Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fresh Salsa

I keep a batch of this going all the time now. Sometimes it is served almost like a side dish or vegetable with the meal, although it is also quite delicious on a turkey whole wheat sandwich. When it starts to get low, I just add more tomatoes or avocados, whichever I have on hand.

1/2 cup medium or hot salsa
1/2 sweet white onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 large avocado, finely chopped
6 New Mexico-type green chiles (roasted, peeled, seeded), finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Juice of one small Key lime (to taste)

Add all the finely chopped vegetables and the cilantro to the salsa. Add lime juice to taste. Keep covered and refrigerated.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

White Trash Fudge

The blogging world is a wonderful one. I have "met" people online through their blogs or their comments on mine, and have come to feel that they are friends even though I have never seen them in person.

I have, however, met Mary and her wonderful husband, Pat, for real, face to face, and they were just like family. We had first chatted online and when they came to our part of New Mexico for a visit, we all got together for a wonderful evening. You would think that strangers might have a problem finding things to talk about, but from the first hug we were friends for life. We cried when they left.

I recently got a package from Mary and Pat, who are now back in Massachusetts getting their house ready to sell so they can move out here and be our forever neighbors. In the package was some fudge, and it was oh, so delicious--addictive, even. There was also a note that was to be read only after the fudge was consumed. Here it is, word for word:

I once read on your blog, Clair, that Velveeta Cheese is only good for mixing with salsa or Rotel tomatoes to make queso.  Now that you have tasted (and hopefully approved) the fudge, I will provide the recipe.

1/2 pound Velveeta Cheese
1/2 pound margarine or butter
2 tsp. vanilla (I used almond extract as we were out of vanilla)

Mix together and melt over low heat or in microwave.

2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa

Mix together sugar and cocoa. Pour melted Velveeta mixture into sugar mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour into buttered pans and refrigerate until set.


By the way, if you try this recipe and like it, let me know. You can also send along a comment to Mary, a "reluctant" blogger.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vinegar "Recipes" for Around the House

I like using simple cleaning methods. I've always heard about the many uses of vinegar and have been finding it to be very helpful around the house. I know you can find sites with probably thousands of uses, but wanted to pass on some tried and true methods I've been using and can personally vouch for.

Coffee maker: Our water here in the desert is terrible. It smells when it comes out of the hot water tank or if it stands for very long. It eats faucets and makes them all spotty (see below). Even though I use filtered water to make coffee, I figure it can't hurt to clean out the coffee maker every once in a while. Fill the reservoir with vinegar to the two-cup line, and run the coffee maker through a cycle. Dump out the vinegar (actually, save it for one of the uses below) and run through the cycle twice more with clean water. Wash and rinse the glass pot well.

Windows: Use a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Wipe on with a damp cloth, wipe off with newspapers.

Drains: Our smelly water makes for smelly drains, so this method works to make them fresher smelling. Pour into drain 1/2 cup baking soda, then follow with 1/2 cup white vinegar. Then pour in 1 cup of boiling water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then flush with lots of cold water.

Glassware: Our water makes glassware cloudy. Dip a damp cloth into white vinegar and rub the inside and outside of glasses. Wash and rinse as usual. Much better!

Faucets: Wipe with a damp cloth dipped in vinegar. Spot free!

Pergo-type floors: This is today's exciting discovery. Our kitchen floor was pretty, but all spotted up. No matter how I scrubbed, I couldn't get it to look clean. After a little Internet research, I mixed one cup of white vinegar with four cups of warm water, dipped in the mop, and wrung it out. I wiped down the floor and then skated around on a terry-cloth towel immediately to dry it completely. The results? A glowing floor, and a wonderful time for the pup!

Little Pete works hard

Finished! This pup is hard to get in focus, as he rarely pauses in his chores.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spicy Pinto Beans

3 cups dry pinto beans
Fresh cold water*

1/2 chopped onion (I like the sweet Vidalia-type)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
A tsp. of cumin

1 cup of green chile meat (yesterday's recipe)

Pick through the beans carefully, removing any little rocks. Rinse well, and cover with cold water. Soak overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse. Cover with more cold water, add chopped onion, garlic, cumin, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover the pan and simmer on low heat until almost tender.

Add the green chile meat, stir well, and continue to cook on low heat with the pan partially covered until the beans are tender. Add additional water as necessary.

Note: Cooking time will vary with altitude. I've seen recipes for pre-soaked beans where the cooking time is supposedly 20 minutes. Ha! Here at 4000 feet, I've found that I can cook beans for a long time before they are done--maybe a couple of hours. This just gives a chance for the flavors to soak into the beans.

Depending on the heat of your green chile meat, these beans can pack a real wallop, so you might want to serve them with some sour cream on the side to cool things down a bit.


*That's what we like to call it, here in the thirsty desert.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Green Chile Meat

For some reason, I get a kick out the name of this sauce. Never mind that--you'll want to make some and put it over most anything. It's really good on scrambled eggs with a little sour cream on the side, and it adds a good bit of kick to the pinto bean recipe that will be posted in a day or two.

The recipe comes from the book, More of the Best from New Mexico Kitchens, by Sheila Cameron and the Staff of New Mexico Magazine. (New Mexico Magazine, 1983). They got it from the world famous Owl Bar and Cafe in San Antonio, New Mexico.

That simmering time isn't a mistake, by the way. Simmer the sauce for at least three hours, and you'll be glad you did.

3 1/2 lbs. of hot green chile (roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped)
1 1/2 lbs. hamburger meat
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 quarts of water
Salt to taste

Brown the meat and drain off excess fat. In a large heavy saucepan, cover the chile and garlic with water and bring to the boiling point. Mix in the meat and simmer, tightly covered, for a least three hours. Add salt to taste.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pecan Cake: A Good Way to Start a Diet

Have you read the book, Julie and Julia; 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen; by Julie Powell? At one point, Julie talks about the spectacular pecan cake she makes that everyone loves. When I went to the Internet to find the recipe, I found that I was not the only one who just had to make that cake after reading about it in luscious detail.

The full name of the recipe is Paul Prudhomme's Spiced Pecan Cake. We had a dinner party for eight last night and I made the cake for dessert.

Let me tell you a bit about it. First of all, nobody needs this cake! It is incredibly rich--beyond rich, needlessly rich. The cake itself has less than a cup of butter, only 3 egg whites, and no salt. I really wish that I had stopped there. As a matter of fact, I could have divided the recipe into thirds and baked a single, unfrosted layer. I think it might have been a hit that way, especially after a filling supper.

However, the frosting calls for 8 egg yolks, an incredible cup and a half of butter, and a total of five cups of sugar. I was so far into the spirit of the thing that I actually made that frosting. A tiny skimming of it might have been tasty, but I followed the directions and ladled the darn stuff onto the three layers of the cake. I could hardly lift the plate when it was done.

I had spent a part of the three previous days cracking and chopping pecans; sometimes alone, while listening to bluegrass and blues, and sometimes with the help of a friend. Of course, I could have bought the nuts already prepared, but we do live in a pecan orchard and I had these huge bags of pecans waiting in the freezer (just under the huge bags of hot green chiles!). The recipe calls for a total of four and a half cups--we gave up after four, which turned out to be more than ample. Way more, as was everything else about this monster of a cake.

The eight of us were able to eat less than half of the thing. I sent some home with some strong and willing guests. The rest of the thing is squatting on my kitchen counter, just waiting for some unwary fool to lift the cover.

It was a great way to start a diet. I don't think I ever want to eat again.