Posts Tagged With: chiltepin

Prickly Pear Upside-down Cake, Summer in Tucson


Amy Valdes Schwemm here today, with glochids in my hands.


Figeater beetle, Cotinis mutablilis


Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market Workshop


“I want to be a scientist!” she said.


Nopalitos en escabeche (pickled cactus pads with carrots, garlic, I’itoi onion, chiltepin, Mexican oregano)


Prickly pear kombucha

Harvest party at Bean Tree Farm. Classic Barbara Rose cocktail with too many ingredients to list!

Harvest party at Bean Tree Farm. Fancy cocktail by Barbara Rose!

Prickly pear vinegar

Prickly pear vinegar

Prickly pear jelly on Sourdough Sonoran Wheat, Barley, Almond crepe

Prickly pear jelly and nut butter on sourdough Sonoran wheat, barley, almond crepe

Apple, prickly pear and friends compote

Apple, prickly pear and friends compote

Peach prickly pear cobbler

Peach, raspberry, prickly pear cobbler

Prickly pear upside down cake

Prickly pear upside down cake

Prickly Pear Upside-down Cake

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup prickly pear juice

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 prickly pear fruit, glochids singed over fire, peeled, seeded and sliced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a 9 inch springform pan, put 1/4 cup butter. Put pan in the oven just until butter is melted. Sprinkle with brown sugar and arrange prickly pear fruit on top. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Separately, mix prickly pear juice, 1/2 cup melted butter and vanilla. Combine the two mixtures and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 3o minutes or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. I like the cake to have some brown edges. Cool, invert on to a serving plate and enjoy. IMG_3286

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

On Emptiness, Filling, and Cups Overflowing: Chocolate–Chiltepin Cupcakes with Cool/Hot Frosting


Aunt Linda here: Happy February ! The peak of February’s very gorgeous very Full moon was Tuesday.  Also easily visible with the naked eye, the planet Jupiter played flirtatiously around the moon for several days.

Today’s blog offers a little parable. So pour yourself a cup of tea, coffee, or whatever you prefer, and travel with me.

Once upon a time, during a moon such as this with Jupiter visible to the naked eye, in a land not so far away ….   a pilgrim, or a seeker, or a soldier, or an emperor, or someone just like you and me, crested the peak of a mountain having finally found the Wise One.  After many moons of seeking this particular Wise Person, the seeker arrives with high hopes of learning what they had so dearly yearned to learn.   They were in Search of Answers.

“Ah”, said the Wise One, “sit down and let us talk over some tea”. So, after warming the water and preparing tea, the Wise One began to pour the liquid into the cup of the One in Search of Answers.

The Wise One poured.

And poured.

And poured.

Until the tea cup overflowed. Spilling onto the table, the floor, the person.


In some versions of the story, the more polite seeker, is startled, and exclaims: “Teacher! Perhaps you have not noticed that my cup is spilling over!”.  In another version, the tea spilled onto the robes of the (not so polite) emperor, who becomes angry, chiding the Wise One for ruining his robes.

In each version, the reply of the Wise One is the same:  “There is no room in the mind of the seeker, for the wisdom he/she says he wants, and has searched for for so many years. Emptiness, whether mind or cup, is needed before new insights can be received”. Being filled with opinions, speculations, habits of mind,  hinders the ability to take in of fresh insights/knowledge.

Temple Grandin ran into this phenomena in the world of animal husbandry. Having discovered extremely practical wisdom about how to work with large animals more efficiently and calmly. She developed methods that significantly decreased the stress on both animal and human, and other methods that significantly increased efficiency. Her ideas were practical. Her ideas were “humane” and efficient . They offered ranchers and industry alike, to save money.

And they were met with “full”-on resistance, if you pardon the pun.

Rolling forward in time, the vast majority of ranchers, have integrated some if not all of her ideas of moving animals. Corrals and shoots have been redesigned. Transportation trailers for horses were redesigned (diagonal facing not front facing) . It goes on and on.  But before the “industry” could take in all this animal-human wisdom “it” had to empty It’s mind of preconceived ideas.

IMG_4614We redesigned our corrals. No more box shapes with corners. Curves allow flight animals such as cows and horses to feel safer and move as they would in the field.

On a personal level, when my mind is “full” of worry, I can sometimes miss the more innovative solutions available to me. Conversely, when I empty my mind enough, life gets easier. For me, “easier” is simply more practical.

One example from the week: I discovered a nest of baby mice in the feed bin this week.   I immediately felt stress. TO be clear, I am not “anti-mouse”.  I am just “anti-TOO MANY MICE that it becomes unhealthy”.  An occasional mouse is not uncommon around poultry, and the “girls” (the chickens themselves) or a king snake take care of them. Until recently, our cat was a good “mouser”, but she is 20 years old now and no longer on the job. So this issue of mouse nests is a new dilemma for me. I do not want unhealthy mouse droppings around the hens and eggs. I do not want mice eating the feed, and bugging the chickens all night long, as they nibble here and there. Follow the trail of mouse poop and you will be amazed at what acrobatics they are! I hate to use poison for a variety of reasons, one being fear that a predator such as a hawk or neighbors cat could be poisoned itself if it eats the bait-ridden mouse. And baby mice, despite knowing all of the above, are just so cute. I don’t Want to kill them!


Adorable for sure, this nest of baby mice is nevertheless not welcome in the hen house.

I was full -on- fretting.  No space for innovative solutions to present themselves. Deciding to relax my mind, I went for a walk, switching mental channels from a litany of methods of killing mice, none of which I liked … to a question… How does Mother Nature do it?  Mice have a plethora of babies, presumably because there are a plethora of animals that eat/need those mice. What eats mice? Snakes came to mind. ( Just as I am not anti-mouse, I am not anti-snake either. All have their place. It is BALANCE that I am looking for). I sent out a text (modern world) and within minutes had a Python present itself. Then another snake owner said she was looking for a good source of mice for her reptile. Later this afternoon, a litter of mice, will be delivered to a Python. And I will be rid of the “seed” stock of multiple generations of mice. Whether or not the snake-owners will raise the mice and feed them as needed, or freeze them for later feeding, I do not know. Stay posted.

The Recipe:

Chocolate-Chiltepin Cupcakes with Cool/Hot Cream Cheese Frosting


IMG_9137 IMG_8168 I Love the sensation(s) on my tongue as the cool of the mint in the frosting meets the heat of the chiltepin! And while it is my “go to” cupcake recipe all year long, it might be a Very fun Valentines Day treat, what with the Chocolate/Chile combination as well as the sensual mint-chile interaction.

Ingredients for Cupcakes:

1 Cup Milk (cow, almond, rice, coconut, etc)

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¼ cup honey (local honey if you can; it is good for you and your local beekeepers)

½ cup oil of your choice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa

¼ teaspoon dried and crushed chiltepins, seeds removed if desired.

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

How to:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners.

Whisk together the milk and vinegar and in a large bowl and set aside to allow time to curdle. Once curdled, add the honey, oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.

Sift the dry ingredients together and slowly add to the wet mixture, stirring between additions. Divide batter among the cups, filling each about ¾ full.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, you can frost them with the Cool/Hot Cream Cheese Frosting that you have made while the cake-lets were baking. 

Ingredients for Frosting:

2, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon mint extract

1 teaspoon chocolate extract

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

¾ cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk (cow, nut, coconut etc)

¼ teaspoon dried and crushed chiltepins. Note: leave seeds of you are going to eat promptly or want the heat to remain stable. Remove seeds if you will be eating frosting in a few days and do not want the “heat” to increase. The “heat” from chile comes from the oils on the seeds, and with time, the heat will “grow”. Experiment and see what you prefer!

12 springs fresh mint – for an edible garnish atop the cupcakes.g

How to:

Combine all the ingredients except the fresh mint in a food processor bowl and mix well until combined. Add just 1 tablespoom of milk to begin, adding the rest by teaspoons if you want to thin the mixture.


Frost the cupcakes; top each cupcake with a small sprig of mint for an edible garnish.

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fermented salsas


fermented salsa,with fresh cilantro and tunas (prickly pear fruit) added before serving

Amy Valdés Schwemm

Amy Valdés Schwemm

Naturally fermenting salsa makes a richer and more complex flavor than simply adding vinegar or lime juice, but it does take a little patience. I love tart salsas and sour foods with a bite. Grandma and Grandpa Schwemm on my dad’s side passed on a tradition of sauerkraut, and my mom’s family loves chile. How could chiles fermented like kraut not be my favorite food?

Fermented salsa is a source of pro-biotic microorganisms, recently rediscovered as essential for the digestive system. Home fermented foods probably provide more active and diverse cultures than what comes in a capsule at great expense.

late summer is chile season at Tucson CSA, Walking J, Santa Cruz Farmers' Market Consignment

late summer is chile season at Tucson CSA, Walking J, Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market Consignment

Chiles for this preparation can be fresh or roasted or even dried. I’ve used everything from dried chiltepines to fresh Big Jims and sweet peppers. Hot, fleshy chiles like Jalapeño, Serrano, Guero, Wenks Yellow Hot, and Sinahuisa are ideal.

deseeding chiles

deseeding chiles

Sometimes I meticulously seed and dice the chiles, sometimes I only cut off the stems and coarsely chop in the food processor.

chiles, onion, garlic and salt

chiles, onion, garlic and salt

I usually add onion, garlic and herbs, as the season and whim direct.

chopping chiles reminds me of Uncle Bob and cousin Doug

chopping chiles reminds me of Uncle Bob and cousin Doug

Add salt to the salsa, 2% of vegetables’ weight. This is roughly 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt per cup of diced vegetables, more or less. Salt slows and directs biological activity to make the food more delicious. Lactobacilli thrive in salty environments where other organisms cannot, and the lactic acid they make further inhibit harmful bacteria. Since this is a condiment, I don’t mind it a little salty. There are enough beneficial bacteria on the fresh produce and in the air, so no starter culture is necessary.

diced chiles

diced chiles

If the chiles are not very fleshy or I want a thinner sauce, I add a little brine made with 2 teaspoons salt per cup of water. Thinning the sauce is a good idea when the chiles are very hot!
Put the salsa in a jar with a weight on top, keeping the pieces of chile submerged in exuded juice or brine. I use a smaller jar as a weight.

pureed jalapenos with  diced multicolor sweet peppers

pureed jalapenos with diced multicolor sweet peppers

Cover the tower with a tea towel to keep out dust and insects, and keep at room temperature.

fermenting chiles can be messy

fermenting chiles can be messy

How long before it’s ready? Test daily in warm weather to see if it is sour enough for your taste. In winter, the process is slower, taking up to a couple weeks. If white mold forms on the surface, skim off the top. It is harmless. If the mold is any color other than white, or below the surface of the liquid, discard the whole batch. Better safe than sorry.
When the salsa is tart and delicious, it can be eaten as is or pureed. For a smooth salsa, it can be strained. Sometimes I add fresh herbs or minced I’itoi onion tops.

pureed salsa with diced I'itoi onion tops

pureed salsa with diced I’itoi onion tops

Store fermented salsa in the refrigerator with an airtight lid.
Chef Molly Beverly from Prescott, Arizona suggested fermenting a sauce from Mano Y Metate Pipian Rojo, so I have some of that going now. I can’t wait to taste it!
elote salsa
For more details about fermenting food, see Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation. For an encouraging primer on safely fermenting food, find Wild Fermentation also by Katz. This is one of my all time favorite cookbooks.

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

Savor the Southwest Portable Pies

Aunt Linda here….


It is predawn in the Old Pueblo, summer constellations flicker overhead, the early morning mating songs of birds twirl their way to my ears. Right now the air cool and dry. In a matter of hours it will heat up to triple digits. Those who live in the desert a resilient sort. We live with significant temperatures swings all year long, fascinating animals (I saw a Gila Monster June 1st), and lots of spiny cacti, all of which we find beauty in.

I like my food to be resilient as well. Which makes me think of pie. It can be savory or sweet., or both. It can be served hot or cold. It is forgiving in what it allows the pie maker to do. It can be frivolous or serious; nutritious or not. Its flavors can reflect family and cultural identities and preferences. Pie does it all.

Which makes me curious about who the First Pie Maker might have been. The particular “who” remains a mystery. After reading up on pie, it seems to me that there were likely many many many First Pie Makers in nearly every culture known to cook and experiment with food. It is, after all, quite simple: the creating of dough, or pastry, and then filling it with regional, seasonal foods.


“New World Resiliency Pie”   Being inspired by the prickly pear pads that radiate with that fresh spring green color, (photo) right now. I decided to make a pie, ancient and not from this continent, with a New World Flare. New World Pie Fillers:  nopalitos (fresh prickly pear pad), chiltepin, chocolate. (Talk about Resiliency, each of the foods above have survived centuries. One example: Coprolites (human droppings) found in caves reveal that humans have been the relatives of the chiltepin for thousands of years! )


The First Pie Maker was not a Southern American, despite many Americans strong cultural identity about pie. Read even a little bit about pie and you quickly find intensely personal accolades about it. For those who “get” pie, there is a love for it that is both reverential and sensuous. It includes a deep feeling of being “nurtured”, pie often being equated with Grandma’s Love. It is clear that human beings have been feeling nurtured by what we now refer to as pie, for a lot longer than the United States has been a country.

One first version of pie, came from Egypt, around 9500 B.C.  That surprised me.  It places the first pies all the way back to the Neolithic Period. The rustic pies were made from dough made from oat, rye, barley, and wheat – and then filled them with honey! The pies were then baked over hot coals. There is no doubt in my mind that their flavor was fabulous – what with the sweet of the honey and the smoky taste of having been naked in coals. By the time the Pharoh’s bakers got into the action (by 1300 BC-1200-something BC) nuts and fruits were added to the honey “pies”. Ramsey the II’s tomb shows etchings of this.   The beekeeper in me loves this! Remember that the Egyptians were prolific beekeepers, floating their hives up and down the Nile to follow the honey flows.



“The Pharohs’ Honey Nut Pie” (add fruit of your choice)

As epochs continued, and cultures evolved the fillings included meats of all kind, as well fish, muscles, and oysters; dairy products became another beloved filler.   Human are creative and the number and variety of pies world wide is enormous. They include Indonesia’s “panada”;, Jamaica’s “patty” Malasia’s Keripap (curry puff), Nigeria’s “meat pie” and on and it goes. Throughout Latin America and Mexico you find the Empanada. Sweet meat emapanadas are made for Christmas in Mexican tradition.. At the ranch, we make Calabasa (squash) with Pilloncillo (a brown cane sugar) Calabasas.

As much as I value a good, slow cooked meal, it is just too hot in Tucson presently to  be near heat for very long. So I decided to try to create a version of pie that was smaller and thus quicker to bake. It is also more portable. And infinitely flexible: you can eat them warm or cool, pack them for a hike, lunch, bike or car trip, kids lunch. They can be fancy, humble, or decadent.  Create great tasting pies from foods you are most passionate about. Create them from leftovers. The two photos above show you how versatile the ingredients can be.

Savor the Southwest Portable Pies

INGREDIENTS: for 9 to 12 portable pies

All you need in the way of equipment for these joyous little pies is a standard 12 cup, muffin pan and some parchment cupcake-paper inserts for your muffin pan.

+++  Pie Dough or Pie Crust of your choice.

Make the favorite family recipe. Investigate a new one. There are a plethora of recipes available in these food savy days, vegan options, full fat ones, raw ones. I used a store bought crust for these tiny pies. While I have made crust in the past, and value making it, I needed something quicker this week. There are a number of buying options these days. I found one at my local health food store, whose ingredients I felt comfortable with.

I feel dough-headed (brain fog) and lethargic if I eat a lot of dough, so I minimized it in these recipes – but you can and should use as much or as little as your would like.  Fill the sides! Cover the tops (remember to slice air holes). Add decorations with the left over dough.  Remember resilience, and you can practice it in the act of making pies. I used the equivalent of 1, 9″ pie crust; but if you would like to have more pie crust to the pies, make enough for two 9″. Also, using the parchment is completely optional. I used it because I travel a lot and I thought the pies would travel better, too. I think the tiny pies might be more beautiful for your table if you don’t use the paper, and if you use dough for the whole pie, including sides and top. In that case, after unrolling your dough (you’ll do this whether you make it yourself or buy it), place it on a lightly flowered surface, and roll with a rolling pin, to about 1/8′. Using a biscuit or cookie cutter cut 12, 4” circles for the bottom of the pie and 12, 3″ circles for the top, or for as many pies as you would like to make.

+++  3 eggs

+++  Imagination and Play-full-ness as you select your Other Ingredients.  We humans can be a tad on the serious side. Too much seriousness undermines resiliency. A spirit of play help us strengthen resilience.  So allow your spark to guide you, as I did in the New World Pie above.


Fresh egg yolks.


The Basic Recipe/How to:

Place the muffin parchment papers in the muffin tins, or gently handling the dough, press dough into the muffin cups. Break the 3 eggs into a small bowl (preferably one with a pouring spout) and beat with a fork until combined.

Divide your ingredients to the bottom crusts, and then pour about two tablespoons of the egg to the pie. Add the top crust, or weave a top crust. Once you have the pies filled, and topped with crust, refrigerate the muffin tin for 30 minutes. Preheat Your oven to 375 F – and when the small pies have sufficiently chilled, bake them for 20-30 minutes. The time will vary from oven to oven, and from the types of pies.

For the New World  Resiliency Pie, I added prickly pear, chilpetin cheese (see my January post for the recipe), and the 2 T of beaten egg.


I then tried a New World Dessert Pie – and filled the pie with  Chocolate and  Chiltpein Cheese (like a French pastry, but with the chile cheese). Note there is crust just at the bottom.


Then the 2 T of egg was added, and the crust on top. I did this with the Pharohs’ Honey Nut Pie. As well




The “before” baking Portable Pies – you can see the pirckly pear pads peeking through. The “after” photo is at the top of this post.



I was surprised how VERY fun it was to think up names for pies!

Here are a few:

Bye Bye Mrs. Neolithic Pie

Pico de Gallo Pie (hmm there goes the rooster – rooster pie?)

Portable, Picante, Prickly Pear Pad Pies

New World Resilience Pies


Feel free and post some of your pie variations and names!

Categories: Beekeeping, Cooking, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cracks and Creation: “How the Light Gets In” Tea Eggs

Cracks and Creation: “How the Light Gets In Tea Eggs”

Tia Linda:   Spring seems to be arriving early in the desert, again, this year and egg laying is increasing significantly among my birds.  It is less a function of temperature than it is the increase in light to the pituitary glad that increases egg laying. And my hens are broody,  feeling strongly the impulse to sit upon and incubate eggs.  Broodiness is a trait to be cherished in your birds. This is a great time of year (here in the Southwest) for the poultry aficionado to begin preparing for a new batch of chicks. In fact, it is not too early to have a eggs under a hen or in your incubator already.


For me, eggs have properties that go beyond being beautiful and nutritious.  I feel more whole when I am collecting eggs; more in touch with Cycles.  Aesthetically, they arrive in surprising varieties of oval shapes, sizes and colors. Nutritionally, they are chock full of minerals, are good for eyesight, and are a great source of (affordable) protein.  In Michael Pollan’s book COOKED, he cites research from 2011, that states “ninety percent of a cooked egg is digested, where as only 65 percent of a raw egg” (Page 61n).   Whether or not you are raising chicks, today’s recipe is a fun way to cook your eggs to get the most nutrition – and beauty-  out of them.


But, before we get to the recipe.

Many cultures across time and space celebrate the egg.  A few (painfully truncated) myths that include the egg show this.

*** The Universe began as an egg and a god (Pangu) born inside the egg broke the egg in two halves – the upper becoming the sky while the lower half became the earth. (Chinese).    ***The concept of the universe as an Egg-shaped Cosmos, arose in Vedic thought. And so in Sanskrit, the term for it is Brahmanda.  “Brahm” meaning ‘Cosmos’ or ‘expanding’ and “Anda” meaning EGG.  In one version, the Golden Womb/Golden Fetus of the universe floated around in emptiness for a time, and them broke in two halves, forming heaven and earth. (Vedic). *** Another myth from Europe reveals the world being created from fragments of an egg laid by a diving duck perched on the knee of Ilmatar, a goddess of the air. (Finnish)

I sense a theme arising here.  Cracks.  And Creation.     They seem to have something to do with one another.

Whether or not your believe myths to be literal or metaphorical, an explanation of mystery or a reflection of the human psyche, is yours to decide. Regardless, we can act as creators within our own pots and kitchens, and enjoy where the cracks take us.  In our lives, “the cracks” are often involuntary and unasked for.  Often, it is only later that we realize that it is these very cracks that allow some needed shift or change to occur.

With this recipe we can actively crack some shells.  Let in some flavor.  Some color. Create some beauty, all while being nourished.

The Recipe:

Put 8-10 eggs in a pot and begin to hard boil them.

While you are doing this, begin making a tea/spice bath for the eggs to go into after boiling. I use a handful of whatever tea I particularly like at the moment (or 3-4 teabags if you prefer). Lately I have been using black tea, but have also experimented with oolong and green teas. Experimentation is the key, and you, being the creator, can shift and change your recipe as you like. To the tea, I add about three tablespoons of Chinese Five Spice.  This is the basic recipe.

To this basic recipe you can add, fresh ginger (chopped) and/or some chile (I use chiltepin).  Whatever spices that want to play on our tongue are the ones to use. Remember you are the creator, and the choice of spices and how you use, is completely up to you.


When the eggs are just boiled, cool them enough to handle them, and crack the shells.      (above)


The tea and spice mixture, dry.


Place the tea and spice mixture in another pot, and add enough water to just cover the cracked eggs.


Simmer the eggs in the spice bath, for a good half an hour. Then turn off the heat, and let them sit for at least another hour. Do not rush this; steeping-time is needed to really absorb the flavor and color. Check the eggs while still in the bath; the membrane right under the shell will have a deeper color than that on the egg itself. (above)


Peel and enjoy both their beauty and flavor.  I included this photo to inspire you, as well as to show that if you peel off chunks of the shell you can create darker patterns (and deeper flavor), as in the egg top left.

These also make a great egg salad, as they impart a great flavor.

If you do not eat them all right away, store the eggs in a glass jar, in the tea bath water (strain out the spices/tea), in the refrigerator.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

DIY cheese, yogurt, chiltepin, edible flowers, simplicity, mystery

Written and photographed by Linda McKittrick




After all the the hoopla, meal sharing, and resolution making of the season I am ready for some simplicity.  This “do it yourself” cheese making recipe echos the cheese making “en el campo”, but requires no milking of a ruminant animal (at least not by you). It is simple and, allows for some mystery to unfold as well. It is best made in small batches.

Presently, I am making this kind of yogurt cheese, rather than Queso de Campo, as we are letting our cows recondition right now. I share these photos of previous cheese making times on the ranch so you feel connected to the larger process. In the recipe that follows, you will have whey (the liquid-y part that separates, as the cheese forms – photo below) as well. It is HIGHLY nutritious for all of us animals, whether two or four legged, so do not toss it.  At the ranch we add it to foods, or share it with the dogs or the chickens.  In the yogurt recipe, the whey is salty, so best not to share with your animals, but great to add to your own salads, fermented concoctions, etc.  Yours will look clearer than that in the bucket below.


I’ll give  you the base recipe, then suggest some fun ingredients; 24 hours later, as you unfold the cheese cloth towel,  tune into the tastes and colors and textures that emerge. The magic comes as your tongue tunes into the eddies of taste that happen as the chile, or herbs, or flowers that you added, undergo an alchemy. It is an alchemy that you set in motion, but then must let go of. Good practice for life generally.

THE BASIC RECIPE: Line a colander with a dish towel. Place colander over a bowl. Combine the yogurt and salt in the dish towel and make sure the salt is mixed in well. Bundle up the towel and either place it in the fridge for 24 hours, or, hang it over a bowl. Either way the yogurt and salt interact, while the whey drips below. Try making the “basic” recipe to give you a baseline taste for your tongue. You could then add mint or herbs from the garden on top, with a bit of olive oil.

1  32-ounce container yogurt (note: you can use your own home made yogurt. But whether you make it or buy it, it needs to be Full Fat.  Try goat or sheep yogurts if you can find them. Variety is important.)

1 tablespoon rock salt ( the culinary rock salt, not ice cream making salt)

Olive Oil

ALCHEMICAL RECIPE : begin with the Basic Recipe:  line colander, add theyogurt and salt, and then try adding:

1 teaspoon dried crushed chiltepins (not only the chile flavor, but the COLOR,  infuses into the cheese as well.And each batch is a little different) for a Chiltepin Cheese.


A few tablespoons of fresh herbs from your garden. Rosemary is in high season in the SW right now, and you you can use both the herb itself as well as the flowers as well.  Edible flowers are really a delight to use as the flowers add both flavor,  often not what you expected, as well as beautiful colors.

Then with all the ingredients mixed, tie up your cloth, place over bowl, and let the magic happen. In 24 hours, when you open the cloth, the transformation will be yours to savor.  Eat by the spoonful. It is great on sliced radishes, or rolled in fresh greens from the garden (both growing robustly in our gardens right now, here in the SW).  Or add to a lightly sauteed vegetable dish.

I place my finished cheese in a glass container (so I can enjoy it visually) and add olive oil to seal it, even while I cover it with a lid. It seems to stay fresher. Keep it in the fridge.

Below: The Chiltepin Cheese Version




Below: Using edible flowers right before tying up the cloth.


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