Monthly Archives: October 2017

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

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

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