Posts Tagged ‘Bed and Breakfast’

Spring Activities!

March 4th, 2014 by pattiebell

Although Spring does not officially arrive until later this month, it has definitely sprung early in Tucson this year. Wildflowers blooming, milder than average temperatures and that certain something in the air make it a great time to get out and enjoy the many activities being offered around town!

Did you know Tucson hosts the 4th largest Festival of Books in the country?  March 15 and 16 on the University of Arizona Mall brings us 300 presentations, 200 exhibitors, and tons of opportunities to meet authors, poets, screenwriters and journalists participating in signings, panel discussions and book sharing. http://tucsonfestivalofbooks.org/

Tucson’s proud and lively Irish community throws their 27th Annual St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival in Armory Park in Downtown Tucson on March 15th. Guaranteed to get your green up! http://www.tucsonstpatricksday.com/

The Historic 4th Avenue Shopping District is home to the 4th Ave. Street Fair twice each year and this Spring’s event is Mar. 21-23.  Hundreds of juried artist and crafts persons, plenty of food and refreshing beverages, live music, kid’s activities and street performers. http://www.fourthavenue.org/fairs/general-information/

Are you a train enthusiast? Tucson has a very special transportation museum at the Tucson Historic Depot.  On March 22nd The Silver Spike Festival celebrates the 134th anniversary of the railroad in Tucson! http://www.tucsonhistoricdepot.org/

Theater buffs will be happy to know that the Arizona Theater Company presents “Around the World in 80 Days” through Mar 22. Boasting incredible sets and productions, our theater company makes its home in the beautifully restored Temple of Music and Art.  http://www.arizonatheatre.org/our-shows/around-the-world-in-80-days/

And Broadway in Tucson brings us “I Love Lucy: Live on Stage” March 25 – 30. This acclaimed show puts you in the seat at the studio where the famous TV shows were taped and includes plenty of the original music from Ricky and the band. http://www.broadwayintucson.com/shows_lucy_prices.html/

What says Spring more that fluttering butterflies? Experience a live tropical butterfly exhibit everyday through April 30th at Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/

The Arizona State Museum on the campus of the University presents “Edward Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Volumes” through July 30, 2015. The exhibit will display 20 of the famed photographer’s portraits of the American West at a time, rotating every 6 months, to show a total of 60 works. The State Museum also houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of 2000 years worth of Native pottery making in the Southwest – that’s  over 20,000 whole vessels. http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/exhibits/index.shtml

This is just a sampling!  Visit http://www.visittucson.org/events/calendar/ for more.

 

Music of the Monsoon ~ the amazing Spadefoot Toad!

July 13th, 2013 by pattiebell

Couchs_spadefoot_toad_frog_detailed

Found primarily in the Sonoran Desert, the Couch’s spadefoot  is named for the elongated, sickle-shaped, horny tubercle on the underside of each rear foot, which it uses to dig itself into the ground. There it remains buried in the soil for 8-10 months only to emerge at the onset of the summer monsoons.


During the first night of or after the first significant summer storm, Couch’s spadefoots move to rain-filled temporary pools for a night or two of frantic breeding and foraging, and then may remain active for as long as moist, warm conditions persist, often traveling far from the breeding ponds. Although most breeding is timed to the first summer storm, occasional breeding congregations can be found throughout the summer. Eggs are usually laid the first night that ponds fill, and are deposited on submerged vegetation in small masses that hatch within 36 hours.  Tadpoles can metamorphose in as little as 7-8 days. Drying of a pond stimulates rapid metamorphosis and smaller toadlets. The call, given by males as they float in the breeding pond, is a plaintive “wah! wah!”, suggestive of a bleating sheep. The call carries well on humid summer evenings and is a sure sign that the often long-awaited summer monsoon has finally begun.  

Couch’s spadefoot will eat anything that moves and fits into its mouth. Winged termites, which are high in fat content, also emerge with the first monsoon storms, and often make up a high percentage of the spadefoot’s diet. A Couch’s spadefoot can eat enough termites during one or two nights to survive and breed for a year. Tadpoles are carnivorous; cannibalism has been documented.

This species has benefited from construction of berms, cattle tanks, and other ground disturbance that promotes collection of rainwater. It is relatively long-lived; some live as long as 13 years in the wild.

Spadefoot ToadYouTube

COCOA CHILE COINS

July 5th, 2010 by pattiebell

THIS COOKIE RECIPE CAME TOGETHER AS I WAS TRYING TO FIND WAYS TO INCORPORATE MESQUITE FLOUR INTO SOME OF MY BAKING.

SIFT TOGETHER:  1 C FLOUR, ½ C MESQUITE FLOUR, ¾ C UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER, ¼ t SALT, ½ t CAYENNE POWDER, 2 t CINNAMON, ¼ t CLOVES

CREAM TOGETHER UNTIL LIGHT AND FLUFFY (3 MIN. IN ELECTRIC MIXER): 1 C SUGAR, ¾ C BUTTER

MIX IN: 1 LARGE EGG, 1 ½ t VANILLA

ADD FLOUR MIXTURE. MIX UNTIL JUST COMBINED. TURN OUT DOUGH ONTO PARCHMENT PAPER AND ROLL INTO LOG 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER. ROLL LOG IN THE PARCHMENT PAPER. REFRIGERATE AT LEAST 1 HOUR OR OVERNIGHT.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350. REOMVE LOG FROM PARCHMENT. LET SOFTEN ABOUT 5 MIN. ROLL LOG IN RAW OR SANDING SUGAR, PRESSING DOWN TO ADHERE TO DOUGH. TRANSFER LOG TO CUTTING BOARD. SLICE INTO ¼ INCH ROUNDSNN. PLACE 1 INCH APART ON PARCHMENT LINED COOKIE SHEETS.

BAKE 12 MINUTES AT 350, UNTIL SET AND RICH BROWN. COOL COMPLETELY ON WIRE RACKS. MAKES ABOUT 4 DOZEN.

NOTES: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE MESQUITE FLOUR YOU CAN USE ALL REGULAR FLOUR.  TRY USING OTHER KINDS OF CHILE, LIKE CHIPOTLE, WHICH HAS A NICE SMOKY FLAVOR, OR MILDER CHILE COLORADOS.

Molasses Oat Cookies

July 5th, 2010 by pattiebell

These simple crunchy cookies are packed with flavor and super easy to prepare!  I felt they could handle the addition of whole wheat flour, but you can use all white flour if you wish.

3/4 C white flour, 3/4 C whole wheat flour, 1 C sugar, 1 t baking soda, ½ t salt, 1 t ground ginger,  ½ t ground cloves

½ C melted butter, 1 large egg, ¼ C molasses

¾ C oats

¼ C sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Sift first 6 ingredients in large bowl.  Add next 3 wet ingredients. Mix well. Add oats and stir to incorporate.

Scoop dough into balls using 1 oz. scoop.  Roll balls in sugar and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes about 18 cookies.

More Flora and Fauna courtesy of Ken VanHorn

June 19th, 2010 by pattiebell

Yuccas in the Moonlight

May 28th, 2010 by pattiebell

Yucca in the Moonlight

Close-up of Yucca blossoms

Biscochitos

May 18th, 2010 by pattiebell

After tasting these great cookies in Taos, NM, where they are the official state cookie, I set out to find a recipe and prepare them for my guests here at the Ranch House. Traditionally they are made with lard, but I found a good approach using butter instead. This recipe is a redux of a few I considered, combining the best elements: plenty of anise seed, orange zest, layering the dough a bit, and dusting with cinnamon sugar.

Pulse in food processor until mixed:  2 C. flour, 3/4 C. sugar, 1/2 t. baking powder, 1/8 t. salt, and 1 T. ground anise seed. Add 12 T. cold butter cut into bits and pulse until mixture resembles course meal. Add 1 large egg,  1 t. vanilla, 2 T. ice water, the zest of 1 orange and pulse until ball starts to form. Remove to floured surface and knead a few times. Roll dough out with rolling pin, folding over and lightly re-rolling a few times.  Form into disc, wrap in film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Roll out on floured surface to 1/4 in. thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets, sprinkle tops of cookies with 1/2 t. cinnamon mixed with 2 T. sugar and place in freezer for 15 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes until set, slightly colored on edges but not brown. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

I love that New Mexico has a State Cookie. That is a state with it’s priorities straight!

Datura Bloom

May 11th, 2010 by pattiebell

Datura Bloom

Datura are herbaceous, leafy annuals and short-lived perennials which can reach up to 2 meters in height. The leaves are alternate, with a lobed or toothed margin. The flowers are erect or spreading, trumpet-shaped, and colors vary from white to yellow, pink, and pale purple. The fruit is a spiny capsule, splitting open when ripe to release the numerous seeds. The seeds disperse freely over pastures, fields and even wasteland locations.

Datura belongs to the classic “witches’ weeds,” along with deadly nightshade. Most parts of the plants contain toxic hallucinogens, and Datura has a long history of use for causing delirious states and death. It was well known as an essential ingredient of love potions and witches’ brews.

Common names include Thorn Apple, Pricklyburr, Jimson Weed, Moonflower, Hell’s Bells, Devil’s Weed, Devil’s Cucumber, and Devil’s Trumpet. Nathaniel Hawthorne refers to one type in The Scarlet Letter as Apple-Peru.

They are a very common sight in Southern Arizona, and this one cropped up right beside El Rancho Merlita’s  fire pit.

Visit from the Javelina

May 11th, 2010 by pattiebell

Visit form the Javelina

Javelina are peccaries – medium-sized animals, with a strong superficial resemblance to pigs.  Their preferred food consists of roots, grass, seeds, and fruit.  When they visit El Rancho Merlita they are particularly attracted to our quail seed block. They can wreak quite a bit of havoc in the hummingbird bed I planted earlier in the spring. This particular morning our guests had almost as much fun watching their innkeeper try to scare them out of said bed as they did seeing the javelina themselves. These 2 were part of a group of 4 who passed through during the breakfast hour.

1924 North Corte El Rancho Merlita, Tucson, AZ 85751-1017
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