Thursday, September 30, 2010

Green Chiles and Hot Air Balloons - Fall is a Magical Season in New Mexico

Starting around Labor Day, we start smelling the lovely odor of roasting green chile. In New Mexico, September marks the Hatch Chile Harvest.  Hatch is a small agricultural town in Southern New Mexico famous for the finest green chile in the world. Hatch Green Chile Peppers are very tasty and are often bought fresh by families in 30 pound burlap bags.  The chiles are then roasted for about 10 minutes in large steel mesh cannister commercial roasters that rotate while a propane flame roasts the chiles, making the skins peel off easily.

Of course, if you have smaller quantities, you can roast your own chiles at home.
My 30 pounds of Hatch green chile, after being roasted and peeled, filled 16 Zip Loc freezer bags (14 for my family and 2 for my friend Marilyn who says she can't get these in Los Angeles).  I freeze them for the coming year of good eating.

Here are some dishes I make with my green chile:

Green Chiles and Cheddar Cheese Scrambled Eggs
with fresh chopped garden tomatoes

Green Chiles and Cheddar Cheese Scrambled Eggs (serves 1-2)

1 or 2 roasted New Mexico green chiles (chopped)
2-4 eggs, beaten
1/2-1 c. cheddar cheese

Heat your frying pan with 1 T. butter or vegetable oil, pour in beaten eggs and,stirring often, let it harden to a soft consistency.  Add chopped green chile and cheddar cheese, sirring until the eggs are firm.  Serve with chopped fresh tomatoes on the side. 

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas with Spanish Rice

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (1 dozen)

1 whole uncooked chicken
8 New Mexican Chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 dozen corn tortillas
5 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
4 c. Green Chile Sauce (see recipe below) or Commercial Green Chile Enchilada Sauce1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 c. chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
2/3 c. vegetable oil
Cook a whole chicken in boiling water that covers it for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit in the hot water for an hour.  Take the chicken out and cool for 15 minutes (save that chicken stock for the future-freeze it or use it for soup), then take the meat off the bones with your fingers.  Chop up the chicken into 1/2 in.  cubes and put about 3 c.  into a large bowl. Add chopped roasted green chiles, onion,  salt, cumin, and chicken stock. Mix well. Put meat mixture and cheese and green chile sauce in separate bowls by the stove.  Coat an oblong pyrex or metal baking dish with oil or non-stick spray, add a thin layer of green chile sauce to bottom of dish. Preheat oven to 350 F.   Heat the oil in a frying pan (med. high) until hot, add corn tortillas (1 at a time) for 15 seconds, turn over with tongs or slotted spoon, dip into green chile sauce to coat both sides, place in baking dish, put about 3 T. chicken mixture and 2 T. cheese, roll it up and place, side by side in 2 rows in the baking dish.  Finish the other 11 tortillas in the same manner.  Pour remainder of green chile sauce over the top and sides of the rolled enchiladas.  Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes and serve. 

Recipes for the following two dishes can be found in the excellent cookbook  "Red or Green: New Mexico Cuisine" by Clyde Casey available from Southwest Flair or Amazon.
Green Chile Corn Soup

Green Chile Stew

You can make your own Green Chile Sauce (Chile Verde) at home.  Follow the Green Chile Sauce (not Salsa) recipe here:

Billy Vasquez, the 99 Cent Chef has a great recipe on his blog for roasting your green chile and making a Green Chile Cheeseburger.

Other delicious recipes using New Mexican Green and Red Chiles can be found in the Cucinas de New Mexico cookbook published by the Public Service Company of New Mexico with recipes on-line  .

You can order the book for only $11.95 (no additional charges for overseas mailing). Proceeds go the Good Neighbor Fund, a program to help low income families in New Mexico pay for their electricity.

Chiles that mature become bright red and are then dried and ground into chile powder. In New Mexico, our custom is to tie a bunch of red chile pods into a ristra to dry. 

Then, we hang up Red Chile Ristras in our kitchens to use a dried chile pod or two in cooking year round.  We often hang the bright ristras by our front doors or in our homes to decorate. Nothing quite like a bright red chile ristra to greet our guests during the Winter Holidays.  It says "Bienvenidos, please come and share our warm home and spicy dishes!"

The first week of October brings the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta . Here's the first day for the balloon mass ascension on October 2, 2010 - about 7:30AM, viewing it from Tramway Blvd. on the Sandia Pueblo:

Yes, that is a flying Pepsi can. 

Before the balloons are inflated... can eat.  Here's Amanda eating a barbequed turkey leg.

You can walk among the balloons when they are being filled with hot air, eat a lot of junk food or enjoy a picnic, buy souvenirs, listen to live music, play on the carnival rides, and get your camera ready for the ascension of the balloons or the Night Glowdeo.  It's an Albuquerque Party for all (kids and families especially welcome)!

Here are pictures from the Special Shapes Glowdeo.  After it gets dark, the propane flames are fired in unison that wows everyone there. When the wind gets blowing, though, everything is shut down.

If you go, do the "Park and Ride" option. The traffic is just too much if you try to drive to Balloon Park. 

Besides, you can take a nap on the bus ride back.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Our Fall Vacation to Yellowstone - Part 2

The Grand Tetons

 This is the second part of our journey. Our vacation began in Breckenridge, Colorado.  You can view the first part of this trip here.

 From Pocatello, Idaho, we drove east along the Snake River through beautiful tall mountains surrounding the Swan Valley and Palisades Reservoir.  We got to Jackson Hole, Wyoming about lunch time.  "Hole" is the name given by early fur trappers for a flat spot or bowl surrounded by mountains.  Jackson (the town) and Jackson Hole are used interchangeably.   Before finding lodging for the night, we enjoyed some sandwiches and cold beer at Sidewinders American Grill & Tavern.    I had a grilled cheddar cheese and bacon sandwich with fresh slices of avocado and tomato on sourdough and Ron had a juicy burger and fries -- delish!  There are plenty of large screen TV's for catching up on almost any sport you care about.  The serving staff was very friendly. 

To check out lodging possibilities, we stopped at the busy and informative visitor center in Jackson.  They have elk viewing areas and many interpretive displays.  Next, we went a few miles north to Grand Teton National Park with its astounding scenery and abundant wildlife. 


Jackson Lake

Jenny Lake view

Ron with Grand Tetons in the background

We stayed in a pricey but quite basic cottage room at the Jackson Lake Lodge. The free Wi-Fi available in the Lobby was very slow and Ron really needed to resolve a business-related issue.  Atlantic International never sleeps (although on vacation, it does slow down a bit, depending on the speed of the internet). However, being here at the historic and scenic lodge was certainly worth it. The Lodge was built in the late 50's and has been the location of many internationally significant conferences and summit meetings. The Lodge's upper Lobby has huge 60 ft. tall wall of windows to view the Tetons and wildlife.

View from the Jackson Lake Lodge

At least 50% of the guests were speaking a foreign language. It is obvious that our National Parks (especially Grand Teton and Yellowstone) are premier destinations for tourists from around the world.  Because it is mid-September, the school aged children are absent and the summer crowds are gone.  Still, the tour buses brought in hundreds of new visitors daily. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the Mural Room. We saw moose and elk and enjoyed listening to the elk bugling as it was their mating season.

Formed by the uplift of the earth and sculpted by glaciers,
the Grand Tetons are striking.

Moose in river grazing

On Tuesday we left for Yellowstone National Park (about 30 miles north).  Vicki had last been in Yellowstone in August, 1962.  This was Ron's first trip to the oldest National Park.

Here I am (left) in 1962 with friend Jan Burnette, and my sister, Jeanne Gregerson
There were a lot more trees in 1962 before all the devastating wildfires.

Family Camping in Yellowstone in 1962 (Vicki with the hat)

A lot of the trees have been detroyed in wildfires since 1962, especially the destructive fires of 1988. Much new growth was replacing the dead trees 22 years later.

The Firehole River

Thermal Pools and Geysers along the Firehole River

Excelsior Geyser
4000 gallons of 160 degree F. water per minute flows into the Firehole River from the Excelsior Geyser

Grand Prismatic Spring
The colors are heat loving bacteria that grows here
Bacteria mats provide some really beautiful patterns and colors

Firehole Lake Drive in the Upper Geyser Basin

Imperial Geyser near Fairy Falls (here's a video link of it erupting)

Castle Geyser

We stayed two nights in Yellowstone.  The second night we scored a room at the Old Faithful Inn. The Inn was built in 1903 and opened to its first guests in 1904.  Our room was a quaint room on the first floor with a shared bath down the hall.  We were right next to the Lower Geyser Basin and Old Faithful Geyser that usually erupted between intervals of about 90-120 minutes.We got a 7:30 reservation for dinner in the Inn and settled down for drinks on the 2nd story deck, meeting an interesting couple on vacation (Paul and Betsy) from Placentia, California, whom we chatted with for several hours while sharing wine and watching Old Faithful erupt.

2nd story deck to view Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful from deck at Old Faithful Inn

Our room at the Inn

Looking up from the Old Faithful Inn Lobby

We saw lots of wildlife.  Only saw one Black Bear that was about a 1/4 mile away and without a telephoto lens, I didn't even try to take a picture.  Here are some pictures of the elk and bison we saw:

Doe Elk alongside trail

Elk Buck (above) and Bison (below)

Ron at the Yellowstone Falls

At the brink of the upper falls of the Yellowstone River

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

Ron and Vicki at Grand View of the Yellowstone Canyon

We departed on September 16 leaving Yellowstone through the Northeast Entrance to Cooke City, Montana,  where we found ourselves curiously hungry for a Bison Burger and an Elk Burger at a local saloon.  We then took the Beartooth Highway starting about 3:00 PM with clear and warm weather toward Red Lodge, Montana. The Beartooth Highway is designated as an All-American Highway and one of the Top 10 Scenic Drives in America.  I do not recommend this highway for the faint at heart or to one who suffers from a fear of heights.  I drove so I didn't take any pictures.  Here is an aerial view of the road:

It was a beautiful drive with outstanding views.  It has several glaciers along the way and lots of falling rock along the road with very few trees because of the altitude that reaches 10,947 feet.  It took almost 2 hours to drive because of its many curves.  We continued on to Billings, Montana and then south to Sheridan, Wyoming to spend the night.  Having gone to Montana, Ron has now visited 48 states of the US, with only North and South Dakota left on his "Bucket List" of States to visit.

On Friday, we departed Sheridan about 8:30AM and decided to drive through to our home in New Mexico.  We stopped in Denver at our favorite Jewish deli -  The New York Deli News where we chowed down pastrami sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, potato knish, NY cheesecake and a Black and White cookie.  We arrived home safely a little after 10PM that night.  The cats appeared well and the garden was well represented of RED TOMATOES, green beans, chiles, and cucumbers.  Thanks to Mary and Matt for taking good care of our house while we were gone!

Time for Green Chile Stew!