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Back home for spring planting – TEAM Resources

We are back home after two months in Arizona. The time seemed to go quickly this year as we ventured away from our home base for two side trips.

One was a train ride in Mexico to the Copper Canyon. I thought

clinging to sheer cliffs might provide too much of an adventure, but it was OK. Sometimes it took courage to look down, but it was not overly scary, just scenic.

Our trip started at El Paso, Texas with a bus ride to the city of Chihuahua, Mexico. The next morning we boarded the train for a five day journey. We rode the train for a few hours each day, then toured each area and rested at a hotel.

This particular rail route was completed in 1961. It took 20 years to complete the last phase, which drops or climbs, depending on the stage of the journey, 7,000 feet (2,200 metres) in 76 kilometres. We passed over 36 major bridges and went through 87 tunnels on the 187 km track from sea level to a maximum elevation of more than 8,000 feet (2,600 metres) at its highest point. On one occasion the track ascends by successively higher loops until it disappears into a long tunnel. In another spectacular engineering feat, the line actually circles back over itself in a complete loop.

It was a most enjoyable side trip that we’ll remember forever.

Some websites with more information about Copper Canyon are www.railsnw.com and www.coppercanyon-mexico.com.

Wild rice bread

Dear TEAM: I was to a friend’s place and she served wild rice bread. Would you folks have a recipe for this type of bread? – M.K., Saskatoon.

Dear M.K.: I found this recipe for a dark nutty-flavoured wild rice many-grain bread that I thought tasty. If you’d prefer a lighter bread, you could try adding cooked wild rice to any of your favourite bread recipes.

1/2 cup wild rice 125 mL

2 tablespoons 30 mL

granulated sugar

1/4 cup warm water 60 mL

1 pkg (1 tbsp.) active 15 mL

dry yeast

5 cups (approx.) 1.25 L

all-purpose flour

1/4 cup fancy molasses 60 mL

2 tablespoons 30 mL

shortening

1 teaspoon salt 5 mL

2 cups warm water 500 mL

1/2 cup natural bran 125 mL

1/2 cup raw sunflower 125 mL

seeds

3/4 cup seven-grain 175 mL

cereal

3/4 cup rolled oats 175 mL

A seven-grain cereal wasn’t at our local grocers so I used Sunny Boy cereal. In a saucepan, cook wild rice in two cups (500 mL) water for about 60 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool.

Meanwhile, dissolve one teaspoon (five mL) of the sugar in warm water. Sprinkle in yeast; let soften, stirring together until dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the flour to make thin paste; set in warm place for 10 minutes or until bubbly.

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, combine molasses, remaining sugar, shortening, salt and two cups (500 mL) warm water. In order, beat in bran, sunflower seeds, yeast mixture, wild rice, seven-grain cereal and rolled oats. With wooden spoon, beat in as much of the remaining flour as necessary to make a firm dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface, knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, kneading in as much of the remaining flour as necessary.

Place in large greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm,

draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about two hours.

Punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into thirds. With rolling pin, flatten each to a 71/2 inch (19 cm) square; firmly roll up each into a log.

Place each in greased eight x four inch (1.5 L) loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about

11/2 hours.

Bake in centre of 375 F (190 C) oven for 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and let cool on racks.

Yield: three loaves, 12 slices each.

Source: Canadian Living’s Best Breads & Pizzas by Elizabeth Baird, 1998.

Types of molasses

Q: What is the difference between fancy molasses and cooking and unsulfured molasses?

A: The word molasses is used to cover a variety of products in the sugar industry. Fancy molasses is a direct product of sugar cane and is in no way a byproduct of any sugar manufacturing process. Fancy molasses is a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin B.

The thick dark brown liquid obtained from the refining of sugar cane is commonly referred to as blackstrap molasses. Some of its more common uses are in the production of industrial alcohol and feeding livestock.

Fancy molasses: When used in baking, the results are a light coloured, sweet product. It is also good as a topping on bread, biscuits and crackers.

Light molasses: Contains 40 percent less sugar than fancy molasses. Recipes made with light molasses have a subtle flavour and are lighter in colour. Cookies are softer while breads are more crusty. Light molasses comes from the first boiling of the sugar.

Cooking molasses: A blend of fancy and blackstrap molasses. The use of cooking molasses results in a darker, less sweet baked product such as gingersnaps.

Unsulfured molasses: Has the best flavour and is made from sun-ripened cane that has grown 12 to 15 months.

Blackstrap molasses: Is a direct byproduct of the sugar making process, is dark and has a slightly bitter, robust flavour.

Wheat salad

Thanks to P.S., of Bezanson, Alta., for sharing this wheat salad recipe. It is different than the wheat salad recipe we printed in the Feb. 1 issue. I found it made several servings, as P.S. suggested.

3 cups precooked 750 mL

wheat

1 can (19 oz.) pineapple tidbits 540 mL

2 cans (10 oz.) mandarin oranges 284 mL

1 package instant 102 g

vanilla pudding

1 package unflavoured gelatin

6 tablespoons sour cream 90 mL

1 cup chopped pecans 250 mL

To cook the wheat, soak in water overnight. Rinse with cold water, then cook in water over low heat until soft, about three or four hours. Drain. Rinse with cold water.

Drain juice from pineapple and oranges. Prepare gelatin as per package instructions, using the drained juices as the liquid. To remaining juice, add pudding powder. Mix well. Add sour cream and gelatin mixture. Add pineapple, oranges, wheat and pecans. Mix thoroughly and chill.

Sterilizing sponges

Kitchen sponges that sit around are frequently contaminated with germs that can cause illness. Bacteria multiply in warm, moist locations such as a sponge.

A study in the Journal of Environmental Health, December 2006, found that microwaving a sponge at full power for two minutes reduces microbes by more than 99 percent. Air-drying sponges does not significantly reduce germs, and though putting them in the dishwasher cleans them, it doesn’t sufficiently decontaminate.

Make sure sponges contain no metal and are wet or they may catch fire and ruin the microwave. Microwave for two minutes on full power, while monitoring. Remove carefully because it will be hot.

Companion planting

It is almost time to plant our gardens. You might want to choose which plants to grow beside one another based on the following advice from Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte and published by McKenzie Seeds.

Vegetables and fruits, like people, have natural friends they prefer to be with. They help each other, like corn with pumpkins. A good mix can increase your vegetable yield.

Sometimes plant friendships are a bit one-sided. Carrots will help beans, but the beans don’t help carrots. Beans will, however, help their cucumber neighbours.

Plants have bad companions, too. For example, beans and onions are natural enemies and should be planted at opposite sides of the garden. Carrots are also inhibited by any member of the onion family.

Beans grow well with carrots, cauliflower, beets, cucumbers and cabbages. Bush beans planted with potatoes protect them against the Colorado potato beetle.

Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, turnips and rutabaga have the same likes and dislikes, insect pests and diseases. They are helped by aromatic plants or those that have many blossoms such as dill, sage, onions and potatoes. They dislike strawberries, tomatoes and pole beans.

Carrots grow well with leaf lettuce and tomatoes, but have a pronounced dislike for dill. Onions, leeks and herbs act as repellents to the carrot fly, whose maggot often attacks carrot roots.

Corn does well with potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin and squash. Cucumbers like beans, peas and radishes but not potatoes.

Peas grow well with carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans and potatoes, as well as many aromatic herbs. They do not grow well with onions and garlic.

Potatoes do well planted with beans, corn, cabbage and horseradish, marigold and eggplant. They do not do well near pumpkin, tomato, raspberry, squash, cucumber and sunflower.

Pumpkins grow well with corn, a practice followed by American Indians. Pumpkins and potatoes have an inhibiting effect on each other.

Tomatoes are compatible with chives, onion, parsley, marigold and carrot. Keep away from the brassica family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and turnips) because they repel each other.

Alma Copeland is a home economist from Elrose, Sask., and one of four columnists comprising Team Resources. Send correspondence in care of this newspaper, Box 2500, Saskatoon, Sask., S7K 2C4 or contact them at team@producer.com.

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