Monday, July 28, 2014

{Another} Weekend on the Mesa in Photos

 three peaks always in the background
camp fire
mountain goats
 on the run
north side trails at taos ski valley
a long ways down to the village
if you've ever been to taos ski valley, you can imagine how steep these trails are...
what goes up must come down 
the myka
super biker
 pizza outback
 so tired
 spectacular light saturday night
 and beautiful skies
 lola swimming
 elsa's best impersonation of a trout, caught
 brave girl
dirty dog

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taos Hum

Some folks can hear a low humming noise in and around Taos. There’s enough folks that it is officially a thing. Shops in town treat it as a novelty - the Taos Hum sandwich at a local cafe and the Taos Yum dessert at the Outback Pizza - outback behind a tax preparer’s office that is.


It is well past dark on Friday night as we turn east off of Highway 68 onto the narrow road through the Rio Grande Gorge that runs through the small town of Pilar and past several camping spots along the river. We drive slowly as the road winds around the few remaining stands of cottonwoods and hugs the canyon wall; the Rio Grande flowing on our left. As we cross the metal truss bridge at Taos Junction, we hit the dirt. A washboard road takes us 800 feet up and out of of the canyon to the Rim Road, which runs along the western side of the Gorge. In the daylight the steep canyon walls are gorgeous with sagebrush, piñon trees and massive volcanic rock boulders threatening to tumble into the River below. Having driven this road what seems like hundreds of times, what is probably literally hundreds of times, I know what it looks like outside the car windows even though it is dark on our ascent tonight.

A Weekend on the Mesa in Photos

 beautiful sky in espanola
 googly eyes power breakfast
 exploring abandoned forest roads in taos canyon
 rain over three peaks
 capulin peak
 sunset at two peaks
 a river (?!?) at the mesa
 andrew checking out the earthen dam
 heading home after a long ride
 more rain
tired puppy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eating and Drinking in New Orleans

My main goal for my trip to New Orleans (apart from presenting at and attending a conference for work) was to eat well. Trying to embrace my success in New York, I didn't really plan ahead too much, and that turned out to be fine. There were lots of good choices, and almost all of my meals were spectacular. And you know how picky I am...

I was traveling with a coworker, and on our first night as we strolled around the French Quarter, we decided we really needed a cocktail and some supper. We looked at a few menus, and she said to me, "I'm not picky at all, you can decide." And I said, "Weeeeeeell, I'm too picky and we could walk around all night looking at menus." So, I got out my trusty iPhone, which led us to Lüke for sazeracs, shrimp and grits and étouffée. It was a brilliant way to start off the trip and set the tone for the fabulous eating and drinking that ensued.

For the sake of posterity, what I ate + drank in NOLA:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Flashback to High School: (Almost) Flourless Chocolate Cake

Rain thwarted our plans for a mountain bike ride last night after work. The rain is whole heartedly welcome, but why does it always seem to happen in my free time when I want to be outside?

Stuck inside the house, I decided to make cake instead.

I made Molly Wizenberg's wedding cake. It's not the prettiest cake, but it's simple and fun to make. I especially love anything that allows me to break out the double boiler. Ours is an old Revere Ware copper-bottom stainless steel number. Andrew picked it up at the Rotary auction on Bainbridge Island before he moved to Albuquerque. When I met him, he didn't know what the metal bowl that fits inside the pot was for (other than getting in the way of his mac and cheese makin'). I snatched that puppy right up and it lived at my house until we moved in together a couple of years later. Now it's his favorite mac and cheese making pot and my favorite dessert making pot.

I made two identical cakes last night. The first is beautiful with crackly edges and a shiny top. The second cake isn't so pretty, and when I flipped it over to remove it from the pan, part of the bottom stuck to the parchment paper. Fearing that the ugly cake would also taste subpar, I took a little bite from the bits stuck to the pan. There was no need to worry. The cake, of course, tasted amazing (I mean it's hard to go too wrong with chocolate and butter). I took a bite and then wrapped the cake up, and as I was getting ready for bed, my mind was flooded with memories of high school.

My oldest friend Rosie's dad occasionally sent her to school with flourless chocolate torte to share with us at lunch. This was by far the fanciest thing I had ever eaten at that age. I didn't have much of a taste for dark chocolate back then, but it was clear to me that the torte was something to be savored and appreciated. It was rich and slightly bitter. I could only eat a sliver of it, but I knew that if I played my cards right, someday I would be able to eat a whole piece of dark chocolate cake. The day has arrived, folks (many years ago, in fact).

I haven't thought about the flourless chocolate torte in years. I've made (and eaten) this cake before without thinking of it so I don't know why the memory hit me right then. The taste memory of it flooded back last night the way a scent in the air or a song on the radio can bring you back to a specific place or moment. I could see us sitting in the high school cafeteria passing around the torte with all of our girlfriends. I could see Rosie's dad's smiling face. I could see us making a bid deal out of the flourless part - I had never made a cake at the time that hadn't come from a box mix so I didn't even know that some cakes did or didn't have flour. At the time, the flourless part of the cake seemed pretty obscure and interesting to me.

This cake isn't flourless - there's one tablespoon - but the flavor sure brings back the memories.

Molly Wizenberg also calls this the "winning hearts and minds cake," and I can attest that it definitely won some hearts and minds today. It seems to have been a hit at both offices. When Andrew got back to his desk after a morning meeting, he found an empty cake plate and this note on his desk.

In case you can't see the note, it says, "Thank you Andrew and please thank your talented wife," from his division members. And that was regarding the ugly cake!

The recipe is online here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Simple Sunday Supper: Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki and Israeli Salad

We had a heat wave in Santa Fe last week, and I made this meal for dinner on Sunday night. I wanted something simple but tasty. It was light and refreshing, and it provided weeknight leftovers to fuel our after-work mountain bike rides.

Simple Sunday Supper

Tzatziki with toasted pita bread

Greek Meatballs

I've been wanting to make Yotam Ottolenghi's Fattoush recipe, but when I pulled it out late Sunday afternoon, I realized that the recipe advised to start at least three hours and up to a day in advance to make a kind of homemade buttermilk. That wasn't going to happen so I tried Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Israeli Salad instead. I found ground sumac at the Whole Foods. The salad was good, and I would make this again, but it wasn't knock your socks off good.

The Greek meatballs were a big hit though. The bacon cut the strong taste of the lamb making it more mild and the roasted peppers added a nice sweetness.

Greek Meatballs
Slightly adapted from here

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 pound bacon, finely chopped
1/2 cup roasted bell pepper, finely chopped (I roasted one orange bell pepper and used that)
Salt + pepper to taste

Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic, jalapeño and shallot, and cook for 1 minute, then let cool. Meanwhile, crumble lamb into a large bowl. Add bacon, garlic mixture, and roasted pepper and season with salt and pepper. Gently mix until just combined.

Heat a large cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat. In order to test your seasonings and adjust as needed, form one meatball, approximately 1¼-inch ball, and brown on all sides until cooked through, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Taste test and adjust if necessary. I found that I needed a little more salt than I had originally added.

Form 1¼-inch balls and repeat the browning process. Work in batches if necessary to avoid over crowding in the pan.
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