Cooking with kokum: McMurray Métis creating cookbook of traditional recipes

In an effort to preserve Métis culture and pass recipes on to the next generation, the McMurray Métis are putting together a cookbook full of recipes from elders.

Heather Hagerman, with the McMurray Métis, said she came up with the idea for the cookbook when her uncle gave her a family cookbook. 

"It's in Cree and also English and it has little stories at the bottom," Hagerman said. "I thought, 'Wow, this is so nice. I think we should be making one of these.'"

She said about five recipes have been collected so far and they're looking for more. Hagerman said she'll be travelling around the Wood Buffalo region to collect recipes from elders that can't travel to Fort McMurray.

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Hagerman will be submitting a few recipes to the book herself, including her favourite bannock recipe. She got the recipe from her friend but said it has been passed from person to person and she doesn't know where the original recipe came from. The Bannock recipe uses butter instead of lard or oil, which she said gives the bannock a "sweeter taste."

"It's the best," said Hagerman.

Hagerman hopes the book will be out in time for Christmas and said the plan is to give the book away for free. 

"We're not doing it for money," said McMurray Métis president Gail Gallupe. "It's just to keep the traditions alive, the food, memories — put them on paper before we lose our elders."

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Gallupe said she is going to contribute a few recipes to the book, including some of her mother's recipes. 

"They are special to me because my mom made them all the time, she made the homemade bread, the relishes, the jams and the stews — using only wild meat. I basically never had beef meat until I came to Fort McMurray in 1966."

The book has already been named — Kookum's Ole Cook Book: Make it this way!

"It's traditional recipes that will mostly be in the book. So we are able to keep our culture alive," said Gallupe. 

One traditional recipe Lorraine Cardinal Corrigan is submitting is instructions on how to cook the neck bones of a pig, which she says is popular with her family. 

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She said she wanted to participate in the cookbook to pass on her mother's recipes. 

"My mom used to cook a lot of la pouchine — that's what we call it, it's like a Christmas cake," Cardinal Corrigan said. "I don't know how to cook it anymore."

The cake is made with molasses and raisins; luckily one of Cardinal Corrigan's friends knew how to make it. 

Cardinal Corrigan said she's going to put the la pouchine recipe into the cookbook. 

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Kayla's Bannock:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 tbsp. spoons of sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup of butter or lard
  • 2 cups of water

Mix the dry ingredients. 

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and incorporate with hands. 

When the mixture is sandy, add in the water. 

Knead until doughy. 

Flatten in a floured pan, pierce the dough with a fork. 

Bake at 350 C for 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Let bannock rest on a rack.