Chicken Cacciatore to a new level: I had 5 leftover roasted chicken legs (thighs were not available) and some mini sweet peppers and an eggplant and white and baby bella mushrooms, so chicken cacciatore was the logical result. In some "authentic" recipes it does not have eggplant or mushrooms or peppers. But this was taking cacciatore to a new level.
I would have put this on my other blog(Dinner's Ready) https//cookingfranco.blogspot.com but I just don't have the patience to do a step by step description of how I made this dish.
What went into it (not necessarily in this order) olive oil, garlic, sliced onion, sweet red, yellow and orange mini peppers, white mushrooms, baby bella mushrooms, red wine, eggplant, imported canned whole San Marzano tomatoes lightly crushed, salt, black pepper, hot red pepper flakes, oregano, fresh basil. Simmered low and slow for a couple of hours.
I don't know whether it was the vermouth on the rocks that I had before dinner or the imported San Marzano tomatoes, but this was a heavenly meal with a nice oven warmed ciabatta roll. Fall off the bone chicken. Sweet flavor of peppers, eggplant and tomato. a slight bite from the hot pepper flakes. Extra meatiness from the mushrooms. And some good bread to soak up the sauce.
I didn't even put parmigiano cheese on mine.
The photos do not do it justice. I out did myself on this one.
So I spent the whole morning out in the backyard garden where I saw only blue sky and sunshine. Then, when I went out to get the mail and opened the front door, the sky was a whole other thing. This is smoke from the Cerro Pelado fire I believe. There are other fires burning and some communities are under evacuation advisories and homes have been destroyed.
We are safe so far...but vigilant.
I think we will have a drink and watch the Titanic sink (I mean the evening news).
Here on the reservation between Albuquerque and Santa Fe life is pretty good. Cost of living is much lower than in the cities and we have pretty much unlimited water. It is a 30 minute drive to Santa Fe for just about everything other than what is available at the convenience store, gas station, a post office, a mom & pop grocery store a few miles down the road.
So I took a few photos from just outside of town today on my way back from Santa Fe.
And while there are fewer Ponderosa Pines and lots of junipers the danger of fire is still a reality. The Las Conchas Fire in 2011 came frighteningly close to our little town. That was several years before we moved here.
Right now in New Mexico there are several wild fires buring out of control. The extremely dry conditions, gale force winds at times and dry thunder storms which produce lightening but no rain on the ground are making this season a very dangerous one.
The Cerro Pelado fire is less than 20 miles from us. It is burning in the Ponderosa Pine forest in the Jemez Mountains. We can see, and depending on the direction of the wind, smell the smoke, and at times, even see the flames. So far we are safe and there are no calls for evacuation.
The fire fighters are incredible. I don't know how they do what they do for many hours day and night. We thank them for their bravery and hard work.
We are having the biggest wind we've experienced since moving to New Mexico nearly seven years ago. And with fires burning all around the state and in Arizona, this is definitely frightening. None of the fires are near us, fortunately, but still we are vulnerable should the wind take down a power line or some other event cause a spark.
The morning was quite calm and pleasant and I worked around the yard, putting away anything loose, trimming some bushes, planting seeds and watering. Leon was at work.
But he had a horrendous drive home. He has driven in snow storms and blizzards, driving rain and wind. But he described today's drive as the scariest conditions he's ever experienced. The wind gusts could turn a truck or camper on its side, the dust made visibility almost zero at times and a tractor trailer cam to a dead stop on the highway in the lane Leon was traveling in.
He had to get around the truck by driving on the shoulder and passing the truck on the right. Admonitions say "do not stop on the road" but drive totally off the road if possible.
Luckily Leon was going VERY slowly. He took a little video for us.
Today's day trip was to the Guadalupe Ruins near the dilapidated town of Guadalupe. It is not exactly a ghost town as there appears to be one rather newish residence occupied by living human(s). The location is about a two hour drive off the paved state highway over a partially paved and mostly dirt road that is maintained pretty well by the county.But driving 2 hours on a dirt road with spectacular views but no civilization can be unnerving if you had no idea where you were going.
We passed several people walking along the dirt road which was, in itself, unusual. Leon has driven the road many times to his work area and said he's never seen people walking the road. Then we spotted their destination: an old stucco church off the side of the road. Today is Good Friday and people from the area were walking miles to the noon services.
We passed by El Cabezon peak which remains in the background throughout the day. We were definitely in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico.
The Guadalupe Ruins are reminiscent of, but not on the scale of, Chaco Canyon, an ancient pre-puebloan culture. Walls and Kivas are made of stone and adobe mortar. Pottery shards are scattered here and there and while visitors are welcome to pick them up, examine them, photograph them, they are not to be removed from the site.
We began at Perea Nature Trail on the main road (Rt 550) near San Ysidro. This one of Leon's projects. He had to haul 50,000 pounds of gravel to spread over the one mile trail. Click to enlarge.
Bird blind that Leon and a co-worker reconstructed
Leon's 50,000 lbs of Gravel
Then it was on to far flung parts.Here are some photos and spectacular views of Leon's "Office" - another one of
the places he patrols. Great job, but I do worry about him out there
alone, miles and hours from any civilization or assistance, should he
ever need it. But there is cell service - mostly.
The ruins are at the top of this outcropping:
The trail to the Ruins
El Cabezon in the distance
One of the two Kivas under a protective roof
Note the detailed fine stonework
The Kivas are round structures
The dark area is a "pond" and if you look carefully you can see cattle and a corral - Click to enlarge
Air B&B, Room with a View $500/night (just kidding)
The trail to the ruins which are at the top of the hill to left
The geologic variety is astounding: sandstone, quartz "river rock", lava rock (not visible), and below is a trap rock "wall"
A "wall" of rock, a natural formation
Remnants of the wall of rock extends down hill across the road and up the hill
View from the road
Abandoned adobe at the "town" of Guadalupe
Here is a 360 degree view from the ruins at the top of the outcropping (It was breezy, so lower the volume):