Friday, February 29, 2008

Knit for Kids Again!

It’s time to mail off another batch of sweaters to Knit for Kids. I sent the last batch in November and it seems as though hardly any time has gone by since then. However, the knitting closet was starting to fill up again, so I’m sending another batch of nine sweaters, most of them in larger sizes, to the organization in upstate New York for distribution. This will bring my total of sweaters shipped to 35, although I have a good start already on the next shipment and am currently knitting no. 38 in a lovely springtime pastel apricot color.

The last time I got a postcard acknowledging a shipment it showed children in Grants, New Mexico wearing hand knit sweaters given to them by the project and that made me wish for a more local distribution center so the sweaters wouldn’t have to go back and forth across the country. However, the organization ships according to the needs of children all over the world, so I depend on them to decide where the current need is the greatest.

At the same time, I’ve started volunteering with a group that makes baby blankets and hats for newborns for local distribution, so I know that these are not being shipped all over, therefore saving on transportation costs. I’ll tell you a bit more about them another time.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chipotle Recipes

Photo from

Last week in the post called Little Fires in Your Mouth I promised to find some recipes to help us all use up that everlasting little can of chipotle chiles. I'm sure you remembered to put the contents of the can into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Those little chiles will last almost forever in your fridge, so you will need these recipes.

First off, I wasn't sure exactly how chipotles are made. I checked around and found from a variety of sources that chipotles are smoked and dried red jalapenos, and red jalapenos are simply green ones that have been allowed to ripen further on the vine. They can be purchased as pods, as chipotle powder, or canned in adobo sauce, which is made of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices. Here are some of the things you can do with them.

Chipotle Chile : A nice selection of low-fat recipes, plus information on smoking your own chipotles.

Chipotle Recipes from

Chipotle Recipes on

Enchiladas Chipotle

Vegetarian Chipotle Chili

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Practicing Texan

Clovis Tornado, 2007 (Photo by Roger Hatcher, AP)

We'll be approaching tornado season soon out here on the High Plains. They say that tornadoes are formed near here and that they head on out east to Texas, usually. Usually, that is, until last year when one hit Clovis, resulting in two deaths and lots of property damage.

With tornadoes on my mind, I thought I'd look back at something I wrote last June before we moved from New Hampshire. This was also before we knew exactly where we were headed, and didn't realize that we would end up with the best of eastern New Mexico and west Texas, all in one place here in Clovis.

Now that I live in a sturdy brick house, I have an interior closet all staked out for my tornado shelter. I'll just hope for the best, but here is how I saw the situation from back East. Please understand that all my tornado opinions are from Internet research and not real life experience. If I experience a tornado in person and live to tell the tale, I'll surely write about it here.

Ah'm own get me a safe room. That doesn't make any sense as written; you have to practice saying it out loud. Ah'm own get me a safe room. Yup, yer gittin' hit. After reviewing the tornado maps of the past several years I realize that if we move to either west Texas or east New Mexico, we are going to be in the high risk range for tornadic activity. That means that we will need a good shelter. Now, as I understand it, there are two kinds of storm shelters. The first is the regular storm cellar--the kind seen in The Wizard of Oz. It might be under your house, but is usually built out and under your backyard and bermed up with the excavated dirt. There are several problems with this type of shelter. The first is that people tend to wait until the last possible moment to go down into one. I have my ideas as to why, which I'll get to in a moment.

Once it is clear that a tornado is truly on its way, it becomes increasingly dangerous to make your way across your backyard to the shelter because of flying debris, so you face the real possibility of getting injured on your way. The second problem with these outdoor shelters is that unless all cracks are tightly and completely sealed up, you run the risk of sharing your shelter with unwelcome guests, such as snakes, mice, rats, and, well, you fill in the blank with your favorite nightmare creature. Imagine fleeing a life-threatening storm to find yourself sealed in with a whole family of rattlers. Well, don't imagine it, or you'll have the same nightmares that I do. I also lie awake at night trying to figure out how I would gather the three cats, stuff them into cat carriers, leash up the two dogs, and move the whole kit and kaboodle into an underground shelter, where unknown creatures are lurking. Nope, that rules out the storm cellar for me.

That leaves me with the other alternative: The safe room. The safe room is a steel-plated shelter that can be added to the center of a home during new construction, or be built into the corner of a room in an existing structure. A bathroom or closet can, as I understand it, be built as a safe room with steel walls during new construction. Wherever it is built, it is bolted into the cement of the home's foundation, contains a ventilation system, and can be wired for electricity or telephone. It can be sheetrocked over to blend into the room. So, Ah'm own get me a safe room. Ah'm own put me in some bottled water, plastic bags, a bucket and toilet paper, a battery-operated radio and lantern, some litter for the cats, and some canned food and a can opener. Ah'm own conduct me some tornado drills with the dogs, and hope I can gather up the cats when the time comes.

To see a safe room, go to

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Chile Sweets

Part of being a Zee is that thing that makes me veer from subject to subject, from piñons to politics and back again. If you will recall, a few days ago we were discussing chile sweets and, as promised, here are some links to some that you can buy or make yourself.

There is a recipe for Albuquerque Piñon Red Chile Fudge on Recipezaar, or you can buy some all made by The Candy Lady in Albuquerque. They feature chocolate or vanilla red chile fudge, vanilla jalapeño fudge, and chocolate or vanilla piñon fudges.

Señor Murphy, a candymaker in Santa Fe, offers chile peanut or piñon brittle, chile cream chocolates, red and green chile jellies; and a chile addict basket that includes Red Chile Peanut Brittle, Chile Pistachios, Chile Creams, Red/Green Chile Jelly, Chile Peanuts, and Chile Pistachio Bark. For a wonderful description and some delicious-looking photos, check out what Gil's Thrilling Web Site has to say about Señor Murphy's.

The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Taos makes red chile fudge as well as green and red chile brittle. Their web site is gorgeous, and is probably fattening just to look at.

Check out Sweet Heat and Daring Desserts to find recipes for Piñon Pepper Brittle, Warm Chocolate Pecan Pie, New Mexican Hot Chocolate, and Devilish Mousse, all of which contain either red or green chiles.

I hope you’re still with me, because this last one is terrific. Pepperfool has some incredible recipes. By all means check out the whole web site, but first go to their Desserts page to find recipes ranging from Dave’s Insanity Squares to Jalapeño Milkshakes.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Obama Campaign: Using the Power of the Internet

I thought I'd share this list of links that I just received from the Obama Campaign. Never before has a Presidential candidate used the power of the Internet in such an effective way. Imagine, there are more than 40,000 supporter created blogs, and the Obama Campaign alone has posted more than 500 videos on their YouTube channel.

Here are a few ways you can learn more, get the latest news, and share information with friends:
Watch a brief video and learn about Barack's early years, his education, his work as a community organizer and civil rights attorney, and his years in the Illinois and U.S. Senate. This is a great introduction to share with your friends:

Catch up on the latest news, photos, and videos from the campaign trail and share your thoughts on our official campaign blog:

Learn more about Barack's positions on a variety of issues, from his opposition to the war in Iraq to his plan for universal health care:

Barack Obama stands for a new kind of politics -- without the smear tactics that we're all fed up with. You can help push back against negative attacks and distortions right now by telling people about Barack and his background. The truth is only as strong as your voice:

Watch a few of the more than 500 videos from the campaign trail on our YouTube channel:

Our movement is ready to go wherever you are. Text HOPE to 62262 (OBAMA) to receive text updates on your mobile phone and advance notice about local Obama events:


Barack Obama got his start as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, and since he declared his candidacy in 2007, a nationwide network of supporters have taken this campaign into their own hands, organizing online and their local communities. Here are some ways to get involved:

My.BarackObama is an organizing tool that empowers you to take this campaign into your own hands. Connect with other supporters in your area and find out about local events, or create your own organizing group and schedule your own events:

Introduce your friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers to Barack Obama. Let them know why you support Barack and encourage them to join our movement for change:

There are more than 40,000 supporter created blogs on My.BarackObama where they chronicle their campaign experience and interact with other supporters. Find one for your community or launch your own today:

Supporters like you have put us within reach of making 1,000,000 phone calls to registered voters by March 4th. Use our online phonebanking tool to reach out to voters in crucial states from the comfort of your home:

Print your own posters, flyers, fact sheets, supporter cards, and dozens of other resources from our online resource library:
Women for Obama and People of Faith for Obama are just two of the many communities large and small supporting Barack Obama. Explore a few of them here:

Barack Obama does not accept donations from Washington lobbyists or special interest groups. Instead, we depend on a network of grassroots supporters giving whatever they can afford.

Take the fundraising process into your own hands. Help support the campaign by reaching out to people you know and asking them to give through your personal fundraising page:

This campaign has always been about reaching as many people as possible and bringing them into the political process. When you make a matching donation you'll learn the name and hometown of the person whose gift you match, and even exchange a note with them through our unique system:

Let everyone in your community know that you support Barack. All purchases through our online store go to support our campaign and are considered political donations. Show your support in style:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little Fires in Your Mouth

Photo from

Chiles for dessert? At first it might be hard to imagine these fiery little vegetables as part of your sweets, but when you’ve had some time to digest the idea it no longer seems so strange. To New Mexicans, who all seem to be addicted to chile anyway, this is just another way to get our fix. After all--hot and sweet together? What’s not to like?

While taking part in a discussion on New Mexican Foods over at the New Mexico forum on the City-Data website, I was intrigued by the mention of red chile fudge. It sounded like a novelty item, just another way to market something from New Mexico. A little exploration and research proved otherwise. There is a wide spectrum of these sweet-hot desserts, as you will see if you read this blog over the next couple of days.

After my research, I was ready to try out a recipe. I wanted brownies with chipotles, but all the recipes I found were pretty complicated and called for way more chocolate and sugar and butter than I wanted to use. So I turned to my favorite brownie recipe, Immediate Fudge Cake, from my ancient copy of Peg Bracken’s Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book(1966). Here is the variation that I came up with:

Chocolate Chipotle* Brownies
Note: These are best accompanied by a glass of cold milk, to put out the little fires in your mouth

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
¾ cup flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 chipotle chiles, chopped fine

Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well (be sure the chiles are well distributed!). Bake in a greased 8” by 8” pan at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Glaze while still warm with:

Chocolate Glaze
½ square unsweetened chocolate
1 tbl. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
Tiny pinch salt
A little strong coffee

Melt the butter and the chocolate in the microwave, add sugar, vanilla, salt. Beat the mixture well, adding a bit of coffee, until it is the consistency you want.

*Chipotles: Buy them in a can. They are called Chipotles in Adobo Sauce. Store leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator. They will go a long way. I will scout out some recipes to help us all use up the rest of the can, and publish them in a future post.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Music in Clovis

Clovis is observing Music in Our Schools Week. I'm not sure if it is part of a current national "week" or if Clovis just does their own. It's wonderful to see the recognition given to music teachers here--that doesn't always happen in other school districts. Last week the editor of the paper sent out the question "Which music teacher had the greatest influence on you and why/how?"--something like that. As the week goes on, there are guest columnists every day on page 2 of the newspaper providing an essay on the topic. There was a big double page spread in the paper the other day with the photos of every single music teacher and music assistant (Music assistants? What a luxury!) in the city, along with the name of the teacher/mentor who was their greatest influence. There is a big city-wide concert tomorrow tonight, with the elementary school select chorus, the high school band and orchestra, etc.

Clovis supports a Community Band, which plays for special events throughout the year.

The city hosts an annual Music Festival. This year's celebration takes place from September 4-6, 2008. You can check out the entertainment line up here. The Norman and Vi Petty Rock 'N' Roll Museum will have its grand opening during the Festival. The Norman Petty Studio on 7th Street is known as the home of the "Clovis Sound. " It is where Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison recorded their music.

Twice a week at the community center (okay, it's a Senior Center, but I just don't like to call it that) nearest us there either a jam session or a performance by local musicians--folks who just like to get together and play. We went to the Sweetheart Banquet there (9 couples married more than 50 years attended; the champs of the group were married 67 years!). There was wonderful toe-tapping musical entertainment provided by The Triple L Band from nearby Portales. They are my new favorite group.

We're planning to go to The Friends of Oasis Bluegrass Night on May 31st. It's a fund raiser for Oasis State Park featuring The Triple L Band. Can't wait to hear that great music out under the stars!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Questions to Ask the Candidates

This editorial appears on the New York Times Opinion Page, February 17, 2008

Questions, Not Just on Iraq
How the next president plans to handle the disastrous Iraq war is the most important foreign policy question of this year’s campaign. But it is not the only foreign policy question that voters need answered.
President Bush’s mismanagement reaches far beyond Iraq. He has torn up international treaties, bullied and alienated old friends, and enabled old and new enemies. Before Americans choose a president they will need to know how he or she plans to rebuild America’s military strength and its moral standing and address a host of difficult challenges around the world.

Here is our list of questions. It is by no means comprehensive.

INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP Too many people who long admired this country as a beacon of democratic values now suspect and fear it. What steps would the candidates take to revive America’s reputation and its ability to lead? Would they immediately shut the Guantánamo Bay prison, commit to a global treaty to address climate change and press the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty?

CHINA How would the candidates handle relations with a rising China? How would they manage a potential military competition while also encouraging democratic reforms there? How would the candidates persuade Beijing to help dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or to play a constructive role in Sudan and Burma? How would they conduct relations with Taiwan?

NONPROLIFERATION Mr. Bush tore up arms control treaties, offered to sell civilian nuclear technology to India, then wondered why so many countries weren’t more outraged by Iran’s nuclear misbehavior. Do the candidates have practical plans to halt the spread of nuclear weapons? Would they commit to deep cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal, forswear the development of new nuclear weapons, and persuade the Russians to do the same? If the candidates see nuclear energy as a way to control global warming, how would they ensure that its spread does not lead to the spread of nuclear weapons?

RUSSIA President Vladimir Putin has crushed rivals, closed most independent news organizations and all but extinguished hopes for democracy. Washington needs Moscow’s cooperation on a host of dangerous issues. How would the candidates manage relations with an increasingly autocratic and increasingly powerful Russia?
DEFENSE SPENDING The United States’ annual military budget is now about $500 billion, with nearly $200 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan. That is a 62 percent increase in overall defense spending during Mr. Bush’s tenure. And there is no relief in sight. The American military — in terms of both its people and equipment — is badly strained. Even a new president committed to a swift withdrawal from Iraq will have to keep asking for large budgets to repair the damage and ensure that the country is ready to face new dangers.
There will have to be tradeoffs. What weapons systems would the candidates cancel? What new acquisitions would they seek? Should the Pentagon make nation-building a prime mission? Should the State Department play a larger role in postconflict reconstruction?

USE OF FORCE All presidents rightly reserve the right to take military action to protect the national interest. What has Iraq taught the candidates about the use of force? Do they believe in pre-emption or the use of preventive force? What about humanitarian interventions?

TERRORISM Is the war on terrorism a military fight? Should it even be called a war? How would the candidates improve America’s intelligence capabilities and elicit more cooperation around the world? What would they do to oust Al Qaeda from Pakistan? How would they ensure Pakistan’s cooperation while also pressing for democratic reforms that are essential for its long-term stability? What is their strategy to stop the Taliban and Al Qaeda from regaining control in Afghanistan?

MIDDLE EAST It is far too little and very late, but President Bush finally launched an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. What should the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states be doing to increase the chances of success? Given that Hamas controls Gaza, is a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine really viable? How can the United States both protect Israel and encourage it to negotiate a peace settlement?

IRAN Iran continues to defy the United Nations Security Council by enriching uranium — the hardest part of building a bomb. How clear and present is the danger? What are the candidates willing to offer Iran in exchange for giving up its nuclear efforts? If Iran shows no interest, are there realistic military options? Must Iran also cut all support for Hezbollah and Hamas? Can Iran be contained without a military confrontation?

NORTH KOREA Since Mr. Bush took office, Pyongyang has tested a nuclear device and produced enough fuel for 10 or more nuclear weapons. Now a deal to dismantle its nuclear program appears to have stalled. Would the candidates continue those negotiations, offer additional incentives to speed up denuclearization or look for new ways to pressure Pyongyang?

On Iraq, there are still many unanswered questions. Most of the discussion during the campaign has been stuck on the past (who supported the war or not). Voters need to know more about what the candidates would do from their first day in office. Whether they plan to stay or leave, how would they accelerate political reconciliation there? What would they do to ensure that Iraq’s chaos does not spill beyond its borders? Americans deserve to hear the candidates’ answers, long before they go to the polls.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What the World Thinks of Us?

President Bush responds to a question
during a news conference in the Rose Garden
at the White House. (AP / J. Scott Applewhite)

A friend in Canada has alerted me to this survey, written about on the CTV Canada web site.

Bush has made the world more dangerous: polls
Updated Fri. Nov. 3 2006 11:06 PM ET News Staff

United States policy has made the world a more dangerous place and President George Bush is among the leaders who pose the greatest threat to peace, four new polls suggest.
The polls were conducted ahead of Tuesday's U.S. mid-term elections, which many expect to hinge on the issue of the Iraq war. A majority of people surveyed in three out of four countries rejected the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The polls were conducted by EKOS for the Toronto Star and Montreal's La Presse in Canada, and by other polling firms for newspapers in Britain, Mexico and Israel. The survey suggests 62 per cent of Canadian respondents believe Bush has made the world less safe since he became president in 2001. The poll also indicates 34 per cent of Canadians felt Bush is a "great danger" to the world.
Canadians declared the American president the world's third most dangerous leader, behind North Korea's Kim Jong Il. Top spot went to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fourth, while Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was fifth.
The most pessimistic responses came from Britain, where 69 per cent of people said American foreign policy has made the world less safe since 2001. In fact, British respondents said Bush poses an even greater danger than Kim Jong Il. "I think the primary issue that's driving public opinion about Bush in this country is the mess in Iraq right now," CTV's London Bureau Chief Tom Kennedy said Friday on Newsnet. "This country never really supported the war, in spite of the fact that British Prime Minister Tony Blair tied himself to Bush and participated in the war in Iraq. And I think that's really dragged down public opinion about George Bush and I think, as well, about Tony Blair."

Canadians, meanwhile, have overwhelmingly soured on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the poll suggests, with 73 per cent saying Washington had no justification for it. When EKOS asked Canadians the same question in April 2003 after the U.S. invasion, 53 per cent thought it was unjustified.

Israel was the only country where respondents were in favour of the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- with 59 per cent for the war and 34 per cent against. Only 23 per cent of Israelis said they felt Bush was a serious danger, with 61 percent disagreeing.

The survey was conducted in late October and involved about 1,000 people from each country. The results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wineries in New Mexico

La Viña Poster

Did you know that New Mexico’s wine industry the oldest in the country? When we lived in Las Cruces in the late 1990s, we often visited the La Viña Winery in La Union, attending some of their wonderful wine and jazz festivals. According to their web site, they "host a Harvest Festival and Grape Stomp each year in October and a Blues & Jazz Festival in April, as well as an old fashioned country picnic and open house on July 4th." It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon. You can picnic and sample a variety of their wines, and come home with a selection of wines and souvenir wine glasses to help you remember the occasion. We bought posters and framed and hung them when we went back to New Hampshire, so that we wouldn't forget that we were meant to be living in New Mexico. Now that we're back, we look forward to exploring some of the wineries around the state.

For a little history and background on the New Mexico wine industry, see Wine and Vineyards of New Mexico. Here is part of what they have to say:
"...New Mexico has the distinction of being the country's oldest commercial wine-growing region, predating California's entry into the field by 140 years. It was in 1629 that a Franciscan and a Capuchin monk first planted grapevines on the east bank of the Rio Grande near present-day Socorro. By 1633 the vines were producing, making sacramental wine available to mission priests throughout the northern territory of New Spain. Winemaking flourished for centuries, but had pretty much ended by 1920, done in by depleted soil and Prohibition. But in 1978 a revival began, and today oenophiles can visit some 19 wineries throughout the state. Production includes a number of varieties of reds, whites, and sparkling wines, many of them of award-winning caliber."

Here is a Wine Tour of New Mexico in five parts with a commentary on the wines, from wine enthusiast Jim Eastman's blog, Music & Wine:
-Part 1: Ruidoso and Tularosa areas
-Part 2: La Union
-Part 3: Deming
-Part 4: Albuquerque
-Part 5: Northern New Mexico, near Velarde and Dixon

For a list of NM wineries and tasting rooms, see the Wine Growers Association web site.

Viva New Mexico lists New Mexican wineries by region.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Photograph from Library of Congress*

Posole defined:

1. Kernels of corn that have been soaked in lime water, hulled, and dried.
2. Hominy and pork stew flavored with red chiles

Posole stew is a New Mexican tradition and can be ordered as a side dish in many New Mexican restaurants. You can order some real NM posole from the resources below, or you may substitute yellow or white canned hominy in the recipes.

Blue Corn Posole recipe, resources, and a wonderful memory about eating posole at San Ildefonso Pueblo

A nice collection of New Mexican Posole Recipes

Posole Recipe courtesy of Comida de Campos farm and cooking school, Embudo, N.M.

Posole recipes from the Santa Fe School of Cooking

Posole Stew, A New Mexico Holiday Tradition

If you have a moment, take time to read this evocative New York Times article--In Pueblo Food, Deep Respect for the Earth, which includes a recipe for posole. They might spell" chile" as “chili” but they know how to make New Mexican food sound delicious.

*The Library of Congress knows of no restrictions on the publication of this photograph. If you do, please let me know via the comments section on this blog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Red Chile

Red Chiles Drying (Library of Congress)*
If you travel around New Mexico during harvest time you are bound to see ristras (strings) of red chiles hanging outside to dry in the hot sunshine. Down in Mesilla, south of Las Cruces, we saw them spread out on rooftops and up north in Chimayo they were hanging everywhere.

You can buy fresh green chiles in the summertime and the dried red ones later in the fall. They both come from the same plant—the red ones have just been allowed to ripen longer on the plant before being dried. They have an earthier flavor to me. When I grew my own chiles in Las Cruces, I couldn’t get over how many wonderful chile colors could be found on a single plant—the greens at first, and then as the chiles ripened they ranged through yellow and orange to red.

We make a very simple version of Carne Adovada at our house. We brown pork strips with onions and garlic, then simmer all in red chile sauce (below) until the pork is tender and well done. I know that traditional versions call for a long marinating period, but the kind we make is absolutely delicious.

For some good basics to get you started, see Chile Colorado (Red Chile).
Visit the Focus New Mexico web site for information on both red and green chiles, where to find them in New Mexico, and how to use them. Be sure to check out the rest of the web site, too, for travel information.

*Library of Congress photograph: I do not know of any copyright restrictions associated with this photo. If you do, please notify me via the comments section of this blog.