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Marlene

Camping, Princess Style

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Yes it seemed "taller"  than what I think of as foccacia. Yes one can a,ways take the dog for a walk ;)

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A local mill where I live has Red Fife (the mill more or less single-handedly brought back grain-growing in the Maritimes). It does indeed make an unusually flavorful loaf.

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@Smithy I haven't had a chance to get to Barrio Bread yet.  Looks like it's being loved to death, which is good and bad?  There is also another artisan bakery Mediterra that supplies Whole Foods locally in Az.  More info here.  I enjoy the Mediterra bread quite a bit.  Another Tucson recommendation I can make to you is to try a coyota at La Estrella.  Really good with a nice cup of hot coffee or tea.  Coyotas are pretty regional to the SW and Mexico.

 

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34 minutes ago, lemniscate said:

Another Tucson recommendation I can make to you is to try a coyota at La Estrella.  Really good with a nice cup of hot coffee or tea.  Coyotas are pretty regional to the SW and Mexico.

 

Edible Baja Arizona did a nice little article on coyotas a few years ago, with a recipe. 

http://ediblebajaarizona.com/hola-coyota

 

 

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2 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

 

Edible Baja Arizona did a nice little article on coyotas a few years ago, with a recipe. 

http://ediblebajaarizona.com/hola-coyota

 

 

 

I have a copy of that magazine in my collection!  I think there's even recipes for coyotas in there.  Everyone makes them just a little bit different.

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7 minutes ago, lemniscate said:

I have a copy of that magazine in my collection! 

 

I love Edible Baja Arizona! I know @Smithy has picked up a copy of two in the past. But the last I heard they weren't publishing anymore or not on a regular basis anyway. Do you know anything about their publishing status? I could search online for info, but if you already know.... 

 

We don't live here year round, but when we were here I used to always try and get a free copy whenever the new ones came out. (Maybe if I had bought a subscription, it would have helped them more!) 

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Thank you for that information, @lemniscate and @FauxPas - I'd never even heard of coyotas before now! They sound tasty. I'll have to keep an eye out for them. And yes, there is a recipe for coyotas in that Edible Baja article. FauxPas, it looks from their web site as though they aren't publishing any more although back issues can still be purchased. It's a shame; I also liked that magazine - but like you, I relied on picking up free copies when I was around here. If I make it to Phoenix, lemiscate, I'll see if I can find some Mediterra bread. We've driven past a Whole Foods in Tucson, but I've never shopped there.

 

There are more stories to tell, but I'm headed out the door for the evening. With any luck, this evening's event will also lead to some stories!

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1 hour ago, Smithy said:

With any luck, this evening's event will also lead to some stories!

 

Oh, I know it will!  🌟🌙

 

I am somewhat regretting not joining you tonight, but I had a busy day with a quilt course and a luncheon and wasn't sure I would have energy for tonight's expedition. But I am very much looking forward to hearing about things! I hope you guys have a fabulous time! 

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22 hours ago, chromedome said:

A local mill where I live has Red Fife (the mill more or less single-handedly brought back grain-growing in the Maritimes). It does indeed make an unusually flavorful loaf.

 

 

Do you have any firsthand experience you can share with me on working with this flour? Mine's in a mixture of flours. I plan to try using it as I would any bread flour, but if it has peculiarities it wouldn't hurt for me to have some advance guidance. Not that I'm above taking leaps into the cooking void...anyone who's watched me cook knows this....xD

 

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If you want a good culinary guide in Tucson, it's hard to go wrong with @FauxPas:D

 

After some back-and-forth about schedules and venues, we arranged to meet for dinner at Barrio Brewing Company. It features artisan beers, burgers and other foods. We had considered some slightly more upscale places, but the idea of needing a reservation seemed a bit much.

 

20181116_110604-1.jpg

 

When we arrived, FauxPas and Mr. FauxPas were already there with a porter for him and a cider for her. A generous platter of artichoke-spinach spread, with chips, was at the center of the table. The menu was coy about what else was in the spread, but the garnish of chopped tomato (was there also avocado? I've forgotten) dressed up the dish nicely. I think the men more or less ignored the appetizer. That was no problem, as it left more for FauxPas and me.

 

My darling and I sampled beers and tried to work out what we wanted. We all talked. We perused the menus. We talked more. My darling chose a hefeweizen, and I followed Mr. FauxPas' example and chose the porter. We talked more. The waitress kept drifting by to see whether we were ready, but we were in no particular hurry. At least, my darling and I weren't. I hope the FauxPases weren't starving!

 

Eventually we were ready, except that I kept changing my mind. Teasing from Mr. FauxPas as I changed my order by the time the waitress had gone round the table! A Southwestern burger for me (with avocado, and Hatch chile), a Sonoran dog for FauxPas. The men chose other burgers. A side of onion rings went into the middle of the table. This isn't much of a picture. We were too busy talking and eating for me to document the dinner as faithfully as I might have.

 

20181116_110540-1.jpg

 

Did I mention that we talked? And we laughed. And we ate. Of course we discussed food, but we also roamed freely among topics ourside the eGullet scope. You'll just have to wonder what we talked about. Oh, except for this linguistic tidbit....I wondered whether there was a business link between Barrio Brewing and Barrio Bread. There isn't. The term "Barrio", which means "neighborhood" in Spanish, turns up frequently in Tucson businesses. It apparently doesn't carry the same racial and ethnic connotation that I associate with East L.A. Either that, or the term is being redeemed into common usage.

 

The burgers were good, and FauxPas seemed to like her Sonoran dog. We lingered over our dinner until it was time to go, then loaded up to-go boxes for the leftovers. And now you know the story behind my breakfast the next morning, shown here.

 

Many thanks for a lovely evening, FauxPas and Mr. F! (Next time, dinner's on us. :D)

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How wonderful that you could meet up!  It is nice to put a face to the name

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43 minutes ago, Smithy said:

Many thanks for a lovely evening, FauxPas and Mr. F!

 

It was lovely to see you again! We really enjoyed connecting up again and hope to see you in the Spring! 

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I, too, wondered if the Barrio name was a connection :)  Thanks for answering that with your ESP.

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3 hours ago, Smithy said:

 

 

Do you have any firsthand experience you can share with me on working with this flour? Mine's in a mixture of flours. I plan to try using it as I would any bread flour, but if it has peculiarities it wouldn't hurt for me to have some advance guidance. Not that I'm above taking leaps into the cooking void...anyone who's watched me cook knows this....xD

 

Just do what you do, I doubt you'll see much difference (especially if it's mixed with other flours).

What I used was stoneground whole wheat, so of course it was a bit weaker than a bread flour or a Canadian all-purpose flour. I probably added a bit of vital wheat gluten to compensate, but I don't really remember now. It's been a few years. I'm currently the only consistent bread-eater in the household, so I don't play around with it much anymore.

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On 11/17/2018 at 7:08 PM, FauxPas said:

I am somewhat regretting not joining you tonight, but I had a busy day with a quilt course and a luncheon and wasn't sure I would have energy for tonight's expedition. But I am very much looking forward to hearing about things! I hope you guys have a fabulous time! 

 

I'm afraid you didn't miss much. I went alone, and it's a good thing: my darling wouldn't have enjoyed himself at all. Much too much walking, on dimly-lit pathways, with long lines and - all too often - nothing left by the time I got there. It wasn't a total bust, but I doubt you'd have thought it worth the drive and the ticket cost. I doubt I'd go again.

 

(Caveat: this is long! Sorry! I'm not willing to break it into two posts now.)

 

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum held its first-ever Sonoran Harvest "Taste the Desert" food festival last night. Since we first began visiting here, I've read about their occasional evening events - wine under the stars, chances to see the animals in the evening when they're typically more active, and so on. This event was billed as a celebration of local foods - with, of course, the wine and beer and animals. It happens that our campground is quite close to the ASDM. There was no way I would miss this event!

 

I arrived promptly at the 6:30 opening, along with what seemed half the population of Tucson. Each person received a map and a schedule, and if s/he'd paid the extra for beer tasting, also received a 4-oz tasting cup to be carried along. Our tickets allowed 6 food tastings, 4 beer tastings and 2 full-bar drinks. (There was also a tequila tasting, but I hadn't paid for that.) Here's the map of the ground to be covered...

 

20181118_175749.jpg

 

...and the schedule of events.

 

20181118_175834.jpg

 

I waited for some time in line for chips and salsa, never made it through, decided to go to visit the animals as they received their special puzzle-treats. That was at one end of the park (item 10). The other end of the park, with most of the food items (4, 5, 6 and so on) is a brisk 10 minute walk for someone who knows where she's going. With dimly-lit pathways and the usual wrong turns in that maze, it was more like 15 minutes. The stars were gorgeous, I will say! When I arrived at the food end of the park, the lines were still very long but some stands were already running out of food. I was able to use 3 of my 4 beer-tasting tickets. I enjoyed Dragoon Brewing's Stronghold Session Ale (I got the very last sample, at around 8 p.m.) and Catalina Brewing Company's La Rosa, with its hint of prickly pear fruit. Catalina's Mesquite Agave was another story. The beauty of tastings like this is that I didn't have to buy a glass to find out I didn't like it!

 

Most of the foods I tried were mystifying as to what made them special. The Sonoran hot dog was simply a run-of-the-mill dog in a run-of-the-mill bun, with run-of-the-mill pinto beans. The Sonoran dog as described by FauxPas is a different animal altogether.

 

20181118_181900.jpg

 

I asked the gentleman serving "turkey sliders" what made them uniquely Sonoran. He made a face. "Well," he said, "we've run out of the special ingredient that made it Sonoran." He couldn't remember whether it was agave or prickly pear or chipotle, nor could he remember what had been done with it. Jelly? Syrup? I never found out. What I got was just chunks of turkey in barbecue sauce, placed on a small burger bun. I didn't finish it.

 

All that said, there were some brilliant moments that kept the evening from being a total bust. There was a chef competition (no special punch tickets needed) among 4 local dining establishments. The public was invited to come sample and vote. By the time I found the place at around 8:15, 1 table had run out of material and closed. Voting was no longer an option. Another table had left samples of some sliced bread with toasted pepitas scattered over some sauce. It was okay, but nothing to write home about.

 

Then there were two marvelous creations, with wonderful staff to go with it!

 

Prickly pear caramel flan, from Welcome Diner. Luscious, lovely stuff. I want to try caramelizing prickly pear syrup to see if I can get close. I wanted to go back for more, but given the short supply I restrained myself.

 

20181118_174310.jpg

 

At the next table was the Ciao Down Food Truck entry. This food truck is a roving pizza joint. Everything is handmade, from the dough up. The owner began his professional career as a brewer, and then moved into baking. He uses champagne yeast for his dough fermentation, does 2-3 day retarded ferments. His passion for his work shone through every sentence, even after their booth had closed and I accosted them outside with more questions.

 

20181118_174812-1.jpg

 

This picture doesn't do the food justice. I meant to take a "money shot" after I'd bitten into the appetizer, but my fingers were too gooey to work the phone. It's a play on their "Snake Bite" Pizza. Under the microgreens was a crispy sealed pouch of mesquite puff pastry. Inside it was a shot of raspberry chipotle jam, a touch of jalapeño, mozzarella and cream cheese. Prickly pear jam lined the bottom of the plate. The microgreens were cilantro, IIRC. It was brilliant - and delicious, with just a slight surprise sting of heat that was tamed by the cheeses and sweet sauce. I think I did go back for another of these. I asked later about the puff pastry. Yes, he'd made it from scratch. Yes, it was from mesquite flour. He showed a picture of the pastry rolled out to a thickness that would make a strudel chef weep with envy, just as the dough circles were being cut. This isn't one of their normal products; it was a flier for this event. It was brilliant, I tell you. I hope they took first place.

 

If you have a chance to find the Ciao Down Food Truck (they post their route on Facebook), make a point of tracking them down.

 

There was music nearby, and although I never reached the head of the line to try the dessert bar, it would have been overkill after the excellence of the samples above. The fun was that a musical duo played Mississippi Delta-style blues and they were resonating with a couple that danced beautifully together. Everyone else stood back and admired the dancing and music. There's a deep magic that comes, as a rare gift, when one is playing music and truly connecting with other musicians and/or the audience, and I think the same must hold true of other live performances. It doesn't happen every time. This was one of those times. I loved being there for it, even though I'm not crazy about the blues!

 

20181118_174049.jpg

 

Finally, I stumbled onto some fascinating information booths. The best was this woman who demonstrated just how easy it is to preserve the desert harvest with a pot, a pillowcase and a propane torch. She showed how to gently torch the prickles off a cholla so that the buds can be harvested. It turns out that cholla is very high in calcium while being zero-fat or cholesterol. (Hmm, maybe I'll try some of my dried ciolim again.) She had mesquite pods and talked about how to make mesquite flour (from the pods, not the beans) or mesquite syrup (from boiling and crushing it all, then letting it steep and straining it). We talked about the good mesquite and the not-so-good mesquite. All the pods are edible, but the local Velvet Mesquite, Texas' Honey Mesquite, and the Screwbean Mesquite are the best. When in doubt, break and taste a ripe, dried pod. If you like the flavor, harvest it. If not, don't.

 

20181118_174541.jpg

 

The prickly pear fruits are the most intriguing to me. She had two ways of treating them: (1) boil the tunas, then strain through a pillowcase and discard the solids, or (2) freeze them, then let them thaw and drain through a strainer for a few days. The juice is a beautiful, deep magenta. I want to try this. She gave me her husband's recipe for prickly pear ice cream, and I'm eager to try it!

 

So...despite the initial kvetching, I'm glad I went. Once. 


Edited by Smithy Spelling: cholla buds are "ciolim" not chollim (log)
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That is NOT a Sonoran dog, I don't know what that is, but it ain't what they claimed it to be.

 

I've dabbled with the mesquite flour.  Not too many people seem to like the flavor it imparts.  I found putting it with molasses in cookies seems to help the flavor become "more mainstream" for a larger audience.

 

I pick the prickly pear tunas yearly.  I would flame them and then scrub/peel/seed/slice.  Processing them can look like a murder scene.  Red, red juice everywhere.  Last year I just boiled and strained into juice.  I use the juice for straight drinking and prickly pear cocktails.  I bought a steam juicer this year to try, but I missed my best patch of fruit and may not get any juice this year.  Shame, I wanted to try the steam juicer, I found a vintage enameled steel one that works on my induction plate.

 

I have had 10% success and 90% failure on the "Culinary events" also.  Running out of food seems very common, and during the winter the population swells and the crowds are astounding around these parts.  I've given up on them.

 

One other way that was accidentally stumbled upon for removing the glochids ( the evil tiny thorns on the fruit) was by a local arboretum.  They were giving a processing class and the day before picked a bunch of tunas and put them in a large cooler on top of ice with a towel between the tunas and the ice.  The next day when they opened the cooler, they found the glochids had essentially disappeared off the the fruit.  It was posited that the high humidity overnight in the cooler softened the glochids and fell off.  I have not tested this personally.  

 

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Glochids!  That's the new word I got that night, and had forgotten. Thank you, @lemniscate

 

Do you know whether the cholla fruit is edible? I don't see much made about cholla fruit as opposed to prickly pear fruit. I've asked locals mearby and they don't know. They also don't know whether it turns color when it's ripe. 

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Here's a couple of less-than-great photos I took during one visit to El Guero Canelo. Sonoran Dog is a quality frank wrapped with bacon and grilled, served inside a bolillo bun, with toppings of tomato, pinto beans, onions and condiments including mayo, mustard, a jalapeno sauce, maybe some cheese. A hot pepper on the side. 

 

IMGP1925.thumb.jpg.9cca239db4ace19d64fde92fcc904396.jpg

 

IMGP1924.thumb.jpg.1b8af98a87e3897541a3ed2fcd8fd64e.jpg

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1 hour ago, Smithy said:

I don't see much made about cholla fruit as opposed to prickly pear fruit.

 

Yeah, it seems it's the cholla's buds that are most important. Maybe because the buds are available in Spring and the fruit ripens later when the other desert fruit are also available. I have the Desert Harvesters book, Eat Mesquite and More and the emphasis is definitely on the buds for culinary purposes. However, they do talk about the fruit for medicinal purposes.

 

Quote

 

The fruit pulp's main attribute is its cooling energy. Simple gather the fruit, peel and mash. The mashed pulp can be applied to burns, bites, stings, or heat rash with a thin cloth or directly poulticed onto the skin. 

[...]

Diluted in water, it can be sipped to alleviate heat stroke. 

 

 

So, it's edible, but not sure how often it's used in a culinary manner. I'm sure someone else will know more.

 

The root is also attributed some medicinal properties.  


Edited by FauxPas to add to quote (log)
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1 hour ago, Smithy said:

Glochids!  That's the new word I got that night, and had forgotten. Thank you, @lemniscate

 

Do you know whether the cholla fruit is edible? I don't see much made about cholla fruit as opposed to prickly pear fruit. I've asked locals mearby and they don't know. They also don't know whether it turns color when it's ripe. 

 

I had just recently become aware that the cholla buds and the ocotillo flowers are edible and supposedly used by the First Peoples in the area.  To me this is very recent news.   I won't go near a teddy bear cholla with a 10 20 foot pole.  Chollas I fear.  Nature can keep those buds.

 


Edited by lemniscate typo (log)
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7 minutes ago, lemniscate said:

I had just recently become aware that the cholla buds and the ocotillo flowers are edible and supposedly used by the First Peoples in the area.  To me this is very recent news.   I won't go near a teddy bear cholla with a 10 20 foot pole.  Chollas I fear.  Nature can keep those buds.

 

I'm with you on that one!  🙂 

 

I used to buy cholla buds from Desert Rain Cafe in Sells, AZ when it was still open (and they used them in some of their dishes), but I don't really like the texture. And I don't think I would want to harvest the buds or the fruit! A friend of ours recently took a spill off his bike into a cholla and he was still picking the results out of his skin weeks later. 


Edited by FauxPas (log)
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For Prickly Pear juice, a man I know just freezes the tuna (fruit). After harvesting, he freezes them for 48 hours, then leaves them on top of a triple-cheesecloth-lined colander over a pot and they break down as they thaw and the juice collects in the pot. He applies some pressure to increase the yield, if necessary, then does a final straining through a coffee filter. (This is also a method that is recommended in Eat Mesquite and More.)

 

We're not in town at optimal harvest time and we have a cactus ranch nearby which sells the pure juice, unsweetened. Arizona Cactus Ranch sells their Prickly Pear nectar in a few different stores around town. It's pricey, but we find a small amount can go quite a long way.  

 

Here is his graphic of the process:

 

646884173_PricklyPearJuicebyFreezing.thumb.jpg.896da0e3a6f006cb014d409857fa59a9.jpg

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News flash, @Smithy. I just found out that the Tohono O'odham people are reopening Desert Rain Café this weekend! But they are going to be even further from Tucson this time, in Ajo instead of Sells, AZ. Still, I will make the drive, Ajo is a fairly cool little town. Maybe we can meet up there in the Spring, especially if you are interested in going through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument? Someone there can probably answer questions on cholla and other things. :D  I'm really hoping they will still be selling saguaro syrup! 

 

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I love Ajo! We always pass through it without spending time there except possibly in a grocery store parking lot. This might be the incentive I need to get us back to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument for a few days so I can make that trip. Thanks for the information!

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10 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 

Yeah, it seems it's the cholla's buds that are most important. Maybe because the buds are available in Spring and the fruit ripens later when the other desert fruit are also available. I have the Desert Harvesters book, Eat Mesquite and More and the emphasis is definitely on the buds for culinary purposes. However, they do talk about the fruit for medicinal purposes.

 

 

So, it's edible, but not sure how often it's used in a culinary manner. I'm sure someone else will know more.

 

The root is also attributed some medicinal properties.  

 

 

I looked at "Eat Mesquite and More" today and thought about buying it, but decided I was kidding myself that I'd get much use from it given our normal locations. I'm glad to know you find it useful.

 

10 hours ago, lemniscate said:

 

I had just recently become aware that the cholla buds and the ocotillo flowers are edible and supposedly used by the First Peoples in the area.  To me this is very recent news.   I won't go near a teddy bear cholla with a 10 20 foot pole.  Chollas I fear.  Nature can keep those buds.

 

I didn't know that about ocotillo flowers! Do tell more, please!

 

10 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 

I'm with you on that one!  🙂 

 

I used to buy cholla buds from Desert Rain Cafe in Sells, AZ when it was still open (and they used them in some of their dishes), but I don't really like the texture. And I don't think I would want to harvest the buds or the fruit! A friend of ours recently took a spill off his bike into a cholla and he was still picking the results out of his skin weeks later. 

 

 

Yeah, the chollas have wicked-good protection. The roads around here have such thorny vegetation on the verge that it's a bit intimidating for cycling, and we don't marvel that cowboys would need chaps. Nonetheless I've been exposed to cholla buds ("ciolim" by the natives) due to buying them dried at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. I've tried them a few times and been unimpressed, but after the Sonoran Desert Harvest festival I'll try to find uses for the remainders.

 

FauxPas, the poster shows almost exactly the steps that were described as one way of getting prickly pear juice. Thanks for that. It helps reinforce my memory of what Mrs. Allen, the demonstrator last night, told me.

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