Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Off The Grid Travels in Taos, New Mexico

Part Two-Earthship Biotecture
Have you ever wondered what to do with a bunch of old tires, used glass bottles and cans? Well I have just the project for you. Find some friends who have extra time on their hands to help you build your very own earthship home. Or move to New Mexico where you can buy a "Euro" Earthship home for just $369.000. Still not sure? Then consider an overnight Earthship home rental through Lonely Planets one of the top ten eco-stays in the world. Details at lonelyplanet.com

Earthship Biotecture world headquarters are in Taos, New Mexico. The Earthship is the epitome of sustainable design and construction. No part of sustainable living has been ignored with these ingenious buildings.

Earthships can be built in any part of the world, in any climate and still provide electricity, potable water, contained sewage treatment and sustainable food production. The homes are built with natural and recycled materials and offer thermal/solar heating and cooling, water harvesting, contained sewage treatment and solar and wind electricity.
For more information go to  http://earthship.com/ Since none of the three models were open for inside viewing (except office) go to this link above for interior photos. Click on Design. They look quite inviting.  

As we drove into the parking lot my husband thought this small village of earthship homes looked like something from the planet Tatooine. (a fictional desert planet that serves as the setting for many key scenes in the Star Wars saga, appearing in every Star Wars film).
Since it was toward closing time we got reduced rates. Admission for dogs; FREE. It was quite a bizarre experience touring this earthship project and impressive what can be done to experience sustainable living.  
If you are ready to start here are some tires we found to help build the walls.
The Rio Grande Gorge was a breathtaking surprise near Taos. 
For those brave souls you are able to walk the length of the bridge. Not I as the winds were fierce and the drop down was more than heart-stopping. 

Carrots of Many Colors
Cook's notes: This product found at Trader's Joes (and new to me) was brought to my attention by Kathleen who thought blog readers would be interested in knowing about Carrots of Many Colors especially with holiday meal planning. This is what I found out...

Did you know that we Americans consume more carrots than any other people in the world? On average, each of us consumes 11.5 pounds of these robust roots a year. Can you even imagine how those numbers would increase if more people knew they could get carrots in (almost) all the colors of the rainbow? We're on a mission to make that happen, one carrot at a time, with Trader Joe's and the Organic Carrots of Many Colors.

A little history… until a few hundred years ago, carrots were most common in myriad colors. The Dutch combined a yellow carrot with a red one and came up with orange, their national color. These new carrots took hold and became the standard by which other carrots are judged. These days, the colorful originals are making a comeback, and while we're big fans of orange carrots, we also have a strong affinity for the Organic Carrots of Many Colors. Every two pound bag is filled with a random assortment of yellow, cream/white, red, and of course orange carrots. They all taste like carrots -- no surprise there -- but their color really pops on a plate.

With this exciting carrot discovery I have just the perfect recipe for Carrots of Many Colors 
Maple Dijon Glazed Carrots
Sweet and tender roasted carrots in a tasty maple Dijon glaze. This adapted recipe comes from closetcooking.com and serves 4-6. This side dish would be amazing using Carrots of Many Colors.

  • 2 pounds carrots, well scrubbed or peeled
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp.  dijon mustard
  • 1/2 TB. white miso paste
  • 1/2 TB. rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. lite soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • Toss the carrots in half of the mixture of the olive oil, maple syrup, mustards, miso, vinegar, and soy sauce. 
  • Arrange carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet. Arrange minced garlic in between carrots. Sprinkle with parsley flakes. 
  • Bake in a preheated  oven 400 degrees until tender and lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes, turning half way through, before tossing them in the remaining glaze and serving.

Cooking Tips:
  • You want to use thin carrots about 3/4 on an inch or less, so that they roast quickly. If carrots are too thick consider slicing them horizontally before roasting. 
  • You should be able to find the miso in the Asian section of grocery stores and if you cannot find it simply omit it and these carrots will still be amazing!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Off The Grid Travels-Chimayo

Our off the grid travels today included Chimayo, Rio Grande Gorge and Earthship Biotecture on the way to Taos. Blog postings will be in three parts.
Part One: Santuario de Chimayo   

Today we got a head start on the Chimayo Pilgrimage by driving rather than walking. I first heard about this Pilgrimage with a late night phone call from my daughter three years ago. She and her husband just happened to be on vacation in this area. They were driving the nearby interstate on Holy Thursday when they  encountered thousands of people walking along the road making their way to the town of Chimayo by Good Friday.   According to them the sheer size of the crowd was an impressive sight as they walked along the interstate with glow lights and being escorted by the State Patrol.  

So fast forward to Monday March 30th. Never would I imagine to actually be here experiencing all this first hand during Holy Week. 

Thousands of New Mexicans this week will be making what’s called the most holy pilgrimage in the United States by Good Friday to reach this little church in Chimayo. It's all over the news here with warnings to drive safe since so many people are walking the road into Chimayo.   
Pilgrims come from all over, walking for miles, traveling through the night from Espanola, Santa Fe and Albuquerque making their way to el Santuario de Chimayo a tiny shrine in northern New Mexico. 
As you can see the walk meanders by barren landscape. Pilgrims leave from their homes or their cars parked on the road side to walk 10, 20, 30 or even 100 miles to reach Chimayo in the darkness before Good Friday. They line the highways north of Santa Fe carrying crosses and glow sticks. By Easter Sunday tens of thousands of worshipers pass through the doors of this little chapel built almost 200 years ago on a site that is sacred to many Pueblo Indians and descendants of the Spanish. El Santuario de Chimayo was declared a National Historical Landmark in 1970.
Once people arrive they file into the church offering up special intentions and touching the holy dirt, that is said to have healing powers, located inside el Santuario.

You can scoop up the dirt 
and fill up a little bag to take home for only $2.00.
For many this pilgrimage is an annual tradition, but for some it’s their first time. Everyone has their own reason for making this trek. Some reasons might include: spiritual strength, remembering loved ones who have died, to pray for a safe return of loved ones, or a plea for hope to recover from an illness.
An estimated 300,000 people are expected to visit the sanctuary throughout the year. During lent the church typically sees around 40,000 pilgrims.  
We only passed a small group walking the road. What surprised me was these pilgrims seemed ill prepared for such a walk without backpacks and believe me when I say there is nothing around;no water or food stations or bathrooms until you reach the town. And their walk certainly was at leisurely pace. Maybe because its only Monday! 
I found the area to be rather quiet since it was early in the week. I was fascinated by the history. You can tell from the pictures the devotion and earnestness pilgrims must have to make such an arduous spiritual journey.
Along the fence are crosses people have carried on their journey.  

Crutches and walkers left behind. 

Door to a chapel. 
There were several small chapels where thousands of pictures of loved ones have been placed over the years, candles lit as a memorial and intentions placed in a basket. 
This chapel was quite interesting. Thousands of baby shoes and pictures were placed all around this alcove of a room. I found out when a child's first birthday comes parents place a pair of shoes there to honor the child and a symbol as a wish for a happy life. 
It was a beautiful day. The plaza had these stunning trees in full bloom. I am guessing they were cherry blossoms. 
And it was here I found Bella "holding court" with all her admirers.
I can't believe how many people come up and ask to pet her!  
Some parting pictures. 
Rosaries tacked on the tree trunk.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Santa Fe and Canyon Road

Canyon Road is an art district, in Santa Fe. with well over a hundred art galleries and studios exhibiting Native American art and antiquities, traditional and modern Hispanic art, regional contemporary art, international folk art and international contemporary art and sculptures, handmade pottery and jewelry. 

It certainly is an art lover’s mecca on Canyon Road, a winding, shaded street. You’ll discover beautifully preserved and restored adobe and territorial-style homes which house world-class art galleries. You could spend many days just browsing and admiring the galleries inside and out and then wishing you had some extra monies for purchases.
Interesting doorways along the street. 
Lots to see outside of the galleries.
Crepe Myrtle in full bloom.

After many hours of walking it wasn't hard to resist sampling the New Mexico state cookie
The biscochito (bees-ko-CHEE-toh) was declared New Mexico's official State Cookie with House Bill 406 in 1989. The battle over the state cookie was not about adopting it but how to spell it. Several lawmakers got on the House floor to press for the "s" or "z". Eventually the Senate returned it as "bizcochito".

Don't be afraid of the anise in these cookies. The cinnamon sugar topping mellows the anise flavor. The combination of shortening and butter is a good substitute. These cookies are flaky and light, with an ultra-thin crisp crust. A drizzle of caramel across the plate was "piece de resistance."

and the Smoked Sage Margarita from the St. Francis Hotel. 
This is their famous recipe and I might add it's quite good.
1½ ounces añejo tequila
1 ounce orange liqueur
½ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
2 sage leaves
lime wheel
smoked sea salt (available at gourmet markets, online, or make your own)
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass. Invert a Boston (cocktail) shaker and ignite a sage leaf capturing the smoke inside the shaker. Once done, fill the mixing glass with ice and cap with the smoke-filled shaker. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain in a smoked sea salt-rimmed, ice-filled glass and garnish with a sage leaf and lime wheel.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Route 66 and Route 66 Diner

U.S. Route 66 also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U. S. Highway System. Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. before ending at Santa Monica,, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles. It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in  the 1960's. 

Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed. People doing business along the route became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway, and those same people later fought to keep the highway alive in the face of the growing threat of being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.
Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments over its lifetime, and it was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985, after it had been replaced in its entirety by the Interstate Highway System. 

A visit to Route 66 Diner in Albuquerque on the way to Santa Fe was a nostalgic step back into the 50's. This historic Route 66 classic features a 50s theme replete with pony-tailed waitresses in blue skirts and bobby socks. The themed menu featured an assortment of milkshakes, hamburgers, fries and some Southwest fare mixed in. 

Lots of interesting memorabilia on and along the walls

It was hard to get this picture to really showcase the largest Pez collection I have even seen. They were lined up all around the room.

Remember Pez Candy Dispensers?
Besides the food I enjoyed hanging out with Elvis and listening to all his tunes. 

Lemon Olive Oil Cake-An Easter Treat

"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat."
-Laura Ingalls Wilder 
Keeping up with Bella and Mr. C for another walk around the neighborhood enjoying more spring blooms.

This cactus above is about ready to pop color. 

Lemon Olive Oil Cake
Cook's notes: Oh my, this cake is citrusy, moist, packed with loads of lemon flavor and so good! It's the perfect addition to your Easter brunch or dinner and sure to be a hit with your guests. The cake can be glazed or dusted with powdered sugar and served with fresh fruits.  
recipe from BHG Italian Comfort Foods 2015 
  • 1 TB. butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 TB. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 TB. fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • optional serving 2 cups cut up seasonal fresh fruit 
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter; set aside.
  • In a food processor combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and almonds. Cover and pulse with several on/off turns until mixture is fine. Transfer to a large bowl. 
  • Stir in flour, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, buttermilk, olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice (reserve 3 tablespoons) and the almond extract. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake 22-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • Cool cake on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. 
Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1- 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 TB. reserved lemon juice or limoncello (Italian lemon liqueur)
  • 2 TB. butter, melted
Glaze Directions: 
  • Whisk the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth, adding more lemon juice if the mixture is too thick. 
  • Drizzle over the warm cake and garnish with thyme or rosemary sprigs.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...