Food for Thought

Cooking with no time, when you’re not there

There’s no time. And I am not there.

This certainly proves out in the long run, doesn’t it? But it is the short run that counts here.

And I have no time. I won’t be there.

I have to go to work, for a full day, yet I am expected to produce something in the evening, for dinner, for guests.

It is Christmas Eve and, thanks to an oppressive calendar, the occasion falls on a Monday. I am in the newspaper business, and the next edition waits on no one — not even blessed babies born in less than standard circumstances.

It could be any other time, though, if the situation were similar: I have to work all day and yet, there is a dinner looming just ahead. I am expected to come through.

This time, this Christmas Eve, I am told I can expect three guests: daughter Ivy, son in-law Jon, and Jon’s mother, Patsy.

I am told this in stern tones by Kathy as she makes it clear that, calendar or no, dinner will be served … and it better be good. The microwave oven does not enter the equation.

“I think it’s downright cruel you have to work on the first day of what should be a two-day break.” She is frowning.

“No choice.”

“Oh yeah, well, there’s no choice about dinner either. So … whaddya gonna do Chubby?” Now, she is glowering. And she has her arms crossed. Whenever she crosses her arms, she scares me.

When scared, I run.

I hustle to the basement and get on the phone to Ivy, begging her for some help. Code Blue. She’s a great cook. She will not have to work on Christmas Eve; she can assist with some of the elements of the meal.

I have been pondering the situation, and I have come up with what I think is a swell plan. “I have a great idea for dinner,” I say. “And it’s something I can whip up the night before. Something that needs only to be taken from the fridge, warmed in the oven and served to happy diners. Something delicious.”

“What’s that?” She suddenly sounds a lot like her mother.

“Baked ziti, with a gazillion different melty-good cheeses and a homemade ragu. Plus, a mess of sausages and roasted peppers, and …”

“Whoa, big guy. Whoa. Stop right there. Baked ziti? Pasta? On Christmas Eve? There’s no way in the world we’re eating pasta on Christmas Eve.”

“Well … I … uh …”

“Pasta is a deal killer, pops. I’m not sure I could ever feel the same way about you again if you served baked ziti on Christmas Eve. I would have to reevaluate my priorities, dadwise.”

“Even with a gazillion, melty-good cheeses?”

“No way, mister.”

“I’ll call you right back.”

I put on the thinking cap (you remember, the one that is two sizes too big for my head). What can I make if I am not home? How does one cook at a distance?

That’s kind of like the old “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” problem, isn’t it?

What can someone cook when they are not there?

This is a difficult question to answer. Not as difficult as “What can someone cook if they are dead?” but darned near so.

I am perplexed; I need a cleansing, so I watch a half hour or so of the Home Shopping Network to clear my head and, via the miracle of a meditation on cheap, costume jewelry, whammo!, I have the answer.

I’ll produce something in the trusty slow cooker. I own the Mac Daddy of slow cookers. This digitized beauty sits in the utility room at the house, gathering dust, waiting for the call. I’ll clean it up and use it to simmer a goodie all day long, while I am at work, complaining loudly about being at work.

I run through the options and do away with everything Kathy refuses to eat because, a) it is disgusting, b) it is ugly, c) it is produced by unscrupulous agri-business moguls intent on fast and enormous profits, oblivious to the plight of the workers, or d) it is laden with toxins that will make your eyes fall out, prompt a hyper-hirsute condition or cause you to grow a tail and gills.

At the end of the reductive analysis, I am left with a large hunk o’ beef. I will not mention the growth hormones to Kathy. Neither will I note the presence of pesticides in the grain the cows eat, nor the incredibly nasty environment at the feedlot. Nary a word about bovine murder and the horrors of the killing floor will pass my lips, lest we are left with nothing to eat but a huge block of tofu, carved in the likeness of a chicken.

The dish I decide on is a picture of simplicity. With a trip to the store, my hunk o’ beef becomes two, relatively small roasts — somewhat thin slabs of abnormally red flesh, labeled “chuck pot roast” by an inventive meat department employee.

The liquid in which the meat will braise throughout the day will include a bottle of Syrah and several cups of beef broth (perhaps a wad of veal demi-glace tossed in at day’s end). I will deposit a bouquet garni in the brew (fresh thyme springs, parsley stems, bay leaf) or, since I am a lazy slug, I will season it with herbes de Provence. I will throw in diced onion, a small hunk of celery, ten or so smashed, peeled cloves of garlic, a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juice, a couple carrots, cut in half.

The process? Easy.

I take a large pot, put it over medium high heat and cook down a quarter pound or so of bacon, rendering the fat. (Ah … fat.) I remove the meat to a paper towel to drain. I season the trimmed slabs of beef and brown them off in the pot, removing them to the slow cooker, pouring off all but a tablespoon or so of the bacon fat and tossing the onion and carrot in the pot for a few minutes. I deglaze with the wine, add the broth, bacon, tomatoes, the garlic, seasonings and a hefty amount of freshly-ground black pepper. (And here, despite the fact Patsy is from Pennsylvania, I apply a judicious dusting of Espanola red chile powder.) I bring the mess to a boil and immediately put it in the slow cooker, submerging the roasts. The slow cooker is set to low, covered, and off to work I go.

Ivy’s task, come afternoon: peel and slice two carrots. Peel and slice a turnip, if it seems fresh. Slice a half pound or so of cremini mushrooms. About a half hour before I get home, par cook the veggies, until al dente. Drain, set aside. Saute the mushrooms in olive oil. Set aside with the veggies.

Ivy, step 2: Make potatoes dauphinoise, according to a recipe she and I have worked several years to perfect.

Ivy, step 3: whip up a simple salad, with baby greens, crumbled bleu cheese, pears and a somewhat sweet vinaigrette..

Ivy, step 4: take cheeses from fridge, unwrap, put on plate, take to room temperature and get them oozy as all get-out. Slice a baguette.

Ivy, step 5: deposit $500 in her dad’s checking account. After all, if I have to go through this ordeal, I deserve a gift of some kind.

When I get home, I take the meat out of the cooker, put it on a warm plate and cover it with foil. I strain the aromatics out of the liquid, put the flavorful broth in a pot, and add the demi-glace, if I wish (and I will wish). I turn the heat to high and reduce the liquid to the desired, thick state. Into the sauce go the veggies Ivy has prepared, The meat is sliced across the grain (if it doesn’t just fall apart) and it is added to the sauce to rewarm.

Meat, sauce, spuds, salad, crusty bread, loads of butter, a tannic red to slurp. Does it get much better? Or much easier? Turns out, cooking while you’re not there and have no time is a snap.

I tell Kathy the plan.

“Sounds good, Bronco. I’ll push out a some individual molten chocolate cakes for dessert and we’ll be ready to ride. Now, there’s only one problem.”

“What’s that?”

What are you going to make on Christmas Day? How about something traditional … like falafel?”

Hoo boy.

Maybe I won’t be there.

Or, maybe … baked ziti, anyone?

What's Cookin?

Sunrise Punch

2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
9 lime slices
1 can (11.5 ounces) apricot nectar
2 cans (12 ounces) ginger ale

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large pitcher, cover and chill. Add ginger ale just before serving, stir gently. Serve over ice.

Yields 9 servings,1 cup per serving: 114 calories, 29g carbohydrates, 0g fat.


Maria Tomasita Sisneros Archuleta

Maria (Mary T.) Tomasita Sisneros Archuleta passed from this life Dec. 20, 2007. She was born Oct. 21, 1919, at Stollsteimer Creek, Colo. She was preceded in death by her father and mother, Anacleto and Emilia Sisneros; sons, Ted Archuleta and James Archuleta; also, sisters Margarita Larribas, Melinda Garcia and Adelina Lobato.

She is survived by one remaining sister, Rose Archuleta, of Durango. Children, Alice Chavez, of Pagosa Springs, Lala and Frank Dunlap, of Farmington, N.M., Sadie and John Mares, of Ignacio, Colo., Berlinda and Wayne Vorhies, of Tiffany, Colo., Loretta and Dave Vigil, of Stillwater, Okla., Danny and Michelle Kingsley, of Tulsa, Okla., and Ronnie Archuleta, of Aztec, N.M.; 23 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews also mourn her passing.

Mary’s family came to southwest Colorado in the early 1900s. She grew up in Arboles, Colo. Upon her father’s death, the family moved to Pagosa Springs. She left school in the eighth grade to go to work and help her mother raise her remaining siblings. Over the course of her lifetime, she became one of the better restaurant cooks in the area. She worked as a cook in almost every establishment in Pagosa Springs.

Mary leaves a lasting legacy of strength and “feistiness” to her family, friends and community. She will be remembered. Rosary will be at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007, and mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 28, 2007, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Pagosa Springs, Colo., with Father Carlos Alvarez. Burial will be in Hilltop Cemetery.

Alfredo Gallegos

Alfredo Gallegos, beloved husband and father, passed away in his home in Pagosa Springs Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2007.

Alfredo was born May 28, 1929, in Dulce, N.M. One of three children born to George Santiago Gallegos and Maria Genara Marques, he lived most of his adult life in the Pagosa Springs area. He had numerous jobs, including working at the local saw mill and operating heavy machinery for the local lumber company. He was a penitente from Edith, Colo. He married Juanita Jaramillo in 1949, in Lumberton, N.M. They started their life together in Lumberton, moving to Juanita, Colo., then to Pagosa Springs in 1959.

He is survived by his wife, Juanita Jaramillo Gallegos; sons, Chris, Lawrence, Ernest, Alfred, Jr., and David Gallegos; and daughters, Sarah Sutton, Dorothy Gallegos, Eleanor Gallegos, Stella McFatridge, Anna Appenzeller, Sandra Gallegos, Nyana Janowsky, Leticia Gallegos and Anjelica Cardenas. Also surviving are his brother, Delfin Gallegos; sister, Georgia Foster, of Texas; brother, James Romero; and sister, Lisa Romero. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Irene Gallegos.

Father of 14 children and grandfather of 33 grandchildren, and great-grandfather to 24 great-grandchildren, he will be remembered as a wonderful father, provider, and caring, loving person. He was the foundation of our family, and will be missed terribly.

A Rosary was held Friday, Dec. 21, 2007, at 7 p.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. Mass was held Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, at 10 a.m. Burial was at Juanita Cemetery.

Nellie Montoya

Maria Manuela (Nellie) Pacheco Montoya was born Sept. 3, 1919, in Coyote, Rio Arriba County, N.M. By the time Nellie was 6 years old, Nellie had left Coyote, lived in Tiffany, by Ignacio, and was on her way to live in Durango, Colo., with grandfather Jose Dolores Martinez. There she also lived with uncles, aunts and their families. As a result, her cousins were like siblings.

When Nellie went to Pagosa Springs to live with her biological parents, she fussed so much that they sent her back to Durango to be with her extended family. She had to take the fifth grade twice, as she recalled, and walked two to three miles to school when her family lived in Edith. In Edith, when the weather was too bad, she got to stay with the Lucio Cruz family who lived closer to the schoolhouse in order to reduce the commuting distance. Nellie dropped out of school after the seventh grade in Pagosa Springs, and worked washing dishes at a restaurant. She also washed and sterilized milk bottles at a dairy farm, and did other housework and cooking for $3 per week. Nellie also worked performing childcare and housework. In 1938, she met the late Henry Montoya through her sister, Leonarda, who was a friend of Henry’s sister, Senaida. After a six-month courtship, Nellie and Henry got married. Nellie said a letter or two might have been exchanged during their courtship. Henry was herding sheep in Trujillo at the time they got married. They also tended other farm animals. At that time, Nellie lived with Henry’s grandparents on a farm near Rio Navajo at Blanquito, Colo. In the early 1940s, they lived in Pagosa Springs, Lumberton, N.M., and Chama, N.M. In Pagosa, they worked at the Corrigan dairy farm for one year; they also operated a liquor establishment in Lumberton, N.M., for Lionel and Ruby Archuleta. They moved to Utah in 1950. They lived in Grantsville, Stockton, TOD Park, Orem, Tooele and Erda since then. While living in Tooele, Nellie volunteered for many years as a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) teacher’s aide at St. Marguerite’s Catholic Church. She received a certificate from Pope John Paul II for her service and had the privilege of helping numerous children develop a solid faith foundation, including at lease two students who became priests from Tooele, Fathers Bittman and Vialpando.

Nellie, a humble person, described herself as “simple and old-fashioned.” She was also a very caring, religious and fair-minded individual. Her family, neighbors and friends will miss her dearly. She was blessed to have such wonderful neighbors in Erda and other places where she lived and numerous friends. She was also grateful for the professional attention and love she received from Rocky Mountain Care and Mountain Home Hospice of Tooele. Henry, two infant daughters, Loma Mae and Henrietta, a sister, Leonarda (Delfin) Valdez, and a brother, Luis Martinez, who was raised by her parents (Beatriz Martinez and Antonio Pacheco) preceded her in this life. Nellie leaves behind John (Evelyn) Montoya; Laurell (Manuel) Martinez; Jerry (Theresa) Montoya; grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins, sisters-in-law, comadres and compadres and many others she considered to be part of her family. Nellie was 88 years old.

Services were held Dec. 26, 2007, at St. Marguerite’s Church in Tooele. Burial will be at Hilltop Cemetery in Pagosa Springs.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Nellie’s memory to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, 500 Huntsman Way, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, or Pallbearers were Manuel Martinez for Landon Montoya; John H. Montoya; Salvador Martinez; and Manjo Martinez. Honorary pallbearers were sisters-in-law, Alice Young and Bessie Montoya; comadres Isabel Valerio, Angie Sandoval, Bertha Graham and Teresa Vargas; granddaughters, Felice Martinez, Larissa Montoya and Taylor Montoya, and niece, Lilia Valdez Nix.

Call LaQuey Funeral Home for Pagosa service times, 264-2386.

Eugene “Pete” L. Peterson

The Stickler/Peterson family is indescribably saddened by the loss of Eugene “Pete” L. Peterson. Pete passed on to a perfect, joyful, spiritual life with God Dec. 5, 2007. He was at his home in Surprise, Ariz., under the comforting care of Hospice of the Valley. His loving wife, Irene, of 60 years, his daughter, Patti, and his son, Mike, were all there at his side. Pete fought an extremely tough obstacle with lung cancer for seven months and beat the odds of its battle with his always-positive attitude. It was heart disease that took its toll and gave him rest. He was cremated Dec. 7, 2007. A small intimate family gathering was held at this home Dec. 9.

Eugene L. Peterson was born in Duluth, Minn., Oct. 13, 1926. He and his younger brother, Allan, always shared stories about their happy adventures as boys spending time up on the farm in Spooner, Wis. He met Irene while in high school in Milwaukee, Wis., and then went off to the South Pacific with the United States Army. His Army days had many fun and exciting memories for him. After returning to civilian life, he and Irene married in Milwaukee, Nov. 15, 1947. Pete soon became interested in his lifetime passion of ceramic tile, and continued in this artful trade. His last tile project was removing his kitchen entryway tile and adding more decorative tile at the age of 80 years! Many, many homes across the country still have his ceramic tile art on display.

Pete and his family moved from Milwaukee to Littleton, Colo., in 1971. The entire family loved the beauty and weather of Colorado. After many enjoyable years in Littleton, the family moved to Pagosa Springs, Colo., in 1984. Pete absolutely loved life in Pagosa, but due to the high altitude and health issues, he was encouraged to move to Arizona in 1994. He continued to say his love for Colorado was always there.

Eugene L. Peterson leaves behind (but watches over) his wife, Irene Peterson, in Surprise, Ariz.; his daughter, Patti, and son-in-law, Ron, in Fort Collins, Colo.; his son, Mike, and his daughter-in-law, Connie, in Fountain Hills, Ariz. Pete has four grandchildren, Traci and Kara in Fort Collins, Colo., and Mina and Cliff in Scottsdale, Ariz. Pete was also delighted to welcome Cliff’s wife, Jessica, and his first great-grandchild, Savannah, into his life. “Gene” is survived by his brother, Allan, and wife, Madeline, in Jackson, Wis., along with many dear friends and relatives throughout the U.S.

If you knew him as Eugene, Gene, Pete, Bro, Uncle, Daddy, Fazio, Dad, Grandpa or Papa, please remember him as one of the most friendly, tender, loving, caring, thoughtful, funniest men you’ve ever known. Remember his warmth, his laugh, his smiling blue eyes, his whistle, his love of music, his love for his family and that friendly hello to everyone he met, including all his buddies at those early morning coffees. Enjoy some food, including “good buns,” then take a drink and look up to give him a “salute.” There will never be another one like him, at least in this lifetime. As he always said, “I rest my case.”

“You have blessed us all, My Fazio. I miss you every minute, but I know we’ll meet again and there we’ll give more hugs filled with love, laughter and lots of sunshine!”




Connie and David are proud to announce the marriage of their daughter, Ashley Kirby Wilson, to Richard Paul Souza, son of Rick and Sheryl, Dec. 7, 2007, at Sugar Beach, Costa Rica.

The couple will be in Pagosa Springs for a welcome-home gathering at Lou and Mary Jo Poma’s. They will be in Pagosa Springs from Dec. 29 through Jan. 4.

Ashley graduated from Pagosa Springs High School in 2000, CSU in 2004. She is currently employed at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Richard graduated from Pagosa Springs High School in 1998. He works for Swift Environmental Construction. They reside in Nashville, Tenn. Please visit their Web site,


Celeste Marie Rumore

Celeste Marie Rumore, daughter of Jen (Sobeck) Rumore and Steve Rumore of Bayfield, Colo., was born Sept. 6, 2007.  She is the baby sister of Nicholas and the granddaughter of Norma and Fred Harman of Pagosa Springs.


Lauren Marie Felts

Lauren Marie Felts graduated from Weber State University Dec. 14, 2007. Lauren received a bachelor of science degree, Cum Laude, in criminal justice, with a minor in psychology. A reception will be held to recognize her accomplishment Dec. 27, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Community Center.

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