Monthly Archives: April 2015

Ancient Dance: Genes, Nutrition, and Sweet Pure Food.

IMG_5582 Aunt Linda here on a hot afternoon this last day of April, in the Old Pueblo. There is notable buzzing in the mesquite tree outside my door. It is a sound I wait for each spring.  For me, the best part of keeping bees is not the honey; though honey is remarkable. The best part is how they open wide my appreciation of the world around me.

If we were to hop a pollen grain and ride it back in time, all the way back to the Cretaceous Period, what would we find?  The first flowers on planet earth.  (Two hundred million years ago, there were plenty of plants on the planet, but no flowers.)

Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire, describes how “flowers changed everything” when they emerged on the planet.  “Instead of relying on wind or water to move genes around, a plant could enlist the help of an animal by striking a grand coevolutionary compact: nutrition in exchange for transportation.” (p108).

This coevolutionary compact has been so successful that we see it very much in action in our own yards and neighborhoods even as I write.Below are a few photos of this ancient dance thriving in my own backyard – showing Apis Mellifera (honey bees) moving plant pollen around in exchange for nutrition.

The female foraging bee is gather pollen (protein rich food). She rubs her fur on the anthers of flowers and then combs the pollen off her body with the special “pollen combs” located on her front and middle legs. (below)

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She packs the pollen into her pollen sacks (alot like “saddle bags”) on her back legs and carries it back to the hive. (below)IMG_5277

Once back in the hive she will store the pollen into cells near the brood nest; She does this by lowering her back legs into the cell and knocking off the pollen pellet into the cell; if you look closely you will see many colors of pollen and sometimes more than one type of pollen pellet in one cell. (below)  Bee Bread is a mixture of of nectar and pollen stored to be later fed to baby bees.

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Today’s Recipe is not a recipe at all, but an Invitation.

Seek out and taste fresh honeycomb.

Not just honey, but honey still in it’s wax comb.

If you do not have a beekeeper living near you, then look in a health food stores or farmers market.

It is pure joy to hold and smell and taste honeycomb –  and to taste honey so pure that the last “hands” that touched the honey, were the bees’s  before they capped the cell.   See if you can taste the mesquite, the rosemary, the cactus flower, or whatever blooms near you, within the honey.

Below is honeycomb I harvested this morning.

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Cactus Flower and pollen being gathered; note the pollen sack on back leg (below)
IMG_0748More Cactus Flower pollinating going on (below)
IMG_1293Rosemary flowers and foraging bee (below)

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Categories: Sonoran Native | 2 Comments

Lizard Tail Plants

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Yerba mansa is a member of a tiny plant family. Our Sonoran Desert has many such unique plants in it.

Jacqueline Soule here to tell you of a very unusual plant blooming in my garden right now – a member of the very unique Lizard Tail Family, the Saururaceae. This distinct plant family has only seven species in it, grouped into four genera. I am writing today about Anemopsis californica, also called yerba mansa.

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What looks like a single flower is technically a cluster of tiny flowers.

Medicinal.

Yerba mansa is used as a medicinal herb, but it also makes a pretty pond plant. All parts of the plant have a distinct spicy fragrance, a blend of ginger, eucalyptus, a touch of juniper and a dash of pepper. The roots are especially fragrant, reminiscent of a cross between camphor and eucalyptus with a hint of pepper. One of the active compounds in yerba mansa is methyleugenol, an anti-spasmodic, similar in chemical structure to compounds found in other medicinal herbs.

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Even when they are newly emerged, the leaves bear a tracery of the red pigments they feature in fall.

Yerba mansa is versatile; it can be taken orally as a tea, tincture, infusion or dried in capsule form. It can be used externally for soaking inflamed or infected areas. It can be ground and used as a dusting powder. In New Mexico the leaves are used to make a poultice to relieve muscle swelling and inflammation. Spanish settlers in California used the plant as a liniment for skin troubles and as a tea for disorders of the blood.

Planting and Care.

While it is a pretty garden plant, yerba mansa would not appear in xeriscape books. It requires consistently moist soil and will not tolerate drying out between waterings. But by definition a xeriscape should include some oasis, and this is often a water garden.

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Yerba mansa features large leathery leaves when it gets ample water.

Yerba mansa is valuable in the water garden. Koi and other fish do not browse it like they do many other plants, thus it can readily spread and help clean the water. It also appears to help keep fish from getting bacterial infections such as Pseudomonas fluorescens (causing fin rot and fish dropsy) and fungal infections such as Saprolegnia.

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Great for the water garden, yerba mansa’s antibacterial properties can help keep your fish healthy.

Cooler autumn weather can bring blotches of maroon to the leaves and stems. If the temperatures are cool but not freezing, the entire plant may turn color. If the temperature falls below 20 F, the leaves die. Not to worry, the plant readily comes back from the roots. The plant is considered hardy to USDA Zone 5.

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Yerba mansa will send out runners seeking to colonize new territory. It will not take root where there is not ample water – like in the desert outside the water garden!

In our area the plant is gaining popularity and can now be found in a number of nurseries that carry water garden plants.

Harvesting and Use.

Roots for medicinal purposes should be collected in the fall preferably after the first freeze. After the first freeze the plant will begin to store the useful chemicals in its root system. Harvest the thick fleshy roots under the main part of the plant, not the thin roots on the runners.

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The smaller white roots are the ones harvested and dried for their medicinal properties.

Wash roots to remove clay and silt, then set them to wilt for several hours before cutting them into small pieces (roughly 1/4 inch square). Continue to dry the chopped roots until firm and dry.

About Jacqueline Soule

If 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 and more. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

All text and all photos (except where noted) are copyright © 2015 by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. 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 may not be used.

Categories: Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, Kino herb, medicinal plant, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Medicinal, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

April Brings Nopales

Grilled Chicken with Nopalito and Pineapple Salsa

Grilled Chicken with Nopalito and Pineapple Salsa (from The Prickly Pear Cookbook)

If it’s April, it’s time to gather nopales here on the Sonoran Desert. Carolyn here today tempting you to read further with this photo of a delicious salsa made with nopalitos. (Definition of nopalito: a nopal, or cactus pad, cut into little pieces).  At the bottom of the post, I’m going to give you the recipe and a video of how to turn a cactus pad into a yummy taco.

The many varieties of prickly pear put out their new growth when the spring warms up. All prickly pear pads are edible (meaning they not only won’t kill you but in this case are very nutritious), but they are only appropriate for food when they are new. After about six weeks, they develop a fibrous infrastructure. The easiest kind to prepare are the pads from the large Mexican variety of prickly pear that do not grow wild this far north. They are called Ficus indica or sometimes Burbank because Luther Burbank did some breeding work on them. The wild cactus pads are also delicious, but harder to prepare because of the abundance of spines.  You can do a rough estimate of when a pad is ready to pick if it is about the size of your hand. The nopales available in Mexican grocery stores are grown by farmers who know how to manipulate the plant to keep fresh pads coming year ’round.

Pick nopales in the spring when the size of your hand.

Pick nopales in the spring when the size of your hand.

To prepare the nopales, you’ll use  tongs, of course, and then don rubber kitchen gloves to protect your hands as you get rid of the stickers. You don’t need industrial strength gloves, just good quality ones from the grocery store will do. Using a common steak knife, scrape vigorously against the growth (from outer edge to stem) to remove the stickers.

Scrape the thorns vigorously in the direction of the stem.

Scrape the thorns vigorously in the direction of the stem.

The edge has lots of stickers so just trim it off.

IMG_0196At this point, you can cut it into small pieces to cook or leave it whole and cut it up later. You can cook them in a frying pan filmed with oil, or use the Rick Bayless method (he of TV show fame) and toss them with a little oil, sprinkle with sale, put on a cookie sheet and roast in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  In any case, you should check them and turn them over as they cook.

Cut into small pieces to cook.

Cut into small pieces to cook.

The nopales will turn from bright green to a more olive color as they cook. The gummy sap that some people find objectionable will dry up and become less noticeable.

The cooked nopalitos turn from bright green to olive.

The cooked nopalitos turn from bright green to olive.

You can also cook nopales on the barbecue alongside some chicken to make a delicious taco. This video ( find it at the bottom of the magazine article) shows you how to clean the nopal and grill it.  Take a look here.

Here’s the recipe for the sauce in the picture at the top of the blog:

Grilled Chicken  with Nopalito and Pineapple Salsa

(Makes 4 servings)

This is good to serve as a light entrée with rice and a vegetable.  It is also great as a stuffing for fresh flour tortillas topped with shredded lettuce.

1 raw, cleaned prickly pear pad

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup canned crushed pineapple packed in it’s own juice

¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, including some tops

1 tablespoons canned green chiles

1 finely minced serrano chile (optional)

½ teaspoon finely minced garlic

2 tablespoons lime juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon finely minced cilantro (optional)

4 large boneless chicken breasts

Cut prickly pear pad in 1 ½ inch squares.  Film a heavy frying pan with the oil and add the prickly pear pads.  Cook over low heat, turning occasionally, until pieces have given up much of their juice and are slightly brown. Remove from pan, cool, and chop into pieces as wide as a matchstick and about ¼-inch long.

Transfer to medium bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine and set aside for flavors to mingle.

Grill chicken breasts until done. Slice each one crosswise into five or six pieces and arrange each on a plate.  Put a portion of the salsa on top of  or beside the chicken.

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Want more recipes for the bountiful crop of nopales we’ll have this year?  Check out The Prickly Pear Cookbook and Cooking the Wild Southwest.  You can flip through The Prickly Pear Cookbook here. Both books are available locally at Native Seeds/SEARCH on Campbell or from on-line booksellers.

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

Glorious Diversity–A Palette of Heirloom Legumes

The desert this spring is exploding with color, its rainbow shades reminding us of the amazing diversity of life, of species, of varieties of plants in this rich Sonoran Desert! Cholla flowers themselves are a veritable palette of genetic diversity within a species and between species.

Tia Marta here to talk about the rich diversity of beans selected and cultivated over the centuries by smart Native farmers in what is now the southwest borderlands…..

Tom's Mix is a rainbow of color, flavor, nutrition, and genetic adaptations to the desert Southwest! (MABurgess photo)

Tom’s Mix is a rainbow of color, flavor, nutrition, and genetic adaptations to the desert Southwest! (MABurgess photo)

In the genetic treasure trove of the NativeSeeds/SEARCH Seed Bank, there are hundreds of varieties and landraces of common bean, runner bean, and limas that can dazzle both our eyes, tastebuds–and our souls. Their colors, theirs shapes, sizes, sculpture are miniature works of art. And inside each little bean, each variety carries a complex of genes shaped over time to fit a specific local rainfall regime, soil, daylength, temperature range, and human habits. Their genetic potential may provide us some nutritional lifeboats into the uncharted waters of climate change.  (We are in this together.)

Delectable Tom's Mix available online at NativeSeeds.org and FlordeMayoArts.com.

Delectable Tom’s Mix available online at NativeSeeds.org and FlordeMayoArts.com.

Long ago, my gardening pal and mentor Tom Swain “invented” a mix of 14 different beautiful Southwestern heirloom beans garnered from the NativeSeeds/SEARCH collection. Of course we had to call it “Tom’s Mix” (ok–“oldsters” get it). It is the most beautiful set of genetic as well as flavor jewels—truly a treasure to behold and to eat.

Many people at our Flor de Mayo booth at Sunday St Phillips Farmers Market have asked how to identify each bean in the mix. To sort them, ID each variety, and come to know them is a fun challenge.  I’d like to create a game for kids (and adults) to teach taxonomy in a cool way using them.

 

 

So, head for the NativeSeeds store or Sunday’s St Phillips market, pick up a bag of Tom’s Mix, and take the BEAN CHALLENGE!

Herewith is your KEY to unlocking some the of mystery beans of our beautiful desert region.  (They each carry stories with them–come learn more from Tia Marta at the Sunday market… see, buy, taste each beautiful bean, see which one is cooking in the solar oven, and press her to finish her bean book!)  Until then, you can feast on these gorgeous visual hints—first a feast for the eye, later for the palette–with this photographic key to the makings of Tom’s Mix:

Ed's perfect pecan pie made with Zuni beans--a healthy dessert!.

Ed’s perfect pecan pie made with Zuni beans–a healthy dessert!.

“Zuni Gold” (aka “Four Corners Gold”) was originally from the Native Zuni people of NW New Mexico, a flavor gift to the world.

“Zuni Gold” (aka “Four Corners Gold”) was originally from the Native Zuni people of NW New Mexico, a flavor gift to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Yellow-eye bean" (not related to black-eye pea) similar to Zuni Gold but with a distinctively different flavor.  It was the original Boston baked bean before coming west.  So rare it is not often used in the mix.

“Yellow-eye bean” (not related to black-eye pea) similar to Zuni Gold but with a distinctively different flavor. It was the original Boston baked bean before coming west. So rare it is not often used in the mix.

 

“Scarlet Runner” is a vining bean with brilliant red flowers that attract hummingbirds.  It is a large purplish speckled bean not to be confused with lima.

“Scarlet Runner” is a vining bean with brilliant red flowers that attract hummingbirds. It is a large purplish speckled bean not to be confused with lima. (MABurgess photo)

Runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) are larger than so-called “common” beans (Phaseolus vulgaris–an insulting name for such wonderful food plants!)  Runner beans, as the name implies, are climbers as compared with bush-beans.  Their flowers are bigger and they bear huge pods.  Runner beans make a great addition to soups and stews.

Related to scarlet runner is “Aztec White Runner” or “Bordal” (aka “Mortgage Lifter”) is another vining bean with a big white flower.  It is large, plump and a little sweet.

Related to scarlet runner is “Aztec White Runner” or “Bordal” (aka “Mortgage Lifter”) is another vining bean with a big white flower. It is large, plump and a little sweet.  (MABurgess photo)

 

“Yellow Indian Woman” is the only bean in the mix not from the SW.  As legend has it, Swedes brought this bean to Native people of the northern plains.

“Yellow Indian Woman” is the only bean in the mix not from the SW. As legend has it, Swedes brought this bean to Native people of the northern plains.

“Flor de Mayo”  (Mayflower) is a favorite of traditional people from Chihuahua and Texas to southern Sonora.

“Flor de Mayo” (Mayflower) is a favorite of traditional people from Chihuahua and Texas to southern Sonora.

“Bolita” or “little bullet” is a champion of flavor and makes a delish burrito or refried bean.

“Bolita” or “little bullet” is a champion of flavor and makes a delish burrito or refried bean.

 

 

 

These three beans are of similar shape and color–though different in flavors.  It is neat to try them separately, to enjoy their individual attributes.  Watch for announcements when Native Seeds/SEARCH sponsors its Great Bean Tasting Events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Moon Bean” (also known in Colorado as “pinkeye bean”)  is a mild, tasty, versatile bean.

“Moon Bean” (also known in Colorado as “pinkeye bean”) is a mild, tasty, versatile bean.

In Tucson our culinary hero Chef Janos Wilder of the Downtown Kitchen has created the most delectable casserole using Moon Beans, chicken, and other surprise veggies.  Try this one out also in marinated salads with white Sonora wheat berries.

“Maicoba”  is named for the Pima Bajo village in Sonora where it originated.  This yellow bean goes by many monikers—sulfur bean, azufrado, canario, peruano.

“Maicoba” is named for the Pima Bajo village in Sonora where it originated. This yellow bean goes by many monikers—sulfur bean, azufrado, canario, peruano.

The versatile Maicoba makes a fabulous refried bean, a great dip, or burrito.

“Cranberry bean” refers to the flecks and strips of dark maroon or cranberry coloration on beige, not to its flavor.

“Cranberry bean” refers to the flecks and strips of dark maroon or cranberry coloration on beige, not to its flavor.

You will often see Italian recipes calling for cranberry bean.  This year’s crop of cranberry was for some weather reason a bust; let’s hope that next year it comes back strong again.  To participate, plant some locally.

“Cannellini” is an elongated white bean grown in the Four Corners for years, brought there by immigrants.

“Cannellini” is an elongated white bean grown in the Four Corners for years, brought there by immigrants.

Cannellini makes a fabulous addition to minestrone, or becomes the center of a yummy Mediterranean marinated bean salad.  A smaller, creamier bean is the “Colorado River Bean” which resembles the Mayflower bean from SeedSavers catalog.

“Colorado River bean” takes its name from the Colorado Plateau where it is grown.  This small speckled bean makes a wonderfully creamy soup.

“Colorado River bean” takes its name from the Colorado Plateau where it is grown. This small speckled bean makes a wonderfully creamy soup.

Worlds apart in flavor and size is the Christmas lima–a true lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus–like a moon).  This one is not like your average butter bean.  It is massive as beans go, rich and almost meaty–great for a vegetarian centerpiece dish.

“Christmas lima” or “Chestnut lima” is a true lima bean Phaseolus lunatus, large, flat, purple mottled, and hearty flavored.

“Christmas lima” or “Chestnut lima” is a true lima bean, large, flat, purple mottled, and hearty flavored.

 

“Aztec Black Bean” or “Black Turtle” is the traditional bean of the Nahuatl or central Mexico.

“Aztec Black Bean” or “Black Turtle” is the traditional bean of the Nahuatl or central Mexico.

 

“Anasazi Bean” is the only trademarked bean in the mix.  Original seeds of this fast-cooking bean were actually found in an ancestral Puebloan ruin in the Four Corners.

“Anasazi Bean” is the only trademarked bean in the mix. Original seeds of this fast-cooking bean were actually found in an ancestral Puebloan ruin in the Four Corners.

These two beautiful beans, Black Turtle and “Anasazi bean,” bind up the full complement of flavors in Tom’s Mix.  As individual beans, each is hard to beat flavor-wise and texture-wise.  Together, combined in our Tom’s Mix, they are a culinary delight.

Black beans are the staple of many traditional diets, from Meso-America to northern New Mexico.

The “Anasazi” is the fastest cooking and least distressing to digestion of any bean I know of.

So now are you feeling enriched by these visual legume wonders?  I hope so!  Now to come try your hand at identifying them firsthand, and to treating your taste-buds at our Flor de Mayo tent at Sunday farmers market.

Identified or not, these precious heirloom beans in Tom’s Mix make a fabulous soup that our market and online customers rave about. You can ship out this Southwest gift to all corners of the globe via paypal at http://www.flordemayoarts.com.

Tom’s Mix is so versatile—try them as a dip or as a most colorful marinated bean salad when the weather heats up. If you are inspired to assist the bean genes into the future, try your hand at growing some of the Tom’s Mix varieties this summer in your own garden.  You can learn lots more at our Seed Libraries (Pima County Public Library) and at the upcoming International Seed Library Conference to be held in Tucson in early May.

Diversity of Southwestern heirlooms in Tom's Mix

Diversity of Southwestern heirlooms in Tom’s Mix

See you Sunday at St Phillips Plaza or at the NSS Store, 3061 N Campbell. We look forward to talking heirloom beans with you!

[As for the diversity of those cholla flowers mentioned at the start….. Tia Marta will be exploring our diverse cholla flora at upcoming cholla bud harvesting workshops: Sat April 11 sponsored by NativeSeeds/SEARCH and Sat April 18 sponsored by Tohono Chul Park. Contact each for more info: http://www.nativeseeds.org and http://www.tohonochulpark.org, or call Flor de Mayo at 520-907-9471.]

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tiny Hummingbirds, Spider Silk, and Web of Life Eggs – Part Two

Aunt Linda here:  The full moon is setting in the West early this morning,  and  I am lucky enough to be able to see the moon beaming from this desk. As if that weren’t enough beauty, the morning offers the sound of a male dove beginning his mating song. Soon more will join in.  As moon beams make their horizontal way into the yard, the silvery spider webs in the foliage around my door shimmer silvery white.

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It is Spider Silk like in the above photo that females hummingbirds use to build secure, strong, and flexible nests.

SPIDER SILK:  Spiders use silk for a variety of reasons, web weaving, cocoon construction, and even in a kind of sperm delivery system.  All spiders have silk glands, which are located in their abdomen, and which emerge from tiny tubes in their spinnerets, known as spigots. Spiders, while not the only animals to produce silk, (caterpillars and weaver ants do), do produce the strongest silk, often compared to the strength of steel.  It also has a remarkable capacity to expand.  One example of this is referred to as “capture spiral silk” , and is used in web construction, allowing for prey to impact or collide with the web with minimal breakage.   Spider webbing is also relatively weatherproof, meaning that it has an ability to endure, sometime past the life span of it’s weaver.  This web longevity may be tied to its purported   antimicrobial/antiseptic properties.

I am going to share with you a few  photos of the young hummers growing; the nest accommodates all that Spring and young birds challenge it with. I am reverberating with the “Ah Hah” of how much of their success in fledging was due to the superior spider-silk building material that their mother used to build a strong, flexible nest.  They rode out significant winds, their little nest bobbing like a tiny boat in a stormy sea, because the nest was nest securely anchored to base of branches with spider web. The rapid growth of the two babies was easily accommodated as well as the spider web allowed it to expanded in size,  without breaking apart, as the babies grew. Much of the success of these little birds’  hatching, growing, and fledging  rested, literally,  on spider silk.

IMG_9314                                                                                                          The First and Second eggs were laid a day apart ….

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IMG_9420                                                                                                             … they then hatched a day apart

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IMG_9463                                                                                         Note: what a difference of just one day makes with their beak size!

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When it came time for fledging, they flew off one day apart, as well. I was lucky enough to see this; they flew like “professionals” right off the rim of the nest!IMG_9617

I read this week that little Miss Muffet , (the girl scared away from her tuffet, by a spider, scattering curds and whey; too bad as they are so nutritious) had a father who revered spiders.  The Australian Museum website has a nice little piece on this should you want to find out more. It was from this source that I learned Reverend Dr. Thomas Mouffet (1553-1606) had a deep love of spiders. He wrote of the common house spider that “she doth beautifie with her tapestry and hangings.”. More interestingly, it appears that he liked to treat ailments with the use of spiders. The museum quotes him as writing, ‘The running of eyes is stopped with the dung and urine of a House Spider dropt with Oyl of Roses, or laid in along with Wooll’.

And back to modern day: scientists are exploring what spider silk may have to offer in terms of ligament healing in the human body.  Also interesting, the antimicrobial/antiseptic properties of spider silk that humans have long reported using to bandage and heal wounds, are being explored in scientific labs. This  moves the conversation forward, from anecdotal observation to preliminarily results of effectiveness in the lab as well.  I love a good opportunity to  come to terms with Life on Life’s terms.  The so often feared spider, who frightens so many Miss Muffets in the world, has so very much to offer. The spider contributes to new generations of pollinators, such as hummingbirds.  Yes, it is true that some spider bites do real harm. I know this first hand; a black widow bite is painful and in some can be dangerous. Yet it’s silk may have significant healing properties and scientific utility,  offering varied gifts to humans, as touched on above.

Which brings me to the concept of the Web of Life, which is an all encompassing view of  life where all of nature, including us humans, is seen as connected to all things, as if we were all connected by an enormous, invisible, yet dynamic web. Inspired by this idea, I thought we would revisit a recipe from the past and give it a new twist.

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Web of Life Tea Eggs – Chinese Tea Eggs are often described as “marbled”. In the spirit of  todays theme, lets playfully re-interpret them as having a spider Web pattern. We featured this recipe in Feb 2014, but I like the recipe so much that I made a fresh batch and photographed all the steps, so that you will have real success! These Tea eggs are a Portable,  Aromatic, Healthy,  Flavorful and Beautiful savory snack. They can be eaten just as they are,  or can be used as a jumping off point for great deviled eggs or even a flavorful egg salad.

This being Holy Week/Easter you could try these in lieu of dying eggs with food coloring. Eggs are a powerful symbol of regeneration and new life.

Basic Recipe:

Ingredients:

*8-10 eggs

* 3 tablespoons of tea or three tea bags (black tea is most often used in Chinese tea * egg recipes, but any tea will do really – and it is fun to experiment. In the several years I have been making them I have used mostly loose leaf tea – this time I used some very old tea bags that I found in the back of a drawer). I did not give their flavor a second thought; but you could if you would like. Try it with green or oolong tea ….

* 3 tablespoons of Chinese Five Spice

The trick here is two baths.

1) In the first, you boil the eggs just like you do normally. Just the eggs and hot/boiling water. Boil until done.

2) In the second bath,  you mix up a bath of the tea and spices. This is the bath that you will simmer the eggs above, for the marbled/webbed flavor and color.

So:  When the eggs are hard boiled, you let them cool a bit for handling,  and then crack them, creating the beautiful web pattern. You can smash one side of an egg against the kitchen counter, and them play around with cracking them with your fingers and hands, for finer details. These cracks allow the flavor and color into the egg white. Simmer the eggs for as long as you would like – I simmered mine on low heat for over an hour.  Then I covered the pot and let them steep in the tea/spice bath for several hours. The peels are gorgeous as well.

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Categories: Sonoran Native | 9 Comments

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