Field trip to Ramona Farms - Akimel O'Odham Owned

Always forming new relations, this morning I took a field trip to Ramona Farms, located on the Gila River Indian Reservation, about 45 minutes from my house.  (One hour if you want to count the 15 minutes I was lost near the cemetery). My visit was prompted by a cooking demonstration I am giving next week (Native Foods for Health), in which I am using their products.  So naturally I was curious for more information about the traditional foods they grow at the farm. 

Arriving there, I couldn't believe how big the farm and it's operation were! It's spread out in various areas, with crops growing on different fields depending on variety and planting season.  Although I didn't get to meet Ramona, I was blessed to sit down with Alyssa Dixon, the farm's Customer Support Specialist and member of the Gila River Indian Community - Akimel Ootham.  She was a wealth of knowledge about the foods they grow there, and we had a great energy exchange discussing food memories of her grandmother, community, and the nurturing it takes to grow these foods.  I was personally smitten with their Heritage Collection which included pinole and tepary beans. I bought a bag of their mesquite Roasted Pima Corn (Huuñi Ga'i) to anxiously experiment with at home.  So check back later to see what I do with it :)  

Please check out their website to read their story. Their foods are all natural and certified authentic to be made by/produced by American Indians. 

Ramonafarms.com

Alyssa Dixon of Ramona Farms

Alyssa Dixon of Ramona Farms

Roasted Pima Corn

Roasted Pima Corn

Beautiful corn grown on the farm

Beautiful corn grown on the farm

Harvesting Prickly Pear/Nochtli

This morning I was up very early to harvest ruby red prickly pears (nochtli in Nahuatl) from my friend's yard.  This ancestral food has been confirmed by anthropologists to have existed in Mexico for over 25,000 years!  If you have never tasted a prickly pear, they are surprisinly sweet and refreshing, with flavors reminiscent of kiwi, melon, and pomegranate.  Rich in calcium, vitamin C, and antioxidant compounds, prickly pears are a great compliment to homemade lemonades and salad dressings.  If you don't mind the seeds, they are beautiful in a green salad.  My favorite ones are bright crimson red such as the ones I harvested today.  If you are unable to harvest them yourself, look for them in your local Mexican market, usually in late summer.  

 

Cooking with Figs at the Desert Botanical Garden

Thank you to everyone that participated in today's class at the Desert Botanical Garden!  We had a great turnout for a hot monsoon day! We prepared mesquite-fig tarts, ancho chile and dried fig salsa, and lastly a refreshing salad with grilled corn, fresh figs, pepitas and more. I truly enjoyed teaching this class as I really do LOVE figs and look forward to them every July. For those of you that were not in attendance, I will share one of the recipes from the class on my Cocotzin's Kitchen tab....

Ancestral Cuisine/Native Chef Competiton

Honoring my ancestors through food is one way I remain connected to my culture. So being asked to participate in the first ever Native Chef Competition, in the mountains of Idyllwild, CA was an honor. I was blessed to meet one of my mentors, Chef Loretta Barrett Oden (Potawatomi), who validated that I am on the right path, and I was excited to work alongside two well known Native chefs, Chef Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) on the left, and Chef Freddie Bitsoi (Navajo). Chef Sherman and Chef Bitsoi made incredibly tasty dishes showcasing indigenous foods using ingredients such as duck, salmon, blue corn, and squash. As the only vegetarian of the group, I was looking forward to showcasing my beloved plant relatives! I prepared a savory dish of Pawi and Wild Greens, which went over well and can be found on my Cocotzin's Kitchen tab.

It was a great weekend creating new food memories as well as remembering old ones. 

 

Travel

Flagstaff/Sedona

  One of my favorite stops in Flagstaff.....Winter Sun for wild crafted herbs.  107 N.  San Francisco St. #1 Flagstaff, AZ 86001

 

One of my favorite stops in Flagstaff.....Winter Sun for wild crafted herbs. 

107 N.  San Francisco St. #1

Flagstaff, AZ 86001

The Amitabha Stupa Peace Park in Sedona for tranquility and reflection. Truly beautiful.