Saffron, the Gold Standard of Spices

By Kevann Jordan Recent ASU Nutrition Student

I was recently introduced to a new flavor at a restaurant in Pheonix, at Fuego Bistro. I ordered the Paella and was very pleasantly surprised. This dish has started my new obsession: Saffron.

What could be more expensive then Kobe Beef you ask? Saffron! Kobe Beef costs approximately $150 per pound whereas saffron runs roughly $5000 per pound. One look at this exotic spice and you begin to wonder why it is so expensive; it is just a thin reddish thread which so delicate you think it will crumble upon touching. The grandeur of the spice is not merely in its threads, also known as corms, it is beheld in its blossom as well. The aromatic spice once from Crocus Cartwrightianus, we now know as saffron now comes from the Crocus Sativus Linnaeus, which happens to be sterile. This sterile form is believed to originate in Bronze Age Crete. In the 7th century BC there were Assyrian documents referring to saffron and its many uses. In fact, this hybrid has survived because of the vast number of uses the saffron stigmas are known for its: aromatic qualities, treatment for gastrointestinal ailments, wounds, coughs, colic, scabies, sleeplessness, depression and Alzheimer’s.

Saffron has been documented for over 4 millennia starting before the birth of Christ in Minor Asia. One of the first references to saffron in history was use by Cleopatra. The threads would be soaked in a bath to help make lovemaking more pleasurable. In Iran, there are ancient images made from saffron-based pigments. There was also a time during the Renaissance that saffron was worth its weight in gold. Today 90-93% of the global supply of saffron comes from Iran.

To further explain the price you must know that the crocus is cultivated in hot and dry weather, on flat dry land void of other trees. And it is only harvested in mid-autumn and the flower must be harvested quickly. They blossom at dawn and the flower wilts in a day. Additionally, 85,000 flowers are needed to produce one kilo of saffron. Each corm is hand removed from the blossom. On the bright side, the cost of saffron is steep, it does have a long shelf life and it can be steeped to make a tea which extends the quantity needed for cooking. Not much saffron is needed to produce its rich flavor. To this writer, Saffron is worth every penny.

 

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The Humble Sweet Potato

By Morgan Crawford a recent ASU student

 

Did you know that sweet potatoes are in season? Ah, the humble sweet potato. Such a simple food that is packed with delicious and nutritious potential. This root vegetable grows in moist, warm soil and is harvested all across the world, including Japan, Russia, the Caribbean, and the southern parts of the U.S. Here in the United States, we produce a large portion of the sweet potatoes we see in the grocery stores—the top five States being North Carolina, Louisiana, California, Mississippi, and Texas. Did you know that the sweet potato is North Carolina’s state vegetable?

An interesting fact about sweet and regular potatoes is that they aren’t even in the same family! Sweet potatoes belong to the plant group known as Morning Glory, while the common potato is part of the Nightshades. Often considered to be the healthier “cousin” of the regular white potato, this vegetable is packed with nutrients. Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A) is concentrated in high levels, making sweet potatoes a great source of Vitamin A. They are also high in vitamins C and B, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. Sweet potatoes are helpful in treating stomach discomfort, regulating diabetes, managing arthritis, strengthening immune response, and treating respiratory disorders. The root vegetable has also been linked to a reduced risk of cancer. They have high levels of antioxidants, which prevent the damage caused by free radicals in the body.

 

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season just concluded, many of us are getting excited for the plethora of delicious dishes and think fondly of the coming 2019 holiday season. We look forward to the traditional foods like stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and of course the centerpiece: turkey. But we can never forget the ooey gooey marshmallow-smothered sweet potatoes. I remember as a kid, begging my mom to let me lick the bowl after she would make this iconic dish. Dark brown sugar, creamy butter, smooth sweet potatoes, and sticky marshmallows—how could I not want to lick the bowl clean?

As I have gotten older and I have developed a deeper knowledge of health and nutrition, I have wrestled with the question: why would we take perfectly delicious, nutrient-filled sweet potatoes and cover them with sugar and butter!? Well, aside from it being absolutely delicious, the traditional holiday side dish doesn’t offer much in terms of nutrition. In past years, I have experimented and tried out different recipes that are both delicious and good for you. If you’re looking for a healthier option this year, try out this recipe from Joy Food Sunshine.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

Sweet potatoes- 2 pounds

Coconut oil- 3 tablespoons

Applesauce- 1 cup

Cinnamon- 2 teaspoons

Chopped Pecans- 1 cup

Nutmeg- just a pinch

Salt to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Set oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Bake whole sweet potatoes until soft. This takes 1-1.5 hours depending on size.
  3. Allow sweet potatoes to cool, then remove skins.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.
  5. In a blender add cooled sweet potatoes, applesauce, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. (This can also be done in a large bowl using a potato masher).
  6. Place mixture in a 9” baking dish and top with chopped pecans.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Serve after allowing to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Sweet potatoes are also a delicious addition to savory dishes.

 

If you’re looking for some healthy comfort food, here is a recipe for you!

 

Sweet Potato Curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion Chopped
  • 1 tsp Crushed Garlic
  • 1 tsp Minced Ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. Red Curry Paste
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 4 Large Sweet Potatoes (Peeled and Chopped)
  • 1 15oz Can Lentils (Drained)
  • 1 15oz Can Chopped Tomato
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
  • 1 14oz Can Coconut Milk*
  • 1/4 cup Peanut Butter
  • 2 cups Fresh Basil
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • Rice- I prefer brown Basmati
  • Basil- Fresh
  • Peanuts for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Sautee garlic, onion, ginger, curry paste, cayenne, paprika and turmeric. Cook until the onions have softened.
  2. Add lentils and sweet potatoes to the pot.
  3. Add tomatoes, stock, and coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender.
  4. Stir in peanut butter.
  5. Wilt fresh basil in the pot.
  6. Add sugar, salt, and pepper.
  7. Serve the curry with rice and top with peanuts and more basil if desired.

 

For more recipes check out the recipe section on our website. To find more foods that are in season check out the calendrer with all of the in season produce.

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Mom’s Show Day Banana Bread

 

By Savannah Burt, Fill Your Plate Contributing Writer  

Growing up, I spent more time in the barn than I did in my actual house. Every late night washing cattle and cleaning stalls led up to long-awaited show mornings, traveling across the state before sunrise, with my parents in the front seat and my steers in our creaky red trailer. For most people a show morning meant concession stand breakfast burritos or McDonald’s, but for my family, it meant bringing along our favorite “good luck” tradition: thick loaves of Mom’s perfectly buttered, moist banana bread. No matter what happened to go wrong that morning, whether it be flat trailer tires, ornery calves, or fierce weather, Mom’s banana bread would keep our bellies full and a smile on our face. Here is the guide to starting a morning off right.

“Banana Nut Bread

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

⅔ Cup sugar

⅓ Cup shortening

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1 cup mashed ripe banana

¼ cup chopped nuts

 

Stir together flour, baking powder, soda, and ¾ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In a mixer bowl cream sugar and shortening with electric mixer till light, scraping sides of bowl often. Add eggs, one at a time, and the milk, beating till smooth after each addition. Add flour mixture and banana alternately to creamed mixture, beating till smooth after each addition. Fold in nuts.

Turn batter into a lightly greased 8x4x2- inch loaf pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 60 to 65 minutes or till a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool. For easier slicing, wrap and store overnight. Makes 1.”

Recipe originally retrieved from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book published in 1981

 

Over the years, my love for this dish and our family tradition became more than just a good luck wish or a comfort food breakfast. My last show day was ages ago, but we still take every excuse to bake up a fresh batch of banana bread. Every time I smell that bread baking, I remember my mother’s gentle way of making sure I never forgot to take care of myself during a busy show day. I remember the nights she stayed up well past a reasonable hour so she could iron my show clothes and make sure I would have breakfast in the morning before rushing out the door. I remember every mile traveled with my parents, every hug and smile as I exited the show ring, whether victorious or not. Food has the ability to show love and create memories. From my family to yours, I hope this recipe will have the same impact.

 

More about Savannah

I am an Arizona native born and raised in the west valley. I first got involved with agriculture at the age of 11 when my family moved to Waddell, and since then I’ve raised and shown hogs, beef cattle, and a lamb. I’m currently serving as the Arizona State FFA president and attending Estrella Mountain Community College

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Aunt T’s Enchiladas

By Alexandra Pettit, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern

In my family when we were having enchiladas you knew it was going to be a good time. It was going to be a fun-filled night of cooking and laughing. This recipe came from my mom’s best friend and we called her Aunt T. When I was little I would sit in the kitchen and watch them laugh and cook, and this by far was always the best meal.

The older I got the more my mom wanted me to learn how to cook and this was one of the first things she taught me how to cook. This recipe brings back lots of memories I got to spend with my mom in the kitchen. We would always hand roll each one, and at the end, she would let me lick the spoon. Looking back I cherish the time I spent in the kitchen with my mom now that she is gone. I’m glad that I have this special recipe that I can share with my kids someday.

Aunt T’s Enchiladas

Makes Approximately 1 ½ Dozen

1-1 ½ Boneless skinless chicken breast shredded (save broth)

2 Cans of diced green chilies

½ Cup of grated cheddar cheese

½ Cup of chopped onions

1 can of cream of chicken soup

2/3 container 16 oz Sour cream

Cream together ingredients. If too thick add broth a little at a time till creamy.

Also, need:

Corn tortillas

1 Cup shredded cheese

Warm tortillas in microwave (1Min.) spoon mixture into tortilla, roll it and place in the casserole dish. With the remainder of the mixture add the rest of the sour cream container and more broth until runny. Spoon over remaining filling over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake at 375 Degrees until hot all the way through.

 

For more fun and interesting articles, be sure to check out the Fill Your Plate blog. If you enjoyed this recipe and are looking for more inspiration for the dinner table, take a look at the Fill Your Plate recipe section.

 

Author’s Biography

My name is Alexandra and I am a junior at Arizona State University studying Global Agribusiness. I am a member of the Sigma Alpha chapter at ASU. I hope that upon graduating I can peruse a career in the agriculture industry.

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The Blended Waffle Home

By Annily Hawks

I am sure you have heard of the famous Waffle House restaurant, most recognizable by their yellow signs and welcoming atmosphere. I have a few great memories there, most of which include dining in at 2 am during my first year of college with my new friends. Maybe they are to blame for my freshman 15. Although these were fun times, my favorite memories and the best waffles I have ever tasted didn’t come from Waffle House. They came from a home.

The first time I had the world’s best waffles was 2009. My mom had just remarried, and I gained what I like to call a bonus dad, as well as 6 siblings. It was quite the adjustment. I’ve always had my bonus dad wrapped around my finger, but I can recall the day he truly won me over. It was a Sunday morning before church, I didn’t have to be ready until noon so my plan was to sleep in. But instead I was awakened by the sweet smell of bacon…and another smell I didn’t quite recognize. I headed downstairs to the kitchen and I saw waffles. Part of me as a little disappointed because I had never really been a fan of waffles. I was more of a biscuits and gravy kind of girl. But I, of course, indulged anyways.

 

The perfect meal. What better way to win a 12-year-old girl over, than with a really good breakfast. Waffles, paired with moms famous buttermilk syrup, with a side of bacon. The taste that would later bring many people together.

 

Our family wasn’t the only thing that blended that year. Our family recipes blended, memories, laughs, and A LOT of arguing. But we never argued sitting around the table on a Sunday morning eating waffles.

 

As I got older our family grew. No, my mom didn’t have more kids. But, my siblings and I made friends. An abundance of my friends didn’t have the easiest home life, or they struggled in some way. As I would come home as express my concern about them, to my mom, she always suggested inviting them over for waffles.

 

Even now, in my adult life, I am always extending an invitation for waffles. Although I’ve lived away from home for years, there is no problem that can’t be solved by Bonus Dad’s Waffles, and Mom’s Buttermilk Syrup.

 

It all started when a boy was 15 years old. It was his turn to make dinner, so he picked out a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens recipe book. It just so happened to be waffles. Little did that 15-year-old boy know, he would gain me as a daughter. And with the help of my mom, it would create a lasting tradition and a safe house for many.

Bonus Dad’s Waffles (AKA ‘Oh Boy! Waffles’ from Better Home and Gardens Cookbook)

https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/oh-boy-waffles-296051

Mom’s Buttermilk Syrup (Six Sisters’ Stuff Blog)

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2014/09/buttermilk-syrup/

Annily Hawks grew up in Coolidge/Florence, Arizona. She is a past FFA member, and Past State Officer and hopes to continue to give back to FFA in any way she can. Annily attends BYU-I online and is working toward majoring in Agriculture Education with a minor in journalism. She wants to one day become an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. Annily also wants to help others get through loss and grief by writing on her own blog and hopefully one day she will write her own book. Her hobbies include photographing, reading, and being in the mountains.

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