Mira D’Souza’s Acorn Quick Bread: Food Shopping and Budgeting

ON THE MENU: Acorn Quick Bread

For the second Native American Health Center (NAHC) Youth Services cooking class, we made an Acorn Quick Bread using acorn starch found at a local Korean grocery store! Acorn has been used as a staple food for many Native California tribes along the coast and the northern region of the state, but only some kinds of acorns are used for food. Our guest chef, Mira D’Souza focused on a food shopping and budgeting theme, and showed us how to cook by ratios and substitute ingredients like all purpose flour with native ingredients like acorn starch or flour. We also discussed food staples we have at home and what foods we ideally would like to incorporate in our diet!

About Mira

Mira D’Souza lived in India until she was 14 years old, and she frequently uses flavors from her homeland in her culinary creations. Her family had to move around a lot because of the nature of her parents’ work, so it exposed her to different cultures from an early age. Due to the constant movement of her family, Mira developed an interest in international relations and health, economics of sustainable business, and even planned to become a medical doctor. After college, she quickly realized that her passions for health aligned more with food and cooking so she opened a restaurant with two partners. She also realized the importance and value of eating more at home to truly have a healthy lifestyle, because you know what you are putting in your body. This is what inspired Mira to create her business Queen Pickle, where she takes ingredients from home, pickles them so they last a long time, and adds flavors to dishes as a form of a condiment.  Her genuine belief in creating healthy and ethical food shows in her thoughtful cooking process.

Native California Ingredient: ACORN

The Native Californian ingredient highlighted this week is acorn. According to the writer Kathleen Rose Smith (Bodega Miwuk/Dry Creek Pomo): “Many different kinds of oak trees grow in my ancestral homeland, but the only ones I have heard any of my relatives talk about using for food are black oak, coast live oak, Oregon oak, and blue oak. Another tree with acorns that we eat is tanoak. We consider it to be an oak, but botanists do not and instead put it into another genus. Today tanoak is our most important source of acorns, but that wasn’t the case in the past. Black oak was and is still favored by some” (Smith, 2014, p. 45).

Acorn can be made into a thick jelly-like mush or porridge, or ground into flour and fashioned into breads. It takes an incredible amount of time to process acorns into flour, because most of it is done by hand. We are using acorn starch in this recipe because it was available and affordable at a local Korean grocery store. Here is a video from KCET, Tending the Wild: Decolonizing the Diet, that shows the traditional way of processing acorns.

Food Budgeting and Shopping

Meal planning: Having a plan for what you can eat every day, and making sure that you always have those things around will add some stability to your schedule, as well as help you budget and not eat out. Mira tries to have at least two out of three meals planned every day, leaving a window of spontaneity open in for other dining opportunities. To make this happen, Mira makes sure that she always has the following in her kitchen:

Bread Indian pickle Onions and Garlic Ginger Flour Cheese Yoghurt Fruit*
Eggs Green veggies* Seasonal other veggies* Lentils Salt Tea/Coffee Rice Spices

 

Choosing the right foods for you: What is your body’s reactions to certain foods?

  1. How I feel while I’m eating the food – does it make me nauseous? Or do I feel at peace?
  2. How I feel after I’ve eaten – do I need a nap immediately? Or do I feel re-energized?
  3. How does my body process what I’ve eaten – I listen for large noises, and yes, take note of my digestion.

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Recipe: Acorn Quick Bread

Yields about 20 muffins and a small loaf

1 hour prep time

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces acorn flour or 4 oz. acorn starch
  • 8 ounces all-purpose flour + 0.5 ounces for flouring the muffin tin
  • 8 ounces maple sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 16 ounces milk
  • 8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)
  • 8 ounces (two sticks) butter, melted +0.5 ounces for buttering the muffin tin

EQUIPMENT

  • Electric hand mixer
  • 2 metal bowls
  • Scale for weighing ingredients
  • Measuring cups and measuring spoons
  • Spatula and whisk
  • 2 muffin tins
  • Small saucepan for melting butter
  • Knife or toothpick for readiness test

 

PROCESS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease the muffin tin with the wax paper that the butter was wrapped in, using additional butter if necessary, and dust in flour.
  2. Combine the flour, maple sugar, baking powder, and salt in one bowl.
  3. In the other bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are uniformly distributed (adding the eggs one at a time can help with this). Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour the batter into muffin tins, and bake for about 30 minutes, until the blade of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Let the muffins cool and then remove from the pan. Eat the quick bread with cheese, jam, or simply by itself.

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Budgeting/Wealth Advice: https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/09/20/wealth-advice-that-should-be-obvious/

Making Maple Sugar: https://leitesculinaria.com/102175/recipes-how-to-make-maple-sugar.html

Ruhlman, Michael (2009). Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. New York, NY: Scribner.

Smith, Kathleen Rose (2014). Enough for All: Foods of My Dry Creek Pomo and Bodega Miwuk People. Berkeley, CA: Heyday.

Urban Foraging Map: http://fallingfruit.org/

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