Cool Stuff Friday.

The Plains Taco features elk meat and duck fat. It can be garnished with a plethora of tasty ingredients. RoseMary Diaz.

The Plains Taco features elk meat and duck fat. It can be garnished with a plethora of tasty ingredients. RoseMary Diaz.

First up, Frybread. If anything is holy, it is wonderful frybread. Makes me long to be back at the Oceti Sakowin camp, stuffing myself on Melania’s frybread. If there were gods, this would be their food.

Of all the foods most commonly associated with Native American culture, frybread has long been at the center of the table. From one end of the continent to the other, from region to region and tribe to tribe, there are hundreds of recipe variations on the tempting and tasty treat.

Whether inspired by ingredients found close to home or by those from locales a bit more exotic, each of our gourmet variations on frybread bring a creative alternative to the classic treat, and can be down-sized for snacks or appetizers.

Plains Taco


2 pounds ground elk meat

2 tablespoons rendered duck fat (may substitute grapeseed, olive, or sunflower seed oil)

2 tablespoons red chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste


1 cup endive leaves, rinsed, patted dry, ends trimmed

½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

¼ cup diced scallion

½ cup grated provolone cheese

¼ cup pine nuts, whole or coarsely chopped


½ tablespoon sliced or diced habanero or serrano pepper

In a large skillet, heat duck fat to melting, or add oil of choice. Heat on medium-high heat for several minutes. Add meat and sauté until brown. Add chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix well, and break up any big clumps of meat.

Spoon meat mixture onto prepared fry breads. In order given, add equal portions of garnishes to each fry.

Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Prairie Taco


4 quail, fresh or frozen and thawed

1 tablespoon sunflower seed oil

4 strips bacon

¼ teaspoon ground sage

Salt and pepper to taste


½ cup tomatillos, quartered

¼ cup sliced green onions, including stalks, rinsed, trimmed, and patted dry

½ cup sunflower sprouts

½ cup grated smoked gouda

Bacon from pan, crumbled or coarsely chopped

¼ cup sunflower seeds, raw or toasted

In large skillet, add oil and quail. Roll quail in pan to coat evenly with oil. Place bacon strips along sides of quail and cook over medium heat, turning quail after three to four minutes. Increase heat to medium-high/high, and continue cooking quail just long enough to brown, about one to two minutes on each side. Remove from heat, place on paper or cloth towels to allow excess oil to drain. Continue cooking bacon until brown and crisp, then remove from heat and drain on towels. When cool enough, remove meat from quail in long, downward, stripping motions. Spoon onto prepared fry breads. In order given, add equal portions of garnishes to each frybread. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Rosemary Diaz (Tewa) also has Frybread rules and a recipe for basic frybread at ICTMN, which is sporting a brand new look. Given all the pheasant hunting which takes place here every year, I’d be more inclined to substitute pheasant for the quail in the Prairie Taco, but frybread and its toppings is a matter of endless variation, so go Native, and have fun!

Next up, one of the best ideas I have seen in a long while, with superb design: A Reader.


All images © Paco Ulman.

First-year architecture and urban planning students at the Estonian Academy of Arts have designed and created a shelter titled ‘READER’, a place where people can get away from their daily routine. Among other structures developed by the students, the shelter is located in the national park Lahemaa of North-Estonia. READER was constructed within five days and is made of pine plywood panels. The whole construction stands on three beams supported by nine adjustable legs on the ground. The exterior appears to be a basic cube, whereas in the inside visitors experience the undulating cave-like contours.
People are invited to enter the shelter to escape from their hectic lives into the pages of fiction and fantasy. The winding contours inside the shelter are an attempt to imitate the pages of a book, and metamorphose from a wall into a bench that seats three people. The ribbed walls usher in diffused sunlight which makes the shelter a comfortable niche, where anyone can come with a book and forget about all their troubles.

All images © Paco Ulman.

All images © Paco Ulman.

You can see more images at iGNANT.

Then we have some video game history, with Howard Scott Warshaw:

Via Great Big Story.

And finally, Sea Turtle conservancy!

Via Great Big Story.


  1. blf says

    Any recipe that uses duck fat is automatically good!

    (Well, Ok, I suppose if it had peas, or was something like fresh strawberries with duck fat, there might be an question…)

  2. says

    The “reader” looks pretty cool but I’m not too thrilled by that huge expanse of open-edge plywood outdoors. Even if they used naval plywood, it’s still just wood and it’s going to delaminate pretty fast. I’m guessing it was designed and implemented by designers, not implementers, or it’d be made of recycled polypropylene or something like that.

    (I hate to say “use polypropylene” because it’d be nice to use wood, but the kind of wood that’s weather-resistant, for that application, is stuff that’s getting rare (e.g.: redwood) and probably shouldn’t be used for fripperies.

  3. rq says

    I don’t know if it’s meant to be a permanent structure or simply a temporary extended-stay design feature of the park. I’ve seen similar things go up and come down around this country, usually within a couple of years. If it’s an art student project, I doubt it’s going to stay forever, in which case, the wood is a much nicer choice because wood is awesome.

    (And I have it on good authority that there is ongoing, intensive research being put into improving laminated wood for use in outdoor sculpture like this. :) )


    I’ve saved the recipes, I’m going to try making frybread sometime soon (heck, christmas is coming up and snacks will be needed!). And despite some people’s issues with plywood in the outdoors (;)), I could move into the reader for extended afternoons with books.

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