Monthly Archives: December 2011

Biscochitos – New Mexico State Cookie is Seasonal Favorite

Biscochitos served at the La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, NM by Ashley Parrish, Tulsa World

SANTA FE, N.M.  -  In a town known for upscale New Mexican cuisine, the best holiday dishes might be the simplest.

By:  Ashley Parrish, World Scene Editor, Tulsa World, published 12/18/11.  This article was syndicated from the Tulsa World, click here for the original article.

Tamales are traditional. Cover them in red and green chile and they’re even called “Christmas-style,” although the term is used year-round.

And then there are Biscochitos.

Home cooks and bakers alike make batches of the thin shortbread cookies at Christmas. Diamonds, rounds, they come in all shapes. But they’re always mildly flavored with anise seeds and liquor and are finished in cinnamon sugar.

The state cookie of New Mexico is traditionally made with lard, and many natives won’t stand for substitutes. But this recipe from the Santa Fe Cooking School allows for vegetable shortening. It won’t be quite as traditional but is still delicious.

Holiday Biscochitos

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies

1 pound (2 cups) lard or vegetable shortening
1  1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons toasted anise seeds
6 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brandy

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream the lard, or shortening. Add sugar, eggs and anise seeds and cream again. Mix dry ingredients separately and combine with the shortening mixture. Add the brandy and mix thoroughly.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle the cookie shapes with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned.

-  Courtesy Santa Fe School of Cooking

Santa Fe 3rd Quarter 2011 MLS property statistics

Santa Fe after Winter Storm, photo by Renee Edwards

The Santa Fe Association of Realtors’ 3rd quarter MLS real estate statistics are out.  There is good news for both sellers and for buyers. First for sellers, inventory levels are down having shrunk 21.1% to 1,794 units, a positive supply-side improvement.  New listings were down, too, with 687 properties listed in the 3rd quarter of 2011 versus 816 new listings in the 3rd quarter of 2010, a 15.8% drop.  Days on market decreased 7.9% to 224 days from 3rd quarter 2010 to 3rd quarter 2011.  Absorption rates improved as month’s supply of inventory was down 23.4% to 16.8 months.

Now for buyers, the median sales price decreased 3.0% year to date from $330,00 in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to $320,000 in the 3rd quarter of 2011. Even better, Santa Fe’s housing affordability index increased from 92 in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 107 in the 3rd quarter of 2011.  This index measures housing affordability for the region.  An index of 107 means that the median household income was 107% of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates.  A higher number means greater affordability.

Different city areas experienced different activity levels in the 3rd quarter, although the total closed sales in the city for single family residences stayed flat with 148 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 and 148 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011.

Area 3S, the Southeast (South) city limits, saw the greatest percentage increase in closed sales of single family residences in the city, a 133% increase, going from 3 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 7 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, although median sale prices declined in Area 3S from $650,000 to $359,000.  Area 01, the Northeast city limits, experienced the largest percentage decline in closed sales of single family residences, -35.5%,  with closed sales dropping from 31 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 20 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, although median sales price increased from $670,000 to $762,000.

17 Los Ojitos, photo by Renee Edwards

Elsewhere in the city, Area 02, the Northwest city limits, saw closed sales of single family residences increase 22.2% from 9 sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 11 sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, although prices stayed relatively flat, with the median sales price dropping from $400,000 to $399,000.

Area 3, the Southeast city limits, saw no closed sales of single family residences in 3rd quarter of 2011, down from 2 sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011.

Area 3N, the Southeast (North) city limits, was a bright spot in the marketplace, closed sales of single family residences increased from 32 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 35 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, up 9.4%, while median sales price increased from $573,500 to $620,000.

Areas 04N, 04S and 13, the Southwest city limits, experienced an increase in closed sales of single family residences, moving from 71 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 75 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, up 5.6%, but median sale price declined from $220,000 yo $209,900.

Eldorado was another bright spot, closed sales of single family residences increased from 22 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 33 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, up 50%, although median sales price slipped from $352,000 to $324,000.

The number of closed sales of single family residences elsewhere in the county increased from 111 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 117 closed sales in 2011.

In the Northwest sector of the county, Areas 24 and 25, where popular Las Campanas and Aldea are located, the number of closed sales of single family residences rose from 28 in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 31 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, up 10.7%, although the median sales price declined from $742,500 to $699,000.

In the Northeast sector of the county, Areas, 15 and 16,the number of closed sales of single family residences declined from 8 sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 6 sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011, down -25%,  and prices declined as well with the median sales price declining from $480,000 to $434,510.

In the Southeast sector of the county, Areas 05, 07, 08, 10, 14 and 26, the number of closed sales of single family residences rose from 43 in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 55 in the 3rd quarter of 2011, up 27.9%, but the median sales price fell from $389,000 to $336,000.

Finally, in the Southwest sector of the country, Areas, 06, 11, 12 and 27, the number of closed sales of single family residences fell from 32 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010 to 25 closed sales in the 3rd quarter of 2011 and the median sales price also fell from $318,641 to $282,500.

Are you interested in buying or selling real estate in Santa Fe?  Contact me, Karen Meredith, Keller Williams Realty, 314 S. Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, NM  87501 (505) 603-3036.

All data from the Santa Fe Association of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service. Data maintained by SFAR MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in these areas.  SFAR MLS does not guarantee, nor is it in any way responsible for, the accuracy of the data provided in this report.





The Atlantic names Santa Fe Most Artistic City in America, November 30, 2011

Richard Florida, Senior Editor of The Atlantic, posed the question in November, 2011 “which U.S. cities and metros have the most extensive artistic communities?”

With the help of Kevin Stolarick from the Martin Prosperity Institute,  he used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to rank the leading metros areas for their numbers of artists and the artists’ concentration relative to their population. They determined there are about 237,000 artists across the U.S., of which roughly 210,000 are located in cities and metro areas, in the category “artists and related orkers”, which covers both employed and self-employed visual artists in the United States:.

As expected, the list of the top cities with the largest number of artists tended to follow population size.  New York was first in total number of artists, followed by Los Angeles, Chicago came in third, San Francisco in fourth and Seattle in fifth place.

But when the author examined which metros have the largest concentration of artists relative to their population, the results were different. Using a measure called a “location quotient,” or LQ,  a ratio that compares a region’s share of artists to the national share of artists, Santa Fe came in first.

An LQ of one implies that its regional share equals the national average; less than one is less than the national average and greater than one is more than the national average. An LQ of two, for example, means a region has twice the national average of artists.  Santa Fe’s LQ was a whopping 7.587, almost double its closest competitor, San Fransciso, which had an LQ of 3.825, followed by New York at 2.573 and Los Angeles at 2.513.

Thanks to Richard Florida for quantifying what is immediately apparent the moment one sets foot in Santa Fe.  Art and beauty are everywhere!

To read the complete article, Most Artistic Cities in America.


Business Insider reports Santa Fe ranks 11th on list of the Top 15 Housing Markets for the next 5 years, December 8, 2011

Santa Fe after Winter Storm, photo by Renee Edwards

Business Insider recently reported that the latest data from Fiserv Case Shiller shows that national home prices are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 3.2% between 2011 and Q2 2016.

Business Insider combed through Fiserv’s data and picked the 15 best housing markets for the next five years.  Santa Fe ranked number 11 of out of the top 15 on Business Insider’s List of the best housing markets for the next five years.  Business Insider predicted Santa Fe would have “Annualized growth from 2011 – 2016: +9.1%“.

Business Insider further reported “Santa Fe has a low unemployment rate of 5.4% and a median household income of $70,000. Its home prices are only down 17.7% since they peaked in Q4 2007.
Data provided by Fiserv Case Shiller Indexes”
To read more: Original article by Mamta Badkar, December 8, 2011.

In Santa Fe, you fall in love with chilies, The Boston Globe, November 16, 2011

Deena Chafetz teaches a chili workshop at Santa Fe School of Cooking. Photo by Selina Kok for The Boston Globe

By Diane Daniel, Globe Correspondent 

This article was syndicated from The Boston Globe.  For a copy of the original article, click here.

SANTA FE — “Red or green?’’ In New Mexico, those three words make up the official state question. If you want both red and green  chili pepper sauce, you ask for “Christmas.’’

“We put them in everything and on everything; it’s what makes our cuisine special,’’ explains Deena Chafetz, a chef and teacher of the “Chile Amor’’ class at the venerable Santa Fe School of Cooking.

After this 90-minute workshop, which costs $50 per person, you are in a better position to decipher menus, know what’s in chili-infused guacamole, carne adovada (pork marinated in red chili), pizza with green chili sauce, and green chili beer. Early on, you can get what we call “chili chap’’: chapped lips from low humidity further irritated by hot food, certainly a rite of passage for any visitor from a more humid climate.

 We are 16 students from around the country, unified on our most burning question: Which is hotter, red or green? Her answer: It depends.

“The first thing you need to know is that red and green chilies are not different varieties. They’re the same peppers,’’  Chafetz says, smiling as she sees us novices absorb this new information. “All green peppers eventually turn red. So a hot green pepper will be a hot red pepper. Beyond that, it depends on the plant, the region, the soil, the weather. They can go from mild to very hot. So at a restaurant you need to ask, ‘Which is hotter today?’ It changes from day to day.’’

We learn that green chili sauce is always made from fresh roasted and peeled peppers (they can be frozen after roasting), while red sauce is made from either dried chili pods or chili powder.

“When I say powder, I’m not talking about what you all call chili powder,’’ she says. “Our chili powders are pure. What you use is for chili con carne, which is what the rest of the country calls chili. We New Mexicans do acknowledge its existence, but that’s about it.’’

We divide into groups and work at cooking stations to grill, peel, and dice green peppers, adding them to an onion and garlic mixture, and we make two red chili sauces, one from powder, and the other from pods. We sample them all on homemade tortillas.

“These are your staples,’’ Chafetz says. “Chilies are like wine. Not only do they taste different from different regions, as you get to know the flavors, you pair them with different foods.’’

For now, though, it is enough to know the difference between green and red. Which means that when we stop by the vibrant Santa Fe Farmers’
Market the next day, I have some inkling of what farmer Matt Romero isdoing as he turns a large drum over a flame to roast just-harvested green chilies. From August and into October, chili roasters set up shop across the state, at markets and in parking lots, selling charred, peeled and diced chilies by the bushel and infusing the air with an intoxicating aroma. (Bushels of green peppers are also set aside to redden and dry for later use.)

Romero explains the roasting process to photo-snapping tourists as he turns the crank. “We do this roasting in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado,’’ he says. “I don’t think you’ll find it anywhere else. It’s part of our culture.’’

One woman who has stopped at Romero’s stand is hauling off a clear plastic bag filled with about 35 pounds of chopped green chilies. “I’ll take this and divide it into quart size Ziplocs, and they’ll last all winter,’’ explains Shar Jimenez, a Santa Fe resident for 16 years. “I’ll use it over things, as a side, and as a garnish.’’ The heat level, she says, is “good and hot. I’d say a 7 or 8 out of 10. I have a 6-year-old daughter, so we won’t be using it as much as we used to.’’

As she hoists the bag into her back seat, she adds, “It’s also my car freshener. Smell how perfumey and fruity it is?’

Chafetz had told the class that California Anaheim chilies were the best (but not a perfect) East Coast substitute for fresh New Mexican peppers, but Romero has a better solution. “You want to time your vacation to the harvest, then just double bag a bushel and throw it in your checked luggage.’’
Santa Fe School of Cooking  116 West San Francisco St.,  Santa Fe, 800-982-4688, Classes start at $50 per person; market on site. 

Santa Fe Farmers’ Market   1607 Paseo De Peralta (Santa Fe Railyard), Santa Fe, 505-983-4098, Open Sat and Tue,  8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Santa Fe Neighborhoods – Focus on Villa de la Paz

Villa de la Paz

Villa de la Paz means “Peaceful Village”  in Spanish. This tranquil little haven tucked into the southwest side of Santa Fe certainly lives up to its name.  Development began in 1999 – 2000, for this well-established condominium subdivision, which was designed to provide the local community with affordable, quality, urban village housing.

The development contains 89 plotted lots on nearly 10 acres.  76 lots have already been built.  There are eight different floor plans to choose from, three single story and five two story, and all are two or three bedroom units.  The units start at 1,000 square feet and go up to approximately 1,800 square feet.  The housing is FHA approved, which gives buyers the opportunity to purchase these units with a low downpayment.

Park with gazebo and two benches

Villa de la Paz contains a beautifully landscaped park that is approximately 1 acre in size with a gazebo and benches, perfect for walking, contemplating nature or visiting with neighbors.

Peaceful walking trails weave through the subdivision, which also has two landscaped park-like retention ponds. The outdoor areas were planted with a beautiful selection of botanical plants that are drought resistinant and low maintenance.

The existing units in the subdivision are designed for maximum light and privacy with vaulted ceilings in the single story units and decks with mountain views in the two story units. Quality construction details include radiant heating, Pella Windows, tile floors, Kohler plumbing fixtures, and solid wood interior doors.  Protective covenants were created  to ensure that residents enjoy uniformity and consistency of style and design in their surrounding environment.

Walking Trail

The subdivision is self contained, with one entrance and one exit and contains ample public parking. Most units have garages.  Villa de la Paz has convenient shopping and enjoys many city services such as water, sewer, electricity and trash pickup.

Villa de la Paz Housing Opportunities

Currently Keller Williams Realty has two condominum units for sale  at Villa de la Paz.

Please contact me, Karen Meredith, Keller Williams, (505) 603-3036 or Renee Edwards, Keller Williams, (505) 470-7773 for more information about either of these homes.

The first condominium unit for sale is 3148 La Paz Lane, Santa Fe, New Mexico. MLS # 702402, asking price $225,000.  A two bedroom, two bath home with 1,230 square feet built in 2003.  This home is open and light with plenty of skylights and windows.


3148 La Paz Lane

Single level with a one car garage, deck, private landscaped courtyard, a dog run, evaporative cooling, wood blinds and custom California closets.  Two fireplaces, one in the master bedroom, the other in the living room.

Enjoys an open floor concept with vaulted pitch roof ceilings and is finished in travetine tile.  Other features include Pella Windows, solid wood interior doors, built in microwave, radiant heating, new carpet in the bedrooms. Refrigerator and washer/dryer included.  Call Renee Edwards, Keller Williams, (505) 470-7773 to schedule a showing!

Living room with kiva fireplace at 3252 La Paz Lane


The other condominium unit for sale is 3252 La Paz Lane, MLS # 201103987, asking price – $229,000.  A three bedroom, three bath home boasting 1,560 square feet on .07 acres.  This former model home has lovely interior finishes and details including a viga ceiling, a plastered kiva fire place in the living room and traditional saltillo tile floors.

Other features include upper floor decks with western sunset views, and eastern Sangre de Cristo mountain views.

The master bedroom with private bath is on the lower level, two guest rooms each with views and private sundecks are upstairs.

All bathrooms are adorned with traditional decorative Mexican Talavera tile.  The dining area opens to a private patio and yard which is enclosed by coyote fencing.

Kitchen at 3252 La Paz Lane

The kitchen, which includes a full appliance package with gas cooking, has a neat pass-thru to the dining room.

A utility and mud room provides direct access from the carport to the kitchen to make grocery stocking a breeze.

Recently refinished decks and landscaping improvements.

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