Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Three Recipes for the Feast of St. Kateri

 The feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be named a saint, was on July 14th. She lost her parents to small pox when she was child, and her face ended up scarred from the disease herself. When she was older, she learned about Christianity from visiting missionaries and converted. Persecuted by her tribe for becoming a Christian, she made the 200 mile journey to a village where she would be safe. She liked to make crosses out of branches and leave them in the woods to remind her to stop and pray. She was very devoted to the Eucharist. She fell ill and died when she was only 24. When she died, all the scars disappeared from her face. She is the patron of the environment and people persecuted for their faith. Learn more about St. Kateri here.

For her feast day this year I tried making a couple more authentic Native American dishes, and also a a sweet treat. Sharing a meal together is a great time to talk and learn more about St. Kateri and how we can follow her example to lead a holy life. For the authentic dishes I started with something as simple as, "St. Kateri might have eaten something like this for lunch after mass!"

The two more authentic dishes are a summer three sisters soup, and fry bread. Kateri was a Mohawk. While there was some hunting and gathering, they were largely agricultural. The bulk of their diet was made up of the three main crops they grew; corn, squash, and beans. These crops were so important to their livelihood they referred to them as "the three sisters."  They planted them strategically in the same field so each crop helped the others grow better. There is probably a great analogy in there somewhere if I took the time to think of it. There is at least a great science and history lesson in there for those of you who homeschool! (or even if you don't!)

All the Mohawk corn soup recipes I came across were very hearty, using hominy and winter squash. I just felt that it was too heavy for the middle of the summer, so I put together a version using summer vegetables, replacing the hominy with sweet corn, and  the winter squash with summer squash and zucchini. It was also the first time I made anything with my own homemade vegetable stock, yum!

The other authentic recipe I tried was fry bread. A couple years ago I experimented with a corn version, since cornbread was a big part of the native american diet. This year I followed a recipe I found to the letter. Not only was it simple, but it was delicious. I think it is a great way to make bread for a meal quickly, and without having to turn on the oven, which is nice in the summer! I just wish that I could try some fry bread made be someone who really knows what they're doing so I could know if I'm getting it right. But even if mine wasn't perfect, it sure was tasty!

For the sweet treat I knew I wanted to make turtles, as Kateri was part of the turtle tribe. At the famous Cross in the Woods here in Michigan, there is a statue of St. Kateri with turtles all around the base. The only issue with turtles was I knew my son wouldn't eat pecans or any other nut I used to make them, so I went a little crazy and used my recipe for peanut butter playdough as the base instead. Now that was a good idea! I basically ended up making a homemade caramel Reese's cup, No could tell me that there is anything wrong with that sentence! I had never thought of pairing peanut butter playdough with chocolate like that before, now I think I'll be doing it every chance I get!

Summer Three Sisters Soup
Very simple to put together - nutritious too! Use vegetable stock to make it a vegetarian dish.

Vegetable or chicken stock
Fresh, frozen, or canned sweet corn
1 can kidney beans
1 zucchini, diced
1 summer squash, diced
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a pot and simmer until hot. I told you it was simple!

Indian Fry Bread (recipe from nativetech.org)
Simple and fast, fry bread was essential for Native American peoples being forced to move from place to place. Though delicious on its own, today many people top it with things like honey or cinnamon sugar, and even use it to make pizza and tacos!

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup warm water

 Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
Add warm water in small amounts and knead until soft but not sticky. 
Adjust the flour or water as needed, Cover aand let stand 15 to 20 minutes. 
Pull of large egg sized balls of dough, turn out into fairly thin rounds. 
Fryrounds in hot oil until bubbles appear on the dough, turn over and fry on the other side until golden brown. 

Peanut Butter Turtles
Your own homemade Reese's candy, with a little caramel added. I used dark chocolate. After melting the caramel I was worried it would  be impossible to clean the bowl I used, but a simple soak in hot soapy water did the trick beautifully!

Peanut Butter Playdough  - mix a little honey into some peanut butter and add dry milk powder until it reached a playdough consistency.
Chocolate chips

Grab balls of peanut butter playdough and mold into turtle like shapes.

In separate bowls, melt the caramel and chocolate chips in the microwave. Drizzle a little caramel over each turtle, followed by the chocolate. Put in the refridgerator or freezer to allow the caramel and chocolate to set up.

I recommend serving them at room temperature due the stickiness of the caramel. Serving them too cold may make the caramel too hard to eat.

"Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?" - St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri, pray for us!

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