Monday, November 06, 2006

Foods of the Southwest

Shmoo and I have been working on a Unit Study of the First Americans. I was inspired by our study of the Pueblo and Anasazi, and wanted to create a lunch around foods native to the American Southwest. (Although I didn't use any of her recipes, much of the imagery here was inspired by the gorgeous photographs in Lois Ellen Frank's book Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations.)

I used the recipe for Sweet Cornbread in Vegan Lunch Box and baked the batter in a corn cob muffin pan for about 25 minutes. I wrapped the sweet corn cobs in "husks" of freshly made corn tortillas from the local market. Above the corn is a mixture of lightly steamed baby squash, carrot "arrowheads", and sunflower seeds. Next to the veggies is a container of Anasazi and pinto beans. The tiniest container holds Prickly Pear Syrup. I also shaped a bit of cactus pad (nopale) into a decorative garnish.

At lunchtime, the tortilla "husks" were used to scoop up flavorful beans, and the sweet cornbreads were dipped in the syrup for dessert.

The beans and tortillas were his favorite part. He took a bite out of each baby pattypan, but was disappointed that they they tasted the same as regular squash. Although the garnishes here were just for decoration, shmoo wondered what cactus tasted like, so I cooked the rest for dinner. I cut the pads into strips and boiled until tender, then rinsed well with cold water to remove the okra-ish slime. It tasted like green beans! 4 stars.


Susan said...

Where did you find your corn stick pans? I remember those from my youth and while visiting my mom, made these sticks for my kids who LOVE thme with syrup! Now I need to find my own (my mom's are "vintage") Can't WAIT to get my book.. counting the days!

Jennifershmoo said...

It's from Lodge Cast Iron:

I picked mine up at a local cowboy supply store. They were right next to a giant barbecue grill shaped like a bright pink pig. Eesh.

OshinkoTickle said...

I have always wondered how to cook cactus!! You learn something new everyday!

Tere said...

Looks great Jennifer! I was wondering if you added any seasonings to the beans, and what do Anasazi beans taste like?

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, Tere -- I cooked them in vegetable broth with lots of minced garlic, some dried red chiles, and a bit of liquid smoke. When they were done I seasoned them with some salt. The Anasazi beans were hard to distinguish from the pinto beans -- they were very similar. It's too bad they're not as pretty cooked as they are dried!

Zachary said...

I LOVE nopales. There's a market here that sells them and it's such a treat!

Beth Miriam said...

OK now you're just showing off--carrots cut into the shape of arrowheads. ;)

I agree with Shmoo, I wanted the baby veggies to somehow taste different from the adult ones.

Jennifershmoo said...

How do you make them, Zach? I read that they are good boiled or grilled.

Zachary said...

Oh, I've never made them. The market here has a little deli in it and they cook it there. But, it's cut into thin strips and fried with onions, garlic, lime juice, and chiles. They call it nopales con chile. It's awesome.

funwithyourfood said...

i love the corn bread in the shape of corn. that is very cute :)


Eat Peace Please said...

My kinda lunchbox today. I mentioned above that I mentally live in Portland, but I really physically live in AZ and love all this food. Glad you were able to find all those ingredients "up there".

Jhenn said...

I love the fork/spoon combo thingy!!!

And the food too of course! =p

Pixie said...

Yummy...I love nopales. I just wanted to add they're super easy to make. You can cook them up however you want. Just think of french cut green beans as far as texture and taste (kinda). You cut them up, saute them up in a little bit of oil and add chili powder, salt, onions and you can serve up with beans of your choice. Eat with corn tortillas and it's oh so good. Thanks Jennifer for showing them off. These things grow wild here. We grew up with them in my back yard.

Roxy said...

what a beautiful lunch! I love the idea of carving the carrots into the arrowhead shapes and the cactus into cactus shapes. Lovely! Jennifer, you are a true inspiration.

Roxy said...

I've seen the cactus nopale things at the grocery store lately and have been intrigued by them, but had no idea how to cook them. Thanks for that tip on how to prepare them!

MommaSchell said...

Great lunch! I sell a lot of dried Anasazi beans from Colorado at my vendor stand at my local farmers' market and nopales are awesome! Prickly pear syrup rocks, too.

you're adopted. said...

the corn bread & pear syrup sounded so delish that i decided to order some of the syrup you mentioned.

&when it gets here, i'll have a tasty treat. thanks for the inspiration!

La Tea Dah said...

I am also very enthralled with studies about the Anasazi Native Americans. When the boys were younger we took a trip from TCities to Arizona where we worked on a unit study about their culture and lifestyle. The ruins were very, very interesting! I love this lunch that you created. Might you be doing a book signing here locally? I've already ordered my book from you. . .I would love having it signed personally.


Jennifershmoo said...

>>Might you be doing a book signing here locally?

Yes! December 2nd at the library on Union Street -- I'll be posting more about it soon!

R2K said...


Anonymous said...

yummie yummie

My Photocommunity

red said...

thank you


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