Kiva ladder, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. Photo by Kerrick James, www.kjphotosafaris.com.
Both peaches and prickly pears ripen from mid-summer to early fall, depending on where you live. What better time to make this rosy ice cream that combines the mellow flavors of both fruits? From The Prickly Pear Cookbook, by Carolyn Niethammer.
Cactus Honey Sherbet
Makes about 1 quart
3 medium very ripe peaches
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 1/2 cups prickly pear purée or juice or Arizona Cactus Ranch nectar
1/2 cup honey
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
Plunge the peaches into a large pot of boiling water for about one minute; using a slotted spoon, transfer them immediately to a large bowl of cold water. The skins should slip off easily. Slice the peaches. This should make about 1 1/2 cups.
Sprinkle gelatin over the 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine 1 cup prickly pear purée, juice, or nectar with peach slices in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat under the fruit, strain off 1 cup of liquid. In a small saucepan, combine this liquid with the honey, and cook gently just at a simmer until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add the softened gelatin and lemon juice to the honey mixture and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
Purée the cooked peaches and remaining juice in a blender. Combine with the gelatin and honey mixture and—if you have an ice-cream maker—the whipping cream. Refrigerate until chilled. Pour into the container of your ice-cream maker. Process according to manufacturer’s directions until mixture is hard to churn. Remove dasher. Cover and freeze for an hour or two.
If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, transfer mixture to plastic bowl before adding whipping cream, and freeze until nearly hard. Break up and beat with an electric mixer. Beat the whipping cream until stiff and fold into the fruit mixture. Refreeze until firm.
Government Prairie in Parks, Arizona. San Francisco Peaks (with Wild Bill Hill in front of them) and Mt. Kendrick in the background. Photo by Sarah Dolliver, Focus On Nature Photography.
This is a great dish for late summer, when corn, squash, and chiles are all found at farmers markets and roadside stands. You can use one kind of squash or a combination, and you can also wrap these calabacitas up into vegetarian burritos. From The Essential Southwest Cookbook.
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound), diced
2 small yellow summer squash (about 1/2 pound), diced
Approximately 1 1/2 cups corn kernels (about 2 large ears)
2 New Mexico or Anaheim green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, zucchini, and summer squash, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the corn and green chiles, and continue cooking until the zucchini and summer squash are tender. Add salt to taste.
Remove from heat, toss with cheese and cilantro, and serve hot.
This simple and fresh salad will liven up your plate. Go for the freshest arugula you can find, and while you’re at the farmers market, look for the honey people. There’s always someone selling local honey. From Modern Southwest Cooking, by Chef Ryan Clark.
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup blended oil*
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound arugula
2 pears, sliced
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Add the egg yolks, vinegar, and mustard to the blender and puree until smooth. with the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil to create an emulsion. Stir in the honey, salt, and pepper.
In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula and the dressing as desired. Garnish with sliced pears and blue cheese.
*75 percent canola oil and 25 percent olive oil. You can find it at the grocery store or make your own.
review by Aaron Downey
When I read that an Idaho school board had banned this young adult novel by American treasure Sherman Alexie, I marched out immediately to go buy a copy. It’s a shame that some kids won’t get to read this book while they are young and can get the most out of it. Aside from the bits and baubles that make parents uneasy (and let’s face it, make it more fun and realisitic), there is also the story of Arnold “Junior” Spirit, a broken 14-year-old loner growing up among, and despite, breathtaking poverty and pervasive community-wide substance abuse. There is the dichotomy of being a member of two societies but not seen as whole by either—in this case an Indian trying to get off the “rez” to go to a “white” school, a metaphorical struggle that will be familiar to any youngster who is of mixed race in modern America. And there is the story of racism, friendships lost and found, devastating personal loss, and the awakening to inner strength. Oh, and did I mention it’s hilarious?
review by Marilyn Noble
If you’re looking for a scandalous, sex-drugs-rock-and-roll tell-all, this isn’t it. Instead, this is the story of a small-town girl from a musical pioneer family who grew into one of the reigning pop icons of the 70s and 80s, and did it with grace, class, and passion for the music of her roots. Linda Ronstadt has always been one of Tucson’s favorite daughters, and in Simple Dreams, she tells stories of Tucson in the first half of the last century—a place where she rode her horse from one end of town to the other, enjoyed musical evening picnics in the desert with her extended family, and listened to everything from Mexican radio to opera to Hank Williams.
Ronstadt goes into detail about how her albums were produced and she gives accolades to the many friends and colleagues who made her career possible. At the same time, she treats people with gracious aplomb who were less than helpful or caused her grief. Through it all, she remains humble and self-effacing. The book is an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane for those of us who came of age in the 60s and 70s, especially for those who grew up in the Southern Arizona desert, and it’s also an inspiring story of determination, dedication, and being true to one’s own ideals.
review by Caroline Cook
Jennifer Worth’s memoirs are the inspiration behind the popular BBC series, Call the Midwife. If you haven’t seen it, seek it out immediately (airs on PBS, streams on Netflix, available on Blu-ray/DVD). Worth worked as a nurse, midwife, and ward sister in London in the 1950s and 60s. In the Midst of Life, her final memoir, focuses not on birth but on death. As Worth cared for very ill and dying patients, she saw some of the problems with how the dying are treated, both in society and in medicine. Death has become taboo and in many ways we no longer know how to deal with it or accept it. In one story, a very old woman should have died quickly and peacefully, but she was kept alive through extraordinary measures, only to endure years more of suffering, with little quality of life. Another woman, clearly dead, possibly already for hours, from a heart attack, was futilely given CPR for an hour by paramedics.
Stories such as these were very difficult to read. Some of the tales of suffering and prolonged dying made me feel the urge to tattoo “DNR” on my forehead. Several times I felt I could not keep reading, but something, perhaps Worth’s beautiful prose, or the depth of her passion, emotion, and spiritual reflection on the subject, kept me going to the end. Not all of the stories are disturbing; some are quite beautiful. However difficult, this book makes you think deeply about life and death, and I emerged on the other end very glad I had read it.
Ghost Riders in the Sky: The Life of Stan Jones, The Singing Ranger, by Michael K. Ward is now available!
Scene: Death Valley National Monument in 1947. A handsome young park ranger named Stan Jones idly plucks his guitar, looks up at the sky, writes a cowboy song . . . and strikes gold. Next stop: Hollywood, where Stan finds himself working with the likes of John Wayne, John Ford, Gene Autry, and Walt Disney. The song becomes a timeless hit, bridges musical genres, and is recorded by hundreds of artists, including Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Judy Collins, and the Blues Brothers.
Sounds like a movie? It’s the true story of Stan Jones, now told in full for the first time. His great song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” continues to have a life of its own, performed all around the world in ever-changing musical modes, still casting an eerie spell over listeners today.
“I’ve waited a lifetime for a book this good on Stan Jones, who wrote the Ghost Riders song that lassoed a nation. Mike Ward rounds up a whole corral of fact and fun…”
—Bill Broyles, author of Sunshot and Our Sonoran Desert
“Ward does a superb job of sorting through the many myths and tall tales that have grown up around Jones, to reconstruct a life that is, in its own way, stranger than the tall tales.”
—Doug McAdam, Stanford University, author of Freedom Summer