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From the City to the Land: A Cook’s Journey Relationship building through cheese scones and pickled carrots

At the beginning of this month, as a member of the Two Row Society I helped with a table at the ILA’s Christmas Bazaar. Over the course of the weekend I was fortunate enough to share many wonderful experiences with people discussing food and the activities of the Two Row Society.

ILA breads

At the beginning of this month, as a member of the Two Row Society I helped with a table at the ILA’s Christmas Bazaar. Over the course of the weekend I was fortunate enough to share many wonderful experiences with people discussing food and the activities of the Two Row Society.

At the table for sale we had homemade preserves and breads. There were many nods and an unspoken respect to the work that goes into baking fresh bread. Some folks expressed a genuine appreciation for the bread and butter pickles, pickled beets and pickled carrots that I had prepared, stating “that pickling and preserving is something not too many young men are taking up these days”. The real fun happened when people opened up and tried the pickled carrots; something most had never tried or heard of before. Reactions varied from complete disdain to shocking surprise that the preserved carrots tasted pretty good. It was fun to see people’s adventurous spirits come out with regards to trying a familiar food prepared in an unfamiliar way.

Being one of the few vendors offering food, those visiting the Bazaar and vendors alike started conversations about food. The memories shared surrounding food serve as a reminder of how food can bring us together. On this note, one of the hosts of the ILA Bazaar shared that the Lacrosse centre prepares meals for the competitive lacrosse teams. She emphasized the importance of team bonding over the meals and preparing healthy food to nourish and energize the young men that play the Creator’s game.

Common themes that I encountered when talking about food at this event was the relationship to the land that food requires us to reflect upon and how food can be healing.  There were sentiments expressed that as a result of colonization where indigenous peoples have been forcefully displaced and disconnected from their land, traditional food systems and relationships through food the connection of Onkwehon:we peoples to Mother Earth has come under a lot of stress. The result of being far removed from agricultural and hunting practices combined with the commodification of food service has resulted in food related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. Moreover, the intergenerational trauma stemming from the residential school system on the cultural psyche cannot be forgotten as last nights abuser may have been the individual preparing or serving the food the next day. Preparing food with a good mind and acknowledging the reciprocal relationships that exists in the spirit of food is important to understand and practice.

The cheese bites that I prepared for the ILA Bazaar were little bits of nostalgia that evoked fond family memories and recipe sharing among those who visited the table. It was pointed out to me that if I could play back a video of the kind of interactions I encountered with people at the ILA Bazaar, that my appreciation for those connections made as part of the reciprocal relationship of food would not fade into memory but would be put forward into the food I will prepare in the future. That is why I am sharing a variation of the cheese scones I made that weekend. Those happy moments, laughter and stories shared around food are things that are part of building friendships, sustaining both the body and soul demonstrating how food really is medicine.

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Cheese Scone Recipe
2 part flour (2 cups)
1 part water (1 cups)
1 part grated cheese (1 cup)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

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Directions:
Pile flour on surface; mix in cheese, baking powder and salt.
Create well in center
Add water to well
Incorporate water gradually
Press down dough with palm of your hand. Fold over and repeat until flour and water are fully incorporated
Let dough relax for 5 min
Break off pieces any size you like and make into whatever shape you feel. I usually just rip off pieces and place on the baking tray as is.
Bake at 350F for 15 – 20 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!

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There are infinite variations of this recipe, instead of cheese why not try putting raisins that you have plumped in a small amount hot water, cinnamon and brown sugar into the dough and see what happens. Be creative!
Questions? Comments? Food related stories? farmerjoefood@gmail.com

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