Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas in September.

No, I’m not talking about the holiday itself. I’m talking about the reference to red and green chiles in New Mexican cuisine.

When dining in New Mexico, one can order a number of dishes prepared with red or green chile sauce, such as enchiladas, stuffed sopapillas, burritos, etc. If you wish to get both green and red chile sauce, you simply order ‘Christmas’. And since I’m still undecided which chile I prefer, I usually order my dishes this way. I get the best of both worlds.

New Mexico Red Chile

This is where the love starts.
Just don't breathe in too deeply.

I was lucky to make a quick visit to Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago, just in time for Hatch green chile season which I blogged about here. But red chile gets its due now.

When I first moved to Santa Fe over 20 years ago, I got a job working the ‘front of the house’ at the Ore House on the Plaza. This is where I met my husband. He was the cute bartender I gazed upon as I came into the bar seeking employment. I told my friend Maggie right then and there, “I’m going to marry him.”

And I did.

key ingredients for perfect pesto

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid. Stupid is me, not you.
Just so we're clear. Duh.

I also met some of the best people around. Many are still dear close friends, even though some of us have moved around, moved back, moved to other countries. We still have solid ties and relationships that allow us all to hook up. Once we get together, it’s like no time has passed. We pick up where we left off. There are never odd moments of uncertainty. There is trust. Love. Respect.

The Ore House will always hold a special place in my heart. Even the friends who have come and gone from our lives are revered and remembered.

ready to blend

Have I mentioned how much I love K&K for the Cuisinart? Again...gracias.

As is the Ore House’s Red Chile Piñon Pesto. This signature recipe was developed by the original chef of the Ore House, and despite my insider contacts, no one has the recipe. For years, this was not an issue, as anyone could wander on up the white staircase to the second floor of the restaurant and simply purchase large mason jars of the adored pesto to take home and enjoy for many, many meals.

But alas, some good things come to an end. After over two decades of success, the Ore House on the Plaza will close its doors. In an attempt to gain a surplus of pesto bliss, my amigo Cristòbal made a run out to the restaurant recently and discovered that our beloved pesto is no longer available. Not on the menu, not in jars.

¡Que lastima! When Chris broke the news to me, I nearly wept. Honestly. People who are ‘in the know’ about this pesto will verify its magic. There is something medicinal about it. You eat it, you sweat. Your tongue begs you to stop, begs you for more. Slather it on a burger, and I swear you’ll never eat a burger any other way (unless it’s already covered in green chile. Then you are forgiven). Combine it with butter and add to seared shrimp or scallops? Died and gone to chile heaven, my friends. You’re just a better person after eating it.

Jar O Love

If you're lucky, you have one (or two) of these in your fridge.

Just knowing I have a jar or two in my fridge just makes me sleep better at night. I know, it’s really absurd, but there you have it. So I knew I had to find a way to keep me and my familia in the red, with the red. I’ve been playing around with the ingredients – chile, cheeses, oil, and nuts for a while now.

And I think I’ve got it.

Now, I am not going to be as selfish and elusive as the original masters. Oh no. I think great food should be enjoyed, not hoarded. I gladly share my recipe with all of you, and encourage the Red Chile Piñon Pesto diehards to give it a try. All of the ingredients can be found easily in your own home towns and cities. Except perhaps, for the red chile pods. But that’s okay, because I can hook you up, my compadres. Just email me and I will be happy to send you some of the good stuff. Soon, you too can be putting up jars of ‘liquid gold’.

And, if for any reason you just don’t have it in you to whip up a batch, you can always wait until Christmas. The actual holiday this time. I think I may be making up a shwack for gifts. Just stay on my good side, and all good tidings will come.

Red Chile Piñon Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound dried New Mexican red chile pods
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cups grated parmesan and romano cheeses (about 6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/2 teaspoon regular salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

  • Spread dried chile pods on a large baking sheet and heat in a 300 degree oven for 3 minutes. Remove stems, but do not seed.
  • Combine all ingredients in food processor, except for oil and salt. Add 1 cup of the oil, and then pulse to combine. Slow stream the additional oil as needed to form a chunky ‘pesto-like’ mixture. Taste for seasoning, and add up to 1 teaspoon of salt as needed. The cheeses are naturally salty, so you want to be careful with this. I did find that despite the cheese, a teaspoon of kosher salt was helpful. Be careful if you are using regular table salt. If you are, perhaps half is fine.
  • Store pesto in a mason jar (preferred), or covered container and refrigerate. Mixture will keep for several months. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

More Holiday Goodness.

Evening all –

What a fantastic holiday weekend. I love the long holidays. I think every weekend should last 4 days.

We have a bit of a reprieve before the New Year’s weekend commences on Thursday. It’s probably a good thing. Three days of eating right can get us ready for the next rogue weekend.

Although I must say for the most part, our portions were smallish, we kept our bodies moving, so they evened out. I think that has become a good rule of thumb.

I love the crustaceans.

Crustaceans. Good.

We were lucky enough to have some wonderful eats in the house:

Various fresh and local seafood. Spiny lobster, Dungeness crab and scallops made their appearance for Christmas lunch with Dirk and Mom.

We made an appetizer of the lobster. After steaming, it was mixed with cream, a bit of cheese, flashed in a hot oven and served with toasted bread. Crab cakes with Mango relish were a hit. Seared scallops in brandy cream with spinach and potato pancakes were lovely as well.

I don't recommend you eat this whole bowl

I don't recommend you eat this whole bowl.

For dessert we devoured a local made Buche de Noel, provided by our favorite local french bakery. I also picked up some macaroons, croissants and brioche coffee cake to keep us going throughout the weekend.

The next day we had a bit of glorious caviar and blinis in the house. Rich cheeses and olives came with. More dessert ensued. Chocolates, house made cookies and fine wine.

Is it a wonder we are still hungry?

Yes, we are. I did mention the portions, right? They are smaller than we would like. Dirk mentions the brilliant Japanese viewpoint on food and appetite.

Eat until you are 80 percent full. Then stop.

Sounds easy. It isn’t. It does become a way of life if you let it and it has worked for us.

We buy less, eat less, and yet still eat so, so well. Of course this last week has been decadent and luxurious in every way possible. We probably have not adhered to the 80/20 philosophy.

It’s okay.

Sometimes you have to go rogue.

And then, you retreat. And run like hell. Literally.

No Christmas Tree????

The Christmas holidays continue over here at Casa Reynolds, another fun filled day decorating the house, pulling out all the Christmas ornaments and lights. The big difference this year?

Gift wrap. Christmas gifts.

Traditional.

No Christmas Tree. I know. It’s weird, it’s wrong, it goes against all that is Christmas.

But it just didn’t happen this year. Dirk and I both had appointments and commitments that didn’t allow us to get a tree like we usually do, the first week of December. No problem. We will postpone the event until the following week. Oops, sorry. That’s not a good time either.

Okay, fine. The next weekend. Done.

So last weekend we set out to get us a tree. Granted, it’s only the 18th of December, but most of the trees have been bought. No worries, there are still beautiful pines to be had. We walk along the paths and I casually look at the price tags.

$70 for a tree!

Are you kidding me? For a tree. That’s dead. Dirk and I were just not feeling it.

Actually, I wasn’t feeling it. Because Dirk knows my sincere affinity for Christmas trees, I truly believe he wouldn’t have blinked an eye if I decided I must have had that tree.

But at that moment, I knew the Christmas season would still live in my mind, heart and soul. Without the overpriced, dried out, dead tree.

So we left the lot.

Only problem is this:

We have a vast collection of Christmas ornaments and decorations. We love opening the boxes of holiday glitter every year, remembering holidays past, smiling as we fondly hang our ornaments, retelling stories and memories. The nights that pass allow us to admire the tree, reflect and enjoy the warmth of lights and memories they hold.

Umm, Kley?

NOT Traditional

Yeah, we don’t have that this year. But, I did still ask my gorgeous and strong husband to bring out the heavy Christmas boxes stored up in the closets. I slowly unwrapped the decorations and ornaments, coveting their history and memories as my hands anticipated the treasures I would find after freeing them from their annual blankets.

I found new homes for most. Our mantle became not only a make shift for the Christmas stockings, but also some fresh garland, holly and ornaments. Our Christmas tree angel is now resting atop of the said mantle as opposed to the top of the tree. She still looks glorious.

A beloved glass pitcher now adorns our glittering bulbs, surrounded by many strands of silver pearls.

Other ornaments are finding their way into different rooms and areas of the house. Look closely, or you might miss them!

Tomorrow I will decorate a fresh pine wreath with a few more gems. I’m not sure where I will end up hanging it.

But I have a feeling it will find its right spot, creating a new Christmas tradition.  Which feels absolutely perfect.

It’s almost Christmas!

Yep, it’s that time of year. Most of us are still running around like crazy, and the ones that aren’t are just too organized.

I don’t trust them.

I mean seriously, who recommends shopping for gifts year round? Don’t get me wrong. I shop. For gifts. Year round.

I just don’t shop in February for friends or family members a month after settling into the New Year with the intention of storing away the gift (s) for nearly a calendar year.

I dunno, maybe it’s me and my nature to just sort of roll with the punches for most of my days. Which I think I do fairly well. Hell, I would venture to think we all live our lives pretty much the same way.

So…

I am making another goal.

To live in the moment. I know it sounds vague, so I’m going to say “In the Moment” for me, is a week out. A month if need be. And all the rest, I can sort of plan in the back of my head, but it has to be sort of an after thought.

This does NOT include investments, bills or any money related terms. That can just be trouble.

I want to be a present part of the…

Present.

Whether it’s good or bad, sad or mad. I’m going to try and remain aware of what is.

Because honestly? I have not lived nearly these many years to find myself unable to behave in a manner  most people would adhere to as a first grader. If I do… then I fail.

Badly.

I sound noble now, but it may only be a short amount of time before I succumb to an elementary grade level mentality.

That’s okay. It’s human. And maybe that is the real lesson to be learned here.

Let us live and let live. Don’t judge anyone. Learn from others.

Even the organized ones. Merry Christmas.