Bisbee Farmers Market
For this annual mesquite milling event, Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture, an educational non profit organization that promotes desert heritage foods, has rented a hammer mill from Desert Harvesters in Tucson which will grind dry mesquite pods. A $3 donation is requested to enable it to keep bringing the hammer mill.
Mesquite is an important traditional food in southern Arizona which has been rediscovered as a gourmet health food. As mesquite pods are very fibrous and the seeds hard as rocks, (the ancient peoples pounded them with a stone "mano" and a stone "metate"), a hammer mill is necessary to do a really good job of grinding them into a fine flour. Mesquite flour can be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry pantry.
Cooking with mesquite is simple. Just substitute mesquite flour for a small amount (1/2 to ? cup) of the regular flour in any bread or dessert recipe. It can also be used instead of regular flour to coat meats before browning and to thicken gravies, curries and moles.
Collected dried mesquite pods should be inspected to see if they still snap in half. If they aren't dry enough to snap, they can not be milled as they gum up the hammer mill. The easiest method of drying is to spread them out on a large flat cardboard box or piece of corrugated metal for a day in the sun. Do not be alarmed if bug debris is found in the bottom of containers as mesquite is part of the natural life cycle of a beetle. Bug holes in pods means they have exited and flown off.
You can collect some mesquite pods for your own supply of mesquite flour as there are some still on the trees. Gather them off the tree, taking care to have a tray underneath as the dry pods tend to fall off when pulled. Do not gather off the ground to avoid bacterial and mold contamination.
Free harvesting/facts and recipes sheets will be available. Mesquite flour will be available from vendors Alice Coleman and Kathryn Erhorn of San Pedro Mesquite Company in Bowie who will also bring mesquite cutting boards, mesquite date bars and mesquite recipe booklets.
Lively music will be provided by market favorite, Amy Ross with her key board.
La Carreta of Douglas will offer tasty Mexican food for breakfast and lunch including their specialty fried fresh shrimp plates and shrimp tacos.
Natalie McGee, the dynamic owner of Arizona Cactus Ranch who makes prickly pear products (syrup, jelly, nectar and fruit leather) from 40 square miles of desert on the ranch her grandfather homesteaded in Green Valley will be at the special events tree with samples of her products. She is very knowledgeable about the health benefits of prickly pear cactus which has been used for thousands of years in Mexico for diabetes and currently is also used to lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure.
The Moroney family who raise Sky Island Brand grass-fed beef on the historic 47 Ranch on Davis Rd. in McNeal will have a special this week on round steak including discounted prices and recipes for preparing round steak.
Red chile strings from the Ochoa family farm in Elfrida will be available from vendors Vernon Smith and Shirley Clark who sells them to raise money for Bisbee's homeless.
Get ready for winter with warm 100% alpaca ponchos, sweaters, slippers and hats from Desert Mountain Alpacas Ranch (Hereford).
New crop: Tina and Joe Bortle will bring the new crop of pecans from their small orchard in McNeal.
Sierra Vista Farmers Market
New product: Esperanza Arevalo will bring "mesquite empanadas" with creamy pudding filling as well as her signature mesquite tortillas and sugar-free mesquite almond cookies and mesquite apple bread (also sold this week at the Bisbee Farmers Market's mesquite event) and regular tortillas, beef, chicken and green corn tamales and fresh salsa with mango, peach and pineapple.
New Pie: Bisbee's Favorite Pies has produced a new Pumpkin Pie sure to be a winner this holiday season made with 1/3 butternut squash, 1/3 banana squash and 1/3 pie pumpkin all grown locally in Palominas by Gray's Garden of Eat'n. They also offer pecan pies which can be ordered in a diabetic-friendly version made with agave nectar. (Also at Bisbee Farmers Market.)
New crop: Pink Lady apples from Willcox will be brought to the market by the Wyckoffs who also offer baby lettuce and arugala from their greenhouses in Cochise as well as unsprayed giant red peppers, onions, winter squash, organic produce from Mexico and De Cio herbal pasta in many flavors.
The Garden of Eat'n, the organic u-pick, we-pick family farm in Palominas featured in Sunday's paper will bring lots of pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns or pie making including yellow/green mottled ones with hull-less seeds for great pumpkin seeds. They will also have green beans, onions, garlic, okra, tomatoes, winter squash and organic fruit from Willcox and whole grain and sweet breads. (Also at Bisbee Farmers Market.)
Stop by octogenarian small family farmer, Leo Dunaetz's stall, to admire his produce including gorgeous French heirloom "Cinderella" pumpkins, pie pumpkins, miniature pumpkins, Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, red okra, lemon cucumbers and tomatoes galore.
Come to the markets early for fresh greens. Swiss and Ruby Chard, beets greens and beets, and lettuce will be available from Corky and Carol Berty (Hereford.) Kale and fresh basil at the market's info booth.