Posts Tagged ‘Tucson’

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.

Building the Rancho Merlita Labyrinth – Days 6 – 7

April 13th, 2010 by pattiebell

Beginning at the center.

Day 6 – Stakes are set to locate the center and 16 radial points.  String connects the center and a stake (used for scoring a line) at the radius for the center and the first path.  Next, the radials are tied off to locate each change in direction.

Rock is collected from the site in various sizes with one dimension approximately 3 inches wide.  The scored lines are deepened using each unique rock so that they set securely into the earth.  Water compacts the soil at the end of the day.

ERM RH Bed and Breakfast Inn Labyrinth Tucson

More lines drawn, more rocks laid

El Rancho Merlita Bed and Breakfast Inn Labyrinth

After work is done for the day, water and compact.

Day 7 – Scoring, laying rock and watering continues.

El Rancho Merlita Bed and Breakfast Inn Labyrinth

Same process, another days work

Future home for a modern petroglyph

A pictograph on this rock will indicate the entrance to another alcove leading to the labyrinth.   The landscape light will illuminate the sloped surface at night.

Building the Rancho Merlita Labyrinth – Days 1-5

April 8th, 2010 by pattiebell

Labyrinth at El Rancho Merlita Bed and Breakfast Inn Tucson Az

Phew! That was a lot of work!

Designing maze puzzles for my sisters was a favorite childhood pastime.  Now I have the chance to build a labyrinth and have chosen the respected Tohono O’odham Man in the Maze pattern.

The desert gardens south of the Ranch House are extensive.  A fire pit, horseshoes, bocce ball, stargazing patio and a profusion of wildflowers are playfully encountered along the meandering paths.  The desert landscape, like the Ranch House, seems to absorb activities without feeling crowded.

There is a very special place bordered by mesquites to the east and south, the path to the north, and creosote to the west.  The area is a natural 32-foot arena.  Two creosote, some weeds and a few wildflowers lived here.  This area will be the future home of the El Rancho Merlita labyrinth.

Day 1 – My daughter, Valerie, and I dug up the creosote for transplanting.  2 hr.

Day 2 – My husband, John, and I dug up all the weeds.  We staked the center and marked the circle with the radial points.  4 hr.

Day 3 & 4 – Decomposed granite was spread about 1” thick to create a clean smooth level surface and watered to begin compaction.  5 hr.

Day 5 – More watering.

**Next step: Lay out the path.

A Tucson Treasure!

February 20th, 2009 by pattiebell

El Rancho Merlita is to be  a feature property on the Tucson Treasures show by KMSB Fox 11 AZ.  Rancho Merlita is a tucson gem, and will soon be open to the public as a Bed & Breakfast. The Rancho Merlita Ranch House living room is pictured below (click photo to enlarge).

In order to serve our guests better we would like to create a Tucson Treasures blog.  What treasures have we discovered in Tucson and highly recommend?  Read our blog posts to find out…

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