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Posted on Wed. Dec. 05, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Grandmother passes along Miami heritage

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I still want to learn…

A. To be the best mother-in-law possible.

I can’t wait to…

A. To see all the new babies. I have grand-babies coming, and two (people at the museum) are going to have babies.

Fort Wayne — If you’ve ever attended an event at the Chief Richardville House on Bluffton Road or the Mihsihkinaahkwa Pow Wow in Columbia City, you might have heard Dani Tippmann speak.

“I am Miami. We come through the Chief Richardville line. We’ve always been here; because of that, we know what’s best to eat around here,” 53-year-old Tippmann of Allen County says, adding, “Miamis were hunters and gatherers and gardeners. That means we had the wild meat, wild plants and the plants in the garden.”

In addition to speaking engagements and presentations, Tippmann is passing the Miami language along to her 10 children and 22 grandchildren. She recently appeared in David Hoppe’s publication, “Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest,” an exploration of the state’s agricultural history.

“I think food is important. Language is important to make it accessible to bring it back to our daily lives,” she says.

Tippmann works at two part-time jobs. During the past five years, she has been director of the Whitley County Historical Museum in Columbia City, the other as Nutritional Services Host at Parkview on Randallia, which will be one year on Dec. 18. She’s also a docent at the Chief Richardville House on Bluffton Road.

Asked whether she has any hobbies, Tippmann replies, “My heritage is part of my hobbies. I go out to Oklahoma for STOMP and we do a language class at IPFW and the powwow in Whitley County.”

Q. Do you have a favorite cookbook?

A. No, everything’s pinches and dabs. I’ve got to tell you, I never cooked before I was married. I told my husband, Bob, to give me a year to cook and never compare it to his mom’s cooking. I think I got a Betty Crocker cookbook when I got married.

Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?

A. I had gardens and I canned. It was fresh as possible most of the time. I would go through the garden and pull the good weeds and eat them and the next night it was the vegetables.

Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?

A. Sour Dock, it’s like sorrel, but it’s sour. Some call it “slippery dock.” We rinse those and cook it down. It’s high in iron. Serve with a little butter and salt.

Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one food you would have to have?

A. Oh wow, milkweed. I would take those top four leaves, boil them in water and add a little butter and salt. The milk is good on warts. If you let the milk dry on a stone, it would be a chewing gum.

Q. What advice would you give beginner cooks?

A. (laughs) Are they married? Cook something that makes you happy. Then you’ll put the time and effort in it to do it right.

Q. What’s your favorite cooking utensil?

A. I love a soup ladle because I love to see it come up and fill the bowl.

Sunflower Seed Soup

6 or 7 wild onions

6 or 7 wild garlic

1 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds

4 cups chicken broth

Clean the wild garlic and onions, then chop. Put the onions and garlic in a heavy cast iron kettle with a little olive oil, if you prefer. When you can smell the garlic and onions starting to cook or they look a little translucent, add the raw sunflower seeds and add enough chicken broth to cover the seeds. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 8 minutes or until the sunflower seeds are tender. The soup should take on some of the cast iron black color. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Walnut and Corn Soup

1 cup black walnuts, cracked and ready to eat

3 cups frozen corn

5 cups water

Put these ingredients together with enough water to make it look like soup and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Buffalo Stew

1 pound buffalo meat (any of the cheaper cuts will work well), cut into bite sized cubes

3/4 cup wild garlic or wild onions, cleaned and chopped

2 potatoes, cleaned and chopped

5 wild carrots, cleaned and chopped

Put a little of the fat from the meat in a cast iron skillet and heat it. Add the onions or garlic garlic to the pan, cooking until they are translucent. Add the meat and cook until browned. Add the potatoes and water to cover. Simmer for 25 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

A recipe in last week’s column about Justin Gilbert was incomplete. Here’s the recipe in its entirety.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

1 tablespoon flour

2 cups milk

1 cup spinach cooked, chopped

1 cup artichoke hearts, cooked and chopped

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Tortilla chips, as desired

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, sauté garlic, shallot and red pepper in butter until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in flour; then cook another 2 minutes. Add milk to the pan and simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach and artichokes, simmer another minute or two. Add cheese 2 tablespoons at a time. Stir until it is completely melted and then add another 2 tablespoons. Repeat until all cheese is incorporated. Adjust seasonings if needed. Place in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips. Makes 6 servings.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email

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