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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quilty Pleasures Wednesday-Scrap Republic

Hi! We've emerged from Christmas with some awesome gifts, so for a couple of posts I have some stuff to share with you.

As a member of the Bright Colors Club (not a club, really, but you know you're a member if you gravitate toward those brilliant hues), I am excited about Scrap Republic by Emily Cier.

It's 8 Quilt Projects for Those Who Love Color and it doesn't disappoint. I love free piecing my quilts and any book that says, "Find colored scraps that are about 1" X 2" wide  and about 5" long" is a winner. Other quilt instructions are more specific, so if you are in the measure accurately club (all these clubs!),  you, too will like this book.

My color sense is a work in progress. I learned a lot at Gwen Marston's Beaver Island Quilt Retreat this past summer, but an intense learning experience like that makes one realizes how little they know!

This book will help add to the learning and I can't wait to get started on some of the projects.

I hope this year to make a quilt a month. It's not a resolution, but just a way to keep meself on the straight and narrow, finish up some in-progress projects and finally make some wall hangings and quilts for the house.

What quilty plans do you have for the upcoming year?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Day After Christmas!

We are here in Southern California and dropped by In-n-Out for my favorite burger served protein style. My dining partner had hers animal style.

Next to us was a couple visiting from Hawaii who had never eaten at In-n-Out. "It's so crowded," they said. "You should see the one in Barstow," I replied. "Now, that place is insane."

I think there were more people working at In-n-Out than there are living in the village of Guadalupita.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Peace on Earth

Let us hope and pray for Peace on Earth.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last Minute Cooking? Some Reader Favorites, Right Here For You

Merry Christmas Eve, friends! I wanted to share with you a photo from a friend of mine, Debbie Watral Kitchen, who really has an artistic eye. I was so surprised to learn that all her amazing pics were snapped with an iPhone. Some people have an i for photography, don't they? (Sorry for the goofy pun!)

Are you doing a little last minute Christmas cooking? I noticed some activity on the blog site today and it looks like you folks are looking for stuff to cook.

So here are a couple links to the recipes you are looking for:

This link is for the Cheesy Potatoes recipe. If you want to make this a festive Christmas casserole, saute red and green peppers and add to the mixture before you bake it.

Apple Pie for Christmas? Why the heck not? Here's the link to Pie Town's New Mexican Apple Pie recipe, renowned throughout the country and featured in Smithsonian magazine.

I'm supposed to take a side veggie to the family Christmas gathering tomorrow, so it's Calabacitas for dinner at Pattie's and Bill's home. What's that? It's a savory amalgam of zucchini, corn, onions, chiles and cheese. Bet you can't eat just one!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Family Photo Quilt: An Historic Document

   I love this quilt my sis-in-law Pattie made several years ago for her parents.
 It's ginormous, so only about two thirds of it is shown above. She collected family photos, printed them onto fabric sheets, and used a Twist n Turn setting designed by Sharyn Craig to highlight each picture. Since there were three kids and nine grandkids, the quilt had to be big to include everyone!
Trude and Pat, the Young Marrieds

The photos include ancestors, Pattie's mom and dad throughout their lives, their kids, and their grandkids.

This looks like a tv family from the 1950's

Married for 50 Years in this Photo
The quilter did an excellent job positioning the stitching so the photos were still recognizable. The open design and neutral thread don't compete with what we really want to see:  the photos.

This is most definitely an historic document, one that Pattie's family will keep and cherish for generations.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Biscochito Cookies-A New Mexico Christmas Tradition

Northern New Mexico during winter is cold with night time temperatures in the teens and day times in the 30's and 40's.That doesn't keep people from their business, though. Yesterday in Las Vegas, Old Town's Bridge Street didn't have a parking space as folks walked up and down the sidewalks shopping the local stores for last minute Christmas gifts. It helped that the local stores are having a drawing for as much as $1000 if you spend at least $50 around town. Let's just say I did my part when it came to local spending.

Towns bedeck their businesses and walkways with what are called farolitos in the north and luminarias in the south. It began back in the 1500's when bonfires were lit to guide the way to midnight mass. In the 1800's there was a switch to paper bags half filled with sand with a lit candle inside. These have morphed into plug in lights that look like the real thing. If you have a rooftop decorated with farolitos/luminarias, it's easier to flip a switch, so that's how it goes. It's still beautiful, no matter what the power source.

People brave the cold to watch Christmas light parades, follow the path of Mary and Joseph as they look for an inn, gaze at beautiful luminaria displays, hang around bonfires, and just soak in Christmas with family and friends.

But it's cold, so there has to be time for some restoratives, like biscochitos and hot chocolate. Again, it was the Spanish who brought these cookies to New Mexico in the 16th century. Everyone has their favorite family recipe. I don't have a favorite yet, but in the spirit of Christmas, I went to the Mora Winterfest last Saturday and bought four different bags of biscochitos there. (My oven was broken, so it was a good reason to buy lots of baked goods from my neighbors.)

A shortbread type cookie with a little anise flavor, covered with cinnamon sugar, biscochitos are not too sweet, perfect with hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. It's just what you need after wandering around in freezing weather, looking at Christmas lights or following Mary and Joseph around town.

There are many biscochito recipes: just do a search and you will understand what I mean here. My suggestion is to find a family recipe that someone's grandma used to make and give it a try. Most of the traditionalists swear that lard is integral to a flaky cookie and I agree. You can't taste it, and come's Christmas! In the meantime, here is a recipe I found in a cookbook called License to Cook, compiled by the New Mexico Federation of Business and Professional Women.

Biscochitos (Anise Seed Cookies)

1 pound butter flavored Crisco
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 t anise seed
2 eggs, beaten
6 cups flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt'
1/2 cup orange juice
1 T cinnamon

Cream Crisco,  sugar, anise seed in large bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another large bowl. Alternate adding flour mixture and orange juice to creamed mixture until a stiff dough is formed. At this point some people roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness and cut the dough into desired shapes. Others will make a log out of the dough, refrigerate it, and slice it into rounds 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dust the top of each cookie with a little of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.

Note: Some bakers will immediately dip the cookies one more time in the cinnamon sugar mixture when they are done baking. Others will replace the orange juice with brandy or sweet wine.

Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bucket Bath

The boiler decided to quit last week. I tried numerous times to light the pilot, but it just didn't want to stay lit. So good bye to hot water and to our fancy-shmancy room heating.

This was after the oven decided to quit on Thanksgiving, just after we removed the turkey but before the sides were cooked. We are an adaptable family, so the microwave finished the job.

We've been washing ourselves for the past week with water heated in this bucket, wood-stove-pioneer style. I used the range to heat water for washing dishes because I am a germ phobe and need almost boiling water to ensure we are not poisoned.

We have neighbors not too far away who have no running water at all, heat entirely with wood, and have raised some fine kids nonetheless. When I took a bunch of basil to our neighbor friend this past summer, she dipped some water out of a container on the kitchen counter, filled a jar and plunked that basil right in there. No running water? No problem! So I kept reminding myself that we have it pretty danged good.

Anyway, when the propane tech came out to fix the boiler and the oven, he discovered a gas leak. Out came his RED TAG, which meant THE GAS MUST BE TURNED OFF. So no top of the range cooking, either. While the gas man was here, the electricity quit as well, so we were out of luck for heating, cooking, and now lighting and microwave.

But we are experienced campers, and Tom set up a camp stove and we rustled up lanterns, our new insulator candle holders, oil lamps, and battery powered lights to cast a gloomy glow on our dark rooms. I made Spanish rice with salad and we dined by candle light.

All was well, though, because the electricity came on later that evening, the gas leak was discovered not under the house but in a more accessible location, and it was an easy fix the next day. When I heard the boiler kick in and saw that the oven was back to its old hottie self, I almost kissed the tech's gigantic Frankenstein shoes. That guy was big!

We are, in many ways, spoiled by our easy life. People fight each other in Wal-Mart for cut rate televisions and for toys that children will tire of a few weeks after they receive them from Santa Claus. Our water comes right out of a faucet, clean and ready to use. A repairman drives 30 miles to the boonies to give us a holiday gift of hot water and an oven that works.

There are places around the world and here in the U.S. where the toys are old, used, or non existent. In Africa a mother treks miles for some clean water for her children and she can't fathom a stranger trucking fuel to her home for heat and cooking. And just up the road a mom dips water from a container on her counter to keep some basil fresh. 

So a bath from a bucket once in a while is not a big deal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We Still Like Snow

There's about 4 inches of snow on the ground with some more to come. It's like we're in a snow globe and right now no one is shaking it.  Whoops. Someone picked up the snow globe.

This morning we went out for a look. You can come along, if you want.

Barbed Wire Fence and Raspberry Bushes

Apple Tree

Bedroom Balcony and Pine. Garage on the Left

Solar Light

West Side of Yard
Feeding The Angus Boys

Driveway Looking Toward The Road

Ms. Pearl Won't Poop

Monday, December 12, 2011

Decorating the Nickel and Dime Ranch-Part 2

I recently chatted with a person who had been decorating their new home in French country style. Since I get the Williams-Sonoma catalogue like every week in the mail,  I knew what she was talking about and nodded sagely. "It must look gorgeous," I said.

"How is your home decorated?" she wanted to know.

Geez, I really couldn't put my finger on it and my answer of "a little bit of this and that" really wasn't descriptive.

 Later I thought more and decided we are kind of like Mary Emmerling's American Country Style, West.  But I suspect we do our decorating even more thriftily than she does.

We  bought those rugs in the photo below years ago at the Hubbell Trading Post and I know they should be displayed better, but that is as far as we have gone so far. The animal skin was a bobcat Tom caught carrying away one of our chickens. The red blanket is a Hudson's Bay we bought on a car trip to Alaska more than 30 years ago.

Hanging from the post on the landing is a punched tin candle lantern we found while traveling. The wooden signs are found items: Home Made was found in Alberhill, Ca. A garage was going to be demolished and the sign had been used as a shelf. It matches some boards we found in the ceiling of our old house which was on the site of the Concordia Ranch Store. The Irvine Asparagus sign was the end of a box we found at the old ranch house we lived in during the 1970's in El Toro, CA.  The tin sign is a reproduction we found at a swap meet.

Can you see that bottle of Harvey's Bristol Creme sherry? Tom keeps it handy for when I drive him to drink.

When Tom goes out for walks, he brings stuff home: feathers, rocks, old nails and bottles, whatever he happens to see is picked up and toted back to the house. In September when we were traveling in Michigan, Tom found a treasure trove: an abandoned, down on the ground power pole in the middle of the woods chock full of porcelain insulators. We already have quite a few, so I wondered what we would do with these new ones.

Tom bought a pair of lamp chimneys from Ace Hardware and now we have emergency lighting in case of a power outage.

He was really excited about the gigantic insulator pictured below which weighs over 6 pounds. I had no clue what we would do with it, but leave it to Tom

It is our dinner table centerpiece/holder of weird stuff. Last night we had a candle-lit taco dinner. Now, that's class!

Miss Bonnie and Ms. Pearl don't care how the place is decorated (note the shabby chic quilt) as long as they have a place for rest and relaxation.

Hope you enjoyed checking out the decor. This is one of a series of posts about decorating The Nickel and Dime Ranch. Stay tuned for even more!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our Neighborhood

When folks hear where we live, they invariably say, "That's God's Country!"

Thanksgiving 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Mexico Winter Is Early!

It's not officially winter, yet, but that didn't stop several winter storms along with "dangerous cold" to make a visit to most of the state.

This morning when I got up, the indoor-outdoor thermometer read -7 degrees F. About a half hour later the temperature was down to -9. Dang! That's pretty darned nippy!

We went out to feed the steers because they use extra calories to keep warm and need "some extry" to stay warm and fat.

The creek is a frozen beauty.

But that means the cows can't get to the water. Tom brought an axe to chop up the ice.

Like Sherlock Holmes, Tom followed the hoof prints to favorite watering spots along the creek. He did a lot of chopping to get the creek running.

While Tom chopped, I took a few photos. It's hard work, this picture taking.

Here's the Enchanted Forest:

Now we're inside the cabin, snug as bugs, and arguing about who has to go get the mail.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Occupy Guadalupita?

We had an occupier at our house. Tom called us the 1% and the occupier was a 99%er. Our occupier was a stray Queensland Heeler dog, a popular breed around here because they were bred to be cattle herding dogs.

She showed up yesterday afternoon on our porch and promptly made herself at home, curling up on the recliner chair that should have been taken to the dump but is still sitting there. She was glad it had been overlooked.

I was worried because she looked like she had recently had puppies and there were no puppies with her. The weather report said evening temperatures would be in the teens and so I worried about puppies surviving this cold.

So we gave her food and water, brought a travel cage onto the porch, propped the cage door open and lined it with a pillow and some towels.

And she spent the night in the recliner chair. What a tuffie!

This morning I sent out an email to local community members to see if someone was missing a dog or who wanted one. I also called a friend to see if he knew anyone on our road missing a dog.

The friend said, "She's at your place?"

Late Friday he had seen some movement on the side of the road and stopped to investigate. Under some pine branches were two puppies. The mom came running from across a field where our friend thinks she might have been hunting for food. She and her two puppies had obviously been dumped. Some folks are just plain dumb and mean!

Our friend had relocated the mom and her pups to a neighboring ranch where she promptly dug a hole under the wooden porch. He had been feeding her there but for some reason she left the pups and ended up at our place.

Our friend went to the ranch where the puppies were and was able to lure them out of their "cave." He brought them to our house where mom and pups were reunited. The photo below is of one of the pups, a fat little fluffball that looks like his mom.

They were gathered together in the truck cab and the Queensland family are on their way to a new home in Las Vegas, NM. Tonight it will be -6 F, so I am glad the dogs will be safe and warm.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Feed Me!

Ms. Pearl and Tom stayed in bed while I went out to feed the cattle. It's been snowing and when the grass is covered up, the steers get hay.

They were like party guests circling the chips and queso. "Umm, isn't this just great, bro?" says Mignon, chomping away. "Excellent texture," rumbles Number 27, crunching around his words.

These guys are getting big. I feel a little overwhelmed when I am around them, so I keep my distance. I don't want to get mowed down. Number 19, my only belligerent baby, has gone to his new home and I still give Number 31 a forehead rub, but I am trying to remember they have a limited time here.

Sir Loin and Mignon, the Red Angus/Brown Swiss cross steers, are loving the hay, which is almost as good as our lawn, but not quite as tasty as cucumber plants from the Growing Dome.

Here we are, Ms. Pearl and I, after we've fed the cows. I'm wearing my rugged ranch wear.

More snow is coming. I hope it's a lot because the ground needs moisture.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Blue Corn Muffins

 A little over a year ago I was buying veggies at the Mora Farmers' Market and I stopped at a table selling blue cornmeal. The farmer pounced, thrusting an opened Ziplock bag under my nose. "Take a sniff of this," she said, seductively.

The nutty, comforting scent made my mind jump to homemade bread, pancakes, and muffins. I mentally teleported to a small cozy kitchen, my abuelita making tortillas and handing them to me, rolled up, saying, "Eat, mi nieta," while I drank a cup of atole.

I forced my nose out of the bag, and snapping back to reality, remembered that my grandmother was Irish, drank boilermakers and was famous for her vegetable soup--and she called me "Bridgie." But blue corn muffins would do nicely with veggie soup, I thought.

So I bought a baggie of blue cornmeal, a pure food descended from Pueblo farmers. Coronado in 1540 noted that blue corn was a staple of the indigenous people he encountered in the Southwest. Nowadays, Southwest farmers are experimenting with different types, especially in the northern part of New Mexico where we have short summers with cool nights.

I made muffins using this recipe that very night. They went nicely with the veggie soup.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Obsessive-Compulsive, or Just Thrifty?

Husband Tom, I discovered long ago, has obsessive-compulsive tendencies, with his collections of outdoor magazines, pocket knives, binoculars, Western history books, maps, etc. Sometimes, like this time, it is just too much.

The other day, after dropping the kids off at Albuquerque Sunport, we decided to spend the night in a motel and go home the next day after our car was fixed. Everything went well, we did a little shopping, the car was repaired, and we were home before dark.

The next morning, with a sigh of satisfaction, Tom began to pull his "treasures from the motel" out of his overnight bag. The bags  of coffee--regular and decaf--I suppose we can use in an emergency if we run out. Tea comes in handy, even if it's generic. Soap still in its wrapper and the little shampoo bottles, unopened can go in the Airstream trailer when we travel, I admit.  I suppose we can always use chopsticks since there are websites devoted to nifty ways to use chopsticks. But the three paper cups and three plastic cups still in their wrappers? Don't we have enough glasses here? The cheap little pad and pen from the overnight table? How many of those do we have? The unwrapped plasticware set from our Chinese take out, complete with napkin?

You would think we were terribly poor, the way Tom collects this stuff. "Hey, we paid for it," is his defense.

Fortunately he never takes towels or we would be charged for them. And we never stay in places where they offer you a complimentary plush terrycloth robe. Thank goodness! (But when I travel alone, I like those places--- our little secret, okay.)

What about the Gideon Bible in the drawer? "Already got one---and besides, they want you to take those," was his cool reply.

Tom seemed so pleased with his "treasures," so I will probably wait a couple weeks before quietly throwing them out. Or maybe I can use those cups to start some seedlings. And I'll pop the plastic forks in the trailer, too.

You never know when you might need those things.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recovering From Thanksgiving?

Are you recovered from Thanksgiving, yet? We had a great one, with both the kids here and lots of great fun and food. And I beat The Wordsmith at Scrabble! The old gal still has her marbles, woo hoo!

Okay, enough crowing.

Monday we took those kids to the Albuquerque Sunport (where they have a Meditation Room) and we stayed at a motel and ate Chinese takeout. That's our idea of some major fun.

While the car had its muffler fixed, I took a walk to the mall and had a little shopping fix. And I went to Barnes and Noble and drank coffee at one of their little tables and read a magazine! It's the little things, isn't it?

Today is a cleaning and Stacked Turkey Enchiladas and get the mail and plant some herbs day. Hope you have a great one!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Solar Heating the Cabin

Most of our winter days don't look like this. Snow, if we get it,  melts in a couple hours or a couple days. We let Angel Fire and Sipapu, our local ski areas have all the snow because they need it for business. Which reminds me to tell you that on my list for this season is ski biking. But that's for another day.

We are pretty lucky because the previous owners who built this cabin spent considerable time planning how to site it. They tracked the sun's path during different seasons to determine how to manage the sun's heat, so in the winter the sun comes through those three windows and warms the living room and in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky. we stay cool.

Since this area gets about 310 days of sunshine a year, using solar is a no-brainer, and the cabin, with its passive solar design, was a smart move.  Once the sun is up, we usually don't even need to use the wood stove or the propane for heat.

If it's cloudy, like in the photo below, Tom uses some of his wood supply to warm up the place, and the Airlock logs with their hollow centers act as insulation to keep it toasty inside.

Ms. Pearl and Miss Bonnie love the sun, too, and have found the perfect place to enjoy it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stacked Turkey Enchiladas, Green

Yesterday was awesome, but I was too busy to take a photo of the Thanksgiving table groaning with food. This photo will have to suffice, I guess.

If you're like I am, you will mine that leftover turkey carcass for all it's worth, and in this case, since we opted for a local Embudo Farms turkey, it was worth a lot!

That turkey still has some miles on  it, to the tune of Turkey Tortilla Soup and Turkey Stacked Enchiladas, as well as the basic reheated turkey, potatoes, gravy, etc plate you are having for breakfast.

New Mexican cooks (West Texans, too) stack their enchiladas rather than roll them. It's quicker and easier to layer the tortillas and if you are suffering from post Thanksgiving Cooking Syndrome like I am, it's minimal effort for something delicious. Some folks stack individual portions on a plate, but I am a casserole fan, so that's how this one will go.

Stacked Turkey Enchiladas, Green 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have 9 X 9 inch oven safe dish handy.


12 corn tortillas
1 28 oz can green chile enchilada sauce, mild (I like Juanita's or Las Palmas)
2 cups shredded turkey
3/4 c sour cream
6-8 ounces of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Salsa, more sour cream, cilantro for garnish. 


1. Pour almost all the green chile sauce into a saute pan. Save about 1/2 cup  to cover the bottom of your baking dish.

2. Heat the green chile sauce to barely simmering. Dip your corn tortillas, using tongs, one at a time, into the sauce to soften a little. (You can do this with oil, but after that giant Thanksgiving dinner do you really need more fat?) Arrange 4 tortillas over the sauced bottom of your baking dish, overlapping slightly and allowing the tortilla to climb up the sides of the dish if necessary.

3.  Sprinkle 1 cup turkey over the first layer of tortillas.  Using a spoon or ladle, pour a little of the simmering green chile sauce to moisten. Sprinkle a third of the cheese over the turkey and dot 1/4 cup sour cream over it all.

3. Dip 4 more tortillas into the simmering green chile sauce, arrange like before and repeat with remaining 1 cup turkey,  one third of  the cheese, chile sauce to moisten,  and sour cream dollops.

4. Dip the last 4 tortillas in the remaining sauce and lay them over the top of your casserole. Pour any remaining green sauce over the top. If there's a lot, use a spatula to help the sauce travel into the casserole. Sprinkle with cheese, dot with 1/4 cup sour cream.

5. Bake enchiladas for about 30 minutes, until casserole is merrily bubbling and cheese is slightly browned. Let it all set for about 5 minutes.

Garnish with salsa, more sour cream, and cilantro, if you like it.

Serves 4-6 depending on how hungry you all are.