Native Cooking: Bring Them to the Table With Corn Chowder
Wouldn’t it be awful if we didn’t eat together? I don’t mean every time we eat, but often enough to engage in conversation, to laugh, enjoy the tastes, share, and even celebrate. There are certainly times when I want to slobber and slurp alone, or in a hurry. Mostly though, I think the meals we remember best are with friends or family.
The where is important too. Picnic on a blanket by a bubbling brook, a fancy restaurant or a dive with great food, doesn’t matter. Wish I had kept a diary of those meals. Then, there are the meals we never had due to power outage. I imagine this happens a lot in certain areas of Indian country. Many years ago there was a vicious hurricane that took out our chest freezer full of our garden’s bounty, lots of made ahead meals, and so much more. Now, we have a generator. Who knows what the future will hold, fossil fuel supplies may be depleted or our ability to pay for them gone, you just never know, so it is a good idea to know some food storage techniques of our ancestors.
To bury food beneath the frost line, which is three feet down, the Native people of Cape Cod had cached a lot of seed corn near Cotuit, which the Europeans helped themselves to. Drying and smoking foods are still viable methods of preservation.
Here is one idea for a meal to share with friends and family:
Warming Corn Chowder
3 pounds potatoes, washed, cubed, skin on
14 oz. can corn kernels or cut from 3 large ears
14 oz. can creamed corn
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 slices of cooked and drained bacon
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons flour, to thicken broth
Sauté the onion and celery in a heavy saucepan. Drain and add the corn kernels to onion and celery to give all a roasted flavor. Add the cubed potatoes to the pan and move them around to add a pan-roasted flavor. Now add broth slowly, plus a cup or so of water and simmer on medium for about 30 minutes to cook the potatoes through. Turn off heat and add creamed corn, parsley, flour, crumbled bacon and some salt and pepper. Stir to blend and reheat on low before serving. DO NOT let it boil.
Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.
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