Sunday, July 31, 2011


We had scads of eggs needing to be used up, along with a few potatoes, so a frittata fit the bill.  The great thing about a frittata is that you have so many options for fillings. The combination of the potatoes and green olives is excellent and is a nice little change for your palate.  Because the olives are salty to begin with, I did not add any salt to this recipe.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water
3 new potatoes, rinsed and cut into 1/2 inch-dices
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped (I would add more)
Ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, minced
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 ounces Mozzarella cheese (or any other cheese you have on hand)
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

1.  Adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees

2.  Heat the oil and water in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes,  olives, pepper, and garlic,  cover and steam until the potatoes are just tender (2 to 3 minutes).  Remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates and potatoes are lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes longer.

3.  Lightly beat the eggs with Parmesan, Provolone,  rosemary, and pepper to taste.

4.  Shake the skillet to evenly distribute the ingredients, then add the eggs.  Without stirring, cook until they start to set around the edges, about 1 minute.  Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are puffed and set, 10 to 12 minutes longer.  Slide or invert onto a large plate, cut into 4 wedges, and serve.

Recipe from How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


                                                        Mission San Juan Capistrano

A gorgeous bright blue Southern Cal day for a little outdoor touring.  We traveled down from Laguna Beach to Capistrano to see the famous Mission San Juan Capistrano where the swallows return home to their little nests every year. 

California mission style is one of my favorites.  Open courtyards, arches, corridors, tile roofs and lush plantings.  I could have stayed in this spot all day.  But my 13 year-old niece loves to explore so let's get walking.

Look at the peonies just outside the old rooms of the missionaries.

The remains of the Great Stone Church, destroyed in an 1812 earthquake.

During the earthquake, over forty people were killed while attending Mass including two boys who were in charge of ringing the bells in the old bell tower.

Koi Pond

Wouldn't you love to have these benches dotting your property? 

The new chapel

The very well-organized kitchen garden

Close your eyes.  Can you smell the lavender? Hmmm, oh, and a little hint of oranges, too. 

Here are the cozy little mud nests of the swallows who return every March 19th and depart sometime in October

Time for a rest in the shade.

Shoes that shout, "I'm on vacation!"

One last look.  

Mission San Juan Capistrano is run by a non-profit organization receiving no funds from any governments or the Catholic church.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This morning we're going to take a little road trip from Greer further east to Nutrioso, Alpine, and Hannagan Meadow.  This drive has always been one of my favorites, but things have changed dramatically because of the Wallow Fire.

But, first, we'll stop for some of the best pancakes on the planet at The Rendezvous Diner.  

I asked the cook for her recipe, she said, "Buttermilk, flour, butter, baking powder."  Hmmm, I'm pretty sure she left out some crucial ingredient that makes these pancakes sing.  Possibly cake flour?  Okay, back to our road trip.

We are now heading out of Greer driving north, we'll turn right on Highway 260 towards Springerville/Eager.  Then we will turn and go south on 191. This is where the pain begins.

This has always been a favorite drive.  The kind of drive to play Bach Brandenburg Concertos and roll down the windows to smell the fresh air, feel the wind on our faces, and absorb the gorgeous sights.  This time, it was more appropriate to play Bach's Cantata BWV 146, the English title: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God". Fitting.


Heli-seeding in Alpine

That puff of brown smoke in the top left side of the ridge is seeds and mulch being dropped on the barren ground by helicopter.  Isn't that the coolest?  We had seen the smoke the previous day and my heart dropped.  But I was told by our friend, Andy, that heli-seeding was taking place in Greer, Eager, and Alpine.  We watched for about 30 minutes as the helicopter dropped the load, disappeared, re-load, and drop another load of seeds and mulch.  

Escudillo Mountain 

We drove past blackened forest for about 50 miles, meaning there were always charred trees somewhere along the road. For the entire 50 miles. Bless those firefighters.

Hannagan Meadow

Hannagan Meadow was a happy sight.  Still beautiful after barely escaping the fire. Elevation 9100 feet (Greer is about 8500 feet)

Hannagan Meadow Lodge

Hannagan Meadow Lodge, built in 1926, also escaped the fire.  If you're looking for a complete getaway, this might be the place for you.  No phones in the room (one pay phone in the lobby), no tv's, no movie theatre down the road.  And a pretty weak cell signal (I'm not complaining). Just the lodge, cabins, restaurant, and a little market next door.  And the folks who run the place are so friendly.  This is definitely on my list for an overnight stay.

Blue Vista Lookout 

This lookout is about seven miles south of Hannagan Meadow.  You can see straight across to New Mexico (about 15 miles or so).

I love Arizona
We were stuck in construction traffic behind these beauties for around 20 minutes.  The cow refused to make eye contact with us.

Back to Greer.

We stopped at this little spot for a late lunch before we returned back to the heat of Phoenix. I love roadside food trucks.

Frosty Bottom Cafe

The owner, Kristi, told us she made the best sandwiches on the planet.  I love that level of confidence in a cook.

She was right.  Excellent.

Also excellent.

Kristi at the Frosty Bottom Cafe

That wraps up our tour of the Wallow Fire aftermath.  Devastation, absolutely.  Still a beautiful area, definitely.  Worth a trip, yes!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


It was as if bells were ringing and the angels were singing as my sister and I drove into Greer, Arizona.  Greer is the tiny gem at the end of a road in the White Mountains.  My family and I have spent many summers in this magical little hamlet so we were heartsick when it appeared to be a victim of the horrific Wallow Fire that recently tore up over 500,000 of some of the most beautiful acres in eastern Arizona.

Road into Greer
We made a quick trip to Greer to see for ourselves the aftermath of the fire. Holding our breath as we traveled down Highway 373 we were immersed in gorgeous green trees interspersed with charred and toasted trees along the road and on the surrounding mountains.

Lazy Trout Market
First familiar site: the Lazy Trout Market, formerly the Circle B.  We popped in and bought a few needed items: Big Hunk (really?) and a Pay Day.

Eastern Slope
Then we looked to the left and our eyes drifted from healthy trees, to brown trees, to blackened sticks along the ridge-line.

Rendezvous Diner

Next up, the Rendezvous Diner:  Still intact but surrounded by heaps of sandbags to prepare for potential flooding if the rains come down faster than can be absorbed.

Molly Butler Lodge
Right next door is Molly Butler Lodge.  Been there forever and still looking good. Whew.

Western Slope
The western side of the valley was untouched.  Gorgeous.

Amberian Peaks Lodge - Greer
We stayed at the Amberian Peaks Lodge, newly renovated with spacious rooms and tucked away at the end of the road. The fire came close but it also survived.

View from Amberian Peaks Lodge
Just look at that view? And those blue skies--perfection. Oh, and did I tell you the high temperatures are around 77 degrees?  Lows in the mid-40's.  If you live anywhere near Phoenix you know those are summer temperatures that one only can dream about.

Heading into Butler Canyon
Now comes the hard part.  We were fortunate to become acquainted with a great guy, Andy Kurtz, who spent his summers growing up in Greer and is now a retired hydrologist. He took us into Butler Canyon to see the aftermath of what appeared to be an inferno. First, things look pretty good--lots of green, a bit of charring. Not too bad.

Andy pointing out the burn pattern and erosion
Then we walk about 100 yards and we are in the middle of a cindered forest walking on top of a good 8 inches of ash and silt.

Burned out root holes sneak up on you if you aren't careful, meaning you can literally sink up to your knees.  So we tread very carefully.

A bit of hope
After being in the middle of a film noir, the splash of green was a feast for the eyes.

The Bracken Fern are up!
And all that Bracken Fern now practically looks like a full blown dancing meadow.

Can you spot the deer? (Right side of pic)

After our tour, we returned to our lodge for dinner and a movie (a fun little Russian film that we brought with us, The Concert).

As you can imagine, the firefighters saved Greer and the community could not be more grateful.  Large "thank you" signs were posted all over the place (which, oddly, I only have one hard to read picture of).

Hand made thank you sign to firefighters at top (squint your eyes, that might help)
Note:  Over 30 structures were lost in the Wallow Fire.  Family homes and cabins perished.  I did not post any pictures of burned-out structures out of respect for the owners.

Next up: Nutrioso, Alpine, and Hannagan Meadow