Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Food Ethnography on a Budget: Eastern Woodlands III: Sassamanesh Relish

I have done little cooking since Thanksgiving (and since my car's engine, as I have just found out, is officially "shot"). But back in my kitchen I decided to throw together a quick and tangy cranberry relish that caught my eye in Dale Carson's New Native American Cooking. The cranberry is native to New England, so it is certainly fair game for this project. Carson calls it by the Abenaki term sassamanesh. So I am making Carson's very own Sassamanesh Relish.

For this relish as for many of her recipes, Carson opens up the recipe to a mixture of indigenous and non-indigenous ingredients. Added into the indigenous North American foods in this recipe - cranberries, pecans, honey (which is indigenous to both sides of the Atlantic) - are oranges and apples, two fruits that are native to Asia. The recipe highlights how Native Americans, just like all other Americans, have united native and nonnative foods together.

Sassamanesh Relish: the ingredients, and then some

The recipe is very simple: just take an apple (cored, unpeeled, cut up), an orange (divested of seeds, also unpeeled, and also cut up) and two cups of fresh cranberries (rinsed), and throw them in a food processer. Process the whole thing and then add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans and 1/2 cup of honey (I didn't have enough honey so I used half honey and half maple syrup). Mix it all up. That's it. It'll last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

I took a quick bite and it's equal parts sweet and sour. As it sits, the flavors should mingle. It'll be a nice change from the dressing and sweet potatoes I'm eating with my leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

About to relish the finished relish

Coming up: one last foray into the foods of the Eastern Woodlands, this time looking at one of the most popular foods on the powwow circuit not just here but all over the United States: frybread.