She’s Fussy About Fry Bread

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by Sandy Bond

Crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft, warm, and moist on your tongue as you slowly bite into it, fry bread is a delicious ethnic food originating in Native American culture. Basically yeast bread fried in vegetable oil, different tribes have their own unique recipes. But what may pass as fry bread from a vendor may be quite different than the homemade version made from fresh ingredients and kneaded with loads of love.

“Can you imagine, some cooks use frozen bread dough?” Annie Hall, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and sort of a fry bread connoisseur, said with distain. “Fry bread should be fresh-never frozen!”

Annie modestly admits she is a good cook. She takes pride in her God-given abilities not because of the recognition she receives, but for the joy it brings to others.

Annie presently lives in Promise but she traces her roots to Mobridge. Sixty plus years ago, her father, William Hall, a native of Forest City, Iowa, was on his way to Montana to find work when he stopped for a cup of coffee in a small café on Main Street. He was smitten with a young waitress named Delores. They fell in love, were married and the family settled in the Promise and White Horse area. They were blessed with two daughters, Annie and her older sister, Patricia.
Annie graduated from Eagle Butte High School in 1970. Unsure of her future goals, Annie received her associate’s degree from United Tribes Business School with an emphasis in clerical studies. She found employment through the Bureau of Indian Affairs Land Operations. It was always in the back of her mind that she would someday want to find employment as a cook at a school cafeteria.

“I guess I thought I had to get a degree from a culinary academy in order to fulfill those dreams,” she said.
Annie decided to do what she had always wanted to do when she grew up.

With very little money, she became a full-time student at Mitchell Vocational Technical Institute.

“The Mitchell School District had a wonderful cooperative working arrangement with the school,” she said. “The students at the school made all the bread for the entire school district; it gave the students experience and kept the bread fresh at a cost-savings for the district.”

Annie also moonlighted evenings at a small diner, threading her way under railroad underpasses on the shadier side of town. That is until there was a drive-by shooting in that very area.

“I told the owner I just loved my job,” she said. “But as a single woman walking alone, frankly I was frightened and was forced to quit.”

She thought her degree would immediately put the world at her feet as a cook. Instead she found employment as a flagger with a road construction company and finally driving a bus for BIA Education in Eagle Butte. She then found employment as a paraprofessional at Tiospaye Topa (Four Communities) Day School. For the last six summers she’s been given the opportunity to apply her culinary skills, cooking for students from the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association-Rural Area Veterinary Service.

“It is such a great feeling to cook for these students and their teachers,” she said. “It’s just a small way to help pay them back for the good they do for our people on the reservation.”

Some other reservations give the teachers and their students vouchers, which they can use to purchase food at the local convenience stores. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe provides lodging at the school dorms and Annie provides the good old-fashioned home cooking.

“Every class is different,” she said. “I ask them, upfront, what do you prefer? I often cater to vegan or vegetarian meals.”
They sit around in the evening telling stories.

“It’s just so wonderful,” she said. “It’s like family.”

One of the instructors hesitantly requested apple raisin cake with a glass of cold milk.

“He paid me the best compliment I could ever have received,” Annie said, “when he told me that was the best he’s had since his grandmother passed away!”

Annie retired as a paraprofessional last year.

“But you know, I missed working. Most importantly, I missed the people!

She found a job that combines two of her loves, travel and people. She is one of 10 transit drivers for Standing Rock Public Transit.

“I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world,” she said.

ANNIE HALL’S RECIPES
Fry Bread
5 cups lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. or 2 small pkgs. of yeast
½ cup sugar
Let dissolve for about 10 minutes.
Then add:
½ cup powdered milk
½ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp. salt (optional)
Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Start adding flour. Continue mixing. When dough starts getting harder to stir, use your hands and start kneading. Continue adding the flour, a little at a time. When the dough no longer sticks to your hands, you know you have enough flour. Cover with plastic covering and let rise until doubled. Roll out. Fry in hot oil.
Tortilla Chip Casserole
4 lbs. hamburger (browned and drained of fat)
4 cans whole kernel corn
3 cups Miracle Whip
48-oz. container or 6 cups salsa
4 tsp. chili powder
8 cups tortilla chips (crushed)
8 cups shredded Colby/Monteray Jack cheese
Mix meat, corn, Miracle Whip, salsa and chili powder. Put ½ in pan, then crushed tortilla chips and cheese. Finish layering. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts.
For topping:
You can add shredded lettuce and tomatoes.

Sugar Cookies
Mix together:
6 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. nutmeg
Set aside.
4 quarters or 1 lb. margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
Beat together butter and sugar.
Add:
4 tsp. vanilla
Then add this mixture to the flour mixture until well blended. Cover, refrigerate overnight and roll out in your favorite shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes (until lightly brown and golden brown around the edges.

Pineapple Cream Cheesecake
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
20 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice
Sift flour, soda and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, nuts and pineapple with juice. Mix well. Pour into a greased 13 inch by 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Frost while hot.
Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix cream cheese and margarine. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Spread on warm cake.

Baking Powder Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup shortening
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening, until mixture is crumbly. Beat egg and milk; Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; roll out to ½ inch thickness. Cut with a floured 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degree for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

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