Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Native American Dinner

I am so excited about my newest project. Remember when I did breakfast around the world and made an authentic breakfast for every country on earth? Well, I am at it again. This time I have an even bigger undertaking. I am going to cook a full dinner for every country to serve for my family. This is more complex than breakfast around the world because I am not only cooking for myself, and there are multiple dishes to every meal. My family is super picky, but they have agreed to undergo this adventure with me. I hope you will too.

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For my first country, I debated going in alphabetical order or just jumping into a country of my choosing. I chose to do the latter so that I can do the countries that I want to before having to go back to college. I know this project is going to take more than this summer. It will take multiple years for me to complete, but I am excited about it. I chose to stay close to home and do the United States of America. America is such a complex place with many different cultures. There are so many “American” foods that vary from region to region. I decided to focus on the earliest cuisine of the country before the United States was even a unified country. That’s right, my first meal is based off of Native American cuisine. Above is the menu I made for the night.
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I searched high and low for the “most authentic” Native American recipes. Things like fresh berries, fry bread, fish, jerky, and the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash). I settled on four dishes that I thought represented the Cherokee and other southern tribes well.

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To drink, I made a strawberry juice sweetened with honey. (Ani aditasdi means strawberry drink.) Harper LOVED this, and drank everyone else’s for them. The rest of us liked it as well, but we couldn’t compete with Harper’s juice loving obsession. It was super simple to make, using only three ingredients. I recommend this drink for any hot summer day.
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Ani Aditasdi
Makes 5 cups
3 cups strawberries
¼ cup honey
3 cups water

Blend all the ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least one hour.


 
 
 
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Our carb was Cherokee bean balls. They are kind of like cornbread with beans. You boil them instead of baking them, giving them a unique texture. We all agreed that they were not awful, but they were not very flavorful at all. My mom said she is going to use the leftovers to make dressing.

 
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Cherokee Bean Balls
Makes 16-18
2 ½ cups cornmeal
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup cooked kidney beans
1 cup boiling water

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add in the beans, mashing them up. Stir in the water until a stiff dough has formed. Form the dough into balls, using about ¼ cup per ball. Drop about five at a time into the boiling water. Remove to a rack with a slotted spoon once the balls rise to the top of the water, about 10 minutes.

 

Everyone loved the stew based off the Native American agricultural myth of the “Three Sisters”. The sisters, corn, beans, and squash, are joined by other flavorful vegetables to make a delicious vegetarian soup. It was clean, fresh, and you feel good about eating it.

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Three Sisters Stew
4 cups chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp oil
1 large zucchini, sliced about 1/8” thick
1 large yellow summer squash, sliced about 1/8” thick
1 acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1- 15 ounce can of pinto beans, drained
1- 15 ounce can of kidney beans, drained
1- 15 ounce can of corn, drained
½ tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until they are tender. Add the bell pepper and poblano pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, coriander, and acorn squash. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients, bring back to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
 

Finally, the highlight of the meal was some homemade beef jerky. I was shocked at how good it turned out. My dad ate a ton of it, and even complemented how good it tasted. (That’s a huge compliment because he is basically the pickiest man in the world.) My mom also liked it, and she does not typically like beef jerky. The rest of us really enjoyed it as well. It was worth the long preparation time.

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Beef Jerky
1 ½ pounds sirloin steak
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp meat tenderizer
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
Dash of cayenne pepper powder
Dash of ground black pepper

Freeze the steak for about 10 minutes. Put the meat in a bag and pound it flat (about ¼” thick). Cut the steak into 1” slices. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl or plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. The next morning, pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Line the pieces up on a rack, making sure they do not touch. Place the rack over a pan to catch the drippings. Bake in an oven set to 200 degrees for 4-5 hours, flipping the meat over half way through. Serve once the jerky is dried out.

 
 
 
 
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The Native American meal was delicious. It was a great way to kick off my world table adventure. We all found the food to be incredibly filling (even though we did not eat that much), and we really enjoyed it. I hope you do too! Tune in next time for some authentic Italian! (You will be surprised at what real Italian food really is.)

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