Friday, December 30, 2011

The End of Another Year

Another year is coming to a close... it seems like time just flies by faster and faster with each passing day!

This has been a great year for us personally, as well as a wonderful year of continued success at Taos Unlimited (and Santa Fe Unlimited).

We send good wishes to our blog readers, clients and friends, for the coming new year. ~Jean and Aimee

Monday, December 26, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Burro (or Donkey)

A domesticated member of the horse family, the donkey’s wild ancestor is the African Wild Ass. Males are called jacks and females jennies. Offspring have the same names as horses (i.e., foal for either sex under one year, and colt and filly for males and females who are over one year old). Different species within the Equidae, or horse family can interbreed, however, their offspring are almost always sterile. A mule is the offspring of a jack, or male donkey, and a mare, or female horse. Though rarely successful, the offspring of a stallion (male horse) and a jenny (female donkey) is a hinny.

The Spanish brought burros to North America where they quickly became the chosen beast of burden of early prospectors, due to their sure-footedness. While many use the terms donkey and burro interchangeably, others call the smaller Mexican descendants burros, and their larger cousins, imported directly from Europe, donkeys.

Burros which were abandoned or ran away gave rise to feral burros in the Western range lands. Fortunately, these animals are now protected in New Mexico, where they are considered to be a living legacy. During drought conditions, herds are at risk, and are routinely thinned to preserve grazing. Roundups remove a percentage of the feral burros which are then auctioned to the public. Wild burros are clever and curious, making excellent pets when treated well and trained properly. Once trust has been established, they greatly enjoy the company of humans. ~Aimee

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sunday is... Christmas Day

This is one of our favorite times of the year. We enjoy some peace and relaxation; some quiet time and some time to do the things we like to do. We love the music and the decorations, and the contemplation of the meaning of this season.

Whether you are a long-standing client and friend of Taos Unlimited, or you just happened upon our celebration of this part of New Mexico that we call home, my cousin Jean and I want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas: with peace, joy, love, and the warmth of your family and friends around you. ~Aimee and Jean

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Christmas Chile Jellies

The New Mexico state question is “Red or green?” Chile, that is. And if you want both, you enjoy your tamales “Christmas” style. It is only fitting that Christmas gift chile jelly should be Christmas style as well.


For Green Chile Jelly:
1 tbsp. (medium to hot, to taste) green chiles, chopped
1 cup mild green chilies, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1-1/4 cup white wine vinegar
5 cups jam sugar
1 ounce liquid pectin

For Red Chile Jelly:
3 red bell peppers, diced
2 cups of jam sugar
6 medium to hot red chilies
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 ounce liquid pectin


Combine the chiles and pepper with the vinegar in a food processor. Process until pureed (about 3 minutes). Transfer the puree and sugar to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, skim the foam from the top and discard, then add the pectin.

Return to the heat and bring again to a hard boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir constantly for 5 minutes. As it cools, the jelly will begin to thicken. Pour it into clean, sterilized 8-oz. jars, leaving a 1/4” space at the top. Seal as desired.


Purchase fresh or frozen flame-roasted New Mexico chiles

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Museums of Taos, New Mexico: A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 6

This is the sixth in a series of blog entries about the museums in Taos and the surrounding area.

Taos Art Museum and Fechin House
In 1927, Russian-born, internationally-known artist, Nicolai Fechin joined the growing number of artists moving to Taos. His home, now open to the public as the Taos Art Museum, is a testament to his prolific talent.

Designed and constructed circa 1927-1933, the structure is on the National Register of Historic Places. Considered an architectural masterpiece, it is filled with Fechin’s distinctly Russian, elaborate woodcarvings on doors, windows, furniture and art. Also on display are his drawings and paintings, as well as those by members of the Taos Society of Artists, Taos Moderns, and works by contemporary artists.

To read about the other museums in Taos, New Mexico, visit the Museums section on Taos Unlimited

Monday, December 12, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Farolito (or Luminaria)

The first luminarias in North America were bonfires of crisscrossed pinon boughs arranged in 3-foot high squares. The Pueblo Indians in New Mexico have long made these small fires outside their homes to light their way to church on Christmas Eve. Later luminarias were small paper lanterns made from colored paper brought to this continent from the Orient. Instead of hanging these delicate lanterns from trees or on wires, they were placed on the ground, on rooftops and along pathways. Today, the word farolito is used in Northern New Mexico, while luminaria is used in Central and Southern New Mexico. Contemporary farolitos are small brown paper bags, filled with an inch of sand that supports a candle. At Christmas time, New Mexico streets and rooftops are lined with these festive lights. ~Aimee

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Big Blizzards Passed Us By

We were forewarned about two big blizzards that were coming our way early this month, but oddly enough, we didn’t get much more that a couple of days and nights of blowing snow (here on the plateau). It’s so cold, though, that the snow is staying on the ground.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t get a lot of snow dropped on the mountains, so rest assured that ski season will be a great success and very happy time for our visiting skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts.

Come visit Taos this winter!

Friday, December 2, 2011

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Around our home we don’t wait long at all to get everything decorated for the Holidays. The day after Thanksgiving, the boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations come down from out of our closets and the Christmas CDs get their first spins of the season. It is a time that Aimee and I look forward to from the time of the first snow (sometimes as early October, depending).

This year, we each wanted to share a photo of some of our Christmas decorations.

Aimee’s cat, Sadie, nestles among a warm Christmas display in their living room.

The teapot cabinet in Jean’s dining room is all decked out for Christmas.

Happy Holidays! ~Jean and Aimee

Friday, November 25, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Cornbread

Definition: “A type of bread made from cornmeal and typically leavened without yeast.” Native Americans were using ground corn for cooking long before the European explorers arrived in the New World. The Native Americans learned early to dry and grind corn into corn meal, the basic component of cornbread. When mixed with eggs and corn flour, the easiest and simplest of cornbreads can be made. Thin, dense, and flat, it was a healthy food that could be transported long distances for months at a time. Cornbread was first discovered by Europeans during their exploration of North America. Europeans who had to use the local resources for food, fashioned cornmeal into cornbread. Cornbread was popular during the Civil War because it was very cheap and could be made in many different sizes and forms.

Cornbread is a common bread in United States cuisine, particularly associated with the South and the Southwest. It is often eaten with pinto beans or chili. Cornbread crumbs are also used in some poultry stuffings, with cornbread stuffing being closely associated with Thanksgiving Day turkeys. Some prefer a sweetened version of cornbread, while in the South and the Midwest, the sugar is left out and the cornbread is saltier. In Texas (and the Southwest), the Mexican influence has spawned a hearty cornbread made with fresh or creamed corn kernels, jalapeno peppers, and shredded cheese as a topping. Variations of cornbread include: hush puppies, corn pones, and johnnycakes. ~Jean

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tomorrow is... Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. It offers us all a chance to stop and look at the many blessings we have around us in our lives, while it rings in the season for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

This year we are especially thankful for the abundance we have received through Taos Unlimited and Santa Fe Unlimited. It is such a joy to for us to maintain and continue to create new features for these website portals.

And a big thank you goes out to everyone who has enjoyed and supported the websites. Happy Thanksgiving to all! ~Jean and Aimee

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Turkey Sweet Potato Stew


1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium diced sweet potato
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (or to taste)
 2 cups turkey broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz. chopped green chile
1 cup diced turkey
1/8 cup lime juice
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


Heat olive oil in heavy soup pot, add onions and saute about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, oregano, cumin, chile powder, black beans, chilies, and broth, then bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender (about 30 minutes), stirring a few times.

Add diced turkey and simmer 10 to 15 minutes more. (If using leftover Thanksgiving turkey, just heat through). Stir in lime juice, season with salt and pepper, garnish as desired, and serve.


Friday, November 18, 2011

High Desert Plants & Wildlife, A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 5

The Burro (Domestic)
The word burro is derived from the Spanish word “borrico” meaning donkey. Therefore, a burro is a small donkey, often used as a pack animal. A male donkey (jack) can be crossed with a female horse to produce a mule.

Burros come in many different colors including red, red roan, pink, blue, black, brown, and paint. By far, the most common color is grey with a white muzzle and white underbelly. Burros average 11 hands high (44”) and weigh about 500 pounds at maturity.

Burros are adapted to marginal desert lands, and have many traits that are unique to the species as a result. They need less food than horses. Overfed burros can suffer from a disease called laminitis. Unlike horse fur, burro fur is not waterproof, and so they must have shelter to protect them from rain and snow.

Burros have developed very loud voices to keep in contact with other burros of their herd over the wide spaces of the desert. Burros have larger ears than horses to hear the distant calls of fellow burros, and to help cool the burro’s blood. The tough digestive system of the burro can break down inedible vegetation and extract moisture from food more efficiently. Burros can defend themselves with a powerful kick of their hind legs.

 Despite early appearances of burros in Western society, the burro did not find widespread favor in America until the miners and gold prospectors of the 1800s. In the barren, nearly water-less hills, the burro adapted well and became indispensable to prospectors. Burros were used as pack animals for the prospectors, worked in the mines hauling ore, and carried supplies, water, and even machinery into desolate mining camps. Their sociable disposition and fondness for human companionship allowed the miners to lead their burros without ropes; they simply followed behind their master. The lone prospector and his trusty pack burro became a legendary symbol of the Old West. With the introduction of the steam train, these burros lost their jobs and many were turned loose into the American deserts. Descendants of these burros can still be seen roaming the Southwest in wild herds to this day.

By the early 20th century, the Burros began to be pets in the United States and some other wealthier nations, while remaining an important work animal in many poorer nations. The burro as a pet is best portrayed by the appearance of the miniature donkey in 1929. Robert Green imported miniature donkeys to the United States and was a lifetime advocator of the breed. Mr. Green is perhaps best quoted when he said, “Miniature donkeys possess the affectionate nature of a Newfoundland, the resignation of a cow, the durability of a mule, the courage of a tiger, and the intellectual capability only slightly inferior to man’s.” Standing only 32-40 inches, many families were quick to recognize the potential these tiny equines possessed as pets and companions for their children.

Although the Burro fell from public notice and became viewed as a comical, stubborn beast who was considered cute at best, the burro has recently regained some popularity in North America as a mount, for pulling wagons, and even as a guard animal. Some standard species are ideal for guarding herds of sheep against predators since most Burros have a natural aversion to canines and will keep them away from the herd.

Formal studies of their behaviour and cognition are rather limited, but burros appear to be quite intelligent, friendly, playful, and eager to learn. They are many times fielded with horses due to a perceived calming effect on nervous equines. If a burro is introduced to a mare and foal, the foal will often turn to the burro for support after it has left its mother.
Most burros (probably over 95%) are used for the same types of work that they have been doing for 6,000 years. Their most common role is for transport, whether that be riding, pack transport, or pulling carts. They may also be used for farm tillage, threshing, raising water, milling, and other jobs.

See more about Northern New Mexico Plants & Wildlife on Taos Unlimited

Friday, November 11, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Buckskin (or Buckskins)

Clothing made from the soft leather of deer or elk, with the underside (or the suede side) turned to the outside. Usually consisting of a jacket and leggings, buckskins were usually trimmed along the seams with fringe, to wick the water away in the rain. Originally common to certain tribes of American Indians, buckskins became popular among mountain men for their warmth and durability. Some of the famous icons of the Old West who wore buckskins were Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, and Annie Oakley. ~Aimee
Left: Buffalo Bill in his buckskins

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Serape

A long blanket-like shawl, often brightly colored and fringed at the ends, worn especially by Mexican and Southwest Indian men. ~Aimee

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Pumpkin Empanadas


For the Filling:
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

For the Dough:

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/2-oz.) packages dry yeast (4-1/2 teaspoons)
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups flour, divided in half
3/4 cup vegetable shortening


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix filling ingredients together and set aside.

Combine water, sugar, salt, yeast, baking powder, and cinnamon. Using an electric mixer, gradually blend in half of the flour. Add shortening and mix, then gradually blend in remaining flour.

Slap the dough balls between the palms of your well-floured hands until somewhat flattened, then roll out on a floured surface into circles approximately 4 inches in diameter and 1/8-inch thick. Place about 1-1/2 tbsp. of pumpkin filling in the center of each circle, fold over and seal the edges.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes (watch carefully as they can burn quickly).


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Museums of Taos, New Mexico: A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 5

This is the fifth in a series of blog entries about the museums in Taos and the surrounding area.

The Harwood Museum of Art (University of New Mexico)
The second oldest art museum in the state was founded by Elizabeth Harwood in 1923 in memory of her husband, Burt. Operated by the University of New Mexico, the collection celebrates the rich multicultural heritage of the community and commemorates Taos’ role in the development of seminal American art. Seven galleries display works from the 19th century to the present, including paintings by world-renowned artist Agnes Martin. Changing exhibits feature contemporary works by artists from Taos and elsewhere.

To read about the other museums in Taos, New Mexico, visit the Museums section on Taos Unlimited

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Fringe

Definition: “An ornamental border of threads left loose or formed into tassels or twists, used to edge clothing or material.” Fringe originates in the ends of the warp, projecting beyond the woven fabric, but many times it is made separately and sewn on, consisting sometimes of projecting ends, twisted or plaited together, and sometimes of loose threads of wool, silk, and linen; or in the case of Western wear, narrow strips of leather. Commonly found on Western-style leather coats, jackets, pants, boots, and handbags, fringe adds that extra special “cowboy” touch to both vintage and contemporary Southwestern apparel. ~Jean

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tomorrow is... National Taco Day

I love tacos, and tomorrow is National Taco Day. Lots of fast food and eat in restaurants give away free tacos to celebrate and call attention to this tasty  and classic Mexican food treat.

Most people who celebrate this holiday do so by hosting taco parties or setting up taco building buffets for their friends and family.

What is a taco?
A taco is a traditional Mexican dish composed of a maize or wheat tortilla folded or rolled around a filling. The fact that a taco can be filled with practically any meat, fish, shellfish, vegetable, and cheese allows for great versatility and variety. A taco is generally eaten out of hand, without the aid of utensils, and is often accompanied by a garnish such as salsa and vegetables like onion, cabbage, tomato, and lettuce.

Taco History
The taco predates the arrival of Europeans in Mexico. There is anthropological evidence that the indigenous people living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate tacos filled with small fish. Writing at the time of the Spanish conquistadors, Bernal Diaz del Castillo documented the first taco feast enjoyed by Europeans which Hernan Cortes arranged for his captains in Coyoacan. Note, however, that the native Nahuatl name for the flat corn bread used was “tlaxcalli.” The Spanish give it the name “tortilla.”

So get out there and enjoy some tacos!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Ristra

A method of hanging chiles, garlic and other foodstuffs on a string for drying and storage. They are commonly used for decoration inside and outside adobe houses in Taos and Santa Fe. New Mexican legend has it that hanging a ristra outside your home brings good luck. ~Aimee

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Friday, September 23, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Chile Rellenos


6 Fresh green chiles of a mild variety such as Ancho, Pablano or Anaheim
1/2 pound Queso Blanco or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
(shredded spiced chicken may be used with or instead of the cheese)
1/4 cup flour
6 raw eggs (separated)
2 cups salsa verde and/or 2 cups Homestyle Salsa
1 cup vegetable oil, plus oil to coat chiles
Salt to taste   


Rinse the chiles. Preheat oven to broil.

Coat chiles evenly with vegetable oil. Do not use olive oil, as it has a low smoke point. Place the chiles in a 9 x 14 baking dish and place on the top shelf of your oven.

Keep a close watch on the chiles. When the skins start to char and turn black in places, take the chiles out and flip them over. When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from the oven.

Place chiles in a paper bag, roll the tip closed, and allow the chiles to steam. After a few minutes, check the skins. When the skin comes off easily, peel the chiles.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, slit each pepper lengthwise. You may remove the stem or cut around it according to your preference. Remove the seeds and pulp, and with the back of your knife, gently scrape off any stray seeds which remain.

Fill the chiles. Fillings should be at room temperature or slightly chilled. If fillings are hot, the juices will flow out and cause the coating to slide off.

Use enough filling to stuff each chile relleno as completely as possible, but not so much that the seam won't hold together. Once the chiles are stuffed, you can set them aside for a few minutes or a few hours in the refrigerator.

Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer, until stiff peaks have formed.

Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the pan.

Beat the egg yolks with one tablespoon flour and salt. Mix the yolks into egg whites and stir to a thick paste.

Roll the chiles in 1/4 cup flour and dip each one in the egg batter. Coat evenly. Fry, seam side down on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, heat the salsa in a medium saucepan (either one or some of each). Place one or two rellenos on each plate and pour salsa over them. Serve immediately.


Purchase fresh or frozen flame-roasted New Mexico chiles

Monday, September 19, 2011

High Desert Plants & Wildlife: A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 4

Juniper Trees
Juniper is a coniferous plant of the cypress family, with more than 50 varieties ranging all the way from the arctic to tropical Africa. This 25- to 50-foot tree is common in the Southwest, where it causes severe allergic reactions in much of the population during late winter and early spring when it is in flower. Juniper berries are actually a modified pine cone, with fleshy scales that merge together to form an outer skin over the seed, giving it a berry-like appearance. The berries start out green, ripening into a blue, purple or nearly black color in 10 to 18 months, depending on the variety. Trees will typically contain berries at all stages of the ripening process.

Juniper is durable, adaptable and tolerates extremes of both heat and cold, making it a commonly used element in landscaping. This versatile plant includes tall tree, bushy, and creeping ground cover varieties. The trees are also some of the most popular species chosen for bonsai.

With the exception of a few juniper species, specimens have two types of leaves. Seedlings and occasional twigs of mature trees have needle-like leaves, while the mature plants produce tiny, overlapping, scaly leaves.

Several species of butterfly larvae feed exclusively on juniper, including the Juniper Carpet, Juniper Pug and Pine Beauty.

While highly toxic, juniper berries are used for medicinal purposes, in cooking and for other flavorings. Perhaps the best known use of these highly aromatic berries is the use of green berries in the flavoring of gin, which explains the particularly bad hangover that overindulgence in gin produces. In addition, the beautiful ripe blue to purple-black berries are used in numerous culinary applications, including a sauce for game meats, such as quail, pheasant, rabbit, boar, and venison. Juniper berries are typically used in Norwegian and Swedish dishes, and sometimes in German, Austrian, Czech, and Hungarian cuisine, often to flavor roasts. Northern Italian cuisine sometimes incorporates juniper berries, as well. While thought of mostly as a flavoring for the game meats and fowl, juniper berries also complement pork and beef dishes. Their pungent, piney flavor is particularly suited to marinades and sauces with black pepper, garlic, sage, thyme, or rosemary.

Juniper berries have diuretic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and are used medicinally to treat a wide range of ailments, including asthma, arthritis, rheumatism, and to hasten childbirth. An infusion of juniper berries can be used as a topical antiseptic to treat wounds, acne and other skin disorders, including growths. The antiseptic action of juniper moves through the body, disinfecting the digestive system, relieving ulcers, colitis and urinary infections. It also removes uric acid from the body, relieving gout and kidney disease. High in natural insulin, juniper was used by certain Indian tribes to treat diabetes, as a contraceptive, and as an appetite suppressant in times of hunger or famine. A folk tale reported in Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs mentions more esoteric uses for juniper: “The plant’s pungent aroma has long recommended it for driving away evil spirits and disease. Legend has it that juniper planted beside the front door will keep out witches; the only way for a witch to get past the plant was by correctly counting its needles.”

See more about Northern New Mexico Plants & Wildlife on Taos Unlimited

Monday, September 12, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Chamisa

Chamisa (also known as Rabbitbush) is a member of the Asteraceae family. It is a deciduous shrub, similar to sagebrush with a native range in the arid Western United States and Mexico. It is a shrubby, 12- to 90-inch perennial, producing pungent-smelling, golden-yellow flowers in late summer and early fall. Chamisa is seen literally everywhere in Northern New Mexico and is synonymous with the landscape of both Santa Fe and Taos. Chamisa is a significant source of food for browsing wildlife on winter ranges. Dense stands of chamisa often grow on poorly managed rangelands, in disturbed areas along roadways, and on abandoned agricultural property. It is, however, locally prized as a xeriscape plant that needs little care or specific watering. It thrives in a wide range of coarse, alkaline soils that are common to desert environments. Pruning the shrub back to several inches in early spring, before new growth begins, may help improve its ornamental value. I love chamisa! ~Jean

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Question of Taste: Chile Roasting Season

The New Mexico State Bird is the roadrunner. This little fellow is quite an amazing creature. One would expect that any flightless bird might become dinner for a rattlesnake, but the fact is that roadrunners kill and eat rattlesnakes. They are so fast, that they can pick a rattlesnake up by its tail and slam its head on the ground before the snake has a chance to strike. Quite a feat, I would say, and one which earns a real feast.

Which brings us to the New Mexico State Question. Now most states don’t have a state question, but this one is asked so frequently, the legislature had no choice but to adopt it. The question we would now ask the roadrunner is, “Red, or green?” No, we are not checking to see if the roadrunner is color blind, we are asking him what kind of chile he wants with that rattlesnake. And why not? New Mexicans put chile on almost everything.

Chile Rellenos are whole green chiles with eggs. Green chiles are heaped onto omelettes, burritos (of course!) and meats of all kinds, added to soups and stews, and in New Mexico, even McDonald's offers a chile burger. I once had a roommate who put green chile in tuna salad! Now red chiles are served as a sauce, and are not chunky like green chile. Contrary to popular opinion, red chile is not necessarily hotter than green, and in fact, the hottest chile pepper is green. In the mood for a mixture? Then your answer to the state question is “Christmas!”

The average New Mexican probably has a freezer loaded with chiles, or buys any of numerous brands of green chile refrigerated or frozen. And in their pantry is generally a variety of chile sauces. My favorite is chipotle, made from jalapenos specially roasted to develop a delicious smokey flavor. And then there's the hardcore chile addict, who has a year’s stash of the peppers roasted fresh annually.

Throughout New Mexico, supermarket parking lots are turned into chile roasting stations after the chile harvest. Green chiles are purchased in large burlap bags, and the chile lover takes his or her place in line to wait for their batch to be roasted. The aroma of chiles roasting can be smelled blocks from any supermarket, and for those who live in New Mexico towns, it is a constant for several weeks.

I remember sitting in a Taos supermarket parking lot a couple of years ago, waiting for my cousin to finish her shopping. I was parked just next to the chile roasting “paddock,” watching the ritual, and listening to the sounds of the tumbling chile roaster. Now, my cousin loves chile, but does not have enough room in her freezer to store it in such quantity, so freshly roasted, still-sweating chiles are generally not a staple at her house.

As a woman walked by with her chile stash, I asked her if they perhaps sold any smaller batches, explaining my cousin’s situation to her. Well, this kind soul became my cousin’s “Chile Angel,” offering to sell me a couple of gallon zip lock bags of the still-warm peppers for $2.00. I jumped at the chance, knowing I would be rewarded with a big smile on my cousin’s face when I told her the news. She made those chiles last (it was an amount that she could freeze), enjoying them in numerous dishes for most of the following year.

The subject of chile brings up so many questions, I’m going to write about them in ongoing blog entries... sort of a running FAQ. In the meantime, it’s time to make cornbread and chipotle pinto beans. ~Aimee

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Bandana

Definition: “A large handkerchief or neckerchief, typically of cotton, often having a colorful pattern; a red paisley bandana kerchief, neckerchief, headscarf, or babushka.” A kerchief (from the French, couvre-chef, “cover the head”) is a square or triangular piece of cloth tied around the head or neck for protective or decorative purposes. Bandannas are worn as a practical garment by outdoor workers such as farmers and cowboys, who wear them around the neck to wipe the sweat off their faces and keep dust out of their collars.

There are several methods of bandana folding and many different uses for them. In the past, these handy handkerchiefs were folded into common workers’ squares, and tucked into pockets for the more traditional uses, but they have also been used as bandages, compresses to stop bleeding, and folded into triangles, to be worn around the neck as slings.

Cotton bandanas in regulation sizes, are available in a multitude of patterns and colors. Today, bandanas have many new uses, and are in style as head coverings, and are folded and worn in different ways.

Bandana folding: Regular bandanas, being square, are folded into a triangle, placed low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows, and tied in a manner to secure the back triangle to the head. These are often worn by motorcycle enthusiasts underneath their helmets, or as Western wear, alone or under a cowboy hat. Folded bandanas can also become a type of head scarf, when they are folded into a triangle, placed on the top of the head, brought behind the ears, and tied to leave the back triangle point free. ~Jean

A Bit of Personal Bandana Trivia: About 10 years ago, I took to wearing a bandana on my head almost every time I went outside or into town (the exception would be if I chose to wear a cowboy hat, instead). For quite awhile I was unaware that anyone took notice of it. Then, one day I met with a woman for some business concerns and the first thing she said to me was, “Oh, you’re the woman who always wears the bandana! I see you at the market quite often.” Now, I find more and more, people seem to compliment me on the bandana I am wearing. I have collected quite a few unusual and colorful ones over the years! ~Jean

 Above: My dog, Juno, wearing his favorite bandana.

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Monday, August 22, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Fish Tacos

Taco Ingredients:

2 cups chopped white onion, divided
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/4 cup olive oil
5 tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
3 tbsp. fresh orange juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 pound tilapia, striped bass, or sturgeon fillets
Coarse ground salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. milk
Corn tortillas
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 small head of cabbage, cored, thinly sliced
Salsa Verde
Lime wedges


Stir 1 cup onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, orange juice, garlic, and oregano in medium bowl. Sprinkle fish with coarse salt and pepper. Spread half of onion mixture over bottom of 11 x 7 x 2 inch glass baking dish. Arrange fish atop onion mixture. Spoon remaining onion mixture over fish. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Turn fish; cover and chill 30 minutes longer. Whisk mayonnaise, milk, and the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in small bowl.

Brush grill grate with oil; prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill fish with some marinade still clinging until just opaque in center, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Grill tortillas until slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.

Coarsely chop fish; place on platter. Serve with lime mayonnaise, tortillas, the remaining 1 cup chopped onion, the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro, avocados, cabbage, Salsa Verde, and lime wedges.

Salsa Verde Ingredients:

2 large fresh Anaheim or other mild chiles
1/2 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and diced
1-1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large green onions, chopped
1 large serrano chile, stemmed, and seeded
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (firmly packed)
1 tbsp. whipping cream
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice (optional)


Char chiles directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed and chop chilies.

Combine tomatillos, broth, green onions, serrano chile, and garlic in medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until mixture is reduced to 1-2/3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Transfer mixture to blender. Add Anaheim chiles, cilantro and cream. Puree until smooth. Season salsa with salt and pepper. Add lime juice, if desired.


Find New Mexico grown, fresh roasted, frozen and prepared chiles

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Museums of Taos, New Mexico: A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of blog entries about the museums in Taos and the surrounding area.

La Hacienda de los Martinez
One of the few remaining Northern New Mexico style Spanish Colonial “Great Houses” open to the public, this hacienda served as an important trade center between the northern frontier of the Spanish Empire and Mexico City.

Built in 1804, this fortress-like building with massive adobe walls became an important trade center for the northern boundary of the Spanish Empire. The Hacienda was the final terminus for the Camino Real (the royal road) which connected northern New Mexico to Mexico City. The Hacienda also was the headquarters for an extensive ranching and farming operation.

Severino and his wife Maria del Carmel Santistevan Martinez raised six children in the Hacienda. Their eldest son was the famous Padre Antonio Martinez who battled the French Bishop Lamy to preserve the Hispanic character of the Catholic Church in the territory. The Padre was a dynamic social reformer who created the first co-educational school in New Mexico and brought the first printing press to Taos.

Today, the Hacienda’s 21 rooms, surrounding two courtyards, provide the visitor with a rare glimpse of the rugged frontier life and times of the early 19th century.

To read about the other museums in Taos, New Mexico, visit the Museums section on Taos Unlimited

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Taos Mountain Music Festival

In August of 2009, approximately 4,000 people gathered in the village of Taos Ski Valley to enjoy the 1st Annual Taos Mountain Music Festival. Music lovers of all ages spent the day enjoying music, food and games on Taos Ski Valley’s Strawberry Hill.

Now in its third year, the Taos Mountain Music Festival is expanding. The festival has become so popular so quickly, that more music has been added, and this year’s festival is scheduled for August 20th and 21st.

It’s no surprise. The Taos Ski Valley is an ideal setting for an outdoor music festival. The festival site is located at the base of the Taos Ski Valley ski runs, and is surrounded by the Carson National Forest and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Festival presents a wide spectrum of music, including Blues, Rock, Hip-Hop, Country, Latin, and Reggae. Festival promoters encourage bringing sunscreen, hats, lawn chairs, blankets, and warm clothes. A photo ID is required to purchase alcoholic beverages, and an ATM is on site. Sorry, pets are not allowed, but beach balls and hula hoops are encouraged.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights

It’s the time of year that lends a fiery passion to New Mexico. Time for chile pickin’, chile roastin’, chile dryin’, and chili cook-offs.

Not surprisingly, Red River makes a big to-do out of it all, with its annual “Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights” Music Festival & Cook-off. This year the festival runs August 18th through 20th, and features the “Red River Red” CASI Chili Cook-off, the New Mexico State Green Chile Championship, and a Lone Star BBQ Society Cook-off. Well, that should be enough red or green chile for just about anyone!

This spicy three-day celebration combines a singer/songwriter music festival at venues throughout Red River from Thursday through Saturday, with multiple cook-offs in Brandenburg Park on Saturday.

The cook-off this year is the CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) Four Corners Regional Cook-off, so Red River is expecting more chili cooks than ever. They are also hosting the Lonestar BBQ Society for their third cook-off in Red River, and are once again having the New Mexico State Green Chile Championship.

There will be a new overall “People’s Choice” category this year allowing for a huge prize (with cash) for the favorite entry in the PC category. This event is open to numerous recipes, including salsa, chili, green chile, jalapeno poppers, cobbler, beans, or whatever the cooks might dream up.

So make your way to Red River this weekend for some hot food and cool music.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Arroyo

Definition: “A steep-sided gully cut by running water in an arid or semi-arid region.” An arroyo is a nearly vertically walled, flat floored stream channel that forms in fine, cohesive, easily eroded material. Arroyos can cut as deeply as 65 feet into the valley floor, are often wider than 165 feet, and can be hundreds of miles long. Arroyos exist throughout the Western United States, but are most common in arid and semi-arid climates in the Southwest. They are found throughout New Mexico.

The rapid widening and deepening of arroyos have both changed the physical environment and been a costly nuisance in the West since settlement began in the mid-1800s. From 1870 to 1890, the number of livestock in New Mexico alone increased from 300,000 to 2,300,000. Valley floors, which were the most dependable forage areas for the animals, were quickly overgrazed. The fragile vegetation was consumed, and the soil was compacted and left extremely susceptible to erosion. To further exacerbate the soil conditions, both humans and livestock created trails along stream channels and nearby hillsides forming small ditches, leaving the land surface susceptible to arroyo formation. ~Aimee

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Monday, August 8, 2011

Wild & Scenic Rivers, Part 3: The Pecos River

National Wild and Scenic River status is a designation made by Congress for the purpose of protecting naturally flowing rivers from development which would substantially change their wild or scenic nature.

Selected rivers in the United States are preserved under this designation for possessing “outstandingly remarkable” scenic, recreational, geologic, historic, or other similar values. Rivers, or sections of rivers, so designated are preserved in their free-flowing condition and are not dammed or otherwise impeded.

New Mexico has four designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, which include the Rio Grande, the Rio Chama, the Pecos River, and the east fork of the Jemez River. These rivers flow through some of the most breathtaking landscapes New Mexico has to offer.

Famous in the folklore of the Old West, the expression “West of the Pecos” made reference to the rugged frontiers of the Wild West in the latter half of the 19th century. The Rio Pecos played a large role in the exploration of the Southwest by the Spaniards.

The Pecos River headwaters are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, at an elevation of 12,000 feet. The river flows from the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains through the rugged granite canyons and high alpine meadows of the Pecos Wilderness, forming several waterfalls. The river flows a total of 926 miles through the Santa Fe National Forest in North Central New Mexico and neighboring Texas, before it empties into the Rio Grande near Del Rio. The Pecos is one of New Mexico’s most heavily fished trout streams.

The upper reaches of the Pecos flow through deep forest year-round. The river provides seasonal whitewater opportunities for canoeists and kayakers, and excellent year-round fly fishing. Other recreational activities on the Pecos River include mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, scenic drives, and wildlife viewing.

Find out more about New Mexico’s Wild & Scenic Rivers

Monday, August 1, 2011

Our 6th Great Year!

August 2011, marks our sixth great year at Taos Unlimited and Santa Fe Unlimited! From the conception of these two Southwestern-themed websites (which consisted simply of Aimee and I sitting on our porch laying the whole project out on paper), through the months of work we both did in website design and construction, to the two website portals as they exist today... well, it has been a labor of love that has proven successful beyond our wildest dreams.

And the creative ideas and work continues. Just this year we have added numerous sections and individual features to both sites. And at this writing, I am working on yet another major feature for the Western Funhouse section, while Aimee continues her work on many more fun and interesting features.

We love creating, developing, and designing for Taos Unlimited and Santa Fe Unlimited, and we see no end in site for the growth of these already huge websites. We want to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters over the last five years, and we look forward to the next five years being as exciting, expansive and successful as the ones we’ve already enjoyed. Thanks to all! ~Jean and Aimee

Visit Taos Unlimited and Santa Fe Unlimited

Friday, July 29, 2011

Movie Locations of the Great Southwest!

I have always loved the movies. I was raised up on the local Saturday double feature and late night TV classics. Movies are simply a part of my life. And that begins to explain this Special Feature: Movie Locations of the Great Southwest. But it goes much deeper than that.

In the early 1990s, “Movie Locations” began as a book project, but my agent and I could never seem to get if off the ground. I brought the manuscript with me when I moved to Santa Fe, because I was still working on it, but not too long after that my agent retired, and I got caught up in a myriad of other things. So, into the trusty file cabinet it went.

Last winter, I talked with Aimee about putting the project online... and here it is! Movie Locations of the Great Southwest: An Online Book by Jean. Bigger and better than it ever could, or would, have been as a printed book, this Special Feature now available on the Taos Unlimited and Santa Fe Unlimited websites, will eventually encompass over 150 movies (from the 1950s through the 2000s) and their unique Southwestern locations.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the movies of the 1950s and 1960s, and I have a massive amount of film info in my brain about films of the 1970s and 1980s, as well. I called upon Aimee to assist me with the later decades (1990s and 2000s), because that is her major area of expertise in regard to film. When Aimee has provided information on a particular movie/location, she will be credited for her contribution.

Well, I guess that’s it. Movie Locations of the Great Southwest has truly been a labor of love. I hope you enjoy exploring it as much as I did creating it. Now... on the to movies! ~Jean

Movie Locations of the Great Southwest!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Lizard

A large, widespread group of reptiles with nearly 5,000 species, lizards range across all continents except Antarctica. Lizards typically have four limbs, external ears, and a long tail. Many species of lizards can detach their tails for the purpose of escaping from predators. Lizards are very common in the Southwest, often spotted climbing New Mexico’s exterior adobe walls... and as decor, they can be found on interior adobe walls as well. ~Aimee

A Bit of Lizard Rock Trivia: Rock icon, Jim Morrison (lead singer of the 1960s rock group, The Doors), was known as the “Lizard King.” Jim Morrison’s deep connection to shamanism often took form as iconography in his writing. In his lyrics for the epic performance/song Celebration of the Lizard, he would speak, “I am the lizard king. I can do anything.” This is the origin of the “Lizard King” moniker. Although several attempts were made to record “Celebration of the Lizard,” only one small section of it was released as “Not to Touch the Earth” on The Doors’ third album, “Waiting for the Sun.” ~Aimee

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Friday, July 22, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Chilled Avocado Soup


3 tbsp. and 1 tbsp. olive oil (used separately in preparation)
1 cup diced white onion
1 serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt, for seasoning, plus 1 teaspoon
4 firm ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and mashed
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Mexican sour cream or creme fraiche, whisked to soften*
1 cup canned corn kernels, well drained
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 thinly sliced cucumber
1 shaved green onion


Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, chile and garlic, and cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes.

Season with salt, to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Put the avocados in a large bowl. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, cilantro, onion mixture, and water. Add, in batches, to a blender and puree until smooth, straining each batch of puree into a large bowl. Stir in the 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1 teaspoon of pepper, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.

In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and garnish each serving of soup with cucumber slices, sour cream, pan-roasted corn, and shaved green onions.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fiestas de Taos

Fiestas de Taos is a community celebration honoring the two patron saints of Taos: Santa Ana and Santiago. The annual event, popularly referred to as “The Taos Fiestas,” invites the local population to put aside their labor for two days and bask in the leisure of the holy days.

The first day is dedicated to Santiago, who is the patron saint of Spain. Santiago is a contraction of Saint Yago, the Spanish words for St. James, and in his lifetime, Santiago was known as James. On the first fiesta day, men used to ride on horseback through the plaza in their finest livery, “encatrinados,” as they were called in their fancy attire.

James and his brother, John, were mending their nets one day on the shores of Lake Genesaret, when they were called by Jesus of Nazareth to be fishers of men. The Acts of the Apostles says that he was the first of the apostles to suffer a martyr’s death for his faith. Popular tradition holds that James had preached in northwestern Spain when the area was still known as Galicia. It was to this area that the body of the Apostle of Spain was returned by two of the nine converts he had made in the area, Theodorus and Athanasius.

Later, a vision of Santiago was seen in battle between the Spanish and the Moors, who had occupied Spain for hundreds of years. The cry of “Santiago Matamoros!” (St. James Slayer of Moors!) was to be heard in Spain for centuries afterwards.

Santa Ana, or St. Anne, was the mother of The Virgin Mary, and the grandmother of Jesus Christ. She was born to wealthy parents, who gave a third of their yearly income to the temple, a third to charity, and lived off the last third. Even in so doing, their flocks and holdings continued to multiply at their beautiful country estate in Sephoris, near Nazareth. St. Anne is considered a model of virtue. The Angel Gabriel himself brought St. Anne together with her husband, Joaquim, a pious middle-aged bachelor who was seeking divine help in finding a wife.

The couple had endured much suffering for 20 years as they remained childless, when the Angel Gabriel came to Anne again to declare that God had chosen to give them time to prepare for a child who was much more than they asked for: and now the time had come for them to bring forth a daughter to be named Mary. Anne was told that Mary was destined to be the mother of the Messiah, and to keep that a much-guarded secret.

The second day of The Taos Fiestas is always dedicated to St. Anne. On this day women historically rode in horse-drawn carriages. Mothers and older sisters hold tightly to the hands of the children and everybody marvels at the mystery of St. Anne, who is the perfect example of motherhood.

So, Viva Fiestas de Taos!

Monday, July 18, 2011

High Desert Plants & Wildlife: A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 3

Cactus of the Northern New Mexico High Desert
We will complete this series on cactus with some general facts about the species.

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. What separates a cactus from a succulent is the organs that produce the spines, and some other characteristics specific to fruit formation.

Many of the smaller cactus that live in a desert environment are situated under bushes or in behind rocks and do not receive constant, intense sunlight. The native habitat of many other cacti is often at a higher altitude (where the light is strong but the temperatures are far cooler than on the desert floor), or in tropical jungle-like environments. Many cactus dwell at higher altitudes and underneath pine trees, where they receive very little direct sun.

This vintage postcard illustrates the colorful variety of cacti (cactus) that abound in Northern New Mexico and the entire Southwest. The cacti are quite fascinating plants that grow in all shapes and sizes, with flower blossoms of many kinds and colors.

All cacti need a rapidly draining, porous soil mix. If kept fairly dry, most cactus can tolerate without difficulty night-time temperatures which are consistently as low as 32 degrees.

Cacti have a thick, hard-walled, succulent stem. When it rains, water is stored in the stem. The stems are photosynthetic, green, and fleshy. The inside of the stem is either spongy or hollow (depending on the cactus). A thick, waxy coating keeps the water inside the cactus from evaporating.

Many cactus can also be grown from broken-off parts of the plant, but the new plant will be genetically identical to the original plant.

Read more about Northern New Mexico Cactus on Taos Unlimited

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mountain Biking in Northern New Mexico

Biking enthusiasts find nearly every level and type of off-road cycling in and around Taos, New Mexico, from steep, rocky mountain trails and rolling meadows of wildflowers to rides along mesas with wide-open vistas, and the sheer cliffs of the Rio Grande Gorge.

It is important to keep in mind that this is high elevation, wilderness mountain biking; often trails are not marked. Orientation skills are important to prevent getting lost in unfamiliar territory, and wilderness skills are essential. Many single-track biking trails can climb to well over 10,000 feet, so be prepared for rain, snow, and hail even in the summer. Always carry lots of water, food, and clothing for changes in the weather.

The Taos area also has some of the most beautiful and challenging road rides in New Mexico, or indeed, anywhere. Currently, there are no bike paths, and many Taos area roads are narrow with little or no shoulder, but this shouldn’t discourage any cyclist from enjoying the spectacular high desert, Rocky Mountain scenery, and world class climbing. And there are some routes with bike lanes or large shoulders.

Most local riders tend to begin their road rides in the morning to avoid possible afternoon wind and showers, especially during “monsoon season” from mid-July through August. Roads here are rough, so it is advisable to bring plenty of spare tubes and a patch kit, and be well versed in roadside repair skills.

The Taos area offers rides ranging from short town loops to several century, and even double century options and beyond. Temperatures can climb in the summer, but are moderate in spring and fall. Again, be prepared for changing weather by carrying a windbreaker or lightweight rain jacket, as weather in the mountains is unpredictable.

More information on mountain bike trails and Taos area road rides

Monday, July 11, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Fry Bread

An extremely popular Native American food, found throughout the United States, fry bread is a flat dough pan- or deep-fried in oil, shortening, or lard. The dough is generally leavened by yeast or baking powder. Topped with additions such as beans, ground beef, or shredded cheese, fry bread is then served as “Indian tacos” or “Navajo tacos.” Fry bread is also served sweet, with powdered sugar on top.

Some say that fry bread came from the time when about 8,000 of the Navajo people were imprisoned at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, during the 19th century. It is said that the Navajos were just given wheat flour and lard to eat, two commodities that were quite foreign to their bean and corn-based diets. Others say that the Navajo and folk of other tribes made the bread because they didn’t know what else to do with the government-granted wheat and fat they were provided on the reservations. Regardless, once you’ve tasted fry bread in any of its forms, you’ll want to come back for more! ~Jean

Read more about Taos, Santa Fe, and Northern New Mexico on Taos A to Z

Friday, July 8, 2011

High Altitude in Northern New Mexico

What is High Altitude?
Altitude is defined on the following scale: High 8,000-12,000 feet; Very High 12,000-18,000 feet; and Extremely High 18,000+ feet. As altitude increases, atmospheric pressure decreases, which affects humans by reducing the partial pressure of oxygen. The human body can adapt to high altitude by breathing faster, having a higher heart rate, and adjusting its blood chemistry. Extremely high altitude cannot be permanently tolerated by humans.

High Altitude Sickness
It can take days or weeks to adapt to high altitude. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Some people get it and some people don’t, and some people are more susceptible than others. Most people can go up to 8,000 feet with minimal effect. If you haven’t been to high altitude location before, it’s important to be cautious. If you have been at that altitude before with no problem, you can probably return to that altitude trouble free, as long as you are properly acclimatized. The major cause of altitude sickness is going too high too fast. Given time, your body can adapt to the decrease in oxygen molecules at a specific altitude. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes 1-3 days at any particular altitude.

Drink Water!
Before your trip to Taos or Santa Fe (and while you are here), drinking plenty of water is the number one way to help your body adjust easily to the higher altitude of these communities. The low humidity in Northern New Mexico keeps the air dry (afterall it is the desert), so you need about twice as much water here as you would drink at home.

Monitor Your Alcohol Intake
In Taos’ rarified air, golf balls go ten percent farther... and so do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a wallop than at sea level. It is recommended that you go easy on the alcohol in the mountains and in Taos and Santa Fe, as its effects will feel stronger there.

Eat Foods High in Potassium
Foods such as broccoli, bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, celery, greens, bran, chocolate, granola, dates, dried fruit, potatoes, and tomatoes will help you replenish electrolytes by balancing salt intake. And all those wonderful foods are good for you to consume anytime!

Watch Your Physical Activity
The effects of exercise are more intense in the high desert. If you normally run 10 miles a day at home, you might try 6 miles in Taos or Santa Fe.

Pack for Sun
With less water vapor in the air at this altitude, the sky really is bluer in Taos. But there’s 25% less protection from the sun, so sunscreen is a must. Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and lip balm... even in winter.

Dress in Layers
Two days before your trip to Taos or Santa Fe, check the weather and use that information to pack appropriately. Because Taos is closer to the sun, it can feel much warmer than the actual temperature during the daytime, but then become very chilly after sundown, particularly in the Spring and Fall. It is best to layer your clothing.

Take It Easy and Have Fun!
Don’t let anything you hear about the high altitude in Northern New Mexico scare you. The air is just thinner and dryer. In fact, many people with respiratory problems move to Taos for the benefits of the dry air. Just follow these simple tips and you will very likely not even notice the difference.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Turquoise: Part 3 in a Series

Types of Turquoise
There are five types of turquoise, as described by law. All turquoise for sale worldwide will fall into one of the following categories:

Natural Turquoise
This is that is so hard and beautiful that is able to be mined, cut, polished and set into a piece of jewelry without any kind of treatment. Less than 3% of all the turquoise on the market worldwide is classified as “natural.”

Stabilized Turquoise
This is a soft, chalky turquoise that has been injected with a clear epoxy resin. The resin, under pressure, is absorbed into the rock, permanently hardening it and deepening the color. The colors in stabilized turquoise are permanent and will not deepen over time, like natural turquoise. Most of the turquoise on the market today is the stabilized type. It is quite beautiful and is usually a very good value.

Treated Turquoise
This type of turquoise is soft and has been stabilized, but the epoxy resin has also been dyed. Colors in treated turquoise can sometimes look artificial. Prices for this kind of turquoise should be much less than the natural and stabilized varieties.

Reconstituted Turquoise
This turquoise is very low grade. It has been ground into powder, saturated with epoxy resin, dyed, and compressed into blocks and/or cakes. It is then cut into shapes for jewelry making. This is the least expensive type of turquoise.

Imitation Turquoise
This is not real turquoise, but is made from resin or plastic. Sometimes it hard to tell the difference visually, so it’s always best to ask before you buy.

More about Turquoise on Taos Unlimited

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July: Independence Day!

Celebrating Independence Day is a time-honored tradition, even in the smallest of American towns. We don’t watch the biggest and fanciest parade on television on July 4th. We line the streets of our own hometowns and watch our neighbors as we celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On this day we honor the years of hard work, sacrifice and tremendous risks taken by our Founding Fathers to create the document which signaled a new country, a new hope, and a grand experiment in governing.

In Northern New Mexico, there are two tiny towns which preserve this tradition in their own unique way. Their hometown Independence Day parades are well-loved, and participated in by nearly as many who watch the festivities.

Arroyo Seco
Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, is located seven miles north of Taos. It is home to approximately 1,500 residents. As you are about to enter the village of Arroyo Seco, a road sign announces an upcoming ”congested area.” And on July 4th, a truer statement cannot be made. This usually sleepy village, filled with wonderful little galleries, shops and eateries, is transformed on the 4th of July. It starts early in the day, when lines of cars, pedestrians with dogs, and people on horseback can be seen making their way to Arroyo Seco. To us locals, this is as much a part of the 4th of July as the parade itself.

And the parade! Colorful floats, banners, unique costumes, more people on horseback, burros pulling carts, and a variety of other animals are as likely to be a part of the parade as the local fire department.

Red River
Set high in Northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Range of the southern Rocky Mountains, Red River was a booming mining camp in 1895, with strikes of gold, silver, and copper swelling its population to an estimated 3,000. A few years later, the mines went bust, and the majority of the camp residents moved on.
But the inhabitants of this gem of the Enchanted Circle are a hardy breed, and so Red River began its new identity as a resort town in ernest some 80 years ago.

Today, with a full-time population hovering around 500, the residents of Red River see long, cold winters, and more than their share of the “great indoors.” This has prompted the good people of this little town to celebrate everything there is to celebrate, and when they’re done celebrating, they find more things to celebrate! And in that spirit, an Independence Day parade has marched through the town of Red River for more than 70 years.

The parade does the folks of Red River justice, being a creative combination of good old-fashioned Old West mining town spirit and a kick-up-your-heels good time. It’s colorful and real “hometown,” with kids and dogs participating the same as floats and fire trucks. And when it’s over... it’s not over yet! Red River is a little town that does everything in a BIG way. After the parade, viewers stroll down to Brandenburg Park, where there is are games at the Community House, live music, delicious food, refreshing beverages, and good old fashioned family fun!

So if you find yourself in Northern New Mexico on the 4th of July, make a day of it in Arroyo Seco or Red River.

More on the 4th of July in Arroyo Seco and Red River

Arroyo Seco 4th of July Parade