One thing our family is very proud of is our heritage. My husband's family history is teaming with historical Scotland: he has close roots to Clan Campbell, Clan Sutherland, Clan Bruce and Clan Stewart. My lineage isn't as cut and dry: I'm a nice mix of Irish, German and Native American. My maternal grandfather was 1/2 Mohegan (and 1/2 Irish which made of a crazy combination) and so I've been trying to teach the children various traditions of the Native American people as a way for them to feel connect to their roots.
One way to introduce the Native American culture is through their food. Our family's favorite Native American recipe, while not Mohegan, is what is called Three Sisters Soup.
The Three Sisters is the name given to the three main agricultural crops grown by various Native American group sin North America. These crops were winter squash, Maize (corn) and climbing beans (typically tepary beans or common beans). These three crops are grown in what is called complementary planting, where all three are grown in the same plot of land. The three crops benefited from being planted together as the maize provided the structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provided nitrogen to the soil that the other plants needed and the squash spread along the ground, blocking sunlight and preventing weeds from growing.
Three Sisters Soup is a very simple recipe that the kids and I have made a few times together. It's also very cheap to make and makes a large batch for lots of leftover, so it's a great recipe to make when trying to stretch the budget.
Three Sisters Soup
2 cans white hominy (drained)
1 bag frozen cut green beans
1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cloves garlic (minced)
4 cups broth (I use chicken)
4 cups water
salt/pepper to taste
Place all ingredients into a large stock pot, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Yes, it really is that simple.. The butternut and the hominy make for such a wonderful tasting broth.
The absolute best accompaniment for Three Sister Soup (and also a Native American Recipe) is Fry Bread. Fry bread traditionally comes from the Navajo tribe but many tribes have their own version of fry bread. During the times when Native Americans were forced to live in government camps, the government would supply them with lard, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and powdered milk. From these items, the Native people learned to make Fry Bread and it is now probably the most popular food item at any PowWow or Tribal get together.
There are so many recipes available, depending on what your taste is. Some are sweeter than others, some are more firm and chewy while others are fluffy and light. It's all a matter of preference. We prefer the Blackfoot tribes version of Fry bread.
Blackfoot Fry Bread
4 cups flour
1 Tbs Powdered Milk
1 Tbs Baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of warm water
Crisco or oil to frying
In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Pour the water over the mixture and mix together until it forms one big clump. Flour your hands hands well and mix the dough, folding as much of the flour into the mixture as possible. Form into a ball. Do not overmix. There's no need to kneed it. Divide dough into 6 portions. Using your hands, shape and stretch the dough to form a flattened disk about 6 inches in diameter.
In a cast iron skillet, heat roughly 1 inch of oil to about 350 degrees F. Take the stretched dough and gently put into the oil. Fry until brown on bottom and then flip to fry the other side. Place cooked Fry Bread on paper towel to absorb excess oil.
Another great idea for Fry Bread? Fry up a batch, top with taco meat, lettuce, cilantro, tomato, roasted corn, black beans, cheese and hot sauce and make Fry Bread Tacos!!!!!!
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