This Is Chili Powder: Part 1
Nov 17th, 2014 by Wendy

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This is Chimayo Chile Powder, the Real Deal, grown in the Rio Arriba County, between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Only Chimayo Chile from this region, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) stamp of approval, can be called “Chimayo”.

This chile powder is more orange than red (terra cotta color) and is more flavorful than kill-your-taste-buds spicy. And it’s expensive- up to $80 a pound.

It’s Chile Powder Gold! One person raved that sauce made from Chimayo Chile is dark and gleaming like river mud, glistening as if gold flakes had been stirred in and full of extraordinary rich flavors. Actually, that could have been me raving about David’s enchilada sauce. It’s so good, I’d drink it straight if I could get away with it. (More on David’s burritos, drowned in Chimayo Chile enchilada sauce, in another post.)

We get our Chimayo Chile from our Santa Fe Connection. My friend and husband go directly to Chamayo Chile country and buy direct from the grower. Then the box of chile powder is shipped to us in Oregon with tracking. One year, a box went temporarily missing for awhile before delivery.

She reminded me that Spaniards came to New Mexico ages ago. She said there are four cultures in New Mexico: Spanish, Native American, Mexican and Anglo. I suspect there are subsets of all of these- combinations of this and that in small communities dotted around the state. It made me curious so I went looking for more information. I Googled It of course.

Chimayo Chile plants came to New Mexico with the Spaniards in the 1500′s. In recent times, the Chimayo Chile plant almost went extinct in New Mexico. It’s difficult to grow and process with commercial farming. A consortium of local farmers and activists started the Chimayo Chile Project in 2003. The state of New Mexico granted the patent and trademarking (USPTO label) a few years later. As with the difference between “parmesan” and authentic “parmigiano-reggiano”, the former cheese is made all over the world, but the latter only comes from specific regions in Italy. Only authentic parmigiano-reggiano bears the stamp on the rind. Only authentic Chimayo Chile comes from Rio Arriba County.

Some Chimayo Chile comes from the town of Chimayo, grown in the “holy soil” of  Santuario de Chimayo.  But Rio Arriba County boasts the largest number of organic farmers in the state of New Mexico (and the county has large population of artists and fine crafts people) so you can find authentic Chimayo Chile from a variety of farmers. I read that heroin distribution had been a big problem in the County, but now people are growing Chimayo Chile plants instead! 

Thank  you to my friend and her husband, who made a fun day out of going to the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market  to buy our Chimayo Chile powder from Crescensio Ochoa (“Chencho”), who grows and processes Chimayo Chile on his 6 acres with the help of his mule. She listed the other foods she bought that day and it made me want to move to New Mexico!

Now we wait for our Chimayo Gold!

Mochi Dots, Mother’s Day and The Pajama Sale
Nov 9th, 2014 by Wendy

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A Mother’s Day gift of a Stitching Post gift card burned a hole in my pocket, but I saved it for the annual Pajama Sale in November so I could take advantage of the 35% off sale. I bought this beautiful stack of 11 fat quarters of Mochi Dots by Moda. It’s a beautiful linen home dec weight fabric that washes wonderfully and sews like a dream. Thank you L & C!

Here in central Oregon we look forward to the annual Pajama Day Sale at the Stitching Post in Sisters, Oregon. The sale begins at 6:30 AM with the maximum discount for those in PJ’s: 35%. At 8:30, the discount starts to diminish in two hour time slots throughout the day. Everything is 35% off, so it’s a fun day to browse, buy yourself a treat, stock up on notions, or buy yards and yards of fabric. Exhausted shoppers take their big-bags-full to breakfast with old friends or new friends found in line at the store and talk about- what else- fabric, quilts, our families, our lives.

The first time I went, a wet white fog hung low to the ground.  Out of the mist, women in curlers, bathrobes, slippers and PJ’s came out of the crowd, like a stumbling Zombie Quilter Army descending on the quilt shop. Actually, the fog made it difficult to see so we stepped cautiously on approach to the store.

Another year, I met such a “new friend” in line. We invited Nancy to join us for breakfast and to our delight, she did. That day stands out as a really good day.

Not all PJ sale days hold happy memories. At breakfast in November 2010, a phone call from the husband of my good friend called me with the sad news that my friend and his wife had only a few days to live. She did indeed pass away at home a few days later.

Time passes. Fast forward to 2014. I and 5 other people joined up for breakfast after shopping for our notions and treasures and finds. This is a fledging group of friends. Hopefully, in a few years, I will remember this PJ Sale day as a happy memory when I got to know new people who came to enrich my life. We had “show and tell” with our goodies, then we settled in to eat our well deserved breakfast.

 

This Is Catification
Oct 20th, 2014 by Wendy

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My husband and I were fans of the TV show “My Cat From Hell” with cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy at the same time we adopted our two kittens, Cooper and Izzy. We noticed they were always looking up, even when they were so tiny they’d fit in our open hands. Then we saw the episode where Jackson explained that cats either love to be in trees (UP) or in bushes (DOWN). We had “tree” cats!

We built the catwalk around three sides of our front “great room” (8 feet high), with a purchased cat perch on one end. Then we built the Cat Tower from an upcycled chest of drawers (featured in the book) to bookend the catwalk with a way up and down on both ends.

We didn’t stop there. I joke that we have a preschool for cats, but really, when you live inside a very large cage (a house) you need something to do! We have to change it up too, so it’s all new all over again .

Now with this book, Catification, available NOW, we’ll have even more ideas to keep Cooper and Izzy engaged and hopefully, out of trouble!

Check out Jackson Galaxy at jacksongalaxy.com

This is A Button!
Oct 18th, 2014 by Wendy

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Sandra Bruce came to Sunriver!

This is my Sandra Bruce polymer clay button!

Check out all things Sandra Bruce (lettering, illustrating, quilts, polymer and more) at sandrabruce.com

P.S. If you give a quilter a button, she’ll have to make something fabulous to go with it! (If you give a mouse a cookie…)

 

 

This is 37 Days of Cat Food
Oct 16th, 2014 by Wendy

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The Beasts get one 5.5oz can per cat per day. The giant cans give them a bonus 1.5oz to split.

They can tell time and don’t hesitate to remind me when the hour draws near.

Yesterday, when I ignored them, they threw themselves down behind the desk, knowing I would leap up and flail my arms.

Have you ever looked behind your desk to see a cat in a vertical Superman position, stuck between the desk and the wall?

Sadly, I have.

 

This Is 63
Oct 11th, 2014 by Wendy

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Happy Birthday To Me!

 

Salt Crusted Chicken, Part 2
Oct 11th, 2014 by Wendy

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Last time, Colleen and I took 9 pounds of salt to encrust a whole chicken (filled with herbs and lemon) and BBQ’d it at a high heat. Served with a parsley garlic sauce (with fresh picked grown in the sun parsley), it was delicious.

But a whole chicken is a lot of chicken for just David and me. And 9 pounds of Kosher salt is expensive. I decided to try encrusting thighs instead.  It was okay but not worth it.

And not as much fun as with Colleen. At the time, we all thought it was good as a Once-A-Year dish. So next summer Colleen, we’ll do it again!

Stalking Pikolinos
Oct 4th, 2014 by Wendy

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While perseverating for weeks over whether I should get a black pair of Born Orlene boots in black this year (or not) or some other black lace up boots (or not), I stalked these Pikolinos online.

I never thought I’d see the Pikolinos in person but once in awhile, I get to shop out of town. I walked into Lithia Park Shoes in Ashland and there they were: both colorways, calling to me from the display.

I tried them on knowing I would walk away. And I did walk away.  I went to Fabric of Vision and Sew Creative across the street and picked up some fabric.

And then I walked back, in a mesmerized state, knowing I could buy black lace up boots almost any old day. Of course, I had to go through my usual Buyer’s Doubt, but now, I’m waiting to shop for new clothes to go with them! (The Eileen Fisher Icon Coat would look GREAT with my Pikolinos.)

NOT. And NOT.

Just waiting to have some place to go here in RuralVille.

Pizza by David
Aug 30th, 2014 by Wendy

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It all starts with the crust. This one is a whole wheat blend, with herbs, and just the right amount of salt, to make a good thick crust, crunchy on the bottom and cooked all the way through.

Maybe it starts with the ceramic pizza stone, preheated in the oven. Or possibly the ingredients: whole milk fresh mozzarella and a mix of grated parmigiano reggiano and Monterey Jack or Provolone. The precooked pepperoni is great too: julienne slice the pepperoni, sprinkle it on paper towels on a plate, and microwave to cook off the fat. Add other favorites: precooked Italian sausage, pineapple, bell pepper- don’t stop!

David’s mountain of a pizza did cook down as he promised. And it was really really really good!

Chicken in Salt Crust
Jun 22nd, 2014 by Wendy

First, I have to urge you to get your hands on the Planet Barbecue cookbook by Steven Raichlen. It boasts 309 recipes from 60 countries (an “Electrifying Journey Around The World’s Barbecue Trail”) plus “Techniques, Tips & 600 Photographs”).

Then, if you are like me, you will begin with the Salt-Roasted Chicken recipe, with Garlic Parsley sauce, from Garzon, Uraguay. It’s been a long wait to try this technique- since my Early Twenties. But now now that I’ve done it, I wish I had made it an annual event decades ago. Don’t you wait another day!

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So Colleen and I prepared the chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs. Then we made our “salt snow” with a mere 9 pounds of Kosher salt and about 2 cups of water*. As instructed we packed the salt under and around the entire chicken…but we forgot to install the thermometer first. We remembered after it had been cooking, which is entirely too late to try to figure out where the thigh is to stab the thermometer. So we just cooked it the suggested 1 and 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, we started filling the dinner table with roasted Padron peppers, parsley garlic sauce for the chicken, Orzo Pasta (with feta, Kalamata olives, fresh summer vinaigrette packed with shallot, garlic, basil, parsley, chives, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil), fresh fruit, pickled cucumbers, roasted cauliflower** and possibly more. Whew!

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Although the recipe says you have to really whack the baked salt crust, we didn’t expect it to be salt cement! It took brute force, a cleaver and a mallet to break up the crust. An instant read thermometer revealed temps showing the chicken overcooked, and indeed, the meat fell off the bone when we tried to carve it. However, it was still delicious, especially with the parsley garlic sauce, which really enhanced the flavors of the chicken. Oh yum yum yum!

And it was another fun cooking adventure with Colleen!!!

* If you wonder why the salt doesn’t just melt into a watery-salty-brew, remember that liquids reach a saturation point, where the thing melting into it can’t melt anymore. Two cups of water is not enough for 9 pounds of salt to melt entirely; in fact, 2 cups of water is enough to turn the 9 lbs of salt into the consistency of wet snow, which packs and molds around the chicken.

** A trip to the Farmers Market in Bend resulted in fresh picked herbs, cauliflower, Padron peppers, cucumbers, and a whole lot more. YUM. Just Picked really does taste good!

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