TISA parent bakes biscochitos for a good school cause
Story and photographs by TISA Talks 5th graders Ana Sofia Gutierrez, Kaelie lymanBayne and Chiara Kozlovich
Third generation Taoseña, Mel Archuleta, knows her anise. When baking for the holidays it becomes more complicated, “I use three different kinds of anise. My husband Leonard likes the one from Super Save the best,” Archuleta said.
And after 26 years of marriage, Leonard should know. The Archuleta family has been with Taos Integrated School of the Arts since its first year. Leonard Archuleta Jr. came to TISA in kindergarten. This year he graduates from eighth-grade. Moses is in second-grade and little brother, Abraham, will join the school family in a couple of years.
Their mother has always contributed generously to TISA. When asked why, she says with a smile, “I love you guys! I love this school. We have come a long way.”
This year Mel Archuleta put her baking skills to work for the Friends of TISA.
Friends of Tisa is a nonprofit foundation that supports the Taos Integrated School of the Arts. The group raises money for school improvements that support TISA’s mission to be green.
The biscochito cookie sale was the brainstorm of Mel Archuleta. The Friends of TISA partnered with her to raise money to support a more ecofriendly school lunch program. The money raised will provide reusable, plates, silverware and cups and reduce the school’s footprint on the environment.
Mary Dambacher, Linda Seto and Nikki Caine are members of the Friends of TISA. According to Linda Seto, “The Friends of TISA wanted to raise money to support TISA’s progress towards becoming a low environmental-impact school by producing less trash with our great organic lunch program. We feel that by raising money to buy reusable dishware, we will help the school reduce its trash output by half.”
They have sold 240 gift boxes filled with biscochitos.“We have sold 2,500 cookies!” says Mary Dambacher as she boxed and tied a red ribbon upon a dozen cookies.
Mel Arculeta is the one behind it all, and yes, she is the one who is making all the cookies. Mel’s son Leonard was in charge of taking the cookies out of the oven and putting them on the baking racks.
He admits to eating just a few along the way. Taos Tiger football champ Leonard shared, “I’m proud of my mom, she does everything for everybody. I like TISA because it has a lot of good teachers, but if I had all the money we are raising, I would by a new phone!” he laughs.
The Archuleta home has smelled like cookies for the past week. “Mel is the cookie factory!” adds her husband, Leonard.
As the story goes, if you need help ask a busy person, Mel made the cookies while taking care of her three children, a mother with an illness and her nephew in a wheelchair and cleaning the entire school every evening. She made cookies with her star helpers Abraham, who is 2 years old, and Leonard, 13.
Second-grader Moses entertained himself and little brother while his mom baked all the cookies. His mother said Moses ate just a few cookies, but he insisted he ate none. He even said he was not tempted to eat them. His dad on the other hand, well...
In total it was a lot of work, but with family teamwork they accomplished it.
Mel Archuleta shared her family recipe with us, and we have taste tested the cookies. We rate them with 5 stars.
This is the recipe Archuleta gave us from her grandmother, Eloisa Sanchez.
As is true with most famous biscochito makers, she does have one secret ingredient she won’t reveal. Mel does use lard but says the amount is up to the baker. Well, it wouldn’t be a real Taos biscochito recipe without the infamous secret ingredient. Good luck!
Mel Archuleta made 2,882 biscochitos for the TISA school fundraiser recently.