30 April 2016

Zest

Zest.  Ahh, what a word for this last day of the A to Z Challenge.  Zest.  You know what?  I was in my thirties before I found out what zest as pertains to cooking was.  Yepper, typical rez indian.  Don’t
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really know enough about the world from either viewpoint.  There’s so much tugging at one’s brain when growing up.  Is that fair?  Nope.  Just one of those facts of life.

Even after I found out what zest was, I still don’t use it in my cooking.  The closest is when I peel an orange and eat the white part of the rind and toss the orange part.  Yep, that’s how I was taught to eat that part of the orange.  Don’t really eat lemons or grapefruits.   Well, now grapefruits, once every fourth blue moon.  But I don’t eat the rinds of those fruit either.  Sort of like what’s with that?  Though it does fall into the category of use everything you can.  Don’t think I’ll add that to my repertoire though.  Orange and lemon zest?  Hmm.

I have trouble enough just grating cheese for our once a month or so Indian tacos.  And no, I think you might have already guessed this about me.  I don’t particularly care if I’m politically correct or not, I’ve stated before, you don’t have to read my writing.  Sometimes, I think that one can find anything to be offended about and try to get others to feel guilty about it.  Well, consider some of the trends from the past few years.  Yes, yes, yes, I do know the difference between insult deliberately and insult without thought.

However, as my Mom was fond of saying, “I’m not a mind reader.”  It’s like a few of my Elders tried so hard to get me to learn-”If you can’t laugh at yourself, then don’t laugh at others mistakes.”  Or something to that effect.  Now here I am being polite.

Yep, Polite.  Not politically correct.  Why?  Because we were raised to let others think for themselves.  We were taught that everyone can have their say.  And to stand up for ourselves.  So, I think that zest as applied to life is also made up of oranges and lemons, some whole, some sliced, and some zested.  Probably with a few apples, pears and blueberries tossed in.

What happens when you go grocery shopping?  You pick and choose, you compare, you check out the price and then decide whether or not to buy those products there or do you go somewhere else and buy them?  Unless, of course, if one is in a hurry and just grabs any old thing, heads to the counter and pays for it.

When you get the groceries home and start putting them away, then you discover that one or two of the items are spoiled, imperfect in some way.  What do you do then?  Do you take the package back and try to get a refund?  Toss it?  Or make do?  Zest.

29 April 2016

Yeast type bread

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Yeast. Well, for those of you who’ve followed me or read a few of my other posts here and elsewhere already know about me cooking with yeast.  Well, I’ll not bore you with repetition.  Instead, I’ll regale you with stories of my sister’s efforts at mastering the art of making breads with yeast.  I’ve watched her over the years and she’d become quite the master.

Methinks she’s in the same canoe as I am when it comes to the clamoring that certain members of our family makes whenever they get a hankering for cinnamon rolls, or even her mighty tasty biscuits.  Both of these dishes come out of the oven and are devoured before they even have a chance to cool off.  Mmmm.  We like the accolades.  We just don’t want to stand there doing all that hard work.  At least, I don’t have to stand there and pound on that bread, lift it up, flip over here and there, find another good spot to punch, lift up and repeat.  I only have to make sure my dough is just sticky enough to work the flour in when I form the bread into it’s distinctive shape and fry it.  Cept, I don’t use as much oil, just enough to get the pan hot enough for the bread to rise as it cooks.

Whereas she has to let it rise, then go through that lifting, punching, lift, sprinkle flour, and punch it down dance, not once but twice.  Sometimes, if she really feels like it’s worth it, she’ll let it rise a third time before forming those rolls, cutting it into that yummy shape and letting them rise one more time before setting them into that hot oven.

Methinks she’s just like me when it comes to the amount.  Neither one of us feels right when we make just enough for who ever’s at the house at the time we are finally making that bread.  We use roughly five to ten pounds of flour.  Yep, that’s right.  We go by the pound when making bread.  None of this dainty cup by cup stuff for us.  It has to be that way if we want enough to have with our dinner, or lunch or whatever.

Yes, she’s tried to get me into the groove of making yeast bread.  However, I think I’d be the dainty one using just a few cups in one of those smallish bowls.  Sort of like when we make baking powder biscuits, which by the way, my son makes about as often as me and sister make our bread.  Once in a blue moon.  Oh, man, now I’m getting hungry just thinking about that bread and biscuits.  Not hungry enough to go and make some though.

28 April 2016

The Letter X

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X.  The letter X is a mighty difficult letter to find a word that starts with it.  Don’t think we even have that letter x or it’s sound in Anishinabe.  And no, I’m not going to take the time to research it.  And really when one thinks about it, most of the words that do start with that letter sound like other letter sounds, like xylophone or…or…hiac.  Stumped me thoroughly right there.

Asked my youngest son if he could think of a word that starts with that letter.  XBox.  I thought of x’d out.  Hmm.  Quite the quandary for us.  Didn’t ask the Eldest, who has access to plenty of the weirdling words in his jaunts through cyberspace.  He’d probably come up with something that’d be hard for me to even think about, much less write about.  I don’t follow the role playing games, the video games or even much of the science fiction type stuff anymore.  Much of it’s just too esoteric for me now.  Aack.  It’s just that I might be just a tad bit lazy.  Or is it that I might just find myself dragged into one of those black holes that one can get dragged into so very easily when flitting here and there about the above mentioned cyberspace.  I do have a tendency to get lost and take days, even weeks, to find my way back to this reality.

So.  Cooking, nah.  Nothing in that category either.  Is there even anything the particular category titled Cooking/Food that I could even contemplate?  Methinks, that siren call of the ‘Net is beginning to make itself heard above the music I’ve set up so that I can write to my heart’s content.  This blasted laptop and that dagnabbed mouse thingy right in the middle of the top, that’s sitting right where I sometimes rest my hand whilst trying to think of the next word to type.  It also controls the mouse tail that I sometimes have to send the mouse itself on a mad dash around the mouse pad so that that tail can be spotted somewhere on the screen and I can bring it back into line.

Sometimes, I can’t even find the spot where those few letters that I typed have ended up.  And upon occasion, I’ve even caused my computer to save, delete or otherwise do something that I specially didn’t want it doing at the particular time my hand, thumb or wrist decided that it needed a rest.  Sometimes, I think the laptop mouse pad itself leaps right up to my dangling thumb as I type.

Ahh, methinks that those gremlins have been patient long enough and have decided that my life needs to become a bit more interesting as my year of mourning comes to a close.  We’ll see what happens in the next few days.  I’m thinking that I’ve come up with a plan to fool those gremlins.  Think I’ll just contemplate the letter x for a few more days.

27 April 2016

Watermelon

Watermelon.  Yes, I don’t care for watermelon.  Not sure why.  Everyone else likes it.  Least enough to eat it when it’s served.  I pass 99.8% of the time.  Once every third blue moon, I’ll eat it.  When my sons and I lived by ourselves, they didn’t get much in the way of such things as watermelon.  Might be that’s why we ended up living with Mom.  Least they got more of a variety of foods to eat.
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Don’t get me wrong, I did cook.  Just not things I didn’t much care for.  Course most of this time was when I was experimenting with cooking.  Even though I had to cook when I was young and foolish, I didn’t really learn how to cook much of anything.  Well, for one thing, since we bought food in bulk, we ended up cooking the same meals, day in, day out, week after week.  And it got boring.

Why?  Hmm, thinking it was mostly cause we rarely had all the ingredients necessary for most of the recipes.  Oh, there were spices that Mom used and I learned to put in the food.  But…yeah, yeah, yeah, here comes the but.  A word I am trying very hard to get out of my vocabulary, due in great part to one of my counselors telling us that “But” was just an excuse.  Along with “can’t,” there isn’t much that can be done, thought or said without some serious editing. Anyway, back to the spices and watermelon.

Watermelon was something we only bought like twice a year, in the summer, like in July or August.  Sort of like the pumpkins that were only purchased like once a year.  Same with the spices.  And it wasn’t very cost-effective to buy a whole can of spice just for one time of experimenting.  Cause then it would just go to waste.  Course that took many, many moons for that to sink into my head.

And watermelon comes in different sizes so I wouldn’t really need to buy the whole big watermelon.  Heck, it’s even sold by the slice nowadays.  And it’s on my list for the garden.  So, it shouldn’t really…Oh, oh.  Another word I was advised to watch out for as shouldn’t implies perfection.  And wouldn’t.  Man, oh man, I’ve not been so conscious of all the words I have been trying to remove from my vocabulary.  Ahh, well, there’s another goal, habit? Something I can use when revising.  Added to the list of things I’d much rather not be doing, eating or saying, well.  I lead a pretty active life, since I am busy trying to not do something.  And the other part, I’ve been off looking at the greener grass over to my next state over neighbor’s yard.  Yep, that’s what can happen in these days of the ‘Net.

Ahh, well, methinks I’ll just plant a watermelon seed or two and see if I can learn to like watermelon as much as my family does.

26 April 2016

Venison

Woke up to pounding on the door.  Heard Mom and Auntie talking.  Then something being dragged down the stairs.  Someone was hollering for a knife.  Flew out of bed to check over the railing.  There were about four or five people at the bottom bent over something on the floor.  Huge flood of relief when I was finally able to see that it was only a deer.

“Hurry up and bring a knife.”

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I ran to get one and handed it to my cousin.  Then the boys went out and I had to go down and help dress out the deer.  I wasn’t too excited.  Good thing I hadn’t changed into pajamas, now that I think about it.  It was bout midnight or so when they’d come in.  Shining season on the rez.  It took us about an hour to get it all done, packaged and put away.  Now at least we had enough meat for a while.  One deer lasted for most of the winter, providing we got other meats.

The first thing we did after that was cook up a frying pan full with gravy and potatoes.  Then we ate and went back to bed.  Wasn’t often that we’d be woken up like that.  Most times, we’d know when someone was out hunting for us and we’d be ready.  So that night was a real happy surprise for Mom and Auntie.  Specially since it’d been a while since anyone had some.  It was rare when there wasn’t anything like venison, duck or fish in the freezer.

We had manomin, wild rice, to go with.  Or potatoes.  Some kind of vegetable.  Onions, another necessity.  That night’s meal was delicious, even if I was a bit crabby bout being woken up.   Sometimes it was hard to get my sons back to sleep when they were woken up.  That night they went right back to sleep.  Sometimes, I wonder what some of my friends would think if they came to the house whilst we were busy doing something like this.  I know most of them get their food at the grocery store.

I think the main reason I was crabby is pulling the hide off the deer.  It takes such a long time cause 1. My hands aren’t up to par for grabbing hold of things and 2. I don’t have much strength which means I have to find another means of pulling and I end up in the way.  Sometimes people forget that my hands and arms are scarred, which is how I want it.  And I don’t like reminding them cause then it sounds like I’m whining.  I’m not.  I have to settle for doing what I can and it’s not easy to skin a deer when one is in a hurry to get back to sleep.

*No, I am not going to defend my way of life from those who think animals must be “saved.”  We respect the animal’s gift which is the reason a meal is cooked right away, showing thanks.

25 April 2016

Unleavened Bread#

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Unleavened bread.  Yep, I searched high and low for a food that began with today’s letter.  I searched my memory for how we used to make bread in the old, old days.  Don’t have an idea.  I do remember Auntie Vera making a flatbread of some sort.  Ahh, now I remember.  Mom tried to show me how to make it.  However, at the time, I was struggling to perfect my fry bread making skills, amongst other things.

When I was first learning how to cook, I didn’t even know there was such as thing as unleavened bread.  Even when I was taking that Home Ec class, I’m sorry to say that the light bulb stayed dark.  Fact, I must have been in a whole completely different room the day that unleavened bread was covered.  Didn’t find my way back until I struggled to make bread one day and found that there wasn’t even a dust mote of baking powder in the house.  Not even frantic forays to several houses in the vicinity turned up any baking powder, or even bread already cooked.  Now what?  We ate our soup without any bread that day.

So, I always make sure I have at least ten pounds of flour, one can of baking powder and some kind of lard, oil or grease with which to make fry bread when we forget to stock up on bread.  Even that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll make fry bread every day though.  Not sure why I don’t like making it every day.  Could be the fact that I have to stand for an hour cooking it.  Cause I try to make enough to last for the day.

Mom always tried to put it in a plastic bag so keep it soft.  I wondered why, then figured out it was cause I didn’t always make it big and fluffy.  I like crunchy bread.  Found out that not everyone shares my passion for the crunch.  Ahh well, guess I’ll have to rethink my position on it.  Will have to see if I can find any recipes Mom might have written down.  Still haven’t gone through every single bit of the papers she stashed in various places around the house.

When I find that recipe, or figure it out, I’ll try to make it a couple times.  Not going to spend a whole lot of time trying to cook it though.  Have much other things I’d rather be doing, most of which don’t have a bit in common with, wait, think it does have a lot in common with learning how to cook.  Must have direction of some sort, must practice, must come up with a final dish that one is satisfied with.  Traveling down some paths that are dead ends means one has to turn around and figure something else out.  Hmmm.  Unleavened bread doesn’t have as many ingredients as leavened bread.  Basics first, then one can fancy it up how ever one wants.  Must ponder this some more.