Tuesday, February 28, 2012

red or green? and a recipe for southwestern red chile sauce

ok...i keep getting emails asking me where are all the stories from taos?  i know you guys are wondering what i have been doing. well, bluntly?  eating.  and eating.  and eating.

i love hot and spicy food, so taos is one of the most perfect places in the world for me.  there are so many amazing restaurants in this tiny town with a population of 5000...truly the most per square foot of any town any where.  my favorite type?  southwestern.

if you are not familiar with southwestern food, imagine mexican cuisine with different chiles...pinto beans instead of refried...and posole (hominy) instead of rice.  of course there are many other differences but, for the next few posts, i am going to focus on chiles.  so back to my question...red or green?

you are always asked that question in southwestern restaurants...meaning, "do you want the delicious item you just ordered covered in red or green chile sauce?  it is so hard to pick...most people order their food "christmas style", meaning you would like both.  chiles and chile sauces are the foundation of southwestern food and, i must admit, i am addicted.  my goal for this taos visit is to master chile sauces...and to find the best local resources for the ingredients needed....i want to be able to make these dishes even when i am not in new mexico.

today i am starting with red chile sauce.  i had a lot of help with this recipe....the chefs/cooks from many restaurants here gave me tips and advice.  special thanks to ricky of ricky's restaurant for the chile resource.  he shared with me his "secret" source for red chiles...told me to tell them i want the "chile ricky buys".  how cool is that?  this source is not available online but, for a delicious substitute, try this one.   the most important rule is you must use pure new mexican ground chile...this is not the time to use one of those commercial chili powder blends...the taste is completely different. use this sauce on enchiladas, smothered burritos, tamales, eggs, pork, chilaquiles, nachos...you will find many uses for this delicious sauce.

red chile sauce
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup pure new mexican ground red chile powder, medium
1 1/2 tsp dried mexican oregano
1/2- 1 tsp chile caribe (caribe is crushed red pepper, seeds and all.  this one is hot so start with 1/2 tsp.  taste and add more if you like your sauce really spicy)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
add the oil to a medium saucepan and heat until gently shimmering.  add the onions and sauté until they are translucent (do not let brown).  add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. stir in the salt. add 1 tbsp flour and stir until flour is incorporated into the oil ensuring all lumps are dissolved.  repeat with second tbsp. of flour and sauté for 1 minute.  add the water and the chile powder and stir until combined.  add the oregano, chile caribe and cumin and bring to a boil.  reduce heat and simmer (low) for 30 minutes. taste and correct seasonings if necessary


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

do you listen to KTAO?

you cannot spend time in taos, new mexico without becoming familiar with the radio station KTAO.  it truly is the soundtrack to this wonderful, wacky, historic, delicious, creative and stunningly beautiful place.  KTAO is my favorite station in the world...not only because of its eclectic mix of music, its coverage of local and world issues, its wackiness(there is that word again), but because of its commitment to living green.  read about their history below...taken from their website...and then listen to the station.  take my advice...listen for a day.  you just may get hooked too.

History of KTAOS Solar Radio

Thirty-five years ago, a small radio station began along a dirt road in Taos. Since then, the station has grown into the world’s most powerful solar radio station and the most popular FM radio station in Taos County. The origins of FM radio in Taos extend back to Chicago when the owners of successful station WXRT decided to bring their formula to Taos. In 1975, Taos Communication Corporation (TCC) was formed, and a year later KXRT was on the air. In 1979, Brad Hockmeyer moved to Taos to work at the station, but by 1982, it was clear “the big city” approach would not work in the unique mountain art colony.

Brad took control of the company in 1986 and changed the call letters to KTAO. Five years later, KTAO received international attention when it became the first radio station in the world to be powered by the sun. A super-structure holding 150 solar panels (more have since been added) was installed on the top of the 10,800 ft. Picuris Peak and racks of batteries along with the transmission equipment were housed in an “earthship” made of recycled materials that maintains a safe, constant temperature range year round. In 1996, KTAO grew again, adding staff and doubling the size of its building on Blueberry Hill Road. In 1997, Brad started the KTAOS Solar Music Festival, which attracted an audience of thousands. The three day show was renamed the Taos Solar Music Festival in 1999 and over the next ten years Solar Fest became an internationally recognized event that continues to grow in popularity.

In 2010, Brad sold KTAOS to four employees – two couples – who continue to run the station and foster it into a flourishing new age of management. Today, KTAO is licensed at 100,000 watts making it the world’s most powerful solar powered radio station. The eclectic station, which is number one in its market, is truly world famous with coverage ranging from CNN, Time Magazine, USA Today and dozens of additional national and international media outlets. Its signal can be heard from Colorado to Santa Fe, as far south as Albuquerque and across the globe right here at ktao.com.

What’s Solar Radio?
In 1991, KTAO installed a structure holding 150 solar panels on the top of the 10,800 ft. Picuris Peak. Racks of batteries along with the transmission equipment were housed in a self-sustaining Earthship – a partially underground building constructed of tires, rammed earth and other recycled materials – that maintains a constant and safe temperature range year round. Over the past 20 years, the number of solar panels has grown and KTAO is now licensed at 100,000 watts, earning it the title of the world’s most powerful solar powered radio station. 50,000 watts is considered big in solar radio, making KTAO huge in comparison. The photovoltaic panels are virtually maintenance free and cut the electric bill to almost nothing, while allowing KTAO the capability to transmit over a 100-mile radius from Taos. KTAO has not only made a commitment to bringing a great variety of music to the Taos community, but on a larger scale, it is committed to making a lasting difference on the planet with its use and advocacy of solar power.



diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style™ "

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

my taos adventure...wanna join me?

Attribution: Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia
it's finally here!  i have been counting down the minutes for months.  monday i leave for taos, new mexico.  have you ever been there?  it is one of my favorite places on earth. let me tell you a bit about it:

taos is located in northern new mexico about 70 miles north of santa fe.  the taos visitor's center says,

"Taos is an artist’s colony with a 400-year old Spanish heritage and 1000-year old American Indian culture. This tri-cultural blend creates a unique community of regional foods, arts, festivals, and lifestyles."

photo by Paula Valentine
i would add that, in addition to the artists, spanish descendants and the american indians, there are former "hippies" who moved there in the 60's and never left, celebrities who like to shed their "star" status and live regular lives and people who want to live a more natural and "real" life. with the taos population only around 5000, this mix of interesting and diverse cultures leads to an amazing, wonderful, mystical and magical place to live or visit.  this tiny town offers over 100 art galleries, the food is delicious with an emphasis on fresh, local and organic/sustainably grown ingredients and there are outdoor activities available year round. taos mountain boasts some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world...summer offers hiking, white water rafting, boating, fishing.  the blue skies are impossible to describe...although artists continue to try with paintings, books, weavings and photographs.

do i sound like a fan?  10 years ago we bought a home there.  a second home which is offered as a vacation rental when we are not there.  sadly, due to my business, i have not been there for 4 years.  that is about to change.  i have decided to take a few weeks leave and spend time in taos.  i so need a break.  i want to explore southwestern cuisine...finally learn how to make authentic green chile, i want to hike in the snow...visit tons of galleries, take yoga classes, spend time in front of our kiva fireplaces reading (we have four, i cannot wait to show them to you).  this visit i will be armed with laptop and blog....i want to share my taos with you.  maybe you will fall in love too?


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885
"live a green life of style™ "

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