Friday, August 26, 2022

Friday Food: So Much Fruit


Short version: Pork chops, sauteed calabacita/tomato/green onion, snacks and vodka

Long version: This was one of two nights I was in Taos with my brother and sister. We had a late lunch at a Mexican diner when they arrived, so we cooked dinner at our rented condo pretty late. 

Because I am a peasant woman at heart, I travel with food. I had brought a bunch of garden vegetables with me, along with butter. So I sauteed diced calabacita in butter with some diced tomato, and green onion we had bought at the store. The pork chops also came from the store. My brother grilled those.

The snacks we had beforehand consisted of dilly beans I brought with me, plus tortilla chips and sharp cheddar cheese from the store. These accompanied vodka with lime and seltzer.

A very nice dinner, I must say.

The home crew had steaks and leftover spaghetti with tomato sauce.


Short version: Tamales, sauteed green beans, peaches and cream, more snacks and vodka

Long version: Taos night #2, and another meal cooked at the condo. We had been walking around all day and were pretty worn out by the time we got back to the condo at 4 p.m. Luckily, we had purchased tamales and peaches at the farmers market in the morning, so it was an easy meal.

I steamed the tamales in a big skillet with a layer of knives and spoons on the bottom to hold the tamales out of the water.

Improvised tamale steamer.

The green beans came from my garden, and all I did with them was saute them in butter.

I also used the last of the tomatoes I brought with me, green onion, cumin I found in a cupboard, and a bit of the brine from the dilly beans to make a salsa for the tamales. What I really needed was some sour cream, because WOAH, those were some spicy tamales. As are all purchased tamales, in my experience.

The peaches were peeled, diced, sweetened with honey I found in the cupboard, and then doused in the heavy cream I had bought for coffee. The peaches could have used another day to fully ripen, but they were still good.

This night's snacks were pickled cucumbers I had made the day before by heating the brine from the dilly beans after all the beans were eaten and then adding the cucumber I had brought with me, sliced. My sister also made guacamole, which we ate with tortilla chips. And more vodka, lime, and selter.

I prepared most of this meal, and let me tell you how easy cooking for only three adults is. It was so much easier than my daily cooking, it didn't feel at all like a chore.

The home crew had man food. More on that momentarily, but first, a directional sign from a truck stop rest room on my way to Taos.

My sons were not amused. (I must admit I rolled my eyes at this, too.)


Short version: Lasagna-ish skillet, strawberries and cream

Long version: While I was gone, A. discovered that almost two gallons of milk had soured. Loathe to waste that much milk, he looked up what to do with it, and ended up making two batches of ricotta with the sour milk and a bit of vinegar to separate it. 

You just never know what that man will do. I was very impressed.

The kids loved it and ate it plain, but he made a TON of ricotta. Like five cups. I used some in this meal.

A. made man food the day before, which consisted of ground beef, potatoes (from the garden, yay!), tomatoes, and rooster stock. The kids all liked it, and there was a LOT left over.

Using that as a base, I fried that in butter, then added some canned spaghetti sauce, garlic powder, frozen green peas, and the ricotta cheese A. had made. The end result was like lasagna, but without noodles. It was exceptionally good.

Strawberries were on sale for about the cheapest I'd ever seen at the store I stopped at before coming home. So I bought four pounds. We ate almost two pounds this night, sliced and covered in sugar and heavy cream. Yum.


Short version: Steak and mushrooms, rice, raw baby carrots, broccoli, watermelon

Long version: It is a tradition at our school that the history teacher grills steaks for every student and employee for lunch on the first day of school. There were about five steaks left over that the school cook had planned to use for something, but never did. 

Week-old cooked steaks can't be served at school, but I have no problem with it. I sliced them and fried them in butter with the mushrooms she also gave me.

The carrots and broccoli came from the school, too. They were left over from the salad bar last week.

The watermelon wasn't from school. It was from the first grocery store I went to in Taos with my brother and sister. I saw watermelons WITH SEEDS and could barely contain my excitement. These are the first real watermelons I've seen all summer, which is why we haven't had any watermelon yet this summer. 

It will probably be the only watermelon we have this year, so I'm very glad it was a good one.


Short version: Improvised pizza, leftover meat, green salad with vinaigrette, baked apples with cream

Long version: I spent most of the day harvesting tomatoes, green beans, and calabacitas in the garden, and then roasting tomatoes, green beans, and calabacitas in the kitchen.
The tomatoes, plus a couple of heads of garlic, basil, and balsamic vinegar, became roasted tomato sauce.

I was also making bread this day, so I used some of the dough to make pizza crust. Except I didn't have the pans I needed for stretching out the dough, because the pans had roasted vegetables on them. 

So instead, I just put a lump of dough on my smaller cookie sheet, roughly stretched it out, and then when it was baked, cut it in half longways to make two small pizza crusts. By that time, I had finished roasting the vegetables and could wash one of my big pans to put the crusts on.

I used the roasted tomato sauce for the pizza sauce, and A.'s ricotta cheese, some pre-shredded cheddar from the school cafeteria, and some shredded home cheddar for the cheese. One pizza had some finely diced ham that also came from the school cafeteria.

The lettuce and radishes in the salad were from the cafeteria, too. There really were a LOT of leftovers from the cafeteria last week.

Tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden, though.

And the apples for the baked apples were from the tree next to Rafael's house. A. and the kids picked them while I was gone. This variety doesn't break down enough to make applesauce, but it's okay for baked apple. Peeling and slicing that many small apples is definitely a labor of love, although baked apples are awfully good.


Short version: Taco meat, tortilla chips, watermelon

Long version: I used the rest of the ground beef man food, along with a bunch of sliced tomatoes left from the cafeteria, to make taco meat. I was out of tortillas, but I brought a bag of leftover tortilla chips home with me from Taos, so we used those to scoop up the meat.

And we finished the watermelon. I'm so happy that I found a real watermelon before the summer was over. I had pretty much given up for the year.


Short version: T-bone steaks, leftover rice, leftover roasted calabaza and green beans, raw tomatoes, strawberries and cream

Long version: Did I go a little overboard buying fruit in Taos? Yes. Did anyone mind? No.

Okay, your turn! What'd you eat this week?

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

T.T.: Visit Taos

This post is a combination Snapshots/Tip, since the Snapshots have been pretty sad lately, and I just got back from Taos and think you should go there, too. 

Not that I expect you're all going to book your tickets right now. I mean, I've lived in New Mexico for four years and only just now went. But I'm glad I did.

My brother and sister flew into Albuquerque and we all drove to meet in Taos. My drive was through the mountains and featured the best and worst of Western mountain driving.

Best=spectacular views, cool air, wildflowers lining the roadsides, a rushing stream right next to the road.

Worst=switchbacks and getting frighteningly close to the crumbling edge of the road on turns.

Despite the challenges, I enjoyed going slow, windows down, radio on. That's a real roadtrip, in my opinion.

No photos of the mountain drive, as both hands must be on the wheel at all times. This was just before I got to the mountains, when I was stopped for construction. Still got the windows down and the radio on. At this very moment, Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama, I'm Coming Home" was playing. Great song.


I made it to Taos, where the main drag was all torn up for construction and the traffic was terrible. Taos is meant to be walked, not driven.

Taos, in case you don't know, is one of the oldest Spanish settlements in North America. The Spanish first arrived there in 1540, and were settled there by the very early 1600s. Given that, it's no surprise that the history of Taos is very much Spanish and Catholic. And, later, the artists arrived.

I was more interested in the former than the latter, though, so that's what we spent our time on.

We went to the main Plaza to start our day of walking. It was interesting, and there is certainly a lot to see there, but as the farmers market was currently going, it was mostly a shopping experience. I like farmers markets, but this was almost interchangeable with almost any other large farmers market, and I wanted to see Taos, not booths. 

One of the shops we went into, though, was run by Benedictine monks, and there was a monk working there who told us about the Spanish family chapels that can still be found all over town. Five of the Spanish families that lived near each other would all fund the building of a chapel, and a priest would travel to each in turn to say Mass. Many of these can still be seen, although they aren't open right now, as a Covid holdover. 

We walked to one, though, that was on what used to be the original main plaza. 

I don't have a photo of that chapel, but this is the shrine at Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was also not open. Boo.

The monk also told us about San Francisco de Asis, which is a short drive from the plaza. This is an impressive building. It was built in the 1700s on the site of an earlier church. The parish has been there since the 1500s, I think the sign said.

The building itself is imposing. It's adobe, and the face it presents when you first drive in has no windows, so it looks like a Foreign Legion fortress in the middle of the desert.

The giant buttresses also reinforce that impression.

The front entrance.

The colorful altar.

And the view from the altar to the front door. It's a very long, narrow church, obviously.

We also went to the Martinez Hacienda, which is a museum housed in the Martinez family's very large and old adobe house. It's been preserved and all the rooms set up so it gives an idea of what it looked like and what it was like to live there.

I, of course, was most interested in the kitchen. (That shelf thing on the left with the ladder leaning up against it is actually a long bed, so the sleepers would have the benefit of the heat from the fireplace. Clever.)

We only had one full day, so that was all we managed to fit in. I'm sure there are other things to see in Taos, but that will have to wait for another trip.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Snapshots: World's Biggest Calabaza

I've been harvesting copious quantities of calabacitas from the five plants in the garden, but there are always a few that escape my notice and get to calabaza size before I see them.

Like this beast that was hiding near the fence.

It looks like a reasonable size in the photo . . .

Until I put my hand there for scale. YIKES.

A belated confession: I did not actually take any other new photos this week. Not much better than last week. 

However! By the time you read this, I am probably preparing to come back home from a weekend in Taos with my brother and sister. So next week, I should have some much more exciting snapshots for you.

For now, I will leave you with this one of A. and I on our wedding day many, many years ago.

Nineteen years and a lot of gray hairs ago, to be exact.

There you have it! My life (minimally) snapshotted.