Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting In Touch With My Roots

More tales from the prairie.
I was very busy trying to keep Little Man out of my Bald Man's "hair" so my handy hubby could do some things for my mom. (He told me it was his delight and his pleasure to help my mom out with her projects. He is such a good guy!)





When my cousin, Turtle Woman, and my sister, Shutterbug were on our photo safari, my cousin pointed out that the plant growing right there was the Timpsula plant. I have spent my whole life being vaguely familiar with the "prairie turnip" but not intimately familiar.


It is no accident that, in the Lakota language, the month of June is called tinpsila itkahca wi, meaning the moon when breadroot is ripe.

This is a picture of the timpsula flower. The plant itself is fuzzy and has five fingerlike leaves. It is important you know all this.



After my cousin pointed out the plant, I was dying to dig up the turnip part. Turtle Woman warned me the root was really far down, and I had no shovel. I found a 12 inch long piece of a jack in my trunk and dug and dug and dug and dug. I decided my ancestors must have had better digging tools, because the calorie return was definitely in the negative by the time I got that thing out the ground!

Here I am with my hair blowing in the prairie wind, being a wild Lakota woman!




Here is a video of me with my white man tool and my digging efforts.



In my quest to keep the boy of my hub's way,on another day, I talked my cousins into taking me digging for Timpsula. It is pretty awesome, my cousin did a traditional prayer, thanking the Great Spirit for the food, and reminded me to put the chunks of dirt back to show respect for the earth. Sometimes, even I think being Native American is totally cool!

It was hot and very humid. I had sweat dripping off my face and down my back while we were tromping about on the prairie and digging. It was much easier to dig with a shovel. Little Man did pretty good, and my cousins were awesomely patient with him.



We dug a bag full of the timpsula, or prairie turnip as it is also known. I took it home, and then I had the fun job of getting the turnip part out of the thick brown woody part on the outside. It was a lot of work! As you peel off the outside, it also strips the long tap root of the brown part.







I chopped about 20 or so of them up, and boiled them in a pot of water with dried corn. Traditionally, it is also made with dried meat, called bapa, but I used turkey bacon which had been sauted with some onion. I fed it to my mother, who declared it to be delicous.


After they were all peeled, traditionally, the way to preserve the turnip for the winter, you braid the roots together and then hang it up to dry. When the turnips are needed, they are reconstituted in boiling water. My first braid is quite pitiful, but I am very proud of it, nonetheless.



It was very satisfying to be able to go out and dig up dinner, prepare it, eat it and then even preserve some for later. I don't how much more I can get in touch with my "roots", can you?

16 Kids Who Want To Play:

Kristina P. said...

I don't know if I've ever had a turnip or really even know what they taste like. Do they taste like beets or more like potatoes?

The Boob Nazi said...

I totally thought you'd be going back to your roots meaning you dyed your hair your natural color. I am so shallow.

Lisa said...

So proud of you. That is too cool, Jo!

Love the pic of you digging for treasure. ;-)

Yondalla said...

but did YOU like it?

K J and the kids said...

Maybe next time, frenchbraid the turnips :)
Thanks for sharing these stories with us.

Jillene said...

That is AWESOME Jo!! I am proud of you getting back to your "roots"!!

Lee said...

This was so neat. I love that you can dry them and hang them. Thanks for sharing.

Me said...

Have I ever told you how much I love your stories! Thank You for sharing!

tubaville said...

Very cool and fun.

Debbie said...

I am so impressed! I can't even manage to store garlic.

Bonnie the Boss said...

I think all of your heritage is very cool!! I love the pic of you with the wind blowing in your hair! beautiful!
I am happy for you to get the chance to do this!

elizasmom said...

Ooh, interesting.
They sound good — I like turnip-y veggies and the way you prepared it sounds tasty.

Amber said...

That is so cool! I enjoyed seeing the pictures to along with the story.

Coach B. said...

I think you looked like a sexy wild woman crawling around on the prarie.

SO said...

That is so cool that you did this! Awesome.

moon-in-the-trees said...

i am a michigan native(mixed though)and i grew up with frybread being part of my life. i just discovered timpsula in the past year and planted some. i am awaiting my first harvest, and im going to try the recipe you put on here. your directions and photos of how to peel braid and dry them is very helpful. if you find out how to make flour out of them that would help me alot. ive been looking with no luck. thanks! moon-in-the-trees, detroit michigan.