Saturday, August 15, 2020

Wonders of Monsoon Season in Southern Arizona



Monsoon in southern Arizona is a colorful, exciting natural wonder. In previous years, winds have revved up suddenly and carried much needed moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California to drench much of southern Arizona. 

However, this year the National Weather Service has predicted record heat and drier conditions for what used to be a rainy season between June 15th.  to September 30th. 






Monsoon can be wondrous with its lightening displays and torrential downpours. It is sometimes terrifying as well, especially if there’s a flash flood and people, cars, and property are in the path of the storm.

See the bolt of lightning pictured above and a tree uprooted in a micro-burst below.




severe monsoon may cause winds of more than 100 mph and significant damage.

So far this year, from my vantage point in Tucson, temps have been above 100 degrees Fahrenheit daily, but monsoon rain, blinding dust, damaging winds, and breathtaking lightning shows are few and far between.

I'm grateful for the rain we've had, enough to make flowers on
a Texas Ranger bloom. This shrub that grows well in our clime, is also called Texas sage, Texas rain sage, or purple sage. 

Flowers  emerge during monsoon season in shades of lavender, purple, and magenta and one variety is shown in the picture below. To learn ways purple can enhance your life read this.




Red/Orange Bird of Paradise (pictured in first photo above) is a plant with a bright blend of orange, red, or yellow flowers. 

Check out Orange to Your Emotional Rescue and Ways to Use Colors to Improve Work Life Balance. They offer ideas and tips to use color energies to help you thrive.
The Saguaro, a majestic cactus, flowers with a white and yellow bloom that is the Arizona state flower. An illustration below is a close up of the flower portion of this plant.  





See details about what's in bloom in Tucson with a virtual visit to Tohono Chul Garden

There are advantages and disadvantages to monsoon season. This is what the National Geographic Website acknowledges,

The North American monsoon can be a natural aid to firefighters. Summer temperatures in Arizona regularly reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making wildfires difficult to contain. 

The North American monsoon is also the primary water source for most desert ecosystems in the region. However, it can also confuse and interrupt daily life for people and businesses not used to dealing with heavy rain.”

I'm thankful for monsoon rains as they add a bit of humidity and sometimes helps to cool the desert. Summer storms make vegetation turn green and supply water for summer crops and flowering plants. 

Monsoon is a special time that produces fabulous evening lightning shows. Cloud filled skies are a welcome change from a mostly continually blue sky year round. 

During monsoon season, the sky can be filled with storm clouds and/or dust storms. That's one of the main reasons monsoon season has spectacular sunrises and sunsets. 


Sunrise Tucson Aug. 2020

Sunset on the Desert with Ocotillo silhouette

Have you ever been in a monsoon storm and which part of the world was it in? 

Do you think you'd like to visit the American southwest in the summer and why or why not?

Have you noticed climate changes in your neck of the woods? I certainly have as I describe above.

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

How to Make Scrumptious Hummus, a Recipe Roundup




Hummus is a scrumptious vegan food that is simple to make from cooked chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and seasonings. 

Hummus is versatile, and much more than just a snack food. It's loaded with plant-based protein. Hummus also contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin K, zinc, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. To top it all off, hummus is a high fiber food that helps reduce and prevent inflammation.

Hummus tastes delicious smeared on veggies or bread, as a dip on a crudités platter, stuffed in a wrap, English muffin, bagel, pita pocket, or as a sandwich filling. Hummus looks and tastes fabulous atop luscious salad greens as well. 

Hummus is a food that's economical and good for your waistline as well as your pocketbook.

Hummus has its origins in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. Today this tasty dish is enjoyed by millions of people around the globe. 

I LOVE hummus, and I'm always on the lookout for interesting variations on this main theme. That's why I'm posting this.




 How to Make Scrumptious Hummus,
 A Recipe Roundup



It features flavorful hummus recipes and reveals the secret to making hummus both creamy and savory. 

Each recipe in this roundup is unique. Try them all and learn new ways to tempt your palate, satisfy hunger, and make meal time prep so much fun. 

Here's the first one...




Creamy, Savory Hummus
Recipe from Yours Truly (Nancy Andres)




Ingredients:

30 oz. or approx. 4 cups cooked homemade chickpeas, or 2-15 oz. canned chickpeas rinsed and drained (chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1 or 2-1 inch chunks of fresh peeled ginger
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon tahini, a condiment made from toasted hulled  ground sesame seeds. Julie at the Simple Veganista has a one ingredient recipe to make tahini. If you prefer, buy it in most markets or online.
½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
Optional herbs and spices: I often add fresh chopped basil (2 teaspoons) from the garden, a pinch of fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of ground turmeric. Select those you enjoy.

For more, check out savory spice blend. Recipe from Dr. Michael Greger and Robin Robertson from The How Not to Die Cookbook.

What to do:

The traditional and most economical way to make hummus is to use dried chickpeas. Soak the chickpeas the night before you want to make this recipe. Here are tips from the bean institute to speed up soak and cooking time. 

Cook chickpeas in an instant pot, slow cooker, or Dutch oven on the stove top or in the oven. To save even more time, use the extra-quick method of opening cans of chickpeas.

The secret to making hummus creamy is this. After using any cooking method you like or opening cans of chickpeas, place chickpeas in a medium saucepan and add the baking soda. Cover chickpeas with several inches of water, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. 

If necessary, reduce heat to medium to prevent overflow. Continue cooking for approx. 15-20 minutes. 

You’ll know the chickpeas are ready, when they look bloated, skins fall off, and they are quite soft. Drain thoroughly and place aside.

Prep ginger, garlic, and fresh herbs, while the chickpeas are cooking. Then place a 1 inch knob of fresh peeled ginger (add more ginger to heighten flavor) and any fresh herbs you select, to the chopping bowl of your food processor. Chop them until fine. 

Then add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, oregano, and any optional dried herbs or spices you've selected. Process until the chickpeas and other ingredients are very creamy. 

If the mixture is dry, add one drop of water at a time until creamy. 

Serve creamy savory hummus the day you make it, and store leftovers in a refrigerated airtight container. Use it all within 5-7 days.



  

Here's my favorite hummus tip: Make hummus dishes delicious, and eye-appealing with spices, herbs, and colorful extras including avocado slices. cilantro and lime, sprinkling of toasted pumpkin or other seeds, or shredded zucchini, cabbage, carrots, beets, or tomatoes.

Everyone eats with their eyes as well as their appetite, so make foods look luscious with colors.


To improve health, eat meals that provide a wide variety of colorful plant-based foods. 

Hummus is a fine topping for baked sweet or russet potatoes. Use it in a Greek salad with grape leaves and tofu feta, or combine hummus with brown rice, veggies, and fold into a corn tortilla. 


We especially enjoy eating hummus sandwiches on toasted whole grain bread with sliced red onion, fresh tomatoes, basil, and shredded red cabbage (pictured in the blue framed photo above).

There's no added oil in my recipe, so it doesn't add any unnecessary calories and works well in a vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, whole food, or conventional meal planning repertoire

Just be careful. You may find hummus irresistible

Now on to my blogger guests in this scrumptious hummus recipe roundup...


JD over at In the Kitch offers a hummus dip recipe that mixes hemp seeds, figs, olive oil, and greens with chickpeas.


 Hummus bowl with fresh figs, greens, nuts, hemp seeds and olive oil on a wooden background. Napkin with a fabric flower and small spatula on the side.
Photo from JD at In the Kitch. What a yummy combination of ingredients.



Here's another...

This instant pot hummus recipe is an original from Corrie Cooks, instant pot lover and food blogger.




Corrie's presents his hummus recipe in a crockery bowl with fresh parsley, paprika, and extra-virgin olive oil to create an inviting look. 



My next guest is
...

Elena from Happy Kitchen.Rocks whose recipe for Roasted Beet Hummus with Pita Chips sure is colorful as well as healthy, and tasty. 




Roasted Beet Hummus in a Bowl with Pita Chips




Kristi Wheeler, the sustainability blogger at Homesteadwishing.com is next. She shows us how to use colorful herbs, spices, seeds, veggies and other toppings to make hummus look glamorous. Check out tips at Garnishing Hummus.  





Our last but not least guest blogger is Robin over at the Vegan Dollhouse. Her Vegan Hummus Recipe incorporates red cabbage sauerkraut and dill to heighten flavor and health. Yum, yum.



a plate of sauerkraut hummus with carrots and pretzels

Now that you've seen this array of hummus recipes, I hope it has whet your appetite. 

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