Hey, Jemmy Martin!

 

I am so proud of my sister Jennifer Bohnhoff! She is a public school teacher in Albuquerque, who gives her heart and soul to her work.  Besides guiding kids who have all kinds of unique needs,struggling with a less-than-ideal educational system, and coaching track she WRITES HISTORICAL FICTION for middle grade readers!

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Jennifer in Santa fe’s Ft Marcy Overlook last year. Walking and talking, as sisters will.

Her youngest son is a West Point graduate, Ranger qualified Lieutenant in an armored division, and that personal connection to a soldier’s heart has focused her interest in military history. One of her earlier novels was set during WWII within the French Resistance, and another takes place in the midst of the battle of Gettysburg. (see her website for more)

Her latest project, VALVERDE, is the first novel in a trilogy set in New Mexico during the Civil War.  Like her earlier works, it’s a great read, for adults or young readers.  I find that once I pick her books up, I can’t put them down until I am finished.

This time around she is seeking to engage a greater readership through a KICKSTARTER campaign.  There’s about a week left, (ends 4/4/17) she has surpassed her modest first goal, and now is on to her push goals which include a large type edition for the elderly (there is a beautiful overlap between YA readers and elderly readers) and an audiobook version.

A “book on tape” version would greatly expand the novel’s reach- to those who are challenged by reading, families who enjoy listening in the car, classroom teachers eager to engage students, and the sight-challenged elderly. It also offers an opportunity to expand the experience. There are several historic songs referenced in the novel, and an audio recording would give the listeners the opportunity to not just read the lyrics, but hear them sung.

Daniel Ward and I are thrilled to have this work on our roster for the fall if the project can meet it’s goal.  Daniel will be the recording engineer, compose and perform an original theme for the novel, and I will be the reader.

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Image from “Cup of Tea”, Daniel as Johnny Martin, one of the songs on the album, which dates from the Civil War

I hope you’ll consider backing this project.  Read more about it on Jennifer’s KICKSTARTER page. Great educational materials, which entertain and engage the mind are vital to understanding the world around us. This is a great time to look to history as we try to make sense of our future.

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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!

Santa Fe U’ke ‘Ole-le

It’s that time of year! CHILE is roasting everywhere in New Mexico, and ex-pat New Mexicans are roasting chile anywhere they can find it. Even grocery stores in Los Angeles are selling Hatch green. We blistered up a few pounds and ate them on the spot.

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Before

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Durring

Here’s what it looks like now:

Santa Fe brewing co. is among several local craft brewers who make KILLER beer!

AFTER!     NB: Santa Fe Brewing Co. is among several local craft brewers making KILLER beer!

Southern New Mexico is known for it’s green chile, but Northern New Mexico is where the best red comes from.

Red and green chile are essentially the same plant, but red is left to ripen, and is then picked and strung into picturesque ristras to dry in the sun.  Fresh green is roasted and peeled, dried red is either powdered or pulverized into a sauce. (There just may be an article in the coming Ukulele Magazine were I go on about this, and it just may have a recipe included.)

I can’t wait for the first weekend in November, because that’s when Daniel and I go back to Santa Fe for the The New Uke Culinary Fiesta.  First order of business will be to teach everyone how to make red and green chile sauce.

There are still a few spots left for anyone who wants to sign on, and soon we will be announcing opportunities for “locals” to join the fun, including the full-on flamenco show by Miel Amarga (with Daniel on guitar) at El Meson, and a show by The Smoking Jackets at Tiny’s.

Full Smokin' Jackets! Craig McClelland, Heidi, Daniel Ward and John Bartlit.

Full Smokin’ Jackets! Craig McClelland, Heidi, Daniel Ward and John Bartlit. fab shot by http://www.allisonphoto.com/

U’KULELI!      CHILI!

If music be the food of love… I think we are in no danger of pining away!

 

Mya-Moe

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the lovely Char and Gordon Mayer at Reno Uke Fest. Photo by Craig Chee.

Daniel Ward and I are thrilled to be playing beautiful instruments hand built for us by Mya-Moe.  Mine is a myrtle wood (from within 50 miles of their shop) and ebony concert with a warm sweet tone, and Daniel’s is a loud and sassy miniature flamenco guitar made from sitka spruce with a rosewood back and sides and bloodwood binding.  The instruments are very different, but suit our playing styles and are especially beautiful played together.  We received them in January and have not put them down since.

For me, having an instrument which is so alive, crafted just for me, has inspired me to work harder- digging deeper into chord inversions and daring to lift a melodic voice.  Daniel’s instrument has allowed his own voice to rise.  Listen HERE to him playing at the Reno Ukulele Festival…(thanks Ivan Olarte for the video!)

We recently enjoyed spending time with Char and Gordon in Reno- sipping cocktails and talking all things uke and culinary, and I thought you might like to be introduced to these two lovely people, so we posed some questions to Mya-Moe:

When you offered to build me an instrument I had NO IDEA what wood to ask for.  My partner Daniel, however, knew EXACTLY what he wanted.  We ended up with instruments that have very different voices, but voices that sound beautiful together and match our needs as players. How did you do that?

Of course, this is the outcome that we’re always hoping for and working towards.  We work with each individual to-be owner to try to understand what they are looking for tonally and aesthetically.  Usually we can get a pretty good idea of what to build.

It’s actually much easier for us to work with someone like you (versus Daniel).  You were very open to a variety of sounds/looks, and I think you went into it with a very open mind.  We think of each instrument like a child–it will have the genes of the parents (our design & building), but it will also be unique.  So, the “easiest” to-be owners are people that understand this.

 Daniel had a pretty fixed idea of what he wanted.  That’s the hardest to deliver–try to make sure we get that right.  We do pretty well with that, but it did cause some restless nights 🙂

It's a love story- we LOVE our instruments!

It’s a love story- we LOVE our instruments! photo by James Barnett wetakenicepictures.com

Daniel loves the size of the tenor and I love the concert.  They seem a little smaller then other instruments we have played.  Do tell.

I think of the design of the instrument (size, top/back thickness, bracing, woods, soundhole area) as a “system” where everything works together to produce a given tone.  So it’s impossible to pull out one of those elements from one builder & try to apply it to another builder.  If we decided to build a larger bodied tenor, for instance, we would change many of those other parameters and still try to achieve the tone that we already have.

 When we designed the instruments, as an engineer, I tried to work with a body volume (cubic inches) that would produce the range of tones (low-g to 19th fret of the a-string) that we wanted to produce.  We tweaked it a bit to bring reality in line with theory.

Your string sets are custom and very specific.  Indulge our inner geek.  Tell us more.

Early on, strings were one of our biggest nightmares.  There are so many different types, brands & materials out there (unlike guitars).  In the beginning we stocked and experimented with all of them:  black nylon, clear nylon, fluorocarbon, nylgut.  But, it quickly became clear the the best strings for our instruments are fluorocarbon, with wound string(s) for the bass.  We worked with Worth and D’Addario to figure out the best “sets” for our instruments.

 The most challenging was the baritone set.  For our ears, no existing baritone set came close to the tone & feel we were looking for.  We wanted to bring out the warmth that the baritone is known for without sacrificing the treble.

We laughed at Reno about how the instrument ordering process ought to be like eating at Nobu, a fancy sushi restraunt where the diner trusts the chef.  Would you really like to do just that?

Yes!  We call it “luthier’s choice”.  We’ve now had 3 occasions where owners have given us carte blanche to design and build their next instrument.  It’s where we have the most fun.

A vary happy family of Mya-Moe owners (Craig Chee, photo)

A vary happy family of Mya-Moe owners (Craig Chee, photo)

Your shop is a very intimate operation, with just 3 of you involved from order to delivery.  Who does what over there?

There are actually 5 of us, which is the key to our building.  3 of us (me, Char & Aaron) work out of our main shop and build the final instrument.  But, we have two others:  Kerry Williams and Ben Bonham, who do “parts” that go into the instrument.  So, they do rough necks, fretboards, internal blocks/braces, joining of the top/back, profiling the sides, and “polishing” the top/back.  That allows aaron, char & me to focus on building the final instrument.  Char does all wood selection, thicknessing the top/back, and bending of the sides.  Aaron does all the bracing.  After that, at least two of us are trained on each operation.  

Besides building gorgeous instruments I hear rumors of epicurean delights.  Music be the food of love, and food is love’s music?  What’s on the menu?

Ha!  Cooking is our 2nd passion.  We joke that for Aaron, the greatest benefit of working at Mya-Moe is the lunch we make him everyday.  Lunch is really our dinner, so we go all out for that meal.  I think Aaron would tell you that our cooking has varied depending upon what new kitchen tool/appliance we’ve acquired.  Also, while we eat anything, we have a lot of guests with a variety of eating specificities:  vegan, gluten-free, etc.  So, we’ll vary it up as the needs require.

 A year ago we got an immersion circulator (check out “sous vide cooking”), and love to cook with that.  And then this year we got a smoker, so we’ve done a few briskets and racks of ribs.  Lately we’ve been into cured meats & salamis.

 And just yesterday we had a very successful morel mushroom foraging expedition on the slopes of Mt. Adams, so this week its “all morels, all the time”…