Monthly Archives: October 2016

Admirable Anise


Jacqueline Soule here with another delightful herb you can plant now in your winter garden – anise.

The fragrant anise plant has a long history of use.  Pictures of it have been found in ancient Babylonian carvings, Egyptian tombs, and Roman ruins.  Ancient uses were perhaps medicinal as well as ornamental.  We know that by the Middle Ages anise was used in cooking, medicine and mouse traps.


Anise seed and fresh leaves are used to promote digestion and to relieve stomach upsets.  An infusion (tea) of the seeds has been shown to increase glandular secretions, including gastric glands, sweat glands, and mammary glands.  Anise has mild expectorant qualities, thus it was once used in asthma powders, and is currently used in some cold remedies.  There is some indication that it is also helpful to alleviate menstrual cramps.  In aromatherapy, anise properties are: digestive, head-clearing, warming, clarifying, respiratory, and muscle relaxant.


Much of the anise plant is useful.  Leaves, flowers, and seed are edible, and are often used as a flavoring agent.  Spice uses vary by ethnic origin, but generally the seed is used, as it is most flavorful and easily stored.  If you have access to fresh anise, enjoy leaves and the edible flowers in salads or sautéed with other greens.  And let us not forget anise is used to make liqueurs, including anisette.

In the 1970’s there was some concern that anise oil was carcinogenic.  Those fears have since been shown to be groundless.


Star anise has a similar flavor but comes from the fruit pods of a tropical tree.

Planting and Care.  
Native to the dry rocky soils of the eastern Mediterranean, anise does well in our area.  Late September to November is the ideal time to plant seeds.  In its homeland, anise grows after the start of their winter rains (the only rain they get).

Due to its taproot, and dislike of being transplanted, anise is generally planted from seed and rarely found for sale as seedlings.  That said, if do you see seedlings -go ahead and buy some.  Much quicker results.


Plant seed in well drained (sandy) soil.  Keep evenly moist for the best flavor and highest seed production.  Plants require at least six hours of sun and can be grown in containers at least two feet deep.  Fertilizer is not necessary, but if you desire ample seeds, a flowering fertilizer, high in phosphorous, helps produce an ample seed crop.


Anise seed cleaned and ready for cooking.

Harvesting and Use.
Use anise leaves fresh in salads or as a flavoring in cooking.
Leaves may be used fresh or dried for tea or use as a culinary herb.
Seeds are harvested for use and can be winnowed with a kitchen colander or strainer.

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About Jacqueline: 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, 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).

© 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 may not be used.

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

Chapulines (Grasshoppers) con Mole


On a late season prickly pear harvesting trip, my friend Nicole and I found few tunas but lots of grasshoppers. I’ve always wanted to try chapulines, but never had the opportunity. Nicole learned how to harvest them this summer, so we attempted ourselves.

Catching them is the trick! When the sun is up, they are fast. We managed to flush some out of the grass into a clearing, toss a big straw hat over one, and grab it by hand. We bagged three, not even enough for one taco. As the sun set, they stopped jumping but were too hard to see in the grass in the low light. We returned with nets. In the cool early morning they weren’t active enough to jump into the nets but were easier to see; we tossed the net over one, and grabbed it by hand. As the day warmed, they got too fast for that method, and sweeping the grass with the net was more successful. Yes, it’s slow, but fun. Plus a beautiful day in the desert.

Nicole fashioned an way to hold our catch without letting any escape when we caught another.


Here they are inside. While they hopped around, they emptied their digestive tracts.


At home we put the whole container in the freezer.


Then we picked them out of the grass seeds and debris. So beautiful.


We melted a little duck fat a cast iron pan and fried the chapulines.


This is when they turned from animals to food, and the only moment in the process that made me a little uncomfortable. We let them get really crispy.


But after all that work, I needed to at least try them. Nicole knew from previous experience to eat the small ones whole, but remove the wings and legs from the larger ones.


YUM!!!! Crispy fried meat. Then we dusted them with Mano Y Metate mole powder, of course.



Delicious, abundant, local, free. We’ll do that again!

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

Family Traditions


img_2418Linda here, just off the plane from a great family roots trip with my father. Hearty and strong at 87 yeas of age, we tromped though grave sites and Historical Society’s records to uncover what we could. We talked with older relatives, read through old letters,  were guided by local historians. Much of the conversation happened around meal tables.

So it was that I enjoyed the best applesauce of my life this week. It was made especially for us by an 86 year old farmer relative. It’s flavor had both simplicity and spark – and immediately wooed me.

Apples are a fruit of the fall. and applesauce is easily made. And it can be amended to the tastes you/your loved ones prefer quite easily, by simply choosing  tart or sweet apples. You can use your culinary wand and add traditional ingredients like cinnamon – or think outside the box and try adding red chili powder. You can also sway the texture this way or that, depending on how you thin or chunky you like it.



Here is Cousin Mary’s Applesauce Recipe. Play with it with a bit this fall as the abundance of apples is upon us, and make it your own. Enjoy the aroma as you work with the apples! Note there is no sugar in this recipe.

Ingredients (4 people worth)

6-8  Apples – sweet or tart or a mix.


How To:

Thinly peel about 6 or 8 apples (sweet variety if you like sweet, tart variety if you like tart); remove the core and cut each apple into about 6 or so pieces. Put the apples in a pan on the stove burner with about 1/2 cup of water, 3/4 cup if you like it thinner. Then cook this until the apples are soft but not too mushy. (They will turn dark if you cook them too much.)  While apples are still warm, use any type of masher (such as a potato masher) and mash to the consistency of chunkiness that you desire. The apple sauce freezes well also.

Significantly, as she shared this recipe with me, she interwove how her deceased husband, enjoyed it, that he liked sugar in his, what he ate it with etc. Hardly a sentence went by without such a caveat. Which reminded me: Fall is a time when many traditions – all over the globe – remember their ancestors.  Often a favorite food is set out by an alter, or even the grave of the person(s).  Consider making a favorite family food tradition that a deceased loved one especially liked, and make it this fall. Smell the aromas, savor the flavors, delight in the color and texture of that special food that your loved one enjoyed.


img_3451She paired the apple sauce with home made Bacon Quiche.


One of the traditions near and dear to my own heart is beekeeping. I discovered that at least two of my great great grandfather’s kept bees. One also had fruit trees in a small orchard, and had seven hives. Upon his death, it appears that his widow obtained at least one of the hives, and his son another. I love the idea that she kept those bees – or maybe had been the beekeeper all along?

If you are interested in learning about keeping honeybees, there are a few spots left in Jaime de Zubeldia’s beekeeping class later this month. Here are the details:

Introduction to Natural Beekeeping – Saturday and Sunday, October 22nd and 23rd, 2016

 Want to be a bee keeper but don’t know where to start? How about a full weekend of hands on instruction with one of the Southwest’s most experienced bee keepers? This two day introductory beekeeping workshop in Avra Valley just west of Tucson, Arizona will get you started.   

Location:  The San Xavier Coop Farm.  Final directions and info for the day will be sent  about a week before the date of the workshop.  The San Xavier Coop Farm is located approximately 15 minutes south of downtown Tucson near the San Xavier Mission on the Tohono O’odham reservation.  Time: 9AM-4PM each day.  Cost: You must register for BOTH Saturday and Sunday.  The early bird discount is $150 on or before October 2nd  and $175 after that date up until one day before date of the workshop.  This workshop is taught by master bee keeper  Jaime de Zubeldia. To register by check, money order, cash, or on-line credit card follow the registration directions at or contact Dan at 

Dan Dorsey: Sonoran Permaculture Guild

Phone: 520- 624-8030


Categories: Beekeeping, Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, Sonoran Native | Leave a comment

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