Festive fall side dish that’s so pretty on a plate.
One of the things I treasure most about our post-reunion life is having gotten to share quite a few Thanksgivings with this new addition to my family tree. Any chance we get to share a kitchen on the ultimate food lover’s holiday is a major blessing. Two years ago, we all journeyed to Washington DC to celebrate with Donna’s eldest daughter Kate and her husband Neil. It was my first time visiting the capitol for anything more than a rally/protest-related day trip, and we had a truly grand time sightseeing any time we weren’t rocking out in the kitchen.
Top billing in our tourist activities goes to the National Museum of the American Indian, thanks to the greatest museum cafe ever. I know, it might sound a little odd, but the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe is a truly unique and powerfully delicious experience. Set up like a food court, each counter represents a different region of the Americas, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains. Their commitment to authenticity and diversity is stunning -though the museum itself was great experience, we went back several more times just for the food. If you have never had the pleasure, you absolutely MUST include it in your itinerary if you’re ever in DC.
Having Kate (one of my four fabulous half-siblings) in my life is yet another major boon, and chief among our common interests is – surprise – food! She and her husband have even started an ongoing culinary adventure called the Passionate International Gastronomers (PIG) Project, whereby they set out to sample the world from A to Z. One can never have too many kindred spirits in life, especially when they are literally also kin. So I was equal parts touched and stoked to receive the gift of the Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook from Kate, and it’s quickly turning into one of my all-time faves.
As I work on cooking my way through it, I came across a wild rice salad. After making it several times with a few variations (all tasty, actually) just to eat it, I started thinking about presentation, and thought it would look great as a little nest. What better to pair it with than winter squash?