Roasted Veggies with a hint of Pipian

Happy Thanksgiving week! Amy here, planning the menu with the cooking team, which is pretty much everyone in our family. It’s fun to mix it up and offer something interesting for the big meal, but it can’t stray too far… on Thursday.

A few years ago my sister and I spiced the veggies with a dusting with Mano Y Metate Pipian Picante powder and a splash of Alfonso olive oil before going into the screaming hot oven.

This was a Tucson CSA mix of small Red La Soda potatoes, Glendale Gold onions, a Beauregard Sweet Potato and cubes of this unknown winter squash. If I had carrots or mild turnips, I would have added them, too.

Pipian Picante is medium spicy, but for a mild dish, use Pipain Rojo. The two Pipian are nearly the same recipe, but Pipain Rojo is made with Santa Cruz Mild Chile from Tumacacori, Arizona, while Pipian Picante uses Santa Cruz Hot Chile. This chile is fruity and flavorful. It’s bright red in color and the flavor matches the color. Of all the varieties of mole powder that I make, these two are the only ones that use only one type of chile, because this chile is special enough to stand on its own. By the way, if you’re looking for a fun road trip to take out of town guests, the little Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Sore is fun and right across from the mission.

Both Pipian Rojo and Pipian Picante are made with lots of pepitas, or pumkin seeds, along with almonds and a few sesame seeds. It also features plenty of coriander (cilantro) seeds and canela, the soft, easy to break sticks of Ceylon cinnamon.

Sweet cinnamon, sweet chile, and evaporated cane juice in the Pipian go great with the beautiful winter squash that usually looks sweeter than it is. And the kick in the chile is great on the sweet onion and sweet potato. The finished dish is unquestionably savory and spicy. I hope you like it as much as we do. Add a sprig of rosemary from the garden if you have it, just for fun.


Now, for Friday after Thanksgiving, I recommend Enmoladas with Turkey. These are enchiladas made with mole instead of just chile. Please forgive the candlelit photo, but this is all I could take before it was devoured! For the recipe, go to my very first post on this blog, and substitute leftover turkey for the amaranth greens filling.

Thank you to my family that helped me sell mole at the Desert Botanical Garden and Tohono Chul, and my friends that helped me fill and label tins to prepare for the events. Mil Gracias.

Decorate Using Your Southwestern Yard

Holiday time again.  Many people stress out, wanting everything to be perfect.  Others stress out due to family interactions — old and new.  Almost everyone overspends their budget, another source of stress.  It’s easy to tell yourself that you are going to be relaxed this year, but far harder to do it.

Numerous studies demonstrate that the relaxation process is helped by connecting to the natural world.  This is great news for us living here in the sunny southwest.   Take a sanity break in your own back yard, and ideally, bring some of the nature outside into your home.

Fill a vase with evergreen boughs.  Prune your evergreens, or volunteer to do those of a neighbor.  Pines such as Aleppo and Afghan pines are commonly sold as living Christmas trees and make lovely yard trees.  They typically need little pruning (one of their attractions as a yard tree), but you may be able to find some branches that need trimming.  Stores that sell fresh Christmas trees may let you have some trimmed boughs to decorate with.

There are a number of other evergreen cousins.  Trees and shrubs commonly called cypress, cedar and juniper were all typically planted in older neighborhoods.  All will last a week or so in a vase.  Try to find branches with the bright blue “berries.”   Actually the “berries” are tiny cones, and the seeds inside are well loved by many local birds.

Greens don’t have to be traditional holiday evergreens either.  Technically, any plant that does not drop its leaves is an evergreen.  Rosemary is evergreen, and it is related to mint.  Citrus trees are evergreen, and make lovely additions to indoor arrangements.  Pyracantha doesn’t lose it’s leaves in winter and is adorned with bright reddish berries right now.  Nandina, also called heavenly bamboo has red berries and green leaves as well.  The Texas mountain laurel tree is evergreen with silvery seed pods.  One of my favorites to bring indoors is boughs of our native creosote bush.  All of these will last at least a week in a vase and look very festive.

Yule logs are a British Isles tradition.  A mesquite log can take the place of a Christmas tree.  Glitter can be sprinkled into the bark crevices.  Use a drill to bore several holes for candles.  Decorate with evergreens and bows.  If you want to be traditional, the Yule log is burned on Epiphany, January 6th, or in an older tradition, on the Winter Solstice, December 21st.  Do not burn the evergreens when it is time to light your Yule log.  The evergreens are full of highly volatile oils and can cause a house fire instead.

Above all, remember to relax and enjoy the season.  Old expectations may rattle their chains and try to haunt you, but take it easy, and take it slow.  Surround yourself with as much as possible with the natural world.  When you start to feel stressed, take a deep breath, and rest and refresh your eyes and spirit with the beauty of nature.

If you would like help with care and planting of your yard, I work as a “Garden Coach” helping you get the most out of your yard.  Please contact me, Jacqueline, at 909-3474.  Feel free to leave a voice message.

Slowing it down: Super-Slow-Rosemary-Crusted-Steak

hearth as heart -

It is early winter, and as the days become shorter, things slow down in the natural world.  Egg laying is noticeably slower. Honeybee brood cycles are are scaled way back; the drones having been cast out (weeks ago) to preserve the resources of the hive. Our cattle are moved to winter pasture; and while we could keep a few cows near the house for milk/cheese,  we prefer to let the girls rest after the rough (read: drought) summer here.  Not taking milk allows the cows a chance to rest and recondition. This slowing down is a part of regeneration.

Humans, often forgetting our animal nature, can be out of sync with the rythms of particular seasons –  especially the slower more inward season that we are in now.  We continue the ceaseless output of energy that culture demands, as if it were perpetual spring – energy bursting upward and outward, rather than inward and in to our metaphorical  roots. .  We are a part  of the animal, insects, and plant kingdoms with which we live.  And seasons, with their increase and decrease in light and energy, offer different things to us. The winter kitchen is one of the few places where we can enjoy the slowness of this season, because winter meals often take time to simmer or bake.  We are nearing the winter solstice, which occurs between December 20th and the 23rd , wrapping the animals, insects, and plants, living on this side of the planet,  in darkness.

This recipe for Super-Slow-Roasted Rosemary-Crusted Chuck Steak, from Shannon Hayes’s THE GRASSFED GOURMET COOKBOOK is a flavorful way to both practice and delight in the Slowness of the Season.  And precisely because it   T A K E S  T I M E, the flavors  have time to mingle sensuously, another perk of the cold season.  More oddly, I feel it gives kitchens – sometimes forgotten as the “heart” of the home –  a chance to embody their mission.  Cooking meals slowly allows the kitchen to warm the home from the kitchen outward; you may find that family and friends linger a little longer, basking in the aromas and warmth and heartbeat. Forgive me for saying it, but I think I hear the kitchen smiling.

Harvesting range/grass fed beef

RECIPE: Super-Slow-Roasted Rosemary-Crusted Chuck Steak

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Rub Garlic Rosemary Rub into the chuck (see below***)

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30-60 minutes.   Roast the meat in a shallow pan for 30 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 170 degrees F. Continue to roast for 4-6 hours,  (depending on the weight the larger the cut the longer it takes to roast), or until an internal meat thermometer registers 120 F to 125 F. Hayes suggests that you do not cook it beyond 125F or you will loose tenderness.   And in keeping with the Spirit of Slow: allow the meat to rest (with loose foil tented) for 5- 10 minutes before slicing.

*** Garlic-Rosemary Rub: 2 Tablespoons of dried Rosemary, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 ½ Tablespoons coarse salt, 2 Teaspoons freshly ground black pepper.

Note: I cannot recommend Shannon Hayes, The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook enough. It will likely change the way you look at farming, flavors, and how they/we are connected.

* If you are a veggie/vegan try slow roasting  winter’s roots vegetables with the oil of your choice and the same spices in the rub, but do not cook them as long, just till as tender and as flavorful as you love.

Please note: The photos were taken by me to share with you; I would love it if you would please leave them here (and not abscond with them to other parts of the internet). Thank you so much.