At the end of June Andrea (our MKMW Fearless Leader) at Nummy Kitchen announced the Country of the Month for July

At first I thought, “Oh, Wow!! That should be easy!!” Hamburgers! Corndogs! Mac and Cheese! Corn on the Cob! And then I thought, “Oh, Wow!! That’s going to be hard.” Do we even have a quintessential American Food? Since we are a country of immigrants our cuisine is actually a mish-mash of all the people from all the countries who have settled here.

The Hamburger, according to popular history began with the Mongols of Asia who used to carry raw meat between their saddle and the horses flank. It would warm up a little and they would eat it raw – Steak Tartare. The Germans inherited the idea and formed it into a steak – Hamburg steak.

The Hotdog or Frankfurter actually originated in Frankfurt-am-Maine or Golburg, Germany or Wein, Austria (thus the term Weiner) about 500 years ago. Or so they claim.

Mac and Cheese? Although served at the White House by Thomas Jefferson it actually came from England. Jefferson brought back a pasta machine when he returned from Italy and proceeded to create a better one.

As for Corn on the Cob, well the Native Americans were the first to cultivate corn, or maize as they called it. With that in mind I decided that the perfect dishes for July’s MKMW would be some from the First Peoples (Also immigrants).

    Corn Chowder

This is a Cherokee dish. Native Americans lived off the land and utilized everything they could for food. Maize is one of the most famous and with beans and squash make up the trinity of several Native Tribes. Making a soup from corn with potatoes as a thickener was common. Although the potato first showed up in Peru with the Inca it eventually trickled up the The Peoples of North America.

    5 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut in small chunks
    4 cans corn
    2 onions, diced
    water or chicken broth.

Cook potatoes until done. Drain. {I didn’t use much water to boil so did not drain}
Add corn.
Fry onion. {I did mine in bacon grease – also common}
Add onions to potato corn mixture.
Thin to desired consistancy with the water or broth. {I had mashed the potatoes a little before adding the corn.}

This is a nice thick soup. I served it with Fried Squash Bread.

Squash is one of the major crops of the Southwest. It is used in lots of dishes including this version of Fried Corn Bread. You can find the recipe at Manataka.

And of course there was Fry Bread on the menu. This is a more contemporary addition to the Native American menu. There are as many variations of Fry Bread as there are tribes today. Basically it is Fried Dough. Served with powdered sugar! Indian Tacos in the Southwest with Bison Meat! It was good with the soup.

    4 Cups AP flour
    1 Tbl baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cup warm water.

Mix dry ingredients.
Add enough water to make a dough. Knead until soft and elastic and does not stick to the bowl
Shape into small balls (size is up to you)
Pat back and forth by hand until dough is about 1/2 – 1/4 inch thick and round. {I stretched mine a little thinner. The thinner it is the quicker it fries.}
Heat oil in heavy pan. Carefully slide each round into fat and fry one at a time until golden brown.
Drain and serve hot.

Not only were they good with the soup but they made a good dessert, too. With honey, but also with Wojapi (pronouned woah JA(as in jaques) pee) which is a Cheyenne Berry Pudding.

    4 – 5 cups of fruit..{You can use just about any berry. I used blackberries}
    Honey to for your taste {Sugar was unknown so much sweetening was with wild honey.}
    1/2 cup water

Combine everything in a big kettle and boil it slowly down, stirring often until it has a thick syrupy consistency. If your blackberries are very ripe you may need to add some corn starch for thickening. Remove from heat and serve. On Fry Bread. On Ice Cream.

Another ‘dessert’, although The People didn’t eat many sweets, was
Bannock which is a Chippawa fried cake that was often carried when the tribe was on the move or the warriors were hunting. They were often served with honey or syrup.

    1 1/2 cups cornmeal
    1/2 cup water
    4 tablespoons melted butter or bacon drippings
    4 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
    1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
    3 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil (for frying)

In a bowl, combine cornmeal, water, butter or bacon drippings, syrup and salt.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Drop batter by tablespoonsful into hot oil. Flatten with spatula and fry cakes until crisp and browned on both sides. Add more oil as needed. {Thanks to 7th Space for the recipe.

Okay. I did get a little carried away with different dishes. But it was just fun trying new things. And being interested in Native Americans (I did teach Anthropology after all)….

The American Roundup will be up after August 1 at so go check it out.