Posts Tagged With: O’odham

Bean and Corn Cakes with Mole

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Hello, Amy Valdés Schwemm here. When I want to offer people several varieties of mole to taste, I make small batches of each sauce and serve them in mini electric crocs. Guests can spoon mole over servings of turkey or these bean and corn cakes. They make a perfect vegetarian main course or a hearty side.

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If you want a taste, meet me at The Food Conspiracy Co-op Saturday, November 21, 4-7pm. There will be other samples, including wine, and everyone (not just members) gets 10% off everything.

The recipe for Bean and Chicos Dinner Cakes was published in Furrow to Fire: Recipes from the Native Seeds/SEARCH Community, its author unknown to the editors. Chicos are New Mexican corn kernels roasted when still fresh, then dried. Sometimes they have a smokey taste that can almost be a seasoning if you cook a handful with a pot of beans. I often substitute Tohono O’odham gai’iwsa or Mexican posole. Using a bean with a creamy texture helps to hold the patties together. I’ve made it countless times, sometimes substituting ingredients wildly. They hold in a warm oven perfectly until ready to serve.

The photo above used lots of white posole and some canario beans. For tomorrow’s tasting, I’m using plenty of pintos and a little yellow polenta. No need to measure or time the polenta, as this recipe is so forgiving. Kneading in dry cornmeal when forming the patties (instead of just mixing it in) will fix the mixture at the perfect consistency.

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I like to carefully reduce the bean cooking liquid, affectionately referred to as bean juice in our family, because I can’t imagine draining it.

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Pulse everything in the food processor or mash by hand, and season to taste. Make big or small cakes to suit the occasion.

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1/2 cup chicos

1 cup beans, cooked and drained

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 I’itoi or green onion, minced

salt to taste

Options:

1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon chile powder (or substitute Mano Y Metate Adobo powder)

Place chicos and enough water to cover in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about one hour, until chicos are fairly soft. Cool slightly, then drain and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Combine beans, cornmeal, onion and chile powder and either mash by hand or whirl briefly in a food processor. Combine with the chicos, adding salt and adjusting seasoning to taste. Shape into about 1/3 inch thick patties.

In a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, brown dinner cakes on each side. Serve with mole, pipián, or salsa.

 

My Aunt Bertie has shaped and browned lots of these little things with me. Here she is taking a break from flipping during a cooking class my family taught. We love to cook together!

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Categories: Cooking, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lemony and Luscious – Barrel Cactus Fruit

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Ferocactus wizlizenii species of barrel cactus may bear ripe fruit two to three times per year.

 

Today’s post is by Jacqueline Soule.

Here in the Southwest, there are more than enough native plants to grow that will also provide food for the table – at least partially. One that has a hidden bounty at this time of year is the barrel cactus. Barrel cactus is the generic term for a number of species of large barrel-shaped cacti. The one with the most edible of fruit is the fish hook or compass barrel (Ferocactus wizlizenii). This barrel cactus is unlike many other species of cacti in that it often blooms two or even three times per year, thus providing you, the harvester, with ample fruits, often several times a year.

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Barrel cactus can make a lovely addition to the low-water landscape. There are a number of different varieties now available in the nursery trade. Note the bluish cast to this individual.

 

After the blooms, the fruit slowly develop, turning from green to yellow when ripe. They are easy to harvest, simply grasp the stiff spent flower that remains on the fruit and pull. The fruit comes right off when ripe. If you have to apply great force, Mama barrel cactus is telling you this fruit is still green and she is not ready to cut the apron strings.

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When fruit – any fruit – is ripe, the parent plant forms an easily severed abscission layer. If you have to apply great force, the fruit is not ripe or ready to harvest yet.

You can eat the lemony flavored fruit, but only in moderation. Fruit is high in oxalic acid, which can be hard on human systems. I do dry the fruit and use them as I brew iced tea – in place of lemon. You can also mix the dried fruit with dried hibiscus blooms to make a delightfully tart and refreshing summer drink.

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For ease of drying, a single thickness of diced fruit can be laid in terra cotta saucers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One week later, the fruit is entirely dry and much shrunken in the saucers. Be sure to dry out of direct sunlight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You can shake the dried fruit in a colander and collect additional seed that previously clung to the moist fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I cut open the fruits, I do harvest the seeds – which are safe to consume in quantity. They are the size, texture and taste of poppy seeds and can be used anywhere you use poppy seeds. Like poppy seeds, they are best when toasted for 30 to 45 minutes at 300 degrees F. Toasting them makes them a easier to crunch open so you can digest them more fully.

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The fruit is somewhat mucilagenous and the seeds may cling to them as you slice them for drying.

 

For a gluten-free treat, try this: “Lemon Barrel-Seed Cake”
1 cup flax seed meal
2 teaspoons alum-free baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons barrel-fruit seed, toasted
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
2 tablespoons sweetening – to taste (honey, brown sugar, agave syrup – your choice)
1 tablespoon oil (olive oil, butter, coconut oil – your choice)
4 eggs

Mix the dry ingredients, add the wet ones, blend well and pour into a glass loaf pan. Microwave for at least 3 minutes, and perhaps up to 4 minutes. It takes 3 minutes 15 seconds in our microwave. Run a knife around the edges and tip it out of the pan right away. ((I just thought, maybe you can grease the cooking dish?! I will have to try that!)) Optionally you can frost this cake once it cools or drizzle it with a light icing. Makes a quite elegant coffee cake. You can also cut this recipe down to one quarter (one egg) and cook it for one minute in a microwave safe mug to make a single serving muffin.

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Carolyn Niethammer and Muffin Burgess enjoy Lemon Barrel-Seed Cake at our Anniversary Tea.

 

Barrel fruit are an often overlooked fruit by desert harvesters, but hopefully this article will give you some ideas for their use. Please feel free to share your ideas! If you are concerned about the oxalic acid in the fruit, you could pluck the fruit, scoop out the seeds and return the fruit to the desert for the native wildlife to enjoy, much the way you harvest saguaro fruit. Just be certain that the fruit lands open side up to help encourage the rains.

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If you prefer, you can keep only the seed and compost the fruit, or return it to the desert for the critters to eat.

If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my many free lectures. Look for me at the Pima County Library, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and more. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).

All photos and text are copyright © 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which 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.  Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hearty Jojoba

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Green jojoba fruit dangle below the branches, slowly ripening in the desert sun.

posted by Jacqueline A. Soule

If you know how I title most of my blogs, you now have a hint on how to pronounce jojoba – it’s pronounced ho-ho-ba. (The “j” is an “h” sound in Spanish. Which reminds me of the time at the busy health clinic when “Hakalina” did not recognize her name called out by the nurse – but that’s another story.)

Jojoba is the O’odham name for the plant (Simmondsia chinensis) and it came into Spanish via the work of Father Kino. Indeed, Father Kino wrote in his journals about the plant. In Bolton’s 1919 translation of Kino’s journals, Kino writes of a visit with “Pima Indians” (pg. 93) and states that, among other items “. . . they also have bezoar, the medicinal fruit called jojoba, blankets, cotton fabrics, curious and very showy baskets or pitchers, macaws . . . and other conveniences.” Later, Kino describes the fruit as “. . . like the almond, and with a very salutary and effective remedy for different kinds of sickness.”

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Jojoba shrubs are either male or female. Here a male shrub offers it’s pollen filled flowers to passing pollinators.

Other common names for the plant include goat nut, deer nut, pignut, wild hazel, quinine nut, coffeeberry, and gray box bush. Although there are references to jojoba as nuts, they are, botanically speaking, a seed.

Jojoba was used in most areas where it is native. The uses varied with tribe. O’odham would crush the seeds to yield an oily paste useful for dry cracked skin, chapped lips, cuts, scrapes, and burns. Seeds were ground and pressed into cakes, and small portions were eaten in moderation as food. Too much jojoba has a laxative action. Seri used seeds as an emergency food, but more commonly as part of a shampoo process. Seeds can also be made into necklaces.

Jojoba-oil

You can purchase pressed jojoba “oil” in many stores. I use the oil in making lotion.

 

Currently, jojoba is grown commercially for its “oil,” in reality a liquid wax ester, expressed from the seed. This oil is rare in nature. Technically it is an extremely long straight-chain wax ester and not a triglyceride, making jojoba and its derivative jojoba esters more similar to human sebum (body oil) and sperm whale oil than to vegetable oils. Jojoba oil is easily refined to be odorless, colorless and oxidatively stable, and is often used in cosmetics as a moisturizer and as a carrier oil for specialty fragrances. It also has potential use as both a biodiesel fuel for cars and trucks, as well as a biodegradable lubricant. Plantations of jojoba have been established in a number of desert and semi-desert areas.

 

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Jojoba plantation in one of the semi-arid areas of India.

Jojoba is currently the Sonoran Desert’s second most economically valuable native plant (overshadowed only by the Washingtonia palms used in ornamental horticulture). Plant breeders are doing selective breeding to develop plants that produce more seeds, seeds with higher oil content, and characteristics that will facilitate mechanical harvesting.

A few interesting taxonomic notes. Jojoba is the only species in its plant family, making it quite unique among flowering plants. While there are around 400 monotypic genera, this is the only monotypic flowering plant family. The scientific name, Simmondsia chinensis, is an example of the need for good penmanship. Jojoba does not originate in China! Johann Link, the botanist naming the species, misread Nuttall’s collection label “Calif” as “China.”

Jojoba habit

Jojoba shrubs live well in the desert.

Harvesting and Use.
Jojoba seed on a single bush will ripen slowly over several months. This is one of the traits breeders are seeking to change. Seed is ready to be harvested when the hulls easily fall off and a slight tug releases it into your hand. If it resists, it isn’t ripe.

Store harvested seed in jars or even in the freezer. Grind jojoba seeds in a mortar and pestle for topical use. Alternatively toast the seeds and munch as an occasional snack.

If you have the technology, you can harvest seeds and press them for the oil. Or simply plant them in your native landscape and let the native wildlife use the seed.

Planting and Care will be covered in a future blog.

 

To learn more about jojoba and other native plants used as herbs, please come to my free presentation “Father Kino’s Native Herbs” at the Main Library on Saturday Sept 13 at 1:30. More at http://www.library.pima.gov/calendar/?ID=26635

Some of the information in this article is excerpted from my book “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today” (2011, Tierra del Sol Press, $15). I hope you will consider purchasing a copy locally at Antigone Books, Arizona Experience Store, Magic Garden, Mostly Books, or Rillito Nursery.

© 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

Categories: Edible Landscape Plant, herbs, Kino herb, medicinal plant, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Medicinal, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Desert Mistletoe for Food and Fun

Jacqueline Soule here today to discuss a edible “weed.”  Most people associate mistletoe it with kisses and winter holidays. Sad to say, here in the desert southwest, many homeowners think of our local mistletoe as a weed to be eliminated from their trees. In reality, they should be thinking of it as a crop to be harvested!

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Desert mistletoe fruit is the only mistletoe fruit that is edible. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

There are many species of mistletoes around the world. The mistletoe plants themselves are all toxic. The berries of most species are toxic. The one exception is our local desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum, bearing not only edible but highly palatable white to reddish translucent berries. Native peoples ate only the fruits of mistletoes growing on mesquite, ironwood or catclaw acacia. Found growing on palo verdes or Condalia (desert buckthorn) the fruits are considered inedible.

 

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Plants of desert mistletoe can become quite large and offer a bountiful harvest of berries. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

According to literature, the Seri consider mistletoe fruit ripe and harvestable once it turns translucent. Harvest is done by spreading a blanket below the plant and hitting it with sticks to release the fruit. Seri consumed the fruit raw. The Tohono O’odham also consumed the fruit raw. River Pima ate the fruit boiled and mashed, which made it the consistency of a pudding. The Cahilla gathered the fruits November through April and boiled them into a paste with a sprinkle of wood ash added to the pot.  (Bibliography at the end of this article.)

Some desert mistletoe are more red and less translucent.  This is just normal variation within the species.  Photo by S. Shebs.

Some desert mistletoe are more red and less translucent. This is just normal variation within the species. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, desert mistletoe plants (not the fruit) contain phoratoxins which can easily lead to death via slowed heart rate, increased blood pressure, convulsions, or cardiac collapse. Some of these compounds can cause hallucinations, but there is no way to judge dosage. People seeking a “high” from mistletoe still turn up in morgues each year. Native peoples used plants other than mistletoe to seek visions, and if one desires visions, one would be wise to follow their example. Although toxic, if used in a well-ventilated place, the foliage of desert mistletoe can be used in crafts and as a dye, producing a pale beige to dark sienna.

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Mistletoe dye on cotton. Photo by J. A. Soule

 

Harvesting and Use.

Mistletoe berries are ripe once they turn translucent and you can generally see the red seed inside. They also become soft and squishy, losing their hardness. Watch the phainopeplas, when they start devouring berries, then the fruit is ripe! I have only eaten the berries fresh, and find them reminiscent of elderberry in flavor. I was going to experiment with making a jelly this year, but missed my window of opportunity.

When ripe, the berries turn translucent and fall off the plant easily. Photo by S. Shebs.

When ripe, the berries turn translucent and fall off the plant easily. Photo by S. Shebs.

 

As a dye, mistletoe plants themselves are used. They can be fresh or dried. Place the herbage in the pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, strain. Add an alkalizing agent (ammonia) to intensify the color. You can dye both protein fibers (wool, silk) and plant fibers (cotton) with this solution. Ideally mordant with alum prior to dyeing, but post-mordant baths also work.

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A blend of half paper pulp and half mistletoe plant material yields a nicely textured craft paper. Photo by J. A. Soule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All manner of desert plants can be used in papermaking. Photo by J. A. Soule

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rather than discarding the spent mistletoe herbage from making dye, I have frozen it for later use in papermaking. Grind the cooked mistletoe in a blender and mix it half and half with paper pulp to create a lovely, rough-textured, craft paper with a warm brown hue.

 

 

Note: This month I have been looking at desert mistletoe in some of my other online articles.

Desert mistletoe and human use is presented here, the third in a series on the topic.
Desert mistletoe and wildlife can be read at: http://www.beautifulwildlifegarden.com/?s=mistletoe
Desert mistletoe as part of a native garden caan be read at: http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/?s=mistletoe

This article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule, 2014. The topic is covered more extensively in my book “Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today” (2011, Tierra del Sol Press, $15). If you live in Tucson, I hope you will consider purchasing a copy locally at Antigone Books, Arizona Experience Store, Magic Garden, Mostly Books, or Rillito Nursery.

 

For the last eight months, Savor the Southwest has been brought to you every week by four Savor Sisters, me (Jacqueline), Tia Marta, Aunt Linda and Carolyn. Look for our fifth Savor sister, Amy Valdes Schwemm will make her first appearance in June, otherwise she will return to post whenever a month has five Fridays.

 

Bibliography for this article
Felger, R. S. and M. B. Moser. 1985. People of the Desert and Sea. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Hodgson, W. C. 2001. Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Kearny T. H. and Peebles R. H., et al. 1960. Arizona Flora. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Rea, A. M. 1997. At the Desert’s Green Edge. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Tohono O’odham Nation (s.d.). When Everything Was Real: An Introduction to Papago Desert Foods. Tohono O’odham Nation, Sells, AZ.

 

© 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

Categories: Cooking, Dye, Sonoran Crafts, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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