Hope for a Beleaguered Planet....

Our book Milpa: From Seed to Salsa - Ancient Ingredients for a Sustainable Future explores through a blend of essays, recipes and documentary photography how the ancient agricultural knowledge and the wealth of 1000 year-old seeds and planting practices still in use among the Mixtec peoples of southern Mexico can help us to meet the ecological and food crises of today.

The essays, written in conjunction with campesino farmers, serve as a warning about the complicated dangerous effects inherent in the rapidly expanding distribution of GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds in Mexico, the birthplace of corn. Our documentary cookbook discusses alternatives for campesino farmers across the world and gardeners and consumers who care about food safety. Using the example of the Milpa planting system in the Mixteca Alta region of Southern Mexico just north of Oazaxa City, the book supports recent studies by UN investigators that show that small plots of land, heritage seeds and sustainable practices can in fact feed the world while enriching the soils on which we all depend for life…….

Milpa contains the traditional recipes lovingly shared by the local indigenous Mixtec women, allowing readers to re-create the culinary magic that flows from this ancient agricultural system. Recipes are painstakingly tested and photographed in traditional indigenous kitchens as well as in a professional modern test kitchen. Please purchase the book, below.....

All Rights Reserved: © Phil-Dahl Bredine, © Kathy Dahl-Bredine © Judith Cooper Haden Photography, © Susana Trilling SOMH.

Friday, August 10, 2012



This récipe was one of several that Catalina Lopez Maldonaldo taught us while we were in her kitchen in Noxchitlan. With her parrot Hector, overlooking on her shoulder, she made several dishes based on young sweet corn called elote tierna.  She showed us if you put your thumb nail into the kernels, milk squirts out, to ensure freshness.  I found if I used the chiles guajillos instead of their hotter counterpart, the chile pulla that is so popular in the Mixteca, I needed to add some chile de arbol to give it the right heat. . She spoke of learning dishes from her mother in the traditional village of San Miguel Huatla, where she grew up.

Yields 3 quarts

2 tablespoons sea salt
12 elotes, or fresh young corn, kernels removed
40 squash blossoms, stems and pistils, stamens removed
2 cups fresh epazote leaves
8 chile guajillos (90 grams) and 3 chile arbol OR 10 chile pulla, stemmed
3 garlic cloves, roasted
1/2 medium white onion, roasted
7 ounces prepared masa

In a soup or stock pot, heat 2 quarts water (reserving one cup of the water for later) to boil over high heat. When it has come to a boil add the salt and the corn kernels. As the corn is cooking add the squash flowers, lower heat to medium and stir lightly, trying not to break up all the flowers.
On a comal, griddle or a dry frying pan over medium to high heat, roast the chiles until the color changes and the scent is released on both sides. Remove from the comal and place in a small bowl. Add hot water to cover.  Roast the garlic and onions until translucent making sure they do not burn.
Place the chiles, garlic and onion in a blender jar and add water to cover. Blend well for several minutes until smooth, and then pass this puree thru a sieve or a food mill. Add this mixture to the cooking corn and heat through for 10 minutes.
In the same blender, add the masa, broken up in pieces the size of golf balls and cover with the reserved 1 cup of water.  Blend until very smooth, and add to the bubbling soup, stirring constantly.
Add the epazote leaves and heat through, adjust the salt, if needed, and serve.

© Susana Trilling Oaxaca, Mexico 
  SeasonsOfMyHeart.com     sustainablemilpa.blogspot.com

Photography © Judith Cooper Haden

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