Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tesuque Riding

Just north of Santa Fe is the village of Tesuque and Tesuque Pueblo--another beautiful area for cycling. Starting from the village of Tesuque we had a great climb up into the national forest and then through Pacheco Canyon. The views on the way up were vast and sweeping. Truly amazing and impossible to capture with the point and shoot. I think we may have seen a juvenile horned lizard, too! The picture above was snapped while in the canyon and the photo hardly does any justice to the natural beauty.

After  a 12 mile climb (and lots of breaks) we began the descent on the Windsor Trail. Although steep at the beginning it turned into rolling single track that was so delightful. Towards the end there were multiple stream crossings-some a real challenge--and a few hikers to politely pass. Here's Amy on some singletrack:
Can't see her yet...

Getting closer...


 There were quite a few small meadows like this and some very loose, sandy/rocky areas too. It was varied and a ton of fun.

"Is that a fully rigid vintage Raleigh?" you may be asking yourself. Why yes, it is. We both have vintage mountain bikes from the early-mid 80s, before the advent of shocks and suspension forks.  Amy's is a Raleigh Elkhorn that had been kept in a garage for the last 20 years and Lane's is a Ross Mt. Whitney which is also in great, shiny chrome condition. Usually when we go on rides like this we take a trunk and a long flap to hold extra water and supplies. No more sweaty backs from carrying a backpack! Returning to the car my odometer read 21.8 and we headed home. This was a ride I'd definitely like to do again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biking in Salida and Taos

In a few weeks a friend from San Fransisco is going to be visiting and the last time she was here we went on some cycling adventures. Admittedly, we were not totally prepared and spent much of one day driving around looking for good spots in the Jemez. This time we are bound and determined to do all the necessary reconnaissance so we have a great time.

Friday night we drove the 5 or so hours to Salida, Colorado. We slept in the back of the Subaru in the parking lot of the local bike shop. Temperatures dropped to the low 30s and we wore our down parkas when we woke up. After breakfast, throwing together some pb&js, and getting a few maps, we rode out of town on Hwy 50 for a 20 mile loop. During the first 8-10 miles we gained 2,000 ft. along a forest road. It was a long slog, but with lots of breaks was quite enjoyable. Here were some of the views:
This land is for sale!

About half way up the initial climb
Once we got to mile 8 we were pretty exhausted, but 6 miles of promising single track beckoned--and the sun was starting to sink. Much of the trail was loose and narrow and had far more climbing than we had anticipated. With our fully rigid vintage bikes we hiked a fair amount. The rolling singletrack through an open meadow and these views made it totally worth the effort.

I'm not sure if you can tell, but those pictures are a panorama. That's Salida in the valley. Pretty spectacular, isn't it? Soon after we passed through this open area we came upon the road whisking us back to town. Here's Lane beginning the descent:

After a rough few miles on double track fire road we came to a paved road as we headed back to civilization. Zooming into town we decided to quickly pack up the car, eat on the run and head south to Taos, New Mexico.  About 3 hours later we found a spot to call camp for the night along a forest road just outside of Taos. The stars were unbelievable. Transforming the wagon into our lodging we slept well after having ridden so hard Saturday.

A bit wobbly we started out on a 12 mile loop: Mondragon to Southern Boundary Trail. The Southern Boundary Trail is 30 miles of mostly singletrack and is considered one of the premier rides in the Taos area. We have intended to do this ride on more than one occasion and were ready to tackle some of it on this day. We had a topographic map with details of intersections and an odometer to help us keep track of our whereabouts. A compass also came in handy. Once again this ride was a steep climb to rewarding single track and then a very fast return to the car. Here's Lane on the slog up:
It was a beautiful day, with barely a cloud in the sky. Each of us spotted an elk and woodpeckers, mountain jays and mountain bluebirds kept us company. There were also red currants and what seemed to be rose hips. At one point we scared up some game birds--pheasant or grouse maybe; we couldn't be sure. Much of the ride was in the aspens and in a few weeks their leaves will begin to turn yellow and be truly spectacular. Here's Amy riding up one aspen-lined section of trail:

 After the long climb we reached the South Boundary Trail. Sadly our energy reserves, and the time of day, led us to only follow it for 2.5 miles. It was lovely, rolling and not too loose. At one point we went through an open meadow that was particularly gorgeous. Sorry, no pictures. The only other person we saw was just as we were returning to the trailhead. Getting back to the car we were tired but happy with the day's accomplishments. Hoping our favorite restaurant in Taos was open, we jetted back into town, only to find it closed. We settled on some not-so-great New Mexican and headed back to Albuquerque. It was great to get out of the city and into nature.

Don't forget the plums

About two pounds of free plums came our way and today they were processed into 7 half-pints of spiced plum butter. The leftover went onto some vanilla ice cream for a perfect dessert. If you've got the notion, you can use this recipe to make some yourself! Happy canning...

More pears!

More pears came our way and they've been turned into 8 half pints of spiced pear jam and ginger pear sauce. The ginger-pear sauce recipe came from Clean Food, a new favorite cookbook. If you want to add more grains and whole food to your diet, check it out!

Thanks to our ever-helpful neighbor for harvesting and hauling over all of the pears. There's some jam waiting for you...

Delicious Dinner

Last night we had some friends over for a delicious dinner. Lane fashioned a table out of some planks and saw horses and set up the umbrella to keep out the setting sun. We dined al fresco on a bunch of local food: roasted summer veggie pizza, sauteed garlic chard, sauteed sweet turnips, pickled cukes and okra, and cool slices of lemon cucumber. Dessert was peach cobbler with a touch of vanilla ice cream.  Good food, good friends and good conversation. Perfect.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pear Goodness

Today I put up 10 half-pints of pear goodness: pear jam and pear-ginger preserves. This is a small fraction of the total number of pears our good neighbor brought over from a friend's tree.

We're up to our eyeballs in pears!

Lucky us..

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why Put Forth the Effort of Canning?

After a few days of processing  peaches, I managed to make 3 pints of ginger-peach jam, 2 1/2 pints of regular peach jam and 5 half pints of spiced peach sauce (It didn't gel enough to call it jam.). It looks like I still have enough peaches left to make a pint of chutney. Wow! That's a lot of peach goodness.

When we designed the kitchen it was with the thought that the shelf over the sink would hold our jars of preserves and pickles and such. So far we have 2 half pints of jalapneo jelly, 8 half pints of prickly pear jam (I've given a lot away), the aforementioned peach products, one pint of apricot jam, 2 pints of blackberry jam, 4 pints of bread-and-butter pickles and 4 quarts + 1 pint tomatoes. And we haven't even gotten to apple and pear season yet!

Once I began canning, I started to think differently about similar products I would see at the market. Making jam, or pickles or processing tomatoes in small batches got me musing about what that might look like on a much larger scale. I felt queasy imagining the volume of produce and other ingredients being manipulated in an industrial environment. Stirring my small pot of berries with a wooden spoon seemed right. How does it work at Smuckers? My thoughts moved to all of the things that could go wrong, or get mixed into the final product. Cleanliness and sterility is so important in canning and I feel good that I can control all of that and can see what goes into everything from start to finish. Some might argue that modern methods of processed food production are perfectly safe but I think I'll stick with small, handmade batches when possible.

Besides, seeing all those jars lined up on the shelves is like a chapter in our story. When I open a store-bought jam, I have no idea where the fruit came from and what kind of journey it had. I think this is why all of our processed foods have some pastoral fiction affixed to the side of the box or container. It gives us the illusion of having been to the farm or having stood at the kitchen counter seeing the fruit transformed into jelly. I know I've been tricked before: picturing cows roaming around a large, green pasture or well-paid farmworkers happily picking tomatoes on a warm summer day. Now that I've grown and processed our own food and have become more aware of how our food system operates, I'm not so quick to embrace those words and images on packaging.

Our jar of apricot jam, however, is the memory of two new friends we met during breakfast. They were on their way out of town that day and asked us if we wanted to harvest their apricots. While at their home we learned of her brain cancer and that their trip was to find an alternative treatment. We talked about gardening, how difficult it is for most Americans to buy a home and their plans to make that system better. We played with their dog and tried to keep her from eating the overripe (and probably fermenting) fruit.

I climbed into the tree, the branches getting stuck in my hair and picked an apricot. It tasted like sunshine.

Each of my little jars has a story and one that will make my morning toast that much more delicious.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Urban Foraging

Wow! I harvested all of this from my local nursery. I think it's at least 10lbs. of fruit. Did I mention it was free???!! I saw organic peaches at the co-op for $2.99/lb so...$30 worth of peaches for nothin'! Now I just have to process them all.