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.

Grasshopper Love

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surprisingly Simple Grasshopper – Revisioned

(Grasshopper Love Adult Beverage; for two)

 

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

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

HOW TO: 

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

In a cocktail shaker:

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

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

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

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

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

1 sprig of fresh mint or spearmint.

The last two ingredients embody the energies of Nature itself.

Some ice.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | 2 Comments

Easy to Grow – Caraway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos courtesy of Pixabay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It will really sizzle!

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

By now, the chicken is cooked through.

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Leave a comment

An ARTISTIC Harvest of Desert Foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honeybee heavy with pollen–photo by JRod Mondt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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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

Mole Roasted Garbanzos

Hello, Amy here, sharing an EASY, tasty and very satisfying recipe. My sister Laura made and photographed these, so THANK YOU to her!

Garbanzos have always been a favorite. They are a fun plant in the winter garden in the low desert. Tucson CSA occasionally has them in the shares as well. To start this recipe from dried garbanzos, just soak and cook as normal in the slow cooker, pressure cooker, solar oven or on the stove. However, my sister started with canned beans. So easy! Just rinse and drain thoroughly.

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Laura put the garbanzos on a cookie sheet with a splash of olive oil. Then she sprinkled them liberally with Mano Y Metate Pipian Picante and a dash of salt. Because she likes heat, she also used black pepper and crushed red chile!

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She put the cookie sheet in a screaming hot oven, like 450 degrees! and watched them very carefully so the spices did not burn.

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When they’re crunchy, they’re done!

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They do not keep their crunch the next day, so eat soon after they are cool. Sprinkle on a salad or nibble them plain as a snack. Enjoy!

Categories: Cooking, heirloom beans, heirloom crops, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wild Satisfaction: A Simple Sandia (Watermelon)-Pomegranate Margarita; (and for the Intrepid Sipper, Chiltepin)

 

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Savor Sister Linda here on this beautiful, lightly drizzling, evening in the Old Pueblo. It is nearly time for the Wild Chile harvest in the mountains in Sonora. The rains have brought life back to the very parched land. I have to admit that I had begun to loose faith that it would ever rain, even though I am generally friendly with cycles in life and seasons.  It is so hard to watch the land get so dry that even it shows it’s ribs;  and not just the hoofed creatures that depend upon it.  Now,  because of all the reconditioning and regenerating brought by the rains, we’ll soon be harvesting chiltepin.  I’ll be be musing and meandering in this blog about the rare Wild Chiles,  and how they are harvested, dried, and used – and likely about how darned transformative it is to simply be in their midst. Today I am in the mood for something simple and satisfying to kick off the season. I look around my kitchen at the red, ripe fruits of late summer/early fall and have decided to craft an adult beverage. And because I always have chiltepin on hand, I added it to the mix of ingredients as well.

I am not at all sure how smart it is to write after sampling a few versions of this Sandia Margarita, but here goes. This Recipe is for 2 people and served in smallish glasses. It takes about five minutes to prepare.

Combine the follow ingredients:
1 cup fresh watermelon
2 Tablespoons fresh pomegranates
Juice of one fresh lime – or two if you like lime flavor.
1.5 OZ Tequila Silver (this amount is a starter amount – wax and wane as you desire. Use good quality tequila, you’ll feel better in the morning)
1 chiltepin
Blend, and blend it well.  Otherwise you’ll have glumps of sandia/watermelon which is distracting; and the seeds of pomegranate will stick in your teeth. Instead: blend it all until satisfyingly smooth. 
Put into beautiful glass and garnish as you would like. I garnished one glass with just pomegranate seeds. Another with Pomegranate and one crushed chiltepin on top.
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Natures Beauty ….

 

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Scoop put one cups worth of watermelon …

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…. place watermelon in blender.

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Add 2 Tablespoons of pomegranate seeds and juice of one fresh lime.

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1.5 Silver Tequila. 

 

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Blend and Garnish as you would like; pomegranate seeds add color and a nice crunch.

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Add one crushed chiltepin for a surprisingly satisfying “heat”  that  balances out the cooling property of the watermelon.

 

Categories: Edible Landscape Plant, fruit, Gardening, Mexican Food, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: | Leave a comment

Huevos Rancheros with Mole

 

Hello, Amy here, full from a hardy brunch. Earlier this week my friend invited me to lunch at the Tucson Botanical Garden, where we enjoyed a lamb empanada, calabacitas tamal and huevos rancheros made with mole, black tepary beans and queso fresco. It was ALL soooo good, but I think you can guess my favorite!

Café Botanica is delicious, adorable (the old adobe Friends’ House, inside or on the patio) has really nice staff, and is open 8am-2pm daily. You do have to pay admission or be a member to get to the café, so we wandered, looking at plants in the shade and a gallery or two after our meal. Perfect afternoon.

I had never heard of huevos rancheros with mole, and I had to make it at home, often! Since I was only making brunch for two, I used dry corn tortilla meal I had on hand instead of buying or making a batch of highly perishable fresh masa. Maseca is a common brand name in Tucson grocery stores, or online.

Café Botanica used parsley in their masa for flavor and color, so I chopped a few leaves of quelites (young amaranth greens) raw and mixed them into the masa. This of course is optional, but quelites are so prolific this year with our above average rainfall this summer. Recently Carolyn used amaranth seed her in corn tortillas.

Add enough water to make a soft dough. Mix about a quarter cup meal to a few tablespoons water and adjust as necessary. If it is too dry, it will crack. If it is too wet, it will stick to your hands. Form into two balls, cover, and let rest for a few minutes. Then reassess the moisture.

Place the ball in a plastic bag and flatten with a tortilla press, a dinner plate or a rolling pin.

Thoroughly heat a comal (a dry cast iron griddle) over medium heat and put tortilla to cook. Flip a few times until both sides are covered with brown spots. No need to keep them hot, they’ll be fried!

Next I made a small amount of Mano y Metate Mole Dulce with oil and veggie broth. Other varieties of mole would work, and any broth you like. Since the dish was vegetarian, I decided to keep with the theme.

Café Botanica used black tepary beans, but I used a summer squash from the Tucson CSA. I had never heard of Tromboncino before this year, and we love the taste and its trombone shapes! As a mature, winter squash, it resembles its relative the butternut. Even as a baby, it is slightly yellow on the inside with tender skin and really nice flavor. I sautéed it with onion, salt and pepper.

Next fry the tortillas in a little bit of oil until beautiful brown and fragrant.

Fry eggs over medium, or to taste. These eggs were from a friend of a friend. The deep color of the yolk is due to the hen’s diet and I bet these birds eat plenty of fresh greenery and insects.

Assemble the dish: tortilla, squash, egg. You could melt some cheese over the tortilla if you want.

Finally, top with the Mole Dulce and I’itoi onion tops. My new favorite.

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

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