Posts Tagged ‘Tucson Inn’

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

First Gambel’s Quail chicks of the season!

April 20th, 2013 by pattiebell

Early birds!

Early birds!

This morning when I popped out of the dining room door I scared up a covey of 5 Gambel’s quail chicks and their chattering parents. I don’t usually expect to see them until well into May, so I was a bit surprised and pretty excited. Chick sightings are one of those things Arizonan’s brag about like the number of fish caught, or the size of bears encountered.

Gambel’s quail primarily move about by walking and can move surprisingly fast through brush and undergrowth. They are a non-migratory species and are rarely seen in flight. Any flight is usually short and explosive, with many rapid wingbeats, followed by a slow glide to the ground.

In the late Summer, Fall, and Winter, the adults and immature young congregate into coveys of many birds. In the Spring, Gambel’s Quail pair off for mating and become very aggressive toward other pairs. The chicks are decidedly more insectivorous than adults, gradually consuming more plant matter as they mature. Gambel’s Quail are monogamous and rarely breed in colonies. The female typically lays 10–12 eggs in a simple scrape concealed in vegetation, often at the base of a rock or tree. Incubation lasts from 21–23 days, usually performed by the female and rarely by the male. The chicks are precocious, leaving the nest with their parents within hours of hatching.

Here’s a link to some great video of  chicks in motion: Gambel’s Quail chicks emerge from their nest – YouTube

 

 

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.

Night Blooming Cereus

June 19th, 2010 by pattiebell

Thanks to West Tucson guest Hope Green for sharing these great photos of our huge night blooming cereus. Thanks too, Hope, for the shoe sharing!!!

More Flora and Fauna courtesy of Ken VanHorn

June 19th, 2010 by pattiebell

Kitty Kitty

June 11th, 2010 by pattiebell

Green Valley guest Ken Van Horn got up close and personal with this Bobcat as he and Mary Ann were about to depart. After posing for this shot, the cat sauntered around to the patio off of our kitchen, where she took a 3 hour nap under the night blooming cereus (more on that subject next week) .  When I went out to water my drooping herb pots she just sat there and watched me before stretching and strolling off.

The Bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American mammal of the cat family, Felidae. With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States. The Bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semi-desert, urban edge, forest edges and swampland environments. It persists in much of its original range and populations are healthy.

With a gray to brown coat, whiskered face, and black-tufted ears, the Bobcat resembles the other species of the mid-sized Lynx genus. It is smaller than the Canadian Lynx, with which it shares parts of its range, but is about twice as large as the domestic cat. It has distinctive black bars on its forelegs and a black-tipped, stubby tail, from which it derives its name.

Though the Bobcat prefers rabbits and hares, it will hunt anything from insects and small rodents to deer. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season, and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary, although there is some overlap in home ranges. It uses several methods to mark its territorial boundaries, including claw marks and deposits of urine or feces. The Bobcat breeds from winter into spring and has a gestation period of about two months.

Although Bobcats have been hunted extensively by humans, both for sport and fur, their population has proven resilient. The elusive predator features in Native American mythology and the folklore of European settlers.

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!

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