If we happen to peek into the kitchen of Margaret J. Hansen and Karen Zakar, who are kinesiology chiropractors at NorthStar Plaza in Taos, we would see both of them, their two good-humored papillons and one elderly apple-faced Siamese cat.
"Karen is chef for the dogs each morning," Hansen said. "We each create a lunch for ourselves from leftovers and various salad, soup or sandwich makings. I'll make us supper this evening."
They are shopping every 10 days or so, which has led them to try foods like edamame noodles for what Hansen described as "our ever-changing tomato sauce." The main ingredient comes from one of those 20 bags of tomatoes that she freezes each fall.
"This week I boiled up a stash of chicken bones as a base for a lentil stew: lentils, carrots, onions, greens, garlic, spices and a lonely leftover chicken sausage," Hansen said. "I thought it was good, but better with a squeeze of lemon. With a big full pot, and fresh salad greens, we have several days of leftovers and feel comfort."
On this day, they are ready to make one of their favorite dishes: apricot and green chile chicken with vegetables.
"This originated when our friend Meredith Garcia gave us a jar of green chile apricot jam that she had made," Hansen said. "I somehow ended up using it to baste some fried chicken for an exceptional serendipitous result. We've created a similar version regularly since then. We'll serve it with the vegetables we need to make use of now. Once it is ready, we'll feast like hermit queens in our sequestered life."
Their refrigerator still has things that will last longer, like cabbage, another zucchini, carrots, a few mixed greens and two potatoes for Heidi Smith's latkes.
"But I'm relieved we won't waste anything this week," Hansen concludes.
They each have a juicy flavorful serving of chicken with a pile of varied veggies to accompany it. The rest will be for tomorrow. The dogs sit attentively in case anything escapes their humans' plates.
"We both have a little stash of our favorite chocolate to finish the meal with a few bites for dessert," Hansen said. "We are thankful for our savory riches, as we prepare to create a new world, perhaps in a new age of goodness."
When they aren't cooking …
Zakar visits with and cheers up her chiropractic patients as she reschedules them.
"Her mood is pretty even, probably since she doesn't have email or listen to the news," Hansen said.
Maybe it also helps that she is reading Deepak Chopra's "Metahuman," plus a fantasy with werewolves and a craniosacral book.
Hansen says she herself has been wandering between visual and audio projects on the computer, working in the yard and completing two Emotional Balance sessions with clients via computer.
"I text a few others and see what they're doing and try not to absorb the hysterical language as I delete my emails," she said. "Best, I'm re-reading Mark Twain's 'Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by The Sieur Louis de Conte' for a little sacred heroism and impassioned writing, even though we know how it ends. Writing group meets via Zoom once a week. This week I only wrote haikus - with the excuse that it's poetry month after all."
Not that she needs an excuse to write. Hansen has just published the memoir "The Wellman Stories: Passions, Professions and Politics in Iowa." She is a doctor of chiropractic and has worked to develop Emotional Balancing as deep therapy.
"I'm contemplating society's fears and my own and how to go forward and create what's possible," she said. "But always, good food accompanies a good life."
Apricot and green chile chicken with vegetables
2 chicken legs
1 long, fat, roasted, medium hot green chile
2 to 4 tablespoons of apricot compote or apricot jam
Salt (Himalayan if possible) and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon coconut oil
6 Brussels sprouts (washed, trimmed, cut in quarters)
Garlic salt (a pinch)
2 yellow potatoes
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup half-and-half
Vegetables: three cups chopped carrots, broccoli, zucchini, onion, bok choy, red pepper, garlic and kale (or whatever you have in the refrigerator)
1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil
Sprinkles to taste of chipotle and curry spice
Throw the Brussels sprouts in the pan in a little leftover bacon fat. (Turn on the fan.)
Cook through, but scorch well.
Add some spicy garlic salt.
Spoon into the warming dish that will eventually hold the whole dinner
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Mash the boiled yellow potatoes with a little butter, half-and-half and salt and pepper and put them in the warmer with the scorched sprouts.
Cut and chop the vegetables.
Before finishing the vegetables, put the chicken in the pan.
Rub the Himalayan salt on the washed and dried chicken legs.
Heat coconut oil in a thick pan. Brown the chicken beginning with skin side and the edges.
When browned nicely, put the last side down and spoon the apricot on the browned side.
Array the chile on top.
Slurp the liquid that's syneresed from thawing apricot and chile because the combination of sweet stone fruit and chile juice is what it's all about.
Brown this last side.
Turn down the flame and put a lid on the pan to "marry" the flavors while it cooks for half hour or a little more.
Return to the vegetables.
Steam a little the carrots, broccoli and zucchini to soften them.
In another skillet, sauté the onion, bok choy, red pepper, garlic and kale lightly in olive oil, with a little chipotle and curry spice.
Add the slightly steamed veggies, stir and flash. These can stay in the skillet or go into the warming pan.
By now the chicken must be nearly done.