Oh hi! Hi!! I'm back from the Southwest. What a freaking trip. I can't believe that I was waffling on it. Yeah, 10 days was a long time; I'm such a homebody. If I could have brought my cats along I would have been 100% happy. Hiker cats. But wow was it worth it. Now, I am obsessed with ancient Puebloan Indians. And the Fremont Indians. OBSESSED. I want to start growing heritage varieties of corn. And squash. And beans. And just to diversify my Native peoples interests a bit, all manner of ancient potato varietals. And more importantly, I want to scout out ruins and petroglyphs and pottery. All off the beaten path. Bushwhacking (cactus whacking?) please. I found this woman's blog and we followed her instructions to this one hike up the Vermillion Cliffs near Kanab, UT (not the ones in AZ). Easily the most wonderful hike I've ever done - it was full of petroglyphs and pictographs and dinosaur prints, not to mention gorgeous red rock cliffs. Oh yeah, and lots of mountain lion poop. EEK.
Needless to say, I'm in the mood for Southwestern-y food. Loosely defined. I kept wanting to pick cactus leaves (leaves?) and bring them back to our little condo and cook them. Instead we ate out like every night. Barf. I can not handle that. My stomach feels so terrible doing that so often. It didn't help that one of the people we were with has megasweettooth. And if someone says "ice cream!", I can't help myself. So much ice cream that week. I have megasweettooth, too... Coming home means that I can get back into the swing of cooking all of my meals. God I love that. And what a welcome surprise it was to come home to all sorts of produce in my (completely overgrown with weeds) garden! Arugula, mesclun greens, baby swiss chard (too big to be microgreens), radishes and their greens. So wonderful. I'm concerned about all the peppers I planted... I have a bad feeling I may have picked any little seedlings when I've weeded. I think the dirt I got from the fix and flip house two doors down was completely full of weeds. Duh, I guess. So the garden has been absolutely ridden with weeds and I've been trying to pull them all to give the little veggie seedlings a fighting chance, but I'm afraid I may have picked the pepper seedlings, since they're kind of indistinguishable. Not sure. They do take a long time to sprout, but ugh. I'll probably have to buy plants.
Speaking of weeding... I got right to weeding after we got back from our flight on Saturday. I was so engrossed that I lost track of time and burnt the crap out of my back in the scorching afternoon sun. Somehow I managed to escape any sunburn in our 10 days in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. I get back home and I'm nearly immediately crisped. IDIOT. I put a bunch of vinegar on it and I think it helped. Oil and vinegar, my two go-to skin care products. What a weirdo. Um, remember how I was nervous about the Grand Canyon rim to rim trip? Like, how the heck am I going to hike a million miles? Well, I did it. Then I did it all again the next day. It was something like a total of 45 miles in two days. It was ridiculous. And we had a really scary medical emergency. My aunt's sodium levels were too low and then she got over hydrated. I won't take up this entire post detailing it, but there was nearly a need for an emergency evacuation and there were poor decisions made by all of us in our state of stress, emotional overload, and utter exhaustion from lack of any sleep. Many lessons learned, and you know what? I still don't want to do a "normal" vacation. I'd still do it all over again. I want to try to get my cousin Erin out to backpack with me in August or something. I love her. Hiking with her in the Grand Canyon was such a freaking blast. Despite her mom nearly becoming a blurb in this book. Thank god she didn't - I could never live the rest of my life with her being remembered in Papyrus font.
There are lots of variations on pipián. I considered not roasted the vegetables, just to give it a sharper flavor. I also saw some recipes that included similar spices as the ones I added in the burgers. Play around with it if you like.
4 ounces of hulled, raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 pound of tomatillos, husked and cut into quarters
3 garlic cloves, papery sleeves still on
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
1/2 small yellow onion
1/4 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons lard, melted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat a large dry skillet over medium heat. Toast pumpkin seeds for about 5 minutes, shaking around often. The seeds will pop and puff up and get a nice toasted color. Don't burn! Pour seeds into a small bowl and set aside.
2. Turn on/preheat broiler and place rack in topmost position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange poblano pepper (for the burgers), jalapeño, tomatillos, and garlic in a single layer. Broil for 3 minutes, then flip everything and broil for 2 - 3 minutes more. Keep an eye on the garlic, as this can burn up if they're kind of small cloves.
3. Let the peppers cool for a bit in a closed up paper bag (optional - it's not terribly hard to remove the skin without letting them steam), then remove their skin, stems, and seeds. Also remove the papery skin from the garlic cloves.
4. Place roasted ingredients (minus the poblano) in a blender, along with the broth, onion, cilantro, lard, salt and pepper. If you're worried about the spiciness, put half of the jalapeño in the blender and then add the other half after you taste the sauce. Blend ingredients until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
1 poblano pepper (roasted from step 2 above)
1 1/4 pounds of ground pork
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
garnish with cilantro, avocado, mango, toasted sesame seeds and fresh lime juice... extra pepitas if you remember to put some aside, and not eat them...
1. Chop up the roasted, peeled, and seeded poblano pepper and add to the ground pork, along with remaining ingredients.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a little lard. Form the pork into about 6 burgers with a little indent in the middle. Cook for about 4 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.
This was originally posted at my blog, the crankin' kitchen!