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!

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!


  • 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.


  • 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.

Sardine Burgers

One of the more interesting recipes we brought back from South Dakota is from Jeeta Kant’s cookbook.  Jeeta’s BS was in Sociology, her Master’s in Geography, and her Ph.D program was in Civil Engineering – with her dissertation on edible wild plants used on the Pine Ridge. She has a rather eclectic academic transcript.

Jeeta’s recipe is reduced to six sandwiches instead of serving an entire Hutterite colony with a burger based on canned sardines. 

  • 1 can mustard sardines
  • 1 can catsup sardines
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 and 2/3 cups cooked ground chicken meat
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 and 1/3 cups bread crumbs
  • 12 slices of bread, buttered on 1 side

Mix all the filling ingredients together.

Spread 6 slices of bread with mixture.  Top with the remaining 6 slices and cook slowly on grill, buttered side down, until the filling is done and the bread toasted.

More of Jeeta’s recipes are available in the Hutterite Community Cookbook, by Joanita Kant.  The ISBN is 0-934672-56-3 if you want to get a copy of your own.

Community, Recipes

Homemade Tortillas

This is a tortilla recipe which requires no special equipment. Just simple ingredients found in the cupboard. I use this recipe when making fish tacos (See pic below-fresh perch taco with homemade coleslaw and tortilla…Yummy!). They don’t refrigerate well, but they’re so easy to make, you can make them fresh for the meal and impress your guests! Recipe makes 6-8 tortillas.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Whisk all ingredients together. Pour enough in a hot nonstick pan and swirl to make a tortilla (about 1/4 cup). Don’t use oil in your pan. Cook until the edges turn up and flip to the other side to continue cooking. Cook a couple minutes on each side. Keep warm in oven until use.


Ash Cakes

Ash Cakes are unleavened corn bread – usually cooked on an open fire, and managing the fire is the most challenging part of the cooking. The recipe is fairly basic:

1 cup corn meal
½ cup wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt

The flour improves the taste and makes the cakes hold together – it isn’t absolutely necessary. Combine the ingredients, mix well, and gradually add water, stirring as you go. Quit adding water when the mix is still too thick to pour, but will drop from a spoon. Brush back the coals and ash from the fire (here I like to have a large flat rock in the fire). Drop 2 or 3 big spoons of the cornmeal mixture onto the hot rock or bare soil. Rake coals from the fire to cover the ash cake. Bake for about five minutes – it’s done when you can push a sliver of wood into the cake at its thickest point, and the wood comes out clean with no moist dough. Take the cake from the fire, dust and blow off the ashes, and your cake is ready to eat.

If you’re trying it in the house, substitute an electric fry pan for the fire, heat it to 350 before starting your ash cake, and use the lid to keep the top of the cake baking.


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 cubes
1 tbsp. bacon drippings
4 c. water
1 c. dried corn
1/2 tsp. salt

Brown meat.  Add water; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add dried corn and salt. Cover and simmer until both meat and corn are tender.

Community, Recipes

Caramel Corn

This delicious recipe is a yummy treat and always a favorite at gatherings or for a cozy afternoon at home. It is not quick to make but well worth the time put into it.

Carmel Corn

  • 1 c. butter
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat
  • Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add:
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pour over six quarts of popped popcorn…using an air popper works best (I fill a large roaster and separate the unpopped kernels first…no sense breaking a tooth)
  • Bake in oven at 250 for one hour…stirring every 15 min.
  • Enjoy!
Community, Recipes

Kuchen- a Russian German Dessert

About the time of the American Revolution, Germans were offered a bit of freedom if they emigrated to Ukraine and Russia – free land, freedom from taxation, exemption from the draft and freedom of religion.  Of course that sort of a deal couldn’t last – so about a century later, facing taxation and the draft, the descendants of those Russian Germans moved again, mostly to the Great Plains of the US and Canada.  For years, the Census differentiated between Germans and Russian Germans.

They brought Kuchen to the prairies, and it is South Dakota’s official state dessert.  (While Norwegians also settled the prairies, nowhere is lutefisk an official state dessert)  So here is a recipe for those who want to make Kuchen, just like the Russian Germans do.

Bread Base:

  • 1 ½ c. milk, scalded
  • 1 ½ c. shortening
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp. Salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ⅓ c. warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 5 c. flour

Blend together the milk, shortening, ¾ c. sugar and salt.  Let cool.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Blend the warm water, dry yeast and 1 tsp. sugar.   Add the yeast mixture to the first mixture.  Add the flour.  Beat well with a spoon.  Dough will be very soft.  Let rise.  Stir down and shape, or place in the refrigerator overnight.  Take out in the morning and pinch off small sections, one for each Kuchen (this recipe makes 10 or 11 9” Kuchen

Roll out dough as you would pie dough, not quite ¼ inch thick.  Put in greased pan without stretching dough.  Pinch down against the inside of pan.  Do not let the dough rise before filling; spread a layer of fruit or cottage cheese immediately on the bread base.  Then top with a custard appropriate to the kind of Kuchen you are making – one custard recipe is 2 c. sugar, 4 Tbsp. flour, 4 eggs, a pinch of salt and 4 c. milk.  Cook until thick, stirring all the time.  Let cool, stir in 2 c. cream.  Pour over fruit.

Sprinkle Kuchen with a crumb mixture of 2 Tbsp flour, ¼ c. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. butter and cinnamon to taste.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, then at 325 degrees for 20 minutes until filling is almost set.  Remove from oven, let set until filling becomes firm.  Slide the Kuchen from the pan onto plates.

Recipe from Sei Unser Gast – which probably means something in German or Russian.