Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Meatloaf Again? Stuff It!


…and so it came to pass, three pounds of lean ground beef defrosted and I am clueless as to what to do with it.  I had a game plan when I took it out of the freezer, but the idea just seems unappetizing suddenly.  Writers get “writer’s block”, so shouldn’t a cook get “I don’t feel like cooking now block”?  *sigh* but the meat is defrosted, can’t be refrozen and finances dictate that eating at a restaurant is not feasible.

Personal recipe book out, flipping through the pages, looking for a meal that can be made without too much effort.  Aha!  The old time favorite that seems to bring a sense of comfort and satisfies…meatloaf!  What to serve with it though?  So tired of mashed potatoes with a vegetable; wait, wait, I have leftover homemade macaroni and cheese.  Oh dear, that’s when the desire for something simple and easy got kicked into creative gear.

Of course, no article on cooking will be complete without a bit of historical referencing.  Meatloaf was not an American culinary invention; sorry to burst your bubble Betty Crocker.  A manuscript, called an Apicius, dating back to 900 A.D., is a collections of recipes; one being a loaf made of minced meat (real meat, not the fruity stuff put into pies).  The Apicius was named for Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet who lived during the reign of Tiberius.  American meatloaf’s origin began with the Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish and Mennonite) who brought a recipe for scrapple (mixture of cornmeal and ground pork) from their homeland, Germany.

Basic of meatloaf, a ground meat mixed with some type of ground grain, maybe seasoned with herbs and spices, then baked or smoked.  The “loaf” part of the name indicates the cooking was done in a loaf pan of some type which made for easily portioned slices.  Served with brown gravy, that’s Swedish style; stuffed with hard boiled eggs, ham and cheese is welcome to Italy; ketchup, tomato sauce or brown sugar glaze on top and hello to the USA.  International cuisines have developed their own styles as trading of goods introduced new foods, spices and cooking techniques.

What happened with my basic meatloaf?  I took the macaroni and cheese and served it up of course, inside the meatloaf.  That’s right, I stuffed it!  The aroma in the kitchen was awesome, but the taste of the final product was out of this world.




 Stuffed Meatloaf

Ingredients:

3 lbs. lean ground beef
1 (12 oz.) bag dried stuffing cubes
1 cup milk
1 (15.5 oz. can) diced tomatoes with sweet onions (available at Blue Mountain Foods)
1 cup diced green bell pepper
2 Tbsp. saltless seasoning mix
1 tsp. ground black pepper
5 cups macaroni and cheese (see Note)
Ketchup for glazing

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375F; line a 4 quart baking dish with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Line a large jelly roll pan with parchment paper, wax paper or aluminum foil.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients except the macaroni and cheese and the ketchup. Invert bowl over center of jelly roll pan and deposit mixture onto it. Flatten mixture out to edges of pan. Cut macaroni and cheese into 3 sections and line up edge to edge down lengthwise center of flattened meatloaf mixture.




Put hands under lining and carefully lift mixture over filling, press down firmly and carefully peal back lining; repeat with other long side. Seal the seam over the filling and the sides of the meatloaf; smooth the meatloaf mixture over to create a firm seal.




Turn the baking dish over the meatloaf; with one hand hold down the baking dish while lifting the jelly roll pan with the other hand; flip over and let the meatloaf drop into the baking dish. Remove the lining off the meatloaf; make sure to position the meatloaf down the center of the baking dish; smooth over any cracks that may have opened. Brush ketchup over top and sides of meatloaf to create the glaze.



Place baking dish on center rack of oven and bake for one hour; brush a second layer of ketchup over the top and sides and bake for one additional hour.

The meatloaf will be too large to remove from the baking dish, so cut slices and use a narrow spatula to remove to a plate.

Makes 12-14 servings depending on how large the slices are cut.

Note: The Macaroni and Cheese used should have been made previously and refrigerated in a rectangular container to make for easier slicing.  My macaroni and cheese is a 4-cheese recipe; perhaps I’ll share that in another article.  


Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Humble Hummus.


Since the pushing of healthy eating habits and finding alternatives for snacking, many items that used to be a "luxury" have now become an all-consuming fad; such is the case with Hummus.  Hummus is a puree of garbanzo beans (a legume) also known as chickpeas in the United States and England, or Ceci beans in Italy.  Their origin can be traced back to the Middle East, as far back as 3500 BCE; so they truly cannot be called a modern "fad" food item.  The other main ingredient needed to make hummus is Tahini; a sauce made from the puree of toasted sesame seeds and olive oil.  The other ingredients that go into the making of hummus?  That is a matter of taste.




Tahini has a very nutty scent and flavor to it and can be substituted for peanut butter which is great news to folks with a peanut allergy. If you can eat regular peanuts, then adding a dollop of Tahini to your PB&J brings out an awesome richness of peanutty taste and flavor. For baking, think about adding Tahini to a recipe calling for peanut butter; and don't forget its wonderful addition to Middle Eastern cuisine.   Tahini can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months in an air tight container.  Since oil is used in the process, it will rise to the top and solidify under cold temperatures.  Simply let the Tahini come to room temperature, mix the oil back in until you have a smooth sauce; sort of how you would work with the all-natural peanut butter spreads that are on the market now.  Tahini can also be frozen in air tight freezer containers or bags, but after six months it needs to be discarded.



How to Make Tahini

Ingredients:

3 cups sesame seeds
1/2 cup olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350F; spread the seeds onto a clean jelly roll pan (baking sheet with a 1/4 inch around it); place into oven for 5 minutes.  Stir the seeds around and toast for another 5 minutes, but do not allow them to get brown in color.

Put the seeds into a food processor or blender; add 1/4 cup of oil and begin blending on high.  A paste will form; switch off the appliance and scrap down the paste with a rubber spatula.  Turn the appliance back on and slowly add in the remaining oil until a smooth sauce begins to form; sort of like a smooth peanut butter consistency; not all the oil may be required.

Makes 2 cups.

We have our Tahini, let’s continue on to making Hummus.  I'm going to give a basic recipe that can be used as a dip for toasted pita chips (Stacy’s is a great brand), or even a base sauce on a pita pizza (recipe will be given).  This basic hummus can be a simple canvas for making many types of dips by adding roasted red bell peppers, diced tomatoes, diced green onions, diced chile peppers, chopped herbs and the list goes on and on.  If entertaining and serving several varieties of hummus, don't just garnish each type with a teaspoon of an ingredient to identify its type.  Place a small bowl of the ingredient next to the bowl of hummus and let guests add to a plate with their portion of dip.  A garnish will be gone by the third guest, and how will anyone be able to identify the flavors then?  Also think about having slices of toasted French baguette besides the traditional pita chips, so guests can make their own version of a bruschetta.  Now onto the making of Hummus...



How to Make Hummus

Ingredients:
 
1 (16 oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup Tahini sauce (or 1/4 cup if using a Tahini paste)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Preparation:

Mash the beans slightly and place inside a food processor or blender; add the Tahini, garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper.  Set speed on puree and blend until desired consistency is achieved (slightly firmer than a sour cream dip is best); add more oil if needed.  Use a rubber spatula to scrap down the sides of the appliance if necessary.

Makes 1 and 1/2 cups.

Note: During the puree process, a tablespoon of a flavoring ingredient can be added such as diced tomatoes, roasted red bell pepper, chopped herbs, etc.

Some folks enjoy a chunkier hummus, some, like me, enjoy a smoother consistency.  If you’re not sure which you prefer, make a small portion of both and do some taste testing.

I gave you a tease before about making a Pita Pizza, and here's the information I promised to give you.  Normally a pizza dough is made with a leavened bread which rises because of yeast, but it can also be made from an unleavened bread such as a tortilla, Navajo Fry Bread or pita bread. As a base sauce, the traditional red tomato sauce can be used or pesto, but I've found that hummus makes an interesting take on a pizza.  By pureeing tomatoes, red bell peppers or basil into a hummus, you can turn the traditional brownish coloring into the illusion of a red or green sauce; and have the flavoring too.


How to Make a Pita Pizza

Ingredients:

1 Pita bread (standard size to be cut apart, or single serving size)
1/4 cup Hummus (traditional or flavored), 1/8 cup for smaller pita

Now here's the fun part; the rest of the ingredients depends on what you want on it. If using any meats or poultry, it must be precooked. Don't add too much of any one ingredient, you want just enough that each item will be tasted when biting into the pizza.   I created one with diced tomatoes, diced goat cheese and spinach leaves; just a 1/4 cup of each spread around on a standard sized pita went a long way.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Spread hummus over pita; spread other ingredients over all, but not entirely to the edge.  Place the pizza directly onto the center rack of the oven and bake for 12 - 15 minutes, or until edges of pita darken.

A standard pita can be cut into fourths; a small pita eaten as is.

There is my adventure into the Middle Eastern world of Tahini, Hummus and Pita Bread; don't be afraid to have your own adventure.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Luck of the Pot.


Living in Monticello, the Colorado state border is a mere twenty minutes’ drive along Highway 491.  To put your mind at ease immediately, the “pot” I am referring to has nothing to do with legalized marijuana in Colorado.  However, with Pioneer Day coming fast, I am about to go off on one of my convoluted writing journeys.

The Big 4 Tractor has been a main attraction, for the most part, in our small town.  This giant, for its time, tractor was made by the Emerson-Brantingham Company in 1912.  Purchased by the San Juan Arid Farm Company for $4,500, shipped to Dolores Colorado before making the trek to Monticello.  It took about three days, but at a top speed of three miles per hour, along an unpaved roadway, no surprise, right?  This was a two person operation; the driver who was required to stand the entire trip, and the fuel hauler.  Once a week, William Young would make the 110 mile journey to purchase fuel (gasoline, not diesel); hauling it in a wagon containing 50 gallon barrels.  Mainly used at a 3,200 acre dry farm at Piute Knoll and Piute Springs, between 1912 to 1915; a severe drought forced bankruptcy and the use of the Big 4 came to an end.


Eventually purchased by the City of Monticello in 1962, it was featured, and driven, only once in the Pioneer Day Parade.  However, it made its way to Veterans Memorial Park, where it sat rusting, disused, except by the children who played in the park and loved to climb the tractor.  Long story short, the tractor was eventually restored, is housed in its own protective building next to the Frontier Museum on Main Street; proudly cruising in the Pioneer Day Parade yearly.














So back to my story about pot, no, not that pot, another type of pot, namely a cooking vessel.  Besides Pioneer Day’s celebration, reunions and get-togethers of all types are a summer event; graduating classes, family, military, and the simple, “let’s just get-together and celebrate”.  What type of foods are typically served?  Usually, and here comes the pot, potluck meals!  The term “potluck” has its origin in 16th century English, “pot” meaning a cooking pot while “luck” referred to “chance or fortune”.  In this instance, “whatever is available to eat” aka “already cooked in the pot” for unexpected guests who showed up spur of the moment.  By 20th century English, “to take potluck” had acquired a more general sense of “to take what comes” or “to take one’s chances”. 

In America, mid-19th century meaning of potluck became “a communal meal where each guest brings a dish to be shared”.  It often helps if the guests inform the host(s) of what they will be bringing, or get suggestions, so not half the dishes are the same.  Variety is the spice of life, and who wants to eat 12 different types of potato salad at one meal!?!

Since I did mention potato salad, here’s a recipe for a new style I experimented on, with deliciously amazing results; oven baked potato salad.  While any type of potato can be used for this recipe, I prefer using Golden Yukon Potatoes.  The flesh is yellow, buttery flavored with a creamier texture than other types, such as russet, red-skinned or even Idaho baking potatoes.  The skin is thin, so I don’t peel it all off, but leave some for color and texture.



Oven Baked Potato Salad

Ingredients:

1 medium to large potato per person
1 tsp. olive oil per potato
1 tsp. mayonnaise per potato
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450F.  Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.

Peel the potatoes (leave some skin on for color and texture, or not), cut into 2-inch pieces and place into bowl.  Add one teaspoon of olive oil, for each potato, mix well and place potatoes onto aluminum foil (use spatula to get all the oil in as well). 








Cover the potatoes with another section of foil, folding ends of both sections of foil together to create a packet.  Place into the oven for one hour.  Remove from oven, cut a slit into top of foil (be care of escaping steam) and pour potatoes into a bowl (some might have stuck to the foil and browned; add them in anyway, they’re yummy this way!).










Mix in one teaspoon of mayonnaise per potato used, add salt and pepper to taste.  This potato salad can be eaten hot or cold.  It is so delicious, you might want to add in extra potatoes and other ingredients for those who will definitely want seconds!

Mary Cokenour










Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Portable Comfort Food and Mining.


San Juan County’s geological makeup encompasses finds of precious metals such as gold and copper to deadlier elements of uranium and vanadium.  Depending on who is spoken with, there is either praise of the industry and the monetary gain to many; or those who would rather it hushed up due to the illnesses and deaths caused.  Personal feeling is, hiding history does not mean it never happened, or will prevent it from happening again.

So, I’m going to be drawing attention to the old Cottonwood Mill’s short history, and its contribution towards Monticello Mill becoming the main processing plant of radioactive materials.

The history of the millsite will be a combination of information from two sources; a verbal history from Grant Lee Shumway in the book, The Family of Peter and Mary Johnson Shumway by Ruth Shumway Robinson and Gary Lee Shumway, and the mining series published by Blue Mountain Shadows (“Mining in San Juan”, "Cottonwood Mining", “Cottonwood Mining #2 and #3”).  The first millsite, located along South Cottonwood Road aka County Road 228, was built in 1937.  The high temperatures needed to "roast" the ore caused the building to burn down the same year.  In 1938, the millsite was rebuilt, plus additional buildings containing a blacksmith shop, laboratory, assay office, boarding house for the workers, and a few cabins.  In 1942, the mill burned down once again; it was rebuilt, with a loan from the Defense Plant Corporation, in April 1943.  The mill, however, was forced to close its doors in July 1943; poor processing methods created few profits and loans could not be repaid.  In 1942, the millsite in Monticello had been built and working in full force, so all the ore, and tailings, from the Cottonwood area mines and millsite, were shipped to Monticello for processing from then on.  Remember, at that time, the dangers of uranium and vanadium were still unknown.

The Atomic Energy Commission, with help from the BLM and National Forest Service, cleaned up both mill sites.  In 1997, it was determined that travel along CR 228 had increased dramatically with hikers, campers, ATVers, 4 Wheel Drive enthusiasts.  The BLM went through the area to close off any open mines that would pose a danger, and made sure the millsite was still safe from the effects of uranium and vanadium. 

By the way, I initially expressed some concern about the radiation contamination to my good friend, Amy Watkins Kensley, a teacher at the elementary school down in Monument Valley.  Her response was, "Honey, you live in San Juan County; we all glow in the dark!" That made me feel way better about it.

Alright now, mining history class over, let’s get to the next topic, food miners ate.  Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, miners in Cornwall, England needed meals that could be hand held, eaten warm or cold, and not take time away from work.  The test of a good pasty?  Drop it down a mine shaft and see how well it held together.  Since many of the Mormon pioneers have ancestry going back to the United Kingdom, it shouldn’t be surprising that the recipe for the Cornish Pasty came with them.  In The Mormon Pioneer Cookbook by Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, page 60 has a recipe using meats of round steak and pork chops mixed together.

I’m going back in time though and use the traditional recipe from “The Cornish Pasty Association”, Cornwall, England.  In parentheses will be the American equivalent of measurements and baking temperature.  Note, instead of making 6 large pasties, I made 8 small and had enough to experiment with a flour tortilla.  Hint, stick with the pastry dough; flaky, yet holds up well when picked up to eat, and oh so tasty…a tasty pasty, what more could you ask for!?!



Traditional Cornish Pasty

For Shortcrust Pastry

Ingredients:

500 g (4 cups) strong bread flour (it is important to use a stronger flour than normal as you need the extra strength in the gluten to produce strong pliable pastry)
120 g (1/2 cup) lard or white shortening
125 g (1/2 cup) Cornish butter (regular unsalted butter will do)
1 tsp. salt
175 ml (2/3 cup) cold water


For the Filling
 
Ingredients:

450 g (1 lb.) good quality beef skirt, cut into cubes (I used Angus Ground Beef 80/20)
450 g (1 lb.) potato, diced
250 g (1and ½ cups) swede (aka turnip), diced
200 g (1 and ¼ cups) onion, sliced
Salt & pepper to taste (2:1 ratio)
Beaten egg or milk to glaze



Method (Preparation)

Rub the two types of fat lightly into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add water, bring the mixture together and knead until the pastry becomes elastic. This will take longer than normal pastry, but it gives the pastry the strength that is needed to hold the filling and retain a good shape. This can also be done in a food mixer.

Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 3 hours in the fridge. This is a very important stage as it is almost impossible to roll and shape the pastry when fresh.  Roll out the pastry and cut into circles approx. 20cm (7.75 inches) diameter. A side plate is an ideal size to use as a guide.

Layer the vegetables and meat on top of the pastry, adding plenty of seasoning. (I mixed it all together in one bowl; a 1/3 measuring cup puts out the correct portion)




Bring the pastry around and crimp the edges together (see guide to crimping on website).  Glaze with beaten egg or an egg and milk mixture.

Bake at 165 degrees C (350 F) for about 50 – 55 minutes until golden. (Mine were done at 50 minutes)


Tortilla Experiment























The meat and vegetables were perfectly cooked; my hubby, Roy, ate two, then I had to slap his hand away when he reached for a third.  That tells me that my attempt at Cornish Pasties was a success.  As I mentioned, I did experiment with a flour tortilla; it was “meh” until we added some roasted garlic salsa to it.  But, doesn’t that make it a burrito?  Anyway, bring a little England to your table and try some Cornish Pasties.

Mary Cokenour








Thursday, June 28, 2018

Cheese, Raisins, Cattle and Cowboys.


San Juan County Road 228 aka South Cottonwood Road, there is a main reason why I specifically wanted to come to this area; my dentist, Dr. Brian Goodwine of San Juan Dental in Monticello (part of the Utah Navajo Health System, Inc).  He is the great grandson of Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr., active in the development of the San Juan Mission in Mexico.  While at my 6 month checkup, Dr. Goodwine asked if I'd ever been to the Cheese and Raisins Hills; "The what?" I asked, and "Where are they?"  He told me the story of Lemuel who had cattle up on those hills; one day his ranch hands asked him if he would like to share their lunch of cheese and raisins with them.  "All you boys ever eat is cheese and raisins, cheese and raisins"; and that is how the hills in the area became so named.  I was able to also verify this story through the book, Utah's Canyon Country Place Names by Steve Allen, as told by Albert R. Lyman.  On the Internet, someone's vacation blog, didn't note the name down though, was a second story on how the hills were named.  There were several mines in the area; the miners often had cheese and raisins in their lunches.  Since the mines were not started till around the early 1930s, the first version of the story is closer to the truth.  A photo of Lemuel and his wives, Eliza and Lucy, and their story can be found in the book, They Came to Grayson put out by the Ridgeway Art Gallery in Blanding.





Lemuel Hardison Redd Jr with wives, Eliza and Lucy



















Talking about mining, the ruins of the old Cottonwood Millsite is along this county road which got me to thinking about typical miners’ meals which got me thinking about Cornish Pasties.  Oh my, isn’t that a nice run-on sentence; but that story will be for another article as I’m concentrating on cheese and raisins right now.

Raisins are simply dried grapes, which would stand up well during the long journeys the pioneers traveled to win over the Wild West.  Cheese, however, now where did they get cheese from and how did it keep without refrigeration?  Time to research cattle within San Juan County and I certainly did find a moo-full of information! 

Briefly, when the Hole in the Rockers came to Bluff, they did have cattle along for the trek.  Dunham aka Short Horn which were great milkers, but also provided meat to the settlers.  However, there had already been established, within San Juan County, cattle companies from Colorado and Texas; competition for grazing land became an issue.  Excuse me while I digress a little more; eventually Peters of Peters Hill fame sold his cattle; Howard Carlisle, a British patriot, eventually sold his cattle.  The remaining cattle company was the LC, which remained in the Blanding area…. poor ranch cook Harry Hopkins, may he in rest in peace.  Digging around, I was able to find out that Peters and Carlisle began a new cattle company in Kansas City, MO.  While Peters, whose given name was Quincy, became the company’s accountant; Howard Carlisle got in huge trouble selling stolen cattle. 

Where did I get my information on Peters and Carlisle after they left San Juan County?  Scholars Archive of BYU: The Cattle Industry of San Juan County, Utah, 1875 – 1900 by Franklin D. Day, and United States. Courts; Circuit Court of Appeals, volume 47.


Emma Smith 1884 
Now back to cheese and raisins, and were they only eaten separately, or did those resilient pioneer women combine them into a recipe?   Emma Smith, wife of prophet Joseph Smith baked up biscuits nicknamed “politicians” due to their being so light and full of hot air.  I didn’t make this up; the story appears in Good Things to Eat From Old Nauvoo by Theo E. Boyd.  These biscuits were normally used to make strawberry shortcake, but other variations were: cherry, peaches, warm applesauce, raisins plus cinnamon and honey, chopped dates and nuts, or grated or cubed cheese with raisins.  There you go, cheese and raisins in biscuits; but you can use this combination in scones as well and it is delicious!

Hope you enjoyed my convoluted journey through San Juan County pioneer history, and here is Emma Smith’s Biscuit recipe.

Biscuits
(Good Things to Eat From Old Nauvoo by Theo E. Boyd)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preparation:

Sift dry ingredients. Add shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add buttermilk and mix lightly.

Turn out on floured board.  Pat out to 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick.  Cut, sprinkle with sugar and place on well-greased pan and bake at 425 degrees until golden brown.

Mary Cokenour

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Jackrabbit Ruminations.


This little story came about due to the posing of a single jackrabbit.  Normally they’re zipping back and forth across roadways, or racing through the desert trying not to smash into sage brush.  Photographing them is next to impossible, those buggers don’t sit still long enough, until that one day.  Sitting at the front desk of Canyon Country Discovery Center, well I have the best seat in the house.  Large window panes allow me to look across farmland and canyon rocks stretching eastward to Colorado; in the far distance are the majestic San Juans.  Typical wildlife that entertains are mule deer, wild turkeys, red fox, antics of chipmunks, aerodynamics of hummingbirds and the zipping of jackrabbits.  Then it happened, a jackrabbit stopped on a gravel path and began to “strike the pose…vogue” (Madonna song reference).  He (assuming it was a he, I didn’t actually check) sat back on those long, power punching legs; turned his head this way and that; then turned his whole body so that the mild wind pushed his ears back.  His eyes slowly closed and I swear that little bugger had decided to take a nap there and then.

So, back to the mention of a little story and let me put the disclaimer now, so those experts on wildlife won’t get all bent out of shape.   The story I’m about to tell about this jackrabbit is totally made up, a work of fiction from my mind; call me crazy and I’ll say thank you for noticing. 

Meet Jack, Jack the Rabbit; he’s not much on commitment; loves the ladies, but doesn’t stick around long enough for a lasting relationship.  He’s a bit of a cad, loves them and leaves them in a “delicate” condition.  Now the ladies, they have their own issues; so busy running to no place in particular that when the babe comes, it’s “pop it out, it fends for itself”.  Jackrabbits don’t build nests in the ground like the cute cottontails; nope, their babies are born wide eyed, bushy tailed and raring to go-go-go.  Jack has a sister, Jackie; who happened to meet one handsome hare from Wyoming.  The Wyoming Alope family are well known in those parts for slick dealing at the gambling table and serving up watered down liquor at their establishment.  Yes sir, Jackie married and became…Jackie ALope.

Then there is Jack’s uncle, Bob; the family don’t speak much about Bob, not since “the incident”.  Seems Bob got into a bit of a mess when he was hungry and decided that elderberries would make a great snack.  Well he was a bit lazy that day too, so instead of picking those berries fresh off the bush, he ate the ones sitting on the ground, not realizing they had fermented into wine.  That Cat was so drunk, didn’t realize that his neighbor’s third daughter was sleeping under that elderberry bush.  Nope, he had his way with her, No, not that way, get your minds out of the gutter; he done ‘et her!  Yep, Bob’s his uncle, but they don’t really talk about Bob in front of pleasant company.


Ah cooking, this column is supposed to focus on cooking, so let’s cook up some rabbit, aye?  In Native American cultures, the rabbit resides in legends from being a good luck charm to a parallel of coyote; the protector of witches and a trickster.  Mesoamerican belief was that a rabbit, not a man, resided in the moon.  No matter the legend, the rabbit was prized for its meat; its fur and tanned hide made into gloves, caps, cradle board cushions or padding.

In the cookbook, Pueblo Indian Cookbook by Phyllis Hughes, there is a kitchen tested recipe for Jackrabbit Stew.  While researching recipes for this article, I found that Native American cooking techniques/beliefs resembled ones I am quite acquainted with. Before serving the meal, a small portion is offered up to the spirits; similar to the offering of a piece of bread and meat to the Greek Goddess, Hestia (protector of the home and hearth; goddess of hospitality).  When it comes to measuring, it comes down to the senses; the feel of the grains, herbs and spices, a sort of knowing, in your heart, what amounts are correct.  That’s what cooking with love and passion are!

So here’s the recipe, and if rabbit or hare are not your type of fare; substituting chicken will be just as tasty.

Jackrabbit Stew
(Pueblo Indian Cookbook, page 39)

Ingredients:

1 jackrabbit (or domestic hare or 5 lb. baking chicken)
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
2/3 Tbsp. chile powder (optional)
1 and ½ cups flour
2 quarts water
2 large onions
6 large carrots, halved
2 sweet peppers, halved and seeded
4 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked lime hominy
¾ cup melted lard or cooking oil

Preparation:

Cut rabbit (or other) into serving size pieces.  Dredge in flour.  Put oil in large kettle and heat until sizzling.  Brown all pieces of meat on all sides, drain and pour off excess oil.  Return meat to kettle, add water and simmer for two hours, add all vegetables and simmer until carrots are tender.

Note:  Not sure if the repeat of onion and salt are intentional or a misprint.  The majority of cookbooks also have ingredients listed in the order that they are used, while this recipe is a bit of a hodge podge.

Mary Cokenour