Cooking With Myra: Enjoying the cool, dry of New Mexico
By Myra Starkey
July 30, 2013 at 2:30 a.m.
John and L'nell (or Nell) have been married for 60 years now. They are Taylor's parents. John had the idea to do something special, and he knows that Nell's favorite thing is to be around her five kids.
All five of them are married and have been for 30 or so years, and all of us who married into the Starkey family like to be around our spouses.
John loves New Mexico. In fact, he is 82 years old and of sound mind and body. Sometimes, when it seems a little too hot and humid for him in South Texas, he'll just get in his car with his suitcase and golf clubs and drive all the way to the mountains of New Mexico.
With all these things considered, John decided it would be great to take Nell and all five kids and their spouses to Santa Fe for their anniversary.
Taylor and I decided to take a whole week off from the clinic so we would have time to drive. It takes about 12 hours to go one way. It is almost 1,000 miles. Taylor wanted to drive his parents because he thinks they don't much like the hassle of airports.
Our first stop, not counting Roswell for the night, was to be at our friends' mountain ranch in northern New Mexico. We have been to Mary Ann and Robert's place many times, and they generously offered to let us bring Taylor's folks for a couple of nights. They are great hosts, and we always enjoy their company.
The ranch is at 9,000 feet elevation so the temperature was about 50 at night and up to 75 or 80 in the day. The air is so dry that the heat or cold is not as noticeable.
It was comfortable except that for low altitude flatlanders as we are, there does not seem to be quite enough oxygen in the air. With the immense beauty of the forested mountains, green valleys and clear streams, it is difficult to complain about anything.
We watched the elk herd roaming around with all of their new calves. The bulls are not with the cows currently. Mating season is not until October, so apparently the bulls don't see any particular reason to be hanging around the cows. We tried our hand at fishing for rainbow trout but they did not seem to be interested in the lures.
Still, it was fun to practice our fly fishing skills. We did get to go prairie dog hunting. These little varmints are making a mess of things by digging mounds and holes all over the floor of the valley. There are thousands of them. I did not personally shoot at any of them but I cannot say the rest of our group was so kind-hearted.
Our next stop was the beautiful, old city of Santa Fe. It was settled by the Anglos about 400 years ago, though the Pueblo Indians have been in the area for close to a thousand years.
The United States took over the area from Mexico in 1846, and the influence of all three cultures is still strongly evident. Many of the structures in the town appear to be made of plastered adobe bricks. The Indians developed this method of construction and it was adopted and perfected somewhat by the Spaniards.
This charming place is full of art galleries, shops, museums and restaurants. We spent four days there and did not come close to running out of things to do.
One day after a morning of sightseeing, we met Loree, Taylor's sister, and her husband, Mike, at Cafe Sienna. The dining is outdoors in a courtyard that is shaded by large trees. Although it was early afternoon in mid-summer, a cool breeze was blowing, and it was perfectly delightful, and both our food and company could not have been better.
New Mexican food is somewhat similar to Mexican food except that it is characterized by the spicy red and green chiles they grow and use. We seemed to have a taste of these at most every meal.
The highlight of our trip was the International Folk Art Festival that I wrote about last week. We met and talked to craftsman and artisans from all parts of the globe. There were plenty of translators there to facilitate our conversations.
This was the 10th anniversary of the event, and the art quality was some of the best I have ever seen. The organizers of the event search the world for those who are tops in their field and then bring them and their goods to Santa Fe. I hope I can return next year.
By Saturday afternoon, it was time to head back south on the long drive to the Texas summer heat.
Taylor seems to be like lots of guys in that they don't mind road trips. He just loves the wide open road and the views of rolling hills stretching across the horizon. I like to get where I am going. If it wasn't for books on tape, I think I would go batty.
We love being together, and these long trips give us plenty of time for long, meaningful conversations. It seems like there isn't enough time for that in our busy lives.
I am trying different recipes involving green and red chiles. I love spice, and the sugar-coated bacon with red chile powder will put a smile on your face in the morning. Shirred eggs with green chiles accompany the bacon. Yum.
Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email email@example.com.