Friday, February 28, 2014

Manoomin (Wild Rice) & Mushrooms


     Thank you all for reading the reflective piece on my type 1 diabetes anniversary earlier this week.  It means a lot that my friends (in person and online!) and family support me and my struggles.  I have been especially struck by the outreach by the diabetes online community, how these support groups and forums can help you feel less alone and alienated by a disease most people don't fully understand.  Thank you again for the love and friendship!

     Today, I am taking a brief break to write you a recipe that's been on my agenda for some time.  I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately and trying to prepare for a presentation I am giving in mid-March and a paper I'm writing for a conference in April.  I feel like my research, ideas, and goals have been all over the place lately, so if you can send some positive writing vibes and clarity my way, it would be much appreciated!

     Back in November, I began reading a newly published Native American cookbook by Heid E. Erdrich, called Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes From the Upper Midwest.  I am nearly done reading through it and have had the opportunity to make a few recipes from it.  I hope to write a review on it soon so I can give you a full overview of Erdrich's impressive work.  Erdrich offers a wonderful recipe book derived from family recipes, traditional ancestral inspirations, and local and sustainable ingredients from regional sources around Ojibwe territory (Minnesota).  She disperses indigenous knowledge highlights, whimsical anecdotes, Indian humor, and plenty of resource information pointing readers toward best practices and Native food organizations.  The majority of her recipes are vegetarian, but there is plenty of room at her table for omnivores, vegans, and pescatarians.  I've actually been wanting to make more recipes from her book, but have had trouble with availability of ingredients and some restrictive ingredients.  I'm excited that spring's on its way in soon though and we'll be able to get our hands on some of the foods that are difficult to find in the winter!

     I found inspiration from Erdrich's work for this next recipe post: Manoomin & Mushrooms.  She dedicates a whole section of her book to this beautiful non-genetically modified indigenous wild rice grain and leaves plenty of room for imagination in creating delectable recipes.  This recipe draws inspiration from "Rita Erdrich's Manoomin" (p.26).  I have made my recipe version only a few times and enjoy it more and more each time.  It can easily be made vegetarian or vegan.  It is more diabetes friendly when served with a generous amount of protein and perhaps slightly undercooked.  Feel free to make any substitutions or variations as you wish.  I'm sure it would be made even more wonderful with the addition of bacon (what dish wouldn't be?), different spices, or nuts.  On the other hand, you could subtract some onions if you're not as crazy about them as I am.  It's a very rich, hearty dish and could very well stand on its own as a main entree, or could be served with a leaner main course.  In this case, I served it with broiled lemon rosemary haddock and sauteed green beans.

     While my ancestral homelands are on the other side of the Great Lakes from Erdrich's homeland, I guess you can say the Haudenosaunee and Ojibwe are like distant neighbors.  We shared many similar traditional foods being nations in the Great Lakes region.  We have our ancestral white corn, and they have their ancestral manoomin wild rice.  I've taken great care to photograph these beautiful foods (white corn and manoomin).  These original, heirloom grains have been harvested with love by their respective nations and provide a special connection between the earth, our ancestors, and our bodies.  It's a blessing that these ancient grains still exist in the form they do, that they are still harvested by loving hands that tend the fertile fields or sift through gentle lake waters.  I try to meditate on this gratitude and connection as I cook and enjoy my meal.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Printable Directions

1/2 cup Manoomin Wild Rice*
8 oz. White Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, divided in half
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Shallot, diced
3 Scallions, chopped - separate the whites and greens
2 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon freshly squeeze Lemon Juice
Homemade Chicken Stock - 1/2 cup and 2/3 cup (substitute vegetable stock for veg)
1 cup Filtered Water
1 tablespoon rendered Duck Fat (substitute Coconut Oil for veg)
1 teaspoon Coconut Oil
Fresh Rosemary & Thyme
1 tablespoon organic, grassfed Butter (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

*A note about Manoomin: Make sure you are using the real deal manoomin rice.  I order from Winona LaDuke's White Earth Land Recovery Project/Native Harvest brand because it is quality rice, sustainably harvested, and supports a Native non-profit doing amazing work for indigenous agriculture.  You'll probably want to rinse the manoomin with hot water a few times and make sure there are no pieces of dirt, unhulled rice grains, or other bits of debris.  I let it soak for a few minutes so the grains are nice and clean.  If 1/2 cup doesn't seem like much rice, be aware this stuff multiplies in volume!  Erdrich has very careful Manoomin prep. instructions in her book to which I have tried my best to adhere.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Heat water and 1/2 cup of chicken stock in a medium saucepan over high heat.  When the water starts to boil, add the manoomin rice and some salt, and cover with lid.  Cook for 20 minutes without removing the cover.  This would be a good time to work on your main course dish or work on prepping the above ingredients.

3.  While you're waiting for the rice to cook, heat the duck fat and coconut oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat.  Saute your chopped onions, the white portions of your scallions, and half of your mushrooms for about 7 minutes until the onions start to turn translucent.

4.  Add the shallots and garlic and stir, sauteing for an additional 3 minutes or so.  Add seasonings - 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves and 1/2 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, and however much salt and pepper you would like.  Add the remainder of the mushrooms.  Squeeze fresh lemon juice over mixture.  Stir and saute for another minute.

5.  Add 2/3 cup chicken stock and green onions, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

6.  Add cooked manoomin to a casserole dish.  Pour mushroom and onion mixture over the manoomin and mix well with a fork.  Dot with butter if desired.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Let dish rest to absorb any remaining juices before serving.  Enjoy!


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