George Washington Grayson, 1885
This may be well termed the National dish of the Muscogees, because all make it and is fond of it and is almost always kept in the house. It is made by pounding a very flinty kind of corn grown for the purpose, and running it through a riddle made of split cane or reed. By this, and a winnowing process, the outer coating of the broken grains is removed. This is then cooked in quantities of three or four gallons; the cooking consisting simply of slowly boiling the grains in a plentiful supply of water, adding occasionally a little lye dripped from strong wood ashes. When done the cooking is so gauged as that the whole consists of about two-thirds soup and one-third hominy. There being no salt or seasoning of any kind, it is at first rather insipid to one who is not accustomed to it, but almost all persons soon learn to become fond of it. Most Indians prefer it when partly fermented.
Lilah D. Lindsey, 1902
Two gallons hot water, one quart of grits, home pounded is best, boil until grits begin to crack open. Keep kettle full of boiling water, or replenish as it boils away. When grits are tender add lye made from wood ashes about one teacup, if of ordinary strength. Let it boil slowly for one hour, or, until grits are perfectly done, then pour off in crock or jar. Add one gallon of cold water to keep the grits from burning. This is used for a drink at table or elsewhere. When fresh it is also good with sweet milk. For a cool refreshing drink in sickness, especially with fever there is no equal.
Charles Gibson, 1918
Shell good, clean and dried flint corn from the cob, enough to have a peck or more of the shelled grain to prepare sofky for several meals. Cover the shelled corn with cool water and soak over night. Pound the soaked corn, or a portion, lightly in a wooden mortar enough to break the grains in half. Place the pounded corn in a fanner, and clean out the hulls. Put the clean, broken grain into a large vessel, cover with water and boil until thoroughly done. Add water if necessary from time to time to keep the hominy in a loose fluid. When it is cooked thoroughly, add ash-lye solution in the proportion of a cupful to a gallon of the boiling hominy, stirring it regularly for it will scorch easily. Boil the hominy with the ash-lye solution for at least another half hour, then pour it into a stone jar to keep and serve. “As long as the Indian can eat and drink osafke, he will not go dead.”
James H. Hill, ca. 1936-40
They shelled flint corn, put it in cold water, set it aside, then removed the corn, put it in a mortar, pounded it lightly, and peeling off the corn-skins, they called it vce aktonke [“pulverized corn”] and sifted off the pounded corn husks, filled a big water kettle called a lehayv-rakko with water, and when it got hot, they put the vce aktonke in, lit a fire under it, not a very big fire, and it slowly simmered, and after quite a while, they put strong ashes in an old can perforated with nail holes, poured water on [the ashes], and they called the liquid dripped from the ashes kvpe-cvfke [“lye-drip”], took the very clear liquid, poured [the lye] into the corn boiling in water, and when the vce aktonke is cooked with lots of juice, they poured it in a sofkee jar.
Beulah Simms, 1970
To prepare vce-cvlvtwe for safke: Place about three pounds flint or white corn in a bucket of water and let the mixture stand until the kernels are soft. Place the corn, while still wet, in a mortar (keco) and pound with a pestle (kecvpe) until the grains of corn are in small kernels. Separate the finer grains (vce enfolotkv) from the larger grains (safke nērkv). You now have your corn ready to be boiled into safke.
To prepare kvpe-cvfke: Black jack wood (seca) – enough green wood to burn down to enough ashes to fill a half-gallon can with holes punched in the bottom. Place the can over another container so that the second container will catch the water that is strained through the ashes. A clean white cloth should be placed under the half-gallon can containing the ashes so that the water will be strained after passing through the ashes. Strain enough liquid to make at least one pint of kvpe-cvfke. The liquid should be the color of strong tea.
To make safke: You now have your ingredients to make safke. Place the safke nērkv in a large kettle of water, about three gallons of water to three pounds of corn, and place the kettle over a low hot fire. It is better if cooked in an iron kettle over a wood fire out-of-doors. When the mixture comes to a hard boil, add kvpe-cvfke, a drop at a time until the corn turns a slight yellow. Continue to boil, stirring often so that the mixture will not burn, until the liquid thickens and the corn is soft.
To serve: Safke may be served while still hot, however, some prefer it cold. It is best served with meat dishes. Safke may also be served with cream and sugar. When permitted to set a few days, especially in warm weather, it becomes fermented and then it is known as safke toksē and is preferred by some Creek Indians to fresh safke. Safke toksē is not intoxicating, as some people believe.
American Indian Recipes, 1970
Need two gallons of flint or white corn. This will make about five gallons of sour corn. To every mortar full of corn add one or two cups of hot water and handful of strong ashes or soda and work with pestle until it is skinned or peeled and work all of the two gallons. Sift corn through pan which has holes made by number twenty nails. After it is sifted put back in mortar and crack with pestle and keep sifting til all is finished and all the skin and meal is clean. Place black pot over fire with about five buckets of clean water and start cooked unless you prefer to soak over night and then cooked. While the corn is cooking boil about two gallons of strong ashes which have been saved from cook stove. Black jack or Ash make best ashes to use. Best to use after the corn is cooked then put the ash water in and cook down til all four or five quarts of liquid is gone and corn turns light brown. When finished, put corn in five gallon crock jar and cover with clean wet cloth and lid, keep from air and place in a warm corner to turn sour over night. To turn sour faster put a buffalo horn (made into a spoon) at the bottom of the jar.
Cookbook of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma, 1976
Recipe for small families: Clean and wash one quart sofky corn. Put corn in large cooking pot. Porcelain or large cast iron pot. Cook about three hours and add one-half cup of ash lye, gradually, and stirring corn all the while. Continue cooking until corn is very tender.
Native American Recipes, 1996
Put three quarts hominy corn or grits into five gallons water. Add one pint ash lye (made by burning wood and using the ashes). Cook for three hours or until the corn is tender. May be served warm or cold. For sour sofkey let it stand for a day or two.
Bertha Tilkens, 2004
Sofke is made by cooking finely ground dried corn in water and lye, often called ash drippings. The corn used to be ground by using a hollowed-out log, called a keco, and a pounder made from a log with a long handle, called a kecvpe. The pounder’s top was heavier than the bottom, which fit into the hollow in the keco, in order to give it the weight to pound the corn into coarse or fine meal. Today, some people grind the corn in blenders or food processors, though this results in a coarser meal.
The ash drippings are made from the ashes of wood fires built for heating or cooking. Ash from blackjack oak is the best type to use to make the lye. Ashes are collected from the fire bed and checked to make sure that there are no foreign objects that might give a different taste to the lye. Water is poured over the ashes, which are held in a clean cloth. The resulting liquid is collected in a clean container. If done properly, the liquid will be clear, with a dark brownish color. This is used to flavor the sofke.
The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, 2009
Sofkey (sofke), derived from the Creek word safke or osafke, is a sour corn drink or soup enjoyed by Native tribes who once lived primarily in the southeastern United States. Today, these tribes include the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek or Muscogee, and Seminole who reside primarily in Oklahoma, as well as the Alabama and Koasati, who live mainly in Louisiana and Texas but also in Okfuskee and Hughes counties in Oklahoma. For most North American tribes corn soup is a common food, but it can vary greatly in its ingredients and preparation. The Southeastern sofkey is as different from northeastern corn soup as German cooking is from French.
Sofkey is made by cooking white cracked corn in a large amount of water that also contains lye made from wood ash. No other seasoning is used except among the Koasati, who prepare the corn in salted water rather than lye ash. The mixture is cooked over moderate heat for three to four hours.
The soup is eaten both hot and cold, using either a spoon or cup depending on the consistency, which can vary from a thin gruel to a watery porridge. Sofkey tends to be sour and frequently is considered to be an acquired taste. It is served in most any setting where food is shared, such as in homes and at various community gatherings.