Friday, May 27, 2011

Navajo Tacos with Cooking Cousins

Yesterday, May 26th, 1830 marked the day congress passed the Indian Removal Act and many sources record the Act being signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.  The Indian Removal Act was a
"piece of legislation-its official name was "An Act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians . . . and for their removal west of the river Mississippi"-empowered the president to negotiate and sign removal treaties in which Indian nations abandoned lands east of the Mississippi in return for unsettled, federal lands west of the Mississippi."
May 28th is my birthday.  Doing this Navajo study and now learning this Act was signed on or close to my birthday makes this even a little more personal.  My Grandma is a multiracial Native American who grew up on a reservation in South Dakota. 

My Grandma at Disneyland.  She liked running into this guy.

Grandma with Mickey

The Indian Removal Act legislated Native Americans (Indians) to move west of the Mississippi.  Those who chose to stay were required to become citizens.  The Cherokee went so far as to write their own Constitution and declare themselves a Sovereign Nation.  Christian Missionaries, Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett and other sympathizers argued on behalf of the Indians to no avail.  Here is a map of the Indian Removal, including Trail of Tears.

The indigenous peoples out west were affected also.  In 1868, following The Long Walk, The Navajo Reservation located in portions of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, was established.  This is a rare example of the US Government relocating a tribe back to their original boundaries.

In the attempt to prevent the indigenous people from starving, the US Government gave the Navajo rations for food, often times the rations were rancid.  The rations included, white flour, processed sugar, lard, some canned goods.  From these simple ingredients, the Navajo created Fry Bread, a now Native American symbol of their pain and perseverance.

My parents used to live in the Southwest and we were introduced to Navajo Tacos many years ago when they lived there.  Because of the high fat content due to frying this is not a meal we eat often, but one to enjoy occasionally.

This week my cousin, Heather, is visiting so we introduced her to Navajo Tacos.  She loves to cook and bake too.  She is a fellow blogger.

Indian Fry Bread

This recipe is from a cookbook called Simply Simpatico: The Home of Authentic Southwestern Cuisine.  It's put out by The Junior League of Albuquerque.  I picked it up about 15 years ago while on a visit to Albuquerque.  It's a great addition or gift idea.

2 cups flour
1/3 cup powdered milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard
3/4 cup warm water
oil for frying

Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in 1 tablespoon lard until crumbly.  Add water and mix until a soft dough forms.  Knead until dough is smooth and springy in texture.  Make into 12 balls.  Melt 1 tablespoon lard and brush on each ball of dough.  Set aside for 30-45 minutes.  On a lightly floured surface roll ball into a 4" circle.  Then stretch to 7-8" in diameter.  Poke hole in center.  Fry in oil at 365 degrees until lightly browned, turning once.  Can also be served with butter and honey.

To make the Navajo Taco, take the bread and top with taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and or avocado.  Enjoy!

My cousin, Heather

Love this Cast Iron Pan...Oil Heating

Frying the bread

Navajo Tacos, Enjoy!

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