I find it so interesting to think about different cultures and how we all affect each other– value systems, food traditions, religion, society expectations, the sharing of stories, role models and and so much more! I’ve been so happy to see that so far this blog seems to attract a wonderful diversity of readers across the world, and I want to help encourage this by engaging input from other places.
So far, this blog has had views from
To be honest, it took me quite a while to fall in love with lamb’s quarters.
But once I learned how to make “quelites”, a traditional Mexican dish, I became very attached. Maybe I even need them, like I “need” cheese in my life. Certainly, my enchanted pantry would be a sadder, less magical place without them.
This month, I’m attempting to gather up enough to see us through the winter. Many an evening I’ve been spotted by the local wildlife running barefoot upriver to the lamb’s quarters patch, piling up my greens for the night in an old sarong, then wrapping it up and slinging it over my shoulder for the mile walk back to the kitchen.
I have three ways I like to preserve lamb’s quarters or “goose-foot,” Chenopodium album, a plant that is known in the US Southwest more often as “pig-weed” or “quelites”. The Spanish word “quelites” refers to the traditional Mexican dish or the lamb’s quarters plant itself. It can also refer to amaranth greens, and they are often prepared the same way. Most often, they are boiled and then sautéed with minced onions and red chile, sometimes adding mashed beans near the end of the cooking time.
The first easy preservation trick is pesto. Lamb’s quarters pesto might sound odd, but its flavor is wonderful! I don’t love all herbal pestos, and I was skeptical, since I’m not a huge fan of raw lamb’s quarters…but this is one that makes me very happy.
The second is to boil it and freeze it, which also works very well. Of course this takes up precious freezer space, however, so my third and favorite way to preserve lamb’s quarters is to dry them.
My new favorite spice blend!
Ras el Hanout (which means “top of the shop” in Arabic) is a Moroccan spice mixture used in their cuisine to flavor everything from grilled meats, vegetable tagines, to a hashish candy called majoun. Traditionally the number of spices used is at least sixteen and up to more than a hundred.
In her amazing book, The Food of Morocco, Paula Wolfert, one of my great culinary heroes, (more about her another time!) has pared down the number of spices to make a delicious facsimile of the real deal. I’ve become rather obsessed with it, putting it in everything from bowls of yogurt and peaches to lamb’s quarters stir fries with goat milk. I’ve been mixing it with honey and butter on toast, and even sprinkling it into my Earl Grey tea with cream! You will be seeing it as an addition, or a suggested “optional” addition in some upcoming recipes. Any of these spices are available online from Mountain Rose, if you don’t have them handy.
After assembling the spices, doing the actual work only takes about 15 minutes, and less if you’re using a electric coffee/spice grinder. Here’s her method and one of her recipes for “Faux Ras el Hanout”, along with my notes as to a few changes I made, and a few more I will make next time I make it, along with the reasons why. Read more