Monday, December 8, 2008

Marketing in Santa Fe

The Santa Fe Farmers Market continues a four-decade tradition of sharing fresh produce with local residents. Vendors offer an enormous array of chiles each fall, in addition to items that might appear in markets across the country. Santa Feans adore their chiles and often freeze them for use throughout the year.

But there's more to the fall market than chiles. Over 100 vendors sell miniature vegetables, fresh raspberries (this is their season in the Land of Enchantment), local chutneys and honey, goat's milk cheeses, and pistachios and pinon nuts. The market also sells chicos - corn roasted in a traditional adobe 'horno' oven, allowed to dry on a tin roof, and cooked so the kernels are chewy and nutty. Chicos frequently pair with frijoles (beans) or meat and chiles.

All vegetables, fruits and nursery plants at the Santa Fe Farmers Market are grown in northern New Mexico, and at least 80 percent of the ingredients and materials used to create craft items. In addition, all products sold by vendors are grown by the same vendors. No matter what time of year you visit Santa Fe, there's always something tasty and fresh available at the market.

Thanks, Joy (of Cooking)

By the time I received my Joy of Cooking cookbook, more than three decades ago, I'd already become well-acquainted with one recipe that my mother had always made for Christmas - Almond Crescents. After my husband and I married, I learned he had grown up with the same delicious holiday treat. They soon became a beloved recipe in our home too.

Fast forward 25 years. Today, I can't seem to use any recipe without giving it my own spin. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog also know I have a 'thing' about whole wheat pastry flour; I don't bake without it. We're crazy about cinnamon too and, although I do like almonds, I've switched to walnuts because we always keep them on hand.

So, with thanks to the Rombauer sisters (the authors), my mother, and my husband's mother, and a few adjustments, I give you:

Walnut Crescents
Makes 3-4 dozen

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 canola oil (*the original recipe calls for all butter; oil makes a flakier, flatter & larger cookie)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
(the original calls for 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, but I reduced this because my flour is denser and previous cookies were too dry and crumbly)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional in original recipe)
1 cup ground walnuts

confectioner's sugar
cinnamon (there is no cinnamon in this part of the original recipe)

Cream together butter, oil and confectioner's sugar. Add vanilla, cinnamon and walnuts. Combine thoroughly and form a large ball. Cover completely and chill, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Form small crescent shapes with chilled dough - about 1 1/2 inches long - and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree pre-heated oven, about 15 minutes. Let cool just until easy to handle.

Stir together additional confectioner's sugar and cinnamon in increments of 1 cup sugar to 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll/cover each cookie in confectioner's sugar. Cool thoroughly before storing them in an air-tight container.

Architectural Inspiration at Powell Gardens

My husband, Mark, and I revisited Powell Gardens in Kingsville, Mo., last summer, and stopped by the Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel for the first time since our daughters were in middle school (they're now 20-somethings). As soon as we stepped through the doors and looked towards the front of the quiet, peaceful non-denominational sanctuary, I remembered our older daughter declaring she would get married there.

The view of serene water through soaring windows, and natural wood, have also inspired me during each visit to the chapel. I've been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural style since my teens and the architect of this beautiful structure, E. Fay Jones, was an apprentice to Wright.

After a few minutes, we finished our tour. A fountain rushed into a shallow pool near the chapel entrance as we returned to the steamy summer heat, where butterflies and bees ate from vibrant blooms that covered the gardens in a riot of color.