Blog

Caldo de Verduras – A Good Summer Soup

In Mexican and parts of the Southwest, one often has either caldo or sopa at the mid-day meal. I first had this caldo over thirty years ago in the remote mountains of Sonora. I have since had many variations of Caldo de Verduras over the years, but the key ingredients stay the same – vegetables that are mostly green. Caldo Versus Sopa In many parts of Mexico, including still the remoter regions of Sonora and Sinaola, the main meal of the day is taken at mid-day, followed by siesta to […]

Creosote – A Fragrant Native Herb

PlaceCreosote is a remarkable herb! Low-water, lovely, and highly useful, this unique desert shrub rewards any extra water you give it by adorning its branches with masses of vivid yellow, star-shaped flowers. These flowers are replaced by charming fuzzy gray seed pods that dry up, split apart and blow away. Best of all – every time it rains, this shrub fills the air with a heavenly scent like no other on earth. Unique Desert Creosote Creosote (Larrea tridentata), is also called chaparral. In Spanish it is known as gobernadora, or […]

Castor in the Southwest

Father Kino may have brought castor plants into the Southwest. The plants were growing in mission gardens by the late 1700’s. Why Castor? Castor oil comes from the seeds of Ricinus communis.  (More about the name – here) Some highly effective medicines, insecticides, and uses of the oil come from the castor seeds (they are not – botanically speaking – beans). Caution right here at the start – castor is NOT a plant to grow for home remedies. All parts of the plant contain both useful and highly toxic compounds. […]

Five Steps for Safe Summer Grilling

Summer time is grill time! But before you get all ready for the big family get together this Memorial Day weekend – when is the last time you tuned your gas grill?  This week’s post comes to us from our Grill Guru, “Uncle Smokey.” 5 Steps to Tune Your Grill If you are like me, I don’t use the outdoor grill much in the winter, preferring to use the oven and help warm the house. Besides, by dinner preparation time in winter it’s often dark outside. But now – it’s […]

Honey Marinade for Barbecue and Off-Grid

“Uncle Smokey” here this week to share a honey marinade sauce I created and have been refining for barbecuing beef or chicken. I use it before cooking, as a marinade, and during cooking, to help infuse flavor. Thinner Cuts For Summer Grilling Since summer is mostly upon us in the Southwest, I want to mention that one good way to spend less time at the grill is to focus on thinner cuts of meat. They have less cooking time. For beef, flank steak or skirt steak are one option. If […]

Egg Salad for National Egg Month

May is National Egg Month – so let’s celebrate! You could make migas (here), but I am thinking of something I don’t have to cook – that is if I have hard boiled eggs on hand. Why celebrate National Egg Month in May and not March or April with Easter and Passover and their eggy traditions? Not sure. Maybe because May is when the chickens (and other domestic fowl) really start laying again. Even if you don’t have chickens, take advantage of the low egg prices this month. Make Eggs […]

Luscious Lysium – the Southwest Goji Berry

Lycium? Yep – that’s the name for goji berries. Did you know we have native goji berries in the Southwest? World Wide Plant Goji, goji berry, or wolfberry is the name applied to the fruit of two Asian plants, Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense. The genus is found around the globe, from China to Chile, Southern USA to South Africa. There are roughly 100 species all told, mostly living in arid areas. Lycium is found throughout the Southwest. There are around three dozen species, depending on what part of the […]

Savor Oregano in Many Ways

Oregano is a wonderful herb, with many uses – culinary, medicinal, ornamental, and aesthetic.  And it grows well in the Southwest. Origins From the arid mountains of the eastern Mediterranean, including present day Greece and Turkey, oregano grows well here in the Southwest forming a lovely low mounding landscape plant with a little added water. It is planted outside the fence in my landscape and the javelina, rabbits and other critters all leave it alone. Harvest Oregano Like many herbs, the best time to harvest oregano is just before it […]

Palo Verde “Capers” – Easy and Tasty

Palo verde flowers are edible – but better yet, so are the flower buds. They are not so tasty straight off the tree, so it’s best to cure or pickle them first. Capers Technically speaking, capers are the preserved unopened flower buds of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa). You can grow this spiny Mediterranean native bush in our region, but why bother when we have our own Southwestern spiny plants to harvest flower buds from?! Palo Verde Buds There are two ways to cure/pickle your palo verde buds. One, you […]