Savor the Seeds

Savor Sister Jacqueline Soule here this week to discuss seeds.  Seeds to eat and seeds to plant.

March has been a month of seeds for me.  I got out my boxes of seed for spring planting, All American Selections sent me some seed to try, I harvested bags of barrel cactus fruit for the seed, and I spent 2 long days at the Tucson Festival of Books, in the Science of Food tent, handing out samples of gluten-free mesquite muffins, and talking about the Desert Legume Program (DELEP).

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Mesquite pods are easy to harvest and grind (with the seeds inside) to make a flour or meal that is a good source of protein.  (recipe below) We were handing out samples to spread the word about DELEP’s mission, which is to acquire and preserve seed of legumes native to the arid and semiarid lands of the world; to learn more about the nature and utility of these unique species; to share legume germplasm; and to aid in the preservation and conservation of desert legume biodiversity.  Volunteers meet once a month, September through May on every 2nd Wednesday from 9 to noon.  The cadre of volunteers assists with seed processing and storage, and we welcome new volunteers!

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Barrel cactus seed processing and use were discussed in earlier Savor the Southwest blogs.

seed library

Did you know that there is a Seed Library in the Pima County Public Library?  The Seed Library is a collection of open-pollinated and heirloom seeds that you can borrow from the Library and grow at home (or in a community garden!).  All you do is check the seeds out of the library using your library card.  They would appreciate if you would later share the seed of what you grew, but it isn’t a requirement.  The idea behind this seed bank is that the best seed to grow in our area is the offspring of whatever grew and thrived in our area.

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Seed of epazote, canagria, and garlic chives.

Save Seed
It is easy to save seed of annuals, wildflower, vegetables, and herbs. The key is to  collect the seed just as it matures and before it starts to drop. You especially want to keep an eye on seed in pods that dry and shatter to disperse seed.

Stalks of Pods – snip off the stalks and invert them into large paper bags. Fold the bags shut. Now when seedpods shatter, the seeds are trapped in the bag for next year’s sowing.

Seedheads – often these seedheads simply break off in your hand. Hold a container below them as you break them off.

For future sowing, you don’t need to clean the seed, although purists like to.  At DELEP we clean seed for long-term storage.  For seeds you use as a herb (like coriander or dill seed), you will need to clean the seed. Kitchen colanders and sieves are useful.

Label your seeds!  Penstemon seed and poppy seed look remarkably similar in a paper bag 2 years later.

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Looking Ahead
In my book Month-by-Month Garden Guide for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico I mention that now is the time for USDA zones 10, 9 and 8 gardeners to sow seed of hot-season greens like amaranth, New Zealand spinach, purslane, and Malabar spinach (a perennial vine).  Don’t forget the heat-loving herbs basil, epazote, and perilla. For Zones 7 and 6 gardeners, this is the time to plant cool-season vegetables from seed, like radish, arugula, and European spinach. Plant slow-growing members of carrot family, including parsnip, carrot, fennel, parsley, and dill. In zones 5 and 4, you will plant these in May.

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Gluten-free Mesquite Muffin
1/8 cup mesquite flour
1/8 cup flax seed meal
1/2 teaspoon alum-free baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sweetening – to taste (stevia, honey, molasses, sugar)
1 teaspoon oil – choice (olive oil, butter, coconut)
1 egg

Use a microwave safe mug or pyrex measuring cup, sprayed with cooking spray.
Mix the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ones, stir well.
Microwave for 1 minute.
Remove from the cooking dish right away.
Note: You can quadruple this recipe and cook it in a loaf pan for a loaf cake (but cook for 3½ minutes).

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 and they may not be used.

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, fruit, Gardening, heirloom beans, heirloom crops, heirloom grains, Kino herb, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | 1 Comment

Workshops, walks and events celebrate growing, harvesting and preparing desert foods this spring

Happy Spring, Tucson! Amy here to tell you about opportunities to learn about growing and harvesting desert foods in our neighborhoods. Urban desert explorations allow us to track the seasons and harvests…will it be a fruitful year for barrel cactus? An early or late harvest? What desert edible plants are the neighbors using in the landscape? How are the birds and squirrels faring?

Check Desert Haresters or other sponsoring organizations for further dates and topics in each of these series!

Desert Harvesters La Cocina Walks

Tuesdays March 21, April 11, May 23 and June 20, 2017.  201 N Court, north entrance. $5 donation to support Desert Harvesters education programs.

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Desert Harvesters will lead casual walks from La Cocina through historic El Presidio Neighborhood to identify native perennial food-bearing plants and other edibles. Walks start in spring, and continue monthly thereafter, into the oncoming heat of summer. Desert Harvesters is partnering with LaCo to incorporate native food ingredients into the menu during our Tuesdays-for-Tucson fundraiser nights, including prickly pear, cholla buds, nopalitos, desert herbs, mesquite, and more.

Desert Harvesters is interested in seeing what wild ingredients might be in the LaCo neighborhood that could be sampled, harvested, and potentially used at LaCo. LaCo Walks are scheduled on Tuesday evenings so that after the walk, folks can support both LaCo and the organization that Tuesdays-for-Tucson benefits that evening; a percentage of LaCo’s night is donated to the organization. Desert Harvesters’ Tuesdays-for-Tucson fundraiser at LaCo is May 16—save the date!

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photo:Barbara Rose

BRING: Drinking water, sun protection, camera, notebook, and anything else to make you comfortable.

For further information and to sign up, please contact: workshops@desertharvesters.org or jaelle@lorenziniworks.com

 

 

Desert Harvesters and Community Food Bank Series at the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market

Mercado San Agustín, 100 S. Avenido del Convento

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Cholla Buds
with Desert Harvesters’/Mano Y Metate‘s Amy Valdés Schwemm
Thursday, March 23, 3-6 pm (Saturday hands-on workshop on March 25)
Celebrate one of the first native foods of Spring: cholla-cactus flower buds! Learn how to safely harvest and cook with these calcium-rich, tasty buds. Sample cholla buds with spicy-savory mole sauces.

Spring Bounty! NEW
with Desert Harvesters’/Bean Tree Farm‘s Barbara Rose
Thursday, April 6, 3-6 pm
The desert is abloom at this time, and many plants offer edible flowers and foliage to use in teas, garnish, and as flavoring. See what can be made from these and other desert ingredients like Spring greens and herbs, green palo-verde beans, cholla buds, stored foods, and other seasonal surprises.

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Nopalitos
with Desert Harvesters’/Mano Y Metate‘s Amy Valdes-Schwemm
Thursday, May 11, 3-6 pm
(Saturday hands-on workshop on May 13)

Learn how easy it is to collect these nutritious cactus pads from your own yard or neighborhood, and how to prepare them in tasty recipes everyone will love.

All THURSDAY DEMOS are free and open to the public, and are sponsored by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. For more information, contact the Food Bank at (520) 882-3313.

*For further INFORMATION about follow-up HANDS-ON SATURDAY WORKSHOPS, please contact: Barbara beantreefarm@gmail.com or Jill jaelle@lorenziniworks.com To REGISTER for HANDS-ON SATURDAY WORKSHOPS, please contact workshops@desertharvesters.org

 

Sonoran Desert Series at the Food Conspiracy Coop, facilitated by Desert Harvesters’ Jill Lorenzini and friends.

REGISTER via THIS LINK. All classes will be held in the Hoff building on the NE corner of 7th St & Hoff Ave, behind the Food Conspiracy Co-op. Class fee $10. Desert Harvesters volunteer, member, and partner discounts offered. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, please contact: jaelle@lorenziniworks.com.

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YOU ARE HERE: SONORAN DESERT 101

Monday, MARCH 27, 6–8 pm Interactive exercises about where we are and where we come from using maps, info, and stories to build place-based awareness. We’ll explore from macro to micro, from global to regional to local, from the Southwest to the Sonoran Desert, and to the Uplands Arizona subdivision of the Sonoran Desert we experience here in Tucson. This is one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet! Welcome to the desert and the amazing plant life here! Sample prickly-pear lemonade.

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YOU ARE HERE: UPLANDS-ARIZONA-SUBDIVISION NATIVE FOODS

Monday, APRIL 24, 6–8 pm Use the Sonoran Desert Foods Calendar, Wild Foods Calendar, and Native Seeds/SEARCH‘s 5-seasons calendar wheel to understand seasonal cycles and to see the wealth of delicious native perennial plant foods available throughout the year. These nutritious foods—and the many other benefits they provide—will be discussed in detail in subsequent classes. Get familiar with the dynamics of winter and summer monsoon seasons; meet Sky Island mountain ranges, river and riparian areas; explore long-term climate change and ongoing drought cycles. Sample desert-flowers iced tea.

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BEAUTIFUL BENEFICIAL BEAN TREES

Monday, MAY 22, 6–8 pm Meet the native mesquite, ironwood, and palo verde trees that anchor the Uplands Arizona plant palette. These trees act as nurse plants for other desert flora, and create rich environments under their canopies where both plants and animals survive and thrive. Desert legume trees provide bountiful harvests of protein-packed beans and tasty pods year after year. The “Be Like a Bean Tree” poster encapsulates many of their attributes. Taste mesquite flour and pods, and shell and taste green palo verde beans.

Dunbar/Spring Walks Sponsored by Desert Harvesters and Partners

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The Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood has a long history of community action, most recently through the work of Brad Lancaster and a network of like-minded neighbors and friends of the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood who’ve planted native perennial food-bearing trees there, established rainwater- and greywater-harvesting earthworks, pioneered curb cuts and cores, thereby bringing multiple benefits to the neighborhood, including shade and cooler temperatures, more native animals and pollinators, enhanced beauty, tree-planting and -pruning workshops, mulching services, interaction with neighbors, less stormwater lost to storm drains, community art and services, and more.

Monthly weekend walks through the Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood are a fantastic opportunity to see these green-infrastructure strategies in action, as well as to become acquainted with and impressed by common but amazing native (and other) food plants in the area, as they change and grow, flower and bear fruit, shed leaves, and endure seasonal extremes, throughout the year. Learn about native desert foods by watching, harvesting, touching, listening, tasting, smelling, feeling. Additional opportunities include foodshed mapping and return photography. See walk schedule below. See also www.dunbarspring.org.

Saturday MARCH 4, 10–11:30 am (optional: meet early, at 9:30, to get food/drink and socialize) Meet at EXO Roast Coffee, NW corner of 7th St & 6th Ave

Saturday, APRIL 15, 2–3:30 pm Meet at Dunbar/Spring Community Garden, NW corner of University Blvd & 11th Ave

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Hands-on Homesteading

Santa Cruz River Farmers Market
100 South Avenida del Convento

RAINWATER HARVESTING CONCEPTS & DESIGN with Desert Harvesters’ Jill Lorenzini and friends

Thursday, April 20, 3–6 pm (Saturday workshop* April 22)

Food security depends on water security. Learn the basic concepts and the many benefits of rainwater-harvesting design, so you can begin implementing simple strategies at home. Based on award-winning books by Brad Lancaster, local author of the Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond series.

SOLAR OVENS with Desert Harvesters’ Jill Lorenzini

Thursday, May 25, 4–7 pm

In ultra-sunny Arizona, it makes a lot of sense to cook with the sun. Learn basic solar-oven concepts and design principles, then watch various solar ovens in action and sample delicious solar-cooked foods. Place-based cooking.

All THURSDAY DEMOS are free and open to the public, and are sponsored by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. For more information, contact the Food Bank at (520) 882-3313.

*For further INFORMATION about follow-up HANDS-ON SATURDAY WORKSHOPS, please contact: Barbara beantreefarm@gmail.com or Jill jaelle@lorenziniworks.com To REGISTER for HANDS-ON SATURDAY WORKSHOPS, please contact workshops@desertharvesters.org

 

 

Watershed Management Group’s Edible Shade Mesquite Pancake Breakfast

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Sunday, March 26, 9am – noon
1137 N Dodge Blvd

It’s that time again! Come join us for a fun-filled morning as we celebrate the delicious shade of mesquite, pomegranate, olive and other edible native and desert-adapted trees. Enjoy an artisan market and hands-on learning activities as you explore sustainability practices in action at WMG’s Living Lab and Learning Center. And come hungry—we’ll be serving up local mesquite pancakes, fresh off the griddle!

Only 500 tickets are available, so purchase early or risk missing out. Notice: Unlike previous years, tickets will NOT be available at the door if we sell out in advance!

For tickets and information, contact WMG.

 

EDIBLE TREE CELEBRATION

Edible Tree Celebration in Honor of the UA Campus Arboretum’s 15th Anniversary

April 1, 11am-2pm

In front of the State Museum Building at the UA, NE corner of Park Avenue and University Blvd

Co-Sponsored by the UA Campus Arboretum (arboretum.arizona.edu/)

and the LEAF Network (Linking Edible Arizona Forests) (leafnetworkaz.org/)

Please join us to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the wonderful UA Campus Arboretum and highlight the value of “edible trees” in the campus and urban environment. (LEAF Network uses the term edible trees to refer to those native and nonnative trees that produce edible fruits, nuts, seeds and pods.)

Activities will include:

11:30 presentation to mark the 15th Anniversary of the UA Campus Arboretum

12:00 commence 30-minute tours of edible trees at the UA Campus Arboretum leaving every half hour

Potted edible trees on display including native and nonnative trees

Free raffle every 15 minutes for potted edible trees, arboretum materials, tree related t-shirts, and other items

Entertaining table displays about the UA Campus Arboretum, edible trees, the LEAF Network and other NGO and educational groups (and more activities to come…)

Collaborators include the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Arizona Community Tree Council, Iskashitaa, Trees for Tucson, Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, Bean Tree Farm, Desert Harvesters and more.

For more information about the event and to reserve a table, contact Ann Audrey ann.audrey.1@gmail.com

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, fruit, Gardening, herbs, medicinal plant, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Medicinal, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ornamental Medicinals for Desert Landscaping

Goodding’s verbena makes an attractive mound of orchid and lavender flowers spring into summer.  What’s more it can make a gentle, delectable and calming tea.  Need mellowing out?  Try Verbena gooddinggii!  (MABurgess photo)

With the excitement of our Tucson Festival of Books and many upcoming plant sales, I was motivated to use some of our Baja Arizona herbalist authors as inspiration for desert landscaping.  Tia Marta here encouraging you to check out Michael Moore’s, John Slattery’s, and Charles Kane’s books on medicinal plant uses for great ideas and good instruction.  My personal challenge has been to create seasonal color in the garden with plants that I know I might use also as herbal remedies.

Find Michael Moore’s must-have handbook Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Larrea tridentata–known as She:gi by the Tohono O’odham is “our desert drugstore.” Should you find it on your land, protect it, cherish it, and use it.(MABurgess photo)

Watch for announcements of plant sales at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tohono Chul Park, NativeSeeds/SEARCH, and Desert Survivors to find beautiful ornamentals which also give healing or soothing, stimulation or protection.

 

 

 

 

Desert chia–“da:pk” in Tohono O’odham–Salvia columbariae–should be planted as seed in the fall for a spring harvest of seed that helps balance blood sugar and has high omega-3 fatty acid. (MABurgess photo)

Also to be planted as seed in the fall for a spring show is Mexican gold poppy. Its effect as a calmer/mellower has been known to traditional people for centuries. (MABurgess photo)

A hedge of prickly pear, especially this Persian orange-flowered Opuntia lindheimeri, can give you tasty “remedies” from blood-sugar-balancing nopales (see the new growth in the photo), herbal tea from the flowers, and high calcium from both young pads and fruits in late summer. (MABurgess photo)

No desert garden is complete without cholla! Cylindropuntia versicolor‘s (Staghorn’s; ciolim) colors are dazzling; its prepared buds balance blood sugar and give enormous amounts of available calcium helpful in prevention of osteoporosis. (MABurgess photo)

 

Late spring will bring a pink and lavender show of flowers to desert willow (“ann” in O’odham). The beautiful tree in this photo is in the landscape of the new Tohono O’odham Community College campus. All parts of Ahn have been used traditionally as an effective anti-fungal. (MABurgess photo)

Flowers of Ahn (Chilopsis linearis) are a visual as well as an herbal gift. Check out herbal books for guidance how it was traditionally used. (MABurgess photo)

With monsoon rains come the bright yellow flowers of Tecoma stans (“tronadora” in Spanish) making a sensational landscape splash. It also doubles as an important remedy for certain types of diabetes. (MABurgess photo)

A perennial to be planted as a tuber in the fall is the wild rhubarb (hiwidchuls in O’odham)( For more about this one, see last month’s blog post). Its tuber has important astringent properties.(MABurgess photo)

At summer’s end your garden will be punctuated with bright Chiltepin peppers! You–and your wild birds–will prosper with picante delights full of vitamin C and A. In addition, you can use them in a topical salve to soothe the anguish of shingles or muscle-sore. (MABurgess photo)

All through the year a Baja Arizona desert garden can give dramatic color as well as special healing gifts that have been know to Desert People since time immemorial.  You can see examples of these native desert plants growing at the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace’s Mission Garden (foot of A-Mountain in Tucson, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and at Tohono Chul Park.  Stay tuned for more about Mission Garden’s Michael Moore Medicinal Plant Garden to be planted this year.

Tis the season now to see a show of spring medicinals in nature as well as in town.  Here’s hoping you can get out in this lovely weather to see the desert explode with its colorful herbal gifts!

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

Forgotten Wildness and Why a Picnic

img_6059-2Linda here with you today.  I awoke this morning to the sound of bird songs;  predawn birdsongs. They were strong, and clear, and filled with passion.   I heard “the call” and so went outside,  enjoying the feeling of cool, predawn air on my skin.

I work and play a lot outside.  Even so, I miss a lot. I think it was the Scott Thomas Carlyle who said, “The tragedy in life is not what men suffer, but what they miss.” And what we miss can be right in front of our very noses.

Wildness is all around us.  And while a trip to rekindle relationship with Wildness can mean travel to dramatic terrains, it doesn’t have to. More often, it may mean simply opening your eyes.  I’ll say it again, because we are so conditioned otherwise, to access the wonder and wilds of nature you need not journey to far off lands. More people live in cities these days than ever before, and to the untrained eye nature seems so far away. Don’t be fooled. There are strongholds of the natural world all around and you’ll find these “footprints” in backyards, city parks, cracks in the pavement, alleyways, drainage ditches, and in vacant and not so vacant lots.

Consider a picnic as a vehicle to get you and your senses re calibrated with what is around you.   There is way more going on in a picnic than snacks, even while they are often the very core of a picnic.  A picnic allows our instinctual selves to rub up against Natures varied expressions.

You can have them nearly anywhere … in backyards, city parks, national parks, even tailgates.  In the daytime, in the evening.  Invite just yourself or include friends/family on a picnic and open up to the wild world around you.

Picnic Foods to Consider

“How the Light Get’s In” Tea eggs –

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(for recipe click on February 2014, and scroll to my Feb7th, 2014)

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Eat them hard boiled and Savor their aroma, beauty, and flavor

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Use the tea eggs above and try them as deviled eggs – a perfect picnic food

Friends or Foes? Friends as Foes Fudge Recipe, Click on August 2014 and scroll down to my August 1st post.

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Here are a tiny sampling of some of the things I have met on a picnic or walk. Note, I did not have to venture far to excite my senses.  Just as in a fantastic fairly tale, all I had to do was open my mind and my eyes.  I chose to share some of life’s smaller fellows because they are so often overlooked. The wild world is as small or as large as our opening up to it.

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Reciprocal relationship – bees complete the sexual dance of plants s they gather pollen. (Backyard, Tucson)

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Ants at work with Texas Ranger petals near opening to colony (out on a walk in Tucson)

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Dung Beetle at work – (just off a road)

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Exoskeleton – (walking in Tucson)

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Pollen Baskets  on those back legs …. now you know why they call bees “pollinators” – (on a walk in Tucson)

 

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This spider probably “feels safe” tucked into the spines of a Saguaro where no bird beak would fear to tread ….

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native | 4 Comments

Beautiful Brittlebush

Brittlebush is one of the most common and conspicuous wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert; seasonally providing a glowing golden-yellow cloak for the desert.  Yes, the wood is brittle, hence the name.

encelia_farinosa_habitBrittlebush has a long history of native use.  The resin collected from the base of the plant is often yellowish to brown in color.  This resin can be heated and used as a glue.  The O’odham and Seri use it for hafting, to hold points on arrows and, in the case of the Seri, harpoons.  A different sort of resin is collected from the upper stems, is more gummy and generally a clear yellow.  The Seri use this to seal pottery vessels.  As a child, I learned from Sells area Tohono O’odham children that this upper stem resin makes a passable chewing gum.

kino-webEarly on the Spanish priests learned that brittlebush resin made a highly fragrant incense, akin to frankincense in odor.  In 1702, Father Kino wrote “. . . in this journey inland and on other occasions I have found various things – little trees, fruit, incense, etc. – all species which are peculiar to . . . [this area]  . . . alone, and samples of which I bring, to celebrate with the incense, by the favor of heaven, this Easter and Holy Week, and to place five good grains of incense in the Paschal candle.”

To harvest resin, use a sharp blade, like a single-edge razor blade, to make a shallow vertical slit about one inch long along the stem.  The resin will ooze out of this cut and dry on the plant.  Return in a day or two to collect the resin.  A healthy, well-maintained plant can have numerous cuts made all over it, just have care to not girdle the stem.

encelia-leaves-2825-webIn the 1960’s, I was taught by a longtime cowboy that a brittlebush stem makes a dandy toothbrush.  Simply select a largish branch and peal off the bitter bark, no need for toothpaste.  He had learned the trick years before from an old cowhand.  Whether this was self-taught or learned from natives, it is impossible to say, although the Seri use brittlebush to treat toothache.  For toothache the bark is removed, the branch heated in ashes, and placed in the mouth to “harden” a loose tooth.  Modern dentistry advocates using mildly alkaline solutions to help maintain oral hygiene, which makes me wonder about the pH of brittlebush sap.
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Some Southwestern folks will bundle the leaves and stems and use them to smudge with, much like smudging with white sage.

Flowers are long-lasting in bouquets but do leave some flowers on the plant, because the seeds of brittlebush are an important food source for native seed-eating birds.
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Planting and Care.  
Brittlebush is a lovely addition to any xeriscape.  The shrub generally reaches around three feet tall and naturally forms a symmetrical globular form.  The fragrant silvery leaves are soft and fuzzy, and work well in fresh floral arrangements.  The golden yellow flowers appear in early spring and cover the bush, but in an interesting array.  Flowers open first on the warm south-facing sides of the bushes and blooming gradually moves up and over the bush, ending with the north-facing branches.
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While it can take full sun, brittlebush does best in a location where it gets noon-time shade in summer.  Avoid planting the shrub near sources of reflected light, like pools or hot south-facing walls.

Brittlebush plants grow best with  rejuvenation pruning every three years.  Just pretend you are a hungry javalina and cut the plants to around six inches tall.  Do this in the fall.  Bloom will be sparse the following year unless you give them some extra water to help them recover.

The above was partially taken from my book, “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today.”

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: Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, Kino herb, medicinal plant, Sonoran Crafts, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Medicinal, Sonoran Native | 1 Comment

Fermented Citrus: Marmalade, Indian Pickle, Mole Pickle

20170122_133637_001Hello friends, Amy here with more fermentation experiments.

It’s a good year for citrus, and I’ve come across a few mystery specimens lately, all very tart. Lemons that look like sour oranges with a lumpy, thick zest. Kumquats that were maybe calamondins. Some called calamondins, but biger, with skin and pith as thick as an orange. Something labeled meyers that were orange and more sour than a regular lemon. Rather than attempt to decipher the cultivars, I’ve just been enjoying them!

Indian Lemon Pickle

A friend’s mom from India fed me some lemon pickle. Wow!!!! Sour!!!! Salty!!!! Spicy, too! It looked as if it was going to be killer spicy, but it was only medium heat. It can be served as a condiment on the table, like with rice and cooked greens. It’s good in a vinaigrette. Any leftover soup or stew suddenly becomes new and exciting! I’m going to try marinating some chicken in it before grilling.

To make Indian lemon pickle, cut sour citrus into small pieces (about 2 cups) and remove the seeds. Add juice to nearly cover the fruit.

20170124_13340720170124_133453Add salt (2 tablespoons) and turmeric (1/2 teaspoon). The spices can be omitted if desired, like classic Moroccan preserved lemons used in cooking or Vietnamese lemons used in lemonade. I’m sure many other cuisines ferment citrus also.

Cover and let ferment at room temperature for a week or two, stirring daily. When the fruit is soft, it is ready to enjoy or spice further.

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Dry toast fenugreek seed (1 tablespoon), cool and grind. Gently heat oil (3 tablespoons) and cook black mustard seeds (half teaspoon) until they sputter! Turn down the heat and add asafoetida powder (1 teaspoon) and the prepared fenugreek. Cook briefly while stirring.

 

 

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Add the cooled spicy oil mixture and the chile to the lemon and taste! It stores beautifully in the refrigerator for a long time, thanks to high salt content. Keep the citrus pieces submerged in the brine. The salt can be reduced, but it may not keep as well.

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Mole Pickle

On a creative streak, I decided to use Mano Y Metate Adobo powder in place of the other spices. tin4I cooked Adobo powder (half a tin) in oil (3 tablespoons, cooled and added to the same fermented lemons. Yummy! The fenugreek seed in the other batch has a slight bitter edge that the Adobo version did not have. The richness of the sesame tempered the sharpness of the lemon, but it is still very potent. Perfect for tacos!!!!

 

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Fermented Marmalade

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon has a recipe for a fermented Orange or Kumquat Marmalade, so I had to try.

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I chopped three heaping cups of sour citrus and added one tablespoon salt, half a cup filtered water, a quarter cup evaporated cane juice (granulated sugar would be fine) and one quarter cup whey (drained from yogurt) as a starter culture. Fruit normally has enough beneficial Lactobacillus cultures and the salt favors their growth over the harmful microorganisms. However, I followed the recipe since this jar had lower salt concentration and added sugar. (The sugar favors different beneficial cultures to grow.) After sitting for a couple weeks and stirring daily, it was slightly fizzy and delicious!

I made some with sliced fruit and some with fruit chopped in the food processor. The barely salty “brine” was less sour than the ferments in sour juice, slightly sweet, and tasty to sip! We ate the softened fruit on buttered toast, with or without additional evaporated cane juice sprinkled on top. Honey would be good, too.

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Enjoy, and happy experimenting!

 

 

Categories: Cooking, fruit, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wild Rhubarb Rises Again!

Wild rhubarb is emerging again this month from its hidden storage roots, dotting arroyo-banks and sandy places with green rosettes of leaves and colorful raspberry-pink stalks (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb is emerging again this month from its hidden storage roots, dotting arroyo-banks and sandy places with green rosettes of leaves and colorful raspberry-pink stalks (MABurgess photo)

It’s an unusual winter season when Canaigre (also known by many other names:  Wild Rhubarb, Desert Dock,  Hiwidchuls in O’odham language, Latin name Rumex hymenosepalus) creeps up out of its sandy hiding places to bloom and seed before spring weather gets too warm.  When conditions are right, it can dot the desert floor in early spring with its floppy leathery leaves and pink stalks similar to domestic rhubarb.  This recent cool season Nov.2016-Jan.2017, with its period of penetrating rains, has been the right trigger for awakening canaigre.  Right now it’s time to attune our vision to finding it!  If the weather heats up rapidly, as happened in the last couple of springs, its tender leaf rosettes will dry and crinkle leaving a brown organic “shadow” of itself on the sand, its stored life safely underground in fat roots.  Tia Marta here to share some experiences with canaigre or wild rhubarb.

Wild rhubarb dug out of sandy soil showing multiple tuberous roots and young leaves (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb dug out of sandy soil showing multiple tuberous roots and young leaves (JRMondt photo)

Close-up of wild rhubarb storage roots (JRMondt photo)

Close-up of wild rhubarb storage roots (JRMondt photo)

Canaigre isn’t just everywhere in the desert.  It’s elusive.  It usually likes sandy loose soil, like the flood plains of our desert rivers in Baja Arizona and Sonora, along major arroyo banks, and on pockets of ancient sand dunes.  Where you see one you usually see many.

Wild rhubarb on sandy soil in Paradox Valley, western CO (JRMondt photo)

Wild rhubarb on sandy soil in Paradox Valley, western CO (JRMondt photo)

Wild rhubarb emerging in ancient dune soil, Avra Valley , southern AZ (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb emerging in ancient dune soil, Avra Valley , southern AZ (MABurgess photo)

My late friend and mentor, Tohono O’odham Elder Juanita Ahil, would take me to her favorite harvesting grounds at the right time each February and March to collect the rosy stalks–if they had emerged.  Over the last 40 years, with deep regret, frustration and anguish, I’ve seen her special “harvesting gardens” go under the blade as development turned wild rhubarb habitat into apartments, golf courses, and strip malls.  Hopefully our Arizona Native Plant Society (www.AZNPS.com) will be able to advocate for setting aside some remaining sites on public lands, similar to the BLM Chiltepin Reserve at Rock Corral Canyon in the Atascosa Mountains.  Where wild rhubarb was once super-plentiful, they and their habitats are now greatly diminished, even threatened.

Wild rhubarb stalk ready to harvest (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb stalk ready to harvest (MABurgess photo)

Botanical illustration of wild rhubarb from Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore, U.NewMexico Press (drawing by Mimi Kamp)

Botanical illustration of wild rhubarb from Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore, U.NewMexico Press (drawing by Mimi Kamp)

Details of the parts of the plant that Juanita traditionally harvested are shown in Mimi Kamp’s sketch.  Contrary to some ethnographic reports, Juanita did not use the leaf petioles for food; she harvested the flower stalks, i.e. the stems, leaving the leaves to make more food for the plants to store for the next season.  Traditional knowledge is so attuned to Nature.  Hers was an awareness of the plant’s needs balanced with her own appetite.  Other reports of traditional use of wild rhubarb mention cooking the leaves after leaching/steaming out the oxalic acid from them which is not healthy to eat.

Juanita would also dig deeply into the sandy soil directly under an unusually large, robust hiwidchuls to harvest one or more (up to maybe 1/4 of the tubers) to use as medicine.  I recall her digging a big purplish tuber the size of an oblong sweet potato at a depth of 2 1/2 feet on the floodplain of the Rio Santa Cruz where ball parks now prevent any hiwidchuls growth at all.  She would dry it and powder it to use later on scrapes to staunch bleeding.  Her hiwidchuls harvesting dress was dotted with rosy brown patches of color dyed from the juice splashed on the cloth when she cut the tubers into slices for drying. (See Jacqueline Soule’s post on this blog from 2014, also Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants books, for alternate uses.)

Wild rhubarb flower stalk close-up (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb flower stalk close-up  with buds and flowers  typical of buckwheats (MABurgess photo)

Canaigre/wild rhubarb is in the buckwheat family sporting clusters of little flowers that produce winged seeds.  Their papery membranes help catch the wind for flying to new planting grounds.  The green celery-like flower stalk or stem turns pink or raspberry-tinted as it matures.  That was when Juanita would cut the stem at its base to use for her hiwidchuls pas-tild, wild rhubarb pie!

Wild rhubarb stalk with colorful immature seeds forming (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb stalk with colorful immature seeds forming (MABurgess photo)

Close-up of wild rhubarb's membranous seeds (MABurgess photo)

Close-up of wild rhubarb’s membranous seeds (MABurgess photo)

In a good year, Juanita would harvest literally bundles of hiwidchuls stalks and we would set to work baking.  Her pies were sweet and tangy.  Here is what she would roughly put together in her off the cuff recipe.  But almost any rhubarb pie recipe should work with the wild rhubarb.  You can find great info on Southwest Native uses of canaigre in Blog-Sister Carolyn Niethammer’s book American Indian Food and Lore.

Juanita’s approximate Hiwidchuls Pas-tird RECIPE

Ingredients:

ca 4-6 cups chopped young wild rhubarb stems

1/4-1/2 cup white Sonora wheat flour

2-3 Tbsp butter

ca 2 cups sugar

pie crust–2 layers for top and bottom, or bottom crust and top lattice crust (A good variation is mesquite flour added to your crusts)

Directions:  Prep stems ahead.  Preheat oven to 450 F.  Chop young rhubarb stems in 1/2 inch cuts.  Stems are full of vascular bundles and can become very fibrous as stems become fully mature, so youthful stems are best.  (Be warned:  One year we harvested a little too late and our pies were so “chewy” with fiber that we had to eat our pies outside in order to be able to easily “spit out the quids.”)  Cook hiwidchuls chopped pieces in a small amount of water until tender.  Add in sugar, butter and flour and cook until mixture is thickening.  Pour mixture into your pie crust.  Cover with top pie crust and pierce for steam escape, or cover with lattice crust.  Begin baking in hot oven (at 450F) then reduce heat to medium oven (350F) for 45-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice is bubbling through lattice or steam holes.  Enjoy it hot or cold!

 

Wild rhubarb stalk ready to harvest (MABurgess photo)

Wild rhubarb stalk ready to harvest (MABurgess photo)

Now let’s head out into the desert washes to see if there are more stands of hiwidchuls popping up out of the ground, making solar food to keep themselves and other creatures alive and well!   Let’s get ready to be collecting their seeds (which also were used traditionally by Native People as food) in order to propagate and multiply them, adding them to our gardens for future late winter shows of color, good food and good medicine.  Happy gardening and eating from Tia Marta and traditional knowledge shared!

 

 

Categories: Cooking, Dye, dye plant, Edible Landscape Plant, medicinal plant, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Medicinal, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake Up Make Chorizo

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Linda here celebrating a springlike day here in the Old Pueblo. I am sitting near an open window as I write;  warm springtime air feels great on my skin  – the sounds of birdsongs flood me with Spring Fever.

It is the Year of the Fire Rooster in Chinese Astrology.  Roosters have many characteristics; they strut about;  they are prone to power struggles; they are excellent sentinels. And they crow.  They actually crow throughout the day (and sometimes night) and for different reasons, but their signature trait is their morning crow. I am going to take artistic license here and say that Fire Rooster 2017 is crowing: “Time to Wake Up”.

Wake up?  To what? Ah, well I could get political … what with all the “waking up” going on, and not going on, in the US  right now. For our purposes here, however, let’ Wake Up to the fact that we are all “eaters.   Let’s “get” that as Eaters we both influence and are influenced by our  food Systems/Sources.

As a country and increasingly as a globe, we eat standardized, high yield hybrid crops for a variety of reasons. The cultivation of just a handful of crops is a subject that impacts our lives on a multiple of level – and for more in depth reading I HIGHLY recommend  Michael Pollan’s intelligent research and writings as well as investigative journalist Simran Sethi’s  Bread Wine Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.

Today, lets adventure into a cross border food to highlight how fun food diversity is. Remember Biology 101:  we learned that biodiversity is the crucial strategy nature uses to ensure survival – whether it be plant, insect, animal, or human-animal.  Biodiversity also happens to taste good on the tongue and might as good for the planet as it is for your health. (And may even be good for your pocketbook)

Chorizo is really sausage.  It is a hearty, spice-filled food that is easy to make and  versatile.  Traditionally it was made with pork, but can be made with ground turkey, wild game, even tofu. You can vary the spices to your liking.

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We made this chorizo with Javelina meat just the other day.

 

Today we will explore two chorizo recipes from the same region in Sonora, Mexico.

Liby’s  Y  Carlos’s Chorizo Receta 

Liby was born in 1910 and was a fantastic “cocinera” (cook) all her life.  Her son Carlos learned her recipes and relayed her Chorizo Receta to me just today. Liby made it with ground pork. He has made it both pork, and also with ground turkey. I am going to start with this recipe as it is more user friendly for the modern Eater; the meats are readily available in stores and can be obtained already ground.

A few notes from Carlos:

  • Except for the garlic, which should be mashed (if you are not grinding the meat yourself) all the other spices should be dried; in chorizo the dried spices make it more flavorful.  Carlos uses the flat side of a knife to really mash the garlic cloves until they are “almost pasty”.  Then add it to the ground meat; “you really cannot add enough garlic”.
  • Add the spices one at a time to the ground meat. (versus mixing all the spices together and then adding them to the meat)
  • If you are using Turkey you might want to add more spices than the recipe amounts below to make sure it has a strong enough flavor.
  • Finding a good quality chile powder is fundamental to making great tasting chorizo. Ideally, he said,  the red chile powder is made from chile from the red chile ristras (wreaths) here in the southwest. If that is not an option, look for the best quality of red chile powder you can find.  “Quality chile is “Precious”!
  • Do not be afraid to make the chorizo a few times to really perfect it to YOUR liking.

INGREDIENTS:

2-3 lbs of ground pork or turkey

20 garlic cloves – (mashed) “Garlic makes it

2 Tablespoons white vinegar

one handful of dried mint

one handful of “cilantro de bole” (coriander seed) Crush it in a blender or molcajete

Salt and Pepper to taste

At least one handful of Red chile powder – added at the end- it will add a fantastic flavor as well as add a beautiful red color to the chorizo

Mix in each ingredient one at a time and then let it sit in the fridge over night.

Chorizo is great with eggs, potatoes, beans – and for the more urban or modern pallet put on top of pizzas, in quiches …. use your imagination!

Gracias Carlos!!! Y Gracias a Liby tambien!

Chorizo de Rancho: Chorizo de Javelina 

The recipe below is made essentially the same way – except that the Javelina meat was from the Campo (countryside) and we ground it ourselves. We used a hand grinder and added the garlic directly to the meat. No mint nor vinegar was used, but dried Mexican oregano and cilanto (crushed) were used.

Our ancestors were not squeamish. They new intimately where their food came from. Food was not taken for granted, and large amounts energy went into thinking about food and survival. They were actively engaged in hunting, foraging, planting, harvesting, preparing, and storing food. They knew exactly where their food came from as they were not just Eaters, but food producers  (or finders/foragers). You do not need to hunt your food or ingredients (although if you so I highly recommend Jesse Griffiths book Afield: A Chef’s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish. 

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Add the meat little by little to the molino and grind.

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add the garlic one clove at a time and grind

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this gives you an idea of the texture

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once ground, add the handfuls of dried herbs: this is Mexican Oregano

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we grew this cilantro, which when it goes to seed is Coriander (Cilantro de Bola)

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the light is poor in the photo – but red chile was added here.

 

More ideas: Rooster Chorizo.

Backyard chicken keepers and poultry farmers alike know that in a typical batch of chicks will yield 50% males and 50% females – give or take. If you have too many roosters in one area and you will quickly find power struggles as well as a lot of crowing, so city ordinances do not allow them in most city limits. (Barking dogs are more socially acceptable). So “what to do” with roosters is a something backyard chicken keepers, who live in the city limits, have to deal with. I can’t tell you how many calls I have gotten from new chicken keepers about What to Do with their roosters. My answer: there is no Right Answer. You can find them new homes,  you can respectfully eat them. I don’t espouse one way over another way. I have done both and for differing reasons, as the years have progressed. If you decide to cull your birds, do it respectfully and skillfully (find someone to teach you if you don’t know) and consider making Rooster Chorizo – with the recipes above as your springboard.

A Few More Regional Foods:

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Fresh caught fish and “mountain oysters” being prepared for lunch

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Another version of ‘mountain oysters” cooked with lots of garlic.

 

Above I mentioned that eating in diverse ways may be good for your pocket book – it takes time and skill to catch the Fish or Javelina in the photos above (or to “gather” the mountain oysters!) but not much money.  It is also empowering to provide for oneself.

This idea of Waking Up to our food sources requires some real courage and honesty. Often because we have a lot tied up in food-lifestyle ideologies and identities. I know that my food choices have changes and evolved as I have lived and learned. I try to read and study broadly on the subject – and I fully expect some more editing in my choices as I Wake Up.

 

 

Categories: Beekeeping, Cooking, herbs, Javelina, foraging and hunting, Simran Sethi, Mexican ranch recipes, Michael Pollan, bio diversity, roosters "eaters", Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: | Leave a comment

Pretty Pomegranate for an Edible Landscape

Jacqueline Soule here this week to tell you about a lovely landscape plant that bears luscious fruit – and you can plant now.

Easy to grow, pomegranates are an “in-between” plant.  They are either a short shrub-like tree, or maybe a tall tree-like shrub.  Mature plants have multiple trunks and reach 6 to 12 feet high and generally 5 to 10 feet around.  This size makes them good for a smaller yard, and their multiple trunks make them a good screen.

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Pomegranate plants offer year round interest in the landscape.  Rich, bright green leaves in summer turn golden yellow in autumn and drop, leaving the smooth cinnamon and gray bark in visible in winter.  In spring, the leaves grow once again emerging at first with an almost bronze hue.  Spring also brings several weeks of radiant flowers.  Bloom color depends on variety, from lacy pink and white to salmon, to red, or scarlet.  These bright blooms are pollinated by our calm native bees as well as European honeybees.  Soon the fruits start to develop, and take long slow months ripen.

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Pomegranate fruits come in a variety of colors when ripe, from a yellowish green with red freckles, to pink, to crimson, to an almost black hue.  The fruit that is lighter colored when ripe are less bothered by birds than those that turn red.  The interior of the fruit varies in color as well.  The ‘Kino Heritage White’ is popular because it does not stain fingers.

 

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Pomegranates are self-fruitful, so a single tree is all that is needed for fruit production. Some pomegranate varieties can have thorny stems, so select plants carefully.

Pomegranate plants require full sun, but appreciate some afternoon shade in our summer.  They grow well in our alkaline soils, not needing extensive soil amendments and constant monitoring like citrus trees.  One exception is clay soils.  If you live in an area of clay soils, plants can easily drown if you over-water them.  Amend such soils before you plant with ample sand and compost.

Blazing hot Southwestern summers are not an issue for pomegranates, nor are cold winters.  Found in the snowy Judean mountains of Israel, they tolerate winter lows to 10 degrees F.  While the trees are fairly drought tolerant, they get water once a week when they have leaves, they will fruit better.

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Pomegranates are a good xeriscape plant.  That said, the trees are fairly drought tolerant, but if you water them once a week through the summer, they will fruit better.

Don’t expect fruit the first year or two.  My tree is three years old and had 7 fruit last fall.  Fruit drop during the plant’s juvenile period (first 3-5 years) is quite common.  Fruit drop is aggravated by too much fertilizer and excess water – making this a good tree for the forgetful gardener.

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Fruit ripens in October and November and can be used right away or stored for months in a cool place.  Technically the part you eat are called “arils” it is a sweet flesh that covers the seeds.  Eat the arils fresh, or press them for juice, or boil them with sugar to make grenadine syrup or jelly.

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Spring is almost upon us and it can be a busy time of year.  But in the next few weeks I hope you will find some time to plant at least one of these lovely trees.  They do quite well planted before the heat of summer is upon us.

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Dr. Jacqueline Soule has been writing about gardening in our region for over three decades. Her latest book Month by Month Guide to Gardening in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press) just arrived in December.  It’s a good companion volume to Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening (Cool Springs Press, 2014).

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, fruit, Gardening, heirloom crops, Southwest Food | 3 Comments

Mole Tasting Saturday, January 21

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photo: Lani Roundy Axman

Come Saturday, January 21 at 1pm for a taste! Amy here, inviting you to Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil Store at Oracle and Magee in Tucson for a little discussion about mole and to purchase fresh Mano Y Metate Mole Powders. Plus attendees take home a 60ml bottle of olive oil!

This photo was from Galeana 39, my friend Curtis Parhams’ gift shop in Phoenix where you can also purchase my mole powders.

In the foreground you see Mole Dulce Popcorn, my mom’s favorite recipe with her favorite variety of mole. Yes, you can just sprinkle mole powder on the buttered popcorn, but this method is better.

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photo: Curtis Parhams

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Take a tin of Mole Dulce powder and cook in a few tablespoons oil in a very large skillet. You can use more oil than if you were making mole sauce because it is standing in for butter on the popcorn. I prefer a mild tasting olive from Alfonso, but any cooking oil will work. After the paste is fragrant, bubbly and a shade darker, toss air-popped corn into the paste and mix until all the kernels are seasoned. Salt to taste and enjoy the sweet, salty, spicy treat while it’s still warm!

After talking about the basic components that build mole sauces, the varieties of mole and a little about Mano Y Metate, I’ll prepare Mole Dulce with butternut squash cubes.

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I start with a butternut squash, peeling and cutting into bite sized pieces. Then cook a tin of Mole Dulce powder in 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat. Nancy Alfonso said they had new fresh oil varieties since I was there last, so I’m excited to try them Saturday. Anyway, cook the paste and then add veggie or chicken broth. In a few minutes, the sauce comes together and the cubes of squash go in the pot. Simmer until tender. Alternately, you can precook the squash cubes until barely tender before adding to the sauce. We’ll enjoy these bites on toothpicks, but at home you could put on a tostada or fresh tortilla and garnish with cilantro or green onion. Serve with beans, rice and a salad for a vegetarian meal or as a side dish with another meal.

So if you’re in Tucson and want to stay dry, come taste a wild diversity of high quality extra virgin olive oils, some mild, others pleasantly bitter, some peppery.  Many infused with herbs or other ingredients. Last time I took home Blood Orange infused olive oil, perfect for cilantro chutneys! Yes some perfect for salads, but also for cooking. They also have butternut squash seed oil, oil expressed from squash seeds. Amazing! Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oils and Balsamics 7854 N.Oracle Road- Southeast corner of Oracle and Magee. They also have a River and Campbell store.20161119_105930

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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