September 21, 2012

Look up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s…

Two events in the last week have had me staring at the sky with a silly grin on my face and camera held in my hands. This is what has been going on in the area recently.

Last Sunday we awoke at 4:30 am in order to go with our friends Bill and Clair, out to White Sands National Monument to view the 21st annual Hot Air Balloon Invitational. I have been to several of these types of events, in Greenfield, MA, Binghamton, NY and most recently here in Dona Ana County as discussed here. These have been relatively small events with somewhere between 20 and 30 balloonists present. Well the White Sands event is a bit bigger, with almost 50 balloons scheduled to be there. Another significant difference is the fact that White Sands offers an environment unlike any other. Mrsfabp always comments as we drive into the park that she feels like she is in another, alien world. She also says they need an ocean on the other side of the dunes but this is a different story for another time. If you would like to read a bit more about this wonderful place, go here for details.

We arrived at White Sands just as it was about to start and we were able to park in the launch basin. I have never been quite that close to the action. We were so close that during the testing burns of the balloonists pre launch, you could feel the warmth on the flame on this wonderfully clear, crisp morning. I shot about 100 pictures and put up some of the best here.

You may also have noticed I changed my Facebook profile picture as well as the masthead on this blog with photos from that day.

So, as if this was not enough excitement in the air, and somewhat related to the balloons (White Sands/NASA Testing Facility), the Endeavor Space Shuttle was being moved to its new permanent home in California and as part of its “farewell tour”, was going to land in El Paso and then do a flyover of White Sands, the testing facility and Las Cruces. As you can imagine, this generated quite a bit of excitement here. And, this created a dilemma for me. Some of my best friends were going to a local park to view it and some of my photographer friends were going to shoot it. So I had a choice to make – go with friends or go with photographers. I hate choices like this. I finally decided after flip flopping more than Mitt Romney, that I needed to take pictures and watch others in action doing the same. My friends will be there at Nellie’s on Saturday and through out the year but this flyover happens once and I needed the lessons. I am glad I made this decision as my friends reported they were too far away to get a good view and I was able to snap a few myself.

After a great GCCB* at Day’ in the downtown area, I went home to review what I had taken. As I sat there our neighbor rang our bell and when I answered, she asked if I had seen the Space Shuttle that day. I started to tell her about where we went, when she said “It flew right over your house. I took some pictures. Maybe your friends and family would like to see them.” So here it is. 


I traveled 30 miles, worried about not going with my friends and then the damn thing flew right over my house. Sometimes you just can’t win. But it has been a great week for sky gazing anyway!

(*GCCB = Green Chile Cheese Burger, the official state sandwich!)

September 11, 2012

Do you remember the first time?

It was a cool crisp morning when we first met. I held her gently with my hand as we walked along the city streets that beautiful morning. We suddenly stopped and things began to get very, very hot. No you dirty minded people, I'm not talking about romance here. I'm talking about buying our first bag of chiles, having them roasted, and bringing it home. After a couple of samples, these will be frozen and stored for the coming months. I sort of feel like a new Mexico squirrel saving nuts for when the weather is cold but instead of nuts I'm storing wonderfully plump green chilies Why so many? Because we will put them on everything from ground beef enchiladas to soups.

We purchased a “small” bag, probably 10 pounds or so, from a chile vendor and walked about 500 feet to a roasting center to wait our turn to complete the trick. After having them roasted, which took about 5 minutes, we brought them to the car and closed the windows so we wouldn’t lose the wonderful perfume of these green, charred beauties. We got medium heat chiles because we tried Clara and Bill’s hot last year and they were really, really hot. I could only use 2 or 3 of them in the green chile chicken enchilada when normally I would use an entire container of frozen ones. So medium it was.  We then spent the morning running a couple errands while being intoxicated with the aroma.

In the plastic bag, freshly roasted, awaiting a cool bath

When we got home, we had our kitchen prepared for operation chile. In place was an ice water bath, colander for draining and a stack of one quart freezer bags. The process, given to us by our friends Bill and Clair, is quite simple. Out of their plastic bag and into the ice water for a cool down. 

Out of the water and into the colander to drain.

Into the freezer, left open to make sure they are cooled and then into the freezer. We put 7 in a bag, a nice sized serving for an enchilada or burrito dinner or where ever we want to put them. Extras from the bag are added to a can of mushroom soup to create a quick cream sauce. If I have time, I go the rue route, with some finely chopped onion and garlic, chicken broth. Better tasting for sure.

An additional reason for the freezer is that once done, the skins practically fall off the peppers as they are prepared. We did about 14 bags and kept out several to try right then and there. These were skinned, cut open top remove the seeds and filled with some Mexican cheese. Into a tortilla, they are wrapped, warmed up and eaten on the spot. What a grand lunch we had. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the chile wraps but they were too good to put down and take a picture of. Just know they were delicious.