Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rode Inn in Reserve, NM destroyed by fire

Rode Inn in Reserve destroyed by fire

by Shannon Zetich, Quemado Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief

Reserve, NM  12/14/10  The Rode Inn in Reserve was destroyed by fire during the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday.  Members of seven volunteer fire fighter departments...some as far away as Glenwood, Quemado Lake, Quemado and Red Hill (the latter is over 80 miles away) assisted on this incident. The NM fire marshall was still at the scene the next day; the cause of the fire is under investigation.   More at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New San Augustin Wager Grab Resource

Forwarded from San Augustin Water Coalition (SAWC):

There is a new website that you will find interesting. Our friends and supporters up north are helping to spread the word around the state about our water grab fight and about other serious water issues.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I don't know why I can't just do things like other people, but it just doesn't seem to be in my nature. Thus it is that I can't simply get a bread machine and make bread (or buy from Safeway which does have a bakery in it), no, I have to get a hundred plus year old sourdough starter, nurse it along, and then try baking bread on top of my wood stove.

The irony is, I'm not all that fond of cooking.

Nevertheless, I have been on a quest for the perfect sourdough recipe that resembles my memories of that wonderful San Francisco sourdough that used to be a staple in my diet when I lived in California years ago.

Now, it is important to understand that what makes sourdough starter do its thing is yeast. There is wild yeast in the air that naturally mixes in with your starter yeast and gives it that unique taste. Thus after a while, a starter is going to taste like the local yeast, no matter what you do. Since I don't live in San Francisco or even near it anymore, and I doubt that any wild yeast around my starter has even heard of California, naturally my starter and the resulting bread is never going to taste like San Francisco sourdough. Yes, I could buy SF starter regularly to add in to my own but that's cheating!

Still, I try.

Aside from not liking to cook, I don't much like kneading bread. It's supposed to be meditative and all that, but I can't get into it. For one thing, dough sticks to my hands. Ick! Everyone says to just dip my hands in flour, but I do, I swear I do, and the dough still sticks. Then there's the problem of the flour itself – it gets everywhere, and cat hair gets into it. I’m sure I’ve mentioned sometime in the past that I’m no housekeeper, and so there is cat hair floating in the very air all the time (if you’re allergic to animals, you don’t visit me). I’ve gotten used to pulling little hairs out of my food but I’m not fond of it. So it does annoy me when I see a hair floating in the shaft of sunlight downward, downward and over just a little to the left… to land right in the pile of flour on the mat I’m using to knead the bred on.

Hands full of flour, sticky with dough – just how do you get that one blasted hair off the dough? I’ve perfected a technique but it’s top secret so I can’t share.

Yesterday out of the blue I decided to make a loaf of sourdough. I got the starter jar from the fridge and noted that the liquid on top was an ugly shade of gray – kind of the color of dirty bathwater when you’ve been out mucking horse pens and such all day. That didn’t bother me, because I’ve read that it’s only when the liquid has turned purple that the starter is too far gone. However, this gray liquid was an indicator that I hadn’t fed my starter in too long. Let’s see – I calculated that the last time must have been… oh, maybe October 9 or 10. Poor starter! You’re supposed to feed it weekly if you aren’t using it!

That was strike one.

So I poured off some of that nasty gray liquid, divided the starter into two batches: The base that goes back in the fridge and lives on to start bread another day, and the starter with yeast that’s giving up its life for the thrill of a quick feeding before being baked to death. I figure that in yeast years, the hours between being fed and baked is something like a few lifetimes, so I can handle it. Disclaimer: I’m not a scientist and have no idea how long a yeast lifetime is.

I added some flour and then thought about how bland my bread has been, so I poured a pile of salt into the palm of my hand (good, expensive mineral salt – none of that cheap pure stuff for my bread) until it felt right and dumped that into the dough.

That was likely strike two.

I mixed in flour (organic! less than a year old!) with my special sourdough bread mixing tool (extra long chopsticks) until it was thick enough that I feared to break the wood, then turned it out onto the mat and began the tedious and tricky (cat hair issue) kneading process.

After a while I decided that was enough (I'm counting this as a foul, not a strike)– the dough looked like dough although it wasn’t that silky texture I keep reading about and have never achieved. I made a nice round ball of it and set it aside to rise for a little.

This was when I knew that I wasn’t going to have a perfect loaf of sourdough bread: It stubbornly refused to rise. I watched and waited and watched and waited and finally had it with the rising part, so I set up my version of a stove-top oven, which actually works OK, all other things being equal – and in this case they weren’t.

I started baking the bread around 5 PM. It's possible that the fire in the wood stove wasn't quite big enough to be baking bread, but it wasn't that cold so what could I do? (Another foul, perhaps?) Sometime around 9 I tapped it and it finally had something resembling a hollow sound – another thing I read about but have never really achieved. I took it off the stove – this little, but very heavy, ball of bread - and set it on the counter. I resisted trying it till it didn’t burn my fingers to handle it.

The taste: boring (I ate two pieces, just to be sure). I just don't understand - only two strikes and two fouls - that doesn't equal being out, does it? Next time I know I'll do better, really. Maybe if I don't wait six weeks to feed the starter that would help. Maybe I could measure the salt more accurately? I don't know - there must be something that people who bake real bread know that I don't - but I will persevere and one day I will bake the perfect sourdough loaf on top of my wood stove, that I do know.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


NaNoWriMo is about to begin. It would be cool if Catron County writers who're going to do this could get together to write - probably not physically, but we could support each other virtually via Facebook or this or some other blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meet the Author: Steven Havill

Meet the Author: Steven F. Havill
Friday, October 8, 2010 at 6PM
Round Valley Public Library

Join us for an open talk with author Steven F. Havill who will talk about his books and take questions from the audience. There will be free refreshments and Mr. Havill will sign books after the talk.

Steven Havill's first book, Heartshot, was published in 1991 and was the first of four westerns. Havill has also written 17 mystery novels set in the fictional New Mexico county of Posadas (including one available in 2011), and 2 medical/historical novels set in the northwest.

The Library is located at 179 S. Main St., Eagar, AZ. Please call 928-333-4694 for more information

San Augustin Scheduling Conference

San Augustin Plains Ranch LLC scheduling conference is set for November 9, 1:30 PM at the Macey Conference Center, NM Tech. The purpose is to describe the OSE hearing process, to clarify issues in dispute and establish a schedule for the hearing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stovetop Sourdough Bread

Stovetop Sourdough Bread
Copyright © 2010 Lif Strand

I love sourdough bread – what can I say? It’s bread – that’s a big plus right there, since I really love bread (especially fresh and warm with lots of butter on it). I was introduced to sourdough in San Francisco in 1968 and from that point on, San Francisco style sourdough bread was the non plus ultra of breads for me.

I’ve been trying to make my own sourdough for the last four decades with poor results. I’ve used all kinds of different types of starter and ended up with lots of hockey pucks and bread that was OK except for not being sour.

Now I’ve added another hurdle: I decided I wanted to make sourdough bread on top of the stove. I started this process this past winter when my wood stove was providing the heat in my house and it seemed natural to use that heat for something more, like bread making.

Did I mention I don’t like to cook very much, and I don’t like to knead bread? Never mind.

To cut to the chase, this is what I did to make the best sourdough bread I’ve ever produced:

1. Find some sourdough starter on the web. When it arrives, follow the directions for a few weeks till you have enough to split the starter I half. Give some to someone who actually knows how to make bread, so she will tell you if the starter’s any good. Meanwhile, keep using starter as directed (either the instructions that came with the starter, some recipe on the web or even cook book instructions) to make hockey pucks.

2. When the starter’s about half a year old, start abusing it. In the summer it’s too warm to cook anywhere much less on the wood stove, so that’s a good time to take this step. Don’t feed the starter any sooner than two weeks apart. Don’t remove some and replace with equal amounts of water and flour, just add about half a cup of water and half a cup of flour onto the old starter and mix well. Keep it in the fridge and forget it for as long as you can without it going bad. When you think you’re right on the edge, add some more flour and water to keep the starter alive.

3. When you’ve got starter that smells really, really sour and has about an inch of icky looking gray liquid on top, divide it in half and add one cup of water and one cup of flour to each batch. Mix well. Put the starter you intend to abuse forever back in the fridge, put the starter you’re going to use now on your kitchen counter with saran wrap over the top. Hopefully this starter will be in a mixing bowl (I don’t like to wash any extra dishes, myself). Let it sit there and bubble overnight and when it’s looking real nice, put it in the fridge and ignore it for a week.

4. Just when it looks like the bread starter is going to separate and make that icky water stuff, take it out of the fridge, mix it and let it warm up to room temperature. Then keep adding flour and mixing until you can’t mix without bending the spoon (or in my case, breaking a perfectly nice wooden spoon you’ve had for a long time). Oops, you should have added salt when it was still easy to mix. I don’t know how much, but the amount I added wasn’t enough.

5. Put some flour on a clean non-porous surface and scrape your dough out onto the pile and start kneading it. You don’t have to be vigorous and I do recommend having a book nearby that you can read while you’re kneading. It shouldn’t be a library book that the librarian will make you pay for when you return it with dried dough on the pages and cover. Knead till the dough is more or less not sticky or until you get tired of kneading. I don’t think you can knead too much but I wouldn’t know, as I’ve never lasted very long at the job.

6. When you’re done kneading, shape the dough into a loaf. I make a ball of it by turning under the edges so that the top looks like a loaf of bread and the seams are on the bottom. I don’t know why this is important but all the cookbooks say to do it.

7. Put the dough in the pan it will be cooked in that you’ve put cornmeal on the bottom of to prevent sticking. I was given a heavy enameled cast-iron round pan years ago that is supposed to be for bread making I think. It is now. Put the bread pan in a Dutch oven or heavy cast-iron equivalent. Put that on top of a piece of steel that itself goes on top of the gas burner. The steel could be from an old wood stove or anything that is heavy and will hold the heat. All of this goes on a medium-low flame, and the lid of the Dutch oven should be slightly ajar so the moisture from the dough can escape and you don’t end up basting the bread. Also, you can put your oven mitt or a folded dish towel on the top of the lid to hold the heat in. Just don’t let it slide over the edge and catch fire.

8. Go do something else because at that temperature and with that much iron between the dough and the flame, it takes a long time to bake. My bread took almost two hours. Maybe I could have used a slightly higher flame, but I’ve produced too many hockey pucks with scorched bottoms to try a bigger flame. When you can’t stand to wait any longer (smelling the baking bread for that long is torture) flip the bread over and tap the bottom – if it sounds hollow, turn off the heat and let the bread sit upside down for a while – it gives just a little brownness to the top that looks nice.

That’s all there is to it. If you try this recipe, let me know if it works for you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ride the Divide

We're looking at nice weather for RTD: Chance of T-storms Thursday and Friday but sunny and warm Saturday, in the mid- to high-70s during the day and low 40s at night. Should make for great (non-dusty) trails!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Endurance Horse Races

Thurs. May 27-Sun. May 30
Second Annual Ride the Divide Horse Endurance Ride

Enjoy riding either a 35 or 50 mile trail any or all of 4 days. Riders will start from base camp at the private El Caso Campgrounds east of the USFS campgrounds. These races are sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference and horses are monitored throughout the races by AERC qualified veterinarians.

Location: 3 miles east of Quemado Lake. For entry information go to

Friday, May 7, 2010

County Commission meeting date change

Public Notice

The regular scheduled Catron County Commission Meeting for Wednesday, May 19, 2010 has been changed to Monday, May 17, 2010. The next regular scheduled meeting will be Friday, June 4, 2010. Meetings will resume their regular schedule Wednesday, June 16, 2010. All meetings will begin at 9:00 AM. Meetings will be held in the Commission Meeting room on the 2nd floor of the Catron County Courthouse. Agendas will be available before the meetings at . For more information, contact Bill Aymar at (575) 533-6423 or by email at .

Bill Aymar
County Manager

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Live for today or tomorrow?

The old ant vs the grasshopper story - the sun is shining, the temperature is mild and the wind isn't blowing, so being outdoors calls to me. But the list of backlogged work is so long. Do I live for today - the sunshine and the beautiful spring day - or for tomorrow's paycheck?

It's Sunday. I'm going outside to play. No wait - the Tracker hasn't wanted to start for days. I think I'll open the hood and check out what's going on. I'm no mechanic, but I can wiggle wires and such with the best of them.


Temperature this morning at dawn: 13°.
Two years ago this day: First asparagus peeking out of the soil. No asparagus yet this year!

Monday, February 15, 2010

HJM 48 - act today!

One more effort from all of you who have been working for more equitable treatment of ranchers in the Mexican wolf fiasco can make a big difference.

New Mexico House Joint Memorial 048 has passed out of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee today and goes to the House floor. Your continued support of this memorial for fair compensation for our ranchers is vital. Call or email your NM congressmen today!

More at