Texas Cactus Council
PO Box 423
Benavides, Texas 78341
October 2017 Newsletter
RANCHING - The word ranch is derived from Mexican-Spanish rancho , which denotes the home (headquarters) of the ranchero . In Texas, the word initially denoted an establishment engaged in livestock production using unimproved range pastures as the primary resource, with or without plowland crops. From the beginning, ranching often included raising cattle, sheep and goats, and horses. Cattle ranching has been a major Texas industry for nearly three centuries.
Many youngsters dream of being a cowboy or cowgirl. They turn broom handles into stick horses to ride the range and round up their stuffed animals instead of cattle.
2017 RANCHING HERITAGE DAY!
The Texas Cactus Council has been invited to participate in the Jim Hogg County Vaquero Festival in Hebbronville, Texas, on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Displays will be located all around the Jim Hogg Courthouse in Hebbronville. We are being asked to bring any items regarding ranching heritage. Some Cactus Council members have indicated that they will bring cactus dishes, cactus related pictures, or ranching items such as saddles, spurs, lassos, pictures, paintings about ranching and vaqueros. All members are encouraged to bring something to the festival. TCC members planning to cook something, bring your receipts and you will be reimbursed (no more than $25). Other suggested food items which you can bring: empanadas, homemade chorizo, tamales, menudo, pan de campo, carne guizada with nopalitos, cactus tuna jelly or pancake syrup, etc. etc. The event will run from 10:00 am until 4:00 p.m.
We had a long, dry, hot summer. The pastures were dry and the cattle were hungry. The cactus pear burners were brought out to burn cactus as cattle feed. The cattle enjoyed the cactus and hay. But we finally did get some rain and we quickly saw the grass grow fast. The cactus tunas (prickly pears) are now colorful and ready to be used in the many recipes we all have. Our Texas Cactus Council Cookbook contains recipes for the tunas as well as for the nopalitos. Many of our members have become very inventive and developed quite delicious recipes. I will be taking some spineless cactus pads to pass out to those wishing to start their cactus gardens. Cookbooks will also be taken to the Jim Hogg County Vaquero Festival for those wishing to purchase one.
Would you like to lose weight? Follow the RECIPE below.
NOPAL SHAKE against overweight
Drink a half liter of this juice a day, a glass at noon and one in the afternoon after eating. You must drink two liters of pure water a day to remove fats and toxins. Do not eat anything fried, salty or sugar and refined or processed foods throughout the day. Drink this juice daily until you see results.
Please call Texas Cactus Council president Emma Martinez if you have any question. Her number is (361) 442-3728. Or call me at (361) 207-0966. We hope you make an effort to be here.
The December Christmas meeting is set for Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at the Benavides Civic Center. More info later.
J. T. Garcia
Peruvianus f. montrose
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
August 2017 Newsletter
We start this newsletter on a sad note. We've lost a long-time member of the Texas Cactus Council. Luz Abel "L.A." Perez, 81, peacefully entered into eternal rest on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at his residence surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Alice, Texas, on March 25, 1936, to his parents, Louis and Elena Gonzalez Perez. He was a 1956 graduate of William Adams High School. He served his country as a US Army Veteran (click for obit) in the Korean War. He married his high school sweetheart, Ida, upon returning from the service on August 4, 1961, at Santa Rosa De Lima Catholic Church. He was a life member of the Alice VFW Post # 8621. He was an active member of St. Mary's Catholic Church and chartered the Council #7167 of the Knights of Columbus in Freer, Texas. He retired after 31 years of employment with Southwestern Bell Co. (AT&T Telephone Co.) and after retiring he joined his wife full time at Freer Furniture Inc. He was a Freer Jaycee in Freer, Texas, and was involved in several civic organizations. He enjoyed traveling the world and spending time with his family and friends. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother who will be sadly missed by all. He was buried in Freer, Texas.
He is survived by his wife, Ida, three sons, two daughters, 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. May Abel rest in peace.
The trip to the Lavender Festival in Blanco, Texas, was enjoyed by those who were fortunate to go. The trip was on June 10, 2017. Thanks for joining us.
Beautiful Lavender Field
Nopales (Cactus) nutrition facts
Nopales are thick, oval, flat, modified stems of the cactus plant eaten as a vegetable. It's soft pads, known as nopalitos , are one of the chief components of Mexican cuisine since olden times and today, gaining popularity among the Europeans and US for their health benefiting profile.
The cactus species is thought to have originated in the desert lands of Mexico. Over two hundred Cactaceae cultivars grow in their natural habitat, particularly in the semi-arid and dry areas of northern Mexico. Edible cactus paddles, however, gathered from the Opuntia ficus-indica (Barbary fig) plants are now grown by cactus lovers in their backyards and can be found in many grocery stores.
Cactus is a modified evergreen plant that grows well in semi-arid and desert climates. Cactus leaves are actually flat, oval, and pad shape stems but misinterpreted as leaves. On the cactus plant, its segmented stems stack one over the other in odd angles arising directly from the root. The completely grown up plant may reach up to 10-12 feet in height; however, in the cultivated farms, their growth is truncated to about 4-5 feet. The nopal pad surface indeed is covered with sharp spines (glochids) at the nodes.
Attractive blooms begin to appear during the spring all along the sides of pads, which subsequently develop into pear shaped delicious "cactus fruits." The fruit, commonly known as prickly pear, is actually famous in the whole Latin world as "tuna." Each fruit measures about 5 cm in diameter and weigh about 75-100 g. Sweet and juicy; their taste is somewhat reminiscence of watermelon and strawberry combination.
Health benefits of nopales
Nopales are one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 g of fresh leaves carry just 16 calories. Nonetheless, its modified leaves (paddles) have many vital phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can immensely benefit health.
The succulent paddles are rich sources of dietary fiber, especially non-carbohydrate polysaccharides, such as pectin, mucilage, and hemicellulose . Together, these substances help bring a reduction in body weight, LDL-cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. This fiber and mucilaginous content in cactus aid in smooth passage of digested food through the gut and help relieve constipation problems.Also, the juice extracted from the nopal has been suggested to have an immune booster and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cactus pads feature moderate amounts of vitamin A with 100 g fresh pads carrying about 457 IU of vitamin-A and 250 µg of ß-carotene. ß-carotene converted into vitamin-A inside the human body. Studies found that vitamin-A and flavonoid compounds in vegetables help protect from skin, lung, and oral cavity cancers.Further, nopal pads contain small levels of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid. These vitamins are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions inside the human body.
Fresh pads contain average levels of vitamin-C. 100 g provides 9.3 mg or 15% of this vitamin. Vitamin-C is a water-soluble, natural antioxidant, which helps the body protect from scurvy and offer resistance against infectious agents (boost immunity) and help scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.They contain small amounts of minerals, especially calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
NOTE : Removing of spines from cactus pads can be very difficult and troublesome. This can be avoided by using spineless cactus. I have passed out hundreds of spineless pads to many cactus enthusiasts through the years. However, the very hard freeze suffered in early January, 2017, nearly wiped me out. Very few of the spineless cacti have sprouted back. It'll be awhile before I get the spineless cactus back in full-swing in the garden.
Preparing cactus pads for a recipe
The Texas Cactus Council will meet on August 10, 2017, at Jerry's Diner in San Diego, Texas, at 6:00 p.m. Invite your friends, your neighbors. You may bring a door prize if you wish.
J. T. Garcia
June 2017 Newsletter
The pastures are nice and green after all the rains we've been getting. Prickly pear cactus fruit is everywhere and will soon add wonderful color to the landscape. Bob White quail are plentiful as are the wild turkeys. It's mating season for the turkeys and we should soon see mother hens with large flocks of baby turkeys. The hunters leave their deer feeders running year round and this attracts the gobblers who readily come to enjoy the corn. They are joined by the quail, mourning doves, white-winged doves and white fronted doves. And of course, wild hogs are there. They have increased in numbers and are actually a problem for most farmers and ranchers. Studies are being made to come up with a solution to control the beasts who ruin whole fields of grain, corn, etc. Fields are also damaged by all the diggings of the hogs. As of now, no solution for the hog problem has been found.
Cactus Mexican Style
10 tender diced cactus
1 small diced tomato
small white diced onion
1 diced jalapeno pepper
cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
4 tablespoons corn oil
Steam the cactus until softened.
Drain the cactus.
Fry all the ingredients except for the Monterrey Cheese. Combine fried ingredients with the cactus and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Top with cheese before serving.
Nopalitos con Papas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
10 tender nopalitos (diced and boiled for 12 minutes)
1 onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
salt to taste
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the nopalitos, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Season to taste with salt, and continue cooking and stirring until the onion has softened and turned translucent, and the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more.
The Texas Cactus Council will not be meeting on the month of June. They will instead go on a field trip to the Lavender Festival in Blanco, Texas, on June 10, 2017.
The entire town of Blanco and the surrounding countryside will be bathed in lavender during the Lavender Festival. The Lavender Market, on the grounds of the historic Blanco County Courthouse, is always a must-see highlight of the festival. Selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Country will offer lavender-related pleasures and treasures from the finest craftsmen.
A leisurely drive through the breathtaking Texas Hill Country has always been a favorite activity for out-of-town guests. Our lavender fields are enhancing this natural beauty.
Each lavender farm experience will be as varied as its farmers. Farms will offer items for sale, ranging from their favorite lavender plants, to lavender products, to Hill Country crafts. Many of the farms offer special entertainment; and some provide activities and events for the whole family.
If you are interested in lavender's mystical culinary properties, its various craft uses, aromatherapy benefits, or its suitability as a landscape plant, you will find a session designed to answer your questions.
During Lavender Weekend, Lavender Festival Fever will be in full swing, with the whole town participating in the celebration. Merchants will offer lavender merchandise and restaurants will serve lavender-flavored dishes. Who couldn't love lavender in one of its many forms?
The Texas Cactus Council president mailed information about this field trip to the members of the council. For more information, search for Lavender Festival online. Bring your camera, sunscreen, sunglasses and caps. It promises to be a wonderful day.
The next regular meeting of the council is set for August.
J. T. Garcia
Thanks to all who have sent in their membership dues.
Thanks to Bill Pritchard for submitting the article below.
Methane plant is the first to use Nopal
Mexico News Daily | Tuesday, March 21, 2017
A staple of Mexican landscapes and countless dishes, nopal also known as prickly pear cactus is now powering a tortilla plant and two vehicles in Michoacán.
It was 10 years ago that Rogelio Sosa López, a farmer and tortilla producer in Zitácuaro, Michoacán, and an associate, Antonio Rodríguez, began investigating cheaper sources of fuel and power generation, which represented Sosa's biggest costs.
Using old equipment and a trial-and-error approach they began producing methane with nopal, reducing energy costs by between 40% and 50%, said Rodríguez, a former Pemex employee.
Now they have a two-hectare nopal plantation and a processing plant where a special machine liquefies the nopal. The resulting pulp is mixed in large tanks with water at 38 degrees C, the right temperature for nopal to break down and release methane.
Further treatment with sulphuric acid extracts carbon dioxide, giving the plant a 96% concentration of methane at a production rate of eight tonnes a day.
The complete process is sustainable, said Rodríguez, because it produces only water and nopal waste that is used to irrigate the plantation, and a fiber that can be used directly as fertilizer or added to compost.
Sosa's and Rodríguez' project, now a firm called Nopalimex, is the first in the world to produce biogas from the cactus.
Another inadvertent result of their investigation was that the methane could also be used to power motor vehicles.
Two have been running on nopal methane for two years at a cost of 10 pesos per liter. Come next year, the farmers turned fuel innovators plan to be ready to supply the fuel needs of vehicles owned by the Zitácuaro municipality, such as police patrol cars and ambulances.
In order to run on methane, the vehicles have to be modified with a small container tank, a vaporizer and a nitrogen container. In all, the ZItácuaro municipality will save 30% of its fuel costs during the first two years, said the mayor.
Sosa said the state government has also shown interest in further developing their project and investing in it, as has a Spanish firm that has even suggested international clients for the nopal methane.
We are beginning to recover from the big freeze in January. While we did lose some cactus plants, new sprouts are now growing. In fact I've been harvesting nopalitos non-stop for the past few weeks. And it's quite easy since what I have is the spineless cactus variety, which is so easy to process and use in so many recipes. I'm sure I'll be able to once again give out spineless cactus pads to those of you who have expressed an interest in growing nopalitos.
Nopalitos Con Huevos Breakfast Tacos
Cook nopalitos in boiling water 10 minutes. Drain.
Combine eggs and next 4 ingredients stir well with a whisk.
Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and saute 3 minutes or until tender.
Stir in the tomato and nopalitos, and cook 1 minute.
Wrap tortillas in foil and place in 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes. (or heat them on a grill).
Spoon egg mixture onto each tortilla.
Sprinkle evenly with minced cilantro, and fold in half.
Southwestern Cactus Salad
8 tender cactus pads, diced and boiled 12-15 minutes
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine cactus, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro. Squeeze the juice from both lemons over the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle with garlic salt (if you'd like) and serve.
I will make an effort to take some spineless cactus pads to the next meeting to pass out to those members who have shown an interest in starting their cactus garden. We will be meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. at El Dorado Restaurant in Kingsville, Texas , 704 N. 14 th Street 78363. Bring a door prize if you wish.
THANKS TO THOSE WHO'VE PAID THEIR DUES.
__J. T. Garcia
February 2017 Newsletter
Plaque-busting plants take on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
(Thanks to Bill Pritchard for sending me this article.)
The fight against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases may have just gotten a new weapon from both a land-based and sea-based plant in the Mediterranean basin. Researchers at the University of Malta (UM) have found that an extract from the prickly pear cactus and brown seaweed known as peacock's tail – which both grow in the region – might help disrupt a key process in which both diseases take hold.
To test out the effectiveness of the extracts in doing just that, the researchers gave a yeast colony a healthy dose of beta-amyloid clumps and then treated the colony with the prickly pear and seaweed extracts, which dramatically improved the health of the yeast.
Next, the researchers moved on to fruit flies that were genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's symptoms. Sure enough, the extracts worked once again. When given the seaweed extract, the median lifespan of the flies was extended by two days. When the prickly pear extract was used, the life extension doubled to four days. "Considering that one day in the life of a fruit fly is equivalent to around one year in humans, the results are dramatic," says a UM report on the study. "Interestingly, the mobility of sick flies was improved by about 18 percent after treatment, highlighting a significant improvement."
Next, the researchers figured out that in flies whose brains were stacked with alpha-synuclein, a sticky protein that plays a role in Parkinson's disease, treatment with the natural substances again prolonged their lives. They concluded that the extracts limit the buildup of the sticky proteins into large clumps that can harm the nervous system, thereby helping to keep both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's at bay.
Clinical trials will follow but, as lead study author Ruben J. Cauchi points out, the compounds are already available for use by consumers.
We believe that the discovery of bioactive agents that target pathways that are hit by multiple neurodegenerative conditions is the most viable approach in our current fight against brain disorders," he said. "A clear advantage of the drugs used in this study is that, in view of their excellent safety profile, they are already on the market as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals."
The study Cauchi co-authored appears in the journal Neuroscience Letters.
In the January, 2017, Newsletter I announced that we were so lucky that a hard freeze hadn’t hit our area, which was unusual for us. Well, short-ly after I sent out the newsletter, we were hit by a very hard freeze. Many orange trees in town were apparently totally destroyed, many still with oranges. I suffered tremendous loss with my spineless cactus (which is usually not killed in the winter). And of course my bananas trees were wiped out as they are every year. Luckily they will sprout and grow during the Spring and Summer. Rose bushes in town were not bothered by the cold weather. My Chaya tree was destroyed as was my beautiful Angel’s Trumpet. I’m not sure if they’ll sprout this Spring.
And the pear burner has been connected and we’ve been burning cactus for the cattle. Cactus and hay are being fed. I’ll be getting the cattle some mineral. A few cows have dropped calves. Somehow the cold weather does not seem to bother them. Cows are smart mothers and know how to protect their babies in the heavy brush and creeks.
Pollo con Nopales (Chicken and Cactus)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the chicken breasts in the boiling water until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the chicken into small strands.
Fill the pot again with water and bring to a boil. Cook the tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, and nopales in the boiling water until the vegetables are all tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Nearly fill a large pot with water, leaving 3 or 4 centimeters at the top. When it comes to a boil, add the salt, baking soda, and nopales. Cook until soft, for approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the nopales and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a hot skillet, saute the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and arbol chile. Once the onion has softened, add the nopales and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Serve with baked beans, Spanish rice and cheese.
The Texas Cactus Council decided at the last meeting to meet every other month. The meeting for February, 2017, will be at Jerry’s Diner in San Diego, Texas, at 6:00 p.m. on February 9th. You may bring a door prize if you wish. The president announced that we will have a program at each meeting.
J. T. Garcia
Beautiful Cactus Blooms
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
January 2017 Newsletter
Hope everyone had a great Christmas and that the New Year brings you much success, joy and good health. There is one amazing thing that I have observed and that is that we are already in the new year and we have not had a frost yet. My banana trees are still full of green leaves. This is a tree that is easily killed by cold weather. We usually get a freeze by late November or early December. The buffelgrass at the ranch is very green and lush. The cattle are really happy and are eating heartily. I cannot remember this ever happening. Now this is in my part of South Texas (between Corpus Christi and Laredo). Some parts of the state have been hit by cold freezing weather. How long will this good luck last? Don't know. Hopefully it will last for a while.
The prickly pear cactus is also in very good shape. Should the need arise for feeding it to cattle, we'll burn off the spines and let the cattle enjoy it. As I've mentioned before there are plenty of quail. They built their nests under the cactus pads. The cactus offers them shelter and protection from predators. Some farmers south of here have told me that they have seen many pheasants in their ranches. Apparently someone brought some of these birds and released them - - - and they have multiplied. A game warden told these farmers that they can shoot the pheasants whenever they want, that they are not protected. I encourage all of them not to shoot them. Let them increase in numbers even more.
Lentil and Cactus Soup (Mom's Recipe)
14 cups water
TIP! To enhance the flavor of your dish, use Swanson® Chicken Broth in place of water.
3 cloves garlic, cut into thirds
1 pound lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon (such as Knorr®)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (such as Knorr®), or to taste
1 cup cooked diced nopales (cactus), drained
3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot with 3 cloves of garlic. Stir in the lentils and 1 1/2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon. Simmer over medium-low heat until lentils are almost soft, about 1 hour.
Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet, and cook and stir the onion and 2 chopped cloves of garlic until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and continue
to cook and stir until the tomato releases its juice, about 5 more minutes. Stir the tomato mixture into the lentil soup along with cumin and 2 more teaspoons of chicken bouillon, or to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer, stir in the nopales and potatoes, and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle evenly with minced cilantro, and fold in half.
Thanks to those members who have paid up their membership dues.
The Texas Cactus Council will meet on Thursday, January 12, 2017, at El Charro Restaurant in Alice, Texas (1011 W. Front 78332) at 6:00 p.m. They have a great menu. Invite your family and friends. You may bring a door prize if you wish. I will bring some spineless cactus pads for those who want to start their cactus gardens.
See you all in Alice.
J. T. Garcia
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas