Happy First Day of the New Year

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I’ll start off the first post of 2008 with what I believe to be a profound quote from an unlikely philosopher.

“The first step in creating the life you desire is stating just what it is you hope to accomplish and be willing to fail miserably in the pursuit of it.”

Yeah. I like it. I posted my obligatory resolutions list and have been thinking on them muchly since. The twist (pardon the pun) that Monk puts on it helps me calm down (the part about failing). So ok.

Onward.

Congrats to the team of New Mexicans (Jim Baca’s wife Bobbi, included) for putting together a humdinger of a Rose Bowl Parade Float which won the Grand Marshal trophy for creative concept and design (as reported in the ABQJournal)! Go New Mexico! Kicking the pants outta that parade! I did a quick Google but couldn’t find a photo online. Hope to see it soon. It makes me proud to be a New Mexican!

Hats off to the Las Cruces pecan farmers who are finally in full swing harvesting this year’s crop (as reported in the Las Cruces Sun-News). This is an “on” year for the trees, so they are expecting some 71 million pounds in-shell to be harvested. This is a late harvest due to weather so they are out there hauling tookus to get ’em all in. Hats off to my many friends who are making their living right now. I did my part, ordering way too many chewy pecan pralines from Stahmann’s and eating them with an evil cackle. The pecans of New Mexico, second in volume to Georgia but number one in my heart.

And finally, the Iowa caucus is but a few days away and I’m dying to see how our intrepid Governor Bill Richardson fares in the fight. He’s working it, really working it hard and I’m curious to see how this all goes. It’s just the beginning but sets a tone….just what note remains to be seen.

If for nothing else, Oh Fair New Mexico is in the national spotlight. Salud!

Well, the holiday decorations came down today. The Cute Boy™ and I sadly packed up the tree and ornaments and our rockin’ train and put them away. The living room seems so…empty. *sigh*

Time marches on.

As a final farewall, a photo of the train in motion. I adore it.

Photo by Karen Fayeth.

State Approved Yummies

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This past weekend I had a hankering. I’m a bit depressed and no small amount of stressed out and I was in need of some comfort food. You know, the something like mom used to make.

I woke up Sunday morning with a strong hankering for Biscochitos. So I gazed over the recipe, decided on Crisco over traditional lard, looked in my liquor cabinet to see if had the requisite brandy (I didn’t) and set off to the grocer for all the goods. I already had anise seed so I was ahead of the game……

You have to understand, this was a rare bit of homemakering that I’m not used to. Neither is my long suffering, but very patient partner. But he knows he gets to enjoy the fruits of my nesting, so he’s all good.

I mixed and blended, whipped the eggs, poured the brandy (as a kid when I made them I always found a way to sample the brandy as it went in, just a small teaspoon full for me, and it always made me go “bleah! Why would anyone drink this?” As a grown up, just the smell made me “ew”, so no sampling this time…..)

Soon I had a stiff dough to work with and I cursed while rolling it out and cutting the individual cookies. As is tradition, I burned one batch (I *always* burn at least one batch while making ANY kind of cookie). But soon I’d turned out a pile of the sweet, but not too sweet, treats. I shared some with the neighbors. I ate my fill until I was sick, and then came the litmus test. My Brooklyn boyfriend gave them a nibble and declared them as addictive as I know them to be (he rocks, by the way).

So I was all up in my Biscochito bliss when I read this article in the Las Cruces Sun News.

The ice cream mix, pecans and Biscochitos, sounds divine. But what caught my eye is that I guess I somehow missed that in 1989 the New Mexico State Legislature made the Biscochito the “official state cookie”.

I *had* heard that the current plump Governor loves these same anise treats turned out by the chef at the Governor’s mansion. Wouldn’t that be great? To have someone turn out a batch of delicious just like that, whenever you want? Wow. I’d be a plump Governor too….

So not only did I make comfort food, I made NM State approved comfort food. Go me!

By the way, the recipe I use comes from the “Cocinas de New Mexico” cookbook put out by PNM. The recipe is online here. That “Cocinas de New Mexico” cookbook is a dandy if you don’t already have one. I have always used the quite old version my mom has but I will probably order one of my own.

Just….yum.

Artist Diana Bryer’s “Making Biscochitos”

When your livelihood depends upon the whims of Mother Nature

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It can be a rough go.

Coming up in New Mexico and especially during my college years I had a lot of friends who made a living working the same land that their own parents had worked. They went to college to learn the ag business with the intent of returning home and taking over the operation. From them I learned to watch the sky because it could make the difference between a good day and a very, very bad day.

I dated a boy in college who had to exit early on one of our early dates because it was a nice dew laden evening and he had to go home and bale hay. (No he wasn’t lying and yes he called me again.) Another boy I saw for a bit stopped coming to town to go dancing for a while because his family had just planted cotton. Then a huge New Mexico frog stranglin’ rain came along and washed all the topsoil (and the seeds) away down the arroyos and out to the Rio Grande.

At a considerable loss to the operation, they had to replant. They never did quite recover from that. To this day he still lives on the land with his wife, raising their kids and I almost hate to ask after him these days because the news is rarely good. I think they declared bankruptcy once and are still struggling to make ends meet.

I remember back then he told me he’d never leave the farming life. It was in his blood. He made good on that promise.

The ABQJournal article “Cold Snap Doesn’t Worry Southern N.M. Farmers” got me thinking about him again.

A recent cold spell with temps down into freezing got folks worried, but it looks like it wasn’t severe enough to damage most Spring plantings. The Doña Ana extension agent they interviewed says some cabbage and pecans were damaged, but nothing too severe.

An old relief washed over me when I heard that. Being a farmer and/or rancher hasn’t gotten any easier over the years and those that can still make it work (and aren’t part of some monolith of an overburdened and questionable morality ag company) get my respect every day of the year and twice on Sundays.

There’s an interesting bit at the end of the article talking about the fact that demand for corn has gone up due to the ever-growing industry producing ethanol. Corn is getting $4 a bushel meaning a lot of farmers are taking land that once grew chile and cotton and converting it to corn. It might just be a boon for these folks. I sure hope so.

The gentleman quoted at the end of the article also just happens to be a friend of mine. Tip of the cap to that family and may their planting decisions be fruitful….