Mesquite as a food source

    "Only seven species of plants keep the majority of humanity from starvation: rice, maize, barley, wheat, the soybean, the common bean and the potato. The major crop plants of the world include another dozen or so species. Most of these domesticated species are genetically vulnerable to long-associated diseases and pests, and none are particularly adapted to arid lands. However, one third of the world's land mass falls within arid and semiarid climates. Thus arid-adapted crop plants become more necessary as agriculture expands to meet the world's food requirements, and as fresh water and energy become even more limited. In contrast to the major cultigens there exists a great diversity of food plants that have evolved in arid environments and which, for millennia have formed the basis of subsistence of native desert peoples. In the Sonoran Desert of southwestern North America, there are more than 375 species of wild food plants. About 40 of these species were utilized as major staples by the native peoples of the region. Rather than basing all arid-lands agriculture on imported, temperate or tropical cultigens which depend on costly supplements of water and energy-intensive technology, we would do better to select and develop certain of these indigenous desert plants for a twenty first century agriculture." (From Deceptive Barrenness by Richard Felger)

Mesquite Almond Cookies*

To many mesquite usually just means charcoal. Few know the sweet, unique flavor of mesquite pods. Recent research has shown that prickly pear and mesquite are great foods for diabetics.The advantages to mesquite meal are high soluble fiber content, protein and fructose sugar. The result is a food that tends to stabilize the blood sugar level.

Used as a condiment, it has a fruity molasses taste with a hint of caramel-like flavor. Meal made from the mesquite beans can enhance flavors in recipes when mixed with other flours, and is a good source of calcium, manganese, potassium, iron, and zinc. Generally, mesquite meal may substituted for up to one third of the flour content in many recipes. Mesquite meal can be purchased from Native Seeds/SEARCH @:
http://www.nativeseeds.org/v1/cat.php?catID=63

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix the three flours and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

Use a stand-type electric mixer to mix the two sugars briefly at low speed.

Add the butter in small gobbets, mixing first at low speed and then at high. Beat the mixture until it's pale, light, and very fluffy. Add the vanilla at the mixer's lowest speed, then beat at high speed for a few seconds.

Add the eggs, again at the lowest speed, switching to high speed for the final second or so. The eggs should be well beaten in, and the mix should look creamed, not curdled.

Add the flour mixture, a half cup at a time, mixing at low speed for about one minute, then at high speed for a few seconds.

Scrape down the bowl's sides with a spatula, add the sliced almonds, and mix at low speed for about 10 seconds. If need be, scrape the bowl's sides again and mix for a few more seconds.

Put tablespoons of the cookie mix on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake until the cookies are pale golden brown (nine minutes in an electric oven, 10 to 11 minutes in a gas one).
Remove and let cool on a rack.

Makes about 3 - 3 ½ dozen cookies.

There is so much to enjoy about living in the southwestern desert in the US. Ancient tales, live music, and desert sunsets that speak for themselves. Here is a little piece of it to share; take advantage of it -- the experience will do your soul -- and your body -- good.

*Kitchen tested and sent to noders.
Hubby gives a big thumbs up -- Pretty Good!
Professor Pi says re Mesquite Almond Cookies: These are delicious ! I'd better go shopping & start baking.
wertperch says re Mesquite Almond Cookies: Thank you! Interesting, informative and *yummy*
Ferenczy says Hi! You don't know me, but wertperch brought around some lovely cookies you sent him, and they were very nice indeed. I may have to hunt for the recipe in the near future. ;-) Bye-bye now...

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