What's on My Food?

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mexican Herbs for Salsa and Beverages

Hi Boys and Girls!
Well, here I am again talking about foods. Yes, I still quilt and yes, I do work in the garden. Our fall rains have turned our yard into a paradise. Duke, our faithful Lion King, loves the greenery. The Passion Vine has seemed to stop blooming, although it was 75 degrees today. The herbs are still doing well although they are going to seed, which is cool because the birds eat the seeds and you know what happens after that! Even though you see tree and plant trimmings in the fire pit, we do not burn much. We take things to the recyle center in New Braunfels. They charge $5 now. That's ok. We pick up tons of mulch for our yard so the fee to drop things off seems fair.
I finished a couple more blocks for my WA state flower quilt. I finished my sister's quilt. She lives in Idaho and they have very cold winters. It only took me a year to make! I made two pillowcases to match it.

Now, back to the title of today's blog...salsa! My friend Viola and I gave an herbal demo and tasting. Boy, did we have fun. My daughter Shannon http://www.salmonlegal.com/ even helped by demonstrating Tomatillo Sauce.  Also called Salsa Verde, meaning Green Sauce, the tomatillo is a fruit related to the gooseberry that is recognizable by its papery husk. They are so pretty in the garden!Tomatillos look and taste somewhat like green tomatoes crossed with tart strawberries. When pan-roasted, tomatillos add an extra dimension of flavor. You can grill them or do like Shannon did...she roasted them in a cast-iron skillet along with the onions, chiles and garlic. Try this recipe for dipping or as a salsa in chicken tacos. Oh, how about on your eggs in the morning? You will love this!

Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Sauce)
1 pound tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 small onion, quartered
1-3 serrano or jalapeno, chile peppers, seeded (wear plastic gloves when handling)
2 cloves garlic (we used 4)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (we used more)
1/2 tsp sugar or honey (we used 1 TBLS honey) optional
1/3-1/2 cup chicken stock, fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth or water (we used Pacific Organic http://www.planetorganics.com/pacific-organic-chicken-broth.html
Salt and ground black pepper
1. Heat a comal (a griddle for cooking tortillas) or large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatillos, onions, chile peppers, and garlic. Cook, turning as needed, for 5 minutes or until veggies are lightly browned or begin to char.
2. Transfer the vegetables to a blender or food processor. Puree to a smooth paste. Add the cilantro, sugar or honey and 1/3 cup of the stock, broth or water. Season with salt and black pepper. The salsa should be pourable. Add more stock or water if needed. Makes 2 cups.

From: Healthy Latin Cooking, Rodale Press, 1998 http://www.rodalepress.com/ or go to http://www.amazon.com/ This is a great cookbook!

So, what do herbs have to do with beverages? Have you ever tried Aguas Frescas? That is, fresh water or fresh drinks. So many refreshing drinks can be made from herbs (organic, of course). Try lemon grass http://www.theepicentre.com/Spices/lemongrs.html Here is a recipe for you that is so very refreshing.
Agua de Sacate de Limon (Lemon Grass)
Boil water. Add lemon grass leaves (the more leaves the stronger it will be).
Add a few orange tree leaves, roughly broken up. Lemon tree leaves will work too.
Sieve into cups for hot tea or add to a pitcher of cold water and sweeten to taste. Squeeze 2 limes, stir and serve. Recipe provided by Viola.

Well, now that you thoroughly have a case of the munchies, I will fill you in on my pilates class at McKenna Gym newbraunfit.org. Pilates is based on http://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/about-pilates.html building strength without giving you bulging muscles. I have only been doing this for a month and I am already toning my body and strengthening my muscles...especially in the tummy area where I REALLY need it! So, I am sold on Pilates. Check your local Y, the Senior Center, Health Centers or gyms to check out prices. Some gyms even give free lessons one or two days a week. You will never regret it!

Have a good week and cook something different!

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