Sometimes, even the most delicious food can't help but render itself less than desirable when translated to photo form. Be it due to photographer error, or just the subject matter of the food, this is the reason I haven't had many posts this week. The things I've been eating are delicious, just not very photogenic.
These Anaheim chiles translated all right, but the finished dish not so much. Over the weekend, one of my amazing flickr friends was recently on a trip to New Mexico, and posted links to several very interesting articles in the comments to one of my photos. I got so excited thinking about the Southwest, and then remembered that I had an issue of Saveur from Sept./Oct. 2001 that had a cover story of the "Fall Flavors from New Mexico". Unfortunately, there is no link to Jan Ellen Spiegel's well written story of the Arellano family, who live near Embudo, NM - between Taos and Santa Fe. On an ancestrally inherited plot of 2.5 acres, they grow an absolutely astounding array of fruits and vegetables:
In an average year, they will grow ten varieties of tomato, 14 different chiles, ten types of potato and five of eggplant, a half dozen squashes, a dozen lettuces, corn, radishes, cucumbers, beets, onions, leeks, garlic, okra, asparagus, bok choy, mizuna, kale, artichokes, fennel, chives, dill, and edible flowers. They also harvest a dozen varieties of pear, most of them Asian, with names like chojuro, hosui, and korean giant; ten different peaches; five kinds of cherries and three of plums; apricots; grapes for eating and for making wine; several varieties each of blackberries and raspberries; and gooseberries, elderberries, melons, figs, persimmons, quince, hazelnuts, and black walnuts (they pick pine nuts from wild pinon trees).
As I read and reread that paragraph (which didn't include the 25 varieties of apples "hanging and the trees" and "espaliered on trellises"), I tried to visualize these "garden rooms" as Estevan Arellano called them, and tried to grasp the yearly work of a master preserver, his wife, Elena Arellano. This example of eating off the land is almost hard to believe. There were several simply arranged Arellano family recipes accompanying the article, and the one for Green Chile Stew was the one I couldn't pass up. Photographer Laurie Smith was able to capture the stew (though probably in a controlled environment with exceptional lighting!) in an inviting manner, and the ingredient list only confirmed to me that this was going to be a terrific meal.
I opted to take out my new Crock Pot for its 3rd voyage on the Rcakewalk culinary seas, and started with a frozen package of that grass fed beef from my chest freezer Sunday night before bed. It was a round steak, and bright and early at 7:30 a.m. I rubbed it, still mostly frozen, with ample amounts of salt, pepper and cumin. Then I let it warm up in the lowest setting of the wonder that is a Crock Pot for a couple of hours before adding a half jar of home canned tomatoes (the original recipe used fresh, but I'd imagine a 14.5 oz. can would be about what I used), and a couple of quartered garlic cloves. Meanwhile, I roasted 8 Anaheim chiles until they were blackened in spots before resting them in a covered bowl to cool enough to peel, seed and ultimately coarsely chop. When the meat cooked just enough, I removed it and cut it into large chunks and removed what little fat was on it (since it was a round steak, typically very sinewy and tough - not to mention a large round shape). I left the bone in the pot for a bit of extra flavor though, and added a couple of cups of water. Then I added a chopped onion, and let it cook until about 3 pm, when I added 2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into 1/8ths and the roasted chiles. After the potatoes cooked, another hour or so, the finished result was complex for the simplicity of ingredients involved. And even more surprising, that round steak was tender and shredded easily with two forks, not to mention tasty! We added a bit of sour cream and Frank's Red Hot, and a slice of Wisconsin mild cheddar to the bowls for good measure. The beauty of this kind of recipe, is that you can add more or less of what you like, and even more or less liquid depending on your tastes. Chalk up another winner for the Art of Crockpottery!
I made a half batch and used peanuts, cashews, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts. The recipe below is as written, with my notations in parenthesis.
Spiced Nuts and Seeds
- 3 c. mixed whole nuts
- 1/4 c. flaxseeds
- 1/4 c. quinoa
- 1/4 c. sunflower seeds (I used sesame seeds, since I didn't have sunflower)
- 2 egg whites
- 2 T. honey
- 1 1/2 t. Kosher salt
- 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 t. cumin
- 1/4 t. cinnamon