See the newest post on getting your green chile fix at www.ilovenewmexicoblog.com.
New post by guest author Libbye Morris on her experiences as a nine-year old guide at the Billy the Kid Museum in Ft. Sumner. Don’t miss it at www.ilovenewmexicoblog.com.
Hey folks – the blog address has changed. . .but I swear there’s really a post on Taco Sal there, posted today. Just go to www.ilovenewmexicoblog.com and resubscribe. Or if you want, I’ll subscribe for you. I appreciate every single one of you – just wanted to update my look and make my blog ad ready, in case New Mexico Tourism decides I’m the smartest New Mexican writer in the state. . .or something like that.
Thanks for taking the effort to find me in my new place. I promise this will be the only effort (besides reading. . .) required from you.
I’ll say it again, over and over again – I love a good book, and I especially love a good book that portrays and celebrates all that is unique and appealing about New Mexico. I first wrote about Barbara O’Neal last January (http://ilovenewmexico.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/the-lost-recipe-for-happiness/). I stumbled across “The Lost Recipe for Happiness” at Hastings in Clovis as part of the plunder I chose with my birthday gift card from the Harris Law Firm.
That book sat in a pile that ended up on my bedside table (the ubiquitous pile – there are always seven or eight books sitting there, comforting me with their endless potential – and now my Kindle sits atop the pile. . .) and when I finally picked it up and started reading, I was instantly in love with Barbara O’Neal and her character Elena. Read the blog post – that was some good stuff, finding that book.
And then I found a second O’Neal novel – “The Secret of Everything” (according to O’Neal’s website www.barbaraoneal.com, there’s now a third novel just released). Whereas “The Lost Recipe. . .” was set in swanky Aspen, “The Secret of Everything” is set in a fictional town (listen folks, this place is so Taos/Santa Fe you’ll instantly recognize it) in northern New Mexico. And while the setting is perfectly quintessential New Mexico, the characters and the story are by far the most compelling part of the book.
There’s a heroine trying to find her equilibrium after a recent tragedy, a widower with three fascinating young daughters, a dad with ties to the hippie commune that used to exist on the fringes of town, secrets, hiking, a wise and understanding priest, a malevolent ghost, and best of all, 100 Breakfasts, the cafe on the plaza where everyone meets and eats in an attempt to find the answers to life’s questions. Just like “The Lost Recipe. . . “, O’Neal sprinkles breakfast recipes throughout the book, and the food lends to the healing of everyone’s heart in one way or another.
Here’s a quote I found on O’Neal’s website – it says exactly what I believe about food: “Food, like love and sex and children, is one of the most powerful cornerstones in our lives, and a great dish is a moment of pure love, prepared, offered, accepted and devoured.”
“The Secret of Everything” becomes, almost immediately, a book that you can’t put down. The food and the people she meets in Los Ladronas help to heal the heroine, but so does the landscape. The skies, the mountains, even the river. . .well, I can’t give it all away. Buy the book. Enjoy. As in “The Lost Recipe. . .”, there are several great dogs in this book. You’re gonna love it.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll post one of the recipes from 100 breakfasts. Stay tuned. . .
This being a new year and all, I decided to take a look at my past posts and see what you were all reading the most. Turns out, surprisingly, that my post last January 17, 2010, on New Mexico Breakfasts and Green Chile Sauce has gotten the most views since the beginning of this little endeavor. I’m not much of a believer in re-posting, but I thought you might enjoy a second look. Or a first look, just in case you missed it. I just read it again, and it made me hungry!!
New Mexico Breakfasts and Green Chile Sauce
It’s Sunday morning, and if you’re like me, you wake up thinking of a great breakfast. Something with extra strong coffee with half and half and honey, hot green chile, runny eggs, maybe some beans and potatoes. This is how we eat here, and not surprisingly, the simplicity of a New Mexico breakfast, the recipe for which has been around hundreds of years, falls in line with Michael Pollan’s new Food Rules.
I’ve been reading Pollan, thinking about how I’ve spent practically every day of my life thinking about what I put into my mouth (ask any woman – I’ll bet you 8 out of 10 have the same answer. We’re taught from early adolescence to agonize over calories and fat content and whether the burger is a worse choice than the steak. . .) and it s a welcome relief to finally have someone say, “Eat!”
Pollan’s rules are simple. First of all, eat. Just try to eat whole foods, fresh foods, avoid ingredients that the normal person wouldn’t keep in their pantry, and optimally choose foods grown close to home. Don’t eat foods with ingredients a third grader couldn’t pronounce. He says, “It’s not food if it’s delivered through the window of your car.” (I sorta beg to differ on this one – has he never been to Hurricane’s in Albuquerque or had a carne adovada burrito from Golden Fried?) My favorite rule is “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” So my breakfast falls right in with his guidelines.
Yes, the New Mexico breakfast is a perfect example of Pollan’s rules followed. I want eggs (whole foods, and grown by a neighbor out by Revelto Creek), corn tortillas (made in Albuquerque, full of fiber), green chile sauce (love my Hatch green chiles, although I’m also a huge fan of the Wagner Farms green chile in Corrales) and pinto beans.
I frequently wake on Sunday wishing I lived closer to the Frontier (previous post) or the Guadalupe Cafe in Santa Fe (. . .is there better breakfast food in the world?) or Weck’s in Albuquerque or Dick’s in Las Cruces. If I were more ambitious I would run a comb through my hair and pull on my sweats and go into Logan to the Angler’s Grill (formerly the Fireside Inn) and have huevos rancheros, which are, I have to say, quite yummy. But I’m enjoying the way the lake looks this morning and thinking of eating on the deck, and I decide a couple of over easy eggs with my leftover pinto beans and green chile sauce will do just fine.
And in honor of the traditional New Mexico breakfast, I’m going to give you the recipe for the simplest green chile sauce I know. You’ll need a couple of garlic cloves, just a few chopped onions, olive oil, flour or corn starch for thickening, and at least 1/2 cup of green chile. I always recommend fresh green chile – if you’re lucky enough to live where you can get it. Our local FFA chapter sells and roasts bags of chile each Labor Day weekend, and I had the foresight to buy three towsacks full last September – we go through it soooo quickly. By July I’ll be buying Bueno frozen chile at Logan Food Market, but until then, we’re having fresh chile right out of the freezer! If you can’t get fresh, you can always order Bueno from www.weshipchile.com. And please take time to go to their website and see their great recipes at www.bueno.com.
My Very Simple but Delicious Green Chile Sauce (serves two):
Chop two cloves garlic and 1/4 onion and then saute both in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. After they’re thoroughly sauteed, throw in at least 1/2 cup chopped green chile (I always add more because I want leftover sauce). Mix a tablespoon of flour or cornstarch with a cup of water (thoroughly dissolving the dry into the liquid) and then pour this liquid into your green chile to thicken the sauce. Mix thoroughly and let simmer for five to ten minutes. I always add some black pepper and garlic salt (can you ever have too much garlic flavor?) to my mix, but you may want to wait until you get to the table for that. Add water to your mixture if it’s too thick.
While your eggs are frying (in olive oil spray if you want to go totally healthy), dip a corn tortilla in your green chile sauce and lay it on a plate. Eggs go on the tortilla (scrambled is fine if you’re not a fan of the runny yolk), and then smother your eggs with the green chile sauce. I was lucky enough this morning to have leftover pinto beans (I make a pot almost weekly – they’re the perfect, inexpensive addition to any meal, and with some cornbread and onions and fresh chile, can be their own meal), so I added those as a side dish. And headed out on the deck to celebrate the day.
I’m all for eating healthy. I’m all for not thinking so hard about the food I eat. And I’m mostly for enjoying every bite. Luckily the food in my native state of New Mexico allows me all those privileges.
I have to tell you, I’ve been a crazy kind of lucky in my lifetime – I’ve got parents who are still nuts about each other, and in turn, their children; I’ve got this great mass of an extended family, all of whom have to act like they like me whether they do or not, and all of whom know how to create a delicious dish and bring it around to a family potluck; and I have great friends, some from my childhood who are still as important to me as the air I breathe, and many from my adulthood, all of them giving me important feedback and some love and lots of care. . .making my life the thing that it is. And my kids, did I mention my kids? Yes, my cup truly runneth over.
I’m pretty good at remembering this great fortune – I try to go over at least ten fabulous things about my life every morning before I crawl out of bed. It’s a habit I learned from an attorney I worked with, a girl who had MS and was finding the getting out of bed more and more difficult every day. It works when you remember to do it.
My Quay County friend Bethe is one of those life treasures – someone I idolized as a child (yes, she was beautiful in her own very fresh, wide-and-perfect-teeth-bright-smiled, freckled, strawberry-blonde way, and full of positive energy even in 1974, and the best friend of my cousin Cindy, and had so many marriage proposals early in life that she made all those promise rings into a horseshoe diamond ring. . .) who eventually became my adult friend.
People used to think we were cousins because we had the same last name, but we weren’t kin. That didn’t stop the boys from approaching me at a dance, acting like they were interested in me only so that I could introduce them to Bethe. I probably should have resented her. . .
So now we are friends, and a couple of weeks ago Bethe had her birthday celebration at home, the perfect New Mexico girls weekend complete with two stacked-high triple layer birthday cakes (one shaped like a horseshoe, of course. . ), some wine and lots of conversation in her soaring ceilinged living room before a massive fireplace with a roaring fire, coffee in the kitchen in the early morning, and then on Saturday night a traditional Italian meal cooked by Bethe’s friend, Ralph Servidio. If you’re going to have friends, it’s always nice when one of them is an accomplished chef.
I met four new female friends that weekend, funny, accomplished professional women who were all pleased with how life had treated them. And of course Cindy was there, my first cousin with whom I share an entire history of Grandma Ayres dinners and Santa Claus Christmases.
Here’s what we should all get on our birthdays – great friends gathered around a table toasting us, and several men serving the meal (most especially Ralph’s friend, George, who served the salad as though it was his greatest privilege) prepared by someone who really knows how to cook. We had, I kid you not, the best spaghetti sauce I’ve ever eaten in my life, ladled over your choice of spaghetti or mushroom/cheese ravioli (of course I had both). And then cake. Lots of cake. Lemon buttercream frosting homemade cake.
When I heard that Ralph is opening a restaurant in Hobbs (Babe’s Sports Page Bar & Grill, 5024 N. Lovington Highway, www.babessportspage.com across the road from the casino), I decided he had to get a plug here. If his restaurant food is like Bethe’s birthday meal, Babe’s will be unlike anything southeastern New Mexico has ever seen. You can even follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Babes-Sports-Page/175350525815133?v=wall#!/album.php?aid=56633&id=175350525815133.
Word is that they’ll be opening sometime early in February. My suggestion is that you keep checking their website so that you can get in early and often once they’re open. Ralph and his wife Debbie (and the great friend George) moved to Hobbs from California via Las Vegas – they seem to have great faith in what’s happening with the economy there. And with food like the dinner he created for us, they should be very successful.
So that’s my recommendation today. Remind yourself how lucky you are every day. Surround yourself with good friends. Create a birthday celebration that’s worthy of you. Eat great food. And treat yourself to a meal at Babe’s in Hobbs sometime soon. Life’s too short not to eat amazing meals. . .
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