Many years ago, my wife and I were touring the Old West on vacation and spent two weeks visiting many of the Native American ruins on the Navajo Nation. In our wanderings, we visited Canyon De Chelly National Monument at Chinle and stayed at the local motel.
There was no mistaking you were out in the Wild West in the town of Chinle. When we pulled into the motel, there were two horses and a few cows free range grazing in the courtyard.
At dinner, my wife and I tried the Navajo fry bread tacos and they were absolutely delicious. From then on… if fry bread was on a restaurant’s menu we would be ordering it. It is often served as tacos or as a side dish of bread with the meal.
Fry bread is interesting as it did not become a Native American staple until the forced relocation of the tribes to reservations. Confined to the reservation and no longer able to hunt and forage; staples promised by the government did not always arrive on time and there were shortages. One thing the natives had in regular abundance was plain white flour. Lacking ovens, their ingenuity created a way to turn plain flour into quick and easily prepared bread stuff… fry bread.
The Native Americans would make a stiff dough of flour and water, roll the dough into balls and flatten them to make small pancakes. Then they would poke a hole in the center of the dough and deep fry it in very hot lard. Using a small stick, they would turn the fry bread, and when it finished cooking, lift it from the oil by running the stick through the hole in the fry bread patty.
One of our favorite recipes for fry bread comes from the out-of-print Wild Hoosier Home Cooking and was submitted by Indiana Conservation Officer Tony Sanders. The ingredients are: 2 c. flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp salt, 2 T. shortening, 2/3 cup water, and vegetable oil.
Directions are: Mix the dry ingredients together, cut in the shortening. Sprinkle in the water while tossing the dough with a fork until all the flour is moist and the dough almost cleans the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat 1-inch of oil in a heavy pan to 400 degrees. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a 6 inch circle. Make a ½-inch hole in the center of each circle and fry until puffy and golden, about 1 minute on each side. Great just as they are, but If so desired, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, or powdered sugar, or drizzle on some honey!
Celebrate National Public Lands Day
National Public Lands Day is Saturday, Sept. 26, and during the weekend Hoosiers can celebrate by supporting their favorite DNR property by doing volunteer work or simply by visiting.
National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort involving public lands. State park properties will have programs for visitors to volunteer as individuals or as part of many events across Indiana, but they can also choose to visit and just enjoy their favorite areas.
Outdoor enthusiasts can also combine visiting and volunteering by grabbing a bucket and taking on the 5 gallon challenge. The goal is to fill a five gallon bucket with trash and take it out when you leave.
Sept. 26 is also National Hunting and Fishing Day, an opportunity to celebrate the role of hunting, recreational shooting, trapping, and fishing in conservation. In addition to participating in volunteer activities, sportsmen and sportswomen can take along someone new to the sport as they enjoy the last Free Fishing Day of the year (dnr.IN.gov/fishfree) or share their passion with youth by participating in Youth Deer Season (wildlife.IN.gov/9323.htm).
On Sunday, Sept. 27, Indiana State Parks, Indiana State Forests, and State Recreation Areas will offer free admission where entrance fees are normally charged.
The entire weekend serves as a reminder our public lands are places for outdoor recreation, conservation, and making memories with families and friends. Events include hikes, pioneer activities, crafts, Learn to Fish events (on.IN.gov/learn2fish), and live bird shows.
For a complete list of programs, see calendar.dnr.IN.gov. Information about how to be a DNR volunteer can be found at on.IN.gov/dnrvolunteer. For more information on National Public Lands Day, see PublicLandsDay.org. For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day, see nhfday.org.
Paddle Patoka Lake
Patoka Lake will host a kayak tour on Sunday, Sept.20, at 9:30 a.m. beginning at the secluded King’s Bridge boat ramp. The excursion is expected to take around two hours.
A caravan will meet at the Patoka Lake park office at 8:15 a.m. to caravan to the location, or paddlers can meet at the boat ramp. Plan to arrive no later than 9:15 a.m. to unload your equipment and be ready to leave at 9:30 a.m. Bring preferred refreshments, life vests, binoculars, and cameras.
Participation is limited, and advance registration is required. Forms can be acquired by calling the Nature Center at 812-685-2447. Registration forms are due by 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18. Non-motorized launch permits are required and will be sold at the event for $5, but may also be purchased at the park office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
For more information regarding this program or other interpretive events, please call the Nature Center at 812-685-2447.
Patoka Lake (on.IN.gov/patokalake) is at 3084 N. Dillard Road, Birdseye, IN 47513.
Patoka Lake Volunteers Clean Up
The 14th annual Patoka Lake Clean Up Day drew 107 volunteers who picked up 1,035 pounds of trash from the property while maintaining social distancing. They collected trash from the roadways, shoreline, and forested areas, as well as from the water itself with the help of individuals with kayaks and boats.
Volunteer groups included two scout troops, the Northeast Dubois High School FFA, local business leaders, and families and individuals. The oldest volunteer was 79. Goodie bags were made available to participants of the event at each ramp location.
“We wish to extend another word of thanks to our volunteers of this event both past and present,” said Dana Reckelhoff, interpretive naturalist. “What they did matters immensely for the water quality of this lake, the safety of area wildlife, the views for our patrons to enjoy, and the overall betterment of the environment.”
‘till next time,
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