Moccasin Telegraph — Old-Style Cooking


This article by the late Beatrice Taylor was first published in the Mille Lacs Messenger. It is reprinted here to help preserve her teachings for the next generation.

By Beatrice Taylor

Sometimes I get hungry for the old-style Indian cooking. That kind of cooking means making do from scratch.

For example, maybe you have a little piece of meat, and you can’t fry it or bake it because there won’t be enough for everyone. So you cut it up in little pieces and put it in a kettle of water with onion and salt. If you have a little bacon or pork, you throw that in there, too. Or hamburger, rabbit, partridge — whatever. Then you peel potatoes and dice them and put them in. If you don’t have macaroni, you can make little homemade noodles. You can make homemade dumplings, too.

You put this all together and let it cook to make soup. And that’s the best soup there is — it beats any other soup. I tell you, the kids are scraping the bottom of the kettle when we make it!

I taught my kids to cook. The boys cook just as well as the girls. In fact, my son Edward took first prize one time in a cooking contest when we had a little powwow at our community center. We had a cook-off to see who could make the best fry bread, and Edward won.

Fry bread is a very popular Indian food. And it’s easy to make. You just use flour, water, salt, sugar and baking powder. Some people use yeast, too, when they make a big amount.

When you make fry bread, you beat an egg a little bit and throw it in with the other ingredients. Then you knead it all together. Then you get your fat heating in a pan. When it’s hot enough, you just break off the bread dough in little pieces and put it in the hot fat. It’s French-fried bread. Everyone likes it!

Some people make fry bread well, others don’t make it so well, but we all like it. We all eat it.
And I like the bread when we cook by the fire, too. My mother-in-law taught me that. When you’re out camping by the campfire, you rake some of the coals up. Then you grease your skillet a little bit, put some dough in it, and set it on those coals until you figure it’s pretty well cooked on the bottom. Then you prop the skillet up on its side, and that cooks the bread. And you get that little bit of smoke taste in there. Oh, that is delicious. That is the good life, eating bread by the campfire.