About Jane

I am so excited to be taking this new leap forward to sharing my Southwestern and Mexican culinary hints, tips, recipes and history and evolution of the cuisine.

Honestly, I guess you can say that the sparkly flavors, the excitement of chiles as well as their many, many health benefits and the complex as well as simple pleasures to the palate that Southwestern and Mexican foods create for one have lead me to share this lifelong collected knowledge.

My quest to always learn more about the wonderful people of the Southwest and Mexico has produced in me a thirst to  constantly study the ancients—how they came over the Bering Strait in Alaska from Mongolia and Tibet and how their knowledge sparked the very simple cuisine of New Mexico and spread southward into Mexico and Central America and into South America.

A bit about my background—I grew up on and off a Northeastern Kansas farm where we grew all manner of vegetables, chiles of course, fruits, nuts, even Morel mushrooms and all our own meats.  My Mother, who was raised in Texas and Kansas learned to love chiles and chili and tamales were her favorite food.  My Father just loved chili—he always said he liked it the greasier the better (of course that was not so good for him.)

When I was 8, my Uncle was selected to manage the American side of the huge Mexican-American cooperative program called the “Alftosa” to eradicate hoof and mouth disease.  This meant he and his family lived and swept southward throughout Mexico for eight years, vaccinating every single hoofed animal.

I had always loved the taste of chiles, chili, spicy foods of all kinds and was so delighted to learn how to prepare the key regional dishes of Mexico at such an early age from my culinary trained Aunt.  (Those 8 years of visiting, cooking and eating the amazingly delicious regional Mexican foods--gave me a huge background in the exciting flavors and regional differences of Southwestern as well as Mexican foods.)

Following college, I started my career as a Home Economist for Public Service Co of New Mexico, the electric utility in New Mexico, and luckily was selected to run the entire statewide department after just one year.  It was clear to me that a great percentage of the local New Mexican population had recently relocated here and didn’t know a tamale from a tortilla, furthermore—they had no knowledge of how to prepare them.

This is where my lifelong pursuit of chiles and chili and all foods with chiles in them gave me the knowledge and background I needed to share the wonderful recipes and dishes I had learned to make.

My depth of knowledge of New Mexican traditional foods came from my maternal Grandmother.  You see my Grandmother and Mother as well as myself all graduated in Home Economics, now Human Ecology at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Ks.  (When Grandmother graduated in the early 1900’s, the degree was called Domestic Science.) 

I learned the traditional New Mexican recipes from my Grandmother who in the early 20th century was in New Mexico.  She was with my Grandfather, who was the executive in charge of the Santa Fe Railroad, responsible for determining the Railroad’s westward extension.  My Grandmother assisted the women in learning  how to create recipes from their family’s favorite foods.  She meticulously kept these recipes and cooked them and the collection became a treasure trove for me, which I shared with the customers of Public Service Co., my employer.  I developed a series of cooking classes, a cookbook called “Cocinas de New Mexico” (which the utility still sells the cookbook I wrote to customers to this day—even having a listing in the Albuquerque phone book) and placed those recipes in the bill inserts.  

When I was the Home Service Director, we got frequent requests for the cookbook and the executives at that time thought the book should only be available free of charge to customers who attended the cooking classes I had developed.

Sensing an opportunity, I then self published a cookbook, which I called “Favorite Mexican Foods”, which I marketed for several years while in my spare time writing the manuscript for the hard bound book, which became “Jane Butel’s Tex-Mex  Cookbook”.

My corporate career spanned 20 years,  during which time, after working 10 years for Public Service Co. of New Mexico, I became the Director of Consumer Affairs and Marketing for Consolidated Edison of New York City, followed by being Director of the Consumer’s Institute for General Electric-Hotpoint and ending with being appointed the first female Corporate Vice President of American Express—Vice President of Consumer Affairs and Marketing. 

I continuously had the desire to publish the Tex-Mex cookbook and in 1979 was the first to nationally publish a Southwestern regional book which became an instant best seller and only recently was retired from print.

Following that cookbook, I published 20 more cookbooks am now publishing e-books. My first two e-books are the "Best of Regional Mexican Cooking" and the "Best of Southwestern Grilling." I have had a webiste, www.janebutelcooking.com, since 1996 when Bon Appetit magazine featured a story on the best cooking schools in the world. I was featured as the "Best in the US."

To support my cooking school and the cookbooks, I developed a line of pure, highest quality spiced and herbs and Southwestern and Mexican cooking ingredients which I called Pecos Valley Spice Co. We still are selling these pure products and they are listed under our Pantry tab in this blog.

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