Country Kitchen: Native Bounty of Autumn

Country Kitchen: Native Bounty of Autumn
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Some of the wild bounty from the field and gardens of the Native Americans and early settlers included squash, pumpkins, and corn. From the natives, the Plymouth and Jamestown settlers learned to cook these foods and prepare palatable dishes.
Of course, these colonists from England created their own variations and came up with recipes that have become part of our American culinary heritage. Methods of cooking corn followed largely the Indian ways of preparing grits or hominy (rockahominy), succotash (misickquatash) and samp(nasamp) or corn meal mush.

Native Recipes

Samp was a breakfast and supper standby among the colonists for years, eaten hot or cold with milk and butter and sometimes sweetened with maple syrup (also introduced by the Indians) or molasses.

The natives taught the settlers how to make "appones" or corn pone from ground corn. Also from corn, the Indians made maize bread, a flat oblong loaf sometimes containing dried berries.

INDIAN PUDDING has become a traditional New England dish and is an elaboration of early native fare. This was one of the autumn dishes of my childhood which Mother often made.

Stir 1/3 cup cornmeal in to 1 quart scalded milk; cook in top of double boiler until thick and smooth; add 1/2 cup dark molasses and cook 5 minutes more. (Less molasses if you don't want it so sweet.)

Remove from stove and add 1/4 cup butter, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, dash of cinnamon, 1 beaten egg.

Pour into greased baking dish; bake at 325 degrees F. for about 1 1/2 hours, until inserted knife comes out clean.

Squash & Pumpkin Standbys

Squash and pumpkins were two Indian standbys which the colonists soon adopted for their table fare in various ways. A native favorite was boiled young squash with their flowers. To thicken this, they added a little corn meal.

Pumpkins and squash also were baked among the coals or underground. From these evolved our various recipes for baked squash dishes.

BAKED WINTER SQUASH - Cut 2 pounds squash into sections, removing seeds; place pieces skin side down, in shallow greased baking dish. Dot with butter and sprinkle with mixture of 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Pour 1/2 cup boiling water around squash; bake at 400 degrees F. for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until tender. More water may be needed during baking.

PUMPKIN SOUP is another variation of Indian fare. Combine 2 cups cooked, strained pumpkin, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Add 3 cups hot milk slowly; simmer for several minutes. A friend told me she often made this soup and took it to work to warm up in the microwave. She found it tasty, filling winter fare, either made from her own pumpkins or canned pumpkin. You can substitute cooked squash for the pumpkin.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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