Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cooking with Native American Foods (recipes)

Xochitl, Ashley Wells, Dev, (eds.), Wisdom QuarterlyTim Martinez, UrbanHomestead.org
Cooking with Native Foods at Path to Freedom Urban Homestead Annex, Pasadena
Precious and abundant acorn
Tim Martinez, Outreach Coordinator for the Arroyo Seco Foundation, led a workshop on Cooking With Native Foods.
The ancient Native diet centered on the Three Sisters -- squash, tepary, and a staple grain.

Tim Martinez preps his table (WQ)
Native peoples were largely vegetarian [a custom they perhaps learned from the earliest Chinese and Afghan Buddhist missionaries]. In any case, according to Martinez, all Native children were raised vegetarian up to the age of 10 to keep them hearty, healthy, and in the habit of eating their vegetables and firmly establishing lifelong good habits.

Anais looks on: The Aztec impact (WQ)
Other plants from the Americas have become staples worldwide -- chocolate (xocolatl, the food of the devas, Theobroma cacao), potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, herbs, wild rice, avocados, chia, quinoa, cactus pad, and prickly pear. Some have yet to become famous. The acorn would have if only it had been easier to grow and process, but it comes from oak trees and contains tannins that must be soaked and rinsed off repeatedly.

Feasting on succotash, nopal/toyon berry stir fry, acorn bread, and chocolate (WQ)
Aztec feast (Florentine Codex)
What did we learn? It turns out much of the "Native" diet was preserved in Mexico. And with the popularity of Mexican food in California, the entire country enjoys "Native cuisine" without realizing the venerable history of our favorite foods: salsa, tacos, savory beans, stevia/agave sweetened desserts, and that dream grass at the center of our super genetically modifiable syrup and flakes.

Making tortillas by hand 1836 (Karl Nebel)
Berries, veggies, roots, tender greens (like miner's lettuce and lamb's quarter), nuts and seeds, herbs -- the Natives had it all. What they also had, which we seem to have lost in America, was a reverent way of eating inherited from their Aztec forbears. That dietary advice, according to Martinez, ran:
Aztec warrior at Mayan revival celebration Kukulkan pyramid, Dec. 21, 2012 (ABC.net.au)

Cosmic time on the Aztec calendar
Listen! Above all, be prudent in food, as in drink, for many things pertain to it. Do not eat excessively of required sustenance. When you do something and perspire, or when you work, it is necessary to break your fast. Furthermore, show courtesy and prudence in this way: When about to eat, be neither hasty nor impetuous. Do not take food in excess. Do not break up your tortillas. Do not put a large amount in your mouth or swallow food unchewed. Do not gulp like a dog when you eat... Eat slowly, calmly, quietly. This is traditional Aztec advice. And with that we reverently savored our succotash. 
Savory stir fry of fresh veggies (WQ)
Cactus/California Holly (Toyon) STIR FRY: Scrape prickles from two small cactus pads with sharp knife (or purchase cleaned and diced). Wash. Bring to a boil in two cups of water; rinse to remove mucilage, which is healthy to drink when cool. Mince purple onion, tomato, and any green leafy vegetable. Sauté in light oil. Add toyon berries and a dash of sea salt or savory tamari. Serve over multi-colored quinoa (a pre-corn pseudocereal) and/or amaranth (a sacred grain of Asia and the Americas), both of which look like millet and are prepared like rice).

WARRIOR'S BREAKFAST: Boil 1 cup acorn meal until mushy. (Available from health food stores, mail order, or easily made using aluminum-free Bob's Red Mill baking soda in rinse to quickly remove tannins using a blender). Add half cup cooked amaranth. Toss in rolled quinoa flakes or rolled oats to reduce mushiness. Sprinkle in 2 tbsps. of chia seeds. Top with half cup of dried elderberries, cranberries, or fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Drizzle with raw agave nectar to taste and a sprinkle of Aztec superfood spirulina. Best eaten with wooden utensils. Feeds multiple warriors.

TONGVA-MEXICA GUACAMOLE: To make an easy ahuacate salsa (Aztec aphrodisiac), take one or more ripe avocados, cut, remove seed, mash in bowl. Add half cup minced cilantro (coriander leaves), one medium jalapeno (mild) or serrano (hot) chile to taste, diced tomato, cucumber, and celery. Sprinkle with sea salt. Douse in fresh cut lemon juice. Enjoy cold with Beanfield's corn-free bean and rice chips. (To store, cover airtight with more lemon juice as this prevents oxidation). 
BROILED SAVORY TOFU: In honor of the Chinese-led Afghan Buddhist missionaries discovering America more than a thousand years before Columbus, here is a fusion dish: Slice 1 firm block of tofu into large squares then lengthwise into pyramids. (Or use Beyond Meat Strips, which tastes so good it may freak diners out. Mix 1/2 cup of dried herbs (each to taste: rubbed sage, rosemary, dried onion, garlic, leeks, sesame, or simply use 21 Seasoning Salute) and a good quality ground Himalayan or sea salt. Mix the dry herbal mixture with a 1/2 cup of California olive oil.

Marinated broiled, baked, roasted tofu with herbs, olive oil (WQ/outoftheordinaryfood)
Place in ceramic or glass baking dish. Marinate pyramids, strips, or slabs in lemon juice from 1 lemon and 1/2 a cup of preservative-free shoyu soy sauce for 1 hour. Brush on herb/oil mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Then broil under flames until well browned (just a few minutes keeping an eye not to blacken).

Broiled tofu "pyramids" taste the best!
Serve with sauteed greens (kale, collards, chickweed, spinach, saag, or bok choy), or small white baked potatoes garnished with coconut cream (which is a healthy fat), and/or fluffy wild rice (which takes longer to cook than brown rice).
(BBC documentary) Say goodbye to corn. Poison Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) placed in American food by poison and pesticide maker Monsanto, Inc. cause allergies, auto-immune disorders, chronic inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease, mental disorders... and the FDA knows humans and animals are being harmed. But many FDA officials are former and future executives at Monsanto such as lawyer Michael Taylor now US "Food Safety Czar."

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