A Blogging Hiatus Mode

I want to let you readers know that my blog will be on hiatus for a while. Lately I have been busy with so many things outside the blogging, it burns me out. Choices are not always easily made, and the decision to put my personal blog on hiatus came hard. Apologies to all readers, but life has been so hectic that it is nice to be able to have a breather once and a while. Please, feel free to visit my blog until life allows Zoom’s Edible Plants to be revived. I want to thank each and every person who has read my blog, followed my ups and downs, commented publicly, privately, or simply sent good wishes along the way. I’ve appreciated your time, and hope to see you again soon. Hope you all stay subscribed because I will be back, eventually…

Have a wonderful day!

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Be Skeptical but Don’t Close your Mind

The prophecies about the year 2012 we attribute to the Mayans have their root in the writings of one Mayan philosopher, Pacal Votan, also known as the Sage King of the Classic Maya. Votan predicted that December 21, 2012 will mark the end of the evolutionary cycle which we now know. Although this prediction often gets translated into an “end of days” prophecy, Votan’s prediction is actually a bit more complex. The Mayans believed that evolution happens in a 26,000 year cycle, roughly the amount of time it takes the Earth to spend about 2152 years in each of the Mayan astrological signs. When this cycle is complete, according to Votan, a “new world” will be created, with different evolutionary characteristics.

There are clues that the Mayans took the findings of Votan very seriously and went to great lengths to leave behind evidence of their beliefs about 2012 for future generations, so that mankind could begin to prepare for the date. As an interesting side bar, it should be noted that the Mayans also left writings suggesting that they believed the Earth had been through these transitions at least four times before. What we believe we understand about the history of civilization is in direct opposition to the Mayan take on history. The Mayans believed that four worlds with their own history and civilizations preceded our own.Pacal Votan and the Mayans are most closely associated with December 21, 2012 prophecies, but they are not the only culture to believe that this day holds special significance.

Aborigines, Hopis, Cherokees, Essenes, Egyptians, Kabbalists, Qeros, Navajos and the Dogon tribe all have similar prophesies regarding a 26,000 year evolutionary cycle and the end of that cycle on 2012. Some cultures have a more “doomsday” nature to their prophesies than the Mayans. Even some Christian groups believe that December 21, 2012 will be the Judgment Day mentioned in the Bible. It’s evident that this belief is widespread, but is it true? As one can imagine, there are many people who call the claims of the Mayans into question; or rather, they call modern interpretations of Mayan writings into question. First, the skeptics point out that some interpreters might be adding two and two and coming up with five when they are reading Mayan writings.

Although the Mayans devised a Calendar that ended on December 21, 2012, and although Mayan hieroglyphics suggest they believed in a doomsday, the link between these two facts are not entirely conclusive. Some think the Mayan calendar ends when it does for no other reason than someone simply decided that was enough. Skeptics also point to the fact that there are disagreements even among the believers on what will happen that day. Some people think life will cease to exist, and some people think life will simply transition into a new world.

Further, skeptics question why we should take the prophecies of the Mayans any more seriously than any other ancient civilization. People have been mining the writings of ancient cultures for years looking for clues about the future, and so far, all other predictions proven to be false. Why should the Mayan writings be any different? The Mayans never suggested that the world would end with a bang on December 21, 2012, but rather that that date would be the culmination of several years of events in which the world and mankind was changing.
Source: Lovetoknow -By Heather McDonald

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Genipapo /Genip/Genipa americana

The Hair Dye You Can Eat
Huito fruit grows across the Caribbean and all the way down to Peru. When ripe, it’s popular as a flavor for preserves and ice cream, but when it’s still green the geniposidic acid it contains makes a tenacious dye when it oxidizes, dyeing anything it touches a rich blue-black. It’s popular for both temporary tattoos and hair color, and it makes a gentle alternative to henna or indigo. So if you’re looking for lush black hair color without chemical dyes, pop by your specialty grocery and see if they have any Huito. If you can’t find the fruit but want to try the dye anyway, you can also buy huito extract (it’s sometimes also called jagua) in many health food stores.

The genipap is native to wet or moist areas of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and from Guadeloupe to Trinidad; also from southern Mexico to Panama, and from Colombia and Venezuela to Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Its usefulness to the Indians was reported by several European writers in Brazil in the 16th Century. It is widely cultivated in dooryards as an ornamental tree and for its fruits, but Patiño stated in 1967 that it was no longer as commonly grown in the Cauca Valley of Colombia as it had been in the past. The tree first fruited in the Philippines in 1913 and is occasionally planted there. Otherwise, it is virtually unknown in the Old World. Burkill wrote that it had been tried in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula several times but without success. It is reported in Brazil that there are varieties that bear all year. There is a shrubby form, jenipaporana, or jenipapo-bravo, no more than 10 to 13 ft (3-4 m) high, that grows in swamps along the edges of rivers and lakes in Brazil. The fruit is small and inedible.

Genipap is a small to medium-sized tropical tree. It is 8 to 20 m tall, but specimens of up to 30 meters are also found. The diameter of the trunk is 30 to 80 cm and it has thick, smooth bark. It has a dense crown and the lower branches grow more or less horizontal, with 10 to 35 cm leaves at the ends. In most of Amazon Basin the trees flower in May to September and give fruit between September and April. It takes up to one year for the fruits to mature. In most trees, bees pollinate the flowers. Its fruit is a large, rounded berry, which is 9 to 15 cm long, 7 to 9 cm wide, weighing between 200 and 400 g. It has a thin and leathery covering and a 1 to 2 cm thick layer of soft, yellow-brown pulp. The central cavity contains up to 300 seeds, enclosed in membranes. The fruit is edible only when overripe and soft to the touch, when the flavor (acid to subacid) resembles that of dried apples or quinces.

In Puerto Rico, the fruit is cut up and put in a pitcher of water with sugar added to make a summer drink like lemonade. Sometimes it is allowed to ferment slightly. A bottled concentrate is served with shaved ice by street vendors. In the Philippines, also, the fruit is used to make cool drinks, as well as jelly, sherbet and ice cream. The flesh is sometimes added as a substitute for commercial pectin to aid the jelling of low-pectin fruit juices. Rural Brazilians prepare sweet preserves, sirup, a soft drink, genipapada, wine, and a potent liqueur from the fruits. Analyses made in the Philippines many years ago show the following values for the edible portion (70%) of the fruit: protein, 0.51%; carbohydrates, 11.21%; sugar, 4.30%; ash, 0.20%; malic acid, 0.63%.

The fruit is eaten as a remedy for jaundice in El Salvador. Ingested in quantity, it is said to act as a vermifuge. The fruit juice is given as a diuretic. It is a common practice in Puerto Rico to cut up the fruits, steep them in water until there is a little fermentation, then add flavoring and drink the infusion as a cold remedy. The crushed green fruit and the bark decoction are applied on venereal sores and pharyngitis. The root decoction is a strong purgative. The seeds are crushed and added to water and taken as an emetic in Brazil. When cut, the bark exudes a whitish, sweetish gum which is diluted and used as an eyewash and is claimed to alleviate corneal opacities. The juice expressed from the leaves is commonly given as a febrifuge in Central America. The flower decoction is taken as a tonic and febrifuge.

Pepperidge Farm, which, for seven years, had used artificial colorants in its colored goldfish, switched to natural dyes in July 2010. The colored goldfish are now brightened with Huito juice concentrate, annatto extract, beet juice concentrate, paprika extract, paprika, turmeric extract, and watermelon juice concentrate, instead of blue 2, red 40, red 3 and blue 1. (There is a banner on the new bags with “Colors From Natural Ingredients” written.)

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Colorful, flavorful, healthy: Root Vegetables

Historically root vegetables were fare for peasants and the poor. It’s surprising that the nobility and elite didn’t hoard all of that delicious beauty for themselves. In general, root vegetables have no fat and are low in calories. They can be an excellent source of protein, and their phytonutrients are proven to have extraordinary health benefits. Besides that, root vegetables are low in fat and calories, inexpensive and usually available throughout the year.

Traditionally, many cooks serve root vegetables doused in butter or swimming in rich cream sauces. Fortunately, these vegetables also taste great when they are prepared more healthfully, for example stir-fried or baked. Simply toss with a touch of olive oil and add a fresh or dried herb of your choice (dill and thyme are favorites). A splash of orange or lemon juice or flavored vinegar adds refreshing notes when vegetable are steamed or micro waved. Another option is to play up their sweetness by roasting with some dried fruit or spooning reduced-sugar orange marmalade or other jam onto the cooked vegetables.

Enjoy your roots!!!

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Arazá/Araca Boi /Eugenia stipitata

A wonder from the Amazonas! Araza is an extremely rare New World fruit that is not widely known even in Amazonia Brazil where it is native. Eugenia stipitata includes two subspecies: stipitata, from the state of Acre in Brazil, and so/ via, which is more widely distributed from the basin of the Ucayali River in Peru. The latter seems to have been semi-domesticated in western Amazonia, although it may have originated in the southeastern portion of Amazonia. The arazá must have undergone a long process of selection by the Amerindian communities, as can be deduced from the large size of the fruit which, within the cultivated material, can be as large as 12 cm in diameter and 740 g in weight, compared with the wild populations which do not exceed 7 cm in diameter and 30 g in weight. The species is still in the full process of domestication. The two institutions which have worked most on this fruit are INIAP’s experimental station of San Roque in Iquitos, Peru, and INPA in Manaus, Brazil.

Today, the araza is cultivated on small properties throughout the basin of the Solimoes (Alto Amazonas), not as a commercial crop but as part of the complex mosaic of crops characteristic of the traditional agriculture of the region. It is relatively common on the town markets of Tefe, which is midway between Manaus and Iquitos. Arazá is used to make juices, soft drinks, ice-cream. preserves and desserts. The fruit is rarely eaten raw because of its acidity (pH 2.4 in the case of the juice). Unlike camucamu (Myrciaria dubia), more than 20 percent of whose fresh weight is represented by 2 percent of ascorbic acid. arazá’s potential is due to its intrinsic characteristics as a fruit: pleasant flavour, colour, texture and smell. The nutritional value of araza is very similar to that of oranges, with the exception of the vitamin C content which is more than double in araza.

The arazá is a shrub or small tree which grows up to 2.5 m. with a fair degree of branching from the base. The leaves are simple, opposite, elliptical to slightly oval and measure 6 to 18 x 3.5 to 9.5 cm. The apex is acuminate, the base rounded to subcordate and the primary and secondary nervations are fairly evident. The inflorescences are in axillary racemes, usually with two to five flowers which are 1 cm wide and pedicillate, have four rounded sepals and five white, oval petals. There are numerous stamens and an ovary with three or tour locules. The fruit is a subspherical berry, reaching 12 cm in diameter and weighing 750 g w hen ripe; the flesh is yellow and thin; the skin is shiny. velvety and yellow, with few seeds which are oblong and measure up to 2.5 cm. The subspecies stipitata has fewer stamens and an arboreal habit, whereas the subspecies sororia has a shrub habit and has more stamens.

Arazá Jam

Clean fruit and remove inner flesh and seeds. Cut into smallish chunks, about 1 inch long by 1/2 inch wide. Measure by weight or by volume. Place in pot. Araza is a very juicy fruit and doesn’t need water added. It does need sugar. Use 60% sugar by weight, for example 5 lbs of fruit and 3 lbs of sugar. Put on stove and heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a nice low boil. Araza, and many other fruits, will produce a foamy froth in the initial stage of the cooking process.

This froth will discolour the finished jam, always remove it with a spoon. It is excellent in cookies or for baking and one can make sorbet with it. Put the froth in a glass and when it cools a little some juice will settle to the bottom, pour this back into the jam. At some point, perhaps 15 minutes after you begin, the froth will stop and the texture of the jam will change. The boil will not be so asctive as the mixture begins to thicken. The characteristic plop plip sound of bubbling jam will be heard. The colour will begin to deepen too. Turn the heat down, and stir more frequently. After 7 minutes or so, begin to test the jam on a metal spoon. You are looking for a skin to form on the surface.

Keep testing. Soon – though this takes a little experience, you will see just the point of readiness: the jam is thicker and when you move the spoon or ladle slowly through it, the ladle will push the jam ahead of it out of the way rather than simply moving through the liquid. Or as you move the jam you will be able, for an instant, to see the bottom of the pot behind the ladle. If the jam on the ladle is forming even the slightest of skins, turn off the heat and wait for a minute or two: a skin should form on the surface of the pot. The jam is now ready and can be ladled into freshly boiled (for 10 minutes)jars. Fill to within a half inch of the top, carefully clean the rim and outside edge of the jar, screw on the freshly boiled jar lid and set aside.

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100,000 Visitors! – A Special Thank You.

My blog seems to have reached 100,000 hits. I’d like to take a moment to thank absolutely everybody who has been a friend to this page. It’s nice to know that there are so many people out there who care as much as I do reading about the Pre-Columbian Era Domesticated Plants. I hope you liked and enjoyed my blog and decide to become a follower. And as for my commentators – a big thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments here on Zooms.
Some of the most viewed pages, besides the home page (which changes with every new post) include: ( Please click on the image to be redirected )

Atta laevigata————————-Theobroma cacao——————-Puya alpestris

I appreciate you stopping by. Have a wonderful day!

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March is Women Month

National Women’s History Month’s roots go back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories staged a protest over working conditions. International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be commemorated the second week of March. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month. Every year since, Congress has passed a resolution for Women’s History Month, and the President has issued a proclamation.

In the early nineteenth century, women were considered second-class citizens whose existence was limited to the interior life of the home and care of the children. Women did not have the right to vote or own property, but they had to worked side by side with their husbands. On top of that, when they became widows the courts denied theirs inheritance. What a shame! Nineteenth century’s women had their self-confidence and self-respect destroyed and were expected to be willing to lead hopeless lives totally dependent on men.

Women activists trying to get the right to vote were called suffragists. The first woman’s rights convention was in Seneca Falls, N. Y. in 1848. The Seneca Falls convention brought together two hundred women and forty men, including the organizer feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She included in the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions a right to suffrage (that is, to vote), and it was not even taken seriously. The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments began with these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal”. One of the main leaders of the women’s suffrage movement was Susan B. Anthony. In 1869, Anthony and Stanton organized the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) to work for a federal constitutional amendment, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote. It would take 72 years after that first women’s rights convention before women were allowed to vote. In that time, many individuals would crusade for women’s right to vote. Victory came in the form of a constitutional amendment.

International Women’s Day is a time for women around the world to commemorate their struggles and celebrate their achievements. This International event on March 8th provides an opportunity to women across the world that is divided by culture, language, and social barriers to unite as a whole about the struggles they all face. Women’s History Month officially started in March 2000 by order of President Clinton when he signed a presidential proclamation highlighting women of the past and future.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894) Social reformer, suffragist, and publisher of the temperance paper The Lily. She was born in Homer, New York, in 1818. Though she herself was only formally-educated for two years, she taught school and was thought remarkably intelligent by her peers. At age twenty-two, in 1840, she married lawyer Dexter Bloomer. By his encouragement, Amelia began writing articles in support of prohibition and women’s rights for his paper, The Seneca Falls Courier. Her interests led her to join several temperance groups and women’s rights organizations in the Seneca Falls area, even taking her to the famous Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

Antoinette Louisa Brown (1825-1921) ¬ Social reformer, abolitionist and suffragist, she was the nation’s first ordained female minister, one of the first American women to attend college, and an author of books on evolution and social theory. She was born May 20, 1825, in Henrietta, New York, the seventh of Abigail Morse and Joseph Brown’s ten children. The family had a strong religious tradition. Together they frequented the Protestant revivals of Charles Grandison Finney in Rochester, New York. Blackwell’s pious leanings were evident at an early age when the nine-year old girl asked to become a member of the family’s Congregational Church. As Blackwell’s faith grew, her mother and minister encouraged her to become a foreign missionary. Even though such a profession was unheard-of for a young woman at that time, Blackwell harbored the dream of becoming a minister.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940), is one of history’s great rebels. An anarchist and prolific writer and lecturer, she led strikes, planned for revolution, and espoused sexual freedom. Her essays scoff at the idea that woman suffrage would eliminate corruption or help women find emancipation. They also focus attention on the economic basis of prostitution and espoused women’s rights to birth control at a time when disseminating information about contraception violated obscenity laws.

Linda Chavez-Thompson, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO since 1995, is the first person of color to hold an executive office of that union. The daughter of Mexican American sharecroppers, Chavez-Thompson worked as an agricultural laborer and then served as a union representative and translator. She rose through the ranks at AFSCME, becoming vice president in 1988, before being hired by the AFL-CIO. She also serves as the vice chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.

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Murtilla/Tazziberry/Ugni Molinae

Ugni molinae is a shrub native to Chile and adjacent regions of southern Argentina. The Mapuche native american name is “Uñi”, and Spanish names include “Murta” and “Murtilla” (“little myrtle”); and the “Ugni” is also sometimes known as “Chilean guava” (it is related to the Guava, though not closely so; and really is more like a small cranberry). Some commercial “strawberry flavouring” is made from this species, not from strawberries. They make the best jelly in the world and you have Queen Victoria’s word for it. It had been introduced to England in 1844 and became a favorite fruit of Queen Victoria. The processed fruits are beginning to enter the world markets. In its natural habitat; the Valdivian temperate rain forest the fruit matures in autumn from March to May. New growth is bronze and burgundy. But it’s those tasty berries for which the Chilean guava is beloved.

This lovely evergreen has shiny, fragrant foliage that tells you it’s a member of the myrtle family. Though, it is not related to the cranberry (which the small red berries resemble ). The delicious 3/4″ fruits have a wild strawberry taste. It was first described by Juan Ignacio Molina (hence its name) in 1782. It is grown as an ornamental plant. The fruit (“Ugniberry”) is cultivated to a small extent. The usage of the fruit in cuisine is limited to Southern Chile where it grows. The Ugniberry is known as “New Zealand cranberry” in New Zealand and marketed as the “Tazziberry” in Australia, but it is not a native plant to these countries.

Ugni is a shrub 30-170 cm tall, with evergreen foliage. The leaves are opposite, oval, 1-2 cm long and 1-1.5 cm broad, entire, glossy dark green. The leaves produce a spicy scent if crushed. The plant produces drooping flowers, 1 cm in diameter, with four to five white to pale pink petals with numerous short stamens. The berry is a small red, white or purple berry 1 cm in diameter. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The usage of the berries in cuisine is limited to southern Chile where it grows. It is used to make the traditional liqueur Murtado, jam, dessert and cakes.

The Chilean Guava was very popular in the 1800’s in England, but only recently has begun to regain popularity and use as a fruiting and ornamental plant. Chilean guava berries are, like mulberries, the fruit equivalent of fresh peas – it’s hard to get beyond just popping them in as sweets, and for the first year or two when the harvest is modest there’s simply nothing better to eat fresh in the garden in winter. The berries are also particularly fine in preserves. Try making a delicious and colourful jam, as well as the jelly that was Queen Victoria’s favourite. One way to eating them is by making murta con membrillo, a very popular Chilean pudding made by simmering together quince and the little berries.

To make your own, begin by pouring about 1.4 litres of water into a pan with 150g caster sugar, 75g clear honey and 3 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to a simmer as you prepare the fruit. Quarter, peel and core about 4 quinces, tipping them into the water as each one is ready to stop them from browning. Simmer for at least an hour until the quince start to feel tender when pierced with a knife (this may take up to 2 hours, depending on the quince). Add a couple of handfuls of Chilean guava and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Try it with Greek yoghurt or spooned over ice cream or a slab of Madeira cake.

Queen Victoria tried her best to promote it in the 19th century – she had her favourite fruit sent by train to London from the mild climate of Cornwall where it was grown for her table. The usage of the berries in cuisine is limited to southern Chile where it grows. It is used to make the traditional liqueur Murtado, jam, dessert and cakes.

Flan with Murtillas

12 cup butter (softened)
12 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
12 tsp almond extract
112 cups flour
112 tsps baking powder
14 tsp salt
5 cups Ugniberries
2 tbsps orange liqueur
1 tsp lemon rind (finely grated)
2 cups sour cream
2 egg yolks
12 cup sugar
12 tsp almond extract

In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until blended. Beat in egg and almond extract. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over batter and stir until blended. Pat over bottom and 2-inches up side of greased 10-inch spring form pan. Set aside. Toss Ugniberries with Liqueur and lemon rind.

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Papalisa/Ulluco/Ullucus tuberosus

Holluco is a traditional staple food crop grown northern Argentina to Venezuela at elevations between 2,400 and 4,200 metres. As one of the “lost crops” used by the Incas it is still grown and eaten today, mainly by subsistence farmers. It is largely unknown outside South America. Ulluco was probably brought into cultivation from the wild in the central Andes of Peru and Bolivia in about 5500 BC. Botanical material from several coastal Peruvian archaeological sites has been identified as containing starch grains, vessels and xylem of ulluco. Illustrations of ulluco have been found on wooden vessels, ceramic urns and sculptures from the same region, which are dated from about 2,250 – 2,050 BC. The Incas cultivated a wide variety of root crops including ulluco, which became less important as they were forced to grow European vegetables after the Spanish invasion in 1531.

Ulluco is a compact, potato-like herbaceous annual crop which produces below ground auxiliary stolons which enlarge to form terminal starchy tubers. The tubers are smooth and spherical with waxy skins, between 2-10 cm across, or curved and elongate, and between 2-15 cm long. A wide range of bright skin colours is produced both between and within cultivars, including white, yellow, orange, red, magenta, or green. Tubers may also be spotted or even candy striped. In South America ulluco are most often boiled, shredded, grated, mashed, pickled, mixed with hot sauces, or used to thicken soups and stews with meat and other vegetables. They are used in a number of traditional dishes including soups in Ecuador, olluquito con charqui (with meat) in Peru, and ají de papalisas (with peppers) in Bolivia. Contemporary dishes incorporate cooked ulluco tubers in salads, and the leaves are also eaten in soups and salads. Cooked ulluco tubers have been reported as having a smooth texture and a slight earthy taste, and others describe the flavour as mucilaginous and similar to okra. Some cultivars contain mucilage which can be removed by soaking or preboiling before cooking.

Ulluco have recently been introduced into New Zealand from South America and are being evaluated as a potential new addition to the range of vegetables consumed in this country. This tuber has the potential to be popular with New Zealand consumers. Because of the large variety of colours, they could be sold as a mixed blend rather than as a uniform product. The skin of ulluco tuber is soft and does not need to be peeled before eating. The white to lemon-yellow flesh has a smooth silky texture with a nutty taste. A major appeal of ulluco is its crisp texture, which remains even when cooked. Ulluco tubers are reported to have a long shelf life Some tubers contain high mucilage levels which could be seen as a negative feature because of the resulting gumminess in texture – mucilage is a non-starch polysaccharide so contributes to the total carbohydrate content of the tuber.

In South America however ulluco with high mucilage levels are often used to thicken stews. Ulluco tubers with high mucilage content are gummy when raw, but after cooking this characteristic is usually reduced or lost. The mucilage can easily be removed by soaking the tubers in water or parboiling before use. Ulluco tubers are usually cooked whole and take about the same time as potatoes to cook. However, the use of the microwave may reduce this cooking time.
Source: foodscience.wikispaces

Fanesca Soup

2 lbs dried salt cod
6 cups of diced sambo or fresh squash (zucchini), about 2 ½ lbs
6 cups of diced zapallo or squash, about a small sized squash butternut squash
6 small ullucos
2 cups of shredded cabbage
4 cups of cooked and peeled fava beans
4 cups of cooked corn kernels
3 cups of cooked green peas
2 cups of cooked lima beans
2 cups of cooked alubias or cannellini beans
2 cups of chochos or lupini beans, peeled
2 cups of cooked rice
8 tbs butter
1 tsp of achiote
1 cup of diced white onion
1 cup of diced red onion
10 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbs of ground cumin
1 tbs of dry oregano
1 tsp of ground pepper
2 cups of roasted peanuts
12 cups of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
12 oz of cream cheese
1 cup of feta cheese
½ bunch of cilantro or parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Soak the salt cod in water for 24 hours, changing the water every 6-8 hours, each time the water should be less and less salty, at the end cut the cod into medium sized pieces. Cook the diced butternut squash and zucchini separately, with a barely enough water to cover them, cook until they are very tender, drain the water and place them in a blender or food make a puree. Boil the shredded cabbage with a small amount of water for about 3 minutes, drain and add the cabbage to the squash puree.

In a large stock pot or soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat to make a refrito or base for the soup, add the onions, garlic, achiote, cumin, oregano and pepper and cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked rice to the refrito and mash it into the refrito with a potato masher to make a thick sauce or puree. Add the squash and cabbage puree and mix well.Add 4 cups of milk and the hullucos, fava beans, corn, green peas, lima beans and cannellini beans, stir in well and let simmer for about 15 minutes, stir frequently to avoid the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile bring 6 cups of milk to boil, add the soaked and desalted cod, and boil for about 10 minutes. Add the milk and cod to the soup or if you don’t want the soup to have the strong salted cod flavor then strain the milk and add only the milk to the soup, reserve the fish, fry it in oil until browned on each side and serve on the side or place a piece of the fried cod in each individual soup bowl.

At this point you want to taste the soup and add salt if needed, how much you need will depend on the whether you add the salt cod to the soup or not. Blend the roasted peanuts with 2 cups of milk, add this to the soup, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. About 5 to 10 minutes before serving, add the chochos or lupini beans, the heavy cream and the cheeses, stir to help the cheeses dissolve. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley and stir well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with the pieces of fried salt cod (unless they were already added to the soup), hardboiled egg slices, lime marinated white onions, fried ripe plantains, slices of queso fresco, fried cheese empanadas, and Ecuadorian hot sauce or slices of hot peppers. These can be added on top of the soup or on the side.

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Nalca/Giant Rhubarb /Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera is a truly ancient plant, having evolved some 150 million years ago, around the time of the dinosaurs. Named after Norwegian botanist Johan Ernst Gunnerus (who, by the way, described the basking shark and gave it its scientific name, Squalus maximus), Gunnera possesses glands that contain a cyanobacterium, Nostoc, which fixes nitrogen for the plant, meaning that Gunnera can live in what most plants would consider poor conditions. In fact, Gunnera is the only flowering plant in the world that has a symbiotic relationship with a cyanobacterium (all other nitrogen-fixing plant relationships are with the eukaryotic so-called “true” bacteria rather than prokaryotic cyanobacteria), making the plant of intense interest to molecular botanists. Gunnera is also of interest to indigenous peoples of the Chilean and Peruvian Andes; they eat the tender young stalks and leaves of the plant, called ‘nalcas’ in Spanish.

Native to southern Chile, Gunnera tinctoria was first brought to Ireland in 1939 as an ornamental plant. Its popularity as a garden plant grew quickly, and the plant did well since it was growing in a climate similar to its southern hemisphere home. However, despite the similarities of climatic conditions, it was growing in a community of completely different plants without its natural competitors and predators. It began to spread, and now Gunnera tinctoria is found on western Ireland’s coastal cliffs, waterways, roadsides, wet meadows and derelict gardens and fields. Propagating both by seed and by vegetative means, in early spring its leaves begin to grow and in just weeks can reach over 2 meters in height, shading all plants growing below its 2 meter wide leaves. Gunnera tinctoria is now a major threat to plant biodiversity in some areas of Ireland, because smaller plants cannot grow in the shadow created by the giant leaves. To fight the spread of this plant, Ireland is now applying herbicides to get rid of it. Bad news indeed.

Law (2003) states that, “G. tinctoria is a large, clump-forming, herbaceous plant that grows up to 2m in height. It has stout horizontal rhizomes, and massive umbrella-sized leaves on sturdy petioles. The leaves and their stems are covered in rubbery prickles. Tiny green flowers occur in early summer on conical spikes.” The Taranaki Regional Council (2003) state that, “G. tinctoria is a perennial with an exotic tropical appearance with spiny stems some 1.5 to 2m tall. The flower stems resemble elongated broccoli and number up to five per plant, standing up to 1m tall and rising from the base of the leaves (each seed head may contain in excess of 80,000 seeds). In severe winter conditions the plant dies down for the winter and grows new leaves in spring.”

Plants for a Future (2000) reports that young leaf stalks can be peeled and cooked as a vegetable or eaten raw. They are “Acidic and refreshing”. G. tinctoria also has medicinal uses as an astringent. This species can also be used as to make a black dye is obtained from the root, and has been used as a roof covering Plants for a Future, 2000). Williams et al. (2005) reports that, “In Southern Chile (at latitudes of 36º-42ºS) G. tinctoria is a delicacy associated with Mapuche Indian customs. The young petioles are commonly sold by street vendors and eaten raw, along with salt and chilli to enhance the flavour (E. Villouta pers. comm. 2004).”

In nature, all Gunnera plants form a symbiosis with a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, thought to be exclusively Nostoc punctiforme. The bacteria enter the plant via glands found at the base of each leaf stalk and initiate an intracellular symbiosis which is thought to provide the plant with fixed nitrogen in return for fixed carbon for the bacterium. This intracellular interaction is unique in flowering plants and may provide insights to allow the creation of novel symbioses between crop plants and cyanobacteria, allowing growth in areas lacking fixed nitrogen in the soil.
Source: tofinotime by Josie Osborne, Tofino – Wiki

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