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.

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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: , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Food & Fingertips

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Savor Sister Linda here celebrating fall.   Now that the summer rains have rejuvenated the parched land, we feel free to milk again.  With that milk we make make cheese  and enjoy fresh milk for coffee.

We’re out just before dawn every morning.  Bats, who are nocturnal pollinators, are still out and about – and sometimes fly so close you can feel the breezes their wings make  on your skin as they swoop by.   I adore the feeling of  being in a Liminal (in between) Zone.  No longer night. Not yet day. All the categorizing that can limit our experience of living falls away.  Bats abound as milking begins.  Birdsongs are in full swing as we walk back to the ranch house with fresh warm milk.

So what does all this talk of liminal zones have to do with a food blog? Waking up to our Senses, that’s what.

It is enlivening to be intimate with your own food. It awakens the senses. Until I’d begun ranching some 20 years ago, I had forgotten how sensual the whole affair is.  I’ll bet you may have, too. A cows’ udder and teats are warm. And slippery. And each teat is a little different – sometimes on the same cow. Your left hand reaches for one warm teat, and your right for another. One may be smaller. One rougher in your hand.  One smoother.

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The milk comes streaming out the tip of each teat, hitting the metal pale held between your knees with it’s own music. I’ve noticed that the sound varies depending on whose doing the milking.  The more seasoned and competent milkers have a wonderful rhythm to their work. And a deeper sound. Us novice milkers … well … the sound is more erratic. Meanwhile,  the milk streams out and is warm – the body temperature of the cow. The aroma of fresh milk hits your nostrils.As the milk fills the pale, the cool metal warms between your knees. I mention the feel of the milk because most people today associate milk as being cold, which it is when buying it at the store.

My Uncle recently shared with me that when his father, born in 1906,  was a small boy in Minnesota they would milk daily. He was the son of a minister and he and his brothers  would get up early, before school, and milk the cows.  The metal containers were then loaded onto the back of the wagon.  The milk was warm enough to warm the metal and  my grandfather would huddle next to the milk containers to stay warm on the way to school.  (At least at first it was warm enough to warm a small boy. With the passage of time en route to school the milk froze. We’re talking Minnesota.)

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You may or may not have access to a cow, or goat or sheep to milk. But you can enjoy food at your own fingertips. Try roasting your own nuts or seeds. Experiment with seasoning them. Nuts are  great fall fare and are great on yogurt. I love them in salads. Or use with warm pumpkin soups. Or just as a snack in and of themselves.

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Preheat the oven to a low temperature – 175 degrees or so. I like to roast “low and slow’ as it keeps the oils in the nuts good and healthy, the nuts don’t burn, and the flavor is (to my tongue)  richer.  On a pan, spread out the seeds/nuts of your choice. I used pumpkin seeds (Pepita’s) here. Sprinkle a little salt and some chiltepin to taste, and roast until they smell and taste great.  Every oven is different, but this takes me about 10-20 minutes. You could also roast them on the stove top on caste iron. Make sure you tend to the roasting and move the nuts/seeds about every so often so that they roast evenly.

Sprinkle on your butternut or pumpkin soup as in the photo below!

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Categories: Sonoran Native | 1 Comment

Date Bars with Mesquite

Mesquite meal, oats, and dates combine for a sweet and nutritious snack.

Now that the temperatures have dropped, we can once again turn on the oven to bake some goodies. Carolyn here today to talk about one of my favorite recipes. Because both dates and mesquite meal are quite sweet, you can cut way back on the sugar. My version cuts two-thirds of the sugar in the original recipe. Although you could actually completely leave out the sugar in the base, in baking at least a little sugar is needed to help with texture and browning. Adding the warming spices of fall make the bars special. I added some cardamom, because it is unusual in our culture, and a little cinnamon. If you happen to have some of Amy’s mole mixes, a tablespoon of one of those would add real punch.

In order to make the finished date bars easy to remove from the pan, line the pan with foil or parchment paper with some wings on the sides to lift out the finished bars.  I hate it when I have to hack at bars to get them out of the pan.  Use a little more than half of the crumb mixture on the bottom; I figured I used about three-fifths.

Line the pan with paper or foil to help lift out the finished bars.

You will have plenty of time to cook the date filling while the base bakes. I was surprised how quickly the pieces of chopped dates softened into a smooth paste.

Dates and water cook quickly into a smooth paste.  Use low heat and stir frequently.

 

When you add the final layer of crumbs, you can add a sprinkling of nuts if your intended audience can eat them. Adjust the baking time by watching for the bars to brown around the edges. Let them cool

in the pan an hour or so before lifting them out with your paper or foil. I cut mine into 24 pieces. They could be even smaller.

Cut small pieces because the bars are quite rich.

I made these bars to take to a potluck. They would also be a good addition to a selection of Christmas cookies.

 

Ummm….delicious with a cup of coffee or tea.

Here’s the recipe:

Oatmeal date bars

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup mesquite meal

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 cup very soft butter

2 cups chopped dates (3/4 pound)

1 cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

1 tablespoon grated lemon or orange rind (optional)

¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 9-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper with an inch or two extending over the edge. Spray with cooking spray or spread a tiny bit of oil over the lining.

In a large bowl, combine oats, whole wheat flour, mesquite meal, salt, brown sugar, and baking soda. Add butter and mix until crumbly. Press a little more than half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9- inch square baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking combine dates and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.. Bring to a simmerl, and cook until thickened, probably around 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice or orange juice concentrate, and remove from heat.

Remove crust from oven when it is beginning to brown at the edges, spread the filling over the base, and pat the remaining crumb mixture on top. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if using. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until top is lightly toasted. Cool before lifting from the pan. Cut into small pieces (I did 24) as these are very rich.

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Carolyn Niethammer writes about the foods of the Southwest, both wild and domesticated.  Find her books at her website, at Native Seeds/SEARCH, at at on-line booksellers.

 

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Book Sale – Sun. Oct. 15

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Gentle Readers,

Please forgive this “infomercial.” We wanted to get the word out for you to save the date.

Two of the Savor Sisters – Carolyn Niethammer & Jacqueline Soule will be selling their books at the ALL-Zona Book Festival.  They will be joining fifty authors who call Arizona home offering books in most genres, including cooking, gardening, ethnobotany, nature, fiction, and more.  Authors at the festival will have books suitable for all ages.  Get a jump on holiday shopping, or just stop by to meet two of the Savor Sisters.

Date: Sunday 15 October

Time: 11:00 am  – 3:00 pm

Place: Indoors at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E River Rd.

carolyn                  Jacqueline Soule business portrait. Tucson, AZ. © 2012 Mark Turner

More about the sale at: http://geckogalsink.wixsite.com/all-zonabookfest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Leave a comment

Glorious Germander

Teucrium chamaedrys 008Believe it or not, autumn has officially arrived.  Once it no longer gets into the triple digits, it is time to think about planting perennial plants.  Get them in the ground in fall – and then they will have a fighting chance to become well established before the heat of next summer hits.

Teucrium chamaedrys and Chrysactinia mexicanaA list of landscape herbs can go on extensively, but I do want to mention one that is often overlooked – germander.  Originally brought here in Father Kino’s time, germander was originally used as a medicinal, but it can also be used in cooking.  Like so many other herbs that come to us from the eastern edge of the Mediterranean (along with bay laurel, sage, rosemary, thyme, and more).  On their native rocky hillsides of Greece and Turkey, these herbs receive rain only in the winter, and are thus excellently drought adapted for our region.

 

There are around 100 species of germander, but most commonly used is the wall germander (Teucrium chamaedrys).  This species has tiny, bright green, rounded leaves. The creeping germander is the same species, but has been selected over time to be a low ground cover (Teucrium chamaedrys var. prostratum).

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When it comes to landscaping, I favor germander over rosemary because it does add a graceful note of bright, foresty kind of green while rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has bluish green and needle-like leaves.  When it comes to fragrance – I appreciate both species.  Both germander and rosemary have many oil glands in their leaves.

Teucrium chamaedrys calflora 0079

But then there are the flowers!  Germander flowers are far more fragrant, almost honey scented, like sweet alyssium.  And yes they are bee pollinated, by both European honey bees and by our native solitary bees.

Both rosemary and germander can be used in roasting potatoes or to add flavor to meat dishes.  I use either one to scrub down the grill prior to cooking – depends on which needs pruning.  In ancient Greece, hunters would field dress their meat with germander, often found growing wild in the hills.  (It may have anti-microbial properties.)  Germander is often found in abundance in the wild since, like most herbs, the essential oils render it unpalatable to wildlife.  I won’t promise it is rabbit proof, but those “wascally wabbits” don’t bother mine.

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There are many herbs that can be used to create a beautiful, low-water-using, edible, Southwest landscape.  Stay tuned to Savor the Southwest and I will keep discussing them here.  I hope to have my own blog up and running soon as well.

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 Guide to Gardening in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico,” (Cool Springs Press, $26).

© This article is 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 are courtesy of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, Calflora, and Pixabay, and may not be used.

 

Categories: Beekeeping, Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, Kino herb, medicinal plant | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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