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Get inspired with a visit to O'Keeffe country

Travels with Deb

Pedernal Mountain Photo by Debbie Stone

The ranch offers a number of landscape tours that explore the scenes and locations of some of O’Keeffe’s paintings, on foot, by horseback and via minibus. Other tours delve into the archaeological and paleontological aspects of the environment, which are further detailed within the two museums on site. And hikers will find several trails that lead across the rocks, atop the mesas, past dinosaur quarries and even into a box canyon.

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Santa Fe School of Cooking Photo by Debbie Stone

To further enrich your O’Keeffe experience, consider taking an O’Keeffe-centric cooking class at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. Located in the heart of historic downtown, this internationally acclaimed school offers numerous hands-on and demonstration cooking classes, an intensive 3-day cooking program (Southwest Culinary Bootcamp) and chef-led restaurant walking tours.

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Margaret Wood shares personal insight into the artist's life and her perspective on food. Photo by Debbie Stone

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Chef Lois Ellen Frank Photo by Debbie Stone

In the three-hour demonstration class, you’ll explore some of O’Keeffe’s ideas about food and cooking. One of the school’s chefs, such as Lois Ellen Frank, a renowned culinary anthropologist, will then guide you through some of the artist’s recipes from the book, A Painter’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O’Keeffe by Margaret Wood. A companion to O’Keeffe for five years, Wood has personal insight into the artist’s life and her perspective on food, which she shares with the class.

According to Wood, O’Keeffe appreciated simple foods that were in season and grown locally. Her pride and joy was the organic garden at her home in Abiquiu, where she grew different vegetables such as lettuce, radishes, snow peas, carrots, cucumbers, corn, beans, broccoli and of course, green chile, a New Mexico staple. Her garden also included a variety of herbs, as she believed in their inherent health properties. Surrounding the area were an abundance of fruit trees.

O’Keeffe was influenced by the beliefs of such modern health gurus of the time as Adelle Davis, one of the most highly regarded nutritionists of the early to mid-20th century. Davis was a proponent of better nutrition for improved health and she advocated eating natural foods. Having a garden allowed the artist to exercise control over the way her food was grown and handled. And having the convenience of this bounty at her fingertips was invaluable.

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Cooking demonstration class Photo by Debbie Stone

O’Keeffe ground flour from wheat berries to make bread, collected watercress from along the stream for salads and soup and picked dandelion greens to put in her mashed potatoes. One of her favorite treats was thinly-sliced garlic sandwiches and fried locust flowers. She also was fond of wheat germ squares with homemade yogurt for dessert. Though she certainly enjoyed her veggies, O’Keeffe wasn’t a vegetarian. She relished a good T-bone steak, as well as organic chicken.

Everything she ate was of good quality and if she didn’t grow it, she got it from the local farmers and purveyors. They supplied her with honey, goat’s milk, eggs (always brown), meat and poultry.

Working for O’Keeffe was a fascinating experience for Wood, but initially, it was intimidating. O’Keeffe was very particular about the way she liked things done. Once Wood learned the artist’s habits and preferences, though, the job got easier. She also came to appreciate O’Keeffe’s unique sense of humor and the way she looked at things, ever so closely, noticing the tiny details that most people would miss.