Last updated on Monday, December 23, 2002
Sunny Conley holds a Master of Arts in Professional and Technical Writing from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. She is author of Cafe Hopping in the Southwest: 100 Charming Places to Eat, Plus Tips for Tourists [May 1996, June 1997, Arroyo Press]. The book received a 1997 New Mexico Press Women's Book Award.
Sunny has penned over 600 columns and articles for a variety of media. Her column, "Chile Knights: Chile Lore, Tales & Tidbits" and the accompanying photograph, are featured Fridays in the Las Cruces Sun-News and online at her web site. Her work has also appeared in the Journal for the Society for Technical Communication, Independent Business95, New Mexico Magazine, Southern New Mexico Business Journal, and elsewhere.
Sunny edited Mesilla Valley ROTARIANS HOT ON CHILE! cookbook , a collection of chile-inspired recipes donated by members of the Mesilla Valley Rotary Club of Las Cruces and members of the Las Cruces community. All proceeds benefit non-profit organizations. Her work has received more than 20 state awards (ten for first place) in the past 5 years for her book, food columns, travel and business features, and desktop publications.
Sunny's restaurant commentaries can be heard monthly on KRWG-FM, southern New Mexico, West Texas and northern Mexico public radio. The reviews also appear on-line at SouthernNewMexico.com.
She is active in the community. Sunny is president of the Las Cruces Mesilla Valley Rotary Club and serves on the boards of Southern New Mexico Press Club, the Las Cruces Museum of Natural History, and on the Hugh Downs Media Awareness Council. Sunny is also a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce.
She is a frequent lecturer at New Mexico State University, the Las Cruces Public Schools and for civic organizations. Sunny's upbeat and fun Café Hopping in the Southwest slide show, and "My Love Affair with the Chile Pod" presentation is especially popular.
Articles by Sunny Conley
Chile peppers are the Land of Enchanters’ mysterious and highly addictive vegetable that may cause brows to sweat, noses to run, eyes to tear, and alas, guttural hiccups upon overdose. It’s a painfully pleasant experience we welcome many times daily.
The poor souls who suffer from allergies, whose symptoms range from a stuffy nose and itchy eyes to profound sneezing, often depend on over-the-counter potions for temporary relief. But not true-blue New Mexicans. Land of Enchantmenters grab our home grown hotheaded red or green chile pod to help clear the head. Why? A puissant chemical, capsaicin [kap-SAY-ih-sihn], which is found in most varieties of chile, is known for its nasal passage arousal and decongestant properties.
"Back up, honey. No, a little bit more. If you step back a little bit, and to the left in front of the cactus, I'll get a better shot," I said to my husband, peering through my camera's viewfinder. Just when I was ready to snap the photo, Ed let out a "Yow!" A jackrabbit, whose long ears poked regally through a creosote bush, suddenly leaped out. Startled by the commotion, the hare used his Herculean hind legs to scamper off leaving a dusty trail behind.
Dropping my camera I dashed to Ed's side, who stood erect and motionless as if in shock "What's wrong?" I asked, my adrenaline pumping. Face contorted, Ed only groaned before rotating his body to reveal the cause of his grief.
Chile is surely not going to go away in tiny Hatch, New Mexico. As a matter of fact, there's a bit of a frenzy this time of year. It's just the annual Chile Festival in Hatch, a forty-minute drive along the Rio Grande from Las Cruces. The madness happens on Labor Day weekend, with folks driving in from as far away as Tucson, Albuquerque and Fort Worth to load up their trunks with genuine Hatch chiles (that's the New Mexico spelling as decreed by the state legislature).
Every New Years Eve we promise ourselves not to overindulge in “spirits,” but alas, it does happen. So if you’re reading this article in bed with an ice pack on your head and Pepto Bismol on the nightstand, consider yourself a self-induced victim of a hangover, or as they say in Spanish, of el crudo.
To usher in the chile season, Hatch hosts the Labor Day Chile Festival. The venue is split between downtown and the airstrip, two miles west on Highway 26. The lively festival draws thousands of tourists from around the world and features a chili cook-off, arts and crafts galore, two-steppin' music, sidewalk sales, chile eats and products, and a parade led by the newly crowned Ms. Chile.
Imagine this staggering grocery list: 750 pounds of stone
ground corn, 175 gallons of vegetable oil, 75 gallons of red chile, 175 pounds
of grated cheese, and 50 pounds of onion. Well, chile lovers, this is what it
takes to conjure up the world's largest enchilada, which you can watch being
prepared and then devour at the culmination of The Whole Enchilada Festival
(TWEF) on Sunday, October 3 in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall.
Is windsurfing a popular sport in this desert land of ours? Travel only as far as Caballo Lake on any breezy day and you can witness a dozen or more windsurfers (also known as boardsailors), sporting wide smiles on their wind-blown faces, as they glide seemingly effortlessly over the white capped waters.