This week’s Camp Fire potluck is “Native American food.” This is unlike previous weeks, where we had a reasonable shot at making passable food. And if we didn’t happen to know the nuances of a particular genre of food (e.g., Indian from India, Indian), we could always wimp out and pick up some take-out from a restaurant like Bukhara where someone could guide me to a delicious tandoori seafood.
No such luck this week.
Oh, we found a lot of interesting recipes from places like Marilee’s and NativeTech Ultimately, though, it came down to simple questions like: where does one find fresh prairie dog at the last minute? Exotic (plain?) ingredient standbys like Uwajimaya certainly don’t. Even eBay is scandalously lacking any prairie dog titanium sellers (though you can still lose 95 pounds by August).
Amy, our ultra-enthusiastic Camp Fire chapter leader was nonplussed and offered
“You can order acorn flour if you give PCC four weeks’ notice.”
Yes, Amy, but we have only two weeks to plan. Say, have you tried finding Beaver balls? (I hear it’s like poi — only the tourists eat it because the locals won’t touch it.)
So, we chose something relatively benign-sounding, realizing our lawn has a bumper crop of dandelion greens available. Ultimately, though, the success of today’s potluck is predicated on an assumption that kids 3-10 will try something that isn’t pasta, cheesy, or spread from a jar.
Dandelion stir fry – Stacy Johnson, Cree (Quebec)
6 Handfuls of dandelion greens, washed and chopped
2 fish (trout, salmon or bass)
bacon grease or fat
3 wild onions (or leeks), chopped
salt and pepper
3 pinches of sage
1 lemon, half of it sliced into thin disks, the other half squeezed
- Clean the fish. Cut into long strips.
- Grease an iron skillet with bacon grease, put on semi-hot coals (or medium heat).
- Add the fish, cooking for a few minutes each side. When the fish is done, drip some of the lemon juice on for taste.
- Add onion, six slices of lemon, sage.
- Cook until the onion is translucent.
- Add the dandelion greens. Cook until they’re soft.
With my girls a long time ago we cooked nettles. You pick the nettles with gloves on. Then you can saute or boil them, rather like spinach — the “sting” goes away when they are heated.
I believe, however, that neither dandilions nor nettles are native to the northwest, so even if Indians ate these greens after contact with Europeans, they wouldn’t have done so hundreds of years ago.
Native berries that kids like (but aren’t in season now) are thimbleberries, salmonberries, and huckleberries. There are also a few native blackberries, but most of the ones you find growing by the side of the road are Himalayan or European.
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