Friday, May 27, 2011

Food from the Desert

Every year, it seems that I am gone while the Mesquites are podding. Usually I return from the road and they have fallen from the trees and are rotting on the ground. There is such an abundance of Mesquite pods, not even all the birds and hungry desert critters awaking from hibernation can make a dent in the supply. Ever since I have moved out here, I have wanted to harvest the plethora of mesquite pods and make mesquite flour, which is very high in protein and minerals. It is also gluten free and has a very desirable sweet and nutty taste. Yesterday, when I should have been indoors instead of outside in 108 degree weather, I harvested a few gallons of pods in town. I have read that the ones to pick are the ones that snap off the tree easily and taste sweet. This is the easy part, unless it is 108 outside. The hard part is grinding them down into flour. It would help to have the right tools. I'd like to harvest enough to be able to at least sell some mesquite flour at the Farmer's market when the season starts again. And in the future, sell it here on the interweb. But I only have a few days in town in between tours, so I may lose the opportunity once again.

I was excited to find that my water timer setup worked while I was gone on tour these last three weeks. I have a hose going from my rain catchment to my plum tree and another going to my fig tree. I didn't get a chance to test it very well before I left, and was a little worried, but I put my faith in it and this whole desert agriculture thing is a big experiment anyway. When I got back, I counted over 20 figs and this is only its first year. They are on the verge of ripening of course as I am about to leave again, but at least the birds will get to feast on this desert delicacy.

My new friend Lillis, an amazing singer-botanist, passed through Terlingua and helped me identify some of the native plants on my little piece of earth. I have a hard enough time remembering people's names and so now two days later, I have no information to impart.

Lillis Urban

Mesquite pods can make flour, tea, jam, and more.

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