December 12, 2012

Happy Holidays from Kokopelli's Kitchen!  We found and have posted below some delightful holiday treats -- any of these would make a great gift for that special someone you love.  The recipes are from "Christmas in Texas" edited by Marie Cahill; permission to reprint the recipes has been granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, Arizona.  

Amber Combs, Seven Points

1 deep dish PIE CRUST
3 cups SWEET POTATOES, cooked and mashed
1 cup SUGAR
1/2 cup BUTTER, softened 
1/2 tsp. NUTMEG
1/4 tsp. SALT
1 cup HALF & HALF
1 cup PECANS, chopped
        Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, beat sweet potatoes until smooth and add sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg, salt and half & half.  Pour filling into uncooked pie shell to 1/2 inch from top of crust.  Sprinkle nuts on top.  Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of pie comes out clean.  Sprinkle red and green candied cherries over nuts.  Let cool completely before cutting. Serves 6 - 8.

"I experimented with this cake for my best friend's husband who loves chocolate.  His birthday is December 22nd, and I make it for him then, just in time for Christmas!"  Dorothy Geroianni, San Antonio

1 can (21 oz.) CHERRY PIE FILLING
        Prepare cake mix according to directions on package.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Spoon cherry pie filling over cake mix and swirl through.  Add ½ of the chocolate chips to the batter and swirl again.  Bake as directed on cake mix package.  While still warm, sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over cake; the chips will melt -- spread over top of cake while warm.  Cool cake and serve.

"My holiday guests always request this pie.  It has all the usual ingredients and a few delectable extras that make it a real topper.  Preparation time is only 15 minutes plus refrigeration time."  Helen Ruetten, Elm Mott

2 Tbsp. SUGAR
6 Tbsp. BUTTER or MARGARINE, softened
     Crush crackers with rolling pin on wax paper.  Combine with remaining ingredients in mixing bowl, stirring to blend well.  Press mixture firmly in a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool before filling. 

1 pkg. (3 oz) CREAM CHEESE, softened
1 Tbsp. HALF & HALF
1 Tbsp. SUGAR
1 1/2 cups WHIPPED TOPPING, thawed
1 cup cold HALF & HALF
2 pkg. (4 serving size) VANILLA FLAVOR INSTANT PUDDING
1 can (16 oz.) PUMPKIN
1 tsp. ground CINNAMON
1/2 tsp. ground GINGER
1/2 tsp. ground CLOVES
        Mix softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon half & half and sugar until smooth.  Gently stir in whipped topping.  Spread on bottom of crust.  Pour 1 cup half & half into mixing bowl.  Add pudding mix and beat with wire whisk 1 to 2 minutes until well blended.  Let stand 5 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in pumpkin and spices and mix well.  Spread over cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.  Garnish with additional whipped topping and chocolate dipped pecan halves, if desired.  Serves 8.

November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day! Thanks to All Vets For Courage & Sacrifice to Protect Our Country's Freedom.

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day--a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Veterans Day Facts

  • In 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
  • Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

Veterans Facts

The brave men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents. They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the current veteran population of the United States.
  • 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65.
  • 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35.
  • 1.8 million veterans are women.
  • 7.8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33% of all living veterans.
  • 5.2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).
  • 2.6 million veterans served during World War II (1941-1945).
  • 2.8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953).
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • As of 2008, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.
  • 5 states have more than 1 million veterans in among their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million).
  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets. 
(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved November 11, 2012.)

October 04, 2012

All About the Pumpkin and Halloween

Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps in the United States and other parts of the world. Gourd-like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of the Halloween season. The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.

The Legend of "Stingy Jack"

People have been making jack-o'-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o'-lanterns.

Did You Know.....

In the United States, pumpkins go hand in hand with the fall holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. An orange fruit harvested in October, this nutritious and versatile plant features flowers, seeds and flesh that are edible and rich in vitamins. Pumpkin is used to make soups, desserts and breads, and many Americans include pumpkin pie in their Thanksgiving meals. Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is a popular Halloween tradition that originated hundreds of years ago in Ireland. Back then, however, jack-o’-lanterns were made out of turnips or potatoes; it wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America and discovered the pumpkin that a new Halloween ritual was born.

Pumpkin Facts

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini. These plants are native to Central America and Mexico, but now grow on six continents.

  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.

  • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.

  • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."

  • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.

(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved October 3 16, 2012.)

August 31, 2012

2012 Labor Day Menu Pays Tribute to Chile Lovers

If you like your food hot, Kokopelli's Kitchen thought these recipes would be fun for Labor Day! Both recipes are from "Real New Mexico Chile" by Sandy Szwarc. Permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, AZ.

The Southwestern pueblo Indians are believed to be descendents of the Anasazi, or "ancient ones". This main dish salad brings the fresh tastes of their native summer squashes into modern times.

  • 1 cup diced CHICKEN or TURKEY BREAST
  • 2 tsp. LAND OF ENCHANTMENT SPICE MIX (see recipe below)
  • 1 Tbsp. OLIVE OIL
  • cup chopped MARINATED SUNDRIED TOMATOES, patted dry
  • ½ cup chopped GREEN ONIONS
  • ¼ cup chopped, roasted & peeled NEW MEXICO GREEN CHILES  
  • 2 Tbsp. LIME JUICE
  • 2 Tbsp. TEQUILA
  • SALT to taste
  • 1 cup grated mild GOAT CHEESE or any WHITE CHEESE
Coarsely grate the squash (or zucchini) into a colander, sprinkle lightly with salt, drain 30 minutes and squeeze dry. Reserve. In a small bowl, toss the chicken with the spice mix. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and fry, tossing occasionally, until golden. Add the reserved zucchini, tomatoes, green onions and chile. Toss over medium heat until heated through and the zucchini is crisp and tender, about 8 minutes. Toss in the cilantro, lime juice, tequila, salt and cheese. Heat through.

Yields 4 servings.

This vibrantly-flavored dry spice mix can be sprinkled on meats, vegetables or cheeses before cooking to lend an authentic New Mexican flavor. It will keep in an airtight container for about a year.
  • 2 Tbsp. SALT
  • 1 tsp. GROUND CUMIN
  • 1½ tsp. DRIED OREGANO 
  • ½ tsp. CHILE CARIBE 
 Toss all together.

Yields about 1/3 cup.   

August 02, 2012


     National Tequila Day was July 24, 2012. If you have any leftover and feel like indulging again, we have selected a couple of recipes for a leftover tequila party this month! Both are from "The Tequila Cookbook" by Lynn Nusom. Permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers, 4113 N. Longview, Phoenix, AZ 85014.

     This book is a compilation of recipes using tequila, a distilled liquor made from one of 400 species of agave plant. There are many brands of tequila for sale in most liquor stores. There are also different colors of tequila. The white tequila is the most common and usually the least expensive. Gold tequila - called "especial" by some manufacturers is considered a premium tequila. The color is caused by aging the tequila in casks.

     If you travel into Mexico, try different brands of tequila that are not readily available in the United States and use your liquor allotment to bring some back, as it is much less expensive than it is here.


4 (6 oz.) YELLOWFIN TUNA STEAKS, 3/4 to 1 inch thick

     Mix together the orange juice and oil and brush over the tuna steaks. Grill the steaks on an indoor cooker or over hot coals for 8-to-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when touched with a fork. Garnish with twisted orange slices and serve with Orange-Tequila Sauce.  Serves 4.


1/4 cup TEQUILA
1 tsp. grated ORANGE PEEL

     Mix together mayonnaise, tequila, orange peel, orange juice and red chile flakes. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for one hour.

June 26, 2012

Let's Celebrate ARIZONA Independents Week 2012!!

 Independents Week is coming. Will you commit to shift 10% of your purchases to local? We challenge you to take advantage of the golden coupon and shop at a local business from July 1st to 7th.  How important is buying local?
...For every two jobs national retailers bring to a community, three jobs are lost as a result of local businesses closing down.

...When you shop locally owned businesses, your money is re-circulated over and over and creates up to 75% more tax revenue.

For a list of local businesses accepting the Golden Coupon -           Become a fan, join Local First Arizona and commit to buy local!


Snacking State-by-State: Arizona I - El Burro Más Grande:  

 I have visited Arizona a few times, none of which was recently. My sister and her husband and their dog used to live in Phoenix, and my crazy uncle (we all have a crazy uncle) and his ex-wife still does. So I am not too unfamiliar with the distinctly Southwestern flavors of Arizona: Navajo and Hopi in the northeast (and Native American throughout), cattle rancher in the north, plus the heaviest doses of Mexican all over the whole of the state.

Snacking State-by-State: Arizona

Official Name: State of Arizona
State Nicknames: The Grand Canyon State; The Copper State
Admission to the US:
February 14, 1912 (#48)
Capital: Phoenix (largest city)
Other Important Cities: Tucson (2nd largest), Mesa (3rd largest), Glendale (4th largest)
Region: West (Southwest); Mountain (US Census)
RAFT Nations: Chile Pepper, Pinyon Nut
Bordered by: Utah (north); New Mexico (east); Sonora (south); California, Nevada & Baja California (west); Colorado (northeast corner - Arizona is one of the Four Corners states)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: Arizona Trout (fish)
Some Famous & Typical Foods: chiles (mild in the south), tortillas (flour in the south), Navajo taco, beef, nopal cactus (both pad and fruit), burritos, chimichangas, menudo

The Mexican aspect of Arizona's cuisine is specifically tied to the cuisine of Sonora, the Mexican state right across the border. The two mirror each other very well. Note: I've also passed through Sonora state, on a major bus trip from Morelia (Michoacán) to Mexicali (Baja California) by way of Guadalajara (Jalisco), but that's a story for another day.

If you want to pin down Southwestern food, it is fairly easy. If you want to pin down what is specifically Arizonan, that is a bit more difficult. Kathi Long tries to do this in her cookbook on The Southwest from Williams-Sonoma, focusing on the most notable influences in Arizona cooking, from Mexico:

Arizona cooks have...looked to Mexico for inspiration. The southern part of the state borrowed from the cooking of Sonora, which lies directly across the border, a culinary alliance that reveals itself in large, thin flour tortillas, the use of nopal cactus, and a menu of mildly spiced dishes. Elsewhere in the state, residents traditionally dine on Mexican chimichangas..., menudo..., and giant burritos, as well as the more staid ranch fare introduced by early cattlemen and other settlers from the Midwest and East Coast. [Long, p. 12]
In the spirit of Arizona's Sonoran influences, I wanted to find a recipe that incorporated all three of these elements: nopal (that is, prickly pear) cactus, mild chiles and large, flour tortillas. They are out there, but I hadn't found them before I stumbled upon the massive compendium by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico (also on Google Books). In Arizona, burritos are standard fare - particulary massive ones. The Jamisons rightly call those burros, since a burrito is just a "little burro".

Among their many recipes for burros and burritos, one breakfast creation specifically piqued my interest: their machaca breakfast burro. Since it comes straight from Phoenix, it seemed like a good place to start.

The recipe: Machaca Breakfast Burro

As the Jamisons point out, machaca originally referred to beef or other meat.
Machaca originally referred to meat (usually beef) that was seasoned, dried for preservation, and later tenderized by pulverizing and cooking. The word comes from the verb machacar, meaning to pound or crush... Many people now use the term to describe any beef cooked well-done with seasonings and then shredded. [Alters Jamison et al., p. 75]

I don't buy a lot of meat these days, but I saw this as a great way to use up some frozen beef in my freezer. Before my former neighbor moved to Nova Scotia a few months ago he gave me some frozen beef he would've otherwise thrown out. Thawed it amounted to a pound and a half - perfect for a halved version of this recipe. This made the amount of money I put out for this recipe unusually light:

* beef (free!!! Thanks, Dale, if you ever read this)
* salt and pepper (have)
* bacon grease (if you have the bacon, it's not that difficult to make some on the spot)
* beef stock (had none, so I had to turn to the Maggi chicken bouillon in my pantry)
* onion (have)
* garlic (have)
* small Roma tomatoes (about $1 for two)
* mild green chiles (one poblano chile for about 50 cents)
* fresh lime juice (one lime for about the same)
* egg (this was optional - I wasn't planning to use one at the time but decided to add one later)
* burrito-size flour tortillas (the priciest item, about $3 for a package of eight)

This recipe was a bit more involved than many I do. First, you must briefly brown the beef in some of the bacon grease, then cook in a Dutch oven over low heat for over an hour with broth, onion & garlic. Wait for it to cool down a little, then break it up and - here's the part that I haven't done before - throw it in your food processor until shredded. You must do this in small batches lest it not shred everything.

Fry the beef a bit more until slightly drier and until some patches of beef look darker and more dessicated. Remove it, and cook the rest of the onion & garlic with the rest of the bacon grease, the reserved liquid from the Dutch oven, tomato, chile pepper (roasted and chopped) and lime juice. Add the beef and cook for about 25 minutes.

I never thought I would do this, but why the hell not?
I'm not making this for PETA after all...

The closeup hides the fact that I still need to clean my stove

25 minutes later... okay, so the stove isn't that bad...

Here is where I put the machaca mixture in the fridge, which the Jamisons say you can do at this point. I brought it out a day or so later and added an egg. Really, it added very little to the dish. I could neither taste it nor even see it at all. In retrospect, it was not necessary, and I wouldn't add it again. To be sure, the Jamisons day that part is optional.

The rest is ridiculously easy: just spoon the hot mixture into a large (Sonoran-style) flour tortilla and make yourself a burro. Eat it with salsa (my choice: a roasted tomato salsa from the Jamison's same book called salsa del norte).

Okay, mine really was more the size of a burrito, but still...

The thing about machaca-style beef: it isn't supposed to be soft and juicy, per se. Perhaps I did something wrong. I mean, it wasn't dripping and wet, but it was pleasantly soft and just a bit moist. Plus, the long, slow cooking with tomatoes and roasted poblano chile pepper, onions and garlic, bacon grease (yet another use!!!) and lime juice just blends together in the most beautiful way. I'm sorry if I'm starting to sound "foodie-ish". I really don't mean to. It was just a beautiful thing to eat. Even if you decide to turn that burro into the more diminutive burrito.

I have been subsisting off machaca burros and burritos since. I may even make a quesadilla if the mood strikes me, complete with thinkly sliced queso fresco, which is not easy to melt, let me tell you.

Alters Jamison, Cheryl, and Bill Jamison. The Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. The Harvard Common Press: Boston, 1995. Nopales recipes. Posted date June 24, 2005.

Long, Kathi. The Southwest: New American Cooking. From the Williams-Sonoma "New American Cooking" series, Chuck Williams, general editor. Time-Life Books: San Francisco, 2001.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Arizona" page and the Food Timeline State Foods webpage link to "Arizona".

June 06, 2012

The Old West - Express train crosses the nation in 83 hours (June 4, 1876)

A mere 83 hours after leaving New York City, the Transcontinental Express train arrives in San Francisco.
That any human being could travel across the entire nation in less than four days was inconceivable to previous generations of Americans. During the early 19th century, when Thomas Jefferson first dreamed of an American nation stretching from "sea to shining sea," it took the president 10 days to travel the 225 miles from Monticello to Philadelphia via carriage. Even with frequent changing of horses, the 100-mile journey from New York to Philadelphia demanded two days hard travel in a light stagecoach. At such speeds, the coasts of the continent-wide American nation were months apart. How could such a vast country ever hope to remain united?

As early as 1802, Jefferson had some glimmer of an answer. "The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam," he predicted, "[to a carriage on wheels] will make a great change in the situation of man." Though Jefferson never saw a train in his lifetime, he had glimpsed the future with the idea. Within half a century, America would have more railroads than any other nation in the world. By 1869, the first transcontinental line linking the coasts was completed. Suddenly, a journey that had previously taken months using horses could be made in less than a week.

Five days after the transcontinental railroad was completed, daily passenger service over the rails began. The speed and comfort offered by rail travel was so astonishing that many Americans could scarcely believe it, and popular magazines wrote glowing accounts of the amazing journey. For the wealthy, a trip on the transcontinental railroad was a luxurious experience. First-class passengers rode in beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into snug sleeping berths. The finer amenities included steam heat, fresh linen daily, and gracious porters who catered to their every whim. For an extra $4 a day, the wealthy traveler could opt to take the weekly Pacific Hotel Express, which offered first-class dining on board. As one happy passenger wrote, "The rarest and richest of all my journeying through life is this three-thousand miles by rail."

The trip was a good deal less speedy and comfortable for passengers unwilling or unable to pay the premium fares. Whereas most of the first-class passengers traveled the transcontinental line for business or pleasure, the third-class occupants were often emigrants hoping to make a new start in the West. A third-class ticket could be purchased for only $40--less than half the price of the first-class fare. At this low rate, the traveler received no luxuries. Their cars, fitted with rows of narrow wooden benches, were congested, noisy, and uncomfortable. The railroad often attached the coach cars to freight cars that were constantly shunted aside to make way for the express trains. Consequently, the third-class traveler's journey west might take 10 or more days. Even under these trying conditions, few travelers complained. Even 10 days spent sitting on a hard bench seat was preferable to six months walking alongside a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon Trail.

Railroad promotions, however, naturally focused on the speedy express trains. The arrival of the Transcontinental Express train in San Francisco on this day in 1876 was widely celebrated in the newspapers and magazines of the day. With this new express service, a businessman could leave New York City on Monday morning, spend 83 hours in relaxing comfort, and arrive refreshed and ready for work in San Francisco by Thursday evening. The powerful agent of steam had effectively shrunk a vast nation to a manageable size.(Source:  The History Channel ,  Retrieved May 6, 2012)

Foods fit for Traveling:  Both recipes selected this month and shown below are foods-fit-for-traveling in the old west.

The recipe is from "Cowboy Cook Book"; permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, AZ.  Cowboys often carried a supply of jerky to eat during the long nights of cattle tending. 
  • 2 - 2½  lbs. boneless BEEF MARINADE
  • 1 cup WATER
  • 2 Tbsp. LIQUID SMOKE
  • ¼ tsp. SALT
  • ¼ tsp. BLACK PEPPER
  • 1 tsp. GARLIC SALT
  • 1 tsp. LEMON PEPPER
Trim fat from meat and cut into strips that are 6 inches long and ⅛-inch thick. Place strips in a glass casserole dish. In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients and stir well. Pour over beef. Cover and marinate overnight in refrigerator, stirring occasionally. Drain and dry meat thoroughly. Cover bottom rack of oven with aluminum foil . Arrange strips of meat close together on oven rack; do not overlap. Bake at 150°-175° for 10-12 hours. Beef is done when pieces feel dry, not crisp. Store in airtight containers.
Hard Tack Biscuits
These biscuits, made without baking powder or baking soda, became as hard as rocks. The cowboys softened them in coffee, stew or just plain water to make them edible.

The recipe below is from "Arizona Territory Cook Book"; permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, AZ.

  • 4 cups FLOUR
  • 4 tsp.SALT

Mix flour and salt together. Add just enough water to make a heavy dough that will not stick to the hands. Roll the dough until it is ½ inch thick. Cut into pieces about 3 inches square and then punch 16 holes in each piece with a nail. Turn pieces over and punch through again. Bake on ungreased light metal sheet in oven about 375 degrees for half an hour. Tack should be light brown on both sides.

Hardtack is broken fairly easily when fresh, but as it dries out it gets hard as fired brick.    

May 03, 2012

Happy Cinco De Mayo 2012!

The holiday of Cinco De Mayo, The 5th Of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population. It is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

Today's Celebration: For the most part, the holiday of Cinco de Mayo is more of a regional holiday in Mexico, celebrated most vigorously in the state of Puebla. There is some limited recognition of the holiday throughout the country with different levels of enthusiasm, but it's nothing like that found in Puebla. Celebrating Cinco de Mayo has become increasingly popular along the U.S.-Mexico border and in parts of the U.S. that have a high population of people with a Mexican heritage. In these areas the holiday is a celebration of Mexican culture, of food, music, beverage and customs unique to Mexico. 

Commercial interests in the United States and Mexico have also had a hand in promoting the holiday, with products and services focused on Mexican food, beverages and festivities, with music playing a more visible role as well. Several cities throughout the U.S. hold parades and concerts during the week following up to May 5th, so that Cinco de Mayo has become a bigger holiday north of the border than it is to the south, and being adopted into the holiday calendar of more and more people every year.  (Source: The Mexico Online website. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from

Foods to Help Celebrate: Cinco de Mayo falls on Saturday this year. Create these HOT sweets to serve your family & friends when celebrating! The recipes are from REAL NEW MEXICO CHILE by Sandy Szwarc. Permission to print granted by Golden West Publishers, Phoenix, AZ.

Peanutty & chocolatey cookies with a touch of heat in the red chile sugar coating. While they bake the red sugar cracks, creating an interesting and colorful coating. If you like your cookies chewy, wrap them airtight while they are slightly warm. For crispier versions, let them cool completely before serving. They freeze well, wrapped airtight, if you can resist eating them hot from the oven!
  • 1 cup BUTTER
  • 1 cup freshly ground PEANUT BUTTER
  • 1 cup SUGAR
  • 1 cup packed BROWN SUGAR
  • 2 large EGGS
  • 1 tsp. VANILLA
  • 1 Tbsp. BAKING SODA
  • 1 cup dry-roasted, skinless, unsalted PEANUTS
  • ¼ cup SUGAR
  • ¼ cup CAYENNE

In a large bowl, beat with a mixer the butter, peanut butter and 1 cup each of white and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour and soda until well combined. Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for one hour.

In a small bowl, stir together the chile powder, ¼ cup sugar and cayenne. Lightly grease cookie sheets.

Take heaping tablespoons of the dough and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the chile sugar and place on the cookie sheets, allowing 2 inches between the cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes until they are lightly golden and just set. Leave on the cookie sheet one minute, then remove with a spatula to a wire rack to cool.

Yields about 5 dozen cookies.

These are a cross between a cookie and a candy. The rich chocolate binds the granola-like base. The chile heat is sweetened by the perfume of the oranges . These scrumptious bites will keep for a week in the refrigerator.
  • 2 cups SUGAR
  • ½ cup MILK
  • ½ cup COCOA POWDER
  • ½ cup BUTTER
  • 1/8 tsp. CAYENNE
  • 1 tsp. VANILLA
  • 1-2/3 cups ROLLED OATS
  • 3/4 cup RAISINS
  • 3/4 cup dry-roasted, skinless, unsalted PEANUTS
  • 1-½ Tbsp. ORANGE LIQUEUR
In a large heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, milk, cocoa and butter. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter has melted. Continue to gently simmer for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cool a few minutes. Butter a cookie sheet and drop the slowly thickening mixture by heaping teaspoonful onto the sheet. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour until the clusters have set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yields about 3 dozen clusters.   

April 07, 2012

Happy Easter 2012!


Happy Holidays from Kokopelli's Kitchen

You won’t find them in the Bible, but many cherished Easter traditions—from the Easter bunny to decorating and hunting for eggs—have been around for centuries.

Easter Bunny

The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity's most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit's Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.

Easter Eggs

Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus' emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. In the U.S., the White House Easter Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, is an annual event held the Monday after Easter. The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. The event has no religious significance, although some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus' tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.

Easter Candy

Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus' resurrection. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930s (although the jelly bean's origins reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight). According to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide. For the past decade, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep, a sugary, pastel-colored confection. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born (founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923) began selling Peeps in the 1950s. The original Peeps were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, but other shapes and flavors were later introduced, including chocolate mousse bunnies.

Easter Parade

In New York City, the Easter Parade tradition dates back to the mid-1800s, when the upper crust of society would attend Easter services at various Fifth Avenue churches then stroll outside afterward, showing off their new spring outfits and hats. Average citizens started showing up along Fifth Avenue to check out the action. The tradition reached its peak by the mid-20th century, and in 1948, the popular film Easter Parade was released, starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland and featuring the music of Irving Berlin. The title song includes the lyrics: "In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it/You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade."

The Easter Parade tradition lives on in Manhattan, with Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street being shut down during the day to traffic. Participants often sport elaborately decorated bonnets and hats. The event has no religious significance, but sources note that Easter processions have been a part of Christianity since its earliest days. Today, other cities across America also have their own parades.

(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved April 7, 2012.)

March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2012.....Hey, who was St. Patrick??

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders:  It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

Guided By Visions:  After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God's—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.

To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

Bonfires and Crosses:  Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick's life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.

(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved March 16, 2012.)

February 07, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day 2012!

Surprise your valentine with a "hot Mexican breakfast" in bed this year!  Kokopelli's Kitchen has found some great recipes for Huevos Rancheros. The recipes we found in are from "Arizona Cookbook". Permission to reprint the recipes has been granted by Golden West Publishers in Phoenix, Arizona.

Huevos Rancheros (Mexican Eggs)
1 cup GREEN CHILI SALSA (recipe below)
4 oz. Longhorn CHEESE
OIL and BUTTER for frying

Dip tortillas in heated oil and remove quickly. Set tortillas on baking pan to keep warm. In a frying pan, panfry eggs in butter until the whites are set but the yolks still soft. Put a fried egg on each tortilla. Heat salsa and spoon over each egg. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. Slip baking pan under broiler until cheese melts. (Variation: try adding heated refried beans on the tortillas, before topping with eggs, salsa and cheese.)

Green Chili Salsa
1 tablespoon OIL
1 chopped ONION
1 small can chopped GREEN CHILI
1 clove chopped GARLIC
2 cups whole TOMATOES

Heat oil, add onion, and simmer for three minutes in small saucepan. Add chili and simmer for an additional three minutes. Add garlic and tomatoes. Simmer five to ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill.

Valentine's Day Quotations
Authors, poets and playwrights have been trying to capture love in words for thousands of years. Their work speaks to the enduring power of love across the ages of human history. Check out this collection of quotes about love from some of the world's most famous romantics.

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.
- Aristotle

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
- Lao Tzu

My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.
- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning, unquenchable.
- Henry Ward Beecher

Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age.
- Anais Nin

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
-Helen Keller

Love does not dominate; it cultivates.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
- Zora Neale Hurston

Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love.
- Leo Tolstoy

Love is like quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it, and it darts away.
- Dorothy Parker

I have learned not to worry about love; but to honor its coming with all my heart.
- Alice Walker

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
- Pablo Neruda, "Love Sonnet XVII"

(Source: The History Channel. Retrieved February 4, 2012.)

January 04, 2012

Happy New Year 2012 from Kokopelli's Kitchen!

Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar, and continue into the early hours of January 1 (New Year’s Day). Common traditions include attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, making resolutions for the new year and watching fireworks displays.

Early New Year's Celebrations
The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. They marked the occasion with a massive religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. In addition to the new year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat and served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed.

Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese new year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.

January 1 Becomes New Year's Day
The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with each new year beginning at the vernal equinox; according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with adding the months of Januarius and Februarius. Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today.

As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches and attending raucous parties. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation); Pope Gregory XIII reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

New Year's Traditions
In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31—New Year’s Eve—and continue into the early hours of January 1. Revelers often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes-symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead-right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular "Auld Lang Syne" in many English-speaking countries. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

In the United States, the most iconic New Year’s tradition is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City's Times Square at the stroke of midnight. Millions of people around the world watch the event, which has taken place almost every year since 1907. Over time, the ball itself has ballooned from a 700-pound iron-and-wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at nearly 12,000 pounds. Various towns and cities across America have developed their own versions of the Times Square ritual, organizing public drops of items ranging from pickles (Dillsburg, Pennsylvania) to possums (Tallapoosa, Georgia) at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  (Source: The History Channel. Retrieved January 4, 2012.)

BLUE RIBBON RECIPE FOR PINTO BEANS: Want to add a taste of the southwest to your table this year? Then, check out this contest winning recipe we found in "From the Queen's Kitchen Cookbook". Permission to reprint the recipe has been granted by Adobe Milling in Dove Creek, Colorado.

SOUTHWEST PINTOS (Blue Ribbon 1991)

10 slices BACON, chopped
½ cup ONION, chopped
½ tsp. SALT
1 (16 oz) can PORK AND BEANS
32 oz. PINTO BEANS, cooked

Brown meats and drain. Add onion and cook until tender. Add the next 9 ingredients. Mix well. Add beans. Pour into 3 quart casserole. Bake in 350° oven for 1 hour. Serves 6 to 8.
Lana Laker