After months of feeling pretty down in the dumps, not able to get myself out of Dr. Suess’ ‘waiting place’…I was offered the opportunity to participate in a traditional First Nation’s sweat lodge. Although I had no idea what to expect, the circumstances kinda led me to believe it was the right place for me to be. There is a great deal of ceremony and tradition involved and I was welcomed wholeheartedly and generously instructed in what would take place. The sweat lodge has been used for generations as a place to share your prayers, concerns, worldy struggles and allow the powers that be provide peace and support. I don’t feel comfortable sharing the details here because…it is something that you experience personally or you don’t.
However, I will say that I had been carrying around a heavy emotional load and when the ceremony was all said and done…I felt light. Lighter than I had in a very long time. Needless to say after four hours of steam and meditation, you emerge feeling supported, uplifted and HUNGRY…really, really hungry. Part of the tradition of the sweat lodge is the sharing after. Fellowship and food…that seems to cross into every culture.
The second time I joined in I knew I wanted to bring a food from my childhood. I was fortunate enough to be raised in a culturally rich community in the Northwest Territories. My (then blonde) hair and blue eyes were definitely the minority. Many of my friends were Dene, Cree and Metis. I grew up wishing I had a ‘Kookum’ to make me delicious home-made bannock.
Fortunately…through the magic of Facebook, I am still in contact with many friends back home and after one posted that she had been in a bannock making frenzy, I asked for the recipe. She patiently explained that she didn’t have one, she had learned to make her bannock by watching her mom, a little of this…a little of that…make sure you do this, don’t do that. Baking by ‘feel’. She generously did share a friends ‘recipe’ along with important instructions.
So, I braved the process and was very pleased with the results. More importantly…my new friends from the sweat lodge loved it. That meant a lot. Bannock is one of those traditional foods that is brought to share, to say hello after a long absence, to introduce yourself to a new community, to welcome a person into a family…or to say good-bye.
Credits to Sandy Poitras and Barb Mercredi from Fort Smith, NWT.
“Sorry pal, my Mom taught me by throwing in this and a little of that. I can now put flour in a large bowl and adjust all ingredients as I go. But here is a copy of Barb Mercredi’s recipe for Bannock:
- 3 cups of flour
- 1/4 cup oil or lard
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk or water
- Raisins if you like
- Put dry ingredients in a bowl, stir.
- Add Tenderflake lard and mix in by squishing and rubbing flour and lard together with my hands.
- Make a well, add water, stir, turn onto floured surface, knead with flour just until not sticky (there is a fine line as over kneading will result in hard bannock).
- Use your knuckles to spread out dough, fork it and cut biscuits, I found the best bannock cutter is a niblets can with a hole on top lol.
- Bake in a 350° oven for ten to fifteen minutes or until browned.
*Good thing to remember is Every one’s bannock recipe is and will always be different. Most are taught by parents that threw things in as they went along. Hope this helps, Feel free to make adjustments.”
You know what, if you don’t get it right the first time, don’t panic…it’s only bannock.
Many thanks to Sandy and Barb, because my bannock turned out light and flakey…yum! Perfect hot with butter and homemade jam♥
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.