The Way We Were. . .and What We Are Today

The original cassero's house in 2002

The original cassero's house in 2002

This shot was taken in 2002 of the original, derelict cassero’s house which was demolished shortly thereafter to make room for the guest suites. Notice the tree on the left. Only it, the champagne and Karen remain today.

The second photo shows a close-up of the guest suites with the same tree on the left. ┬áThe construction is in the style of 19th century Mexican haciendas and features vaulted ceilings, 18-inch thick┬ádouble-walls, massive wood supporting beams and French roof tiles from the 1880’s rescued and recycled from a neighbor’s farmhouse.

The completed guest suites in 2004

The completed guest suites in 2004

guest-house-croquest
Guest Suites and Croquet

Closing for the Winter Season

Winter at Estancia Tierra Santa

Winter at Estancia Tierra Santa

It’s always bittersweet when the leaves on the Sycamore trees (platanos, en espanol) begin to yellow and then fall. . .when the pumpkins, Butternut and Kabocha squashes fully ripen in the patch (a riot of “construction zone” orange and yellow and green). . .when the local farmers come by to negotiate the price they want to pay for row after row of our alfalfa harvest. I know I’ll begin moving all the terrace furniture (with help from Roberto, our caretaker) inside and making sure there is a really, really large stockpile of wood for the main house and the caretakers’ (cassero) house. It’s only a matter of a few weeks before I’ll board the plane to San Francisco, chasing summer into the Northern Hemisphere.

Estancia Butternut Squash Soup
Resist the temptation to add chicken stock to this soup–it muddies the natural sweetness of the squash.

1 medium Butternut squash, about 3 lbs.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 shallots or 1 yellow onion, diced
6 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
Optional spices: a little freshly grated nutmeg, ground cardamom or ground coriander seed.
Chopped chives, for garnish

Cut the squash open and scrape out and reserve all the seeds and stringy membrane from the cavity. With a large knife or cleaver, cut the squash into 6 or 8 chunks (do not peel).

Place butter in large stockpot and saute the shallots or onion for a few minutes, until translucent. Add the reserved squash seeds and membrane and saute until the butter turns the color of saffron, about 5 minutes. Add the 6 cups of water and lower a steamer basket into the stockpot, then place all the squash pieces in the basket, flesh side down. Steam until completely tender, approximately 45 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.

Remove squash with tongs and allow to cool. Strain the seeds and membrane from the broth then put broth back into stockpot, discarding seeds. Scrape all of the flesh from the cooled squash, discarding skin, and place in the stockpot with broth. Using a stick blender (or a conventional blender in batches), puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and spice, if using. Stir in cream, if using, and return to heat. Served with snippets of chopped chives.
Note: for a smoother soup, you may strain the puree in a chinois.

Welcome to Estancia Tierra Santa

After many, many requests from our friends and guests who want to keep the estancia experience alive once they’ve returned home, we’ll update this blog regularly (when we are in residence in Carmelo) with postings about what’s happening at the ranch. What we’re cooking (with recipes!); what we’re eating; what we’re drinking; what we are harvesting from the organic vegetable garden and the farmlands; what Bronte and Phoebe (our fabulous farm Labs) are up to (usually no good); as well as Cervantes, Camila, Fausto, and all the horses; Oliver the farm cat; Portia our milk cow; Colette and Babette, our beautiful sows; Carmen & Cressida the goats; and all the sheep, cattle, chickens, ducks, geese. . .

This is also an invitation for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of experiencing the magic that is Estancia Tierra Santa. Take a virtual tour here and at our website, www.estanciatierrasanta.com
and then come visit us during your next trip to South America. We promise you a vacation unlike anything you’ve ever experienced–full immersion in our luxurious yet unpretentious green ranch living.