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Mary WatasheMaking Grape Dumplings

OKMULGEE, Okla. – The first question came quickly.

“How much flour do you use?”

Mary Watashe looked up, a twinkle in her eyes and a big grin creasing her face.

“It’s all just guesswork,” she said.

She went back to mixing Welch’s grape juice into the mound of flour on the cutting board in front of her. A hot plate next to her held a stockpot full of simmering grape juice. Nearby, a wooden rolling pin waited flouring.

“Is that regular flour or self-rising?”


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OKLAHOMA CITY – The combination of chili and chocolate is her favorite.

“I love those kinds of funky combinations,” Chef Loretta Barrett Oden said. “I use different things and I kind of put together things people wouldn’t normally put together.”

Oden, 70, started finding her way around the kitchen when she was about 4 years old. She remembers her grandmothers’ apron tied underneath her arms as she used a foot stool to help her reach up and roll cracker crumbs between two sheets of wax paper. “I just love that rolling pin,” she said.

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Every region has a different taste and that’s what he finds intriguing.

Arthur Sonny Boy Fields, 30, grew up in Pawnee eating traditional food common to Native Americans in the Great Plains region. However, while working in Washington, D.C. he developed an appetite for other Native foods. This introduction to Native cuisines began by eating lunch in the cafeteria at work.

Fields worked in visitor services at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. from 2005 to 2009. Inside the museum is The Mitsitam Native Foods Café, which features traditional and contemporary Native dishes from places such as Meso America, South America and the Northern Woodlands. Fields found inspiration in all the Native flavors.

“I like to cook already and it just kind of triggered my passion and my drive to shoot for that career route,” Fields, Pawnee, said. “Cooking is something I really like and enjoy and I want to stick with this.”

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STROUD, Okla. (AP) – Every morning when Annetta Neal wakes up, she can peer out the window at her workplace.

While some people may not want to get up and immediately be reminded of how they are about to leave their cozy home and head to work, Neal doesn’t mind.

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