In the weeks that followed, I was eager to learn more about the food traditions of Indigenous Americans and had several Native-authored cookbooks sent to my rural library. A friend introduced me to Michelle Leask, an Ojibwe citizen and co-proprietor of Maple City’s Little Traverse Inn, who was so gracious about sharing her family’s Winter Solstice traditions, and even gave me ceremonial tobacco, which the kids offered to Mother Earth.
As the days grew shorter that first fall, I started cooking. Inspired by the importance of bison, wild rice and squash in American Indian cookery, I created this recipe. At the time, I served it as a side dish, but it really shines as a standalone one-pot supper. Studded with manoomin (wild rice in Ojibwe) and dried cherries, it’s a comforting way for those of us who winter on the shores of michi gami to welcome “the season of storytelling,” as the darkest months are known to our Native friends.