Monthly Archives: October 2015

Two Soups featuring Winter Squash and Mole Dulce


After selling Mano Y Metate moles on this cool, drizzly day with my mom Tedie and sister Laura, we made some soups with what I had on hand.

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We browned a chopped onion in olive oil with a bay leaf, then added a couple cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of Mole Dulce powder. We cooked it until fragrant, then added a quart of homemade turkey broth. A handful of Minnesota wild rice from a friend’s a summer trip simmered in the broth, as well half a butternut squash from the Tucson CSA. Salt and pepper to taste. When tender, we garnished with parsley.


Starting with the same base of onion, bay leaf, garlic and Mole Dulce, we added cooked, pureed hubard squash and more turkey broth. It didn’t seem like enough spice, so we added more Mole Dulce powder and some ground ginger and turmeric. A tiny touch of honey brought it together, salt and pepper to taste. What really made this soup was Laura’s garnish inspiration. Fresh pomegranate arils and hulled pumpkin seeds added texture. The pomegranate’s cool, juicy tartness contrasted with the hot, sweet, creamy squash.

The final touch was Mole Dulce oil. Two tablespoons olive oil with one tablespoon Mole Dulce powder cooked until infused. We drizzled on the top of each bowl to taste.


Join us for Saturday, October 31 for Tohono Chul’s Chile and Chocolate Festival in Tucson. Tia Marta of Flor de Mayo will also be there!


Next weekend Mano Y Metate will be in Phoenix at the Desert Botanical Garden’s Chile and Chocolate Festival November 6, 7 and 8. Enjoy the weather!

Categories: Sonoran Native | 1 Comment

Cozy Chamomile


chamomile 3489847_1280Jacqueline Soule this week to discuss a pretty, plus pretty useful, herb to plant in your winter garden.  And, if you plant seedlings now, you should be able to harvest some within a month!  As cooler weather comes along, it is nice to curl up with a cup of chamomile tea – and here is how to have your own.

The herb known to most Americans as chamomile comes from two different species of plants. German chamomile comes from an annual plant (Matricaria rectita), while Roman chamomile comes from perennial plant (Chamaemelum nobile). They both have many of the same plant compounds in them, and work much the same way, the difference is in how you grow them. The French “chamomile” is a related plant (Achillea millefolium) but with different compounds and actions. In English, that last one is known as yarrow.

European people have used chamomile, in one form or another, to treat just about every sort of affliction, from hemorrhoids to hay fever, sleeplessness to sores, and tummy aches to tooth aches. In almost every case chamomile is used as a tea (infusion) to either drink or bathe tissues. For tooth ache folks used chamomile wrapped in muslin and placed on the afflicted tooth. Peter Rabbit’s mom gave him a cup of chamomile tea after his adventures, to soothe his stomach and calm his nerves.


herb_tea_JAS_001The flavinoid apigenin found in chamomile tea is thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory ability. Apogenin combined with another phytochemical called bisabolol are thought to work in concert to calm gastrointestinal spasms. Apogenin has been proven to bind to the same brain receptor sites that the drug Valium binds to, and are believed to exert a calming influence in much the same manner.

With recent scientific investigation, a number of uses have been validated. Chamomile is recommended by Commission E for the treatment of gastrointestinal tract inflammation, gastrointestinal spasm, irritations of the mucous membrane, skin injury or irritation, as a gargle or mouthwash to alleviate oral or pharyngeal inflammation, and to treat anxiety disorders. (Peter Rabbit’s mom was right on track!)

German chamomile can be grown very easily in the cooler months of winter, while the Roman chamomile is best planted in spring. Both need six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Like many herbs, they do best in well drained soil. Thus if you have caliche soils , consider growing them in pots with a cactus soil mix. The German chamomile will die in the heat, so replant some next year.

chamomile 774818_1280Harvest chamomile flowers and dry before use. This allows some of the more bitter tasting compounds to evaporate. The active ingredients are predominately in the oils and are not lost by drying.

Chamomile is green to grow in our area, even though it uses more water than native plants. It does reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the need to import chamomile. It can also help reduce your reliance on manufactured drugs. Headache? Take a cup of chamomile tea and lay down for a half hour rest. Far better for the environment than aspirin. Just remember that moderation is key in this and all herbs.

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Note: the information in this article is for your reference, and is not intended to be used as a substitute for qualified medical attention.

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, Tumacacori, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. 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).
Text is copyright © 2015, 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.

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Categories: Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, medicinal plant | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Taste Buds Ready to “Rejoice in Local”–at Mission Garden!

Gluten-free black tepary brownie-cockaigne for a desert dessert!

Yum!–Gluten-free Akimel O’odham Black Tepary Bean brownies with pinyones — a truly desert dessert served at the Farm-to-Table Picnic Feast at Mission Garden

Indeed, there is no doubt Tucson should be given the designation as an International City of Gastronomy!  Where else in the world could we enjoy a finer, more diverse, perfectly indigenous, more delectable and nutritious PICNIC-FEAST than here in Tucson?  Delicious dishes were the pieces de resistance by some of Tucson’s most renowned chefs for……the first-ever Farm-to-Table Picnic at Tucson’s Mission Garden.

Picking heirloom figs at the Mission Garden for the Farm to Table Feast.

Native-foods cook and author Carolyn Niethammer picking heirloom figs at the Mission Garden for the Farm to Table Feast for her gone-to-heaven fig-bar postre.

At the base of our landmark A-Mountain–the very birthplace of Schuuck-shon–set in a scene of verdant orchard trees heavy with fruit, and heirloom vegetables bearing their colorful autumn harvest, we feasted this past Sunday, October 18, on the tried and true fruits of our desert land.    The community registered for this edible fundraiser via the two hosts of the Farm-to-Table Picnic Feast–our Tucson-born-and-bred organizations– Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace and NativeSeeds/SEARCH.   The cost of $75 covered a magnificent repast–not just a dainty little taste of hors d’oeuvres but a sumptuous serving of at least 7 gourmet entrees, plus a variety of hand-made desserts and some locally fermented beverages!  Either website can guide you to ways of supporting or volunteering for these worthy outfits– or

At our special outdoor feast, we learned and appreciated where every single bite comes from!  Every ingredient was LOCAL–grown on our own Baja Arizona soil, bathed by our own Arizona sun, watered by our own Pleistocene aquifer, tended by our own neighbors’ hands not to mention those of Mission Garden and NSS volunteers and staff.

To recognize them from the source….the beautiful Native Tohono O’odham Ha:l squashes, grown at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH Conservation Farm, in combo with I’itoi’s Onions and other heirloom veggies, morphed into betacarotene-rich chile with Loew’s Ventana Canyon‘s Chef Ken Harvey’s magic.   Mission Garden’s heirloom pumpkins and greens transformed by Chef Doug Levy at Feast Tucson to a superb salad-supreme.

Traditional and delicious--Tohono O'odham Ha:l winter squash with magic inside--and curry pumpkins (MABphoto)

Traditional and delicious–Tohono O’odham Ha:l winter squash with magic inside of them–with curry pumpkins (MABphoto)

Akimel O’odham pearly black teparies from Pima farmer Ramona Button‘s fields  and locally-harvested cholla buds transformed with culinary sorcery by Chef Janos Wilder’s Downtown Kitchen into the most gourmet vegetarian delight.

S-Chuuk Bavi from Ramona Farms

Padre Kino’s White Sonora Wheat from BKWFarms‘ organic fields became the most flavorful and delicately marinated wheat-berry salad by the hand of Chef Rebecca Ramey at Blue Willow Restaurant.  And speaking of transformation, BKWFarms’ organic white Sonora wheat, with the magic of friendly microbes at Dragoon Brewery, became a festive brew with an amazing back-story to delight all samplers.

Ripened seed heads of organic heirloom Padre Kino White Sonora Wheat from BKWFarms in Marana (MABurgess photo)

Ripened seed heads of organic heirloom Padre Kino White Sonora Wheat from BKWFarms in Marana (MABurgess photo)







Farmer Frank’s Crooked Sky Farms‘ GMO-free fresh corn expressed itself in a fresh-from-the garden casserole by Proper’s Chef Kris Vrolijk.    Tohono O’odham traditional melon with other fresh corn and tomato, evolved into a gourmet gazpacho created by the Chef at Desert Diamond Casino, our major event sponsor.


Tia Marta here thanking ALL who came to the Table–the Farm-to-Table outdoor Picnic Feast at Mission Garden–to enjoy this enriching experience of Tucson’s traditional foods, cultivated with love in our own “desert terroir.”*  THANKS TO ALL our local–yet world-famous–culinary talent who prepared these sacred foods with care and dedication!  THANKS ALSO to the supporters and volunteers who made this event such a success!   Was it a sign of its significance at that moving moment culminating the feast when the heavens blessed us with a glorious sunset?

The public is invited to visit the ever-changing setting of this feast–the very garden and orchard where many of the heirloom foods are still hanging on fruit-tree boughs or ripening on the vine.  The Mission Garden is open for tours every Saturday with knowledgeable guides to take you through this special desert oasis–a living agricultural history museum.  (For info see

For your own table, you too can source the heirloom foods served at the Picnic Feast, at the NativeSeeds/SEARCH Store, 3061 N Campbell, Tucson,, or at the Flor de Mayo booth (online at and other farm booths at Sunday’s St Philips Farmers’ Market (

Native Black Tepary Beans from Flor de Mayo at St Philips farmers market Sundays

Native Black Tepary Beans from Flor de Mayo at St Philips farmers market Sundays

Join NativeSeeds/SEARCH as a member and stay in touch with seed-savers, gardeners, and cooks as we keep these desert-adapted foods alive and well into an unknown future.

Yours truly, Tia Marta, have also honored these heirloom foods artistically by documenting them from my garden in their harvest splendor as watercolor images.  I invite you to view them firsthand at two upcoming OPEN STUDIO eventsART TRAILS on Saturday, Oct 24, and the TPAC OPEN STUDIO weekend Nov.14-15 at Carolyn Leigh Studio.  Search by my studio name, Flor de Mayo Studio, or by artist’s name, Martha Ames Burgess, at , and at  for directions, and do come by for a visit.  You can also check out some of my Southwest Native heirloom food images on my website gallery — enjoy!

NativeSeeds/SEARCH heirloom Navajo Cushaw Squash watercolor by artist Martha Ames Burgess

NativeSeeds/SEARCH heirloom Navajo Cushaw watercolor by artist Martha Ames Burgess


What will Tucson's top chefs cook for the Heritage Picnic?

Tucson’s top chefs cook for the Farm-to-Table Heritage Foods Picnic Feast









*Desert Terroir,  by renowned author and co-founder of NativeSeeds/SEARCH, available at the NSS store, is a great read about the deep significance of LOCAL.  We can “internalize” his messages by shopping at farmers’ markets,  growing our own, and honoring long-successful desert traditions, seeds, and foods.

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stella and Alice’s Potent Potato Rosemary Recipe; to Start Your Day

Aunt Linda here: In the Old Pueblo a half moon hangs overhead. Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury are rising in the eastern sky. This pre-dawn, 2nd of October sky is just one week past the autumnal equinox; today’s simple, treasure of a recipe may come in handy in the colder months around the corner.

A few weeks ago, in casual conversation, I asked our 90 year old Aunt Alice (born and raised in the Tirol) what fats her mother used to cook with. Without a pause in her response, she replied: “Lard and olive oil” Of course we had our own pigs, so we made our own lard. OH!!! My mom used to make the BEST potato recipe ….”  So I spent a lovely afternoon last week learning how to make this favorite meal of hers.


Like a needle and thread connecting bits of fabric, this recipe comes to you, from the Tirol, via aunt Alice.  It comes via Mother Stella, to her daughter Alice (now 90years old), to me, and now to you. What a magic needle, to pierce through the generations and find it’s way through the internet, (Stella lived a full life and died never having had one inkling of “The Internet”) all the way to your eyes.  And hopefully, to your hands and kitchen. Their Tirol home, by the way, built of stone, had no heat,  Alice says she would wake up to water frozen solid, inside the house,  after a cold night. No wonder they needed something this nourishing, including the home rendered animal fat,  to get them started.

It turns out that potatoes are more nourishing than I had known. I’ll admit they never held much interest for me.  Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire uncovers many mysteries of the potato, and opened my mind a bit.  His research surprised me. In addition to their carbs, potatoes supply “considerable amounts of protein and vitamins B and C”. Combined with the vitamin A in milk, they make for a “nutritionally complete” diet.  According to Pollan, “the spud would eventually put an end to scurvy in Europe.  If I wax on and on about the potato, you won’t have time to make the recipe, so let me tantalize you into reading The Botany of Desire!  It may change your whole experience of slicing into a potato: the ancestors of the Incas, and of course their descendants, grew potatoes in microclimates from their wild potato ancestors … they grew  red potatoes,  pink. blue, yellow, orange, … They grew bitter potatoes, buttery and starchy ones.  So here we find that needle’s thread anchored back in time and place …. how they got to the Tirol and to Tucson …. that is another story.

It turns our that lard may have, dare I say it, some health benefits. The re-freshed thinking about lard is that it contains 54% less saturated fat than butter and some other plant derived fats).  It is also downright flavorful.   There is so much new research on fats. I encourage you to explore it.

Before we get started, if you are not open to lard, try this with butter or olive oil …coconut or avocado oils … the photo below shows the home rendered lard (see Savor the Southwest July 3rd post).   Note how pure white it is.   Remember that we infused one batch of lard with chiltepin. I learned this week, that at least in the Tirol of Alice’s youth, the fat was also smoked along with other meats, to impart a smokey flavor to the lard once it was ready to render. (Smokey lard – stay tuned … we may explore that in the future)

The hands that you see in action are Aunt Alice’s, passing the needle and thread,  to you.

Remember to Render! Not all lards are equal. Home rendered lard is easy and can be made in small batches.

Remember to Render!
Not all lards are equal. Home rendered lard is easy and can be made in small batches.

The Ingredients: 

2 Tablespoons home rendered lard

2 medium sized potatoes of your choice

2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary (or sage)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 fresh eggs (to cook as eggs and eat atop the rosemary potatoes)

ice for the potato slices

How To: 

First, Peel the potatoes ….


Slice potatoes thinly, however you prefer. We used an old  “madonlina” from Italy.IMG_0754 (1)


Soak the slices in ice water – this takes out some of the starches, and helps them cook without disintegrating in the pan.


Add two tablespoons of lard to the pan, and start heat on medium heat. Remember the oils you choose to eat are yours to decide. If you are anti-lard by all means use another oil. Choose what is best for your health and preferences.


Place the potatoes in a thin-ish layer, and place rosemary spring in the pan. Start on medium heat, then lower heat.

Cook slowly, on low, giving the potatoes time to soften.


Eat with a fresh fried or poached egg (or two) atop the potato medley … great for breakfast. Great for anytime.


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