Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not What You'd Think

If you are from New Mexico then you are used to people being surprised that we don't live in a place that has only a desert climate. Used to their surprise when they find out it can rain or snow or get cold in a desert climate. Perhaps it's too many old western movies, but I think many people see this part of the country as dry and arid, littered with cacti and rattlesnakes, something like a lone outpost before you drop off the end of the world.

I've said it before and if I keep up this blog I'll say it yet a hundred times (or more) again. This state is gorgeous because of it's diversity at every level. Everywhere you look it's different. Different from other parts of the country, different from other parts of the state.

One of my favorite things about cool weather in NM is the sunsets. I love sunsets year around, but something about the Autumn and Winter seasons does something to the way the sky looks, and I am smitten. The photo above is from fall, this time of year there tends to be more blues in the gradient, deep purples and cool tones that look like the sun is melting into the polar caps.

I am still in Albuquerque this time of day during the winter. I drive home between about 5 and six pm, and the sun is well on it's way to bed by that time. In the summer the sun can be up a couple of hours later easily, so I miss some of the more spectacular sunsets.

In December my family purchased a cabin in Ruidoso, which is south and est of here. It's about a three hours drive or so, and gorgeous views. I will take photos next time and share them and the details later. When we were looking at the cabin to buy it in November I was thrilled to see bucks ready for the rutting season. Seeing deer is no big deal, I have had that pleasure just driving along the roadside. But some of the boys were beautiful, and I got some lovely images. Just thought I'd share a few so you could enjoy them too. ;)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Political Ramblings

New Mexico's politics, like it's food, culture and weather, are a unusual and varied mix that is often hard to define easily in words.

There was a time when I followed politics in my home state very closely. Back then I did legislative advocacy on behalf of the company I worked for as well as the homeless vets we provided services for. Things changed, and I became more than a little soured by the way "things work", so I turned much of a blind eye to the whole process for the next few years. Shame on me, I know. Ignorance is not bliss.

The elections this year turned that around for me. I have been strongly opposed to seeing another four to eight years of Republican reign on any level, be it national or here locally. So I started paying attention, asked questions, and read more than I have read in years. (I am a voracious reader, so this is saying something.)

Having voted early I waited with bated breath and breathed a sigh of relief when Obama as well as the local politicians I had voted for all slid easily into the winning positions. I had barely registered the anxiety I was having until it eased away. Now that the elections are over, you'd think I'd lull back into my normal routine, but that has been impossible. The feeds I have subscribed to still come in the email, and I read them with increasing interest, the bloggers I keep an eye on remind me daily why I care, and I find myself unable to detach. This is a good thing.

So it is no surprise that when I heard that Val Kilmer may be running as our states New Governor I perked my eyes and ears. I have heard a great deal of negative feedback from other bloggers, and my first urge is to follow suit. However, he hasn't run yet, number one, and two, even should he run there's a lot more information out there I want to hear, not just from the grapevine.

Would I vote for him? I have no idea. Right now I don't have any candidate I am considering. But when I read Kilmer's comments: "It's been my home 25 years. I really love my state. Poor, hardworking, decent people - Native Americans, carpenters, artists, expats mixed in with hundreds of the world's smartest physicists at Los Alamos. I've always thought of myself as functioning as a candidate for them..." "...After I wrap this film, I'm off to LA to see my kids then home to New Mexico to talk to friends and see what they say. I know I'm not yet qualified for the job. It's not like I need fame. If that's what it's all about, I wouldn't live in New Mexico. But I don't want to be a train wreck. I have to see if people will put up the money for my run. I have to think about putting my acting on hold. Being famous as a movie actor is one thing, but they take no prisoners in politics. I have to think what this might do to my kids."

I have to admire someone who loves their home and considers giving service to it. It's easy to sit at home and shout about whats wrong with the politics from the couch, it's a whole new ballgame to get your feet wet and try to be part of the solution. And I have tons of respect for anyone who considers their family in that equation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A New Twist on Gnocchi

I love to cook. I have always loved being in the kitchen, even when I was a little girl.

I can remember my mom letting me create stuff while she was cooking and I was only about eight years old, me on a short stool so I could reach the stove, a smaller version of her apron on, trying out what ingredients worked together with a little saucepan to one side while she cooked on the other. I imagine many of my recipes were probably unsavory, at best, back then. But my mother always was willing to take a bite and promptly proclaimed what a creative cook I was. Not lie, I suppose, and the reward was that I grew up to have a deep love for cooking.

Once upon a time I cooked for a wide variety of friends and family, trying unusual recipes often and stretching my creativity as far as possible as often as I could. I love unusual and different, wonderful blends of flavors, interesting textures, gorgeous arrangements on the plate.. Food is an excuse to celebrate for me and I indulge when I can.

My kids and fiance however are not very adventurous when it comes to food. Meat and potatoes are fine with them, green stuff is suspect in any form, and even an unusual name for the dish could create an air of unwillingness to sample what's in the pot. So I have found myself over the past few years cooking more meatloaf, more casseroles, more roasts, and being careful to keep it simple so that everyone could be happy. (At one time there were five kids and two adults, that's a lot of people to please).

But last month something snapped within me. I couldn't stand it anymore. I pulled out my cook books, did some shopping, and cooked somethings that I have wanted to eat but have avoided for years. I offered it to the family with the attitude of "Here it is, and if you want to eat, this is all you get."

They were, admittedly, apprehensive, but to my surprise they not only finished their plates, but went back for seconds and even thirds and left nothing behind in the kitchen except pleasant rumblings of what a good meal that had been.

Motivated, liberated, and ready to repeat this amazing performance, I went shopping again and again and have been trying some of my favorites, and over-all the reviews have been positive. dear Brian even went out and bought me a set of new pots and pans because he likes the efforts I have expended in the cooking portion of our lives.

Can't beat that for praise :)

One of the new additions to our menu had been an old favorite from back when I lived in Sicily, Gnocchi. Wonderful little Italian potatoes dumplings served with anything from oil and garlic to whatever sauce suits your fancy. My favorite is a Florentine inspired Spinach and Cream sauce I once had the luck to taste in Syracuse. But in the spirit of the Southwest I decided to try something new with my gnocchi, and find a southwestern version, and it was lovely! Fresh gnocchi topped with a New Mexican twist of Enchilada Suiza Sauce.


* 8 Potatoes
* 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
* 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
* 2 Eggs (One egg if you want the gnocchi less stiff)


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes and the dice into large pieces for faster cooking. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm. Drain, cool slightly. Mash potatoes with fork, masher or in ricer. (I personally used a mixer, but this isn't recommended, but the potatoes need to be very smooth!) Place in large bowl and make a well in the center. Put the olive oil in well. When mashed potatoes have cooled, knead in enough of the flour to make a soft dough. Dough should be stuff enough to handle without sticking to much to your fingers).

2. Divide dough into fist-sized portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a long rope. Cut the ropes into one-inch pieces. Roll each piece with a fork for a distinctive texture. (If dough sticks to fork, clean it as you go and then dip in flour for easier rolling.)

3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until they float to the top; drain and set aside.


8 large tomatoes
1½ tbsp oil
1½ Hatch green chili, roasted and chopped
3 tsp chopped cilantro
1 large white onion, quartered
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup water
1 cup crema media ácida or American sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In large skill, heat oil and cook tomatoes until blackened and softened, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare green chili. (If you buy the chili's fresh see below for roasting method. If your chili's are already roasted and frozen- you may need to defrost, peel and drain off excess waters, if you buy ready to use chili, just defrost, chop and drain.) In food processor, blend together tomatoes, chile's, onion, garlic, water and crema or sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a large saucepan. Heat thoroughly.

Add gnocchi to sauce and toss lightly but thoroughly, serve with a fresh salad, warm bread and a light white wine!


  1. Rub your hands well with cooking oil before you work on the chili's and they won't become saturated with the capsaicin that causes the burning reaction for some people. Also, don't rub your hands, eyes, or any other part of your face while in this process. Place your chile's on a cookie sheet.
  2. Set the oven temperature to broil and use the center rack.
  3. Broil until chile's turn brown on top - then turn them over to brown other side. When the chili's are brown and skins start to swell, remove chili's and fill plastic freer bags with chili's. (I tend to use small baggies so I can later only defrost as much as I will use in one recipe).
  4. Let the hot roasted peppers sweat in the sealed plastic baggie for 30 minutes. Put them right into the freezer or refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Peel the peppers before cooking; skins should come right off after sweating in plastic.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's Really Almost Winter Now...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get Your Fix!

I sign up and become a member of a large number of websites on a weekly basis. Often I get through the sign-up process and then never return. Don't ask me why, the explanation would take far more space than you want me to fill with such pointless rambling.

However, I recently joined a local community site called Duke City Fix, and I can't say enough about the site.

Well put together, full of some great personalities, information, groups, and more, it is a fantastic resource not only for those living in the Burque, but for those who have had past roots, or intend to make the area their home.

Words won't do enough to explain, go see it yourself. You'll love it :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Golden Days

It's Autumn here in the Land of Enchantment.

While that may not herald the riot of colors you might see in Vermont, it is still possible to see beautiful landscapes and scenery as 2008 ushers in a new season.

I wish I had more time to get out and photograph some of this, but I am swamped. When I do get time, it'll be too late, of course.

So... here's what I have. With it I'll throw in some advice I won't listen to myself.

Get off the internet and enjoy some nature while you can :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Back to the Blog

I haven't been posting here much, because it has been a busy year, and finding time to do everything I'd like to do in even a single day often becomes overwhelming. I have considered giving up this blog, I know I don't have a following here anymore, and that this is in part because of my sporadic postings, but the truth is, I love this state I live in, and when I want to say something about it, it is here I want to leave the history of it.

It is now October, and we are smack-dab in the middle of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Just in the past couple of months we've had the State Fair, Zazobra, the Wine Festival, the Go-arts Festival, and more. Coming up there is so much to do in the coming months in makes my head spin trying to figure out how to fit it all in.

So, I'll go, I'll take pictures, and I'll share it with you, along with all those lovely new cafes I've been eating at (did I mention I love food?) and the pretty little out if the way places I have found to just hang out.

So, come along, I'll be around more, I promise. :) If you notice a post you like, let me know so I know I am going in the right direction.

And always, always, be enchanted. ;)