LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — An Indian Cooking Lesson

I received a unique blessing Saturday morning: an Indian cooking lesson from Sister Mary Michael, one of the Carmelite nuns who serve our Spirit of Life Roman Catholic Church parish in Mandan, N.D.

She is a cooking whirlwind and chopped the onions in a blaze. She does it all from years of experience, with nothing written down, and uses the spices she brings from India, telling me about how they grind these themselves on a large stone. At her insistence, I mostly observed, took photographs and drank the tea I was offered.

The fragrances of the chicken and beef marsala were nothing short of heavenly, and she insisted that I take some home with me. We will look forward to sharing some American food with the sisters another day soon.

Last spring, the sisters cooked an Indian meal for the parish, and they served hundreds of people.

Cooking is truly love in action, and I am grateful for the blessing of a morning spent with her.

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Lillian Crook

A retired librarian, Lillian Crook is an Army child but completed her junior high and high school education while living in North Dakota’s Slope County, where her parents retired to her mother's family farm and ranch. She completed a bachelor's degree in English from Dickinson (N.D.) State University and a master’s of library science from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and was an academic librarian at DSU for 26 years. She later worked for Theodore Roosevelt National Park as a museum technician and volunteered for TRNP in many capacities. She is married to Jim Fuglie, is an avid reader, gardener and birder and enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, photography and writing, is the mother of twin daughters and loves yoga. She and Jim run Red Oak House Books and Publishers from their home. Lillian is the founder of Badlands Conservation Alliance, a grass-roots voice for wild places in western North Dakota. Bullion Butte is the center of her universe, and she is happiest when floating the Little Missouri River. Her blog,, consists of random thoughts on wild places and musings on life in Red Oak House of Bismarck. She can also be followed on Twitter @WildDakotaWoman. She takes heart from one of her favorite writers, Terry Tempest Williams, who wrote, "If you know wilderness like you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate."

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