Wednesday, May 30, 2012
According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations. Growing a Three Sisters garden is a wonderful way to feel more connected to the history of this land, regardless of our ancestry.
Corn, beans and squash were among the first important crops domesticated by ancient Mesoamerican societies. Corn was the primary crop, providing more calories or energy per acre than any other. According to Three Sisters legends corn must grow in community with other crops rather than on its own - it needs the beneficial company and aide of its companions.
The Iroquois believe corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sisters spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or Our Sustainers". The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honor them, and a festival commemorates the first harvest of green corn on the cob. By retelling the stories and performing annual rituals, Native Americans passed down the knowledge of growing, using and preserving the Three Sisters through generations.
Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb. Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years corn. Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind. Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry years. Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure.
Corn, beans and squash also complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates, the dried beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.
Three Sisters' Saute
2 cloves garlic
2 cups zucchini
1 1/2 cup cooked pinto beans
1 cup corn kernels
Salt & pepper
Dry saute chopped onions until clear. Add minced garlic and zucchini cooking 2 mins. Add cooked beans, corn kernels, stir and cook a few more minutes. Add handful of chopped greens and cook til greens wilt.
Serve with tortillas, salsa and dry-roasted camino seeds.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Make your own delicious whole grain pita with these readily available ingredients: whole wheat flour (we used King Arthur White Whole Wheat), yeast and water, plus a little salt and a pinch of sugar...NO ADDED OIL. Bake in 450 oven for 5 minutes. Heavenly!
photo and recipe credits: Sue Greet Ishak
Whole Wheat Pita Bread
2 packages active dry yeast several dish towels (I used 6!)
2 1/2 cups warm water 1 or 2 baking trays
1/2 tsp. sugar rolling pin
about 6 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water. Add sugar. Let it sit about 10 minutes, until it begins to froth.
2. Stir in the remaining warm water. Add 3 cups of the flour, stirring vigorously. Let this sit 30 minutes, until it begins to froth.
3. Add salt and enough of the remaining flour, stirring until the dough holds together in a ball.
4. Knead on a floured surface about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticks to your fingers (add flour if needed).
5. Place on a floured baking tray. Sprinkle some more flour on top. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place about 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.
6. Punch down the dough and knead again for about a minute, then divide in half. Cover one half, and divide the other into 8 - 10 lumps of equal size. Using your hands, roll each lump into a ball. Repeat with the others.
7. On a floured surface, flatten each ball with a rolling pin (sprinkled with flour) into rounds about 1/8” - 1/4” thick.
8. Dust with flour and arrange the rounds 1 inch apart on a cloth (dish towel). Cover with another cloth and let sit about 20 minutes at room temperature, until they have risen a bit. (see step 9)
9. Place 1 or 2 baking trays in the oven and preheat at 450 - 500 degrees for 20 minutes.
10. Place 2 - 3 rounds at a time on the hot baking trays. Bake 3 - 5 minutes, or until they puff up like balloons. Repeat with the rest.
11. Wrap breads in a cloth while still hot, or put them in a plastic bag so they stay soft.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
This handy guide developed by PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)will help you replace meat, eggs, and dairy products with healthy alternatives for many of the recipes you’ve grown to love over the years. Download a copy of the chart (PDF)
Friday, May 11, 2012
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Besides being sweet and juicy, they're loaded with nutrients. Health claims range from cancer prevention to weight loss. Eat them straight, in salads, mash them to make a strawberry sauce, add them mashed to recipes as fat replacer and flavor enhancer. Eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert. No sugar and no dairy needed to enjoy these juicy gems.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Hold it! Those "weeds" are loaded with flavor and nutrients. If your backyard has not been exposed to chemicals and pollutants, sample new dandelion greens and tender lambs quarters fresh from your own backyard. Both are excellent sources of dietary fiber and are loaded with Vitamins A, C and K plus calcium, folate and other trace minerals and phytochemicals. Both can be eaten raw in salads or lightly steamed. I throw a handful into sauces and soups just before serving. Add these to the great variety of greens available for eating this spring and you'll experience a surge of energy and wellnes far superior to anything on your pharmacy shelf!