Posts Tagged With: Southwest

Savor Southwestern Iced Tea

Jacqueline here in this last week of a sweltering May, with a look ahead to next month. June is “National Iced Tea Month,” so time to think about some iced teas to help you Savor the Southwest.

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Language purists will remind us that true tea comes from Camellia sinensis, grown in the tropics, and any “herbal tea” is in fact a “tisane,” but the English language is subject to change over time, thus I am using the term “tea” to mean any herb infused into a beverage.

Speaking of infusing – teas should be prepared as an infusion. Infusions are made by adding water to fresh or dried herbs and allowing them time to infuse the water with their oils and flavors. The water can be hot or cold, depending on how strong a flavor you desire and how quickly. Avoid decoctions, where the plants are placed in boiling water and held over heat. This will extract plant compounds better left in the plant.

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Mint tea garnished with fresh mint and a slice of orange.

Traditional iced tea is often served with lemon. That is a nice way to blend flavors and engage your palate with both the bitterness of the tea and the sourness of the lemon at the same time. With this in mind, I like to put together more than one herb at a time for a richer gustatory experience.

Mint tea can be garnished with a fresh sprig of mint, and a slice of orange. I find the sweet orange helps highlight the tang of the mint in a pleasant way.

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Calendula grows well in winter in the Southwest.

Calendula tea from the petals I dried all winter is made tangy with a slice of lemon and a fresh bay leaf – delightful! I tried calendula with mint and didn’t like the way the flavors worked together.

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Calendula tea with bay and lemon.

Thyme is tasty indeed, and I find it freshens the palate. Rather than cucumber water at your next soiree, try some thyme.

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Thyme tisane.

I have tried all sorts of blends over thyme – I mean time – and tea with mint, sage, and a sprig of fennel was unique. The licoricy fennel blended nicely with the earthy notes of sage. The fennel plants are gone for the year, but next year I’m going to leave the mint out.

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Tea from mint, sage, and fennel. Some blends work better than others.

Run out of lemons? Don’t forget the lemony and luscious barrel cactus I wrote about in November 2014. The fruits add a wonderful citrus-like tang to teas and can be used in place of lemon. This is also good if you are trying to only eat things in season – the barrel fruit from last autumns blush of bloom is ripening nicely now.

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Barrel cactus fruit can be dried for use like lemon peel.

I hope you will celebrate Iced Tea Month by savoring some new teas. Please do let us know if you find a blend we should share! We welcome your ideas.

 

JAS avatarWant to learn more? Look for my free lectures at your local Pima County Library branch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening (Cool Springs Press, $23).
© Article copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos © Jacqueline A. Soule where marked and they may not be used.

 

 

Categories: Edible Flowers, Edible Landscape Plant, herbs, Kino herb, Libations | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cholla Crepes with Hollandaise and Mulberry Compote Yogurt Crepes

 

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Spring in Tucson means cholla buds and mulberries! Amy here with two of our perennial favorites, wrapped in crepes.

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A found a budding Pencil Cholla Cactus in a friend’s yard, and I could pick in exchange for a harvesting lesson. See Tia Marta’s Cholla bud post to learn how to collect and process this favorite desert food. This wasn’t a stellar year in the wild, so I was glad to harvest from a few plants thriving with a bit of care. Pencil chollas, hard to find in the wild, have few spines for the size of the bud and fall off easily when brushed.

Mulberries are another cultivated cousin of a wild desert riparian food, and my grandfather planed a beautiful tree many years ago that produces enough fruit for birds, dogs and people, too.

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I cooked a bowlful of mulberries with a splash of rum and a squeeze of lemon. I added a bit of water while cooking, just to keep it from sticking.

Brainstorming how to show off these little treasures, I remembered crepes! My mom and aunt taught my family to make crepes with a special electric skillet designed to dunk into a wide shallow bowl of batter, making a delicate skin and browning it delicately.

Lacking the very wide, very shallow bowl and the electric crepe maker, I have been making them lately on a cast iron griddle. Start by whirling one cup flour (I used half whole wheat and half all purpose), one and a half cups half and half (milk or milk substitute works fine), 3 tablespoons butter melted completely (or oil), four eggs, and a dash of salt in the blender. Transfer to a quart jar or measuring cup for easy pouring.

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Heat a cast iron pan to medium, swirl the pan before the very first crepe with a small pat of butter, and take a relaxing breath. With one hand, pour batter on the griddle while quickly rotating the pan until the batter reaches the pan’s edges. Hopefully most of the batter is set by then, but if not, just use a little less batter next time and cook this crepe a little longer. If the batter gets too thick, thin with water so it is easier to swirl on the griddle.

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When the edges are papery and the bottom spotted with brown, flip the crepe with your fingertips and brown briefly on the other side.

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Stack the cooked crepes on a plate directly on top of each other. This batch of batter made about a dozen for me.

Cholla Bud in Crepes with Hollandaise

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Boil the de-spined cholla buds in water for 10 minutes, then drain. Heat a bit of olive oil, add a clove of minced garlic, a dash of salt and the buds.

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To make hollandaise, put one egg yolk, a tablespoon butter, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of salt in a double boiler. Whisk until creamy, adding a splash of hot water if necessary to thin the sauce. Incorporate one more tablespoon of butter and keep warm. The sauce can easily be doubled or quadrupled as necessary. Assemble, roll and enjoy!

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For Mulberry Crepes, you can add a pinch of sugar to the batter if you want. Spread a hot crepe with mulberry compote and a spoon of plain yogurt.

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Fold in quarters and garnish with pansies.

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Enjoy the last days of spring, and I’ll be back in summer. Love, Amy

 

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Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mole Tasting Saturday, January 21

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photo: Lani Roundy Axman

Come Saturday, January 21 at 1pm for a taste! Amy here, inviting you to Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oil Store at Oracle and Magee in Tucson for a little discussion about mole and to purchase fresh Mano Y Metate Mole Powders. Plus attendees take home a 60ml bottle of olive oil!

This photo was from Galeana 39, my friend Curtis Parhams’ gift shop in Phoenix where you can also purchase my mole powders.

In the foreground you see Mole Dulce Popcorn, my mom’s favorite recipe with her favorite variety of mole. Yes, you can just sprinkle mole powder on the buttered popcorn, but this method is better.

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photo: Curtis Parhams

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Take a tin of Mole Dulce powder and cook in a few tablespoons oil in a very large skillet. You can use more oil than if you were making mole sauce because it is standing in for butter on the popcorn. I prefer a mild tasting olive from Alfonso, but any cooking oil will work. After the paste is fragrant, bubbly and a shade darker, toss air-popped corn into the paste and mix until all the kernels are seasoned. Salt to taste and enjoy the sweet, salty, spicy treat while it’s still warm!

After talking about the basic components that build mole sauces, the varieties of mole and a little about Mano Y Metate, I’ll prepare Mole Dulce with butternut squash cubes.

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I start with a butternut squash, peeling and cutting into bite sized pieces. Then cook a tin of Mole Dulce powder in 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat. Nancy Alfonso said they had new fresh oil varieties since I was there last, so I’m excited to try them Saturday. Anyway, cook the paste and then add veggie or chicken broth. In a few minutes, the sauce comes together and the cubes of squash go in the pot. Simmer until tender. Alternately, you can precook the squash cubes until barely tender before adding to the sauce. We’ll enjoy these bites on toothpicks, but at home you could put on a tostada or fresh tortilla and garnish with cilantro or green onion. Serve with beans, rice and a salad for a vegetarian meal or as a side dish with another meal.

So if you’re in Tucson and want to stay dry, come taste a wild diversity of high quality extra virgin olive oils, some mild, others pleasantly bitter, some peppery.  Many infused with herbs or other ingredients. Last time I took home Blood Orange infused olive oil, perfect for cilantro chutneys! Yes some perfect for salads, but also for cooking. They also have butternut squash seed oil, oil expressed from squash seeds. Amazing! Alfonso Gourmet Olive Oils and Balsamics 7854 N.Oracle Road- Southeast corner of Oracle and Magee. They also have a River and Campbell store.20161119_105930

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

Onion Planting Time!

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The Southwest is ideal for gardening all year long.

Jacqueline Soule with you here to share some timely planting tips.  Speaking as a gardener – one of the best things about living here in the Southwest is that every month is the month to plant something! Right now, in these cool months with short days and long nights, it is time to plant onions.

If you have never before had a vegetable garden, onions are a great way to start. Of all the garden vegetables, they are tolerant of abuse and forgiving of mistakes. In the ground, in large or small pots, under the shrubs in the front yard of your HOA home (the weed-police are mollified by “bulbs”), wherever you have a little space you can plant some onions. As long as we get rain every ten days, you may not even need to water them. Onions fresh out of the ground have so much more flavor you owe it to yourself to try them.

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Onions can be tucked into almost any space in the yard. These I’itoi onions stay small.

Which ones? There are more varieties of onions than you can shake a stick at, a number of different types with conflicting names (bunching, bulbing, multiplier) and technically a few different species, but rather than start a discourse on all of that, lets just key into the fact that the days are short, thus you need to plant “short day” varieties.

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Onion sets can be planted in pots with potting soil.

Now? In the coldest time of year? Yes! But you will plant “sets” not seeds. Sets are already started from seed onions, or, in the case of multiplier onions and garlics, they are divisions off a larger bulb.

How to plant sets? Just set them into the soil. (Sometimes gardening terminology makes sense.)  Plant with the green side up, the bulb entirely below the soil.

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Look in the background in this shot. Some varieties will grow faster than others.

Most of our local nurseries know that now is the time for onions and have a selection of sets to choose from. Big box stores don’t – just another reason to shop local. In past years some of the Farmer’s Market vendors also offered onion sets.

A general planting guide follows.

Light.  Remember the whole “short day” thing?  The short days of winter will mean that the onions will need as much as you can give them.

Soil is not as critical as with most vegetables. But for best overall health, plus full flavor and good final size of your crop, an improved garden soil is recommended. Or plain potting soil if you grow them in containers.

Water is needed on a regular basis for nice fat bulbs and succulent leaves. In general this means two or three times per week, but maybe more if the onions are in pots.

Fertilizer is not much needed by onions. If you want to, use one for root crops, high in nitrogen and potassium. Avoid fertilizer for flowers, like a rose or tomato food. Flowering takes energy away from creating succulent bulbs.

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These onions got too much flowering fertilizer. Rather than develop good bulbs, they spent their energy producing flowers and seeds.

Harvest – once the tops die down and start to turn brown (usually in late May into June).  For long term storage the garden books from “back east” tell you to dry your onions in the sun – but don’t do that here!! – they will get sun scald and taste yucky. Dry onions in a cool dark place that does have good air flow. I put mine on screens in the laundry room and leave the ceiling fan on low for about three days. Once they have dried onions will store without rotting.

Storage & Use. Some varieties of onions store better than others. Plan on about four months maximum for best flavor and texture. (Ours are eaten so fast this is not an issue.) Don’t forget to save your onion skins to make a great natural dye for Easter eggs and textiles.

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I keep a bag to add my onion skins to every time I cook.

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Onion skins produce a warm brown dye.

 

For more about onions and other vegetables and fruits that will thrive in your Southwestern garden, please consider my book Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening (Cool Springs Press 2014), available at Antigone, Arizona Experience Store, local botanical gardens, state parks, and nurseries.

© 2015, 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, Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, Kino herb | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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