Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Conscious Alliance

Throughout the year my great friend Peter Olivo along with founder Justin Baker and a number of organizers throw fundraisers for The Conscious Alliance.  In a nutshell, it's a group of people who collect and distribute food to some of our country's most impoverished people.  Generally, it's food collected and brought to Indian Reservations in the West, as well as a mission to educate everyone about how bad these people have it.  They also make a point to help and donate whenever there is crisis and people in need of food (Katrina, Haiti, etc.)  They are a fantastic, caring and generous group.  If you have never heard of TCA, please check out the site (here) and consider helping in any way you can.
Their mission is simple:
Distribute food and resources to communities most in need.
Educate people about hunger, sustainability, and the issues facing American Indian Communities.
Create service-learning opportunities for youth on American Indian Reservations.
Facilitate the sustainable development of American Indian communities.
Mobilize resources for first response disaster relief.

For the past couple of years, I've cooked a dinner at Peter's house to help raise money.  We invite a large group to the house and ask for donations.  I donate my time, Jax donates the food, someone donates wine, someone else donates decor, etc....  We throw a great dinner party that is so big I serve it family style.

This year I decided to show everyone where I come from:  Taos, New Mexico.  The food of Northern New Mexico is simple but very flavorful and rooted in tradition.  The dishes found in most homes are recipes passed down from generations.  It is a sign of respect and honor to be invited in someone's home and to be fed.  To me, this means community.
So I dug deep and tried to remember all of the dishes we would eat during the holidays or during special events.

The first (and my personal favorite) is posole, a stew made from hominy corn ("posole"),  pork, green chile, onion, and lots of spices.  Posole is often served with shredded cabbage, radishes and sopapillas - a deep fried dough that can be a savory accompaniment as well as served as a dessert (with honey and butter).

The menu also included:

Homemade chips with three salsas (guacamole, pico, and cactus)

Homemade tortillas
Melted cheese (queso) dip with chorizo and lots of chilies
Achiote rice
Smokey black beans
Green Chile (from Hatch, New Mexico - the best in the world)
Red Chile (from New Mexico - just dried instead of fresh)
Chicken, cheese and green chile enchiladas
Goat cheese and vegetable chile rellenos (Hatch of course) with piƱon (pine nuts)
Marinated and slow roasted ribeye with sauteed chayote
And last but not least - Bizcochitos, little anise and cinnamon cookies ALWAYS served during the holidays.  In fact, in 1989 New Mexico became the first state in the union to adopt a "state cookie".  Enough said...

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