My New Mexico Kitchen

photo by Gayle Martin

I know I haven’t been around lately, but there was a reason for it. I sold my home in Tucson, Arizona, (sort of like Jojo in that old Beatles song), and I’m now living in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

So far I’m loving my new home. It even came with an outdoor mini kitchen, which I’ll be trying out as soon as the hot, humid weather breaks. I’m also looking forward to trying out some New Mexico recipes.

From what I’m seeing so far, Las Cruces is a foodie town, and New Mexico is a foodie state. I’ve already fallen madly in love with New Mexico Pinon Coffee, and I’m enjoying the New Mexico wines.

One of the big events in Las Cruces is the Hatch Chile Festival, which, thanks to Covid, is cancelled this year. However, you can still buy fresh Hatch chilis at the grocery store, and they’ll roast them for you in the parking lot. There is nothing quite like the smell of steaming hot fresh roasted chilis. If Glade were to ever make a Roasted Chili scent, I’d buy a case of it. In the meantime, I’m putting fresh Hatch chilies in my chicken chili, on burgers, scrambled eggs, and I’m loving it.

Gayle Martin

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Heather Learns How to Cook

My friend, Heather Stricker-DeBenedetti, performs at The Gaslight Theater here in Tucson, Arizona. Heather, along with her husband, Greg, and their family, have been keeping us entertained on social media with their video series, Couple who Quarantines. In their latest episode, Heather is learning how to cook, and let’s just say she’s having a few challenges. I haven’t had this good of a laugh in a long, long time, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

So, for your viewing pleasure, The Couple Who Quarantines, Episode 6, Nailed It

Gayle Martin

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Grocery Shopping Lessons

I learned from my mother

© Can Stock Photo/
sadakko

People are funny. Not “ha-ha” funny. More like, bizarre, funny. Being an author, I have no choice but to be on social media, and for years I’ve seen all kinds of posts, comments and memes belittling those who choose to prepare for an unexpected emergency. They’re called, “preppers,” “conspiracy theorists” and “tin foil hat wearers.”

People are mean-spirited and judgemental. That is, until some unexpected emergency, such as coronavirus, comes along. Then guess who’s panicking and grabbing up all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer? The very same people who made fun of the preppers and their tin foil hats.

We’ve become spoiled

Too many people honestly believe that food somehow magically appears in the grocery store. It doesn’t. The grocery store is the end of a long chain which begins on the farm, and farming is a high risk business. Droughts, floods, freezes, and pests such as locusts, can destroy crops, which means less availability and higher prices. In a worst case scenario they can create a shortage. Other factors, such as labor disputes, can effect the food supply as well. We’ve also become spoiled. Very spoiled. Thanks to modern technology, American grocery shelves all always full. Even seasonal fruits and vegetables, once only available certain times of the year, are now available virtually year round, thanks to modern food distribution.

It’s happened before

There was a time, however, in recent history, when the American food supply was disrupted. It was during WWII, and the U.S. government had to come up with a plan to discourage hoarding and help prevent shortages. Their solution was rationing, and my article, Food Rationing During WWII, at the top of this blog, explains it in more detail.

My mother grew up during WWII. She said that even with rationing, grocery store shelves were often bare. This experience certainly impacted her, and as an adult, and one of the things she taught me was how to shop wisely. This included not buying the name brand if the lesser known brand was cheaper. She also taught me to stock up whenever something was a sale. If there was a special on canned corn, she bought a few extra cans and put them in the pantry for later. It didn’t make her a tin foil hat hoarder. She was simply stretching her dollar, and her advice holds true today. If you only need one can of corn, and it’s on sale, buy an extra can or two, even if you don’t need it right now. Same goes for canned peas or tuna fish. Stuff happens, and it’s always nice to have a little extra food and supplies on hand, just in case. Coronavirus will eventually end, but people lose their jobs everyday.

Gayle Martin

For more information about the Rosie’s Riveting Recipes cookbook, please click on the link below.

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The Cure for Mashed Potato Phobia

© Can Stock Photo / olenayemchuk

I’ll bet if I were to take a poll and ask Americans what is their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal, the answer would mostly likely be mashed potatoes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the turkey and stuffing too, but Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving without the mashed potatoes. Amazingly enough, there are people out there who don’t serve mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving because they’re “unhealthy” or “too fattening.” Sorry, but that’s just wrong in so many ways! I’m also thankful I’m not having my Thanksgiving dinner of their houses. If I found out my host or hostess wasn’t serving mashed potatoes I’d bring my own.

No one needs to be “phobic” about mashed potatoes. Especially on a special day like Thanksgiving. There are some really simple ways to make them more “healthy,” so you don’t have to deprive other people of their favorite part of the meal. So, here are my suggestions for dealing with Mashed Potato Phobia.

Keep the skin on the potato

Remember when we were kids and our parents told us that the skin was the best part of the potato? Well, they were right. Potato skins are high in vitamins and a good source of fiber. The skin also has the most flavor. So I leave some of the skin on when I peel my potatoes. Along with being healthier, it adds a wonderful flavor and texture to the finished mashed potatoes.

Use skim milk, 2% milk, chicken stock, or a combination thereof.

Chicken stock, along with the skins, adds even more flavor while cutting back on fat and calories. I would, however, recommend using at least little bit of milk along with it just to add creaminess and thickness.

Skip the margarine.

I think we all know by now that margarine is a trans fat, and trans fats are extremely unhealthy. I no longer allow margarine in my home. In fact, I consider trans fats to be poison. Nowadays I only use real butter. However, if you’re worried about cutting fat and calories, you can also skip the butter and use the chickenstock.

See? How simple was that? With just a few easy steps everyone can enjoy healthier, and more flavorful, mashed potatoes.

Gayle Martin

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Classic Recipes vs Modern Cuisine

A bowl of chicken and dumplines
© Can Stock Photo / MSPhotographics

I’ve always subscribed to the notion that what separates a good cook from a not so good cook is their willingness to tweak recipes to put their own stamp on them. However, I sometimes get annoyed with celebrity chefs on television. I’ve watched them belittle the old classics, saying they’re too “old fashioned.” Or they’ll make a crass remark about it being the 21st century and not 1950s. Really? What a bunch of conceited, arrogant jerks!

What makes these recipes classic? The answer is simple. They taste great. That’s why they’ve been around for such a long time.

I’ll always remember my grandmother’s cooking. As far as my siblings and I were concerned, no one on the planet could cook better than Grandma. I also remember my sister-in-law bragging about writing down all of Grandma’s recipes. Those recipes are family heirlooms. Nothing makes us feel like Grandma is still with us more than enjoying her tapioca pudding or her chicken and dumplings. 

I feel the same when I prepare my dad’s famous pinto beans. My father could hold his own in the kitchen. In fact, he could open the refrigerator, grab leftovers, and create an amazing dish without a recipe.

A family recipe collection can be a priceless legacy which can be easily copied and shared. You never need to worry about fighting with your siblings over who gets the recipe box. You won’t have to pay any estate tax on it either. That is, until the government figures out a way to do it.

So, here’s to my grandmother’s recipes, and our passing them down to our own grandchildren.

Gayle Martin

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