Local Flavor has been tuned into and talking to the New Mexico farming community for 20 years and in that time a lot of very special people have appeared on our pages. Just stop by the Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe on a Saturday and you’ll see how integral these people are to our community and how much locals enjoy knowing the people who raise their food, from vegetables to meat to honey. This month we revisited several of our past favorites to see what they were up to and asked for some of their favorite recipes.
Mary Dixon, Green Tractor Farm
Local Flavor first talked with Mary Dixon last year, when she and her husband Tom were getting ready to hand over the reins to their daughter Rachel and son-in-law Ned. That transfer is complete now, though Mary and Tom still help out. In the past year they’ve added another certified organic acre of growing space and two hoop houses to extend the growing season of some produce year round and also to start delicate plants, such as tomatoes, early.
Mary says this recipe for Fast Pickled Beets is special “because our volunteer Josie, who is now a dear friend, worked with us for six years and made us lunch once a week, wrote down the recipes and compiled them so I have a ‘cookbook’ from the vegetables that come out of the field.”
Steve Wall, Buckin’ Bee Honey
I had a difficult time staying focused while talking to Steve because I find bees so fascinating. I kept asking questions that had nothing to do with honey and Steve, who draws you in with his ready laugh, was more than happy to talk about the secret life of bees. (The choosing and crowning of a new queen sounds like something out of Shakespeare.) What’s new at Buckin’ Bee Honey? Steve is now selling top bar bee hives with bees and also allowing volunteers to come and help with daily operations “in exchange for some hands-on-experience and an opportunity to pick my brain.”
Of course I had to ask about the evil stepmonster named in his recipe. “Dad married a woman who was just pure evil,” Steve laughs. No one liked her, but she did leave the family with this recipe that “even my mother serves.” Steve says that you can substitute honey in almost any recipe that calls for sugar, with the general rule of thumb that if a recipe calls for one cup of sugar you use ¾ cup of honey and reduce the liquid in the recipe. Anywhere honey won’t work as a substitute? “Brownies. It will ruin them.”
Local Flavor spoke with Jesus and his partner Kate last June (“Chiles, Beans and Chicos”). When I call Jesus to see what’s new and ask him to share a recipe with us, he is busy trying to catch up on reseeding some chiles and tomatoes that have been hit by a heavy frost. Arranging a time to meet, Jesus says he’s available early in the morning. I grew up in the country, so I have an inkling, but still I ask, “What’s early to you?” “About 4:30,” he responds, laughing. We agree to meet in the afternoon. Jesus concentrates on corn, beans and chiles, staples of the New Mexico diet. He says his recipes are all basic recipes that he considers starting points for developing bigger meals. Like his crops, his recipes are the building blocks for New Mexico cooking. What’s new in the field? He’s expanded, but is mostly planting the same crops, though now in addition to his orange, blue and yellow corn, he is planting corn for popcorn.
Kristen Davenport Katz – Boxcar Farm
Raising Kids on the Farm (Local Flavor, May 2012) first introduced us to Kristen and her family. The past three years have seen some changes, Boxcar Farm is “moving slowly towards more perennial crops and herbal products.” Kristen also finds that “Balancing the desire to live on the land and still provide the kids with a quality education and plenty of basketball, music lessons, theater productions and other extracurriculars is a challenge.” The kids are also showing some entrepreneurial spirit: “Ella has a big row of sweet peas (the flowers, not the vegetable) to sell bouquets at market and Silas plans to propagate succulent plants to sell at market.”
Kristen chose the Wild Greens Soup because she likes to help raise awareness of the foods that grows easily for us. “Having just spent a weekend cursing and struggling to rid my yard of weeds I am intrigued at the idea of looking at them as a source of good. Dandelion can be a bit bitter but it mellows nicely with cooking.” Nettles (which have to be cooked to get rid of their stinging hairs) are more mild with a nice earthiness. Quelites, an invasive weed, have more nutrition per ounce than most other greens. “Go on a walk and gather some.” Kristen suggests.
by Caitlin Richards