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Episode 3 - From Rockets to Salsa
Michael Swickard here. Welcome to Enchanting Stories of New Mexico. This Podcast is sponsored by the Fresh Chile Company in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Our award-winning Hatch Green and Red Chile is brought straight to you from locally owned farms in Hatch, NM, The Chile Capital of the World. Hit subscribe to automatically get these Podcasts.
Speaking of New Mexico history: Years ago at what was then White Sands Proving Grounds, now White Sands Missile Range Army Base they lost a test missile. It was one of the V-2 rockets that we captured when Germany surrendered and was how we started doing our research on rocketry. On May 29, 1947, The Rocket took off as it should when the countdown got to zero. Up up up into the blue Southern New Mexico sky it went majestically. But the German built gyroscope caused it to swerve South rather than the North. It crashed and exploded about 3 miles south of the Juarez Mexico business district. The explosion shook every building in Juarez and El Paso. It left a 24 ft crater. The missile range safety officer had repeatedly pressed the destruct button. Residents thought an oil plant in Juarez had exploded and there were many red faces. It reportedly hit a cemetery. We said whoops, send an apology and restored the damage. From then on, the destruct button was tested carefully before launch every time.
When you hear the 1963 hit, Sugar Shack do you think of Raton, New Mexico? You should since the Fireballs were formed there in 1957 as an instrumental group. The group recorded their hit song, Sugar Shack at the Norman Petty sound studios in Clovis New Mexico.
Over a million copies of Sugar Shack were sold in 1963 and it stayed number one on the Billboard Hot 100 hits. The very distinctive sound on the recording was an organ played by Norman Petty which is on display at the Norman Petty Studios today.
At this time in 1598 Don Juan de Oñate e was sent by the King of Spain to what he named New Mexico to take possession and to bring settlers all the way to present day Santa Fe. He came through what is now El Paso, Las Cruces, Hatch and up to Santa Fe. It is interesting to note that he inscribed on what is known as Inscription Rock at El Morro, I Don Juan de Onate Pasó Por Aquí. I passed by here. In 1926 Eugene Rhodes used that phrase Pasó Por Aquí as the title of his most famous books. In 1948 the book was made into the movie, Four Faces West starring Joel McCrea and his real-life wife Frances Dee. Despite being a Western, Pasó Por Aquí is unusual. Not a single gunshot is fired.
How many times have you heard, “This job is going to be the death of me?” Well, the first Territorial Governor James S. Calhoun said it because he had so many problems being the first territorial governor and to top it off his health failed. So, he decided to go on vacation back to his home state of Georgia. His feelings about his health were reflected in that before he left on a wagon train headed east to Saint Louis, get this, he had a carpenter make a coffin, just in case. Well, he was correct because he died near today’s Independence Missouri and was buried there. Not the typical vacation, eh?
New Mexico is tied to Green and Red Chile and is for all to enjoy from the Hatch Valley Chile fields. We are all about Chile with an e as in Hatch Green Chile. To be sure I’m not talking about Chili with an I, like the meal Chili con Carne. And certainly not the word Chilly with a Y, you know like winter in Minnesota. Hatch Chiles are Chile Pepper varieties that are commercially cultivated in the Hatch Valley of Southern New Mexico. They have the designation: Hatch Chile.
Those of you who are not from this little slice of heaven in Southern New Mexico are always curious and ask, What is Chile? We have the answer. Chile, the fruit from Chile Peppers (Capsicum annuum), is a spicy enhancement to the flavor of food and a food in and of itself. Chile is a New Mexican and Southwestern tradition. It comes in many forms:
- · Freshly picked from the field and used quickly.
- · Processed into a jar with that same great fresh taste when opened.
- · Frozen so that when defrosted that great Chile flavor is realized.
- · Dried so it can be reconstituted into great tasting food.
- · Powdered into a spice which is added as the flavor is desired.
Chile is an integral part of restaurant and home prepared meals. The recipes for the use of Green and Red Chile are often handed down generation to generation. The best compliment is when someone exclaims, “This enchilada plate tastes exactly the way my grandmother used to make it and I sure do love it.”
Originally the Chile Peppers you found on your plate, if you were lucky, were mostly grown in personal gardens in Mexico and New Mexico. But in the 20th Century it became a commercial crop developed by research at what is now New Mexico State University.
Formal Cultivar of Chile Peppers as an Agricultural Commercial Crop began on the campus of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts which is now New Mexico State University at the start of the 20th Century. Research was done under the guidance of Dr. Fabián García, who in 1913 released New Mexico 9, a milder tasting Chile pepper than what was for sale at that time. With a flood of new residents coming to New Mexico, the normal garden grown Chile was too hot for the newcomers, so work was done to tone it down a little.
There was also a desire to have smooth Chile Peppers that could be canned and then shipped all over our country better. That is what the Fresh Chile Company does now which is ship jars of many varieties of Chile Salsa and Sauce all over our country and to military installations so the enchanting taste of New Mexico is available.
If you are interested in the research into Chile, you can learn more at cpi.nmsu.edu. the Chile Pepper Institute is located on the campus of New Mexico State University. They are constantly working on new varieties of Chile. From the Chile Pepper Institute on the campus of New Mexico State University comes the news that New Mexico is the leading state in Chile acreage. Red Chile and Paprika represents about forty percent of the state’s overall production. New Mexico Chile varieties produce Red Chile when they are harvested after the fruit turns red. Paprika is a type of red Chile and is used for low or no heat Chile flavor.
According to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, fishing is fair this week. On their website is a section, that answers when you have caught a New Mexico fish: Should you Release it or eat it? It says, determine the species and length (inches) of the fish and find the lake or river where it was caught. Match the species (row) and size (column) of your fish to determine the number of meals (8 ounces) that can be safely eaten each month. No advisory indicates an advisory is unnecessary, and 0 indicates it is recommended not to eat that species and size of fish. If blank, the species and size of fish at that location has not been analyzed.
Remember, if you have some fresh caught fish, a few spices and lots of good Green Chile it will make for a great dinner. But there is more. Here is an opportunity for culinary fame. Take a picture of your freshly caught and then cooked fish dish with Fresh Chile Company seasoning, be it dry rub or salsa and submit it to us and you can join our thousands of cooks in our Chile cooking section. Upload your pictures on Facebook and tag The Fresh Chile Company or ask to join our private group called Fresh Chile Cooking and upload there.
Here is one of the Recipes on the Fresh Chile Company website. It is the McMillan Chile Con Queso Recipe that is quick, easy and delicious. Take 1 - 32 oz. Block of Velveeta Cheese,
Cut In Small Pieces add 16 oz. Fresh Chile Company Salsa w/Pure Hatch Green Chile or Hatch Red and Green Chile Blend Sauce – add 1 - 12 oz. Can Evaporated Milk
Mix all ingredients in a microwave container. Microwave 3 minutes and stir. Continue to repeat every 3 minutes until your delicious Chile Con Queso is smooth. It is yum.
Speaking of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, did you know that NM A and MA what is NMSU now used to occasionally make other football furious by a summer prank. The Ag Students knew the value of fertilizer and also knew back then that no team watered their football stadium grass until just before the season started in August of each year. The Aggie football players, it is rumored would travel to stadiums that the Aggies were going to play in during the football season and would spread fertilizer to write a giant A on the then dormant grass. No one noticed until the water was applied. When in August the school would start watering the stadium grass, there would be a large green A for all to see from the stands. Football coach Warren Woodson laughed about it and there was nothing at all that the opposing teams could do but sputter about those darn Aggies were up to no good again. I say, give them the fertilizer which has been rendered not effective by the new artificial turf in many stadiums.
One thing that happens when people live in Las Cruces is that they can come by the Fresh Chile Company Gift Shop. It is located at 1160 El Paseo Rd, Suite D7A in Las Cruces, NM. It is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. No need for shipping when you live close by.
If you are living far enough away to ship: If you buy 12 jars, we offer Free Shipping if you live in the lower 48 states (excluding Alaska & Hawaii). Stock up and make sure you always have plenty of that which makes everyone smile: Hatch Valley Red and Green Chile. And a case of that delicious Chile would make a great present for someone who moved away and still has a taste for Hatch Valley Green and Red Chile. Also, if you buy three jars, we will donate one jar of our award-winning Mama’s Salsa to a local food bank in New Mexico called, Casa de Peregrinos. They provide school lunches and more to those in need in our community.
This is Michael Swickard with The Fresh Chile Company Podcast brought to you by The Fresh Chile Company. Thank you for your time today. We will always have lots of News and stories about New Mexico for you on this Podcast, If you have something you want me to talk about in a future podcast write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great rest of your day. Oh yes and eat plenty of that good Hatch Valley Chile. Like I always say, “Some Chile is good, more is better.” Bye for now.