up there? They bought out Raley's), or at Albertson's.  They sell them in little boxes and big tubs; I get the latter, and just keep it refrigerated when I'm not using it.

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[ Parent ]
I'll find it. (2.00 / 12)
Shoot, you can order bullets over the internet, they oughta sell lard, right?

I once made sopapillas, three years before the birth of Christ; is that what you get by adding yeast? (I know that's a laughably dumb question, but I'm a Texan. Dumb is my birthright.)

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu


[ Parent ]
[Snort] glad I'd set my soda down. (2.00 / 11)
Actually, sopaipillas are basically identical (and you do have people who use yeast, and those who don't).  The major difference is in the shape.  Oh, and with them, you really DO need a pot - or something deeper than your average skillet, anyway.  I think these days, most restaurants use deep-fryers.

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[ Parent ]
Nursie! (2.00 / 12)
Do you have Mexicans in your town? You gotta have them. If you do, find out where they shop and ask for Manteca. :) My kin don't know how to cook without lard, darn it.

I adore the Mex. community. It's also where you find the non Scottish side of my family, just so everyone knows where I'm coming from.  




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[ Parent ]
If I can't find it here, I can head down the road to Pueblo. (2.00 / 12)
But I betcha I can find it. There are some specialty stores that have grown up around Ft. Carson, and the usual stores have added items to meet the demands of shoppers.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

[ Parent ]
Hee hee (2.00 / 12)
I managed to find Manteca in Augusta, GA. If you can't find it in a state with a Spanish name, there's a serious problem.  




Come visit us at our NON political blog jellybeansofdoom.com


[ Parent ]
Oh Aji (2.00 / 14)
Now I'm hungry for fry bread again. I have no problem getting any of the ingredients. Manteca (lard) is easy to get down at the produce market. I'm better at making fry bread than I am at making tortillas (sorry grandma). One half of my family came from the Scottish Highlands. The other half was Yaqui. :)

I look forward to any more recipes you care to share.  




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Same lard I use. :-) (2.00 / 14)
Same stuff my grandparents used, for that matter; it's been around a long time.

I do flour tortillas with no problem.  Corn ones are trickier, and this stovetop makes them impossible now.  Someday, when we actually have, you know, a house again, and I have an actual kitchen, I'm getting a big cast-iron griddle (around here, comal) so that I can do them properly.

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[ Parent ]
I hear you (2.00 / 12)
My kitchen is crud, to put it bluntly. What I really, really, really want is a good (not fake) molcajete. I may have to go home to find a decent one. I find the fakes here. They sell for $50 and made of cement. ugh!





Come visit us at our NON political blog jellybeansofdoom.com


[ Parent ]
Cement? What are you supposed to do with that? (2.00 / 11)
Use it as a paperweight?

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[ Parent ]
Good question (2.00 / 11)
The thought of cement dust in my food is just icky. LOL Food processors are nice, but they don't replace a molcajete.

I used to have a good molcajete. I abandoned it (and other things) in my divorce. Some things are just NOT worth trying to save. I got myself out in one piece and that's all that matters. I'm married to Mr. Wonderful (not to be confused with Mr. Perfect) now. It's all good.

For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... It's a mortar and pestle of sorts. :)




Come visit us at our NON political blog jellybeansofdoom.com


[ Parent ]
There are times . . . (2.00 / 9)
when "getting out in one piece" is ALL that matters.  Glad you did it.  Somewhere along the line, we can always find you a real molcajete.  Mr. Wonderfuls, not always so much. :-)

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[ Parent ]
So, you'll be posting a recipe for haggis? N/t (2.00 / 11)


"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Mmmm, more to eat! (2.00 / 15)
A few years ago during an ancestry.com binge (the same time the Moose was being born) I hunted down the family legend of a Native ancestor and found Winny Muscogee. She was Creek/Muscogee and born in 1790, and is buried with my Great^4grandpa Thomas Gay in Florida. I don't know much about the Creek yet outside of tidbits found on Wikipedia and the tribal website.

Though I like to think my daughter Roxanne's thick dark mane shows that the genes still express themselves.

And of course, there is the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird...

If General Jackson hadn't run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Sinch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn't?

Do you know if Frybread was part of the Muscogee tradition? It would be interesting to share something tangible with our kids.

On only a tangential topic, we discovered Amish Fry Pies in Ohio over the holidays and have added those to our family tradition along with the Wisconsin Kringle our German/American Blask's got us addicted to (below, in that order - and yeah I likes the sweets ;~).



John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


My guess is that, pre-contact, the only version . . . (2.00 / 14)
would've been what I described in the early paragraphs: Fried dough, perhaps made out of corn meal or whatever grain(s) they had available in that area to grind.

Since then?  It's basically part of all of our traditions.  If your people were herded onto reservations or into death camps (which were often synonymous), then chances are, there was a period where it was about the only thing your ancestors had to eat.  [That was, of course, by design by the invaders.]

And now, it's become sort of THE intertribal comfort food.  So my guess is if you go to a Creek powwow, you'll find it being served. :-)

LOL - I likes teh sweets, too.  But with diabetes so rampant in our families, we have to be careful about how much (and what kind) we indulge in.

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.


[ Parent ]
Thanks, I will have to try (to try) to make some up. (2.00 / 9)
I will take a pic of the resulting catastrophe and report back for pointers. :~)

Now that we are back in the vicinity of Creek territory I would like to see if I can make it to some cultural event. So far I've managed to make it to my English, German, Viking, Polish, French and Irish ancestor's territories and seen some of the relics of those cultures. Since I am living in the Appalachians where G^4ma Winny was born it would be good to learn some more about that branch.

Now that Yemen has become a regular spot on my travels, though, I can skip the middle-man and get to know where all my ancestors came from in one go. Though there was one potential ancestor listed as "mulatto" in a census around Winny's time, so I may have to add Africa to the list before I can say I've walked all my forebearer's ground since the rest of us marched out of there circa 60,000 BC.

Having so many ethnicities wrapped up in my genome I have decide to file reparations suits against myself on behalf of all of them. If I could find our which of Winny's ancestors conquered which others during the Creek and Mound Builder periods I'd file some more and increase my odds of winning one of them eventually.

When I finally win a settlement against myself I will take the windfall and hold a massive Moose Party, everyone's invited. ;~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
[Snort] if it works, let me know. (2.00 / 7)
Being red, black, and white, I could use some reparations. :-)

Seriously, though - is there any chance the "mulatto" ancestor refers either to Winny or to one of her direct ancestors?  If so, could be African in ethnicity, or could be Creek.  Or - assuming this is in the Deep South, yes? - could even be mixed-blood that would now identify as Hispanic/Latino (thinke.g., Puerto Rican, etc.).  Time was, in some areas, if we were mixed, we were all called "mulattoes," regardless of what the mix was.

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.


[ Parent ]
There seem to be two folks by the same name, so it may be hard to find out based on records. (2.00 / 7)
I would like to get involved in a genome study some day and see what all can be mapped back from my DNA. Saw a great show on that not long ago that took 100 New Yorkers and ran their genetic ancestry, it was a wonderful demonstration of how "mulatto" we all are.

Lilly-white folks with African near-ancestors, coal-black with Irish, and every other combination you can imagine.

Just before you reappeared here I went on a little rant (who? me??) on how little genetic "ethnicity" really matters. It is interesting, but largely inconsequential. The memetic heritage we all carry is who we really are, and that has flowed amongst us all at much higher rates, pretty well the whole time.

The narrow-bandwith memetic links between the Americas and EurAsiAfrica, and between there and Australia, created broader divergences than the minor variations in genetics. Even there, the shared cultural heritage shows through in the vast commonalities of civilizations. What we see as vast differences are really just a bad case of historical short-sightedness (and I think they can fix that with lasers, these days :~).

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
as I understand it, (2.00 / 6)
if you go back far enough, we're all from East Africa.

Take that, birthers.

I, too, would like to do the genome-mapping thing. I know about the English, Irish, Scots, Viking, German, French, but FSM only knows what else is there farther back.

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous


[ Parent ]
As the family tree gets better understood. (2.00 / 4)
We seem to be pretty multi-threaded these days, with branches splitting and reforming. Since we know we have Neanderthal genes now the strictest definition would be that we come from both Europe and Africa, with the common Homo Heidelbergensis ancestor splitting into two populations in Africa and Europe before reconnecting as H. Sapiens.

But, yes, Heidelbergensis and H. Erectus and H. Sapiens all appear to have arisen in East Africa and crossed back and forth over the Bab al-Mandeb between modern Djibouti and Yemen.

The net point is that it just doesn't matter. We're all just the same folks, not better or worse due to trivial genetic trends.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
Here you go - (2.00 / 3)
National Geographic Genographic Study.  It ain't cheap (@$200) but it's pretty interesting.  My sister did the mtDNA test several years ago and learned (among other things) we belong to the Haplogroup K (@32% of people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are in haplogroup K). Pretty curious since we're good Minnesotans (German, Norwegian, Swedish - can we say converted to Episcopalian and ultimately lapsed Lutheran?). Seems, through my mother's Swedish mother (a/k/a Mor-Mor), we share 3 of 4 of the markers for Ashkenazi Jewish women who migrated to Scandinavia at some point.

Ancestry.com will also do it for you for about the same (or more with more options).

Yup - velllllly interesting.


[ Parent ]
Maybe we could go multicultural (2.00 / 15)
and have people from all over post foods that were indigenous to them before they came here?

Meanwhile, fried dough!  Gotta be good!

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter


That would be easy for me. (2.00 / 14)
I'll just make Patric sign up and post his food diaries about Irish food.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

[ Parent ]
[Snort] (2.00 / 12)
I thought Peter's point was that everybody - you know, including you - should post your own? :-D

Although I would like to keep the word "indigenous" specific to North America, for obvious reasons; I'm fed right up to my eyeballs with non-NDNs here telling me they're "indigenous" (and thereby justified in all the usual cultural and spiritual theft; there are some particularly toxic and dangerous ones trying to hijack the INM movement right now up in Canada).  If folks want to create a food diary series for all cultures, let's come up with a different name for the series, like, say, "Multicultural" or something.

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.


[ Parent ]
Multicultural is fine (2.00 / 11)
or maybe we could call it "Food, glorious food"!


"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I like that. I mean, food IS pretty glorious. :-D (2.00 / 11)
If you hadn't already guessed, I'm what the self-help-y types would call an "emotional eater." Foods - and their tastes and smells - have a major impact on how and what I feel. And I associate certain food smells with certain seasons - in a really happy-inducing sort of way.

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

[ Parent ]
When I get back to Sana'a I will try to get a good local recipe for Salta, (2.00 / 8)
the national dish. Served in flaming hot iron pots (with flaming hot powerded spices, for the brave) and eaten with flat bread, it is a truly wonderful thing (and don't get me started on Feta, which I must be misspelling because I can't google the cream and honey wonderment).

Yemen is such a global heritage treasure it really is a shame it is so hard for many to visit right now. As things stabilize there I recommend folks go if they can.

The Dar Al-Hajar in the Wadi Dhahr Valley just outside Sana'a is built on a site occupied since prehistory.

Inside you see both the "modern" cultural style (the past millennium or so),

as well as views far back into the lives of our earliest out-of-african predecessors

In the folds of the hills around the valley, if you look hard enough, you can imagine far back before even this - long before the Tigris and Euphrates were settled - when the foothold of our sapiens ancestors began to encroach on our neanderthalis ancestors' northern lands.

It's a bloody shame such a global treasure is suffering so much today. I forecast, though, that in decades to come Yemen will flourish again.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
Fried dough, steak, pit beans, (2.00 / 10)
Every Sunday morning of my youth. My great grandma, a NA, taught my grandma, then it was taught to me. Later in the day meals always included succotash, and cornbread. There never was any fried dough left over after breakfast.
I never realized til later years that my youth was NA food. I always thought it was just New England food.
If you fix up a couple pounds of bacon first, then fry the bread in that instead of solid fat, you might go to heaven early, but happy.
Sidenote: A lot of NA and New England food is cooked right when it has come out of a pit. From mussels, clams and lobsters to beans. Which reminds me. I need to setup a pit for beans, man o man...mmmm

Yeah, pit cooking is especially common with waterfront tribes. (2.00 / 11)
New England, but also us around the Great Lakes, and Northwest Coast (probably Alaska, too, and likely every coastal people).

LOL - something I haven't thought of in years:  One of my father's pet names for me when I was little was "Succotash."  Don't ask me why; he just liked it. :-)

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.


[ Parent ]
Mu favorite restaurant in Washington is in (2.00 / 8)
the National Museum of the American Indian. The food comes from many regions and everything is great and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't been and is a serious gourmet.  

I have never been there. (2.00 / 8)
When I left D.C. it was still under construction.  But I've heard from several folks that the food there is great.

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

[ Parent ]
This reminds me of the corn cakes my mother used to make (2.00 / 6)
She would use self-rising cornmeal, an egg, and just enough buttermilk to make a thick batter. Then she would fry them on the stove in hot lard in a cast iron skillet. She would also sometimes make potato bread cakes--I don't quite remember the recipe, but it had leftover mashed potatoes, flour, and sometimes onions in it. It seems like there were other things in it as well, but I don't remember what they were. This was made into a dough, not batter like the corn cakes.  

Yes, corn cakes! (2.00 / 6)
Where I'm from, we do those, too.  Slather 'em with butter and maple syrup, add some bacon on the side, and:  Breakfast!

'Course, I like 'em any time of day . . . .


Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.


[ Parent ]
For us, they were often part of one of those classic Appalachian (2.00 / 8)
meals--soup beans seasoned with some bacon or a ham bone, fried potatoes, corn cakes, and sometimes, killed lettuce and onions, or just some fresh tomatoes sliced up from the garden.

I haven't made corn cakes in years, but now that I think about it, they would be nice on the side with a big kettle of chilli!


[ Parent ]
LMAO! The blue corn frybread I made yesterday? (2.00 / 6)
It was specifically to go with the pinto beans (with ham hock) that I'd crocked overnight.

Amazing how good the simple food from our childhoods really is, innit?

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.


[ Parent ]
Yes it is, Some of those old time recipes are still the best. People (2.00 / 6)
used to have to learn to make do with the food that was locally available--some of the best cooks I have seen are the people who can just take whatever they have on hand, and make a good meal out of it.

[ Parent ]
Thank you, thank you. One of things I used to take for feast (2.00 / 7)
after ceremony was Wojapi for the fry bread.
I left the fry bread making up to the experts. :-)

Wojapi Pudding (Lakota)
2 pounds berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1. Put berries, honey & water in saucepan and mash together
2. Stir in flour a little at a time
3. Bring to boil over medium high heat
4. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly until pudding thickens
5. Remove from heat and cool


Ehh, practice a couple of times, and you'll be an expert at it. :-) (2.00 / 7)
Love the berries.  It's one of the things I miss about home.  When we lived in the country, we had an enormous garden, an orchard, a raspberry patch, and a cherry tree.  It's always better when you grow them.

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

[ Parent ]
What effect do the flour and water have? (2.00 / 5)
Cooked mixed berries are yummy.  

Do the flour and water make it more (for want of a word) puddingy?


"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter


[ Parent ]
Navajo Taco! (2.00 / 6)
 photo Fantasticcoupleofdays271.jpg

Cameron Trading Post Arizona oh man was that some good eating. Is there a spice that's normally associated with Native cooking?

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!


That's it! (2.00 / 5)
WRT spices, not so much.  Other than chile, I mean - red, green, whatever.  A lot of non-Native cooks around here use cumin, but it is not - I repeat, NOT - part of our traditional repertoire.  I like it in the other kind of Indian food, but in ours, it tastes way, way off to me.  I use sea salt (sparingly) and black pepper in my cooking, and I sometimes use sage for seasoning.  We grow a lot of stuff in our gardens:  Parsley, dill, rosemary, lavender, savory, garlic, onion, etc., etc., and I use 'em all. I also use the full complement of spices when I'm cooking something for which it's appropriate.  But while we season a lot of really basic traditional dishes with simple flavorings like salt, pepper, garlic, and onion, the biggest "spice" around here is chile. :-)

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

[ Parent ]
Oh how I miss frybread - thanks Sis (2.00 / 3)
I will use your recipe this weekend :)

"If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition"

Bernice Johnson Reagon


You are very welcome. (2.00 / 3)
Enjoy it - everybody should have it every once in a while. :-D

Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

[ Parent ]
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