Posts Tagged With: desert harvesting

Discovering “Goma de Sonora”

This twiggy legume–Coursetia glandulosa— with its spray of white and yellow pea flowers in spring may offer a rare surprise…. (MABurgess photo)

Tia Marta here to share a “culinary-plus” discovery.  On a spring hike into King Canyon up from the Desert Museum, Tucson Mountain Park, I was thrilled to see a delicate flower show right along the arroyo margins. It was a veritable shower of creamy yellow pea flowers on a normally non-descript twiggy bush Coursetia glandulosa.

Tiny glands on the flower sepals of Rosary Babybonnet flowers gives it its scientific species name glandulosa. (JRMondt photo)

The cute-sy “baby bonnet” flowers drew me in for a closer look and another surprise awaited me on its hidden stems. What in the world was that gross-looking orange/amber waxy stuff like a growth on the twigs?  I had to find out.

Colorful crusty exudate of the Lac Scale insect that specializes on Coursetia glandulosa (MABurgess photo)

My inquiries met with lots of “I donno’s” until I asked the go-to person at the Desert Museum, educator and plantsman Jesus Garcia, who exclaimed, “You found Goma de Sonora!

Close-up view of “goma de Sonora” (Patty West photo)

An interesting story emerged. He said how traditional people of Sonora used to harvest it as actual food–a healthful nutrient!  This gum-substance is exuded by a piercing-sucking insect (Tachardiella fulgens in the Order Hemiptera) as a protective shield from predators and the elements as it draws nutrients from its host plant.   I learned from ethnobotanists Drs.Robert Bye and Adelmire Linares of Universidad Autonoma de Mexico that Native people including the Raramuri (Tarahumara) of the Sierra Madre used it not only as food but also as a remedy for poisoning.  It is even reported as a dye material. Traditionally, the Tohono O’odham also used this translucent, orange-brown gum as an adhesive mixed with adobe to tightly seal their jars of bahidaj sitol (saguaro fruit syrup).  Talk about multi-use!

I chipped off a tiny pea-size piece and tried tasting it—an unusual flavor and a crunch, with a hint of the sugary sap that the insect sucks through its piercing mouthparts.  Amazing to learn that it is now being used in innovative gastronomy as flavoring for salsas and aguachiles.  (See Wikipedia for a good aguachile recipe.)   [By the way, this goma de Sonora is not to be confused with another Goma or Gomaae, a Japanese roasted sesame sauce.]

Look closely to find goma de Sonora. (MABurgess photo)

I’ve only found it twice in all my desert walking and am wondering if goma de Sonora has become rarer in recent times.  Is climate change limiting the specialized insect-instigator?  If you find it, best to only taste it– or better still–just appreciate its past uses, as it is so rare.  Goma de Sonora was reportedly once harvested throughout the whole range of Coursetia from the dry tropics of northwest Mexico into the Sonoran Desert of SW United States.  Let’s enjoy this curiosity of Nature and its ethnobotanical history without damaging it.  Bring your magnifier on your next hike to check out this crusty little wonder if you are blessed with an actual sighting.

Goma de Sonora encrusted on branches of Coursetia glandulosa (MABurgess photo)

Production of goma de Sonora is a good example of commensalism–in this case the insect not harming the plant.  It is an external process.  Many desert plant species produce their own gums internally, a significant component of their survival strategies for preventing water loss—as in “gum-Arabic” and “gum-acacia”.  Nutrients found in desert plant gums are a super-important part of traditional Desert People’s healthy diet, so stay tuned for another blog….

Tia Marta wishing you happy explorations for Coursetia‘s treasure–goma de Sonora!

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Barrel Cactus Fruit and Lemon Combine for Tangy Winter Treat

Barrel cactus fruit and lemons are tasty winter companions.

When I look back at the many blog posts we Savor Sisters have written over the years, frequently there are recipes including barrel cactus at this time of year. In a season where most other plants are resting and waiting out the cold desert nights, barrel cactus are providing glowing yellow fruit in abundance. January is also the season for citrus in the Southwest and there is no shortage of delicious baking recipes using lemon.

It’s Carolyn today and I’m going to modify a lemon recipe I’ve made a couple of times during the pandemic, a time many of us were amusing ourselves with baked goods. The original recipe starts with lemon, but I’m adding poached lemon-y barrel cactus fruit along with the crunchy seeds to make more of a good thing. However, you can making this recipe the super-easy way by just using the barrel cactus seeds and skipping the poached fruit topping. Suit yourself. In any case, you’ll end up with something delicious.  The recipe includes turmeric, a spice that has healthful properties. I’m not sure I can taste it, but it adds a bright yellow color that psychologically enhances the lemon flavors as we taste with our eyes as well as our mouth.

Preparing the Barrel Cactus Seeds and Slices

It is easiest to get the seeds by gathering your cactus fruit in advance. Halve the fruit and put it out in the sun. Once the fruit is dry, the seeds release more easily.  Now for the fruit topping. (You can skip this if you wish.) Choose four of the best barrel cactus fruit halves. Scoop out the seeds as well as you can and add to the others that are drying. Using your sharpest knife, slice the fruit as thinly as possible. Try to get about 36 slices. Put the slices in a small frying pan, cover with water, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Drain, return to the pan, add two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Simmer for about a minute, remove slices and dry on a sheet of waxed paper. 

Slice the fruit thinly and rinse off the seeds, catching them in a sieve. Don’t clog your drain!

Some time during the 2000s, I began to learn about lining baking pans with parchment paper to help release cakes and breads. It takes extra time but does help with sticking. 

Consider lining your baking pan with parchment paper. When positioning your candied cactus fruit, lay the pieces crosswise to help in slicing.

Lemon Barrel Cactus Cake

Nonstick cooking spray or oil for greasing pan

1½ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons barrel cactus seeds

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

2 lemons

1 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling

¾ cup  Greek yogurt

2 large eggs, beaten

½ cup (1 stick), melted

36 (or so) candied barrel cactus slices

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 4-by-9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter, and line it with parchment, leaving some overhang on both of the longer sides so you’re able to easily lift the cake out after baking.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and turmeric in a large bowl.
  3. Grate 2 tablespoons zest from 2 lemons into a medium bowl. Halve the zested lemons and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice into a small bowl.  You’ll have extra juice, so save the remainder for another use.
  4. Add 1 cup sugar to the lemon zest in the medium bowl; rub together with your fingertips until the sugar is fragrant and tinted yellow. Whisk in the Greek yogurt, beaten eggs and the 2 tablespoons lemon juice until well blended.
  5. Using a spatula, add the wet mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just to blend. Fold in the melted butter. Stir in the barrel cactus seeds. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Arrange barrel cactus slices on top if using and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.
  6. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. (If the loaf is getting too dark, lay a piece of foil on top to prevent burning.) Let cool before slicing.

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Want more recipes using wild foods of the Southwest? You’d find ideas for collecting and using 23 easily recognized and gathered desert foods in Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Foods. If you are interested in prickly pear, The Prickly Pear Cookbook will teach you how to gather pads and fruits and turn them into tasty treats. Just click on the titles for more information. You can learn more about me on my website.

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

Mesquite Popcorn: Two Old Foods Combine for a New Snack

Native people in the Southwest have been growing popcorn and collecting mesquite pods for more than 4,000 years.  Not sure if they ate them together, but we can!

I have a simple, delicious recipe for you today, but first an announcement. It’s Carolyn this week thinking back to 2011 when I began my first food blog shortly after my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest” was published. I wrote the blog myself for a few years under the title “Carolyn’s Southwest Kitchen,” then thought it would be more fun for me and the readers if other authors joined in.  Writers have come and gone but today Tia Marta and Amy Schwemm and I are the regulars. Together we and our former colleagues have published 338 columns on wild greens, other edible wild plants, traditional chile recipes, delicious mole dishes and all manner of delicious Southwestern foods. Those columns will remain in the blogosphere and you can still search them. Recently, we’ve sent you a post every ten days, but knowing that everyone is so busy, we’re dropping back to one post a month. You will hear from each of us four times during the year in regular rotation.

Sprinkling mesquite meal on popped corn is so simple and so delicious I can’t believe I never thought of it before. It came about because I was giving a cooking demonstration to a small group and I knew they would get hungry as they watched me cook their dinner. The demo was in conjunction with my new book A Desert Feast.” It is my answer to why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.  The answer is complex but one reason is that we are still eating some of the same foods people here have eaten for thousands of years. Throughout the dinner, I wanted to include a range of foods that had been eaten in the over the last 4,000 years in Southern Arizona and popcorn seemed like a good idea for a snack to keep my audience’s hunger at bay for the 45 minutes I’d need to put their complete meal together.  If I could season it with mesquite meal, that would help me tick off one of the earliest foods. It was a hit!  You’ll love it too.

Sprinkle mesquite meal on plain or buttered popcorn for a naturally sweet treat.

Mesquite Popcorn

6 cups popped corn

2-4 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

6 tablespoons fine mesquite meal

Put the popped corn in a bowl large enough to allow mixing. Drizzle on the melted butter if using. Sprinkle on the mesquite meal, tossing until well combined.

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Want more recipes for mesquite and delicious wild foods of the desert? Find them in my book “Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.” And if you want to know why Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, I tell the whole 4,000-year story in my newest book “A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary History.” Buy them from your local bookstore or order on-line.

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

“Tepa-lites!”=Teparies + Quelites=Summer Beans and Greens

Quelites or Bledo in Spanish–Cuhuggia I:wagĭ in O’odham–These nutritious “weeds” of Amaranthus palmeri are springing up all around us after good warm-season rains, ready for harvesting. (MABurgess photo)

At last, summer monsoons have gifted the Sonoran Desert with a veritable explosion of delicious wild greens and a growing gardenful of traditional tepary beans! You don’t have to look far to see patches of what many people call “WEEDS” sprouting up. But you and I know better–and others will too after they taste those yummy greens.

Tia Marta here inviting you to appreciate show-time for many species of greens like Amaranth—”rain spinach”–our wild Amaranthus palmeri, and many varieties long cultivated by traditional farmers of Northwest Mexico and the American Southwest.  You can find seeds and info of locally adapted greens and tepary varieties at NativeSeedsSEARCH for planting your own. Come and see living, flowering examples of several Native varieties of greens and teparies right now at Tucson’s Mission Garden

Hopi Red Dye Amaranth is a quadruple-whammie for garden and kitchen: Its glorious flower makes an ornamental show, its leaves are tasty greens, its seeds are nutritous grain, and then it is used as a safe and pleasing red food dye–used in ceremonial piiki bread. (MABurgess photo)

If you can’t visit Mission Garden in person, you are invited to join us virtually at Mission Garden where will be presenting the “Tepa-lites” (short for teparies and quelites) workshop live next Saturday morning, August 7, 2021, 9-11a.m. (Tucson time) via Zoom or on Facebook Live. This community workshop—free, with no pre-registration necessary—is supported by grant funds through the University of Arizona Desert Lab at Tumamoc Hill.

Now is also show-time for verdulagas, that ground-hugging, tasty, succulent summer “weed” also known as “purslane” (Portulaca oleracea) which can be eaten fresh in salads or steamed as a nutritious veggie.  Learn some great purslane recipe ideas at the zoom workshop. (Note its small elongate succulent leaves.)

A confusing verdulaga look-alike known as “horse purslane”, is a low-growing succulent that can fool you. Some people might find this one palatable, but for others it has a taste of soap or an unpleasantly bitter after-taste. (Note its rounder leaves.)

Don’t let yourself be swayed by derogatory names like “pigweed” and “careless weed.”  (Those terms are shop-talk by the weed-killer salesperson or the yard guy that wants to eradicate your edible landscaping).  Far better to call good weeds by positive names, like “rain spinach” or cuhuggia i:wagĭ (“sleeping spinach” when they wilt),  as they are called by the Tohono O’odham, the Desert People who have eaten them in good health for hundreds of years.  

At the online workshop we will celebrate the nutritional combination of these monsoon greens and traditional teparies.  It’s a way to open eyes and tastebuds to the nutritious foods available right out the front door—Nature’s provender—and to encourage easy planting of the fastest beans known. 

When they are young, tepary plants look like miniature versions of common beans, with a three-some of pointed leaves that fold up to save water when the sun is strong at midday. It is the most arid-adapted bean alive, domesticated from wild teparies by early farmers right here in the desert possibly 6,000 years ago.

OK, admittedly tepary beans aren’t “fast food” per se (they do take a long time to soak and cook), but you can grow them to maturity in about 60 days—and that’s fast for a bean.  THIS WEEK is the last opportunity to get them into the ground for a harvest this fall.  My admired O’odham gardener-friends, Laura Kerman-bad, her brother, and Juanita Ahil-bad, always recommended that teparies (and other traditional summer crops) could be planted successfully through the first week in August.  So make it happen….get busy and dive into planting that little garden plot which is now soaked with Nature’s own irrigation!

Chilpotle red teparies–pasta faggioli Sonoran style with greens–will be introduced at the workshop….

Here is the link to join the Zoom “Tepa-lites” class: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85958074230?pwd=S1htT1JKVXNCN3g4NWhoWGRPdS9UZz09
Meeting ID: 859 5807 4230
Passcode: 2021

Hoping to see you virtually on August 7!

Additional info: For helpful greens identification and surprising recipes for greens and tepary beans, check Tia Marta’s earlier post “Blessed Monsoon Weeds”

also SavorSister Carolyn’s post on Sherman’s tepary recipe

SavorSisterAmy’s post for a fabulous tepary-with-veggie stew

and for more appreciation of ba:wĭ–tepary beans–Tia Marta’s “Tepary Time” post

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Syrian Salad for Fig Season

Asaf Hasan, a Palestinian from Kuwait and Jordan, and Raina Kanawati from Syria brought this delicious Syrian fig salad to share with Mission Garden volunteers. (Photo by Dena Cowan)

Fig trees, originally from the Middle East, have found a happy home in the Southwest, a similar climate. Mission Garden in Tucson  features historical gardens and  heritage fruit trees that produce an abundance of figs in late July and August. Asaf Hasan and Raina Kanawati brought a delicious Syrian fig salad to share with volunteers as they led us in making stuffed grape leaves. It is traditionally eaten with the fingers and since we had all washed our hands to make the grape leaves, we dug in happily.

The salad requires no cooking, just assembly, so it’s good to prepare on these hot summer days. Choose sweet white onions or red onions if those are not available.

Figs are ripe in deep summer. Originally from the Mediterranean, they grow well in the hot American desert.

 

When you slice the onion, do so pole to pole rather than through the equator.

Syrian Fig Salad

8 fresh figs, quartered

1 sweet onion, sliced thinly pole to pole

1 lemon, sliced as thinly as possible

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

1/2 cup finely chopped mint leaves

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt

Choose a bowl that holds at least a quart. Combine figs, onion, and lemon and toss until well mixed. Stir in the parsley and mint leaves. In a cup, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Pour over the fruit mixture. Refrigerate for an hour to meld flavors. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Completed Syrian Fig Salad is a fresh addition to a summer meal. 

My latest book, A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary Heritage, discusses how Old World crops such as Mediterranean fruit trees were brought to Tucson by the Catholic missionaries in the early 1700s. I also discuss how local historians worked to recreate the Mission Gardens originally located at the Mission San Agustin.  Order the book from Amazon or  Native Seeds/SEARCH. The book is the the winner of three awards and was named Top Pick in the 2011 Southwest Books of the Year. 

Categories: Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Curry puffs with cholla and palo verde

Hello! Amy here playing with the cholla buds I just harvested! NOW is the time to harvest and our own Tia Marta is teaching a workshop THURSDAY, April 22 on Earth Day! Register here.

The unopened flower buds of the cholla cactus are a real favorite, and one annual harvest I collect every year no matter how busy life gets. It is a very narrow harvesting window, usually in April, depending on the year and elevation. Simply bush off the spines with a bouquet of creosote or bursage, pluck with tongs and boil in water for 5 minutes. They taste tart with a slightest hint of internal texture like nopalitos. But that doesn’t convey how delicious they are.

Plentiful in the desert, harvesting does not hinder its reproduction, which is usually from “cuttings”. But this is the first year my backyard had enough to harvest! Grown with no irrigation at all, it is totally sustainable, low maintenance agriculture. Plus beautiful in the yard!

There are countless ways to enjoy cholla buds, but yesterday I snuck them in Chinese curry pastries, a treat I remember from childhood, from the tiny Chinese bakery that was near my house.

I started with ground beef, onion and garlic. Of course, mixed veggies could be used instead.

Then I added beautiful Tucson CSA carrots and Chinese curry powder. I’m sure any curry powder would work perfectly.

I had some young foothills palo verde seeds from last spring in the freezer. I blanched the harvest and stashed for another day. Learn more about them here.

The delicious, sweet immature seeds taste like young green peas…and also take as much work to shell as green peas.

The filling complete, I folded a spoonful into premade puff pastry.

Gilding with beaten egg is essential to make them look like how I remember them at Lai Wah bakery.

After a few minutes in the oven, it smelled unbelievable.

I can hardly wait to make them for my sister and brother.

Categories: Cooking, Edible Flowers, Edible Landscape Plant, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tepary Time!

When cooked, these beautiful O’odham tepary beans keep their pleasing integrity, and lend themselves to a diversity of delectable dishes. Read on!

Ancestors of the O’odham–the Desert People and their relatives the Pima or River People–more than 4000 years ago, were gathering wild tepary beans (ba:wi) from the mountains in what we now call the US/Mexico borderlands.  They found a way to cultivate these precious beans in summer floodwater gardens and eventually domesticated them!  Tia Marta here hailing the gift ba:wi (Phaseolus acutifolius) is to the world–especially in hot, dry climates!

Mixed Tepary Bean soup is perfect for chilly days of winter for an easy and delicious stick-to-the-ribs lunch.  It only needs a little salt to bring out the rich flavor of teparies.  Other spices can elaborate, but teparies stand on their own just fine.

To make a fancier bean soup, mash cooked teparies for a pleasant creamy texture. Mushroom powder, or kelp, or pimenton, can lead this creamy soup into different delectable directions!….

When a chilly storm sets in in the desert, tepary beans can warm the soul and body.

The most important ingredient in cooking teparies is TIME, t-i-m-e.  Plan ahead by soaking your teparies the day before, for at least 8-10 hours.  To hasten the soaking process, you could bring a pound of teparies and about 8-10 cups water to a quick boil then let them sit in the same water for several hours.  Drain the soaking water and add 8-10 cups good drinking water for cooking.  Bring to a boil then simmer  (adding more water if needed) for up to 2-3 hours until beans test soft–just beyond al dente.  At this point you can create anything with your cooked teparies.  Good hearty soups can be the first satisfying treat.

It is so easy to mash your cooked, drained teparies. To refry teparies, just add some olive oil or butter to your fry pan and mash them as they bubble–the good old fashioned way. Or the quick fix:  whirl them to desired creaminess in the food-processor.

Partially mashed then refried teparies complement eggs and toast or tortilla for a hearty and delicious breakfast!

It’s worth being reminded–mentally jolted–that teparies’ gift of super-nutrition is off the charts:   One fifth of a tepary serving is protein!  Their slowly-digested complex carbs measure 22% Daily Value and their dietary fiber is a whopping 100%-173%–both acting as perfect balancers of blood-sugar and digestive support.  When it comes to important minerals, consider tepary’s iron at 20-30%; calcium for bones at 20-25%; magnesium 10-40% and potassium 48% as electrolytes and body building blocks.

Energize your refried teparies with your favorite chile spices, cumin powder, and/or hot sauce and voila! –you have an instant healthy dip that keeps for a week in the frig–if it doesn’t get eaten up right away! “Serving suggestion”–serve teparies with blue corn chips for a complete protein.  Yummmm!

The BEST vegetarian burrito you will ever eat!!–This is the famous Tepary Burrito made with our local red and white mixed O’odham ba:wi–full of flavor, substantial high-protein nutrition, and sustained energy!

You can dress teparies up or down with garlic, chiles mild or picante, cumin seed, toasted onions, oregano, cilantro, cheeses, or even a ham hock–variations are endless.  Check out archived recipe ideas by writing “tepary” in the search box above.

You can find our delectable red-and-white Native American Tepary Mix in person at Tucson’s amazing Mission Garden Wednesdays thru Saturdays, 8am-2pm (come masked for a special socially distanced experience).  The Native American Tepary Mix is also available online at NativeSeedsSEARCH, and www.flordemayoarts.com.  Individual tepary bean colors are available from Ramona Farms and NativeSeedsSEARCH.

Happy tepary tasting–to your good health! 

 

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

Easy Cinnamon Swirls with Sweet Southwest Glaze

Quick cinnamon swirl biscuits can dress up any celebratory breakfast. These have special Southwest surprises inside–Read on!

Here’s an easy and festive treat for warm winter breakfasts!  Get your ingredients out now in prep for New Year’s morning, Three King’s Day, for Orthodox New Years, or a birthday delight.

Tia Marta here to share how, using a quick biscuit dough, you can insert your favorite wild desert berries and seeds to make a sweet swirl–no long waiting on yeast-rising for this goodie.  Dig out those wild seeds and juices you harvested last summer (always thinking ahead)….

Roll out your biscuit dough and spread with your mix of pinyon nuts, agave syrup, and dried berries. Then, roll up the dough tightly into a “log” shape.

Before rolling up your dough “log” sprinkle with saguaro seed, chia or popped amaranth.

RECIPE–SOUTHWEST CINNAMON SWIRLS

Ingredients for dough: 

2 cups sifted flour (*heirloom white Sonora wheat with 1/4 cup amaranth flour makes a great mix)

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup milk of any kind

*white Sonora wheat is available at Barrio Bread Tucson; whole wheatberries for home milling are available at NativeSeedsSEARCH  or from www.flordemayoarts.com .

Ingredients for inner swirl (use what you have):

1/4 cup agave nectar (or or mesquite syrup, or desert honey which will spread more slowly)

1/4 cup pine nuts (de-hulled) (OR, chopped AZ walnut or pecan meats, or crushed bellota acorn meats)

1/4 cup dried berries (desert or canyon hackberry, dry saguaro fruit, cherries, raisins, cranberries)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 cup saguaro seeds (OR popped amaranth seed, or wild chia seed)

Directions for inside swirl:  Mix together all swirl ingredients (except seeds) for spreading on dough.

Directions for dough:  Sift dry ingredients together.  Cut in butter to pea size or smaller into dry mixture.  Add milk and stir to form dough ball.  Knead with fingers 10-20 “turns”.  Pat dough out on flour-dusted board.  With flour-dusted rolling pin, roll dough to about 1/2 inch thickness.

Place dough swirls on ungreased cookie sheet to bake 12-14 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450F.  Spread gooey cinnamon/agave syrup/nut mixture evenly onto flattened dough.  Sprinkle with desert seeds. Then tightly roll the flattened and bedecked dough into a “log”.  With a sharp knife, cut rounds of the “log” 1/2 inch thick and place each swirl on an uncreased cookie sheet.  Bake 12-14 minutes.  Serve hot with melted butter, or top with (tah-dah!) Tia Marta’s saguaro or prickly pear glaze (recipe follows).

Serve cinnamon swirls HOT out of the oven!

Buttered Desert Cinnamon Swirls — yum!  For an even more decadent topping, top with a glaze….

RECIPE–Tia Marta’s Easy Saguaro Glaze and Southwest Hard Sauce

Ingredients:  2-3 Tbsp softened butter

1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup saguaro syrup, prickly pear syrup, or mesquite syrup

Directions:  Beat softened butter with confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Gradually add up to 1/3 cup saguaro syrup or other desert fruit syrup mixing thoroughly to spreadable consistency.  Apply to tops of cinnamon swirls.  (You may want to make this glaze ahead and chill before spreading, but no-chill works for me.)

There’s only one more step to make this the most fabulous Southwest Hard Sauce:   Add 1 tsp of local agave mescal (try bacanora) to your glaze spread and voila–You have created a hard sauce!   (Goes great on brown-bread, bread pudding, holiday fruit dishes, or to make your cinnamon swirls into a rich dessert.)

Use home-made saguaro, prickly pear, or mesquite syrup for a delightsome glaze, or find great ready-made syrups from Cherie’s Desert Harvest also available at www.nativeseeds.org.

May the New Year 2021 bring you little swirls of joy, adventure and nutrition given generously by our Southwest desert plants–Feliz Año Nuevo! from Tia Marta

o

 

 

 

Categories: Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, White Sonora wheat | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch The Savor Sisters Demo Wild Foods at Native Plants Christmas Party

 

The Tucson Chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society has asked the Savor Sisters–Tia Marta, Amy, and me, Carolyn, to demonstrate cooking some virtual appetizers and “libations” for their on-line Christmas Party. You can join in on Thursday, December 10,  at 7 p.m. MST at a zoom meeting with this link. Amy’s making something with her delicious mole mix, Tia Marta is doing a wild rhubarb pudding, and I’m making a delicious goodie with a mixture of quinoa and popped amaranth seeds bound with agave syrup and coated with chocolate. This is a 21st century version of a treat previously made by the Aztecs. I’m also taking everyone on a field trip to a local craft brewery where the head brewer tells us about all the heritage ingredients that go in his beers.

My newest book, A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary Heritage, is more a book of stories with just a few recipes to illustrate past and present food trends. So I went back to my previous cookbook, Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants to find the perfect recipe for this event.

Hank Rowe at Catalina Brewing adds desert flavors such as prickly pear and mesquite to his brews. Come along to hear Hank tell about his beers at the on-line Native Plant Society Party.

When you pour the amaranth into a hot wok, the golden seeds will pop and become like tiny kernels of popcorn. Work quickly and don’t let the seeds burn or they will be bitter.

 

Using two forks, dip each ball into the melted chocolate. They are fragile, so if any break, don’t panic or be upset. Just eat them immediately! Transfer coated balls to refrigerator to harden.

Aztec Delight

This recipe is from my book Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants. In the video, you can watch the little amaranth seeds pop to a snowy cloud.

¼ cup chia seed

¼ cup amaranth seed

2-3 tablespoons agave syrup

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

            In a wok or heavy bottomed pan over medium heat parch the chia seed for just a minute or two, stirring constantly. Transfer to a coffee grinder or blender and grind to a powder. Put into a bowl.  Repeat with the amaranth grain.  It is possible the amaranth grain will pop while being parched, resulting in a light cloud, like very tiny popcorn kernels. If that happens, fine; if not, equally fine. Combine the ground chia and amaranth in a bowl and begin adding the agave syrup and stirring until you have a stiff dough that holds together.

            Form balls the size of a large olive. Put the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl and melt in the microwave or over hot water.  If using the microwave, heat for one minute, check, then continue heating in 30 second increments until melted. If too stiff, add a few drops of neutral oil, like grapeseed.

            Line a plate with waxed paper or plastic wrap.  Using the tines of a fork, roll each ball of the chia/amaranth dough in the chocolate. These balls are rather fragile so be careful. If one breaks apart, the best way to deal with that catastrophe is to eat it immediately.  Transfer the perfect ones to the plate.  Refrigerate until the chocolate has hardened.

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Still looking for a Christmas gift for your foodie friend? In my new book A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary History, you’ll read stories of how early residents existed on wild foods, how agriculture developed and the people built massive irrigation ditches with only wooden tools and baskets, and how the arrival of the Spanish changed everything. I also visit today’s farmers and talk about their challenges and how Tucsonans are learning to garden and grow their own food, starting with school and community gardens. You can order it from your local bookstore (they’ll love you for that) , from Native Seeds/SEARCH, or Amazon.

 

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

Quince: Having Fun with an Old Fruit

Quinces come with a fuzz that must be washed off before cooking.

There are some people who like to cook, but want an explicit recipe to follow. Then there are others who dare to plunge in with new ingredients, new techniques, making it up as they go along. It’s Carolyn today and for all of my professional life, through five cookbooks, I’ve belonged to the later group. Most of my experimental cooking over the years has involved wild plants, but this week I began to make friends with an old-fashioned cultivar: the quince. There is plenty of advice for how to cook quinces, I’d just never done it before. And the advice isn’t foolproof. 

Quince is native to rocky slopes and woodland margins in Western Asia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and from northern Iran to Afghanistan. It was brought to the New World by the Spanish and is very popular in Sonora, Mexico. Several years ago, the Kino Fruit Tree Project propagated cuttings from quince trees in Sonora and many of those cuttings have grown into huge and prolific trees in the Mission Garden in Tucson. I write about these in my new book A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary History. Quinces aren’t as popular as apples, to which they are related, because they can’t be plucked from the tree and eaten. They are hard and astringent and they need to be cooked to be good. 

After looking through a number of recipes, I decided to take a risk and combine a couple of them. One bit of advice that ran through all the recipes was not to peel the quinces because that’s where much of the pectin (the jelling factor) lies. I decided to use half quince and half green apple and chose a technique of grating the fruit rather than chopping it. Then I mixed the sugar with the fruit, lemon juice, and water and cooked it. I kept having to add more water to get the fruit soft. Because I had added the sugar right away, the mixture jelled before it was adequately soft. 

Green apple on the left, quince on the right. Related but different.

This is a case of I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Quince, even when shredded is a hard fruit and takes a long time to cook. When I finally gave up, the resulting jam was rather chewy. 

Quince, when cooked with sugar, turns slightly pink.

In the middle of my experiment, I reached out to gardening and cooking expert Dena Cowan for advice. Maybe I should have done that first. Here is her response:  “For the past two years I have been making it in the crock pot! I cook the whole quinces first in a pot full of water for about 10 or 15 minutes, just to make it easier to cut them. (If you have a microwave, you can put the whole fruit in it for a minute). No need to peel. I cut around the core and wrap all the cores in cheesecloth. Then I dice the rest of the quince. I put the diced quince, the cores in the cheesecloth, and the cane sugar into the crock pot, stir it up, and leave it overnight. In the morning I mush the core and use what in Spain they call a “chino” (basically a strainer) to get the gelatin out of the cooked core. Then I mush all the quince with a masher and leave it a couple of hours more.”

Ultimately, I used my jam as filling for some turnovers. The texture is perfect for them. I have about a cup left. We can use it on toast or I might try it as an alternate filling in a recipe I have used for fig or date bars. 

Quince-Apple Preserves

2 quinces, unpeeled

2 green apples, unpeeled

¼ cup lemon juice

½ cup water (be prepared to add more)

2 cups sugar

Cut washed fruit in quarters and remove cores. Grate apples into a bowl; grate quince into heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add water to grated quince and cook over low heat until soft, about 15 minutes. Add grated apple, lemon juice, sugar, and more water if necessary. Cook over medium heat, watching closely and adding more water as necessary, around another 15 minutes. The mixture is done when it turns pink. Makes about 1 pint.

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A Desert Feast: Celebrating Tucson’s Culinary Heritage tells the history of how residents of the Santa Cruz Valley have fed themselves over thousands of years, why they are still eating some of the same foods over that time, and how that led to Tucson’s designation of the first American city to earn the coveted UNESCO City of Gastronomy. You can order the book from your favorite bookstore, on-line, or from the Native Seeds/SEARCH bookstore.

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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