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May 2012

And Baby Makes Four

I awoke this morning to a text from my friends in Mexico. Normally this would mean that U.S. Customs wasn't sure what a garbanzo bean was and we need to send documentation or maybe it would be a warning that some obscure saint was having his day and the village where the beans are from was celebrating, delaying a shipment.


But today's text was about a delivery. My friends Yunuen and Gabriel had a baby girl! And I'm to be the godfather. At first when she told me she was preggers, she said, "And you are going to be the parent!"
"No way!", I cried. "I've seen that movie!" but soon I realilzed a little something got lost in the translation.
I'm so happy for them, for her, for us. Now the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project has a new little ambassador and the future looks bright for everyone.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

This was great, if I do say so myself.


About one cup cooked black beans, in this case Negro del Arbol
About two cups cooked quinoa (I mixed white and red)
1 finely cubed, peeled carrot
1 finely  chopped stem of celery
1 small bunch chopped cilantro
1 cup cooked corn

Dressed with
Olive oil, Banana vinegar, scant teaspoon of ground cumin, oregano indio, salt, pepper, minced garlilc

Let's eat al fresco tonight!


Bakery Shopping is Serious Business in Xico

I'm sad to say that bakery treats in Mexico rarely taste as good as they look but they do look good and I'm still always tempted. This shop in Xico, Veracruz, was so noted for its pastries that my friend Gabriel went a little nuts.













OK, so maybe they're not up to Paris standards but a few of these and a steaming cup of hot Mexican chocoalte sounds pretty good about now.


Kitchen Object Fetish No. 2: Wooden Tortilla Press


Meet another new best friend. This wooden tortilla press is incredible. It's heavy. beautiful and does the job like no other.



Conventional wisdom tells us that the heavy metal presses are best and that most of the wooden presses are made of pine and fairly worthless. Like the plastic numbers, they break easily and press unevenly.


This press however is made of a wood called Granadillo, which is related to the deep, rich color like a pomegranate. The Latin name is Dalbergia retusa and I'm told it's highly valued and doesn't grow north of the state of Michoacan. 


I can attest that making tortillas with this press is a joy. The hardware that holds the heavy wood together is calibrated to make sure you only have to press once and you get an even tortilla. I am somewhat in love with this thing. 


Newsletter Errata

The Future of Food and Farming Forum I mentioned in our newsletter (but neglected to tell you when!) is on Wednesday, May 23 at Forchetta/Bastoni in Sebastopol at 5:oo p.m.

Our book party for Georganne Brennan is not this month but July 7th at 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Please save the dates!


Garbanzo Salad (So Easy. Who Knew?)

Our last newsletter featured a lot of different salads as part of a query from our Facebook page. (Aren't we "as modern as tomorrow" here at Rancho Gordo? I write this on a blog, about our email newsletter and reference Facebook. How can I get Twitter in here? Pinetrest?)

I became inspired and came up with this stupidly easy salad that was frankly the hit of a recent picnic. I felt a little silly accepting credit but I somehow managed to get beyond that bit of modestly and took a full bow as my guests devoured their portions.


Inspired by my friend Jill Nussinow, The Veggie Queen, who insists that pressure cookers are the way to go, I decided to make this salad from scratch and use the pressure cooker for the garbanzos. I added one pound of unsoaked beans, half an onion and water to cover by two inches. Once the pot got to full pressure, I cooked them for about 20 minutes. I quick released the pot and the beans were about 80% done. I removed the lid, salted the beans and let them cook for another 20 minutes and they were just about perfect, for a salad. I still think it's not the best technique for beans for me but to have a full pound cooked within an hour of a bean whim is pretty incredible.

My salad was:

  • 1 pound of garbanzos, cooked, still a little warm. I'd guess they'd grown to five or six cups
  • olive oil
  • sherry vinegar
  • salt
  • one half white onion, sliced, chopped and then rinsed with cold water
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Oregano Indio

I started the olive oil and vinegar in a bowl. I like things more acidic than most but I used my discretion with the sherry vinegar as this was for a lot of different people. I then added all the other ingredients, one at a time. Apparently it's a good thing to add the dressing while the beans are still warm and it allows them to absorb more. I don't know if this is science, but it seems reasonable.


I didn't have any parsley or cilantro and as you can see, it needs some green. I minced a small handful of salad greens and that did the trick.

So I declare this to be the summer of salads. As much as I love a bowl of hot bean love, there's something really refreshing about a salad and I get a real kick out of the creaminess of the beans against the crunch of celery and carrots.