Friday, April 29, 2011

Taos Dogs, Joaquin & Gisela

My special (and extra sweet) family members are my two dogs, Joaquin and Gisela. Joaquin is a vizsla mix and Gisela is a miniature dachshund. They bring such joy into my life on a daily basis for they are always there with love and affection. And the fun we have! They are simply wonderful. ~Jean

A little about the two breeds. The vizsla is a medium size golden-red/brown pointer. They are one of the most gentle breeds, always seeking harmony within a family group. They are also known for their power in running and a subservient need to groom the ones they love. The name derives from the 1940s from a town in Hungary. The miniature dachshund is a short legged, long-bodied breed, often referred to as the “wiener dog.” The origin of the name dates back to the 19th century, from the German word “badger dog,” since these small, feisty dogs were used to burrow for badgers. Dachshunds are full of love and extremely enthusiastic about life. ~Jean

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day Trips: High Road to Taos, Part 1 in a Series

The High Road to Taos brings the traveler up 284 North from Santa Fe, through Pojoaque (Po-wa-kay) to Nambe. There, it leaves the highway to travel through the distinct and stunning landscape of the ‘badlands’ between Nambe and the tiny but historically significant village of Chimayo. A stop at this traditional Spanish town is a must, for it holds many mysteries and delights for the visitor. Built of plazas and placitas, Chimayo is home to the oldest surviving fortified plaza in the Southwest.

Chimayo is also home to the “Lourdes of America.” El Santuario de Chimayo is known for the healing powers of the earth, small amounts of which are taken away by the more than 300,000 who visit this shrine each year. The Santuario also attracts thousands of pilgrims who walk dozens, and sometimes hundreds of miles each Easter week to give thanks and ask for blessings.

Chimayo’s history and attraction for the faithful are only the beginning of what this little village has to offer. Stop in at one of its numerous restaurants to enjoy the famous heirloom Chimayo chile, a mild, but extremely flavorful variety of chile which was so prized for medicinal as well as cooking purposes, it was once used as a currency.

Then a look through the many galleries featuring traditional arts of the region is in order. You will find tin-smithing, painting and wood carving. But Chimayo’s best known artists are the Ortega and Trujillo families, who have been practicing traditional Spanish weaving in Chimayo for generations. Their art would ultimately become so revered, that it is now known as the Chimayo style of weaving. You will find blankets, clothing, purses, pillows, furniture mats, seat covers, couch throws, wall hangings, and one-of-a-kind tapestries.

Set as it is in its beautiful high desert landscape, and built of traditional adobe architecture, Chimayo offers the visitor a wealth of fascinating history, as well as exceptional dining and shopping.

Read more about the historic Spanish settlement of Chimayo

Monday, April 25, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Empanada

An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry. The name comes from the Spanish verb “empanar,” meaning to wrap or coat in bread. An empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. These delightful treats are either savory or sweet: the first being filled with meat, cheese or spinach; the later with pumpkin, yam, sweet potato, and cream, as well as a wide variety of fruit fillings. ~Jean

For more Taos A to Z, visit Taos Unlimited

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday and Easter: The Miracle of El Santuario de Chimayo

Built on the site of a miracle, the Santuario de Chimayo is believed to be imbued with healing powers, and in fact, there is a long history of miraculous healings at el Santuario de Chimayo.

This beautiful mission style adobe chapel is the most visited church in New Mexico, despite its remote location in the tiny village of Chimayo, 30 miles north of Santa Fe. A small shrine was originally built at the site, but news of the miracles of healing spread so rapidly, that the larger mission style chapel had to be built almost immediately after finishing the original structure. The chapel which currently stands was finished in 1816.

A little well of holy dirt, “el Pocito,” is located in a small room next to the sanctuary. Dirt can be collected in a baggie, or can be purchased in small containers from one of the little shops nearby. Beyond this room is a testament to the miracles of el Pocito and the Santuario, a small sacristy completely filled with the crutches, handmade rosaries, before-and-after photographs, and gifts left behind by those who have been healed.

Following World War II, nearly 2,000 New Mexican soldiers who had served in the Philippines made a pilgrimage to el Santuario de Chimayo to give thanks to Santo Niño de Atocha. A manifestation of Jesus as the Holy Child, Santo Niño has a long history of ministering to the imprisoned. During the long siege of Corregidor and the Bataan Death March which followed, many New Mexican soldiers, some suffering internment in Japanese prison camps, prayed to the Santo Niño de Atocha. Many of these soldiers believed that they were spared as a result of his intervention.

This began the annual Holy Week tradition of walking to el Santuario de Chimayo in honor of the Santo Niño de Atocha. In 1956, the Shrine of Santa Niño de Atocha was built just a short walk from el Santuario de Chimayo, and the tradition of the Easter pilgrimage has continued to flourish. The pilgrimage has now grown to encompass tens of thousands of individuals of all faiths and all walks of life.

And so every year during Holy Week, in the darkness before Good Friday, the faithful line the highways north of Santa Fe carrying crosses and candles. By Easter Sunday tens of thousands of worshipers pass through the doors of el Santuario, taking away with them a bit of the sacred dirt. They come from Santa Fe and Albuquerque and many other destinations, to walk 10, 20, 30, or even 100 miles or more to reach Chimayo. ~Aimee

Learn more about the Miracle of El Santuario de Chimayo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recipe of the Month: Buttermilk Scones with Dark Chocolate Chunks and Pine Nuts

Pine Nuts, known as Piñon in New Mexico, is a nut which is harvested from the cones produced by the “State Tree” of the same name. These small, nearly conical shaped nuts are prized for their subtle piney and buttery flavor. Pine nuts from New Mexico trees have a richer butter flavor than those in neighboring states, but can be hard to come by, as New Mexico weather does not always cooperate to produce a harvest.


2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup dark chocolate chunks
1/3 cup pine nuts, roasted on a baking sheet at 200 degrees until JUST golden

Cooking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425°.

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, sugar and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Mix in the chocolate chunks and pine nuts evenly.

Add the buttermilk and stir just enough to moisten the dough, leaving small pockets of crumbled flour and butter unmixed. (DO NOT overmix. This, and a very hot oven, is the secret to great quick breads, scones and biscuits.)

Knead the dough 4 to 5 times and pat into a circle about 1-1/2 inches thick. Place the scones on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden in color.

Cool a few minutes on a wire rack, otherwise the scones will crumble when you cut them. Serve with butter or whipped cream.


Have delicious pine nuts and dried fruit from Root Family Farms delivered right to your door!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Museums of Taos, New Mexico: A Taos Unlimited Blog Series, Part 2

This is the second in a series of blog entries about the museums in Taos, New Mexico, and the surrounding area.

Millicent Rogers Museum
Art patron, stunning beauty, talented designer, and heir to the Standard Oil fortune, Millicent Rogers (1902-1953) settled in Taos in 1947. Her distinguished, once-private art collection of more than 5,000 pieces (including turquoise and silver jewelry, hand-woven baskets and textiles, and traditional San Ildefonso Pueblo pottery) remains one of the most important in the country.

Rogers, a fashion icon in her day, was one of the first Americans to appreciate the silver and turquoise artistry of the Native American jewelry makers. Fifteen galleries feature both permanent and temporary exhibitions of the traditional and comtemporary arts of the Native American and Hispanic cultures of the Southwest.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New Mexico’s Wild and Scenic Rivers: Part 1, The Rio Grande

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 east fork of the Jemez River, and the Pecos. These rivers flow through some of the most breathtaking landscapes New Mexico has to offer.

The Rio Grande and Red River were among the original eight rivers designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic in 1968. The Rio Grande flows out of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in Colorado, winding its way 1,900 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. In Northern New Mexico, the Rio Grande travels through an 800-foot deep canyon of steep volcanic walls (the Rio Grande Rift) better known as the Rio Grande Gorge. Much of the gorge cuts through a wild and remote area of Northern New Mexico. The potential of continued volcanic activity in the gorge is evidenced by the number of hot springs that surface next to the river throughout the canyon.

Recreation opportunities on the Rio Grande in New Mexico include biking, camping, fishing, hiking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, wildlife viewing, and horseback riding. Observant hikers along the banks of the Rio Grande will come upon petroglyphs (ancient Indian rock art) and fossilized dinosaur tracks.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blast from the Past: TV Western Star, Paul Brinegar

I just finished watching the last episode of the third season of the classic Western, Rawhide. I have spent the last few months watching the first four seasons of the this show while having my daily lunch break, and by gosh, what a great series it was!

Following the Sedalia Trail, Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) leads a band of cowpokes driving their herd to market. The outfit crosses paths with good guys and bad guys along the way in this 1950s Western series that features a memorable theme sung by Frankie Laine. The supporting cast includes a young Clint Eastwood (who gained fame for his portrayal of ramrod, Rowdy Yates), Sheb Wooley (as trail scout, Pete Nolan), and Paul Brinegar (as the grizzled Mountain-Man-turned-drive-cook, Wishbone).

Although he was portraying a 65-year-old man in the series, Brinegar was only 41 at the time the show was first filmed. When his hair started turning gray at the age of 32, he began to appreciate his receding hairline and craggy, lined face as profitable attributes in the acting business. The popular role of Wishbone (from Rawhide) followed Brinegar during his career, and was loosely carried over into the 1968-1970 CBS Western series, Lancer, in which he played the character of ranch handyman, Jelly Hoskins.

With acting credits far too numerous to list here, among them he appeared in 226 episodes of Rawhide, 51 episodes of Lancer, 38 episodes of Wyatt Earp, and 13 episodes of Matt Houston. More... ~Jean

Read the entire feature on Paul Brinegar at Taos Unlimited in our newest entertainment section, My Baby Loves the Western Movies

Monday, April 11, 2011

Taos A to Z Excerpt: Tumbleweed

The above-ground part of a plant that has died, separates from the root and tumbles away in the wind, tumbleweeds are an icon of the Old West. Usually, the tumbleweed is the entire plant apart from the roots, but in a few species it is a flower cluster. As the tumbleweed is blown around, it disperses its seed. This is most common in desert areas. ~Aimee

If you live in New Mexico and really love the land and the overall environment that is so special to this place, then you will have a fondness for the humble tumbleweed. To me, these dead, sometimes sprigly remnants of sagebrush plants almost sum up the rugged, rustic style that is so honest and true about the Southwest. We love it when tumbleweeds sometimes make their way across our front yard as we just sit and watch. One summer day, my cousin and I saw a spectacular demonstration of nature as it is in New Mexico: a giant whirlwind (or “dust devil”) blew over the right side of our property and within it, swirling high in the air, were about two dozen tumbleweeds. It was fascinating and somewhat breathtaking in its display. Seeing this made me stop and have a little silent moment and inward word of respect to nature and its boundless expressions of something that is so truly larger than myself. ~Jean

A Bit of Tumbleweed Movie Trivia: In the film "Connagher," Katherine Ross is a widow living in the Old West, who is so lonely, she attaches notes and bits of poetry to tumbleweeds. Many of them are found and collected by Sam Elliott, an acquaintance of hers. Unbeknownst to them both, they fall in love with each other through their interaction, as well as through the notes. ~Aimee

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Cleanup in Northern New Mexico

April is usually the time of year that you really begin to see signs of spring weather in Northern New Mexico. Even though we can still get snow before the month is out and sometimes the temperatures can remain quite chilly even into May, April is the month where people start to come outside and get into the annual cleanup of their properties.

The raking and removal of dead grasses, prepping open pastures for acequia watering in the months ahead, and general “spring cleaning” around homes and out buildings now becomes a common sight in and around Taos.

Roof repairs and other home improvements can be seen happening now... and don’t forget that it's time for traditional spring cleaning inside our homes, as well. The appearance of rakes, plows, brooms, hoses, and hammers all signal that spring is definitely on the way. ~Jean

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whitewater Rafting in Northern New Mexico

When the spring snowmelt fills the rivers and streams of Northern New Mexico, it’s time to get out the river gear and go rafting. Whitewater rafting is perhaps the greatest adventure park ride ever invented: nature’s combination of a roller coaster and a water ride, and all without the crowds and concrete!

From its humble beginnings only 30 years ago, whitewater rafting has become the centerpiece of complete vacations that include a world of fun activities, both on the river and off. The key ingredient is still the tremendous thrill of the whitewater rafting experience, but many adventurous vacationers combine rafting with trail riding or llama trekking, camping, rock climbing and of course, fishing. It’s a great way to experience the beauty of Northern New Mexico from the vantage point of its rivers and wilderness areas.  

For a unique perspective of Northern New Mexico, its rivers offer stunning scenery on nationally designated Wild and Scenic Rivers, with whitewater experiences from the mild to the wild. Raft the Rio Grande or the Rio Chama. Or take on the Taos Box for some challenging whitewater. Trips are available to suit everyone from small children to expert whitewater rafters. Whatever your choice, your whitewater rafting trip will make your New Mexico vacation an experience to remember!

More about rafting in Northern New Mexico

Book your New Mexico whitewater rafting trip!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vintage Western Cast Iron Toys: Part 2 in a Series

The Vintage Western toys featured in our Western Funhouse photo albums are from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and (in some cases) beyond. During the early- to mid-20th century, several generations of America kids loved playing with these amazing creations. We've corralled some fine examples of these toys from days gone by for your viewing pleasure. Perhaps they will bring back some fond memories or simply entertain you with their good old-fashioned style.

So have some fun looking through our collection of Vintage Western Toys in the Western Funhouse section of the Taos Unlimited website. We’ll continue now with the cast iron toys.

Taos Unlimited's Vintage Western Cast Iron Toys Photo Album

Friday, April 1, 2011

April, the Windy Month

I first came to New Mexico 20 years ago to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. At that time, the studios were in old quonset huts surrounding a huge dirt parking lot. It wasn’t long before I came to think of March as the month of ubiquitous mud so deep, it sometimes sucked the boots right off you. But fortunately, it was followed by April, the blessedly dry (but very windy) month. By the end of April, the parking lot was dry, with dirt so hard, it was difficult to believe it had ever been a mud pack.

Of course, I now live in Taos, which sits on an expansive plain surrounded by mountains. It’s colder here, and the climate in many ways is a little different, and because of the huge flatlands, it is quite often very, very windy. But April still seems to be the windiest time of all.

Last year, April was so windy that the local newspaper featured a photo of tumbleweeds stacked up about six feet all along a coyote fence, and I saw so many myself, that I began to feel like I was in a Western movie. There is one in particular which is perfectly suited: Conagher, in which Katherine Ross plays a widow whose loneliness prompts her to write down her thoughts and tie them to tumbleweeds, to make their way through the world. Many miles away, Sam Elliot finds several of them, and of course, you know the ending!

Last April’s brisk winds and huge tumbleweed “harvest” prompted me to write this haiku:

spring winds blowing hard
weeds-a-tumble cross the yard
ahh...New Mexico!

One of the most beloved results of all the wind here is the bumper crop of whimsical kinetic sculptures which dot the landscape. One gallery in town has a front yard full of them, and another devotes an entire field in front of Taos Mountain to the art form. I always look for them when I drive into Taos. The unique landscape of wind sculptures, grazing cattle, and the sacred mountain as a backdrop is such a wonderful reminder of one aspect of the goodness which is Taos, New Mexico. ~Aimee