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CROWNPOINT — Over the last couple of years, Andi Murphy has highlighted Indigenous foods and Native American cuisine on her podcast, Toasted Sister.

Her message of sustainability and advocacy was furthered in her first food demonstration on Friday to students and community members at Navajo Technical University.

Murphy prepared and cooked four meals during the session – including bison meatloaf, quinoa corn pudding, and spinach salad with berries, nuts, apples and wild rice finished with homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

She also made sweetened butternut squash to top blue corn mush, a traditional Navajo food.

"When I put this menu together, I wanted to keep in mind accessibility. What kinds of things were accessible here in Crownpoint," Murphy said in an interview after her presentation.

Murphy also kept in mind the use of commodity foods and the importance of using ingredients from other tribes, like wild rice and bison meat.

"Food is part of our culture," she said.  

Murphy, who is Diné and grew up in Crownpoint, describes herself as a home cook.

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Although she has no formal culinary training, she developed her skills by cooking for family, friends and coworkers. She earned a journalism degree from New Mexico State University. After interning in newspapers she landed a job as a food writer for the Las Cruces Sun News.

She is now an associate producer for Native America Calling, a nationally syndicated radio show that airs from Albuquerque, where she learned about the Native American food movement.

Radio about Native American food

Her exploration into native foods is furthered by Toasted Sister, where she talks to Native American chefs and foodies about what comprises Indigenous cuisine from multiple angles.

"We're not just talking about, 'oh this dish is good. This is how I use wild rice.' We're talking about issues of sexism in the kitchen, climate change, environmental fights, food hunting rights, the right to feed ourselves, nutrition, culture and revitalization," she said.

"All of this, is what's going on behind what we put in our mouths," she added.

During her visit to NTU, she interviewed culinary arts student Gibson Jones Jr. and recent culinary arts graduate Sheila Begay for a future podcast.

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The trio recorded their conversation at the studios of KCZY 107.3 FM, the university's radio station.

Begay said she could see herself cooking some of the meals Murphy highlighted in the demonstration.

"I liked the quinoa corn pudding. I think it was helpful to taste what those recipes were supposed to taste like," Begay said, adding it enhances the cooking process.

Chelsie Tracy is completing her second semester in the university's culinary arts program.

Tracy said her interest in attending the session was tied to her curiosity about enhancing Indigenous foods by adding ingredients, such as berries, to blue corn mush.

She added Murphy's presentation promotes and sustains the tradition of Native American foods.

"I'm excited to take the recipes home and introduce them to other people," Tracy said.

The food demonstration was part of a program under the Land Grant Office at the university.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

 

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