Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cooking With Mesquite

mesquite tree

Until I attended the Prickly Pear/Mesquite Festival at Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction, Arizona and attended a cooking class by Jean Groen, I'd been unaware of any culinary use for mesquite other than the smoky flavour added to foods when cooked over mesquite wood. At Jean's class I learned about mesquite flour and ways in which it can be used.

Mesquite are deciduous, drought-tolerant trees. Three varieties grow in the American southwest: honey, velvet and soybean. They have wide-spreading and deep-reaching root systems. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Roam Mobility and the Canadian Snowbird

cell phones

Staying connected via phone service can be a challenge for Canadians travelling in the U.S. This is particularly true for snowbirds, those who spend most of the winter in southern areas of the U.S.

Roaming charges make it prohibitive to use your Canadian cell phone. Some people purchase cheap phones and pay-as-you plans when they arrive at their destination in the U.S. If you have an unlocked phone, you can purchase a U.S. SIM card and plan. I've written about phone options for the Canadian snowbird before. See A Canadian Snowbird's Telephone Journey.

This winter I am trying out a service by Roam Mobility. One month into my winter stay, it is proving to be a cost-effective and viable option.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Prickly Pear Cooking

prickly pear

The prickly pear cactus is prevalent in the American southwest deserts and was a common food source for American Indians. The prickly pear has three edible sections: the pad of the cactus, the petals of the flowers and the pear or fruit.

At the Prickly Pear/Mesquite Festival at Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction, Arizona, Jean Groen gave a cooking lecture, where I learned about the harvesting, preparation and cooking of the prickly pear fruit.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Pierogi in the Desert


beaver choice restaurant in Mesa, Arizona tags itself as a Scandinavian, Polish, and Canadian kitchen. Some people may find that combination of ethnic cuisine odd. Having been born and bred in the Canadian prairie province of Manitoba, it makes perfect sense to me. Immigrants from several countries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have shaped the Manitoba of today. Scandinavian and Polish people were among those immigrants and many of their traditional foods have become part of Manitoba cuisine.

Restaurant owners, Hanna and Marek Gabrielsson, came to Arizona from Poland and Sweden via Canada. The menu include many Swedish dishes, including herring, Swedish meatballs, elk stew, gravalax, and Swedish hash, and many Polish dishes, including cabbage rolls, schnitzel, Polish hunter stew, and sausage. But I wasn't here to try any of those. I was here for Thursday night Eat All You Can Pierogi.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

You've Got Mail

Photo credit: Julie Edgley via Photo Pin cc

When is the last time you received a personal letter via regular mail? When is the last time you sent one?

The Internet and affordable long distance rates have reduced the need for old-fashioned letters. We communicate with those dear to us, near and far, via email, Skype, social media platforms, text and phone, a change likely welcomed with relief by those who hated writing letters.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Art and Wine on the Waterfront

Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival

The Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona two weekends a year - one in February, another in December. The festival is produced by Thunderbird Artists and showcases quality arts and crafts, wines, and chocolate juried for the event. The Waterfront provides an ideal setting for the event.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

El Rancho - Home of the Movie Stars

El Rancho Hotel

Historic Route 66 is lined with quirky old hotels, nostalgic diners, gas stations, old neon signs and tourist attractions. Some are vacant and sad-looking. Others are still operational and playing up their connection to the road that was once the major route across the United States. The historic El Rancho Hotel along Route 66 in Gallup, New Mexico is still very much operational. During an overnight stay in Gallup at a different hotel, our hotel clerk directed us to El Rancho when we asked for restaurant recommendations. We discovered a unique and interesting place known as Home of the Movie Stars.