Travel Tip: Paria Canyon

Hiking Paria Canyon

Hiking Paria Canyon. Photo by Mike Koopsen.

By Mike Koopsen

Hiking through some of the Paria Canyon (straddling the UT/AZ border) while crossing the Paria River multiple times, expect cold water, lots of slippery mud, and possibly quicksand. If you are unfortunate enough to get stuck the good news is that you will probably only sink up to your waist as I did a couple of times. Make sure you are hiking with a buddy as you might need some assistance in getting out of it. Hiking from the Whitehouse campground, just south of the Paria Ranger Station, downriver it is approximately 7 miles to the confluence where the Paria River intersects with Buckskin Gulch. It is a full day round trip hike to get back to the campground before dark so it is a good idea to practice time management as the hike back might take a little longer than the hike in. Look for some fantastic formations and beautiful desert varnished sandstone walls along the way. Enjoy and be safe.

 

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

Posted in News & Events | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Travel Tip: Paria Canyon

Travel Tip: Navajo National Monument

Keet Seel, Navajo National Monument. Photo by Mike Koopsen.

Keet Seel, Navajo National Monument. Photo by Mike Koopsen.

By Mike Koopsen

The Navajo National Monument has two of the most impressive and well preserved Native American cliff dwellings that I have seen in the American Southwest. The Betatakin ruins can be seen from a distance after a short walk from the visitor center or on a ranger-led hiking tour into the beautiful Tsegi Canyon. This guided hike is limited to 25 permits per tour and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The five-mile round-trip hike can be a real challenge for some since you are descending over 700 feet into the canyon on the way to the ruin and then have to hike back after your visit there. Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks.

Keet Seel is the other ancestral pueblo that is accessible by hiking trail. Twenty permits a day are available for overnight campers or for day hikers. Advanced reservations and a backcountry permit are required for this hike. But unlike the Betatakin tour this is a self-guided hike. In addition, a short pre-hike orientation is mandatory the day before your 17-mile round-trip hike. This hike is usually only available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Once you arrive at the site you need to contact the backcountry ranger who will then lead you on a guided tour. The buildings can easily be seen from below but you do have to climb up a steep ladder to access the pueblo. The magnificence of this village is unbelievable and it is a real adventure to visit this awesome area.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

Posted in Culture, History, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Travel Tip: Navajo National Monument

In Memoriam: Jake Page, Prolific Author and Editor

Rio Nuevo Publishers regrets the recent passing of Jake Page, an editor and author of more than fifty books, friend, and colleague to many in the book business for half a century.

jake-page-large

Courtesy of Jake and Susanne Page

Born in Boston in 1936, James Keena “Jake” Page Jr. was everything from a ranch hand to a hard-rock miner. Page graduated from Princeton in 1958 and received his Master of Arts degree in 1959 from New York University. He began his fifty-year career as editor for Doubleday’s Anchor Books, became editor for Natural History Press (1963–70), and then joined Smithsonian Magazine, where he edited and wrote articles well into the 1990s.

Hopi-Cvr-amazon Navajo-Cover amazon

In 1982 Page and his wife, photojournalist Susanne Anderson Page, published HOPI, an intimate portrait of the Hopi people, followed in 1995 by NAVAJO, also a beautifully illustrated book, both reprinted by Rio Nuevo Publishers. About that time he began writing detective novels and science books for the general reader, and continued to write about Native American culture, publishing In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000 year history of the American Indians (2003), Indian Arts of the Southwest with Rio Nuevo in 2009, and Uprising: The Pueblo Indians and the First American War for Religious Freedom in 2013.

It was an honor and a pleasure to work with him.

Indian Arts Cover   uprising-cvr-new-RGB

Posted in News & Events | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on In Memoriam: Jake Page, Prolific Author and Editor

Today’s Travel Tip — Sunset in Sedona

By Mike Koopsen

A beautiful Sedona sunset over Cathedral Rock by Mike Koopsen.

A beautiful Sedona sunset over Cathedral Rock by Mike Koopsen.

Sedona is well known for its beautiful red rock landscapes and panoramic vistas, and if you visit overnight, I would highly recommend finding a nice place to see the sunset.

Airport Mesa is one of the best choices for this experience because, from this elevated location, depending on the time of year, you will not only see the sun set in the West but you will be able to see how the rocks change color towards the end of the day. I usually recommend arriving at least twenty minutes before the official sunset time.

More often than not the skies are clear in Sedona, but on days with clouds in the West, the sunset colors can be magnificent. Pinks, oranges, golds, and reds can light up the clouds, and the experience can be very inspiring. Remember, sometimes the best colors of the sunset appear ten to fifteen minutes after the sun has set, so stick around and hope for some drama in the sky.

Mike Koopsen of Trails Traveled Photography lives in Sedona. See more of his work here.

Posted in Nature, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Today’s Travel Tip — Sunset in Sedona

Another Visit with Sarah Dolliver

People's choice award. Sedona's red rocks by Sarah Dolliver.

People’s choice award. Sedona’s red rocks by Sarah Dolliver.

When we last spoke with Sarah Dolliver, she was the grand prize winner in our spring 2014 photo contest. Now, as the people’s choice winner in our fall 2015 contest, she shares an update about her life and work.

Dolliver says 2015 got off to a challenging start with a house remodeling project that had her living full-time in the master bedroom with her husband and three cats. She also served as the onsite general contractor for the project, so “I felt like I couldn’t leave,” she says. But once the house was finished, she made up for lost camera time with several trips and workshops.

Spring found her in the Texas Hill Country during blue bonnet season visiting a friend who drove her around and shared scenic places to shoot photographs. Later in the year she went to a workshop in White Sands, NM, and finally, Dolliver was able to do one of the trips on her bucket list, a solo drive to Yosemite. “I spent five days entirely alone in a state I didn’t know, and then had three solid days of shooting with the workshop in Yosemite,” she says. “I drove 1,600 miles alone, something I’ve never, ever done before.”

While workshops are exhausting, Dolliver enjoys the rigor. “You can be up two hours before sunrise to drive to the location, then you have to unload, set up, and shoot. You go back, download, eat, sometimes do critiques or a workshop session, and then go back to the field. You may stay out until 8:30. There’s lots of adrenaline and it takes a while to come down,” she says. “You can imagine how dog-tired you are at the end, but when you see the images, you’re ready to go back.”

Dolliver cites three main reasons she’s made workshops a part of her learning process.

  • She doesn’t like research, so she appreciates being able to go to a location with a guide. She can then go back later and explore on her own.
  • She enjoys learning from instructors whose work she respects.
  • She’s able to build connections with others who like the same things she does, and new friendships develop.

Besides workshops, Dolliver learns from reading books. “Light and composition are the two keys to good photos,” she says. The light before sunrise and after sunset is the most challenging for a landscape photographer, but it also makes for the most dramatic photos.

Being stuck at home for four months with the house project gave Dolliver time to work on her developing skills with Lightroom. “More than fifty percent of the work happens at the computer,” she says, and because she wasn’t shooting new images, she was able to go back and redevelop some of her old ones. “Determined” is a collection of plants growing in odd and difficult places.  “I find them inspiring. If that plant can make it there, then I can make it through my troubles.” She’s also been working on a collection of dead tree photos, which allows her hiking club to tease her about her “dead tree of the week” pictures.

In 2016, Dolliver has plans for four trips – she’ll spend time in March in the Valley learning to shoot wildflowers with her digital SLR, then in April she’ll attend a photo symposium in Moab. July will find her in the heart of the Rockies in Ouray, Colo. at a workshop, and then in late summer she’ll head back East to visit family, camera in tow. But mostly, you’ll find her out in nature. “It’s inspirational to be out in the ruggedness and beauty of the land, and to be able to share that is important.”

In that spirit of sharing, here’s a collection of Dolliver’s 2015 work.

“Bee on Viburnum” I captured this one in my own front yard. The viburnum is so fragrant when it blooms, and the bees love it. It was a bustle of activity. They didn’t even pay any attention to me near them.

“Bee on Viburnum” I captured this one in my own front yard. The viburnum is so fragrant when it blooms, and the bees love it. It was a bustle of activity. They didn’t even pay any attention to me near them.

The flowing lines of these graceful Canada geese caught my eye as these two came together for a moment. Usually it is not a good thing to merge subjects, but here it works because of the repeating lines and the separation by their natural coloring. My eye keeps on floating around their curved backs and supple necks.

The flowing lines of these graceful Canada geese caught my eye as these two came together for a moment. Usually it is not a good thing to merge subjects, but here it works because of the repeating lines and the separation by their natural coloring. My eye keeps on floating around their curved backs and supple necks.

I love patterns! And I think this shows it. Here is a lupine without blossoms. Its starburst leaves create the interest, as the subject and the background.

I love patterns! And I think this shows it. Here is a lupine without blossoms. Its starburst leaves create the interest, as the subject and the background.

Near Marble Falls, Texas, they call this the “Bluebonnet House” for the sea of bluebonnets that cover the lawn in front of it – not to mention the few paintbrush in this photo too. I was captivated by the rustic structure and the old farm equipment left to rust in the yard. Taken at dusk, it shows the twilight’s bluish hues, which only embellish the bluebonnets further.

Near Marble Falls, Texas, they call this the “Bluebonnet House” for the sea of bluebonnets that cover the lawn in front of it – not to mention the few paintbrush in this photo too. I was captivated by the rustic structure and the old farm equipment left to rust in the yard. Taken at dusk, it shows the twilight’s bluish hues, which only embellish the bluebonnets further.

I was excited to see Texas Hill Country for the first time this past spring. My hosts drove me all over. Near a subdivision, we came across these deer who were so tame and just a wee bit curious about what we were doing. I took this one handheld with my 300mm telephoto lens. Lucky shot!

I was excited to see Texas Hill Country for the first time this past spring. My hosts drove me all over. Near a subdivision, we came across these deer who were so tame and just a wee bit curious about what we were doing. I took this one handheld with my 300mm telephoto lens. Lucky shot!

About twenty miles from Austin is Hamilton Pool, a sunken grotto with a big waterfall. It was a difficult place to shoot, as the dark shadows and bright sky send the camera sensor askew. So I opted for some “intimate landscape” work, of which this is an example. I can still hear the splashing of the water!

About twenty miles from Austin is Hamilton Pool, a sunken grotto with a big waterfall. It was a difficult place to shoot, as the dark shadows and bright sky send the camera sensor askew. So I opted for some “intimate landscape” work, of which this is an example. I can still hear the splashing of the water!

At a small pullout off General's Highway in Sequoia National Park, I found the amazing Moment, were the clouds opened up and glory was raining down.

At a small pullout off General’s Highway in Sequoia National Park, I found the amazing Moment, were the clouds opened up and glory was raining down.

Below El Capitan flows the Merced River, the lifeblood of all flora in Yosemite Valley.

Below El Capitan flows the Merced River, the lifeblood of all flora in Yosemite Valley.

It’s often hard to take your eyes off the main attractions at Yosemite, and I’m glad I did here. We were at a large, nearly still part of the river below Half Dome. Its reflection was stunning. Yet over to the side were these bare trees, lit by the late day sun. And what a marvelous image they make!

It’s often hard to take your eyes off the main attractions at Yosemite, and I’m glad I did here. We were at a large, nearly still part of the river below Half Dome. Its reflection was stunning. Yet over to the side were these bare trees, lit by the late day sun. And what a marvelous image they make!

No, it’s NOT snow. It’s the gypsum sands that sparkle in the sun at White Sands, NM. These are worn footprints left by visitors in the previous days and now blurred by the wind. Light and shadow show you the sculpting done by the wind. And it’s another pattern.

No, it’s NOT snow. It’s the gypsum sands that sparkle in the sun at White Sands, NM. These are worn footprints left by visitors in the previous days and now blurred by the wind. Light and shadow show you the sculpting done by the wind. And it’s another pattern.

Daybreak! A magical time it is. Here, the sun rises over the mountain in the distance, its beams pointing to the soap yuccas. The deep tones of the sky and the blue cast on the white sand make the magic come through.

Daybreak! A magical time it is. Here, the sun rises over the mountain in the distance, its beams pointing to the soap yuccas. The deep tones of the sky and the blue cast on the white sand make the magic come through.

Another sunrise image I call the “Confluence of Day and Night.”  The golden rays of the rising sun set the white sand on fire and the full super moon sets in the distance. I feel honored to capture moments like this that viewers can revisit for a lifetime.

Another sunrise image I call the “Confluence of Day and Night.” The golden rays of the rising sun set the white sand on fire and the full super moon sets in the distance. I feel honored to capture moments like this that viewers can revisit for a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Photography | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Another Visit with Sarah Dolliver

Tom White: An Amateur Photographer With The Eye Of A Pro

White.Tom 1

Tom White

Tom White, the winner of our 2015 Fall photo contest, spent his working life in the music business, but he had another motivation besides paying the bills. “I enjoyed sharing music with others; it wasn’t just about dollars. It’s the same with my photography,” he says. He stresses that he’s an amateur when it comes to making money with his work, but his friends will tell you his skills approach those of any pro. He’s been sharing his work on the Rio Nuevo Facebook page, among others, for more than a year, and entered several photos in the contest.

Grand prize winner! Lockett Meadows by Tom White

Lockett Meadows

White’s winning image, of Lockett Meadows near Flagstaff, is special to him because a neighbor who later died was with him the day he took it. It was a perfect fall day, and the photo captures the deep indigo sky, along with the green and gold trees reflecting in the mirror-like pond. The judges especially liked the way the sky’s negative space traced the outline of the mountains in the pond.

Born in Colorado, White spent his early years in Estes Park, then moved with his family to Dallas; then to Fullerton, California; then to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he lived from sixth grade until college. His father was a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado, but then took a job with Mobil Oil. Through all of the moving around, his father taught him about nature, and it’s a passion that White nurtures to this day.

White.Sedona SunsetWhite.Rusty RoofWhite.Monsoon over SedonaWhite.Oak Creek

One of his other great loves is music, and after starting out as a clerk in a record store, he eventually went to work for RCA as a sales rep. “I went into the music business because I didn’t want to grow up,” he laughs. His odyssey continued with stops in Houston, Minneapolis, and Nashville, where he was the vice-president of sales for RCA Country. He finished his music career at Windham Hill. White enjoyed moving around. “I’ve learned something new from every place I’ve lived,” he says.

White (r) with John Denver.

White (r) with John Denver.

White (back right) with members of Poco.

White (back right) with members of Poco.

He especially appreciated spending time with the artists, many of whom were humble and down-to-earth. One he mentions is Yanni, who was willing to go bowling with the wives of Kmart buyers who were in Detroit for a meeting. White also talks about getting to know Martina McBride before she hit it big. “Her husband did sound for Garth Brooks, and she sold t-shirts at his shows,” he says. “Her make-up case was an old Barbie case.” White credits her strong will to make it in the business as one of the reasons she found success as a country music star.

Back surgery ended White’s thirty-year career in the music business in 2000. “I lost fifteen years to a bad back and had to retire at fifty,” he says. He bought a home on a lake in Wisconsin, but quickly tired of the snow and cold. He says he pondered moving to either Colorado or Northern Arizona, but “I didn’t want winter any more, so Colorado didn’t win.” He now makes his home in Cornville, near Sedona in the Verde Valley.

It wasn’t until he moved to Arizona that he took up photography as a hobby. “I went from going 24-7 to sitting in Sedona, which took an adjustment,” he says. He sold his watch and cell phone when he moved and was plenty happy to be without them, although he did finally break down and buy a cell phone this past year. “I would have every gadget in the world if I was still working,” he says.

Slide Rock State Park. White says this is one of his favorite 2015 images.

Slide Rock State Park. White says this is one of his favorite 2015 images.

In a place with such overwhelming natural beauty, it seemed like an easy jump to photography. “Rollie’s Camera [in Sedona] has been such a help to me as an amateur,” White says. He’s also learned by following some of the bigger names in photography, and Tom Kelly at Rollie’s is his mentor. He uses a Nikon 3300 body with three lenses: a Nikon 10-24mm, a Nikon 18-200, and a Tamron 150-600 for shooting wildlife.

White.Sunday in SedonaHis passions for nature and photography not only fill his days but offer health benefits, too. He’s lost fifty pounds in the past fourteen months by eliminating sugar from his diet and walking three to five miles a day — sometimes as many as ten miles when he’s on a shoot.

He offers a tip he learned from a mentor for those who want to improve their photography. “Turn around. It’s not a technical phrase, but you miss fifty percent of what you might see if you get so focused on where you’re going. It’s made all the difference in my photography.”

In addition to shooting local events for the Red Rock News and sharing photos on Facebook, White is considering setting up a page to sell his work on Arts of America. But that’s down the road. For now, we hope he’ll continue delighting our readers with his chronicles of the natural beauty he sees every day.

White.SunsetWhite.West Fork in WinterWhite.Red Sunset

White.Coyote

 

Posted in Author Profiles, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Tom White: An Amateur Photographer With The Eye Of A Pro

Merry Christmas!

RHM_4459-Edit

Thanks to Bob Miller for the stunning photo!

Merry Christmas from all of us at Rio Nuevo!

Posted in News & Events, Photography | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Merry Christmas!

It’s Time For Tamales!

By Marilyn Noble

Santa Cruz Tamales #10947EDThis is a repost of last year’s story about making tamales, but since it was one of our most popular posts, we thought it was worth running again. This year my mom was once again able to take the lead in the process, and we got the project done in record time. And the tamales taste fantastic. Thanks, Mom!

Making tamales at Christmas is a tradition in the borderlands, and every family passes down their favorite techniques from generation to generation. Many a spirited discussion ensues when families intermingle and debate the merits of their particular methods. In our family, my mother learned long ago from a group of women in the small New Mexico smelter town where they lived, and in the intervening years, she’s developed her own way of doing things. I’ve helped her for the past several years, but this year, she’s laid up with a bad shoulder. None of us can imagine a Christmas Eve without tamales, so she sat on the sidelines and coached while my sister and I took on the project.

We started with a trip to the nearest Food City, where they conveniently had most of the ingredients stacked in a huge display at the front of the store. We were able to find fresh masa from a local tortilleria packed in five-pound bags, and we used Morrell Snow Cap lard, which is typical along the border. If you want to use non-hydrogenated lard, ask at your local butcher shop to see if they render their own. You can also buy pork fat and render yourself, which is a separate project for another day.

The shredded and seasoned beef.

The shredded and seasoned beef.

Food City also had carne de res para tamales, which came boneless and looked like a trimmed brisket. You can use boneless chuck or any other inexpensive cut. Our tamales are always beef, but many cooks prefer pork shoulder or a combination. The meat should be prepared a day in advance so that it has time to properly meld with the red chile sauce. Refrigerate it overnight, and then gently warm it in the oven before you start assembling the tamales. Refrigerate the stock overnight too, and then add some of the solidified fat from the top to the masa for some extra flavor. Warm the stock before you add it to the masa.

The corn husks you buy in the store these days are cleaner and more uniform than they used to be, but you’ll still want to rinse them and remove any stray silk or bugs before you soak them. It makes the process go faster if you sort them before you soak. Use the larger, flatter ones first, and then you won’t have to do so much patching together when you assemble the tamales. If you have lots of small bits and pieces, reserve them to cover the pot for steaming. Soak the husks in a sink full of warm water for about a half hour while you’re making the masa.

Speaking of steaming, a tamale pot is the easiest way to do it, but you can also use a pasta pot with an insert or any deep pot and build a steamer rack in the bottom. The tamales will sit on the rack and the water level should be below it – you don’t want the bottoms of the tamales getting soggy.

To prepare the meat, place it in a large pot and cover it with water. Add plenty of salt and pepper, and gently braise it – don’t boil — for several hours. When it’s done, remove it from the stock to cool. Reserve the stock for making the masa. While the meat is cooling, make the chile sauce. You can use soaked red chiles, but we usually use Hatch chile powder. It’s fresh, easy, and the quickest part of the whole process. We usually do both of these the day before so we can get an early start on the tamale making the next day. Shred the meat, add most, but not all, of the chile sauce, cover and refrigerate.

Beating the lard until it's light and fluffy.

Beating the lard until it’s light and fluffy.

To make a large quantity of tamales (which makes the most sense, since it’s a labor intensive process), you’ll need a very large, sturdy mixing bowl and a heavy duty mixer. First you have to cream the lard and salt together with the mixer until it’s light and fluffy. At this point you can also add some of the solidified fat from the stock and beat it in. Underbeating the lard will make the tamales dense, and you want them to be light and airy.

Mixing the masa by hand.

Mixing the masa by hand.

Once you have the lard beaten, it’s time to put away the mixer and turn to your hands. This is an arduous process, and it takes a good while to get the masa mixed enough, but it’s worth the work and effort. Start by crumbling the masa into the lard, and then mix with your hands until it’s all combined and no lumps remain. Add the reserved red sauce and mix some more, then add the warm stock. Mix until it resembles a very thick pancake batter. Taste and add more salt, if needed, and then drop a small ball of the masa into a glass of cold water. If it floats, the masa is ready. If not, go back to mixing for another few minutes and then try again.

Assembling the tamales.

Assembling the tamales.

When the masa is ready, the meat is warmed, and the cornhusks are clean and soaked, it’s time to start assembling. Put the cornhusks in a large colander with the narrow ends up so that they drain well (you don’t want them wet). Everyone has a special technique, and with practice you’ll find one that works for you. I like to lay the cornhusk flat on my left hand with the tapered end toward my body. I then spread a portion of masa across the top 2/3 of the corn husk, all the way to the right edge and with a little space on the left edge. I put a portion of the meat down the center of the masa, add a couple of olive slices (some people like to add raisins), then fold the right edge over so the meat is completely covered by masa, and then fold over the left edge. Finally, I fold the bottom of the corn husk up.

A steaming pot of tamales.

A steaming pot of tamales.

When you’re making lots, place the filled tamales on a large flat tray until you have enough to fill the pot, then add water to the bottom so that it’s barely touching the rack. Stand the tamales up in the pot, and pack them tight enough to stand up, but not too tight, or the ones in the middle won’t cook enough. Cover the top of the tamales with a layer of soaked corn husks, put the top on the pot, and heat over high heat until the water is boiling. Turn the heat down so that it steams but doesn’t boil away, and let cook for 45 minutes.

The tamales in the foreground have been steamed, and those in the back are ready to go into the pot.

The tamales in the foreground have been steamed, and those in the back are ready to go into the pot.

When the tamales are finished steaming, gently remove them from the pot and lay them on a tray to cool. The masa will continue to set up. At this point they can be eaten (and the cooks certainly deserve a couple right out of the pot) or frozen in zippered plastic bags. Repeat the process with all of the remaining tamales. We used two steamer pots so that we could speed up the process.

In addition to the beef tamales, we also made a large batch of green chile and cheese. We followed the same process, but we didn’t add any red sauce to the masa. Instead of meat, we placed a layer of chopped green chile down the center of the masa, along with a layer of shredded cheese.

Ready for Christmas Eve.

Ready for Christmas Eve.

We spent about seven hours making twenty-four dozen tamales. They don’t look quite as pretty as our mom’s, but they taste good and received her seal of approval. We had a fun day working together in the kitchen, which is the most important part of these shared traditions, and on Christmas Eve, a steaming platter of tamales, made with love and care, will again grace our dinner table.

Christmas Tamales

Makes about 15 dozen

You can cut this recipe in half if you don’t want to make so many.

8 pounds boneless chuck or pork shoulder, or a combination

3 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

4 cups red chile sauce (recipe follows)

3 bags corn husks

15 pounds masa

4 pounds lard

3 tablespoons salt

8-10 cups meat stock

Black or green olives, sliced (optional)

In a large pot, cover the meat with water, add salt and pepper, and braise for about 3 hours. Reserve stock and allow meat to cool. While the meat is cooling, make the chile sauce. Once the meat has cooled enough to handle, shred it and add 3 cups of the chile sauce, reserving 1 cup for the masa. Can be done up to two days in advance.

Clean and soak the corn husks in tepid water for about 15-30 minutes until soft and pliable.

If the meat has been in the refrigerator, warm it in a low oven, remove the fat from the top of the stock, and warm the stock on the stovetop.

While the husks are soaking, make the masa. With a heavy mixer, cream the lard and salt together until very fluffy. It should look like whipped cream. Crumble the masa into the lard, and using your hands, mix well. The masa and lard should be fully incorporated. Add the reserved 1 cup of red sauce and combine, then add about 8 cups of stock. Mix well. The dough should resemble a thick, soft batter. Add more stock if needed. Adjust the salt to taste. Drop a small ball into a glass of cold water. If it floats, then the masa is done. If not, keep mixing with your hands for another few minutes and then try again.

Drain the corn husks and set up an assembly line.

Place a corn husk on the palm of your hand with the tapered end facing you. Using a large spoon, spread several tablespoons of masa across the husk from side to side and about two-thirds of the way down. Place a helping of meat down the center of the masa, and add olives if desired. Fold the sides over, making sure the masa covers the meat. Finally, fold up the bottom and place on a tray.

When you have about three dozen assembled, place them standing upright in a tamale or steamer pot with water in the bottom. Cover the top of the tamales with damp corn husks, and then cover and place over high heat until the water begins to boil. Turn the heat to low and steam for 45 minutes while you continue to assemble more tamales.

Once the tamales have steamed, gently remove from the pot and lay on a large tray to cool. The masa will set up as they cool. At this point, the tamales may be served or frozen.

To serve, open the husk and scrape out the tamal and any extra masa. Garnish with chili sauce, olives, cheese, onions, lettuce, or whatever you desire. To heat frozen tamales, place in a steamer pot with a small amount of water and steam for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

Red Chile Sauce

1/3 cup oil

1/4 cup flour

1 cup chile powder, hot, mild, or a combination, depending on your taste

4 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon garlic salt

In a large skillet heat the oil and sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly until the flour is lightly browned. Stir in the chile powder and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly. Add the water, salt, pepper, cumin, and garlic salt. Cook another few minutes until the sauce has thickened.

This sauce is versatile and can be used for enchiladas, smothering burritos, or making other Southwestern specialties in addition to tamales. It freezes well.

Point Reyes headshotMarilyn Noble is the author of four cookbooks, including Southwest Comfort Food, Slow and Savory and is Rio Nuevo’s cookbook and blog editor. She grew up on the border and splits her time between her current home in Colorado and her native Arizona.

Posted in Culture, Food | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on It’s Time For Tamales!

For Your Holiday Celebration, Cast Iron Turducken

Cast Iron Turducken

Modern-SW-coverFrom the always-creative mind of Chef Ryan Clark comes this savory Southwestern cassoulet. Unlike the bird-in-a-bird-in-a-bird construction most people think of when they hear the word turducken, this savory dish layers flavors – turkey machaca made from legs simmered in duck fat, chicken chorizo, and to finish it off, a touch of decadent foie gras butter.

This isn’t a last-minute, throw-it-together dish. You may have to work a little to find quality ingredients, but we’ll give you some suggestions to get you started. While the ingredient list is long (and extravagant) and the steps are many, the actual cooking is straightforward and simple. The nice thing about serving this at your holiday party is that you can prepare the machaca, chorizo, and tepary beans days in advance, and then finish the cooking in about 30 minutes. It takes planning, time, and lots of love, but isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Serves 6-8 

Turkey Confit Machaca

4 turkey legs, about 2 pounds
1/4 cup cumin seeds, toasted and crushed
1 ounce Basic Cure (See note)
2 quarts rendered duck fat (See note)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 limes, juice and zest
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups chicken stock

Rub the turkey legs with the toasted cumin seeds and Basic Cure. Place the legs in a 1-gallon plastic zipper bag for 3 days, turning over every day and distributing the liquid. After 3 days, remove the legs from the bag, rinse off the liquid, and place in the refrigerator on a kitchen towel. Air dry for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, warm the duck fat until melted. Place the turkey legs in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Pour the warmed duck fat over the legs until they’re covered. Place in the oven and cook at a very low simmer for 8 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. The meat should fall from the bones and be exceedingly tender. Remove the turkey meat from the bones and discard the bones and skin.

In a large stock pot, simmer the turkey meat, red onion, jalapeno, red bell pepper, cumin, paprika, lime juice and zest, cilantro, and chicken stock. Reduce until the liquid has completely evaporated. Remove from heat and refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTES:

  • Basic Cure – Combine a half pound of kosher salt, half cup of sugar, and an ounce of pink curing salt. Store in a tightly sealed jar and use it to cure your own salmon, trout, or pork. Use 2 ounces for every 5 pounds of meat.
  • Ask at your local meat market for rendered duck fat, or look for it in high-end grocery stores such as Whole Foods. You can also source it online at Hudson Valley Foie Gras. You can save the duck fat for other uses (like roasted potatoes) by straining it and keeping it in a tightly-sealed jar in the refrigerator or freezer.

Chicken Chorizo

1 pound boneless chicken thighs, or 1 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon annatto, ground
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic

Grind together the chicken thighs, cayenne, paprika, annatto, chile pepper flakes, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cover and chill 1 hour.  If you’re using ground chicken, mince the garlic and then combine all of the ingredients by hand. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the turducken, up to three days.

The Turducken

1 quart chicken stock
2 ounces oil
1/2 cup shallots, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup white wine
2 cups cooked tepary beans (See note)
2 jalapenos, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 11/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup foie gras butter (Recipe follows)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan and cook until reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a large cast iron pot and add the oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender. Add the chicken chorizo and sauté until the meat is cooked and resembles cooked ground beef, 6-8 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the turkey machaca, tepary beans, jalapenos, and reduced chicken stock. Simmer for 10 minutes. Fold in the asparagus and foie gras butter, add the salt and pepper to taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Remove from the heat and serve from the pot with a rustic grilled bread loaf for dipping.

NOTE:
Tepary beans are a dry-land bean that require lots of soaking and cooking time. You can find them at Native Seeds/Search, the San Xavier Co-op Farm, or Tohono O’odham Community Action.

Foie Gras Butter
Makes 1 pound
Be sure to source your foie gras from a company like Hudson Valley Foie Gras that raises ducks humanely. If you buy a whole liver, you can slice and grill it and then use the scraps for making this delectable treat, which works well to finish risottos and sauces, or even as a spread for a loaf of grilled rustic bread.

1/2 pound unsalted butter
1/2 pound foie gras scraps
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon brandy

Let the butter and foie gras come to room temperature.

Using a standing mixer with a paddle, whip the foie gras and butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the salt, thyme, and brandy. Whip again 30 seconds until combined.

Roll in parchment paper or place in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to one week.

You’ll find this recipe, along with many other inventive Southwest dishes in Modern Southwest Cooking by Chef Ryan Clark.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on For Your Holiday Celebration, Cast Iron Turducken

In Memoriam: Drum Hadley

We recently lost a friend and colleague, Drum Hadley, author of Voice of the Borderlands.

Drum Hadley

Born into the Anheuser-Busch family, Drummond Hadley came to the Southwest to study poetry at the University of Arizona. He lived and worked for more than 40 years along the Mexico–New Mexico–Arizona border as a cowboy and rancher, while authoring four books of poetry. Drum founded the Animas Foundation, which supports sustainable agriculture in harmony with the environment. He was also a founding member of the Malpai Borderlands Group, a community-based ecosystem management project.

Voice of the BorderlandsRio Nuevo Publishers author Nathan F. Sayre wrote, “Poet, cowboy, iconoclast, and visionary, [Drum] cultivated radical ideas about the land and an unusually broad circle of friends.” Their publisher Ross Humphreys adds that Drum was “a very curious man who was as comfortable being among the major American poets of his generation as he was with the American and Mexican cowboys he worked with in the borderlands.”

Drum died peacefully on Thanksgiving morning in Cooperstown, New York.

 

 

Posted in Author Profiles, Books, News & Events | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on In Memoriam: Drum Hadley