Celebrate Seasons

Jacqueline Soule here, busy in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, getting baskets of garden goodies ready for gifting.  Many of the topics we Savor Sister have discussed over the years are finding their way into those baskets.

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Some of the topics I featured in the last twelve months that are great for gifts:
* lemon cordial – December 2016
* pomegranate (made into jelly) – January 2017
* seeds (some used as herbs) – March 2017
* lemon pickle – April 2017
* turmeric root (chopped and dried) – June 2017
* sunflower (dried heads for friends with birds) July 2017

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All of these gifts from your Southwest garden require planning ahead.  Harvesting, drying, preserving the bounty of the earth takes time and effort at the time that the bounty is offered.  Sharing the bounty is – in so many ways – the entire point of this season, no matter what religion or non-religion you embrace.

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As the solar year cycles through, the days get shorter and shorter, the darkness of night gets longer and deeper, until, on one specific day, the days start getting longer again, and darkness decreases.  We humans now living with artificial light may miss the point of just how tremendous this turning back the dark is.

 

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To celebrate this season of renewed light we give gifts that were generated by light! Solar light that is – light that shines down on the earth, ripening the grain so we can make flour, ripening the cane so we can make sugar, growing the trees for cinnamon and cloves, causing the flowers that grow into vanilla beans, and then we combine them in many tasty ways.

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We would not be here, nor have any gifts to give, without the bounty of the earth and sun.  Even if you give gifts made of plastic and metal, the plastic comes originally from plants, and metal came up out of the earth.  Points to ponder as the sun cycle continues and the days grow longer once again.

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However you celebrate the season, I wish you joy and peace and bounty in the year ahead.

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JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, Month-by-Month Garden Guide for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $26).
© Article copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site.  Photos © Jacqueline A. Soule may not be used.  Some photos in this post are courtesy of Pixabay.

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Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, fruit, Gardening, herbs, Kino herb, Sonoran herb, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sweet New Ideas for the honorable old Sweet-lime

Surprisingly aromatic and gracefully sweet despite its continued green, the heirloom Mexican Sweet Lime is ready to harvest at Mission Garden. This ancient and honorable citrus was brought to Tucson by the Padres and is a proven producer in our desert kitchen-gardens and orchards. Note the characteristic “nipple” on the base of the fruit which distinguishes it from other citrus.  (photos by MABurgess)

Boughs are hanging heavy with fruit in the Mission Garden’s living history orchard at the foot of A-Mountain!  With chilly nights at last descending upon us, it is time for all of us in low desert country to harvest citrus for the holidays.  The heirloom SWEET-LIME, brought by Father Kino to the Pimeria Alta more than 3 centuries ago, is a living, lasting gift to us, conserved and propagated now by ethnobotanist Jesus Garcia of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Kino Mission Fruit-tree Project.

Citrus time again in Baja Arizona! I’ve harvested Meyer Lemon, Mexican lime, and tangerine from my trees, and I hope to buy an heirloom sweet-lime from Mission Garden to plant in mi huertita–my mini-orchard.

Tia Marta here, wanting so much to share this amazinging sweet-lime with you–and doggone technology has not caught up with my wish to have you just scratch and sniff it right now!  (When will techno-dudes ever perfect the digital transmission of olfactory joys?).   For the time being you will just have to visit the Community Food Bank booth at Thursday’s Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market, or come in person to visit the Mission Garden any Saturday 10am-2pm (within the adobe wall off S.Grande Ave.  See http://www.tucsonsbirthplace.org for directions.)

Mexican sweet-limes –sliced and ready to eat– There is NO puckering up with THESE limes; their gentle sweetness and bouquet will thrill your tastebuds! (And note gladly: the seeds are small and few.)

It’s easy to juice sweet-limes in a manual squeezer.

Ideas for sweet-lime juice:  Amazing what baby-boomers are getting rid of these days.  I found a manual juicer at a yard sale which is perfect for citrus halves and even for sections of pomegranate.

With sweet-lime juice you can wax creative.  For a festive punch, try it mixed with prickly pear juice that you have saved frozen from your August harvest.  Or, for more colorful punches, mix sweet-lime juice with grenadine, or your home-squoze pomegranate juice, or jamaica tea.  It also tastes great with mango.  Another admired Tucson ethnobotanist, Dr Letitia McCune, (www.botanydoc.com) is an expert in cherry nutrition so of course I had to try sweet-lime with tart cherry.  Yum!

Sweet-lime juice and tart cherry punch–a glass full of flavor and colorful cheer for the holidays!

Here are more ideas for sliced or diced sweet-lime fruit:

Sweet-lime, sweet sliced tomato, and rosemary Garni, topped with pine nuts and drizzled with olive oil.

Peeled and diced sweet-lime fruit makes an incomparable aromatic addition to a fruit salad. Here sweet-lime chunks are tossed with sliced red grapes and bananas, dressed with chia seed and agave nectar.

No need to throw away these fragrant sweet-lime rinds! Everything has a use.

Crytallized sweet-lime and tangerine rinds make a marvelous home-made holiday candy.

SWEET-LIME CANDY RECIPE:  For a simple-to-make holiday treat of sweet-lime and other citrus rinds, boil sweet-lime rinds for 5-10 minutes to denature some bitter oils, drain completely, add equivalent amount of organic sugar (i.e. if you have 2 cups of sliced rinds then add 2 cups of sugar).  Do not add ANY liquid.  In saucepan, cook on medium heat until a thick syrup forms (at the hard-ball stage).  With tongs, remove each syrup-coated slice and place to dry and harden on a cookie sheet or waxed paper.  Each will crystallize into a crunchy piece of aromatic candy to excite both the youthful and mature palette.

AN EVEN BETTER SERVING SUGGESTION:  (Ah-hah!–You have already thought of this!)  “Enhance” your punch into a fabulous SWEET-LIME MARGARITA by adding a jigger of your favorite local Bacanora, Sotol or mescal spirits to your sweet-lime punch.  Then pow!!–taste that “nutrition”!  If you happen to add prickly pear juice, you even have a built-in hangover helper.  Happiest holiday wishes to all!  Wassail wassail as we hail the heirlooms!

(All photos by the author, copyright 2017)

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, fruit, Gardening, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Our Tree of Life

 

Savor Sister Linda here on this 1st day of December in the Old Pueblo – and a cloudy Friday it is!  We are on the brink of a full moon; check the sky tomorrow evening as it rises, about 5PM, Tucson time.

I am hoping rain follows these clouds. If you know of a good school on the Practice of  Powerful Rain Dances,  let me know. The Sonoran Desert is parched. No matter what side of the border you live, or whether you are an animal or vegetable or mineral, it is dry. Dry. Dry.

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A friend and Very Dry Land, as we searched for wild chiltepin plants, two weeks ago.

I read a poem this week that won’t let me go. The poem, True North, is by Doug von Koss, I’ll offer you just a few lines in case they speak to you.

“That other compass

you bought in the city

is no good to you now

For me, these lines are less about a urban/rural lifestyles mindsets, and more about old ways of navigating that don’t work as well as they used to. It got me thinking about ways of navigating Life. For me, one newish way is to navigate is to practice being “less sure”, or rather, to be more accepting of myself when I am not certain of life’s terrains. At the ranch, I have no idea if the Winter Rains will come at all this winter. I have lived through just such a scenario; and it is not pretty. Some ranchers in our region have already sold their livestock.  All of them.  And as you can see (in the photo above the poem), the wild chiltepin harvest is also affected this year.  Being a food producer/harvester isn’t always easy. 
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This wild chiltepin plant is growing in a Plant Guild, under an Oak Tree (and Mesquite; note the legume leaves). It is because of these mutually beneficial, interdependent guild relationships that these plants survive in even tougher than usual conditions. Note the yellow butterfly.

The chiltepin we did pick are even more precious than usual now. In the photo above you can see a wild chile plant growing under an oak, and near a mesquite tree as well. I love these nurse plants so fundamental to the survival of wild chiles. We harvested here about three weeks ago, talking and picking for hours, feet slipping on steep hillsides, as have countless humans for 8000 years. As the rhythm of the picking worked it’s magic on me, I found myself thinking of the Tree of Life.

Anne Baring, author,  Thought Leader, and a woman of wonderful integrity, (and her co-author Jules Cashford),  in The Myth of the Goddess; Evolution of an Image writes,  “The Tree of Life was one of the primary images of the goddess herself, in whose immanent presence all pairs of opposites are reconciled. Growing on the surface of the earth, with roots below and branches above, the tree was the great pillar that united earth with heaven and the underworld, through which the energies of the cosmos poured continuously into earthly creation. The animating spirit that moved within it was the serpent guardian also of the fruit or treasure of the tree, which was the epiphany of the goddess, that is, the experience of unity.” (page 496).

The experience of unity.  Not the idea of unity. Not thinking about unity. But experiencing it. Which includes our unity with nature and with our food – so that we might live more as it as if we were an expression of life; and less as it we were isolated from it.  When I am picking wild chiles, for example, I feel connected to all the other hands that have picked this tiny chiles for more than 8000 years; I feel reverence for the beaks and tongues of birds who ate/eat and spread it’s seed. I feel happy that I can eat food that is really food. That comes fresh. Not wrapped in plastic; not processed at all.

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Chiltepin which in my experience is the most aromatic chile in the world. Not only are they incredibly flavorful, but they smell so darned good!

IMG_1958No recipe this week; the photos won’t transfer over to this site for some reason, and the recipe needs the pics. Instead, consider eating as if you really really really were a part of our food system. Be the Tree of Life. Because we are all connected, to each other and to our food, it is both wise and fun to bring to our tables and our tongues food that makes a positive impact on Our Tree of Life.

Farmers markets are a great place to buy food as “close to the source” as is possible, without growing it yourself. If you live here in the South West, you could plant a winter garden. There are few things as satisfying as feeling your own food. If you live in colder climes, flirt with planting some herbs in a pot inside by a window this winter. Or finding a spot to plant a garden in the spring.

Happy Full Moon.

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | 4 Comments

Savory Cinnamon

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special for Savor the Southwest by Jacqueline A. Soule, Ph.D.

Many of our winter dishes include cinnamon. Cinnamon is traditionally spice used in winter cooking, like pumpkin pie, snickerdoodles, and gingerbread.  Growing up in Tucson, our hot cocoa always had a sprinkle of cinnamon in it.  I remember the first time I encountered “American Cocoa” made with tons of sugar and marshmallows.  Even at age eight I thought it way too sweet.  I prefer a nice “Mexican Cocoa,” and part of what makes it so good is the cinnamon.

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Mexican Cocoa Mix
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra)
1 cup powdered creamer
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Blend this together well and store in a quart jar.
To make the cocoa, place 1/3 cup of mix in a mug and stir in 1 cup boiling water.

This can make a nice gift – place in a quart canning jar with a few whole sticks of cinnamon around the inside.  Those cinnamon sticks are great for stirring the cocoa with, and can be nibbled on for hours.  Avoid excessive cinnamon stick consumption however, it can have a laxative effect.

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The Botany of Cinnamon
The word “cinnamon” is directly from Hebrew and is found in the Old Testament – where “kinamon” is mentioned in the same context as the treasures of gold, silver, myrrh, and frankincense.  In those long ago days, the rolled “sticks” of cinnamon bark came overland from the rainforests of Sri Lanka on the backs of beasts of burden such as elephants, dromedaries, and camels.  It was so sought after, it was one of the spices that spurred world exploration.

The spice itself comes from the inner bark of an evergreen rainforest tree which is now grown in large plantations.  The bark is carefully harvested to not kill the tree. As the bark dries it curls into “sticks” or “quills,” which are used whole or ground.  Meanwhile, leftover parts and pruned branches are used to make the essential oil sold as “Cinnamon Oil.”

 

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There are numerous species of cinnamon.  The most popular for culinary use is the pungent and slightly sweet Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamonum zeylanicum).  With a very cinnamon fragrance, “Cassia Oil” comes from Cinnamonum cassia, with the immature fruits called cassia buds used as a spice.  Camphor from Cinnamonum camphora was one of the raw materials in the manufacture of celluloid.  Now camphor is primarily used medicinally.

JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, Month-by-Month Garden Guide for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $26).

© Article copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos courtesy of Pixabay.

Categories: Cooking, herbs, medicinal plant, Mexican Food | Leave a comment

Roasted Veggies with a hint of Pipian

Happy Thanksgiving week! Amy here, planning the menu with the cooking team, which is pretty much everyone in our family. It’s fun to mix it up and offer something interesting for the big meal, but it can’t stray too far… on Thursday.

A few years ago my sister and I spiced the veggies with a dusting with Mano Y Metate Pipian Picante powder and a splash of Alfonso olive oil before going into the screaming hot oven.

This was a Tucson CSA mix of small Red La Soda potatoes, Glendale Gold onions, a Beauregard Sweet Potato and cubes of this unknown winter squash. If I had carrots or mild turnips, I would have added them, too.

Pipian Picante is medium spicy, but for a mild dish, use Pipain Rojo. The two Pipian are nearly the same recipe, but Pipain Rojo is made with Santa Cruz Mild Chile from Tumacacori, Arizona, while Pipian Picante uses Santa Cruz Hot Chile. This chile is fruity and flavorful. It’s bright red in color and the flavor matches the color. Of all the varieties of mole powder that I make, these two are the only ones that use only one type of chile, because this chile is special enough to stand on its own. By the way, if you’re looking for a fun road trip to take out of town guests, the little Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Sore is fun and right across from the mission.

Both Pipian Rojo and Pipian Picante are made with lots of pepitas, or pumkin seeds, along with almonds and a few sesame seeds. It also features plenty of coriander (cilantro) seeds and canela, the soft, easy to break sticks of Ceylon cinnamon.

Sweet cinnamon, sweet chile, and evaporated cane juice in the Pipian go great with the beautiful winter squash that usually looks sweeter than it is. And the kick in the chile is great on the sweet onion and sweet potato. The finished dish is unquestionably savory and spicy. I hope you like it as much as we do. Add a sprig of rosemary from the garden if you have it, just for fun.

 

Now, for Friday after Thanksgiving, I recommend Enmoladas with Turkey. These are enchiladas made with mole instead of just chile. Please forgive the candlelit photo, but this is all I could take before it was devoured! For the recipe, go to my very first post on this blog, and substitute leftover turkey for the amaranth greens filling.

Thank you to my family that helped me sell mole at the Desert Botanical Garden and Tohono Chul, and my friends that helped me fill and label tins to prepare for the events. Mil Gracias.

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, heirloom crops, Heirloom pumpkins & squashes, herbs, Kino herb, Mexican Food, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Many Pumpkins…So Little Time!

Tohono O’odham Ha:l “TO pumpkin” –a striped cushaw winter squashes with their corky peduncle attachments–and bright orange Tarahumara pumpkins (a NativeSeeds/SEARCH harvest) MABurgess photo

Pumpkin-bashing may be fantastic sport after Halloween, and indeed it can create great compost with the right follow-through, but I’m in the camp of those waste-not-want-not folks who enjoy pumpkins and squashes for their wholesome flavors and vibrant nutrition (not to mention their esthetic colors and sculptural forms–see last month’s post).  Tia Marta here, delighting in the diversity of our Southwestern heirloom pumpkins and sharing some diverse ways to enjoy them.

An assortment of Dineh Hubbard-type pumpkins from a Navajo community in northeastern Arizona (MABurgess photo)

The so-called “Magdalena Big Cheese squash” from Sonora, shaped like an ancestral jackolantern, has a glorious color inside and great flavor, here pictured at Mission Garden grown from NativeSeeds/SEARCH seed. (MABurgess photo)

Pumpkins are easy and fun to grow over the summer if you have a nice sunny space where the vines can sprawl, a little plot of good deep soil for the roots, and consistent water.

[Do you think that the word squash has a bad rap?  You’ll notice that I prefer to use the word pumpkin for many of the squash group within the Cucurbit family that mature with a harder shell and an be saved for longer periods.]  Pumpkins can actually take many forms–not just the carve-able Halloween type.  I think of squash as the early, thin-skinned stage of several different pumpkin relatives in the Cucurbitaceae family.  There are four different species of pumpkins that Southwestern Native People have created into a diversity of successfully adapted crops over the centuries.  You can plant seed of all 4 species in one garden as they will not easily cross-pollinate.   Dig into the NativeSeeds/SEARCH website http://www.nativeseeds.org to explore the wide realm of Southwest indigenous squashes.

Three different pumpkin lineages–the light green “Mayo Blusher”(Cucurbita maxima), the striped “TO ha:l” (C. argyrosperma), and golden-orange “Magdalena Big Cheese” (C.moschata). Surprisingly, they can all be grown together and remain pure because the different species will not easily cross.

Now for the fun of “internalizing” these colorful and nutritious foods–  Look what happens when you open one up!

Rich orange betacarotenes of Mayo Blusher pumpkin can brighten many a meal– and a nutrition panel!  After de-seeding you can roast a half pumpkin turned open-side-down in the oven or solar oven.  Served with melted butter, there isn’t anything finer nor simpler to prepare!  (MABurgess photo)

My Tohono O’odham teacher and mentor Juanita Ahil told how, when she was young, her family would take a whole TO ha:l on long trips in their wagon.  When they rested the horses they’d make a fire, roast the ha:l whole on the coals, and when done cut and serve chunks in the shell communally with the family.  That was dinner–easy, packable, nutritious, sumptuous, no mess to clean up, just toss the shell.

Winter Pumpkin stir-fry–Skin and dice fresh Mayo Blusher (or any hefty heirloom winter squash) into chunks to stir-fry with onion or garlic. Enjoy as is, or add herbs and other veggies as desired. Don’t be hesitant to even try adding curry to this stir-fry for a healthy pizzaz.  Yum!  (MABurgess photo)

A delectable one-dish meal with stir-fry pumpkin:  Mayo Blusher turkey-skillet–the perfect way to use turkey left-overs!  You can use TO Ha:l, Magdalena Big Cheese, Dineh pumpkin, or any other winter squash (or other meats). to achieve flavor-filled variations on this wonderful dish. (MABurgess photo)

Carrying the stir-fry of heirloom pumpkin to the next level, try it in a stir-fry one-dish meal with meat.  Here I have sautéed ground turkey before adding it to the Mayo Blusher and onion stir-fry.  Add fresh diced green peppers or diced I’itoi’s onions for color and flavor–or if you have a picante palate, dice a jalapeño into the entire dish, gradually testing it to your own level of “heat.”  This is an innovative use of left-over turkey a few days after Thanksgiving.

With roasted or steamed Mayo Blusher (or other pumpkin heirloom) you can make a slightly sweet dish pleasing to a younger palate.  Add agave nectar to taste, pine nuts and/or pumpkin seeds to add crunchy texture.  (MABurgess photo)

After steaming or roasting your pumpkin (here I”ve used Mayo Blusher again as we had a bumper crop), add 1 cup of mashed pumpkin as a substitute for the wet ingredients in any coffeecake recipe. It will add flavor, color, and nutrition.  (MABurgess photo)

Many hard-shelled winter squashes/pumpkins have the helpful attribute of storability without refrigeration.  I kept a whole Tohono O’odham Ha:l in the shade of my back porch all winter long until March when I cooked it up.  Its weight was getting lighter but it had lost no flavor!  Steamed or roasted pumpkin leftovers can be stored frozen ready for quick defrosting, a more effective use of space than storing whole pumpkins.

Shiny Mayo Blusher (Cucurbita maxima)  seeds washed, dried, ready to save for planting–or to roast as a healthy snack

Tohono O’odham Ha:l seed saved from a pumpkin, cleaned & saved for summer planting or winter snacking

Honoring those ancient Southwestern farmers through the ages (and those who still grow traditional squashes and pumpkins), let’s rejoice in their agricultural creativity and plant a seed next summer.  Meanwhile, with heirlooms from farmers’ markets, we can reap the benefits of their beautiful culinary contributions.  Enjoy a pumpkin served in new and delightful ways this holiday season!

 

 

 

Categories: Cooking, Gardening, Heirloom pumpkins & squashes, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grasshopper Love

Savor Sister Linda with two question for you this first weekend of  November 2017.

The first is, how is it November already?  The second is, have you ever had the experience of coming across something unexpected and  beautiful that gives you a kind of Reset? Maybe even a reset that you didn’t even know you needed?

 

I was in the garden at the ranch last week, admiring the pumpkins/squash,  when I came across two grasshoppers. My eye almost missed them. But when I spotted them, their color, their form, their activity … made me smile. A wide open smile.

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Can you find the two grasshoppers in this photo     Hint: follow the pumpkin vine up to a smaller vine ….

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Male grasshoppers court females, by flying about and snapping their wings. Males are smaller. They have two testes, each of which is connected to a sperm duct. After mating, the female uses  four protrusions “ovipositors” with which she digs holes to deposit her eggs, and through which she deposits them. She lays them in winter, which is why we are seeing so much grasshopper “love” this time of year.

Sometimes our food come with “pests” – and this can be a good sign.  The worm we  find in our lettuce or apple from the garden or farmers market means that it is appealing, likely nontoxic, and it offers nutrition.

While out of check they can and do destroy fields of crops, causing much damage, in balance they are wonderful. The puppies and cats at the ranch practice their hunting skills as hunting them.  And they enjoy eating them. Many types of birds including flycatchers, blue birds, chickens, even hawks (so I’ve read) eat them.  (And most of you Foodies know that their has been a growing movement to accept and incorporate grasshoppers and other insects more broadly into human diets.  It has been a traditional practice in certain cultures, but has not been part of the mainstream here).

I am enraptured by little things… and in insects and their exoskeletons. Grasshoppers molt when they undergo Simple Metamorphosis (which I am sure is never simple – but is  more simple than Complete Metamorphosis).  Are you curious about how long this life form had been on the planet? Hint:  way before dinosaurs. (There are a lot of scholarly and farm related articles on grasshoppers that you can find; here is one that may not be as scientific, but it has some fascinating facts about them: click here. )

Surprisingly Simple Grasshopper – Revisioned

(Grasshopper Love Adult Beverage; for two)

 

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With a color palate that includes the browns, greens, and yellows of the two love-hoppers above,  and ingredients that allow us to experience the “properties”  of heat of the chiltepinand cooling of the mintthat directly impact our tongue and mouth I took a few liberties with revisioning this “In Lieu of Dessert” Drink.

Revisioned:  I vetoed that roll your eyes into the back of your head green colored creme de menthe, in favor of a clear version. Then skipped the white creme de cocoa in favor of the darker chocolate color. (And this recipe totally skips the ice cream you see in so many Grasshopper drink recipes).  I included two ingredients – chiltepin and mint and just as nature created them. I did this so that they could speak to you with your first sip of this drink.

HOW TO: 

I love how the cool of the mint and the HEAT of the chiltepin play off each other.  I really love it.

In a cocktail shaker:

1.5 oz of Creme de Menthe clear not green. Remember there are no Grasshopper police so you can go with green if you want to.

1.5 oz Creme fe Cocoa (dark – like the grasshopper in the photo. I wanted her as my springboard color palate.

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1.5 oz cream of your choice!  If you are a delighter in dairy, by all means us heavy cream.

If you prefer something non dairy, use what ever milk you like most. I found a toasted coconut-almond blend at the health food store that I had never even noticed it before. It  just happened to be creamy, sensual, and exactly right for me.

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1 Chiltepin per glass – crushed. (it was interesting, that the milk I used had fat/oil and the chiltepin seeds moved the oil to the sides of the glass right on front of my eyes. Chemistry in a glass.

1 sprig of fresh mint or spearmint.

The last two ingredients embody the energies of Nature itself.

Some ice.

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I like to chew on things that are real. Truthfully, chewing on Nature transports me inside myself. At the same time as it reconnects me to ecosystems outside myself.  I like the feel of  this inner and outer alchemy.

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I let the drink itself inspire me and enjoyed the last mint and chiltepin as I finished writing.

I found these two Grasshopper Love glasses at Bon here in Tucson AZ and want to thank Bonnie and Crystal for their bright smiles and aesthetic contribution to The Old Pueblo.

Thanks also to Alan who helped me pick out the Creme de Menthe and Creme de Cocoa – and of course to Mark, as PLAZA Liquors. There is nothing like a local liquor store where folks know you, and are willing to take the time to help you think through your creative ideas!

I love living in a town that has such rich resources as these!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | 2 Comments

Easy to Grow – Caraway

Jacqueline Soule (Gardening with Soule in the land of El Sol) this week to share a wonderful plant to raise this winter.

Caraway has a long history of use as both a culinary and medicinal plant. Evidence of the seed has been found among Mesolithic (middle stone age) food remains, indicating that it has been used by humans for over 10,000 years. Caraway is also mentioned in the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medicinal manuscript from 1500 B.C.E. Caraway was used in Roman cooking, and Olde English cooking as well, since it is listed in the “Form of Curry,” a cookbook written by Richard the II’s cook in 1390 C.E.

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The entire caraway plant is useful. Leaves, roots, flowers, and seed are all edible. As a spice, primarily the seed is used; by Austrians in beef dishes; by Germans to season pork; by Hungarians in goulash; and by Swedes and Norwegians to flavor their bread. Caraway seed is also tasty in eggs, cheeses, baked goods, pastries, fish dishes, or with many types of steamed vegetables, in pickles, or in fruit dishes such as compote, apple sauce, or some chutneys. I mix caraway seed or leaves with tofu and stir-fry for a pleasantly different flavor. Others use the leaves raw in either green or fruit salads, or in soups and stews. The roots may be eaten raw, steamed, or added to soups and stews.

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With all these wonderful uses of the plant, you may wonder if caraway will grow in the southwest. The answer is a resounding yes! Start caraway seeds in October in your winter garden. Or plant the seedlings any month without a freeze. If you intend to harvest the roots, be sure that you keep the soil evenly moist throughout the season, otherwise they can be bitter. Caraway can be grown in the yard, in the oasis area of a xeriscape. It also does well in containers at least two feet deep.

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Ethnomedicinally, caraway is used to promote digestion, stimulate the appetite, and relieve cases of diarrhea. In most cases it is prepared as an infusion, and has a slightly sweetish taste to it. There is no known indication of toxicity, but all plants contain defensive compounds to deter pests, thus it is best consumed in small doses. People with food allergies to other members of the carrot family, such as dill or cilantro, should also avoid caraway.

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Caraway is easily grown, a prolific seed producer, and a delicious addition many dishes. Adding some caraway to your garden or yard is a green action. It will reduce, at least a little bit, importation of caraway seed from eastern Europe, the principle growers. It can also add a wonderful new flavor dimension to your food.

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JAS avatarIf you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, Month-by-Month Garden Guide for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $26).
© Article copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.

Categories: Beekeeping, dye plant, Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, Kino herb, medicinal plant, Mexican Food, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Mole Dulce with Chicken and Grandma’s famous Sopa de Arroz

Hello, Amy here, with a post for the people that want to know how to make chicken with my mole. There are so many different ways to do it, and no wrong way! But this is is one of the ways I do it.

I often start with boneless, skinless thighs, one of my favorite pieces. Please use what you like. I brown them in an a neutral frying oil, like canola, grape seed or even mild olive oil. Whatever you have near the stove will work.

After they are brown but not necessarily cooked through, I remove them from the pan and set aside. Then I add Mano Y Metate Mole Dulce powder to the same pan with the same oil. For two servings, I add half of a tin. Stir to form a paste and keep it from burning. Also, be sure to remove all the browned meat juices on the pan. Cook until the paste turns a shade darker and smells really good. This critical step toasts the chiles, nuts, seeds and corn, and brings the spices to life.

Then add chicken broth. Start with half a cup, but you will probably need to add more, depending on how much it reduces.

After simmering for a few minutes, pour over the chicken.

If the chicken is cooked through, it is ready to serve. If the chicken is not cooked though, and I want to serve it later, I thin the sauce with a bit more chicken broth and put it in the oven. Baste with the sauce a few times while it is baking.

While the chicken is cooking, I make my grandmother’s famous Sopa de Arroz, or “Spanish” Rice or Mexican rice. Paired with fresh, whole pinto beans like my grandfather made, this is the ultimate comfort food. Obviously, beans and rice make a fine meal all by themselves.

Start with a heavy skillet, a cup of white long grain rice and oil to coat each grain.

Cook and stir as the grains turn opaque, then golden. When a few grains are very dark brown, it is ready. No, it is not burned, it could even go a bit darker.

Heat a pan with just over 2 cups of chicken broth, half a cup of tomato (grated fresh or chopped canned) and a few slices of onion. Salt the broth until it seems too salty. CAREFULLY spoon the browned rice into the hot broth.

It will really sizzle!

Cover and cook over very low heat until the rice is tender and the broth is mostly absorbed.

By now, the chicken is cooked through.

In Tucson, we are still enjoying tomatoes grown during the warm season, but are starting to see the first of the baby lettuces that grow during our cool season!!!! I simply offer a wedge of lime or lemon to dress the greens on the plate. The tart, oil free salad is a nice compliment to the rich mole.

I like to eat everything on one plate, but the beans could go in a bowl with lots of broth if you prefer. Here I sprinkled them with a bit of aged salty goat cheese. Serve with a few hot corn tortillas.

Come visit me and my family at our booth in Phoenix Nov 10-12 at Desert Botanical Garden’s Chiles and Chocolate Festival AND in Tucson Oct 27-28 at Tohono Chul Park’s Chiles, Chocolate and Day of the Dead. Stock up on holiday gifts or just say hello!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Leave a comment

An ARTISTIC Harvest of Desert Foods

Living sculptures and a study in color–the fall harvest at Mission Garden, Tucson–Tohono O’odham Ha:l,   NSS Mayo Blusher, Magdalena Big Cheese pumpkin, membrillo fruit, T.O 60-day corn and chapalote corn (MissionGarden photo)

You salivate.  Or you catch your breath with it’s beauty!  Maybe the trigger is your taste-buds’ association with the truly GOOD foods from our Sonoran Desert… Or maybe the esthetic forms and colors of these foods clobber an “appreciation center” in our soul… We don’t even have to taste them–We react!

In Georgia O’Keefe-style, up close and intimate with heirloom beans–“Boyd’s Beauties” original watercolor by MABurgess

Shapely Dine Cushaw –a big-as-life watercolor by MA Burgess

For me,  just one look at a harvest of desert crops makes me want to PAINT it!  Over the years I’ve grown out many seeds for NativeSeeds/SEARCH (that admirable Southwest seed-conservation group saving our precious food-DNA for the future).  With each harvest–before I extract the seeds or eat the wonderful fruit–I’m always blown away by the sheer colors, patterns, sensuousness, or sculptural shape that each seedhead, each pumpkin, each pod, kernel, or juicy berry displays.  And the kicker is–they are oh-so-transient!  I am compelled to document each, capturing its esthetic essence pronto before it proceeds to its higher purpose, gastronomic and nutritional.

Tia Marta here, inviting you to come see some of my artistic creations depicting glorious desert foods and traditional cultural landscapes.   Next weekend–Saturday and Sunday, October 21-22, is Tucson’s WestSide ArtTrails OPEN STUDIO event!  You can see artworks in action (along with some inspiring fruits of the desert that inspire the art).  Check out http://www.ArtTrails.org and click on the artist’s name (Martha Burgess) for directions.  Join us 10am-4pm either day.

Velvet Mesquite’s Lasting Impressions–Imbedded handmade paper sculpture by MABurgess

In addition, at our OPEN STUDIO TOUR you will see a retrospective of Virginia Ames’ lifetime of diverse creative arts, including pastels, needlework, collographs and silkscreen, with her own interpretations of traditional foods and food-plants.

Tohono O’odham Autumn Harvest–large-scale watercolor by Virginia Ames

Cover of new children’s adventure picture-book of the Sonoran Desert Borderlands (in 3 languages); by Virginia Ames, illustrated by Frank S. Rose, and edited by Martha Burgess

Her children’s book about the saguaro in the Sonoran Desert Borderlands, entitled Bo and the Fly-away Kite will be available too.  It is illustrated by Tucson artist, plant aficionado and author Frank S. Rose, with the illustrator in person 1:30-4pm to sign copies and discuss desert plants.

Nature photography by J.Rod Mondt (WildDesertPhotography) will enhance our exhibit with his wildlife images, especially featuring our precious pollinators.

Honeybee heavy with pollen–photo by JRod Mondt

And only at the OPEN STUDIO of Martha Burgess, October 21 or 22 can you try tastes of the Native foods that you see in our artwork (from recipes you may find in earlier posts of this very blog).

Find more samples of our artwork at our website http://www.flordemayoarts.com, also at Tohono Chul Park Museum Shop and at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH Store (3061 N Campbell Ave, Tucson).  “NOW PLAYING” at the Tucson Jewish Community Center is an exhibit by the ArtTrails.org group of diverse WestSide artists–among them yours truly Tia Marta.  The public is invited to the reception at TJCC on Wednesday Oct.18, 6:30-8pm.  Virginia Wade Ames’ books can be found on Amazon.com searching by author.

Add to your fall-fun calendar:   Friday and Saturday, Oct.27-28–not to be missed- the wild and festive Chiles, Chocolate, and Day of the Dead celebration at Tohono Chul Park, 9-4 both days.  Flor de Mayo’s Native heirloom foods will be arrayed deliciously and artistically there for purchase.

Now–with 3 art events featuring my desert food images– first check out ArtTrails.org for details of our upcoming Open Studio Tour Oct 21-22, click on “Artists” and scroll to Martha Burgess for directions.  It will be truly a feast-for-the-eyes, a visual harvest a-plenty.  We’ll see you there!

Categories: Sonoran Native, SW foods in the Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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