Author Archives: Savor Blog Partners

About Savor Blog Partners

Carolyn Niethammer writes about the food, people and places of the beautiful Southwest from her home in Tucson, Arizona. Whether she is turning prickly pear juice into a delicious sauce or baking mesquite pods or acorns into a fragrant bread, she delights in finding new recipes for desert wild plants.

Monsoon Mesquite Bosque Butter

Mature pods of velvet mesquite–ready for monsoon planting  or eating!  (JRMondt photo)

Tia Marta’s 12’x12″ pod net, slit into center on an imaginary radius to wrap around trunk and over understory plants, edged with duct tape on non-selvedge sides (MABurgess photos)

Mesquite pods shaken from tree onto harvesting net

I finished the split center edges of my pod-harvesting net with hems in which to optionally insert saguaro ribs or PVCpipe for easy set-up around a mesquite tree trunk

This past week, at the last hurrah before these wonderful monsoonal rains began, Tia Marta here was out with my handy dandy self-invented pod-harvesting net to bring in some of our Sonoran Desert’s bounty–just in time to avoid the aflatoxin hazard which comes with higher humidity.

Some velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) have a rich raspberry color–Wish you could taste this one–We compete with the wildlife for them. (MABurgess photo)

Plump pods of sweet velvet mesquite, full of pulp for making Bosque Butter. Every tree’s pods have different shapes and tastes.  Be choosy!–collect from the trees with the plumpest and sweetest pods. (MABurgess photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mesquite orchardist, miller of primo mesquite flour, died June3, 2017

 

With a song of thanks for this desert super-food–and with thankful recollections of some amazing mesquite aficionados–I would like to share one of my favorite mesquite recipes.  This post about mesquite is a tribute to the “gotmesquite guy” Mark Moody who recently passed, and whose fabulous mesquite flour via farmers’ markets and NativeSeeds/SEARCH has fed many a happy desert-foods buff over the years.  (Check out my piece in the online EdibleBajaArizona for more about Mark.)

Mesquite “Bosque Butter” and “Bosque Sauce” a la Tia Marta

This delectable recipe for Mesquite Bosque (pronounced boss’kay) Butter was inspired by a crack team of Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Docents in the 1970s -80s who assisted in our first Mesquite Harvesting Workshops, possibly the first ever done in English.  In particular I’m honoring the memories of docents Mike and Jean Mentus, Gerry Dennison, and Linda Stillman, who helped me invent this condiment and teach Museum members about it.

This recipe uses the whole dry pods freshly harvested–not milled meal (although you could enhance it with extra mesquite meal if you desire.)

RECIPE for Muff’s “MESQUITE BOSQUE BUTTER”:

You will need:  3 bowls(2 for straining, 1 for compostable fiber), 2 stirring spoons, tasting spoon, 1-2 colanders, 1 lg. saucepan for stovetop or solar oven, cheesecloth, electric mixer with pulse setting (Your grandmother’s osterizer is fine.)

Ingredients:

Approx. 2 qts mesquite pods, clean, mature, dry (preferably fresh off the tree)

Approx. 1 quart drinking water

2 pk sure-jell (or other fruit pectin, ca.3.5oz.)

¼ C sugar (or honey optional) [Sugar helps set the gel.]

½ C raw organic agave nectar

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 T butter (optional)

juice of 4 Mexican limes (or 2 lemons)

Washed pods, covered with drinking water, set in solar oven to cook (MABurgess photo)

Directions:

 1) Rinse mesquite pods until thoroughly clean of desert dust, and drain them.

2) Place pods in large saucepan with enough drinking water to cover. Add more water if 1qt is not enough to cover pods.

3) Simmer pods 30-40 minutes until fully softened. Softening time differs with dryness of pods.

4) Water will be sweet.  Through a colander over a bowl, drain pods, reserving ALL the liquid.

Cooked pods and reserved liquid being blendered

Check bottom of blender to remove all fiber from blade with each handful

Cooked, blendered pods draining thru cheesecloth in colander

5) In blender, whirl softened pods–handful by handful, each handful with ¼ cup of the reserved liquid– with gentle pulses, 8-10 short pulses max for each handful of pods.

6) Into a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl, hand-remove the entire loosened juice, pulp, seed, and fiber mass after each handful.  Check blender blades each time to prevent burnout of motor, as pod fibers can easily bind up the works!

7) In the colander over the bowl, drain as much of the blendered pulpy liquid from the fiber as possible, pressing, squeezing, twisting it out with cheesecloth.  You might extract more if you squeeze the cheesecloth after each handful is poured from the blender.

Squeezing cooked, blendered pods thru cheesecloth to extract pulpy liquid

After adding all other ingredients,, boil the sweet pulpy liquid

8) Transfer the strained pulpy liquid to a saucepan.  Bring it to a boil.  Add lime/lemon juice, sugar, agave nectar, cinnamon, pectin, and butter, stirring all in smoothly.

9) The liquid mixture must be cooked down to concentrate it.  Simmer 30-45 minutes to desired texture or thickness.

10) Funnel the mixture into jars.  Cool down; refrigerate when cool.

If it thickens it will be a delicious spread–like apple-butter.  If it does not gel it will be a fabulous mesquite syrup or sauce over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream!  If your mix has more liquid than pulp, when it thickens it can even be served as a very rich yummy pudding.

Mesquite Bosque Butter on buckwheat pancake–delish!

However it comes out, you will be enjoying the health benefits of mesquite’s complex carbohydrates and its unforgettable sweet and natural taste!  (Don’t forget to compost the leftover seeds and fiber—good nutrients for soil building.  Or, feed it to the birds in your “back forty.”)

Plan NOW and prep for future mesquite harvests!  Why not plant you own trees and enjoy their shade, their life-giving oxygen–and their nutritious food!  In the coolth of morning start digging a tree hole where you want future shade.  Monsoon time is a good time to plant, and there are Monsoon Plant Sales happening right now.  Three mesquite species are native to our Southwest region:  Velvet (Prosopis velutina), Honey mesquite (P. glandulosa), and Screwbean mesquite (P.pubescens).  All three make fabulous pod meal but the best for Bosque Butter are Velvet and Honey, as their pods can be plump and full of high-carb pulp.  For the most local varieties of mesquite visit Desert Survivors Nursery (desertsurvivors.org).   The Tohono Chul Park’s Monsoon Madness Plant Sale Friday-Saturday, July 28-29, 2017, will have several expert local growers represented (www.tohonochul.org).  NativeSeeds/SEARCH has mesquite meal in stock and expects the most recent local harvest to be available soon.  (NSS’s Monsoon Plant Sale is Fri-Sun, July 28-30, for monsoon gardening plants, http://www.nativeseeds.org).

Happy harvesting–happy tree-planting–y buen provecho! de Tia Marta.

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cherry Pie with Picante (Spicy) Pie Crust

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This little cherry pie is about 5 inches across

Savor Sister Linda here today with a mid-summers night’s recipe. It is hot here in the Old Pueblo. We have the heat of high temperatures,  wildfires, and of drought conditions yet to be quenched by rain.

Today we have a summer full moon, and the moonlight in the evenings has been stunning. Within that light, I’ve been hearing summer cherries calling me, and so decided to make a cherry pie.  To go with the heat of the season, I thought it might be fun to add a little heat to the crust. I was surprised at the flavor – and plan to make many such pies, both sweet and savory!

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The Crust can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Use your favorite crust recipe or store bought crust. You’ll find no Pastry Police here. I bought a pie crust mix with just three ingredients, (pastry flour, cane sugar, and pink sea salt)  that still required ice water, chilled butter, rolling pins etc.   To this I added chiltepin!  I crushed it right into the pie crust crumble. For a small pie like the five inch one ablove, I used 2 chiles – for i a larger one, I would increase that to 4 – (and then increase/decrease from there, dependig on your own preferences) Remember that fats mute the in chiles heat a bit, so the same number of chiltepin that may feel less hot.

THE RECIPE:

Crust Ingredients: for one big pie or two small pies: Make crust first and allow it time to chill in the refrigerator while you make your filling.

2-1/2 cups pastry flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (or 2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter (I used Irish butter from grass fed cows) cut into cubes about a 1/4 inch cubes.

5 -6 Tablespoons of ice water

4 dried, crushed chiltepin.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl to blend. Add butter and mix with your hands or by pulsing in a food processor until small pea size  clumps develop. Add the ice water by tablespoons, and mix with a fork until the dough holds together when you press a small amount between your fingers. Add a bit more ice water if it feels dry. Gather and divide dough into two pieces. Roll each into a ball, and then flatten each, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or more. (can be made two days ahead), if  kept chilled. Before rolling it out, let the dough soften just a bit.

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This pie crust is so good that even the butter is smiling!

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I flattened the dough, and refrigerated it in two equal pieces for two small pies.

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I did little more than sprinkle chiletpin right on the pie crust.

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Keeping the cherries whole, I used a small pie mold to make one contained pie.

 

Filling Ingredients: for one big pie – or several small ones!

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5 cups of whole, pitted cherries. (about 2 lbs of whole un pitted cherries)

3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice if using sweet cherries (1 Tablespoon if Sour cherries)

3 Tablespoons corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

note: most recipes call for sugar, but I like a pie that is less sweet, and so do not use it.  If you prefer more sweetness add 1-2 tablespoons sugar.

HOW TO:

Preheat oven to 425F. 

Combine flour, (sugar), cornstarch, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla.

Roll out one of the dough pieces on a lightly floured surface to about 12 inches round if making a larger pie. Transfer to pie pan. As you can see, I used smaller sizes for smaller pies – just roll out dough to fit the size you are going for. Pie is pie and tastes great regardless of size. Just remember air holes if your pie has a top crust.  And if you do use a top crust you can lightly coat the top with an egg and some water mixed together – brush on and sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Time Capsule Kitchen is a Wild Little Business that celebrates the 8000 year old (and still growing wild!)  chiltepin chile.  We love these chiles so much, we decided to build our business model following their example. Any life form that has thrived as long as these have clearly has dignity. We pay the women who hand harvest  these rare chiles a dignified wage. And they in turn treat the plants with respect.

Be Part of the Wild Chile Ecosystem.  Check us out at http://www.timecapsulekitchen.com

 

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Savor Homemade Corn Tortillas

Carolyn here today to expound on the glories and benefits of homemade corn tortillas. With inexpensive corn tortillas wrapped in plastic available everywhere, why bother to make your own? Same reason to make your own bread: flavor and nutrition. The fragrance and flavor of a tortilla right off the grill is is warm and homey and the perfect base for a simple meal.

Homemade tortillas over a fire at Linda’s ranch in Mexico. (photo by Linda McKittrick.)

Corn tortillas are made with masa harina, or corn that has gone through the nixtamal process with lime and is then dried and ground (or maybe ground and dried). If you want to start from scratch with the corn,  Savor blog sister Amy can lead you through it in a previous  post here. 

Back in April, public radio had an interesting piece on a Mexican cook who maintains that tortillas made from heritage corn are vastly superior to those made from commercial bagged masa. You can read the very interesting article here.

The problem is that corn alone, whatever corn you use,  isn’t all that nutritious, lacking protein and some other nutrients. As with all foods, combining ingredients can lead to more balanced nutrition.

Grated turmeric root adds nutrition and a lovely golden color to the tortillas.

I added both garbanzo flour and amaranth flour as well as some grated turmeric to the masa  for some tortillas I made recently and the results were delicious. (See recipe below). Amaranth is high in protein and the amino acid lysine. You could also use quinoa flour for more nutrition.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have the dough, you need to shape it. In Tucson, traditional Mexican cooks pat out tortillas in perfect rounds. It’s an art. Further south, cooks use a tortilla press, either handsome wooden ones or the more utilitarian metal.

Hermina Serino uses a wooden tortilla press in her booth at the San Phillips Farmers Market in Tucson.

Plain metal tortilla press.

The trick to getting the dough off the press in one piece is to use pieces of plastic below and on top of the ball of dough. The other trick, which I learned in a cooking class in Oaxaca, it to peel the tortilla up from the hinge end, not the lever end. The hinge end is just enough thicker to help you peel it without tearing.  Once you have it in your hand, drop it directly onto a hot griddle or frying pan. Let it cook for a few seconds, then flip and do the other side.

Peel the tortilla up from the hinge end of the press.

For even more nutrition, you can add a sprinkling of seeds (I tried both chia and barrel cactus) to the dough before pressing the tortillas.

Sprinkle some chia seeds on the tortilla dough before pressing.

Tortillas cook quickly on a well-seasoned griddle. You can see the gratings of turmeric in this picture

As you finish the tortillas, store them in a folded tea towel until ready to serve.  They are fine as they are, or if you wish to cook further, you can saute in a little bit of oil. Top with fillings of your choice: meat or vegetables and beans.

A simple meal includes one tortilla with chicken and green salsa and another with grilled beef with red salsa.

More Nutritious Tortillas

3/4 cup dried instant masa

1 tablespoon garbanzo flour*

1 tablespoon amaranth flour*

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric or dried turmeric (optional)

1/2 cup water (approximately)

First cut a plastic bag into two large squares to use on the tortilla press. Mix the flours and the salt in a medium bowl. Add half the water and mix. Add more water slowly until you get a dough that just sticks together. You don’t want it too soft. This takes a little practice. If you add too much water, just sprinkle in a little more masa. Roll the dough into balls of about 2 tablespoons each. Heat the well-seasoned frying pan or griddle. Press a tortilla and transfer to grill. Don’t worry if every one doesn’t turn out great. Just rebundle the dough and try again. Makes 6 to 8 tortillas.

(*Purchase these flours in health food stores or make your own by grinding the dry garbanzos, amarath or quinoa until fine in a coffee or spice grinder.)


Carolyn Niethammer writes about edible wild plants and Southwestern food. Read more at www.cniethammer.com.  Buy her books at the Native Seeds/SEARCH retail store or website or on Amazon.

 

 

 

Categories: Cooking, Mexican Food, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Solstice Celebrated with Saguaros

On Summer Solstice morning, a white-wing dove coos to the saguaro fruit to hasten its ripening, and takes its first taste. When red fruit opens, doves will dip in for a luscious meal and come up with red heads!  (photo JRMondt)

Have you seen it yet?–the rare red-headed white-wing dove of the desert?  “Red-headed Ok’ko-koi” is only around for a short while during the bahidaj.  He is the herald of saguaro fruit harvesting season.

These longest days of the year (and the hottest!!) are the Sonoran Desert New Year of the Tohono O’odham, the Desert People. It is the beginning of “action time” in the desert, tho’ it may look blistered and dead from inside an air-conditioned space.  Lots is happening.  Listen to sounds of quail and dove at dawn; watch scurrying lizards at noon; sense bats at night.  Desert life out there is pollinating flowers and dispersing seed in prep for monsoon moisture.

Fallen bahidaj on the rocks will be critter food.  For people, catch it before it falls. (MABurgess)

Tia Marta here to share ideas about the giant saguaro’s gifts of good food to its fellow desert helpers.  With San Juan’s Day celebrated June 24, I pause to also acknowledge the birthday of my dear friend and mentor, Juanita Ahil, who first led me into the desert on an early June morning to introduce me to some amazing desert treats, discussed in this post.

Pick the fruits that show a blush of rosy red on the top.  (MABurgess photo)

A saguaro fruit, opened with its sharp “pizza-cutter” calyx, is filled with sweet raspberry-red pulp and crunchy black seeds. (MABurgess photo)

 

Juanita would scoop out the nutritious pulp from thick fruit rinds–with thanks and blessings.  We’d take several juicy bites before filling buckets of bahidaj to make syrup.

Juanita would add water to the pulpy fruit to loosen the mass, then strain out seeds before concentrating the sweet water to syrup. (MABurgess photo)

 

 

 

Over her open fire, she would stir a pot full of fruit and water until the water turned red, then strain the mass through a basket-sieve, saving the seed for other purposes. (See blog-sister Carolyn Niethammer’s post on “Black Beauty Wafers” of saguaro seed.)  After sieving, it was the long process of boiling down the sweet water to a dark syrup–like making maple syrup.  Don’t be surprised if you see Bahidaj Sitol selling for what looks like exorbitant prices; consider the time it takes to make!  Juanita would contribute a share of her hard-produced syrup to her Tohono O’odham Community for fermenting into wine for the rain-ceremony, with prayers for the desert’s rebirth.  Surplus syrup was so concentrated, it could be kept unrefrigerated, carrying summer’s sweetness into the winter.

Here are some delectable ideas for cool, super-simple desserts with saguaro syrup:

 

Muff’s “Sonoran Melba” topped with pine nuts and chia seed (JRMondt photo)

Directions for Muff’s SONORAN MELBA WITH PINE NUTS AND CHIA

Over a serving of vanilla or vanilla-bean ice cream, pour 1-3 tsp pure saguaro syrup (bahidaj sitol).  It doesn’t take much, as it is so rich!  Sprinkle top with 1/2 tsp chia seed and 1 Tbsp of pine nuts (shelled).   Taste and go nuts in ecstasy!

Rod’s “Saguaro Split”–topped with saguaro syrup, seeds and nuts (JRMondt photo)

Recipe for Rod’s SAGUARO SPLIT:

Divide a half banana in half longitudinally. Serve a big scoop of ice cream in between–any flavor– like chocolate chip or French vanilla.  Top with saguaro syrup, seeds and nuts of choice.  [Here the “lily is guilded” for sure.  Who needs a cherry on top when you have the rare treat of saguaro syrup?!]

Setting out fresh bahidaj pulp to dry on wax paper. (MABurgess)

Try dehydrating saguaro fruit in a solar oven with the lid partially open to allow moisture to escape. It doesn’t take long. Note the rock holding the oven cover open.(MABurgess photo)

I also love to make chuñ–the dried bahidaj fruit which you can sometimes find hanging on the branches of a palo verde, the nurse tree next to the saguaro where fruit has fallen.  Scoop out the pulp from its rind, place blobs on wax paper, dry them outside under a screen or in your solar oven.  Eat and enjoy chuñ as a totally healthy snack; it is high in complex, slowly-digested sugars, vegetable protein and healthy oils in the seeds.   Or, get creative with chuñ–as in the following recipe:

 

 

 

Sweet chun dried in the sun is even better than figs! (BTW–Now– in the dry heat of Solstice-time before the monsoons–is prime time to harvest mesquite pods too!  Check out desert harvesters.org for more info.)  (MABurgess photo)

Recipe for Tia Marta’s JUNE CHUÑ healthy fruit salad:

1/2-3/4 cup diced apple (approx 1 small apple diced)

1/2 cup organic red grapes cut in half

3 Tbsp dried cherries, cranberries, or chopped dried apricots

1/2-2/3 cup organic plain lowfat yogurt

1-2 tsp agave nectar (optional, to taste)

1/4 cup chopped dried bahidaj chuñ

Mix all ingredients except chuñ ahead and chill.  Sprinkle some little chuñ chunks on each serving as topping. Serves 2 or 3.  This is fancy and sweet enough to be used as a dessert. Enjoy the natural complex carbs, sweet nutrition, and delightful crunch!

Cool “JUNE CHUN”–a fruity and crunchy salad or dessert (MABurgess)

So, Happy Desert New Year!  And happy harvesting in the coolth of early summer mornings, rejoicing in the gifts saguaro gives to its fellow desert-dwellers–from the white-wing doves and ants to us two-leggeds!

[If you are beyond the Sonoran Desert and want to try some of these desert delicacies, you can contact http://www.tocaonline.org (website of Tohono O’odham Community Action, Sells, AZ) or http://www.nativeseeds.org (NativeSeeds/SEARCH at 3061 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ; or 520-622-5561) to order them.  Many other traditional desert foods are available at http://www.flordemayoarts.com.]

Braving the heat, inviting the monsoons and prepping for summer planting, NativeSeeds/SEARCH will be celebrating San Juan’s Day at the NSS Conservation Farm in Patagonia, AZ, this Saturday, June 24, 2017, 11am-3pm.  Bring a dish for the pot luck and a spray-bottle of water for blessings.  For info call 520-622-0830.

 

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fu Yung with Local Veggies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No matter how beautiful local veggies are, dreaming up something new and exciting to make with the same characters over and over again can be a challenge. Amy here with my latest attempt to use beautiful Tucson CSA napa cabbage (Sleeping Frog Farm) and summer squash (Crooked Sky Farm). And what to do when you have only ONE tiny ear of sweet corn? I also had ripe serrano chiles from a friend and a handful of blanched tender Foothills Palo Verde seeds. See Martha’s post for more on desert legumes.

This week’s inspiration came from my mom, who remembered the Fu Yung we used to make in our family Chinese feasts. Aunts, uncles and cousins would cook all day to make complicated meals from many world cuisines. I’ve been attempting recipes in this book since I was in high school. Following and diverting from this and a handful of other recipes is how I learned to cook.

I also had lots of eggs from watching the neighbor’s chickens. Perfect!

The first step to not skip in this recipe is to marinate thinly sliced meat in soy sauce, rice wine and cornstarch for at least 15 minutes. It calls for beef but I used half that amount of pork.

Instead of meat, strongly flavored dried Chinese mushrooms are excellent. Just soak in water, cut in tiny strips and add them with the rest of the veggies. Save the mushroom soaking liquid to make the sauce. Yum!

Cut all the veggies. This is not the dish to start cooking the longer cooking items before you cut the others. The original recipe called for spring onion and a little fresh ginger. I used carrot, cabbage, golden zucchini, young onion tops and bottoms, sweet corn and tender blanched palo verde seeds. For spice, I used garlic, ripe serrano and lots of ginger.

Then beat eggs, cornstarch and a splash of water. Next time I’ll mix the cornstarch and water before the eggs to prevent difficult to remove lumps.

In a small saucepan, measure all the sauce ingredients and set aside: chicken or mushroom broth, oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce), rice wine, sesame oil and cornstarch.

Bring everything close to the stove.

In place of a wok, I use a very large skillet on high to cook the meat in a little oil. When browned but not necessarily cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside.

Add a little more oil and cook the garlic, ginger and chile. Add the veggies and stir fry for just a minute!

Gently heat a well seasoned cast iron or nonstick pan with low or rounded sides. Splash on a bit of cooking oil and toasted sesame oil. Add the meat and veggies in an even layer and pour the eggs over all. Cook gently until almost set and browning on the bottom. Slide onto a plate. Cover with a another plate and invert. Slide back onto the pan and cook through. If there are more veggies than the eggs can hold together, it will be messy. The book suggests cutting in wedges and flipping each, but it is not as pretty.

Serve the prettiest side up, you decide. Sometime while waiting for the eggs to set, heat the sauce while whisking, until thick. Keep warm.

Cut in wedges with a pizza cutter and serve with the sauce. Of course it is best right away, but it makes a great cold breakfast or lunch. Enjoy!

Veggie and Pork (or Chinese Mushroom) Fu Yung

 

1 1/2 oz thinly sliced pork or dried, soaked Chinese mushrooms

 

Marinate for at least 15 minutes in:

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry

1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch

 

Veggies:

Your choice! About 1 cup after stir frying

Fresh ginger, garlic and green onion to taste

 

Egg mixture:

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

 

Sauce:

1/4 cup chicken broth or mushroom soaking liquid from above

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster (or mushroom) sauce

1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

 

For frying:

Mild cooking oil, like canola or peanut

Toasted sesame oil

 

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turmeric

Jacqueline Soule, AKA Gardening With Soule, today.  If you have a garden (as opposed to a landscape) you will always have some task to perform. Pots of plants become overgrown, the roots crowded, and the plants need to be divided. I was recently performing this chore, and one of the plants needing attention in this warm month was turmeric.

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Turmeric (Curcuma domestica) is a member of the Ginger Family (Zingiberaceae), related to grasses, orchids, and bananas. The economically important portion of the plant is the rhizome, a large, lumpy underground storage stem (which is structurally different than a root).

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Turmeric is a tropical plant that dies back to its rhizome in the coolness of our Sonoran winters. (Yes, snow birds come here for our “warm” winters – but everything is relative.) Iris and ginger also grow from rhizomes, with iris staying above ground in winter, but ginger also retreating underground.

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Planting turmeric
Plant turmeric rhizomes horizontally and cover them with a sparse layer of soil. In the Southwest, turmeric grows best in full sun to afternoon shade. Provide ample water for this lush-leafed plant. Plant in well-drained rich to slightly sandy soil. Turmeric will do well in containers, which is how I grow them, with the lowermost inch of pot submerged in the water garden.

If you have an entirely desert landscape, turmeric won’t look right in your landscape. But – if you are like most of us in the Southwest – you have an oasis zone in your xeriscape, and thus turmeric will fit right in. Turmeric will also grow well in a water garden. So yes – you can grow them in the desert.

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Turmeric in Medicine
Turmeric is popular in India and the Far East to treat stomach complaints. A paste is applied to help cure bruises, and to accelerate the formation of scabs caused by chicken pox and (in the past) smallpox. The fumes of the burning rhizomes are used to relieve colds and lung congestion. In the 1800’s turmeric was used in the United States as a stimulant and stomach tonic. Turmeric is now popular as an anti-inflammatory and to help with high cholesterol and heart issues.

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Turmeric in History
In the days of alchemy, a paste made from turmeric and water was applied to paper. This paper would then change color from a saffron yellow to a reddish brown if exposed to alkaline conditions. The Latin term ‘terra merita’ (deserving or deserved earth) became shortened to termerit, and later changed into turmeric. Note that yes, there is an “r” in the word – tur-mer-ic.

In the 1500’s, books called Herbals, which were used as medical guides, mention turmeric as another name for “curcuma.” Curcuma was used as a name because the spice is highly similar to saffron, called kurkum by the Arab traders who brought it to Europe from Asia.

In 1753, when names for many plants were systematized by the Swede Linnaeus, he used the name Curcuma for the genus of plants which turmeric belongs to. The spice turmeric comes from Curcuma domestica (sometimes listed as Curcuma longa in older herb books)

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Turmeric for Dye
One major non-spice use of turmeric is as a coloring agent. It colors both cotton and wool without need of a mordant (fixing agent). The yellow robes of Buddhist monks were often dyed with turmeric. Turmeric powder is also used in candies, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and in some commercial brands of mustard (which is why some mustard “stains” your clothes).

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Turmeric in Cooking
Turmeric is valued worldwide for the subtle flavor and brilliant color in gives to curry sauces. It can be used alone to color rice and rice pudding. In Yugoslavia, a festival bread is flavored and colored with turmeric.

My grandmother Soule used turmeric in her bread-and-butter pickles, which always included slices of onions. I remember my age 6 astonishment at the brilliant yellow hue the white onions “magically” turned after the canning was done. “Turmeric caused it,” Grandma explained. “It’s a spice that comes from plants.” Thus another step in my path to becoming a botanist was unknowingly taken.

 

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 where marked and they may not be used.

Categories: Cooking, Dye, dye plant, Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, medicinal plant, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The New Chiltepin-Citrus “Whoa-Nelita-Margarita”

Savor Sister Linda here today celebrating all things chiltepin. In the mood for both chiletpin and a margarita last weekend, I opened my mind up W I D E  and came up with this. Because of the heat of the chiltepin I  playfully refer to it as the Whoa-Nellie/Nelita Mararita, But is could be renamed the Margarita of Lots of Vitamin-C , not a very interesting name, but a true one, as chiltepin and Citrus-Juice have so much Vitamin-C.

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THE SECRET Ingredient in this surprising Margarita, are the make-ahead-of-time fresh lime juice or orange juice (or any juice you like) ice cubes.

Squeeze fresh lime juice, or any fresh fruit juice, directly into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen take them out and put them in a container of zip locks so flavor is maintained and no taste of the freezer ends up in your margarita. These ice cubes are visually beautiful as well as flavorful and are great with Oh-So-Good Just Plain Water in the summer. Or add to fun drinks for kids while you are enjoying your adult cocktails.

I make these glass by glass,

1) add 1-2 crushed chiltepin to the bottom of your glass.

2) fill the glass with lime and Orange ice cubes.

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3) depending on how big your glass is and the “strength” you want add:

one Tablespoon or one shot of Patron Citron Orange Liqueur

two Tablespoons or two shots of your favorite tequila

This is the version that I like, as it is not too sweet.  But, if you are someone who likes your margaritas on the sweeter side, add honey to taste (start with at teaspoon and increase if you desire) remembering to stir well. A sprig of mint might delight your tongue as well as your eyes.

Stir Well.

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Drink on a hot summer evening. As the lime and orange ice cubes melt, the flavors of the chiltepin,  liqueur ,and tequila both deepen and widen. This is a margarita that just might help you hear the chiltepin actually speak.  

Try drinking this with summer evening guacamole and quesadillas.

I will soon be announcing my new Time Capsule Kitchen website that is dedicated to the noble chiltepin!  Stay tuned to hear those chiles speak!!!

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Leave a comment

Pleasing Poreleaf

porophyllum gracile calflora 1803Savor Sister Jacqueline Soule here today with native plant that is lovely in the landscape, never needs water, and can be used as an herb for cooking.  Can it get better than this?  Well yes, our native solitary bees use this as a food source in that time when spring wildflowers and cacti are done blooming and not much else is in flower.
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Slender poreleaf, also called hierba del venado, odora, (Spanish), xtisil (Seri), bears the scientific name of Porophyllum gracile.  If you like word origins you can just look at this scientific name and learn something about the plant.  The word gracile has the same root as graceful, poro tells us it has pores, and the one you may not know phyllum refers to leaves, but enough Latin for now.
porophyllum gracile calflora 1801
Slender poreleaf is a member of the Compositae or sunflower family and is good for culinary, medicinal, and ornamental purposes.  A native, hardy, blue-green evergreen perennial, it grows 1 to 2 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide.  It can take full sun and even reflected sun, and also grows well in part shade.  It needs the alkaline desert soils, and does not tolerate over-watering.
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Use.
First, the taste is somewhere between arugula, cilantro and rue. I like it in salsa. I also crush the dried leaves and add them to hamburger.  Careful!  A little goes a long way.
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The Seri use a tea made from the stems of this native plant as a remedy for colds.   Roots are macerated and used to treat toothache.  In some Mexican markets fresh and dried material is available for sale.  People crumble dried leaves together with salt and rub it on meat for flavor and to help make it last in the absence of refrigeration.

These medicinal uses may have scientific validity since many related species in the Tageteae tribe contain thiophenes, sulfur compounds with proven bactericidal properties, good as cold remedies.  The thiophenes may also help preserve the meat while the other secondary compounds flavor the meat.
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Slender poreleaf appears to be unpalatable to rabbit, javalina, rodents, and deer.  Since it is distasteful to deer it is puzzling why it is called “hierba del venado” which translates as “herb of the deer.”  Perhaps because it is found in remote areas where deer roam, or perhaps it is good for field dressing deer meat.

Planting and Care.
You won’t find this delicate fragrant perennial blue green shrub in nurseries, but if you find seed while you are out hiking, bring some back and plant it about a quarter inch deep in an unused corner of your yard.  Protect it from seed eating birds, and with a little water and you will be rewarded with a durable desert plant that needs no care and produces lovely white to pinkish flowers with attractive red highlights.

Porophyllum gracile Benth., "odora" -9
If you are not a hiker, head over to the Pima County Seed Library – online or in any branch library.  I donated a bag of seed to them, and smaller packets should be available for check out.  All they ask is that you return some seed to them in coming seasons.
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Harvesting and Use.
Harvest fresh material of the slender poreleaf as needed for salads and salsas, or harvest and dry for use later.
porophyllum ruderale glands wiki free
Sister Species.
Porophyllum ruderale is commonly grown throughout the New World and used as a condiment, especially in salsas.  Since it is used by many cultures, common names, include Bolivian coriander, quillquiña, yerba porosa, killi, pápalo, tepegua, mampuritu, and pápaloquelite.  It needs more water than our native species, and shade in summer, but taste is much the same.

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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 where marked and they may not be used.

Categories: Beekeeping, Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, herbs, Kino herb, medicinal plant, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloody Mary with Grilled Pipián Mole Shrimp Skewers

Amy here, reporting a drink, or really a light summer meal, which turned into a backyard party. My sister Laura was so inspired, and we benefited. The photos and recipes are hers. Thank you!!!!!

We both love Pipián Picante, and so that’s the mole powder she used, but other Mano y Metate varieties would be great, so use what you have and what you like.

Add a pinch of mole powder to your favorite Bloody Mary (vodka) or Maria (tequila) recipe, with or without the alcohol. Laura’s recipe is at the bottom of this page. Then rim the glasses with the mole powder as well. Finally, garnish the drink with skewers of grilled shrimp, marinated with mole powder, crunchy veggies and a sprig of Mexican oregano.

This grilled shrimp cocktail serves four as an appetizer. For a light summer meal, serve more shrimp skewers per person and a salad.

Start by soaking bamboo skewers in water.

Marinate shrimp for at least 15 minutes. While the shrimp marinate, make bloody Mary mix.

Start the grill and cook the shrimp and lemon.

Next, wet the rims of the serving glasses with lemon juice, then dip into mole powder.

Top the grilled shrimp with a squeeze of the grilled lemon, another pinch of mole powder and sesame seeds. Assemble the drink, add garnishes, and top with shrimp skewers.

At sunset, take outside and enjoy!

Grilled Pipián Mole Shrimp Skewers

  • 3/4 oz. Mano Y Metate Pipián Picante Mole power (reserve some for garnish)
  • ½ pound raw/peeled and deveined shrimp (approx. 40 count per pound)
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup (to taste)
  • 1 sprig fresh Mexican oregano- leaves torn off stem
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 additional lemon, halved
  • Crushed red chile (pick your level of heat–I like chiltepin) or whole dried chile for less heat
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

Place shrimp in bowl with oil, sliced garlic, oregano, mole powder, lemon juice, agave, crushed red chile, salt and pepper. Mix to evenly coat shrimp and chill. Marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes, but not longer than an hour or the shrimp turn opaque from the acid in the lemon juice. Place shrimp on skewers (3-4 per skewer) and grill turning once, for 3 minutes per side. Grill lemon halves along with shrimp. Once cooked, remove the shrimp from the grill, squeeze roasted lemons over the skewers and sprinkle with remaining mole powder and toasted sesame seeds.

Bloody Mary/Maria

  • 32 oz. tomato juice/tomato clam juice (I prefer the spicy version)
  • ½ tablespoon Mano Y Metate Pipián Picante mole powder (or more to taste)
  • ½ tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • a few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 lemon slices
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed (not celery salt)
  • Salt and pepper
  • More mole powder (reserve some for finishing the top of the drink and to rim glasses)
  • Optional garnishes:
    • Any seasonal pickles- quick pickles or sours
    • Carrot spears
    • Cucumber spears
    • Celery stalk with the leaves (I like the bitter)
    • Olives
    • Fresh herb stalk- I like Mexican oregano, but any herb would work
  • Optional alcohol: Vodka or tequila
  • Optional: add a splash of pickle juice or brine

This mix gets better with time, and it is even better made the day before. You can also use your favorite pre-made mix and experiment with garnishes. Add all of the ingredients for the drink mix (reserving some mole powder and all of the optional garnishes for later) and chill. To prepare the glasses, place mole powder on a shallow plate. Wet the rim of the glass with either water or lemon juice, and dunk into the powder. Set aside. Once the drink mix is ready to serve, place ice into glass first (being careful not to knock off the mole powder from the rim). Fill the glass with the mix and add your favorite garnishes. Top the glass with a shrimp skewer and enjoy!

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Roasted Dandelion Root, Chicory, & Chiltepin Drink for Dry Dusty Days

Savor Sister Linda here with you fresh out of the saddle. We are into our hot/dry season here in the desert southwest. The region where we ranch didn’t get the rain we need, so the grasses and range are thin, and the water sources even thinner. This means a lot of managing resources, and a lot of hours in the saddle working.

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On long, hot days I crave bitter drinks, but coffee doesn’t quite do it for me. I need something that satisfies my body without adding acid to my stomach, or send my flying with caffeine like a cold brew coffee (which has more caffeine than hot coffee, regardless of whether you use caffeinated or decaffeinated beans). So I came up with a bitter drink with a kick.  I drink it both hot and cold – in the ranching world we love to use over our resources well, and this drink lends itself to that.  If you have some left over from your first infusion, you can stick it in the fridge and drink it later on cold over ice.

It is simple to make and has just four ingredients (I count water as an ingredient) – five if you add to it the milk you like.

HOW TO:  In a French Press combine 2 Tablespoons of Roasted Dandelion Root with 1 Tablespoon of Chicory root, with 1 chiltepin.

Pour in boiling water just like you would coffee, and infuse it for at least 5 minutes. 10 minutes or more is  even better. I let it sit and adding more water as I drink it; unlike coffee you can get more than one respectable infusion. The chile taste will become more intense with time.

These roots are medicinals as well as being tasty, so you might find that your liver and digestion benefit from drinking them – but as with anything what is one mans elixir can be another mans poison so please check them out for yourself first. The chiltepin is a chile that is known to actually help with digestion – I know it has helped my own. Other types of chilies can be irritating to the stomach, but for me, this tiny chile with it’s big punch can actually help. Again, try it out for yourself and see.

In the photos below the lighter coarser root is the dandelion and the darker smaller is the chicory. The red is the chilie, and one really is enough, especially as it

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Combine 2 Tablespoons of Roasted Dandelion Root with 1 Tablespoon Chickory root.

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Add 1 Chiltepin

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Pour boiling water over the ingredients; play around with the infusion time depending on whether you like it strong or not. The longer the infusion the stronger the chile flavor.

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ENJOY

 

We are all  “in the saddle”.  Whether you work literally on a horse or mule, or more metaphorically in a city, we are all managing our own particular set of conditions and resources.  Try this drink for a caffein free drink option that helps you get the work done.

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We reduced some of the pressure on our range and grasses by selling cattle this week.  To do this we move the cattle from the ranch to the corrals. in town.  It is easier on the animals if you get an early start, as the sun is intense and it takes several hours to get to town.

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All this dust is a sign of dry conditions and drought.

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Leave a comment

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