Where, where, where do the months go? Seems like just a few weeks ago we had our 4th of July hotdogs in Borneo, and now the 4th of July is upon us again. You know all the sayings about the speed of time as we ageâ€”and I am most assuredly growing olderâ€”so here we are mid-summer with a house still in production (bathroom floor, tub, toilet and new kitchen cabinets all in!) and a to-do list that grows as fast as the weeks pass.
So I’m not surprised it took me two years to purchase this cookbook (and a few more weeks to tell you about it). I first picked up Lois Ellen Frank’s Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations at the Petroglyph National Monument gift shop when we visited New Mexico in 2005. In just a few minutes with this James Beard winner of a book, I was engrossed in stories of masa and pinon, of native ingredients that have defined Southwestern foods for ages. I should have bought the book right then and there, but sometimes for silly and inexplicable reasons, I just don’t. I let the opportunity pass. And then I think about that item, as I did with this book, for weeks and months and years. In the middle of Chiang Mai, in the pouring rain, I’d find myself thinking of posole and roasted salsa in the desert.
I finally bought the book, and now I can’t wait to get that stove hooked up (the guys are working on the gas line today) and that kitchen in order so I can begin to cook. Squash blossom, prickly pear, pumpkin, sageâ€”even tumbleweed greens can be harvested for soup. Ever since I started reading my sister-in-law’s book on desert medicinal plants, I’ve been endlessly curious about this cuisine new to me (did you know, for example, the prickly pear has long been used to lower blood sugar and treat diabetes?).
More than a recipe book, Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations will tell you how to make homemade masa, how to bake corn in a pit, how to cook with ash, how to bake bread in an adobe horno, and how Native Americans did all these things long before my ancestors showed up on this continent. Long, long, long before Americans grilled hotdogs on the 4th of July.