Monday, February 11, 2013

Bounty from the Land

The weekend’s weather report predicted three days of snow (on and off). When this happens, we get in the cooking mood, or should I say that Don gets in the cooking mode and I try to help out. First was baking the week’s four loaves of whole wheat bread using organic flour from Mountain Mama, just over the Sangres from our place. 

Homemade pizza is high on our list of favorites and Don makes his own pizza dough. Since Friday nights are often pizza nights, Don made up six doughs which are then frozen for later use. The dough also uses Mountain Mama’s organic whole wheat flour. Our pizzas are topped with all kinds of stuff from the greenhouse (arugula),  and the freezer (red peppers), and a few goodies from the pantry (olives, artichokes, and anchovies) and the pizza is usually cooked on the woodstove in the winter or the barbeque grill in the summer.

Nothing takes the chill out of a cold night better than a big pot of green chile stew and homemade tortillas. The key to the best stew are the green chiles and we have scoured northern New Mexico and southern Colorado for the perfect chiles. Over the years we have tried chiles from roadside stands in Raton, NM, and Antonito, CO, parking lots in Santa Fe, NM and Salida, CO but the best come from Peppers Plus. You can find them in Pueblo, CO on the north side of Hwy 50, a couple of miles east of I-25. While Hatch, NM may lay claim to the best chiles (and they are not bad), we think the chiles grown east of Pueblo are the best because of the flavor and meaty pepper walls. And no one but Peppers Plus roasts the peppers correctly using water to steam the skins. We always make a point of traveling to Pueblo in late August or early September to buy two bushels of roasted chile peppers which we freeze in quart bags. 

Traditional Green Chile Stew (modified from  Artisan Farming )

2 pounds of cubed beef that grazed on our pasture last summer (you can also use pork)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (I use my dried onions from last summer’s garden)
2 cloves garlic, minced ( also from last summer’s garden)
2 cups of stock or water

1 ½ cups of cooked, diced tomatoes (from last year’s garden, roasted on the grill and then frozen)
2 cups of roasted, peeled, chopped green chiles
4 medium red potatoes, diced (from the farms on the other side of the Sangres)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano (from my herbal garden)

Brown the meat in the oil. Add the onion and garlic. Add the water/stock, chiles, potatoes, salt and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

We are pleased when we can create a meal out of many of the agricultural products we grow on our place but we know the reality – no one can be food self-sufficient here. The short growing season, high altitude, cool summer nights and low rainfall restrict what will successfully grow. A greenhouse or hoop house can help but in the end we are glad that a grocery store is only 15 miles away.