Today’s adventure is a day trek, high, high into the mountains of Northern New Mexico.
This one is simply a cooking adventure!
However, I do anticipate that where I am going will not have many people there this time of year. It’s getting cold at elevations now, and this one is at nearly 8,000 ft.
I’m leery of bears, especially with really yummy foods with me, but I plan a campfire. And also, aren’t bears hibernating this time of year?
I have a really complicated menu planned. Why?
I’m experimenting with making different dishes in the wild and experimenting with light and photographs and video.
(All of my photos turned out horrible, by the way. 😂😂😂😂)
I’m learning. I will post some so you can all laugh too. 🤣
This was the planned “experiments” menu:
Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast
French Press Coffee
Scrambled Eggs with Lox and Fresh Dill
Chipotle in Adobo Braised Chicken Tacos
Weird menu, right?
Like I said, I’m experimenting with cooking – gourmet – over the fire and with my Coleman.
Anyway, here is how the day started: Coffee. This French Press Italian Roast is rich and smooth, heavy.
With a kick. Caffeine.
This is also probably the best photo on this blog, so enjoy. LOL!
Well, it’s almost 9:00AM – time to hit the road!
I’ve planned about an hour and a half drive, as I want to get pretty far into the mountains today, as I said.
Along the way, I stop along the Jemez river – this is early winter in Northern New Mexico. The colors are still glorious yellows and burnt auburns.
After about an hour and 1/2, here I am – pretty far into the mountains and at an elevation of almost 8,000 ft.
So still, I hear slight rustling of wind through the trees, every now and then a rodent scampering.
On the way up were people in trucks, seeking to cut their perfect 2021 Christmas tree. The pine, spruce, and fir are fragrant with dank pine scent.
Most are misshapen bold survivors amongst the few Christmas-tree perfect figurines.
Unloading, I set up my table, Coleman, water jug, and get my fire going.
This is not going easily today due to the cold and dampness. See the snow on the ground? Luckily brought some of my own wood. Good thinking, Gray! 😊👌
Finally going really well now!
I make more coffee.
I don’t know if it was the flavor of my cast iron pan or that the butter melted too quickly over too-hot coals, but my french toast had the flavor of burned butter. Notes to self! Cooking over the campfire is a bit tricky!
I didn’t even bother with a photo. LOL.
At home, to redeem myself, I made french toast the next morning. Here’s how it’s supposed to look:
This one I drizzled with some amazing honey I found recently at No Bull Prime Meats. All of their honey is jarred and labeled by zip code. Talk about specialization!
As you can tell, even with the above, I am working on my photography skills, as I know these are not doing my food justice. Truly a learning curve.
Anyway, on to the scrambled eggs.
I’ll a post a link to the recipe in a bit, but essentially this is just soft scrambled eggs with cream cheese melted in, topped with lox and dill. Yum!
I’m going to skip along here, I’m starting to bore myself.
I did the salad rolls. They were my favorite thing of the day. Recipe forthcoming as well.
These are just finely chopped fresh veggies folded into a dressing of 1/2 mayo and 1/2 sour cream and then spooned into fresh rolls.
Very light and flavorful!
By the way, I am totally alone out here. There is no one out here except for a very occasional car along the nearby road. I am not afraid at all.
Daylight is not difficult for me at all – it truly is the night and the dark.
For some folks, reactions to trauma are like that – they remain isolated to the type of situations in which the traumatic event occurred. For me, it’s at night, when I am alone.
For others, reactions “generalize,” and extend to other types of situations. A panic attack at a train station turns into panic attacks anywhere in public. That’s actually quite common.
Tracking back to the original trauma may help, but also may worsen anxiety and avoidance associated with PTSD and in my opinion, should be done in the context of therapy.
I’m going to start my early dinner.
This recipe is very easy – in fact actually impossible to mess up – and I did not mess this one up today. 🤣
I heat my cast iron skillet over the grill, add a touch of oil and then a large skinless chicken breast (2 medium work as well), which I have lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.
This recipe does not even require browning of the chicken, but I do move the chicken around in the skillet and flip once to ensure it is not sticking.
Then to the skillet I add a whole can of chipotles in adobo sauce and a cup and 1/2 of chicken broth – just enough to almost cover the chicken breast.
Covering tightly with aluminum foil, I let this cook over medium-hot fire coals.
After 40 minutes this is the result: Pretty blurry from my lack of photographic experience with the afternoon slant of fall sunlight, but you can see the chicken is cooked through and liquid evaporated. I do not like my chicken tacos soggy!
This chicken is pull-apart fork tender and I shred simply with my fork along with some of the chipotle (a lot today, as I’m a bit cold) and assemble my tacos. This chicken is spicy, flavorful, and so tender!
After warming my corn tortillas quickly on the fire, I fill with the shredded chicken and chipotles.
And today, I made an avocado crema (1/2 avocado mashed with 1/4 cup sour cream), with which I topped my tacos, and added a bit of diced red onion. Served with my pinto beans made at home and warmed over the fire – yum! Cheers!
Here’s how this looked when I made it at home earlier this year (without avocado).
And these beans – so yum! I cooked the beans at home, topped with a bit of red chile sauce, avocado, cheese, and a fried egg.
The fire is ebbing and I’m heating water and heavy cream to make my Mexican hot cocoa. I would spike this one with whisky, but it is time to head home once this fire winds down.
It’s rich and warms me through to finish this wonderful late fall day.
The best ever lamb dish is here! Easy and elegant, you CAN make this!
Ever since I found the wonderful local meat shop just a few miles from our house, I have been making all varieties of fresh meats – veal milanese, osso buco, saltimboca, bison green chile stew, and now rack of lamb.
All have been the best cuts of meat I have ever tasted, but this rack of lamb was the most tender and flavorful cut of meat I’ve ever had.
Veal osso buco is slowly braised in red wine and herbs, resulting in fall-off-the-bone tender meat with the best sauce you have ever tasted. This is an easy date-night dinner. Veal osso buco is truly one of the most romantic dishes you can make.
I made this between work projects in about 20 minutes and then let the oven do the magic. It is equally great for weeknight and date night!
My recipe is very traditional, but I do like to blend the vegetables into a smooth braising-liquid sauce that is then reduced slightly to intensify and finish the final flavor.
While osso buco is traditionally made with veal, you can use beef, which is easier to find and a bit less expensive.
No Bull has an incredible selection of locally raised and all-natural beef, veal, chicken, buffalo, and lamb, along with exotic meats (yak, alligator), seafood, and other locally sourced products (NM honey).
I don’t serve my osso buco with gremolata (green herb sauce), in osso buco alla milanese-style, but typically accompany with mashed potatoes, risotto, polenta, or even corn bread.
Veal shanks are seasoned, then dredged in flour and seared until brown.
Removing veal to a plate to rest, a mirepoix (cooked celery, carrot, onion, garlic) is made rich with tomato paste and then red wine.
Shanks are added back to pan and nearly covered with broth, heated to boiling, then placed in oven for 2 hours until fall-apart tender.
The end result is a beautiful, tender, and flavorful dish. I spooned this with just a little sauce, but you can use much more if you like!
Enjoy and let me know how you serve your osso buco!
A sweet and spicy honey-and-chile glazed grilled chicken dish, this one is so simple, yet delicious.
The first step in making this dish is to prepare a New Mexico red chile sauce. This is a basic chile sauce that may be used in many New Mexican dishes – over enchiladas, in posole, on eggs, in burritos, over beans.
Addition of honey makes a rich glaze that, when combined with the heat of the chile and a bit of salt from broth, makes a sauce that kicks up your typical barbequed chicken.
I make this at home, on my patio, and at camp, as it requires few ingredients and is portable, especially if you make the red chile in advance.
I like to serve this with “green” (cilantro-based) or other rice and a salad with a creamy dressing – Ranch or Green Goddess. Perfect for all seasons!
Spicy, creamy, rich and vegetarian, this miso braised eggplant dish is not your average eggplant dinner. What I love about this one is it is really hard to mess up! While there are steps involved, this recipe is not difficult and is perfect for a weeknight dinner or really, any occasion.
I know that many people just do not care for eggplant because of its earthy, slightly bitter flavor and because it can be spongy if not cooked thoroughly.
My son absolutely hates it, even after many rounds of yummy eggplant parmesan!
Having found this recipe in Bon Appetit recently, I had to beg to differ yet again, and this time, he actually ate it – all of it! I altered the toppings just a tad, with the addition of coconut.
For those who don’t like eggplant for the above reasons, this recipe solves for both, ensuring the eggplant is richly flavored and also very tender, while also delivering the vegetable “main dish” heartiness that eggplant lends.
But if you STILL have doubts and don’t like eggplant, you may substitute zucchini. Zucchini doesn’t taste quite as “umami” in this recipe, but it will require a little less oil. I’ve made both versions and they are both good!
A final note: I love to change up the noodles used in this recipe – my favorites being homemade linguini or whole wheat spaghetti. I used homemade linguini in the featured photo, and it was outstanding!
A spicy, hearty and rich vegetarian dish adapted from Bon Appetit. This recipe adds coconut for a nutty topping and is delicious with a variety of noodles from homemade linguini to whole wheat spaghetti noodles.
1one inch piecefresh gingerminced
1medium eggplantsliced 3/4 inch thick, skin intact
5 garlic clovesminced
3 tbsp Gochujangmay substitute red curry paste
6tbspolive oilextra virgin
2tbspfresh coconut shavings
Mix gochujang, miso, and 1½ cups warm water in a small bowl until blended. Set aside.
Boil pasta in salted water on high until al dente. Drain.
Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high (I do not recommend cast iron for this, as eggplant will stick heavily).
Add eggplant and sear, drizzling with another 1 to 2 tbsp. oil.
Season eggplant lightly with salt and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown for several minutes.
Turn eggplant over and continue to cook until most of the eggplant are golden and becoming tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
In same pan, reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 tbsp. oil, garlic, and ginger to skillet, stirring often until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomato paste, stir, and cook until slightly darkened, about 1 minute.
Stir in gochujang mixture, combining well, and return eggplant to skillet.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender, about 6 minutes.
To gochujang mixture add noodles and butter, seasoning with salt as needed.
Cook until sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove to plate or individual bowls.
Scatter noodles with scallions, coconut, and peanuts.