I woke up at 5 am this morning, thinking about the kale, cabbage, and asparagus in my refrigerator bins, about the dried beans I bought in Tucson last week, and about the various treats stashed in my freezer. My brain immediately began to mix and match, wondering whether I should sauté the kale with the organic, all beef bratwurst from the farmer’s market, or whether I wanted to use the kale with the heirloom Four Corners Gold beans (also picked up in Tucson) to make a variation of White Bean and Shrimp Stew with Greens. And don’t forget the roasted green chilies from the farmer’s market and the dried posole (which I’ve never used before)… I’ve got a nice pound and a half of pork shoulder… all the ingredients for my crockpot Posole recipe.
And that’s when I knew I was going to beat this cold!
Last week in Tucson had its highs and lows. We settled into our reserved site at Catalina State Park (click here to read our review from one year ago, updated with information about the new reservation system for Arizona State Parks) on Saturday afternoon, filled with plans for the next five days: visit Tucson’s largest and oldest farmers market on Sunday, a visit with the Wishnies, specialized shopping for me, golf for Odel… and lots of hikes in the state park.
We got off to a good start at the wonderful Sunday farmers market (southeast corner of River Road and Campbell, if you want to go). We loaded up on goodies (organic beef bratwurst, fresh goat cheese, roasted Poblano peppers, Argentine-style empanadas, mesquite flour cookies, and another salmon pie from Anna’s Kitchen), soaked up the sunshine and enjoyed the people-watching. Back home, my Kindle and I spent some quality time in the lounger in the sunshine.
Monday morning, my throat felt a little scratchy, which I put down to allergies or simply the dry, dry Arizona climate. We took an hour-long hike along a wildflower-carpeted ridge in the park (and I didn’t take my camera!), in preparation for lunch with Fred and Jo Wishnie at Vivace, a favorite restaurant in Tucson. We hadn’t seen them for quite awhile; what a pleasure to relax in that lovely restaurant with good foodie friends over a fantastic meal.
We followed lunch with a quick stop at Trader Joe’s and a longer visit to Costco. By the time we got home, I felt quite tired. As I stored away our purchases, Odel came in with the really bad news: coolant was dripping out of our radiator! As our day wound down, we watched Jules towed away… boo-hoo.
Tuesday, we got a call from Aastro Transmission on Ina Road (highly recommended by us). Long story short: two days of repairs (of many, many problems, not just the radiator), $2,800 bill plus the cost of a car rental for a day. Meanwhile, my scratchy throat turned into an enervating cold. Tuesday was not a good day for us!
Wednesday, we rented a Ford Escape. Odel had a golf tee time and, in spite of my low energy, I had a couple errands I wanted to run while in Tucson. It was rather fun to drive the Escape, one of the vehicles that might make a good towed for us when we replace our 2001 Jeep (which, with the recent repairs, should see us through the end of this year).
Photos of heirloom beans and seeds courtesy of the Native Seeds/SEARCH website.
My target? Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit that “conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico”… promoting “use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities.” Oh, did I have fun there, and certainly did my part to help support this worthy organization. :)
I came away with three kinds of new-to-me dried beans; two bags of dried corn (posole) – one white, one blue; and a great new cookbook. We know “dried corn posole” as hominy when it is canned, which is the only way I have purchased it in the past, and “posole” is used both for the dried corn and the dish made from pork, green chilies, and hominy/cooked dried corn. Confusing, eh? I’ve got some fun food experiments coming up!
Odel, meanwhile, was freezing on the golf course, playing in the strong, dust-laden winds that plagued Tucson on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. I think I had the better day!
We returned our rental on Thursday morning, on our way to meet Paul and Marsha Weaver (Where’s Weaver – we read each other’s blogs) at the new (open 6 months) Bisbee Breakfast Club in Tucson. Our lively conversation covered all the usual RV interests, and it was fun to spend time with these new friends after exchanging blog comments for the past few years. The food report: our breakfasts at the Tucson branch of the BBC were as good as those in Bisbee… but it just wasn’t the same to walk out into the strip-mall ambiance of busy Ina Road instead of the funky Lowell neighborhood of the original BBC. Still, we’d go again when in Tucson.
Checkout time at Catalina is now noon (another change that came with the reservation system), so we were on the road to Dogpound South, John and Brenda Brown’s (John and Brenda’s Incredible Journey) place in Maricopa. By early afternoon, we were plugged into electricity on their big, level, lot, sitting in the sunshine catching up with them (last seen by us in Bouse, AZ, a year ago or so). John and Brenda are Canadians who bought their Maricopa property last year so they could bring their horses with them when they come to Arizona in the winter. They are avid riders, true cowboys (well, Brenda is not a “boy”, but you know what I mean). Besides their two horses, they brought their ranch dog, Meg, and a son’s dog, Mac. Between the horses and dogs, we felt right at home, as though we were back at Rosanna’s Paws and Hooves ranch.
The dogs absolutely tickled me. Meg, a herder, is completely focused on teaching visitors to throw something – anything! - for her. As we sat chatting with Brenda and John, Meg would bring a little stick, some tiny, 4 inch long thing she managed to find on their lot, and lay in next to my foot (or Odel’s), staring at it intently. When we were non-responsive (mostly because these little twigs were too small to throw!), she would reposition the twig on my shoe, her nose pointing at it from 6 inches away, eyes never moving from her prize. It was so, so funny.
Friday morning, before we all left (north for us, south to Catalina State Park for the Browns, their horses, and the dogs), Odel and I spent quite awhile playing with the dogs. While Odel kicked Meg’s ball for her (to retrieve and stare down until he kicked it again), I took pictures and played with Mac, the two year old Rottweiler. This is totally easy, because Mac’s interest is in shadows. Since we were out early, our shadows were long – all I had to do was wave my arm while Mac jumped all over the moving shadow. He, he!
By noon, we were settled into a big, level site at the Escapee park, North Ranch, in Congress, AZ, northwest of Phoenix. Sunny, warm, calm, open – I knew right away we will be happy here for the next week. It is new territory for us, though we’ve driven through the area in the past (and spent one night dry camping here several years ago), and we’re happily anticipating explorations of both Wickenburg and Prescott, nearby towns. Al and Kelly (The Bayfield Bunch) are boondocking nearby; we are looking forward to visiting with them, too.
After a walk around the park, a bit of socializing, and soaking up the sunshine, we turned in early… and when I awoke this morning thinking about food, I knew this cold is just about licked. Today, we’re off to Wickenburg – barring any surprises!