Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Dave Harper

The Hotline is a nonprofit service to help reunite lost and found pets.
Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a free service. You can include a photo if you have one available. For more information, call Dave at 867-6135. You may also email the Hotline at, but please call first.


The Animal Hotline has had numerous calls about a very young wild horse in northeastern Placitas with bowed legs.  The young colt has been spotted off Camino de San Francisco and in Diamondtail.  So please drive carefully as you go around those blind curves.  Three mustangs have also been reported just east of the Village of Placitas on both sides of Highway 165 near Camino del Tecolote and at the bottom of Dome Valley.


CAT: Sandy colored male cat with rings on his tail, found in Placitas Trails in late February. He looks to be 1 1/2 - 2 years old. #3436

 PUPPY: Found during the snowstorm in mid-March on Highway 165 by the Placitas Fire Station. Tiny, brown female with white toes, possibly a shepherd mix, about 8 weeks old. 3440

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We continue to get calls of sightings of bobcats in Placitas. There have been some sightings of mountain lion as well. Be safe, but if anyone gets a photo of a mountain lion in the area, please send it our way so we can put it in the Animal Hotline.


Animal News


Bosque's Pet Prints

“Ruff! That Timmy is one sophisticated dog!”


Mail your favorite pet photos,
along with a caption and photo credit to:
Signpost, P. O. Box 889,
Placitas, NM 87043 or
email digital photos to


“Timmy” Photo by Cody Haworth


“Look! It’s a plane!” Photo by L.A. Williams

Eggs N’ Beggin dog parade, contest coming soon

The city of Rio Rancho Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department will hold the inaugural “Eggs N’ Beggin Dog Parade and Costume Contest” on Saturday, April 3, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Cabezon Recreation Center, 2305 Cabezon Blvd. NE.

Celebrate the return of spring with four-legged friends. Pets are encouraged to parade in bunny, egg, and spring-themed costumes and register to compete in costume contests at the conclusion of the parade. The parade is free and contest registration is $5 per dog, per category.

There will be four contest categories: Best Little Dog, Best Big Dog, Best Dressed Dog, and Best Owner/Pet Look-Alike. Registration will be on the day of the event beginning at 9:00 a.m. All dogs must be current with their vaccinations and on a leash with a collar.  

For more information, please call (505) 892-2915 or visit the city’s Web site,

Flash in the pan—The dog food diet

—Ari Levaux

People spend more money on organic meat for a range of health, environmental, and ethical reasons. At my local store, none of the meat for sale is organic, except the dog food. Unfortunately for my dog, I’ve been eating most of it myself.

It’s Francis’s fault. She works at the store’s deli counter, and is a passionate dog lover who believes that dogs, being natural hunters and carnivores, do best on a diet of raw meat. Since Francis also believes in the value of organic food, she drives around the state to various organic farms in order to make bulk purchases of frozen blocks of various cheap animal parts, like chicken backs and cow intestines. At the store, Francis has a little freezer set up near the checkout aisle in which she stocks her organic dog food, at such low prices she’s probably not making a penny.

One day I noticed some beef bones in Francis’s freezer. They had a good amount of meat attached, and were labeled organic. I bought them and baked ‘em till the meat was nice and brown, and made soup.

On my next visit it was chicken backs, which are what’s left after all the breasts, thighs, wings, and legs have been removed. A chicken back is mostly fat and bone but there is a bit of meat attached. (Francis says uncooked chicken bones, which are less brittle than cooked bones, are okay for dogs to eat.) I removed the fat and gave it to the dog, apologized for eating the rest of her food, and proceeded to make a tasty pot of chicken back soup.

Standing in line at the store a few days later, I noticed a three-pound bag of frozen beef cheeks in Francis’s freezer. At $1.67 per pound, it was some of the cheapest organic beef I’d ever bought, with no shred of fat or bone. The frozen cheeks were sliced into cubic rectangles about the size of chalkboard erasers.

Southwesterners may be familiar with barbacoa, a popular taco filling. Barbacoa is Spanish for beef cheeks that have been braised, baked, steamed, or boiled to tenderness. This is no easy feat, as the cheeks are perhaps the toughest cut of meat on the cow thanks to the exercise those muscles get from all the chewing cows do. In addition to the dense, fine-grained muscle fiber, beef cheeks are also crisscrossed with gristly connective tissue.

This gristle renders undercooked cheeks virtually inedible to those without cheek muscles as strong as a cow’s. But when sufficiently cooked, the connective tissue melts into a creamy substance that, in terms of flavor and mouth feel, is nearly indistinguishable from fat.

Back in the day, the entire cow head was baked in a pit lined with mesquite coals. After hours of pit cooking, the cheeks, tongue, brain, and other bits of flesh were stripped from the skull and eaten. This practice, already on the wane, was buried for good when the threat of Mad Cow Disease turned anything in the vicinity of a cow’s brain into a potential biohazard.

To prepare barbacoa for tacos, many cooks simply sprinkle the cheeks with salt, wrap them in aluminum foil, and bake them for five to six hours at 300F until the gristle melts. When the foil is opened the cook is rewarded with meat that’s crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The meat is teased apart with forks or fingers and served in tortillas with cilantro, avocado, raw onion, and a squeeze of lime.

I’ve been playing around with a recipe that applies the principle of boeuf bourguignon, aka beef braised in burgundy, to cow cheeks. Boeuf bourguignon can be an immensely involved recipe—Julia Child’s version includes 45 steps—but the French classic can be approximated as easily as putting meat in a pot with red wine and baking with the lid on until tender.

 Start by placing the desired quantity of beef cheek, salted, in a pan under the broiler, turning often until browned on all sides. Put the browned meat in a Dutch oven and cover with a fifty-fifty-mix of red wine and stock, with five bay leaves, a leaf or two of sage, and a cup of brewed coffee per pound of meat (if you wish). Braise in the oven with the lid on until tender (four to six hours at 300F). Check the fluid level often, adding wine as necessary to keep the meat at least half-covered. When the cheeks finally become tender, taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary. Carrots, potatoes, whole red chile pods (with seeds removed), and whole cloves of garlic may all be added at this point, and are fabulous additions to the joues de boeuf.

 When the veggies are done, keep cooking until the liquid concentrates to your desired thickness—remember, it will thicken as it cools. Whatever you do, for the love of dog food, don’t let the liquid evaporate.

The softened meat absorbs sweet fruitiness from the wine, and a bite combined with a wine-soaked clove of garlic is heavenly. There will likely be chewy veins of gristle in the meat that haven’t completely broken down, and these can be set aside or given to the dog, who may be quite hungry if you ate its dinner.

It’s not like I’m trying to save a buck by wolfing dog food. I have a freezer full of meat from deer, elk, and a grass-fed cow named Wendell. It’s just that many so-called “off-cuts” of meat such as beef cheeks are so delicious I couldn’t care less if they strike some as depression-era food, or dog food. Steak snobs are welcome to their opinions—lack of demand is why I can buy organic beef cheeks for $1.69 a pound. On the other hand, if more people would eat these parts, we could get away with raising fewer animals for slaughter. And if it came to that, I’d happily pay more for this delicacy.

Ari LeVaux lives in Placitas where he writes his nationally syndicated column Flash in the Pan.



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