HOLIDAY 2018 GIFT GUIDE

Spicy? Sparkly? Plucky? Looking for something for the uke disciple, a gift-to-self,or  a show of affection or appreciation?I believe in gifting life skills, not landfill, sharing experiences over swapping expendable. If you are counting your blessings and scheming about giving, I have a few gift ideas for you. From FREE to fantasy, here are some priceless gifts you can give,and five of them are absolutely free!

GIVE AN EXPERIENCE Go to the source: take trip to Hawaii. Immerse yourself in old-style Hawaiian music and culture on the quiet island of Molokai. Daniel and I are thrilled to be sharing Uke Ohana at this intimate retreat at the Pu’u O Hoku Ranch and Halawa Valley, April 5-9. Every level, from beginner to advanced will share in the magic of the Island and the beauty of Aloha. This would be an extraordinary gift to share with a beloved, adult family members or to give as a gift to yourself.

GIVE A SONG Work up a tune, just one. Doesn’t have to be perfect or fancy.  Maybe make a card, letting them know the song is their gift. And sing it to them, in person, on Skype, over the phone: to a group- maybe your whole family! Sing it with them. Print out copies, share it with the world.  Free!  Priceless, really. (Mom, are you reading this? Now you know what I want!) A GIFT TO YOU from Daniel– a great song to learn and share! FREE! The first study in his Arpeggio Meditations book is available online with a tutorial from Ukulele Magazine!

GIVE AN INSTRUMENT Beginner? Child? You can’t go wrong with an Ohana SK-10. Solid durable, great intonation, a real instrument at a starter price. These are the instruments I requisition for schools and library programs. They come in some delightful colors, too. (with bag, strap, button and tuner,$79 at Mim’s)

Intermediate, or adult beginner? I love Ohana’s CK 50 WG.  I play mine almost every day.  Big bright voice, classy rope binding, highly figured wood, geared pegs. Get a cute tweedy case to go with it and it’s an instant classic.  String with either hi or low G, concert size is versatile and not too big. ($239 at Mim’s)

Missing your bass strings? KoAloha has a tenor sized 6 string guitalele.  It’s like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret (tuned ADGCEA). If you have guitar a repertoire hiding in your past, this instrument gives you an opportunity to share with ukulele players. Great intonation, portable and sounds great. Daniel is digging his!( $748 at Mim’s )

GIVE BEAUTY AND UTILITY Beautiful sparkly UKULELE STRAPS.  Liz Olney is busy at her workbench making these beautiful straps. Lined with lambskin, studded with Swarovski crystals they are all the jewelry you will ever need to wear. Daniel and I have one for each of our “on stage” instruments. Liz just finished this lovely custom strap to go with this GORGEOUS Michael DaSilva ukulele. (Michael builds dreams. I don’t know a player who doesn’t lust for one of his instruments) Breath taking.  If bling is not your thing, she also makes them plain or with studs.($80-$150+shipping, custom straps may be more)

GIVE BOOKS and LESSONS

Arpeggio Meditations Book for all levels ($20) Video tutorials for Arpeggio Meditations($6.99) This has become a favorite for students of all levels.  The first piece is easy for beginners,Classes and groups LOVE playing this together! Later studies are challenging for advanced players. They are beautiful to listen to– especially when Daniel plays them! The Arpeggio Meditations Companion Mp3s are great background soundtrack to relax you in your day, and a good gift idea… FREE!

Color-Along Ukulele for children and adult beginners– be sure to download the FREE soundtrack!($15) They will make you laugh, contain tons of additional verses, will teach you the songs by ear, and are useful in a classroom. There is a section in the back of the book of tips for how to integrate the lessons into a kids class or club setting.

Ukulele Magazine subscription Lessons, articles, festival listings… A great way to be part of the ukulele community.  We love getting our copy in the mail, learning about other artists and innovations. Daniel and I are regular contributors, check out his lessons with videos that he creates for them! (On sale now! $20 for 1 year/4 issues)

Death By G-String by C.C. Harrison – murder mystery set in a ukulele club! Great fun read! Available in most bookstores or at Amazon

Sign someone up for a LIBRARY CARD. Many libraries now have ukulele to lend! Plus learning materials and fantastic events. I will be teaching ukulele at several libraries this spring- and it’s always FREE!

GIVE EL SABOR! Ok, mom, I lied. This is what I really want: CHENCHO’S CHIMAYO CHILE! The best red chile in New Mexico comes from the village of Chimayo, and as far as we know, the best chile in Chimayo comes from Crescencio Ochoa’s mule-plowed farm. Call him or text him at (505) 573-9801. He will grind your order the day he sends it priority mail and include an invoice written on a scrap of paper, you mail him back a check. Old school, pure (red) gold. ($30. a pound)

GIVE NOURISHMENT This year, our gift to you is Daniel’s Holiday Bean Recipe.  You might need to order some of Chencho’s red chile to make it authentic, but if that is not in range, look for powdered New Mexico Chile Molido in the grocery store where the Latin foods are sold. These are delicious any time of year, straight out of the pot, but if you want the best low-brow feast on earth, consider serving them as the chili in Frito Pie, as we did in Santa Fe at the Culinary Uke Fiesta this November.  That is, put some Fritos in your bowl, cover with a dipper of the beans, then top with your favorite condiments, including: shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, finely diced onions and shredded cheddar cheese. Now THAT’S a Holiday dinner!

DANIEL’S HOLIDAY BEANS

1 ½ Cup Dried Pinto beans

2-3 wedges Ibarra brand Chocolate (if unavailable, another Mexican Chocolate or  2 oz darkest chocolate)

1 Bay leaf

½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 Tablespoon crushed Oregano

½ teaspoon Ground Cumin

1/4 Cup Chencho’s Chimayo Red Chile powder (or more according to taste)

3-4 turns of a pepper mill

2 whole cloves

heaping ½ teaspoon salt

5 Cups Water (or more)

1 Whole Orange (unpeeled)

Splash Olive Oil

Cook:

Approximately  5-6 hrs in a crock pot, on on stove, or 1 hour in an Instant Pot. open kettle and reduce liquid till saucy, or if dry, add liquid.

Squeeze juice out of orange and discard rind before serving

Color-Along Ukulele

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The SECOND EDITION has arrived!

With a few small corrections, the 2018 edition of COLOR-ALONG UKULELE is in stock on my website and at Ukulele Magazine’s store! This is a fun method book designed to be used by ALL-AGES. If you are an adult, you will enjoy the step-by-step lessons and familiar songs. If you are working with kids, this is a handy guide to get them going and keep them strumming, complete with a page of helpful classroom hints. Great for kid’s groups, classrooms, families and individuals!

Tunes start simple, with one chord songs that even the most newbie players can successfully strum.  Every new song teaches a lesson and draws on a world of traditions, from Scottish, Mexican,  German and American folk traditions. There’s even a song in Hawaiian at the very end!

LEARN BY EAR

A companion soundtrack  accompanies this book, and it’s FREE! These recordings were created so that you can listen, learn and play along, and  are extended with fun additional verses so that  players can get their groove on. If you are a teacher, the long playing tunes allow you lead a class in a musical game, or let students listen while they tune up. Or, to the point,  COLOR-ALONG to the songs as you learn them!

Kids too young to play can learn the songs by ear, and basic music concepts by listening. Families can learn together. It’s fun for all ages.

DOWNLOAD NOW- click this link!

Books are available at Danielward.net

Ukulele Holiday 2017

 

 

holiday blog shotLights and feasts and family and song- It’s that time of year! We all want to share something meaningful with those we love. This year, why not make it musical? Here are four ways to give gifts to self, gifts to the universe and gifts for all ages on your list this holiday season.

First- why not bring a song to your celebration? How about learning the uke just in time for the season of song? Here are our class listings for December at McCabes:

1-DAY INTRO TO UKULELE (HOLIDAY EDITION) JUST ADDED

Learn the basics of playing ukulele to your favorite holiday tunes! Pick up strumming, plucking, and chording a ukulele while singing along to Christmas, Hanukkah, and secular seasonal songs from many cultures.
Heidi Swedberg 10:30 – 11:30 AM Saturday, Dec 9 (1 session) $40
SIGN UP

HOLIDAY UKULELE JUST ADDED

Follow up Heidi’s one-day ukulele class with this more challenging course. Learn fun tunes that consist of few chords and simple arrangements. You’ll leave with plenty of songs to share with your family and friends this holiday season.
Heidi Swedberg 10:30 – 11:30 AM Saturday, Dec 16 (1 session) $40
SIGN UP

ARPEGGIO MEDITATIONS FOR UKULELE JUST ADDED

Learn a collection of warm-ups and short songs that help develop your tone and dexterity (and sense of rhythm), all while producing beautiful, meditative music. These arpeggio “loop” exercises can help beginning and advanced players develop more expressive playing. Practicing doesn’t have to be a chore. With these tools, you can relax with your ukulele and get better everyday!
Daniel Ward 12:00 – 1:00 PM Saturdays, Dec 9 – Dec 16 (2 sessions) $70

Second, BOOKS!

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Death by G-String C.C. Harrison, a uke pal from Arizona has published a grand ukulele murder mystery. I LOVED the galleys, you’ll LOVE the book

Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele  Daniel’s long-awaited book is out and hot. Already entering it’s second printing, the book is a unique take on the ukulele, offering musical studies which are meditative and beautiful while being educational. (Right now he is offering a special holiday offer- FREE shipping when you buy any 2 or more items, including all our CDs, his book, and Color-Along Ukulele)

arpeggio book cover

Color-Along Ukulele Want to learn ukulele? Like to color? Why not do both at the same time! Download the FREE companion recordings so you can listen and learn. Learn your first twelve chords, play great songs- even one in Hawaiian, and do that doodle that you do so well. FUN FOR ALL AGES.

Ukulele Magazine Daniel and I have been enjoying contributing articles and lessons to Uke Mag, and I think you might like to have it delivered to your mailbox! You could get a digital only subscription, but there is something mighty fine about the definite article and with their Holiday Subscription special it is really affordable! (We are giving more than a few of these to those on our list)

Third- INSTRUMENTS!

Mim’s Ukes Her motto is “Every uke deserves a great set-up!” And when you order a uke from Mim, that is just what you will get!

Ordinarily I tell people to go to their local store, but with big chains eating up local merchants there are few cities lucky enough to have an honest music store with high-end and student models and a luthier willing to stake their reputation on the set-up of every model walking out their door.  Many internet retailers know nothing about ukuleles besides their profit margins, and would never take the time to work on the action of an inexpensive instrument, or guide you to what level ax you should buy.

But then there is Mim. She ushers you into her living room, whether you walk in to her shop through the barn door in Meadows of Dan, VA or the World Wide Web. I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated as Mim. Whether your needs lead you the most or least expensive instrument in her stock, she will be sure you are well-matched, and your instrument is the best it can be.

Terry Merry CU

TERRY HARRIS If you want a hand built instrument, Terry is your man. Now that he has fully retired from ranching, the instruments he is building are more beautiful than ever- and the sound is… wow.  We visited him at his Kernville, CA ranch over Thanksgiving weekend where he strung up his latest build for us to try out. It blew us away! He has a few more wood sets just like this, and if you are fast and smart, one of them could be yours.

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Cedar top. Indian rosewood sides and back. Koa binding. Pure gold.

 

 

Fourth and finally- SHARING

PICKLEBERRY PIE   This year, Pickleberry Pie, an organization that sponsors concerts for hospitalized children is raising operating funds. Daniel and I have loved going room-to-room at Cedars Sinai’s pediatric ward, visiting kids and their families, making them laugh or sing a baby to sleep.  The calm that music can give, the bond it creates is no small thing.  Help this organization continue it’s meaningful work.

 

 

Daniel Ward: Arpeggio Meditations

A lovely review of Arpeggio Meditations. Go, dog, go.

I Love Classical Ukulele

Unknown.jpegArriving home after a late flight from Spain I was greeted by a large pile of envelopes on the doormat. Amongst the pile of white letters – most of them with those officious looking windows that you’d rather not receive – I spied an A4 sized yellow envelope. Dumping the rest on the kitchen table – who wants to read their bills at 4am – I opened the more interesting yellow envelope. First Class International from LA didn’t disappoint. Inside I found a signed copy of Daniel Ward’s new book Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele.

The first thing that struck me was the title. Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele sounded like my kind of book. It was playing simple arpeggios on the ukulele that awakened me to the beauty of the instrument and got me hooked. I was tempted to break out the ukulele and start playing through the pieces but that…

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Girl’s Voices from India

 

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I have written about Survivor Girl Ukulele Band several times here- These are girls in India, rescued from Human trafficking who are living in shelters and learning to play ukulele!  They have a very modest Kickstarter project right now.  Do not hesitate- SUPPORT THEM! A very small contribution will get you a copy or download. A larger donation will feel soooo goood! And- the music is LOVELY!!!! What are you waiting for? Click already!

MEDITATIONS FOR (and on) UKULELE

UPDATE: Daniel’s book is OUT!!!  And so are the VIDEO TUTORIAL!   Go to www.Danielward.net to get yours.

 

For the last year, Daniel has been writing “studies”.  If you are someone who has dipped their toe into classical music, you know that these can sometimes stand alone as solo performance pieces (think Villalobos) or be exercises to strengthen your playing (like Hanon for piano). Daniel’s split the difference.  They are simple pieces to play in loops, beautiful to listen to, calming and centering to play. Students and festival workshop participants have been enthusiastic about them, so he’s working on putting them together in a book.

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Daniel will be teaching a sampler of studies at U-Space this weekend, and the following weekend he will be joining me teaching ALL AGES- that means kids, adults and in-between.  And then, there’s that Sukey Jump Band show at McCabes the next day.

UKULELE MEDITATIONS WITH DANIEL WARD

This Saturday, March 11 at U-Space: TWO workshops with ukulele master Daniel Ward highlighting pieces from his forthcoming book “Arpeggio Meditations for Ukulele”.

Arpeggio Meditations are soothing, rhythmic and melodic instrumental compositions for repeated playing. They teach both right and left hand techniques, and offer a relaxing discipline for improving tone and musicality. The simplest exercises are great for all levels of player, from the novice to the professional, who is ready to focus intently on technical mastery and expression. The more difficult exercises include challenging patterns and Latin styles.

TWO one-hour workshops, $20 for one, $35 for both.         Sandwiches will be available for purchase between classes for attendee convenience.

11:30 am to 12:30 am   All-Level Arpeggio Meditation,

1:00 to 2:00pm     Montuno Arpeggio Meditation

 

Saturday, March 18th at U-Space: TWO workshops for ALL-AGES Active participation in the arts is one of the best ways to inspire creativity and confidence–and the `ukulele is fun to boot!

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Family style!

`UKULELE FOR All-Ages with HEIDI SWEDBERG and DANIEL WARD : A workshop for adults, kids, and families starting on their musical journey. Sing and strum a dozen songs in just one lesson. This class is open to all, ages 5 and up. (Participating parents MUST accompany children between the ages of 5-8. Children 8 and up may come alone, though parental participation is highly recommended)

10:30 am to 11:30 am   $25 includes “Color-Along Ukulele Method Book” and participating parent admission, (or $35 for both classes! Sandwiches will be available for purchase between classes for attendee convenience.)

CONTINUING UKE FOR ALL AGES- Kids, families, adults learn together, adding picking techniques, new chords and rhythms. Increase your skills so your musical enjoyment can grow.

12 noon to 1:00 PM $20

SUKEY JUMP BAND KID’S CONCERT at MCCABES

Sunday, March 19, 10:30 am  $10, kids under 2 FREE

Mccabes will be providing some percussion and kid-friendly instruments for the wee folk participate with.  Come play, sing and have fun with Heidi and the Sukey Jump Band at our favorite LA venue!

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Here are some other events we have scheduled:

April 8  ISLAND SOUL Daniel and I will be teaching FREE classes during the day (more details TBA)   Chapman University, Orange CA

April 29    BLACKBIRD GUITARS

April 30   DaSILVA UKULELE

May 12-14                 MIGHTY UKE DAY, LANSING MI

May 19-21                 LAS CRUCES UKEFEST 2017 Our friends in the southern NM are putting on their first full-on festival- My Mom and I are working up a piece!

June 19-July 31        MARLBOROUGH SUMMER SCHOOL I will be teaching early childhood music and ukulele on a beautiful campus in the heart of Los Angeles. If you have little ones needing some summer day care, or older kids wanting enrichment, this is a chance to breathe some rare air at a (somewhat above) ground level price.

June 21    MAKE MUSIC DAY at the SKIRBALL CENTER  we will be teaching a ukulele class at noon.  Come play!

July 30      SUKEY JUMP BAND at the   SKIRBALL CENTER  We loved our Bill Grahm show at the Skirball two years ago, and we are thrilled to return for a show during the Paul Simon exhibit.  Expect songs related to this great artist, from folk, to pop, to world beat. An amazing opportunity to really stretch and shine, teach and jam!

August 11-13           AUBURN GOLD PAN UKULELE FESTIVAL We are thrilled to join Dani Joy at this vibrant new festival in a town we have never experienced! Can’t wait to meet the lovely folks of Auburn!

September 27          PORT TOWNSEND UKULELE FESTIVAL Now that there is an OYSTER BAR on the premices, this event may be unchallengably the tastiest ever! This event sells out shortly after it is announced every year. If you are already signed up- see you there! If not, look into it, and cue up for next year.

October 14                ANTELOPE VALLEY UKULELE FESTIVAL   Honored to be returning to Lancaster to celebrate the love of ukulele and community with our desert ukulele ohana.

 

Lizzie’s Luxury Straps

I love people who make things, I love beautiful things, and I LOVE LIZ!  Elizabeth Olney makes BEAUTIFUL THINGS!    …and Christmas is just around the corner!

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Well-worn pieces from Liz- many are more than 10 years old

I have known Liz for years…nearly 30! We met, mere pups, in NYC at a time when every woman I met in Manhattan had an industrial sewing machine in their loft. It was a creative time for me and for NY, when artists could still afford to live there.  Like all the artistic women I know, Liz has done many things, but she is best known for her sought-after creations in leather.

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Lizzy(with Seji and Mika), back-in-the-day

If you know me, or have seen pictures of me performing you have seen Liz’s work.  The flowers in my hair are her leather clips.  The sparkling bracelets I wear are hers. The handbags and wallets, key chains… Liz’s amazing leathers.

She’s put purses on oscar winning shoulders and belted the best of them.  This past year I asked her to make a ukulele strap for Daniel Ward, so he could shine as literally as he does figuratively.  They are EXQUISITE.

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Dazzling Daniel teaching a workshop at St Andrew’s Church, UFGB 2016

Like extended versions of her Swarovski Sparkle Bracelets they catch the sun or stage lights and shower a million rainbows around you.  Lined with lambskin, the strap is soft as butter against the skin.  Simple, elegant and dead sexy, this is the ultimate gift (or gift to self) for any ukulele player. She will also make them without the sparkles, if you prefer.

We worked together to make a versatile length strap, that would fit both me and Daniel as we share instruments on stage.  It slips on to either two strap buttons or on an end button and around the headstock. (On his tenor sized KoAlohas, Daniel prefers the strap around the headstock, to balance the length and weight, while on concert Ohanas we like it to go button-to-button, and keep out of the way of the left hand)

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Black-on-black: subtle and sexy

Liz prefers to make things one at a time, special order, and her prices are INCREDIBLY REASONABLE.  Check out her amazing color choices for leathers and stones, check in with her about what is available now, and ORDER NOW for the holidays. (She gets mighty busy from October on)liz purse

Liz’s Travel bag… Don’t leave home without it–  I don’t!

Why I Uke

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Thank you, Ukulele Magazine, for asking me to write this article.  I love reading people’s comments about the friends they have made through ukulele, about playing for Alzheimer’s patients, about songs of childhood which still sing in their soul.

May 2016 bring us all more opportunities to share, to love and to connect.  Here’s to raising our voices together this sweet 16!

 

Chile! Chili!

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Some New Mexicans are adamant about the spelling- CHILE is the good stuff: pedigree Hatch or Chimayo.   Chili is the Texas dish, a stew, with meat and beans. Spelling NEVER having been my strong suit, I am agnostic as to how it “should be” spelled. I just returned from NM last night.  What’s the first thing I do this morning?  Pull some green chile out of the freezer!

Since Ukulele Magazine published my RED Chili (chile) recipe I have had lots of people ask me where to buy good red chile. I found a great source of Chimayo red chile, the BEST in the world, in Santa Fe last week during the Uke-Culinary Fiesta.IMG_8601

We were singing “Celito Lindo” under the water tower at the train station farmer’s market when I noticed the man in the booth next to us singing along.  I skipped over, took his hands and we polkaed around.  After the show he called me over and invited me to taste the red chile he had ground the day before.  Divine!  I left the market with a bag of his green and red as well as his card.  If you want the REAL STUFF call Chencho!

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Thanks for the great photo, David Ward!

We made posole and enchiladas and all kinds of good food last week, we made music and made merry; we made memories.  I love these retreats.  After each one I come home inspired and happy, with new friendships and songs.

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There’s one coming up in Ajijic, Mexico at the end of January.  I know we will be cooking with chile there, too. Chili- a great way to escape winter’s chill!

The Matriarchy of Sauces

If hollandaise is the mother sauce of French cuisine, red chili sauce must be the madre of New Mexican food.  When Old World meets New World magic happens- breakfast fit for El Rey! (recipe follows)

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

Poached eggs in a polenta nest with red chili bearnaise. Mmmmm.

I am looking forward to the cooking element of our Santa Fe adventure as much as the music!  First thing we will cook will be both red and green chili sauces.  And I’ll be putting recipes and songs and photos together into a book.  I hope you will reserve a seat at the table!

Even if you are not staying with us at the Inn, you can join in- there is a walk-in  option on the registration form, and soon we will open individual workshops to registration. (if you want to be first in line for the open registration I suggest you subscribe to the Ukulele Adventures blog post.)

And everyone is welcome at the public events, including a full-on Flamenco show at El Meson on Wednesday November 4th, and the Smoking Jackets Giant Show at Tiny’s on Friday November 6th.  Or come enjoy hearing the participants play at the Farmer’s market on Saturday morning or at La Choza Saturday night!

Full disclosure- the title of this post is the chapter heading from The Making Of A Cook by Madeleine Kamman.  That’s the book which made me a cook. Everything I know about eggs, cakes and sauces comes from the 1971 edition of this book.  I give it as a high school graduation present to every kid I know, as I think learning to cook a good omlette can save your life.  My copy is held together by tape, nostalgia and love, and I still consult it every time I make crepes.

These two pages can save your life!

The secret to life, the universe and everything

My hollandaise recipe has become somewhat free-form, but you can accomplish something like the sauce shown in the photo above if you try this:

Wisk 3 egg yolks into a cup of cold, good NM red chili sauce, add a little lemon zest and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Over a medium flame wisk constantly.  Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of COLD butter.  The butter will melt as the chili and eggs come to temperature and you will have a no-fuss emulsified sauce. Pour over poached eggs nestled onto an english muffin or polenta or spinach…to make a NM Benedict.  Or serve with fish or asparagus.

Just be sure to make enough for me, because once I hear you are making it I may show up on your doorstep- Or- join us in Santa Fe and I’ll make it for you!