Lana Dura: give sheep a job

“Sheep brought me to Taos,” says Minna White, owner of Lana Dura, a company that makes and sells handcrafted wool products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjPMZSkqli4

White grew up in New England and produced science documentaries for over twenty years. She worked for the NOVA science series, PBS, and IMAX feature films getting an M.B.A. along the way, and later a Masters in environmental law.

“After graduate school, in 1983, I bought a five acre ‘farm’ in Vermont, began working with sheep and never stopped,” she said.

In the late eighties, White was working in Albuquerque when she read a story in the Albuquerque Journal about the Navajo-Churro sheep and the need for more farms and ranches to raise them and increase their genetic diversity.

“Navajo-Churro sheep have been in the Southwest since the 1500s and the breed is well suited to the rugged climate, droughts and scarce vegetation,” she said.

She thought Navajo Churro sheep would prosper in Vermont and began looking for some to purchase.

“However, there were very few people who raised them and fewer would sell breeding stock,” she said. “I finally found a ranch near Tres Piedras and bought five sheep.”

Afterwards, White would drive back to Taos every two or three years to buy more breeding stock.

“The descendants of these first five sheep still live on the farm in Vermont, where they are shorn twice a year and produce 250 to 300 pounds of wonderful wool yearly,” she said.

White served in the Peace Corps from 2009 to 2011 in Vanuatu, an island country near New Zealand, where she worked with local women who wanted to start their own small businesses. It was during this time that she decided to relocate to Taos after she completed her Peace Corps service.

Now White travels to Vermont several times a year for the wool and to help out with the sheep.

Lana Dura: give sheep a job

White started Lana Dura in 2012 with Connie Taylor, a longtime friend.

“Connie works with yarn and raised Navajo-Churro sheep for a long time,” she said.

Over the years White has sold raw wool, yarn, blankets, sweaters and socks. She washed and carded wool for other farmers but said she always loved felt and felting.

Felt means that the animal is still alive to produce more fiber.

“But sheep need to pay their upkeep, that’s why ‘give sheep a job’ is our motto,” she said.

What makes Lana Dura a unique company is the fact they make felt only with Navajo-Churro fiber and other endangered breeds, said White.

“Navajo-Churro yarn is widely used in this area by skilled weavers and embraced by knitters and other fiber users,” she said. “Other businesses make felt but not specifically with heritage and endangered breeds.”

Lana Dura donates bags to local nonprofits for their annual fundraisers.

“This is important to maintain community,” White said.

One of the challenges that the company faces is processing the raw fiber after the sheep are shorn.

“Many mills have closed in recent years, nationally,” said White.  “Also, encouraging ranchers and farmers to breed for the best fiber quality can be difficult.”

The many uses of felt panels

Lana Dura makes three foot by four foot felt panels that showcase the natural colors of Navajo-Churro wool.

The larger pieces are cut and sewn into bags, slippers, pet beds and placemats.

“Spills can be washed with dishwashing liquid and warm water,” White said.

She also makes felt landscapes to hang on a wall or place on top of a couch or bed.

“I love making art with natural fibers,” she said. “Truly natural fibers remain the best for warmth, durability and resistance to dirt, moisture, and fire.”

The bags: Tote, Chiquita, Bolsita and Spirit Bag

Lana Dura has several styles of totes and zipper bags which are sewn in Arroyo Seco and sold in boutiques and shops. Currently there are four bags styles available, all made of Navajo-Churro wool felt.

The largest is called El Tote, 12-14″ tall with a 8″ by 14″ bottom. La Chiquita is a smaller tote with three additional internal pockets. La Bolsita is a Cordura-lined zip bag that comes in two sizes—the smaller version holds a Kindle Fire or Mini iPad and the larger one holds an iPad or other tablets.

The Spirit Bag cushions a bottle of wine or champagne, keeping it chilled while protecting it.

“El Tote is popular because it is strong and capable and shows the beauty of Navajo-Churro fiber,” said White, “but both La Chiquita and the iPad bags are strong contenders in the popularity contest.”

The bags are sold locally at the Millicent Rogers Museum gift shop, Old Martina’s Hall, and Common Threads, as well as in Santa Fe at Samuels Boutique and in Albuquerque at La Montañita Co-op.

A few words to entrepreneurs

Based on her own experience and the classes she has taught, White has a few words of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

“Keep good financial records,” she said. “It is boring and seems unimportant compared with your exciting enterprise, but tracking those small costs like postage and supplies as well as your time is important to understand if you are profitable or if profitability is even possible.”

People need to know if they have is a “business” or just something they enjoy doing.

“Value your time and your money,” she said.

To learn more about Lana Dura visit http://www.LanaDura.wordpress.com

and http://www.LanaDura.com

To contact White, email her at landlamb@gmail.com

 

El Tote

 

Kathleen Brennan —documenting life as it unfolds

New Jersey native Kathleen Brennan took her first pictures at age ten.

“I am one of eight children, so it was fun to act out and capture them when off-guard,” she said. “I also liked photographing trees and different scenes in the neighborhood.”

This interest in documenting the world has accompanied her all her life.

She moved to New Mexico and graduated from UNM with a degree in photography in 1977.

She hasn’t stopped shooting ever since.

Brennan’s art has been exhibited at the Peter and Madeline Martin Foundation for the Creative Arts in San Francisco, El Pomar Foundation in Colorado Springs and the Harwood Museum of Art, among other venues.

She also published In Praise of What Persists, Images of Breast Cancer, a collection of images that documents her partner Kat Duff’s triumph over illness. They became an exhibition at the Harwood and are a part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Working with artists

Brennan works closely with many artists, taking photographs of their work that they can use in their websites and portfolio. She also makes support materials like postcards, business cards, booklets and video clips.

“I photographed many of Annell Livingston’s paintings and she has the images on her website,” Brennan said. “I have also worked with Terrie Mangat, the Taos Municipal Schools and businesses like Casa Gallina.”

She does head shots and portraits, too.

Letting the light speak

Because she started out with film in the old days, Brennan only shot black and white for about 30 years.

“I specialized in hand-painted photographs, where I colored the photos with special oils,” she said. “This was a technique that I learned in college. I love combining the two elements. Later, I began to use color film and explored different ways of exploiting that.”

She learned studio lighting later in her career.

“It is something that really takes practice to become good at it,” she said. “My favorite way to photograph is to get in the car and drive around looking for things or the light that speaks to me.”

The business of photography

It can be very difficult to make a living as a fine art photographer, just like it happens with any other form of art, Brennan said.

“As a commercial photographer, it can be difficult as well, depending on one’s area of expertise,” she said. “Once a reputation is established, it becomes easier.”

Brennan points out a common misconception that has been fostered by the widespread use of digital photography.

“In today’s world of the digital imaging, we are essentially all photographers with the use of our mobile devices,” she said. “We have become a self-service culture where we believe we can do it all without having to hire someone.”

This has impacted her business negatively, she admits, but also positively when people realize that they aren’t quite getting what they are after.

“Everybody can be a photographer, but not everybody can be a good photographer,” she said. “People need to get familiar with their equipment, train their eyes, hone their skills and learn about the new techniques to be artists.”

Filmmaking, a new route

Brennan herself keeps updating her skills. In 2002, she went digital and returned to UNM to learn Photoshop.

She also took a course to learn filmmaking at UNM Taos and the result was the short film The New Neighbor about Dennis Hopper’s journey to his final resting place in Ranchos de Taos.

“As a filmmaker, I prefer making documentary films,” she said. “I like getting the stories of people’s lives, particularly artists and older folks, but also whatever interests me.”

She is now working on documenting the drought in New Mexico and the effects it is having on the land and lifestyle of those who live in the northeast corner of the state.

“The goal is to complete a 30 or 40 minute film sometime next year,” she said. “I’m collaborating with other artists and filmmakers in this project.”

The cost of technology

Photographers have a very close relationship with their equipment.

“I have shot Pentax, Bronica and Canon cameras,” Brennan said. “Most of my cameras are Canon because once you ‘marry’ a brand it makes sense to stay with it as long as it works for you. Lenses and accessories are too expensive to jump around too much.”

Despite the cost of new technology Brennan says she does love her equipment and keeps updating it.

“The digital world is changing things constantly so I always have an eye for the next greatest leap from what I currently use,” she said.

Brennan has studied painting, drawing, sculpture, and has even built furniture.

“I think it is important for any artist to study different forms and disciplines within the art world to help inform your own work,” she said.

She is also an accomplished gardener and a chicken farmer—she and Duff own eleven hens and a rooster.

“Photography is my expertise, but all the other things I have done and studied have helped to strengthen my work as a photographer,” she said.

Brennan’s exhibit The Art of the Documentary opened at the Harwood Museum of Art on February February 22nd and will be showing until May 4th.

To learn more about Brennan visit her website

http://www.brennanstudio.com/

or call (575) 737-5508

 

 

Homeopathic doctor offers natural treatments for body and mind

Debra Sherry

Debra Sherry made a mid-life career change when she was in her 40’s. It led her to her current position as a doctor of Medical Heilkunst and Homeopathy.

“I was in international sales in the oil and shipping industry and it was a highly demanding career that didn’t resonate with me,” she said. “It was killing me slowly.”

She started treatment under a homeopath and soon her long list of chronic health problems (both physical and emotional) became shorter and shorter, she said.

She was 95% healed of all of them within two years.

A calling to serve

Sherry decided to attend the four-year college Hahnemann Center for Heilkunst in Ottawa. She graduated in 2004.

“But my education will continue for the rest of my life,” she said. “This is a very complex form of medicine.”

After graduation, she moved to New Mexico and founded High Desert Homeopathy in Santa Fe, where she practiced for ten years.

“I felt this was my calling to serve others and give back to the world,” she said. “I knew it could help many others as homeopathy had helped, and continues to help, me—safely, without the side effects of pharmaceutical medications.”

She renamed her business Wholistic Health after moving to Taos in July 2013.

“My husband and I have been coming to Taos for many years to ski and hike and we have always loved it,” she said. “We decided last year to move here to see if we can still maintain and grow our practices, and enjoy all that Taos has to offer.”

What exactly is homeopathy?

It is a gentle, but effective type of alternative medicine that stimulates the body to naturally heal itself, said Sherry.

Homeopathic medicines are mainly prepared from natural botanical, biological and mineral sources and prescribed in micro dynamic doses.

“They are non-toxic and completely safe,” Sherry said. “They work on the principle of ‘like cures like,’ meaning that a substance that would cause certain symptoms in a healthy person is used to cure those same symptoms in an ill person. For example, homeopathy uses diluted extract of onion to treat seasonal allergies that have symptoms similar to what happens when you chop an onion.”

The most challenging part for the practitioner is getting beyond the “quick-fix” expectations of our society today, Sherry said.

“I can treat symptoms, but the end-goal is to heal, which requires time,” she said. “Chronic disease happened over time, usually with multiple causes behind it, so a cure can takes years.”

Homeopathy and the FDA

Homeopathic medicines are the only “other” FDA approved and regulated medicines in the United States, Sherry said. But insurance companies don’t pay for homeopathic treatments here.

“It makes no sense, other than the ‘competition’ factor with pharmaceuticals, since it is recognized and regulated by the FDA and has its own USDA pharmacopia,” she said. “There are only two forms of medicine that have it—pharmaceuticals and homeopathy.”

A homeopathic treatment session

The course of treatment for each individual is different because she treats people holistically, Sherry said.

“If I am treating chronic disease or conditions, I take into account the mind, body, soul and spirit, along with the individual’s history, constitution, life circumstances, inherited predispositions, lifestyle, diet, and exercise,” she said.

Sherry points out that there isn’t one particular remedy for a given illness, but many remedies that can be applied to heal different illnesses, considering all the factors that she mentioned before.

“I spend more time than medical doctors do with their patients,” she said. “A session with me can last up to two hours, and the patient has my full presence during it.”

However, the progressive form of homeopathy and nutrition that Sherry practices does not require that she meets face-to-face with her patients, though she prefers, if possible, to meet at least once.

“The appointment time is spent gathering as much information about the person or animal as possible,” she said. “Unless it is for a simple acute illness, injury, help with healing from surgery or pregnancy and birth, for example, then it’s not necessary to gather complete information about the patient.”

If the consultation is long-distance, via phone, Skype of Facetime, the medicines are mailed via priority mail, with instructions.

A success story

One of her patients was an eight-month pregnant woman who had been diagnosed with herpes. Her doctor wanted to schedule a C-Section because of possible transmission to the baby.

“I gave her prescriptions I thought would help her eliminate the virus, along with others to help enhance the chances for an easy delivery when it was time,” said Sherry. “Four weeks later, she tested free of herpes and avoided a C-section. Two more weeks later, she delivered a beautiful baby boy within four hours of her first labor pain. The baby was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and hydrocele at three weeks old, and doctors said the only cure was surgery. Once again, with the help of homeopathy, he was healed within three weeks and surgery was avoided.”

Sherry will be offering a free class on homeopathy and some ways to use it at home for simple, acute illnesses on February 25th at the Taos Food Coop (314 Paseo del Pueblo Norte) at 7 p.m.

Wholistic Health is located at 107 Plaza Garcia, Unit B

Phone: 505-603-9888

www.wholistichealthandhealing.com

 

A Kickstarter success story: fifty-five thousand dollars in thirty days

Mind Afire: The Visions of Tesla PAPERBACK

 

Abigail Samoun and Elizabeth Haidle carried out one of the most successful Kickstarter projects in Taos.

Mind Afire: A Graphic Novel, the illustrated biography of Nicola Tesla, had an initial goal of $7,450. It ended up receiving $ 55,796 from 1,978 backers.

“We both felt that there was an increasing interest in the details of Tesla’s life, contributions and vision, and that people would jump at the chance to see an illustrated biography of him,” said Haidle. “We didn’t want to wait the year or more it would take to get the proposal together and then for editors to get back to us.”

Expenses and funding: creating a balance

Haidle admits that they couldn’t realistically have completed the book for the minimum goal they had posted.

“We might have made it one-color, with fewer illustrations, to cope with a low budget,” she said, “but I was worried about the month and a half full-time work it took to get the proposal ready for Kickstarter. I had a big freelance job fall through right at that time, and I was determined we had to succeed at some level.”

Kickstarter operates on an all-or-nothing funding model, so the minimum goal must be reached for any of the funds to be obtained.

“Of course, I didn’t dream we would attract 2,000 backers in just 30 days,” she said. “Since I was a nervous insomniac for the month previous, this success came as a great relief.”

Their project attracted a lot of international attention, said Haidle, so a huge percentage of the budget went toward shipping.

“It’s tricky to come up with the financial goal,” she said, “because you want the numbers to reflect what you need to print the books, pay for the video, pay for your time in creating it…but as orders of the book add up, your expenses increase, so you have to figure that into the pledges and hope that your expenses and funding are getting larger in the right proportions.”

Creative rewards, happy backers

Besides offering digital and print editions of the book, posters and t-shirts, the authors came up with creative reward ideas like a custom tattoo design made by Haidle and cameo shots in the book—painting the backer into a scene.

The backers’ reaction to the results was mostly good, said Haidle.

“I had a challenge in dressing them all up in Victorian costume, so they would fit in the era of the book,” she said. “Even though I had included an example of the level of detail that backers could expect, I found it tricky to communicate promises long distance, through a website.”

In general they had happy backers, she said, because they decided to autograph all books sold that month, instead of just those corresponding to one reward level.

They also increased the book from 64 to 80 pages without raising the price.

“We printed overseas, in South Korea, so we could afford a number of deluxe extras on the cover like matte coating, spot gloss and French flaps,” she said.

Haidle is pleased that a large number of people ordered the e-book.

“I wanted anyone to be able to buy the digital version, and was especially thinking of people in other countries who may not be able to afford the extra shipping fee,” she said.

The e-book is still available for sale at nikolateslagraphicnovel.com.

Self publishing vs. traditional publishing

One advantage of self publishing, and pre-selling through a site like Kickstarter, is that authors have direct access to the buyers, Haidle said.

“We had loads of encouraging feedback during the production of the books and after sending them out,” she said. “Some comments were so wonderful to read that they made me cry! If we had gone with traditional publishing, we would never have had so many connections with readers; the books would be shipped to stores and bought off the shelves by people we would never know.”

She has received handwritten thank-you letters in the mail, and more.

“I got some complimentary songs from a musician who was a backer and wanted to give us something fun to listen to while we were packing the thousands of envelopes with books,” she said. “And I even received one marriage proposal via email, from a very enthusiastic backer, I guess.”

Wider distribution

The print edition consisted of 2,100 copies.

The authors are now in the process of speaking with editors in order to distribute the book to a wider audience. They want to publish two more editions: one longer, with more writing and illustrations, and another for teens or children.

“I am hopeful,” Haidle said.

Buying the book

The book isn’t available in any bookstore. Haidle plans to have a few signings to sell the remaining signed copies and posters.

One event will take place at World Cup on Saturday, February 15th from 10am to noon.

The other will be on Sunday, February 16th. Haidle and Miles Bonny will join at Mesa Brewery during Community Vinyl Brunch, from noon to 4pm.

The book is paperback, full-color and has 80 pages. It costs $25.

So you want to launch a Kickstarter campaign…

When I asked Haidle for advice to future Kickstarter creators, she recommended investing money and time in the perfect video.

“That is mainly what grabs attention and makes the project memorable,” she said. “I want to thank Wendy Shuey for her mad skills—she filmed and edited— and Dustin Sweet for applying his magic in AfterEffects. I couldn’t have made it without his help.”

After Tesla

Haidle’s next publishing project is a 100-page graphic novel called Keeper of Ravens.

“It’s a myth that I wrote and am in the process of illustrating,” she said. “Not sure if I am releasing it for pre-sale this spring or fall on Kickstarter, but anyone interested can ‘like’ the Facebook page to make sure they hear the news.”

To know more about the project, visit its website

A new International Baccalaureate charter school to open in Taos

Vigil 2
On Friday March 14th the Taos International School lead organizer Nadine Vigil will hold an informational session at the Kit Carson Electric Boardroom, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“I will be there all day long to answer questions from parents and help them in the process of filling out a letter of intent,” said Vigil. “This means that parents are expressing an interest in their children attending Taos International School and also allows the children to become part of the lottery process.”
The Taos International School is a Dual Language/ International Baccalaureate K-8 public state chartered school. It has an approved charter from the New Mexico Public Education Department and the New Mexico Public Education Commission.
It will be a sister school to the New Mexico International School in Albuquerque and the Corrales International School.
“I have been working closely with both of them,” Vigil said. “Their model is really effective.”
Taos International School is scheduled to open its doors during the 2014-2015 school year.
It will begin with two kindergarten classes, two first grade classes and two sixth grade classes which will later expand to second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and eighth grades.
The founder
Nadine Vigil has over thirty-five years of experience in education.
“I started my career as an educational assistant,” she said. “Later I became a teacher, an educational leader and an administrator. Education has been, and is, my passion.”
She helped develop and implement the first Dual Language Program within the Taos Municipal Schools District at the Enos Garcia Elementary School.
“In my educational career, I have worked with children of different cultures; Hispanic, Anglo, Native American and Asian,” she said. “I am a firm advocate of multiculturalism and bilingualism.”
She retired in 2010 as an administrator and principal with the Taos Schools but wasn’t ready to stop working yet.
“It took me two years to think it over, but I finally decided to create Taos International School,” she said. “I want to include students from all the demographic diversity that we have in Taos now. We are not just going to be another charter school—we have a unique program and mission.”
Emphasis on languages
One of its unique features is that the school will provide students with a rigorous world curriculum focusing on the 90/10 Dual Language model, said Vigil.
It will also include an International Baccalaureate primary and middle-years program aligned with the New Mexico Common Core Standards.
“We will meet all the state requirements,” Vigil said.
The acquisition of languages will be taught through the Spanish immersion program, designed for students to become bilingual and bi-literate. Children will also be introduced to Mandarin Chinese in fourth grade.
Class sizes will be kept at 20 students or less.
“The reason is that we want to offer individualized attention to the children,” Vigil said. “Our goal is developing the social, emotional and academic skills necessary to be productive members of our local, national and international community.”
An overview of the program
The International Baccalaureate Program integrates all content areas through the teaching of trans-disciplinary themes.
It prepares students to be active participants in a lifelong journey of learning, said Vigil.
“From ages 3 to 12, we focus on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside,” she said. “From ages 11 to 16, we provide a framework of academic challenge that encourages them to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world and become critical and reflective thinkers.”
The Physical Education program will be offering non-traditional sports and activities including Taekwondo, soccer, and gymnastics.
“The students can also participate in an enriched music and arts program,” Vigil said. “I want to create a nurturing environment that motivates them to come to school every day.”
The school day will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. with a 30 minute lunch period. Students will be released at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The school year will begin after Labor Day and end 180 days later.
Enrichment and after school activities
Vigil’s plans include an after-school enrichment program that will be offered to all students for one hour, following the normal school day. It will begin at 3:30 p.m. and end at approximately 4:45 p.m. every day except Wednesdays.
“Students will have the opportunity to participate in something new and interesting to them such as folclórico and mariachi,” Vigil said. “The after-school program is offered free of charge to all enrolled students and will begin two to three weeks after school begins.”
As she did during her entire educational career, Vigil looks forward to the first day of school.
“I want to offer exciting learning opportunities to the children of Taos,” she said. “That’s what my life is all about. See you on Friday, parents and kids. Nos vemos el viernes. This is the school Taos has been waiting for!”
To learn more about the school visit its website taosinternationalschool.weebly.com
Or contact Nadine Vigil at 575 776 2469 and
taosinternationalschool@gmail.com

Leonel’s Tamales opens restaurant in town

Leonel's Fresh Tamales

 

Leonel Aragon started his life as an entrepreneur in 2009, selling tamales from the back of his red pick-up (la troquita) in the Super Save parking lot.

A few months later he upgraded to a trailer located in the same spot and had it for four years.

“We had a loyal clientele right from the start,” Aragon said, “but it was hard work. My wife and I got up every day at four in the morning to prepare the food, then we would take it to the trailer and make sure that everything was ready by seven-thirty.”

“We were always tired,” said his wife, Nena Aragon.
They used to cook at the Taos Food Center.

“They were really supportive,” Aragon said. “But it feels good to have our own place now.”

The restaurant opened on January 20th and kept the original name of the business, Leonel’s Tamales. It is located next to Baskin-Robbins.

Looking for a brighter future

Leonel and Magdalena (Nena) Aragon are from Nuevo Casas Grandes, in Chihuahua. They moved to Taos twelve years ago.

“We wanted a good place to educate our children and start a new life,” he said. “Things turned out right. Our oldest daughter, Anahi, will start working with us soon, making delicious Mexican desserts. Janeth is in Taos High and our youngest, Leonel, goes to Enos Garcia Elementary. I’m so proud of them.”

Healthy Mexican food

Only Aragon and his wife work full-time in the restaurant, though they have part-time help.

“It’s basically a family business,” he said. “That’s what allows us to stay afloat and keep the prices as low as possible.”

“We buy locally and get as many fresh items as we can,” Nena said.

They don’t use flour in the green chile sauce. It’s healthier without it, Aragon said.

“We get fresh meat for the hamburgers, not frozen stuff, and the tortillas don’t have any preservatives,” said Nena. “They are homemade in Española.”

Recetas de Abuelita

Many of the recipes they use come from Nena’s grandmother.

“She taught me ten different ways to prepare chicken,” she said. “I really like it grilled. It doesn’t have too many calories but still tastes good.”

Oscar Gonzalez is a regular client. He just came to pick up an order of Nena’s grilled chicken to go. It includes twelve chicken pieces with three large sides and twelve corn tortillas, plus salsa, for $25.95.

“Nena’s chicken is one of our most popular combos,” said Aragon. “It’s big enough for a family of four and maybe there will be something left for el perro.”

Breakfast dishes

Leonel’s Tamales is open seven days a week, Mondays through Saturdays from 7 am to 8 pm, and Sundays from 8 am to 3pm.

They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner.

One of their most popular items is the breakfast burrito (made of meat or vegetables) and accompanied with hash browns, eggs, cheese and chile. It costs $ 3.70.

Another traditional Mexican breakfast dish is a chilaquiles plate (fried tortillas strips smothered in red or green chile) that comes with two eggs, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and sour cream.

Tamales—just the best

But their tamales stand out. They have been essential in making the business a success.

There are two kinds—the traditional savory tamales made of green chile, cheese and chicken, or red chile and pork, or vegetarian, and the sweet kind, stuffed with a mixture of pecan, pineapple, raisins and coconut. They make great desserts and afternoon snacks.

“This is the best place for tamales in Taos,” said Florence Valerio, who came to buy a dozen.

Burritos, tortas and more

Patrons can choose from a variety of burritos —steak, beef, chicken, vegetarian, chile relleno, and ranchero.

There are also cheeseburgers, quesadillas, gorditas, Navajo tacos, Frito pies, and three kinds of tortas.

“The New Mexican torta has meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado and salsa,” said Aragon. “The Mexican is made of pork, avocado, mayonnaise and pico de gallo.”

I also discovered a Cuban torta (pork, ham, white cheese, avocado, pico and jalapeños),

“All tortas all are served in horno bread,” said Nena.

For drinks, there is a selection of sodas, plus orange juice and organic coffee.

You can’t go wrong with horchata, a refreshing rice mix that is served chilled. However, I took mine home and warmed it up. It tasted like liquid rice pudding, with a hint of cinnamon.

Poco a poco (little by little)

“We have increased the business poco a poco,” said Aragon. “From the troquita to the trailer, and now we are in a restaurant.”

“We want to thank the Taos community that has made possible for us to follow our dreams,” said Nena. “And we’d like to invite them to visit us in our new location. Son bienvenidos aquí.”

Leonel’s Tamales is located at 519 Paseo del Pueblo Sur

Phone: 575 776 7054

Open Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 8 pm

Sundays from 8 am to 3 pm

Interview with Karina Cano

Hispanic.com

Interview with Karina Cano, site manager for Hispanic.com. Karina is of Hispanic and Yaqui Indian descent, a U.T. Austin grad and calls the Alamo City of San Antonio home.

 Visit Hispanic.com Facebook page here

Teresa Dovalpage: Why did you decide to open Hispanic.com?

Karina Cano: We re-launched Hispanic.com last year.  It’s been a lot of fun (and a lot of work, claro, but we love it!)  We’d originally launched it a few years back initially.

Teresa Dovalpage: What does Hispanic.com do? 

Karina Cano: Hispanic.com is a promotional and publishing platform to and from Hispanics, Latinos, and the public.  

Teresa Dovalpage: Can anyone collaborate? How long should the articles be?

Karina Cano: Yes, we welcome submissions to the site.  We publish all kinds of information to include opinion articles, interviews, and press releases.  We also promote that information to the public via our social media, RSS, and newsletter feeds.

Teresa Dovalpage: Is there any particular topic you are interested in publishing?

Karina Cano: We publish most all topics as long as they meet our site’s guidelines.  We review all information submitted to ensure it’s of interest to the community.  

Teresa Dovalpage: Do you accept short fiction or poetry?

Karina Cano:  Short fiction or poetry is a great idea!  I’d say on a case by case basis, we would be happy to publish this, dependent on the material.  We encourage folks to get in touch.

Teresa Dovalpage: There are many interesting articles and interviews in Hispanic.com, but Latino recipes are among my favorites. I loved Pinto Beans a la Charra… enjoy!

pinto beans courtesy jeffreyw