Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tea at Glen Eryie Castle, Colorado Springs, CO

Our Red Hat group has the tradition of dressing up and going for tea for our December gathering. The short drive was like driving into a Christmas card with the snow on the mountains, and the rocks of the Garden of the Gods plus the bluest of skies.

This year our tea was at Glen Eryie Castle the former home of General Palmer, founder of Colorado Springs and now home to the Navigators – a Christian group.

We had taken a tour prior to tea so we had entered the building into the entry hall that had a glowing fireplace.

The plaster ceiling in the entry way was done by Italian craftsmen.

Our server poured us our 1st cup of tea – either the Glen Eryie special blended Black tea or the Herbal Roobios Crème au Caramel tea. Then came the warm Brie cheese in a small chafing dish with a cranberry / orange chutney that we put onto small heart shaped Lavosh crackers.

This was a tea so we were not really served a meal but the next ‘course’ was several small portions, served to each guest on one plate - a salmon pinwheel; mixed mini veggies on puff pastry; fruit salad with poppy seed dressing and a tiny artichoke bite.

And of course, there was then a dessert plate served family style – white chocolate peppermint bark; Italian pizelles cookies; nutty filo fingers; a Glen chocolate from Patsy’s (a popular chocolate shop in downtown Colorado Springs) and Queen Anne’s currant cake.

The food was fine, the tea tasty and it was a nice affair in elegant surroundings and would recommend it as a place to go and then say been there, done that. Cost with the tour was $32.95 (the tip was included because we were a group of 8). Will I ever go back? Probably on the right occassion!!

Glen Eryie Castle – Home of General Palmer / now the Navigators

General Palmer moved from Delaware to Colorado and was the ‘founder’ of Colorado Springs. He was the 2nd youngest General in the Civil War (Custer being the youngest!)

The General made his money from starting the Rio Grande Railroad from Denver to Santa Fe. There was a railroad war between the Rio Grande and the Santa Fe RR but General Palmer continued operating his RR in CO moving the gold from the mountains around Colorado Springs.

He married and the couple had 3 daughters and built the family home in a little valley on the west side of Colorado Springs and at the north end of the Garden of the Gods.

He always wanted a castle and went to Europe for many of the furnishings, 20 of the 21 fireplaces and even bought a whole 800-year-old church, just for the red roof tiles. Only a few remain on the castle to this day, which makes them over 900 years old. – Amazing.

His wife had heart problems and the doctors advised that she move to sea level. Eventually she and the girls moved to England where she died at age 44. She never returned to the Castle to live.

One of the daughters did tho’. She had TB and the altitude and clear, clean air of Colorado was what was needed for her to heal. Actually that is still true today. Through the years there have been many tuberculosis hospitals and sanitariums in and around the city.

The General also built the Antlers hotel in, what is now, downtown. In the late 1890’s the hotel burned down which led the General into installing several inventive fire protection units in the castle. 1 being metal doors that pulled down to separate 2 of the wings. Another was water pipes and fire hoses hidden behind paneling and in separate closets.

These wooden panels cover a lot of the walls throughout their home. Notice how they go from large at the bottom to smaller at the top. That is to create the illusion of higher ceilings.

He was pretty advanced and innovative. He was putting in electricity the same time New York City was. After he had a telephone installed, he was annoyed that he could not hear very well when there were many people around, so he put in a ‘phone booth” - the 1st one ever.

He didn’t want anyone downstairs to hear folks walking around upstairs, so the wooden floors are covered with felt and then a second layer of wood.
The arches into the servant’s quarters are lower so there was no confusion, for guests, on which hallway or staircase to use.
This shower in his room has vertical pipes all around so he could be surrounded by warm water and still works today.

When he was in his late 60’ he was thrown from a horse and was paralyzed from the 3rd rib down. He wanted to have a reunion of all the men that were under him during the war. Since he was not able to travel it was held at the Antlers. 250 were able to attend in the 1900’s. He died a few years later at the age of 70.
Great Room
The castle sold 4 times. One of the earlier owners sold all the furnishings except for a few chandeliers in the Great Room. Only the Generals bed was recovered in an antique store in Pueblo, CO.

Every castle has its dragon and this one is in the fireplace in the great room.

This loft was used to project movies onto a screen at the front of the room.

The building is also a bed and breakfast where guests can stay in any of the rooms including the Generals, the daughter’s rooms and the room his doctor lived in while he tended to his patient, after the riding accident.
In 1953 the final sale was to the Navigators a Christian based group whose mission is to spread the word of Jesus. They have restored the castle and hold conferences, marriage retreats and many meetings and parties as well as weddings in the castle and on the grounds.

During the holiday season the Castle hosts Madrigal dinners and performances in the Great Room. It looks very elegant and would be a great way to start celebrating the Christmas season.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gifts using Herbs and Spices

We have been in the herb and spice business for over 13 years and our customers have given us some great ideas for gift giving.

A gift basket full of just herbs and spices themselves for a bridal shower, a student moving out on their own, a new homeowner, or for anyone who loves to cook and experiment with some of the more uncommon culinary herbs like juniper berries, lavender, turmeric, or cardamom in several forms.

A gift basket combined with cooking gadgets, like a nutmeg grater with the whole nutmeg or a stainless steel tea ball with teas.

Themed basket suggestions – Add prepared sauces; gadgets; dishes; linens; and many other creative items to enhance a most thoughtful gift for anyone of any age.

The herb and spice shop  Please check our listings often because we are always revising and adding new herbs and spices and healing botanicals.

Worldly Spice Blends – BBQ Spice; Curry Powder; Taco Seasoning; Apple Pie Spices; Italian Seasoning; Garam Masala; Herbes d’ Provence; Chinese Five Spice Blend; Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend; Maui Onion Salad Dressing.
Basic Baking – Poppy Seeds; Anise Seed; Ginger Powder; Cloves Powder; Ground Nutmeg; Buttermilk Powder; Allspice Powder.
Elegant Gourmet - Whole Nutmeg; Decorticated Cardamom; Saffron; Four Peppercorn Mix; Blue Juniper Berries; Smoked Paprika; White Peppercorns; Crystallized Ginger; Horseradish Flakes; Coarse Pink Himalayan Sea Salt.
Whole Chinese Fives Spices – Blend your own – Star Anise; Fennel Seed; Whole Cloves; Whole Peppercorns; Cinnamon Sticks 1”.
Just Herbs – Sage; Basil; Thyme; Oregano; Rosemary; Chives; Parsley; Tarragon; Dill Weed; Bay Leaves.
Pickling Spices – Dill Seeds; Celery Seed; Ginger Pieces; Whole Coriander; Bay Leaves; Whole Black Peppercorns; Yellow Mustard Seed; Small Cinnamon Chips or Sticks.
Whole Classic Curry - Make you own – Fenugreek; Fennel Seeds; Ginger Pieces; Whole Cumin; Cayenne; Whole Allspice; Turmeric Powder; Whole Coriander; Yellow Mustard Seed; Ground Cinnamon; Ground Cardamom.
Beginner’s Best – Basil; Oregano; Black Pepper; Parsley; Coarse Grind Sea Salt; Onion Granules; Garlic Granules.
Culinary Seeds – Anise Seed; Celery Seed; Caraway Seed; Cumin Seed; Coriander Seed; Dill Seed; Fennel Seed; Black Mustard Seed; Yellow Mustard Seed; Black Sesame Seed.
Pleasing Powders (Ground / Granules) (- Allspice Powder; Basil Powder; Cumin Powder; Celery Seed Powder; Cloves Powder; Coriander Seed Powder; Cumin Seed Powder; Ginger Powder; Garlic Powder; Lemon Juice Powder; Lemon Peel Granules; Lime Juice Powder; Yellow Mustard Seed Powder; Nutmeg Powder; Onion Granules; Paprika; Smoked Paprika; Rosemary Powder; Sage Powder; Stevia Powder; Thyme Powder; Turmeric.
Italian Fare – Basil; Oregano; Rosemary; Parsley; Anise Seed; Onion Granules; Garlic Granules; Coarse Grind Sea Salt, Chile Flakes.
Magnificent Mexican – Oregano; Anise Seed; Ground Cumin; Cilantro Leaf; Epazote; Onion Granules; Garlic Granules; Chile Spice Blend; Chipotle Salsa; Chipotle Peppers; Cayenne; Annatto Seed; Ancho Chile.
Holiday Heaven – Sage; Whole Nutmeg; Apple Pie Spies; Pumpkin Pie Spices; Ground Ginger; Ground Cardamom; 6” Cinnamon Sticks; Mulling Spices.
Tasty Teas – Chinese Black Tea; Chamomile Tea Bags; Chai Tea; Mulling Spices; Orange Spice Tea; Peppermint Tea Bags; Spearmint Spice Tea; Rose Buds.
Accessories – Small Muslin Spice Bags 3” x 5”; Large Muslin Spice Bags 4” x 6”; Small Sealable Tea Bags ; Large Sealable Tea Bags.

Herbs & Spices Names in English to Spanish + Uses/ Yerbas

We have been in the herb and spice business for over 13 years and have over 150 different Culinary (cooking), dried botanicals and Mexican healing herbs and spices in our inventory. This is just a list of translations and not a complete list of our entire inventory with some of the Herbs and Spices used by New Mexicans and other Hispanics.

As always please consult a doctor before using any alternative healing

Anise Seed = Anis - Gas; digestion; cramps; stomach weakness.
Anise / Star = Anis Estrella - For new born babies when they can't stop crying.
Basil = Albahacar - Digestion; good luck.
Boldo Leaves = Boldo - Liver; scars (face); cramps.
Chamomile = Manzanilla - Stomach; to start menstration
Chaparral = Gobernadora - Clean the system; helps with urination
Cinnamon = Canela - Digestion; can be used as a tea after strong emotions
Comfrey – Confrey - Bones; muscular pain; arthritis.
Corn Silk = Barbas de Elote - Lungs; circulation
Dill = Endeldo - Internal pain
Elder Flowers = Sauco - Skin conditions; lung infections
Epazote – Removes gas from gaseous foods. Add to pot of beans ½ hour before they are finished cooking. Good in gaseous veggies too. It is the same enzyme used in Bean-o!
Eucalyptus = Eucalipto - asthma; cough
Fennel = Hinojo - Gas; indigestion; cramps
Hibiscus = Jamaica - Lungs; stomach; fever. Great added to lemonade to make it pink and give it a kick. Especially yummy with lavender added in too.
Horehound = Manrubio - Cough; cold
Lavender = Alucema - Infections; sleep aid. Boil some in water ½ hour before kids bedtime. Will quiet them right down.
Linden Flowers = Tila - Nerves; cough; asthma
Mexican Tea = Epazote de Comer - Removes gas when cooked in food (last 30 minutes); worms; parasites
Mugwort = Estiafate - Stomach ache
Mullein Flowers = Gordolobo - Cough
Marjoram = Mejorana - Circulation; gas.
Mustard/Yellow = Mostaza Amarilla -
Nutmeg = Nuez Moscada - Appetites
Passion Flowers = Pasiflora - Best herb for sleep
PennyRoyal = Poleo - Colds; stomach ache
Peppermint = Menta - Aids digestion; stomach ache
Rose Buds = Rosa de Castilla - Skin; baby cramps; help to relax. Luxurious as a pampering cup of tea.
Rosemary = Romero - Menopause; head ache; asthma; chronic colds
Rue = Ruda - Head ache; ear
Safflower = Azafran (Mexican Saffron) - Used in cooking to add reddish color, very little taste - Spanish rice
Sage = Salvia - Menopause; digestion
Sarsaparilla = Zarzaparrilla - Veneral disease
Senna = Hojasen - Liver; parasites
Seven Blossoms = Siete Azahares - Nerves; sleep aid
Shave Grass / Horsetail = Cola de Caballo - Lungs; menopause; diahrea
Spearmint = Yerba Buena - Stomach ache
Wintergreen = Axocopaque

Monday, October 26, 2009

Window Washing Colorado Springs A BETTER VIEW

Todd and his wife worked in the private sector after they retired from the military. It was also a dream to own a business. A friend retired from washing windows and so 5 years ago A Better View was born.

They have taken care of our house several times and wash inside and out along with vacuuming the sills and tracks.

A Better View is recommended by the Better Business Bureau and is very trustworthy. Their clientele includes a large warehouse store, movie theaters, a new homebuilder, a property management company and many, many homeowners. No job is too big or too small.

They work all year around except when it is very cold that the water will freeze on the glass. Estimates are free.

If you are in the Colorado Springs area, we highly recommend this company. 719- 390-7849

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Plant City, FL and Parksdale Strawberry Shortcake

Plant City, Florida is just south of Interstate 4 and not very far east of Tampa. The city is called the Winter Strawberry Capitol of the US. Even the water tower looks like a giant strawberry.

When we arrived in FL in mid Feb. 2009 harvest was in full swing. They are huge, juicy. full-flavored strawberries, that you could get ill from eating so many.

It is very interesting how they are grown. The beds are raised so the fruit never touches the ground.
In March the city hosts the Strawberry Festival – much like a large county fair or small state fair. There were lots of booths, entertainment and food. Most all of them featured strawberries in one form or another.

On the western outskirts of the city is Parksdale Nursery. It is a regular nursery & farm stand selling all sorts of local plants, flowers, trees plus fruits & veggies.

But what makes them unique is during the season they serve humongous strawberry shortcakes. The wait on a Sunday afternoon was about 30 minutes, but the line moved pretty fast! There is a large patio type area with tables where those who want to indulge can sit and enjoy. Under all the whip cream is a little cake, ice cream and tons of strawberries.

The large map of the US has pins in it where visitors have come from. Gene marked Belen, NM and I pinned Los Lunas, NM. Other parts of the map were packed with pins so we tagged where we lived the longest.
And of course there is a large gift shop with all sorts of Florida gifts and souvenirs including these giant strawberry pinatas.

Since the citrus is in season at the same time there are bins and bins of freshly picked oranges, lemons and grapefruits that they will gladly ship.

Anyone visiting anyplace nearby in Feb. and March need to visit and have a shortcake and take home some of the wonderful fruit. You will see us there again, for sure.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lobster Gram - Yummy

My birthday continued after we returned home from NM. One of my gifts was a Lobstergram from my daughter Linda & Todd. They sent an email with the gift number and a phone number to call to arrange for delivery and it was sent FedEx overnight with an email notice that it was sent.

We arranged for it to be delivered on Wed 8/12, knowing we would be home for sure and would be able to cook them that night.
Mr. FedEx man brought the stryofoam box about 12:20. I laughed and asked him if they were my lobsters and he said yes. Then I told him that I would invite him for dinner – but was selfish, sorry! He walked away laughing.

Once we opened the box there was the hardware (bib, nutcrackers and pick). The food was piled in there. A box that had a plastic bag with New England Clam Chowder; 2 packages of oyster crackers; 2 1# bags of clams (there were a total of 20 of them); a whole lemon; a small container of clarified butter; 2 packages with 2 red potatoes and 1 ear of corn with the husk; and then sitting on top of 2 frozen packs were 2 / 2# lobsters trying to move around.

Preparing for dinner we had to have wine in our good wine glasses.

I steamed the clams and ate them about 2 hours before dinner, so we would be ready to enjoy our most luxurious meal.

Since we were having butter with the lobsters I made seafood sauce with ketchup and Boar’s Head Horseradish sauce.

They sure look big!!

The corn and the potatoes in their individual packages.

The instructions said to put them in head 1st so the feelers or claws won’t slap your arm, (which happened to me the 1st time I cooked lobster nearly 50 years ago)!

Dinner is ready!

And then Gene being the joy that he is, surprised me with an ice cream cake. (I am named after my grandmother and she was Weez so they call me that too!)

The cake lasted for days, so this was very special celebration.

We highly recommend LobsterGram for special gift giving. Everything was perfect from start to finish and they have other things besides seafood, like fantastic looking steaks and aged beef.
Thanks to everyone who made it so very special.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Birthday con't. Luna Mansion 8/5/09

This had to have been one of the most memorable birthdays ever. One of the others was when I turned 60 and my kids gave me 60 gifts. What fun that was! Another was a scavenger hunt for a mother’s ring that had all the kids and grandkids birthstones.

Right after we moved to Los Lunas, NM in the late 70's the Luna Mansion was opened as a steakhouse restaurant. Over the years it had its ups and downs until it was closed several months ago.
A local family recently bought it and totally renovated it and this showplace of Valencia County was reopened the end of July. When we heard this I knew that was where I wanted to have dinner on my birthday. And let me tell you we were not disappointed.
It is hard to read the sign, but it was original the hacienda of the Luna family and is built of adobe. It is very unusual to see a 2-story adobe building. (Adobe is brick made with mud, dried in the hot NM sun and used a building bricks).
The décor is black on white. It sounds stark but really is warm, elegant and very inviting.
The red velvet drapes in the curved bay window are outstanding. Gene and I shared a steak dinner that melted in our mouths. During dinner one of the family members came by our table and thanked us for being some of the 1st patrons of their new venture.
(The Torres family also owns the New Mexican restaurant right across the street that serves outstanding New Mexican food.)

I had mentioned it was my birthday and that resulted in a beautifully presented and fantastic piece of cheesecake with strawberry sauce and a candle.
After dinner, with Gene’s son and wife, we went to see them play beach volleyball in a nearby park.
While we were there the full moon started to rise over the Manzano Mountains.
After the games we went for pie at the Village Inn and got the call that a friend had a baby at 10:21 – Evan William.

What a day! Rail Runner to Santa Fe and the plaza, dinner at the "Mansion", volleyball, and Evan. And it wasn't over yet. After we arrived home a Lobster gram was delivered with live lobsters and clams. OMG was that good and the subject of another blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My birthday in Santa Fe, New Mexico Plaza 8/5/09

We have visited Santa Fe many, many times but arriving to Santa Fe this time on the Rail Runner Commuter High Speed Train was a 1st for both of us. Once a day there is one that goes directly from Belen, NM to Santa Fe without any delays or change of trains. There are several that go north from Albuquerque every day but there is a lay over for anyone traveling from the south.
Once we arrived in Santa Fe there was a shuttle sitting there waiting to take the Plaza.

It was still morning so our 1st stop was for breakfast. This little café is on the northeast side of the plaza – just across the street from the east end of the Palace of the Governors. We ate a very good breakfast burrito. After we ordered we saw a sign advertising their pancakes made with blue corn meal. There is nothing better than blue corn tortillas, but it was too early for cheese enchiladas with red chile. Yum-my

As we were leaving we noticed the door handle. How New Mexico! It is a brass chile pepper.

We strolled back to the plaza and one of the streets that surround it is The Old Santa Fe Trail. I remember bringing my German uncles here over 30 years ago and they were so tickled to see the Santa Fe Trail after seeing western movies in Germany for many years.

Just off the plaza is the famous La Fonda Hotel. There are 2 kinds of building styles prominent in Santa Fe. La Fonda is in the adobe style. The other is territorial that has sharper edges and not as rounded as the adobe. The State Capitol building is not that far from the plaza and the law is that no building can be higher than the capitol building, so you will not see very many multi storied buildings in the immediate area.

St. Francis Cathedral is a block off the plaza on the east side. It is the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Santa Fe. Not far from the Cathedral is the Miraculous staircase. It is a circular stairway built in 2 – 360 degree circle without the use of any nails. The sisters of Loretto tell the legend that St. Joseph arrived at the chapel one day, built the staircase to the choir loft and left. No one ever saw him again.
The Palace of the Governors is the longest occupied public building in this country. The Native Americans have sat under the eaves for centuries, selling their wares. The building itself is a museum.
After just a few hours in Santa Fe we returned on the shuttle of the return trip south on the Rail Runner.