February 17, 2010

Trailer Kitchen Feeds a Village

Every summer I volunteer for Red Feather, a Bozeman, MT based non-profit http://www.redfeather.org/ that builds straw bale houses in Indian Country. We partner with tribal groups to finish a house in 28 days using Native and non-Native volunteer labor.

Someone has to cook for the legion of folks that show up under The Big White Tent (as I call it), visitors, workers, and Red Feather staff. And big appetites they have! We cook out of an eighteen wheel semi-trailer. It is filled with freezers, refrigerators, stoves, pots and pans, and of course, food. Working near the back of the trailer surrounded by baking cakes and steaming pots of soup, the temps can reach well over 100 degrees!

Wherever Red Feather is building whether it be on Northern Cheyenne in eastern Montana or Hopi in northern Arizona, there is always a big feast to share Native food. At Northern Cheyenne I was curious to hear about traditional foods like Cow Hoof Stew, a favorite of grandmothers who still know how to fix it. At Hopi, the women make hominy stew with fresh boiled corn and mutton backbones. Mix fine ground blue corn meal with chamisa ash, boiling water, a little sugar, and roll into balls. Boil, and you have 'Blue Marbles' as they are called. Well, here is a photo essay of some of my experiences cooking for the Red Feather village.
Kitchen getting ready for next meal.
That's me with the cookbook about to search for the recipe for Broccoli Chicken Bake.
Trusty helpers, Penny and Mary Lou! They are lifesavers in the kitchen.
Broccoli, chicken, and cheese bake. Into the oven it goes.
Done to perfection.
And, served up with salad.
Watermelon keeps everyone going on hot afternoons.
Hopi and Navajo feasts cannot get started without a sack of Blue Bird Flour! The women like it for its elasticity. Wait 'til you see just how elastic it gets.
Making balls of dough for fry bread.

How's that for elasticity? It's like stretching dough for pizza. Leave a hole in the center so the bread doesn't puff up too much.
Into the iron skillet to sizzle. Flip and fry to crispy done. Top with bison chili, roasted peppers, lettuce, salsa, and grated cheese. Yummmmm.
Next post I will show you the traditional Hopi corn mutton stew and preparation of corn to make Someviki, blue marbles, and Nakviki.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating to read this - I cannot imagine cooking in an 18 wheel semi-trailer