Community

In Case You Missed It

This time last year, we were writing about the Health Hazards of Loneliness (many!), Irish Democracy (not exclusively Irish), trying recipes: Frybread (good) & Dried Corn Soup (we’re doubtful), and learning about the insects we see at this time of year, both indoors and outdoors (Crane Flies).

How unhealthy is loneliness?

Are isolation and loneliness actually bad for our health? Do they increase the risk of dying?

Irish Democracy

I started looking for a definition of “Irish Democracy.”  Found all sorts of descriptions of government in the Republic of Ireland – but nothing that described the unorganized ignoring of laws that lack popular support.  The term “Irish democracy” refers to uncoordinated, wide-spread civil disobedience.  An example is a sign in the window requiring face masks by order of Governor Bullock – and once you’re inside, you’re the only one masked. I started into a store, pulling my mask on.  The guy in a Stetson alongside me was humming “Desperados waiting for a train.”  I haven’t… Continue reading Irish Democracy

Fry Bread

South Dakota’s official state bread is Fry Bread – Probably the best I ever tasted was with wojapi when I visited the Lower Brule Reservation.  I was fortunate to meet, and get to know, Mike Jandreau, who was Tribal President.  His first question was, “What do you know about tribal sovereignty.”  I could answer competently because I had traveled with Joel Clarenbeau as he studied the topic.  The Lower Brule Reservation was settled under the leadership of Chief Solomon Iron Nation (1815-1894), a man who accomplished a great deal for his people.  I don’t have the… Continue reading Fry Bread

Dried Corn Soup

Once, when I visited the Lower Brule, I was served soup made from dry field corn.  There was no large explanation, just the opportunity for the wasichu to recognize how tough the times were in the first days of the reservations and the last days of the buffalo.  While it’s not five-star cuisine, the recipe probably has a place with anyone who stashes a couple bushels of dried corn in the emergency rations stash. 1 lb. lean boned beef, cut in cubes1 tbsp. bacon drippings4 c. water1 c. dried corn1/2 tsp. salt Brown meat.  Add water;… Continue reading Dried Corn Soup

Winter Crane Flies: widespread and little-known

As I was walking over to my in-law’s place one chill and sunny afternoon, I happened to spot a fly. A gangly, long-legged fly, seeming to bounce up and down in the brisk winter air. Unlike the cluster flies lining the edges of our ceilings, this one was fairly active, despite the temperature.

Community, Recipes

Banana Bread

What do you do with those leftover bananas that turn too brown to eat? Don’t throw them out! Simply put them in the freezer and when you’ve collected some, make this easy and delicious banana bread. I always double this recipe so I can get two loaves which take anywhere between six and eight bananas depending on size.

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c mashed bananas
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl cream butter (slightly softened), gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in bananas (if they’ve been frozen and then thawed they are the best in this recipe) and nuts. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating only until blended. Turn into butter/floured bread pan. Bake 45-50 minutes at 350. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out of pan on wire rack. **Hint** when preparing bread pans, instead of flour I use powdered sugar in the pan. You then get a sweet crust on the banana bread. A warm slice with butter is amazing! Enjoy!!

Community, Recipes

Larry’s Lutefisk

When I wound up at SDSU, our Extension Director, Larry Tidemann, exposed his Norwegian roots occasionally.  With a Scots surname, I never pointed out that more of my recent ancestors are Scandinavian – mostly in self-defense.  The descendents of Scots make a point of eating Haggis – but Larry made a point of bringing lutefisk into the office, to share with all.  I think there were always leftovers.

As near as I can make out from the old, penciled recipe (unused these many years) you start with:

5 pounds of lutefisk
2 pounds of bacon
4 tablespoons of salt

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Cut lutefisk into servings and place in a baking pan (skin side down)
  • Sprinkle with salt and cover with aluminium foil
  • Bake the lutefisk in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Fry bacon on medium heat so the fat melts and the bacon gets crispy.

The pea stew (I think that’s the translation – 20 years have affected the lettering)  Quantities seem to be a matter of personal choice or availability.

2 lbs of dried peas
butter
Salt
Sugar

  • Leave peas in water overnight
  • Pour off the soaking water, cook in fresh water until tender
  • Add more water if it doesn’t get tender
  • Add butter, salt and sugar
  • Serve lutefisk with bacon and pea stew

I only ate the bacon – it wasn’t half bad despite the presence of lutefisk.  I can understand why the Vikings went to sea.

Community, Recipes

Back to School Bread

This versatile classic frequently receives compliments. It can be made into rolls and bread-sticks. With a little cornmeal it becomes pizza dough.

It also serves as the foundation of Lunch in a Bun, a popular menu item at Trego School. For lunch in a bun, each bun has a filling. Sometimes, it is taco meat and cheese. At other times, they are filled with pepperoni, ham and cheese, then served with marinara sauce.

These numbers in this recipe are reduced to result in a smaller amount of bread than is produced in the school kitchen.

Single Rise Dough

2 Tbsp. Active Dry Yeast
3 Tbsp. Sugar
3 tsp. Salt
1 cup Water
1 cup Warm Milk
1/3 cup Oil
2 Eggs
6-6 & 1/2 cups Flour or Bread Flour

  1. Decide on which mixing method you would like to use
    • If dissolving yeast in warm water, use a water temperature of 110 degrees
    • If mixing the yeast right in with the dry ingredients, use a water temperature of 115-120 degrees
  2. Mix as much flour as possible in using a mixer. Work the remaining flour in by hand and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic
  3. After mixing and kneading process is complete, let dough rest for 10 minutes
  4. Scale into proper size units (bread loaves, sandwich buns, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc.
  5. Mold your dough into the shapes you will be making. Pan into the proper sized pans.
  6. Proof the dough units until almost double in bulk. When touched gently, a unit that is fully proofed will full out the dent slowly.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes for loaves and approximately 15-20 minutes for dinner rolls and smaller units.

Community, Recipes

Using your Zucchini

As I visit our garden, I remember a time when my driver’s door closed, latched, and didn’t lock.  I went to drive home and found close to a hundred pounds of zucchinis in my back seat.  I kind of sniveled about this experience, and another county agent sent me this recipe:

Zucchini Jam

5 ½ C grated Zucchini 
1 (20 ounce) can crushed Pineapple|
6 C sugar                                            
2 (3 ounce) packages Jello (any flavor)
1 C water          
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Boil zucchini, sugar and water for 6 minutes.  Add lemon juice and pineapple.  Boil for 6 more minutes.  Add 2 packages of Jello, and boil for 6 more minutes.  Pour hot mixture into jars, put on lid and screw band.  Jars will seal without processing if you put the lids on immediately as you pour in the boiling mixture.

Demography, Recipes

Fruit Soup

For many years, the Census differentiated between Germans and Germans from Russia.  While there were significant historical differences between the two groups, by the time I was doing the demographic work for South Dakota, the largest difference I could see was the menu.  This recipe, for Plumemoos, a fruit soup served cold, is a hot weather dish passed to us from the Germans from Russia.

            Plumemoos

2 qt      water
1 c.      sugar
1 c.      seedless raisins
1 c.      dried prunes
1          29-oz can of peaches
1          cinnamon stick
1          package red jello
1 qt.     Purple grape juice

Cook dried fruit, sugar and cinnamon stick til fruit is tender.  Add jello to hot soup and stir to dissolve – this will color and thicken the soup when it has cooled.   When cooled, add grape juice to taste.  Serve cold – a wonderful, soothing soup for a hot summer day.

Community, Recipes

Corn on the BBQ

I like cooking my corn on the BBQ. Especially during hot summer days! This is a great method to cook it. Keeping part of the husk helps prevent it from burning the kernels and it turns out tender and juicy. They can even be made up in advance so it’ll get you out of the kitchen sooner. Try it for your next summer get together!

  • Ears of corn
  • Peel back husks, remove hair and the outside husks, but keep several around the corn leaving them connected.
  • Butter each cob
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Put tender husks back around corn
  • Wrap in tin foil
  • Put on BBQ for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Enjoy!
Community, Recipes

Mexican Cornbread

In the mid-eighties, I taught at Trinidad State Junior College, where I learned that the names Carson, Bowman and Simpson belonged to Hispanic students.  I recollect one beginning student hanging back at the end of class, to ask “Mr. McCurry, did you notice that we were the only white people in this class?”  I hadn’t noticed – I’ve known my students as individuals rather than by race.  Anyway, this recipe comes from Trinidad, Colorado – the notes say it was from Mary DeKleva, and I can’t say if it’s cultural appropriation of not.

1 cube melted oleo
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup white flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 can hot diced green chili
1 cup american cheese grated and melted

Mix ingredients together.  Bake in 350 degree oven in a 9 x 9 pan, for forty minutes.

A suggestion for lightweights might be to start with a can of mild diced green chili – southern Colorado and northern New Mexico have a tendency for some downright hot peppers in the food.  I learned to enjoy it, but I was never sure the delicacies weren’t a test my students gave me.  “Try this, Mr. McCurry – my grandmother made it.”

Community, Recipes

Rice Krispy Treats with a flair

This summer sweet is a great little treat. It’s easy to make and you don’t have to bake.

  • On low heat, boil 1 cup sugar and 1 cup light karo syrup until sugar dissolves and remove from heat. Then mix 1 cup peanut butter until smooth. (Be sure not to overcook or they will turn out rock hard)
  • Stir in 6 cups rice krispies until fully coated. Press into a 9×13 pan.
  • In a separate pan, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch chips. Spread over rice krispies.
  • Let cool and serve. Enjoy!
Recipes

Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

I’ve looked at many recipes for making Chicken Pot Pie using my cast iron skillet and didn’t find one in particular that fit into my “how can I make this with the least amount of work” philosophy. So I combined a few different recipes and this chicken pot pie is easy to make and the crust is flakey and very tasty. Enjoy!

FOR PIE CRUST:

  • 8 tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
  • 8 tablespoons cold shortening cut into cubes
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • (I have a 12″ skillet, so I make 1-1/2 times this recipe so I have plenty of dough). I put the butter and shortening in the freezer for a few minutes to harden and then cut them into your flour/salt until clumps form. Then pour in water and mix until dough ball forms. Cut the dough in half and form into two flattened round disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR FILLING:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • Frozen carrots
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen or diced potatoes
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken, diced
  • (Flour and chicken broth can be adjusted based on size of pan–I use 1/2 cup flour and 5 cups chicken broth)Preheat oven to 400. Add butter and oil to large pan and melt. Sauté celery, onion, and garlic until soft, about five minutes. (If you are using uncooked chicken, at this point cook chicken until its internal temp reaches 165 and remove from pan), if not, add frozen vegetables and sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir until evenly coated and cook for a few minutes. Then add chicken broth a little at a time and whisk after each addition until mixture begins to resemble a thick pudding. Once this consistency is reached, remaining broth can be added in. Stir in cooked chicken and salt and pepper and simmer until thickened.
  • Roll out pie dough until it is 1/4″ thick. Lay one dough across bottom of skillet (no need to oil/butter skillet). Add chicken/vegetable filling. Roll out second dough and place it over skillet. Crimp edges together. Cut vent holes in center of pie.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 400. Then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for 25-28 minutes more, or until top is golden brown (you may need to wrap edges of pie with tin foil if the edge gets too dark. Allow 15-20 minutes before serving.