Friday, December 26, 2008

Grown in New Mexico

Melinda Bateman holds a plump carnival acorn squash and a magenta-hued, fresh-cut beet while she describes her life as a Northern New Mexico farmer. Garlic bulbs the size of fists lie on the front porch. "I love to be outside, eating the fruits of my labor," says the owner of 10-year-old Morning Star Farm, located in the village of Arroyo Seco.

Bateman supplies biodynamically grown, pesticide-free produce to upscale Taos restaurants, Doc Martin’s and Lambert’s, and serves as a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) source for area residents. Each week’s delivery reflects what Bateman has recently harvested and, over the course of a year, the variety is astonishing.

By late September, enormous kale leaves and plump carrots are ready for harvest. Through wintertime, customers also may receive leeks, potatoes, parsnips, onions, turnips, pumpkins, winter squash, cabbage and rutabagas. Spring deliveries may feature a salad mix, herbs, radishes, spinach, and turnips. And Bateman’s summer deliveries often include Swiss chard, bok choy, heirloom lettuce, green beans, fennel, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, summer squash, and peas; plus basil, sage, dill, oregano, thyme and tarragon.

“The idea of a CSA is to create a partnership between growers and consumers in which the bounty and the risks of the farm are shared,” says Bateman, in her brochure. “By purchasing food at a local farm your food dollars stay in the local economy [which] further helps to promote and preserve agriculture in the Taos Valley.”

Mini Cinnamon Almond Cheesecakes

It all started with a cinnamon-flavored cereal that my college-age daughter requested during her Christmas visit. Unaccustomed to buying this product, I didn't notice the box touted '75% less sugar,' and my daughter was less than enthusiastic about the change. Because I wanted to use up some of the cereal, I made a cheesecake crust with it:

Mini Cinnamon Almond Cheesecakes
Makes 12

3/4 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup melted butter
cupcake papers

1 1/2 packages lowfat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk

Grind cereal and almonds fine, in food processor. Combine thoroughly with butter and then press 1/12th of mixture into bottom of 12 cupcake papers.

Beat together cream cheese, flour, almond extract, cinnamon and sugar. Add eggs and beat together on low. Stir in milk by hand. Fill cupcake papers approximately 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool completely in pan. Remove papers and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.


1/4 cup almonds, rough chopped
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract

Before serving cheesecakes, melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in sugar until dissolved. Stir in cinnamon and almonds, and combine thoroughly. Pour one teaspoon warm topping over each chilled cheesecake.

VOE - Add topping immediately after cooking as it hardens very quickly.
VOE - If you're not serving all 12 cheesecakes at once, save the topping and add 1/2 teaspoonfuls of butter to mixture while reheating, until topping becomes slightly liquid again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Frank Lloyd Wright's Neighborhood

Japanese art and culture, and a desire to bring the outdoors inside, heavily influenced Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style of architecture, which typically included wide, overhanging eaves, long horizontal lines, a central chimney, tall windows topped with bands of smaller windows, and low pitched roofs.

Nowhere is the Prairie Style more evident than in Oak Park, on Chicago's outskirts. Wright and his wife lived in the area from 1889 to 1909 and he built 25 structures there by 1913. His open, light-filled home and studio still draw approximately 100,000 admirers to the city, each year.

Although Wright's buildings can be seen in many places, from rural Pennsylvania (Fallingwater) to Phoenix (Taliesen West and Arizona State University), Spring Hill, Wisconsin (Taliesen), and New York City (the Guggenheim Museum), this is, by far, the greatest concentration of his architectural designs. Here, in a single afternoon, you can appreciate Wright's genius, imagination, and passion for his life's work.