Monday, May 25, 2009

A Different Local

I've been in Santa Fe for the past week. Not much fresh local fruit here, I'm afraid.

However, I've been eating a lot of New Mexican food. I especially like trying blue corn enchiladas with an egg, over easy, on top. Blue corn has been a Native American staple for a long, long time. In Hopi lore, Blue Corn Maiden was the most beautiful of the corn maiden sisters. She was well loved by her people as was the delicious blue corn she gave them all year long. The tale continues recounting a war between the Winter and Summer Katsinas and the resulting limit of blue corn given to Pueblo People in summer. Luckily, the Pueblo People learned to dry and grind their blue corn into meal so I can eat blue corn tortillas in New Mexico. Well, everyone can, really.

Coupled perfectly with the blue corn tortillas is the dark purplish red of the local chile. Dried, ground and then reconstituted into a thick, spicy sauce, there's nothing better. Chimayo chile has almost become extinct. As a result, the Native Hispanic Institute started a project to revive and save the Chimayo chile.

"The Chimayo Chile Project works with local farmers, and artists in order to preserve the native strain of chile and to keep the cultural assets alive in the community. In 2006, the institute assisted the village farmers by providing them legal and technical assistance so they could incorporate and apply for the trade name “Chimayo.”


Soon, I'll be back in California and longing for blue corn enchiladas.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cherries, cherries and chicories

This week, the harbingers of spring are cherries and chicories. The two could not be more different.

The cherries I got are deep red, almost black and they are so sweet and juicy. The chicories are multi-colored greens and maroons with a bitter taste many dislike.

Chicory is known to contain a number of nutritional and health benefits. It is high in Vitamin A, calcium and potassium. It contains iron, niacin, phosphorus, among other minerals. Interestingly, chicory contains inulin. This is very beneficial to diabetics as it helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Chicory is also good for your digestion. So eat up the bitter greens!

Cherries are often called a "super fruit." They are sky high in antioxidants. They're good for your heart and reportedly for your belly too. They reduce belly fat. Of course, most of the research has been done on tart cherries that ripen in about a month, but I think the sweet cherries we get are pretty amazing too.

It seems like spring is super food season.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seasons Come, Seasons Go

With the change in the season, we change our expectations too. All winter long, we eat dark green leaves and bulbs that grow in the dark. These things are packed with the nutrition we need to get us through the cold times. If we have thought and planned ahead, we also have food put away for winter that helps us with the uniform production of winter.

I can tomatoes, fruits and pickles almost every year. It seems like some things I never get enough of to can. For example, I used to pickle beets. Now, I just eat them as fast as I can. I don't get it. I never can cherries but this year, I plan to can some sour ones. Last year, I made enough dill pickles for several years and despite the fact that my family devours olives, we always have yearly carry overs.

I love curing olives. I don't know why. More than any other preservation I do, olive curing really changes the state of the olive. If you've ever eaten an uncured olive, you'll know what I mean. A small black bitter and hard kernel turns into an oily, salty luscious delicacy. It's very satisfying. This year, I dry cured 2 quarts of black olives. In the past, I have cured them in brine. That process takes about 2 months with weekly water changes. Dry curing this year took 10 days!! I then packed the olives in oil that can be used in salad dressing and for cooking.

So, I'm looking forward to the next season of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, full of juices.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring is Here

Wow!! I thought I had posted more recently than this. Many apologies to my members and blog followers.

Spring is really here. I had a friend tell me last week that fava beans are her kryptonite. I guess they make her weak. Me too! I love them so much, I gorge myself until they are no longer in season. I seek them out at farmers' markets. I search for more ways to eat them. Last night on pasta, today in a salad. My favorite is with grilled halloumi and mint. My mouth waters just thinking of these meals. But, alas all my favas are gone for the week.

I am excited about the beginning of the cherry season. Cherry and apricot crisp is my family's favorite dessert. But eating them out of hand, they are irresistible. They, like fava beans, have a short season. My tendency for eating seasonally is to eat the things I love when they are in season until I don't want them any more. Then I'm ready for the next thing. I always want fava beans, cherries, apricots and tomatoes.

I have a friend in Brentwood who grows sour cherries. I think they're Montmorency. Oh man! How I look forward to those.

Hang in there, eaters. More good things are on the way!!