Rhonda’s Fry Bread

Our friends at the Twin Buttes Powwow last weekend were very excited to serve us fresh fry bread made by a relative named Rhonda. She seems to be well known as one of the best fry bread makers around the MHA Nation on the Fort Berthold Reservation.

Fry bread, for those who don’t know, is a dough made with flour and lard or fat and then fried in oil. It was developed by Native Americans as a substitute for their traditional foods after they were relocated to areas that wouldn’t support the growing of their traditional crops of corn and beans. It is a bread of poverty and hunger, and was first made from US Government commodities doled out to the tribes. Despite its painful history, it is a favorite of many Native Americans, and considered a real treat. I have eaten my fill of fry bread over the years, and Rhonda’s was excellent, light and puffy and chewy, with a hint of sweetness and not too oily.

For years, Rhonda has jealously guarded her recipe and refused to let anyone know her fry bread secret. Last month at a Sundance at Pine Ridge she was there with other family members preparing food for the Sundance participants, got a migraine and, for some reason, started sharing her recipe with all sorts of people, except not with family and tribal members who have always wanted it! My, were they miffed!

What food is essential to your family gatherings? What food do you have trouble understanding why people bother to eat? Have you or someone you knew tried to keep a recipe a secret?

46 thoughts on “Rhonda’s Fry Bread”

  1. our family gatherings have a couple go to items that are never made in quantities that are too large
    potato salad
    green bean casserole and

    we have tried making more than can be reasonable and it always disappears in no time

    so recently added mashed potato’s in a killer way that will make it a new addition to the list

    i do potato pancakes

    i noticing a potato theme here

    i don’t want a recipe just an understanding of the process so i can mess with it
    suggestions for herbs and rubs etc…

    tofu marinade ideas anyone ???

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Plain old boiled potatoes were a constant on my family’s dinner table when I was growing up. Don’t know whether to attribute this to my mother’s Irish heritage or my father’s Danish one. I distinctly remember dad saying that he could eat potatoes every day of his life and never tire or them, and this despite the fact that he rarely served them any other way than boiled. No baked potatoes, no French fried potatoes, no scalloped or otherwise fancied up potatoes, just plain old boiled potatoes with gravy, thank you very much. The memory makes me smile because I now realize that if that’s all you know about my dad, you’d think him a rather dull person, but that’s one thing he never was.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. I know, but back then I think eating potatoes without removing the skin was thought of as lazy. It simply never occurred to us. With the exception of new potatoes, freshly dug from the garden, they were always either peeled before they were boiled, or the skins removed after they were. Furthermore, back then most vegetables were cooked to death. Small wonder so many kids didn’t like vegetables, by the time they ended up on your plate they were pitiful. At least at our house they were.

          Liked by 4 people

  3. Lutefisk is weird. Liver, heart and miscellaneous entrails belong to the cat.
    Mac and Cheese are standard family food.
    No secret recipes around here.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. No family holiday was complete for me without Aunt Elaine’s sweet pickles. They were sweet and spicey with lots of cloves and cinnamon. They were in thick slices. They have to be soaked in an alum solution prior to pickling, and that made them so crisp. I have made them several times, but not lately. I have sort of given up on pickling. A person can’t make everything.


  5. Had lots of Navajo fry bread. Hope they don’t hear this, but it would not compete with that bread on the plate. Good. But my mother made better than theirs. There is or was a mockumentary on prime about a fry bread competition. Lots of Native humor in it.
    Take some fresh out of tge garden new potatoes, preferably red, boil them in the jacket. Serve with butter and parsley. What is better.
    Cultural food abhorrence is interesting. We would not eat entrails except around sausage. But if we tried to get peoples from around the world to eat Mac and cheese, wonder what would happen

    Liked by 3 people

  6. What did we eat at family gatherings? Our nearest, by distance, relatives lived by the Puget Sound. Thank God.
    My mother was a true meat and potatoes cook because it was the food we raised and because it was what my father wanted. I had to become an adult to know the difference.
    Today’s task is to learn how to start process of getting Sandy into care just so I am prepared. Yesterday she decided she would wait to eat until the other people came. At 6:30 I had a zoom meeting last evening with 6 students in classes of 72 and 74. I made her supper early and that is how she got confused. Her fall the last 5 days has been precipitous.
    6 very powerful women in their mid 60’s who have lived wonderful fun and creative lives. Doubt I had much to do with their achievements, but if I did I am proud of myself, which I only say once a decade. All annual staff members, all strong writers, indeed only the principal was the only one who had not at least for part of her career been a professional writer. All still committed photographers. All wide travel. One a MN state senator who represented Ben I believe. The el. principal served the school in Steve’s old neighborhood.
    Sad and stressed so rambling. So rambling. Sorry

    Liked by 5 people

      1. No worries, Clyde. Between phones and voice recognition and even just typing too fast it’s clear that technology is getting ahead of a lot of us.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. My mother’s mother was a housewife at a time some women were competitive about who cooked best or kept her house better than anyone else. In my grandmother, this primarily meant she protected her secret recipe for what was her signature dish: chicken served in a cream sauce with homemade noodles. If people were present in the kitchen when she was preparing that dish she would always keep her body between the dish and anybody in the room who might be trying to discover her secrets. Like a magician practicing misdirection during a trick, she kept up a line of patter that was meant to distract observers who wanted to steal her secrets.

    This all played out in a sad way. As she intended, nobody ever learned to make chicken and noodles that tasted as great as hers. The main reason for that was nobody wanted to work that hard making noodles the way she did. My grandmother jealously protected techniques that modern cooks were too lazy to steal or use.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Today’s questions really have me thinking. To the best of my knowledge, there are no secret recipes in my family, or if there are, they’re so secret that I don’t know about them.

    The closest I’ve come to a secret family recipe is the Polish pickle soup that my friend Tia makes. For years she wouldn’t share that recipe, which is not like her at all. When she finally did, there was nothing mysterious about it, no “secret” or unusual ingredient, but to this day, I think of her and her family when I make it. Guess I don’t really “get” secret recipes.

    Over the years I have had a lot of friends who were potters. Several of them had a “signature” glaze; when you saw it, you immediately associated that pot with that potter. The recipes for those glazes were closely guarded. If they shared them, they’d leave out one key ingredient, an ingredient without which the glaze lacked that certain quality that made it distinctive. They all knew that was part of the game.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m having a hard time imagining what a frozen fruit salad would be like. The images I conjure up are all hard on the teeth.


      1. you take a fruit cocktail type of assortment add mayo and cool whip put it in a jello mold that looks a bit like a small bundt cake and freeze it
        eating it is kind of like ice cream cake. you want it rock solid in the freezer and moved fron the freezer to the refrigerator or the counter to make it possible to cut through it at desert presentation time and possible to cut with a fork as you eat it
        like a real thick chunky malt consistency

        i’ll take a picture at thanksgiving or christmas or next time it comes around

        Liked by 2 people

  9. My mother used to make a baked mac and cheese that my daughters loved. I wouldn’t make it for Robin and I because it included copious amounts of Velveeta, but I still have her recipe, I think.

    I’ve told this before but every Christmas Eve the extended family dinner would include lutefisk. Every year after dinner there would be a discussion as to whether the lutefisk had been especially good or not. Make your own jokes.

    OT: Robin and I were going through some boxes of unframed prints and came upon a folio of Audubon prints we had acquired some where. We are out of wall space and have many prints we would rather mat and frame first. The prints are quite nice and large—the paper is 14” x 17”.There were originally 30 prints in the folio and 25 remain. Anyone want them?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If it was the recipe from the old Better Homes and Garden Casserole cookbook that has tomatoes on the top, you can substitute good cheddar for the Velveeta.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I once before wrote about an old man living alone–a bachelor or widower–who was famous for his spaghetti sauce. Everyone wanted to know how he prepared it, but he regarded this a secret he could not afford to share, and he took his secret recipe to the grave.

    When family members gathered to clean out stuff from his home, they found the basement full of empty Welch’s Grape Jelly containers. That was the secret ingredient. And if you Google the topic, you’ll find it was not a well-kept secret. Recipes combining tomato sauce and grape jelly abound on the internet.

    I once added grape jelly to a spaghetti sauce. The taste was nice, but not–you know–to die for.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I have this before and will say it again: I love lutefisk. Local restaurant used to see it for 4 months, always topping a ton in sales. Now it makes me sick.there is an excellent series sometimes on tpt2 in afternoon called Confucius was a Foodie. They have an episode on bitter taste and how Americans only eat two butters, chocolate and coffee and they drench both in milk or cream

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Two bitters, I’m sure, and I would characterize that as a generalization. For one thing, there are the bitter greens like radicchio and endive. And not everyone takes milk and sugar in their coffee. I never have.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. My first forays into cooking in America were rather pitiful. I asked wasband what Americans eat, and he, having grown up in an Italian immigrant household, answered spaghetti and pizza. I figured there had to be more to it than that, so I went to the local Albertson’s and bought myself a cookbook. (There must have been a book store in Cheyenne, but I never found it, and at the time, it really didn’t occur to me to look for one.) Most of the recipes called for canned goods or other processed foods. We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese and scalloped potatoes from a box until I figured out that you could actually make these things from scratch. I’m still suspicious of recipes that call for cans of cream of something soup.

    It really wasn’t until I met Tia in Carbondale that I began to explore cooking as a creative and rewarding activity. Prior to that it was just something to satisfy a basic human need for sustenance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t, as a rule, make anything that requires a can of cream of something soup, but your comment reminded me of a recipe from the early days of our marriage that came to us from one of our dearest friends by way of her mother. I’d have to consult the recipe to recall all the ingredients but it had cream of something soup in it, and hamburger, and rosamarina pasta. She called it “Nectar of the Gods.”
      It was actually very good.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Add cream of mushroom soup to pasta and you are two thirds of the way to tuna hotdish, the meal that fueled Midwestern culture all these years. I had been a cook several years before it occurred to me that cream of mushroom soup was mainly a super convenient white sauce in many dishes.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. When I first made what has now become my signature dish, Rueben Puffs, I had no clue they would be so popular. I usually only make these once a year for my Great Gift Exchange in December. I do have one friend who calls me up before the party and says “you’re making those Reuben Puffs, right?” I don’t even remember where I first got the idea. But I make the cream puffs from scratch and then it’s got sauerkraut Swiss cheese and thousand Island dressing. Even if I felt territorial about this I don’t worry about telling people how they’re made because not that many people are crazy enough to make cream puffs from scratch anymore. And even if they were, more Reuben Puffs in the world can’t be a bad thing. But they go like crazy and I’ve started having to double the recipe.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. This does remind me of something funny that happened to me. It was an evening where there was a potluck at church, maybe it was for choir. Anyway I forgot about it until the last minute so I went down to the kitchen and threw together a stew, literally using only things that I had in the kitchen already. I ransacked the fridge for a few fresh veggies, use some frozen veggies from the freezer, threw in some pasta that I had and then started spicing it up. Several people at the potluck hunted me down to ask for the recipe. I’m sure they thought that I was just trying to protect some secret recipe when I said I don’t really have a recipe I just threw it together.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. We just had a family picnic last weekend complete with potluck. Several salads, and I appreciated that someone made lasagna.
    We had boiled potatoes most overnight for supper. Sometimes they might be fried or something else, but dad was fussy; he didn’t like fancy. And in later years, mom wasn’t that interested in cooking.

    Growing up, when I was a teenager, mom was working in town so it would be me and dad home and he’d send me to the house to make lunch. I didn’t like having to do that. I made a lot of french toast. Dad, left to his own devices, had saltines and milk. Maybe a can of cold baked beans…
    Kelly and I laugh; she grew up with Bush’s baked beans. Van Kamps for me.

    Mom was a good cook. She made home made butterscotch pudding that was a favorite. My oldest sister was a food scientist for McCormick for a lot of years. She also worked for M&M Mars. (I liked it when she worked for them. We got better Christmas presents from the company store! I mean, how much pepper can one use? But chocolate??)

    Liked by 3 people

  16. i asked my son about his killer mashed potato’s and he said he puts them in the instant pot brings them up to pressure cooker speed and cooks 5 peeled russets with 2/3 tablespoons of butter and maybe a cup of water so it goes on pressure cooker for 10 minutes after you release the pressure from the cooker you mash up the potato’s add milk and minced garlic and decide if you want cheese chives or some greens, salt and pepper
    stir it up and simmer another 5-10 and it’s crazy good


    my favorite

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know I’m going to get clobbered for saying this, but that’s how I feel about peanut butter and popcorn. Have never understood their appeal. I suppose that alone is enough to deny me citizenship in the US.

      Liked by 1 person

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