CalabacitasThis 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.


Serves 4–6

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.

Posted in Books, Food | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Mike Ward — Rock star, Surfer, Ranger, and Author of Ghost Riders in the Sky

GRITS-cover-400pixBy Jim Turner

Mike Ward was born in Pomona, California, during the Truman administration (1945–53) and grew up in Arcadia, an idyllic suburb of Los Angeles. He says the crowning achievement of his grade school years was when he “handily won the ‘Best Rester’ award during our morning nap ritual.”

His parents met at the Claremont Colleges, where his father was a business major and his mother majored in art. His mother, a bohemian at heart, grew up in Salinas, where she met playwright Henry Miller and dated Michael Murphy, future founder of the Esalen Institute.

aOn the tractor with Grandpa Turk

Mike and Grandpa Turk

Mike fondly remembers summers spent with his grandfather, Turk Tavernetti, at the family’s Salinas Valley lettuce and broccoli farm. He has magical memories of the farm and of being “precariously seated on the rusty old Ford tractor.” John Steinbeck, his grandfather’s Salinas High School classmate, mentions the “Tavernetti boys” in his best-selling novel East of Eden.

On the opposite side of the family, Mike’s paternal grandfather, a severe Scotsman who moved from Buffalo, New York, at the turn of the century, started a chicken ranch near Hollywood just before the silent movie industry arrived. Mike’s father owned a company that manufactured stoves and iceboxes for travel trailers and mobile homes. Several times a year his dad would take the family to Estero Beach, Ensenada, Mexico.

daEstero Beach 1967 (1)

Mike, Mark Daigle, and Jeff Nimmo, Estero Beach, 1967

Mike says he surfed, dug for clams, rode motorcycles, and at the age of fourteen discovered the joys and inevitable sorrows associated with Mexican beer. “My love of travel and adventure stems from my father’s happy, open sense of exploring the world, and I’m lucky to be gifted with his easy-going, affable personality,” he says. “My artsy-fartsy side stems from my mother, who did her best to foster her creative instincts while trapped in the role of a 1950s ‘Leave It To Beaver’ mom.”

Mike is the oldest of three kids. His sister Joanne is married to a Walt Disney Imagineer, and his brother Tom, who lives with his wife and two daughters in Ventura, Calif., is a talented product designer whose work ranges from private French jet interiors to John Deere tractors. “Tom is a man of diverse talents and a great guy, just like my dad,” Mike says. “I count myself very lucky to be blessed with a sibling who is also a best friend.”

iThe Rock Star Who Never WasWhile Mike’s scholastic career was nothing to brag about, he says music has been the touchstone of his being since he took his first guitar lesson at age ten and could immediately whip out a mean version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”  As it was for many Baby Boomers, the Mickey Mouse Club was the cultural apex of Mike’s after-school world. “It’s a toss-up as to what I had the most intense infatuation with, Annette Funicello or the Mickey Mouse Club theme song,” he says. He also loved the Triple R theme song of the Disney “Spin and Marty” serial. “Who would have thunk that more than fifty years later I’d end up writing the biography of the guy who wrote that song?”

Doors ticket (1)In junior high Mike played bass guitar in a neighborhood rock band. Los Angeles was the perfect place for a guitar-playing high schooler, and Mike went to local concerts such as The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour where B. B. King and Ike and Tina Turner opened the show.

Rolling Stones cropt

eHolo Holo Campers Hilo, Hawaii copy (1)

Steve Welch, Mike Ward, Fred Pausch.

After high school, Mike chose Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for college because of its proximity to good surfing. But after two years, he headed for the big waves and went to work for Holo-Holo Campers, a company that rented camping rigs to tourists in Hilo, Hawaii. Mike loved Hawaii, but freaked out with a bad case of island fever one day when he realized he couldn’t just hop in his car and drive to Arizona any time he wanted to. He returned to California and entered Chico State University in northern California in the fall of 1972.

Chino State DJs (1)

Arrow, upper left, points to Mike, alias Studebaker Hawke.

“The high points of my years there involved music,” Mike says. He was a DJ at the student station, KCSC, where his air name was Studebaker Hawke. “I could play whatever the heck I wanted,” he says, and even showed up one Saturday morning with a stack of Disney albums for three hours of “Uncle Hawke’s Children’s Hour.” Although his musical tastes are all over the map, Mike says, “I never seriously keyed into country and western music and yet here I am, the biographer of Stan Jones, who wrote one of the most famous western songs on the planet.”

Double-O-Arch_Arches_National_Park_2One of Mike’s favorite professors at Chico was Dave Carter, who taught philosophy and became a lifelong friend. Mike says Carter’s reading list—Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and Joan Didion’s collection of essays, Slouching Toward Bethlehem—changed his life. On spring break that year he and four other students crammed into his Dodge van and made a pilgrimage to Arches National Park where Abbey had rangered and written in the late 1950s.

jThe Humanities Graduate with Mom & Dad at Chico - one foot toward Death Valley

Mike with his parents, Joan and Ken Ward, at graduation.

After graduating from Chico in 1976 with what he calls a “catchall” bachelor’s degree in humanities, Mike moved to Berkeley and got by with odd jobs painting and cleaning houses. “I had no clue about a career of any kind,” he says, “just floating along the river of life, drifting like the poor soul in the first stanza of Rimbaud’s “Drunken Boat.”

FurnaceCreekInn1970sMike was still going with his high school girlfriend when they drove to see their families over Christmas break in 1976. Their cat, “a six-toed fuzzy fellow named Mozambique,” went with them. They detoured through Death Valley and stayed overnight at the Furnace Creek Ranch. “Our normally well-behaved cat snuck out of the cabin and didn’t return,” he says. “We were heart-broken and stayed an extra day wandering around Furnace Creek in hopes of finding our fugitive feline.”

While searching, Mike stopped by the Fred Harvey Company personnel office. “There was something about the place that moved me to mutter to myself ‘what the hell, why not’ and I filled out an application. We found the cat, drove back to Berkeley, and five days later I got a call asking if I’d like to go to work at the Furnace Creek Inn washing dishes.”

On January 5, 1977, Mike said see you later to Mozambique and his girlfriend. “I packed my truck with a guitar, a box of books, and a modest selection of record albums, and drove back to Death Valley where I would live and work until the fall of 1991. I had floated right down that river to a desert paradise 278 feet below sea level.”

So that’s how Mike Ward grew up and came to work in Death Valley, the same place where Ranger Stan Jones wrote “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” In the next installment, we’ll see how Mike got the idea to write the book and how it came to be.

Ghost Riders in the Sky by Mike Ward is available now at your favorite bookstore.

Jim Turner is an historian, editor, teacher, researcher, and author. He received his masters degree in U.S. history from the University of Arizona and is now an editor for Rio Nuevo Publishers. He writes history articles for various newspapers around the state, and his pictorial history book, “Arizona: Celebrating the Grand Canyon State,” was named  a “Top Pick” for Southwest Books of the Year by the Friends of the Pima County Library. You may reach him at


Posted in Author Profiles, Books | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Friday Photo 9/12

Day 6 Globe Canon 060 jack drink

A jackrabbit takes a drink in Globe, Arizona. Photo by Jim Turner.


Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Arugula Salad

Modern-SW-coverThis 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.

Arugula Salad

Serves 4–6

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.

Posted in Books, Food | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

What We Are Reading: September

diary of a part time indianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie with art by Ellen Forney

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?

Simple DreamsSimple Dreams: a Musical Memoir, by Linda Ronstadt

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.

Midst of LifeIn the Midst of Life, by Jennifer Worth

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.

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Ghost Riders in the Sky now available

GRITS-cover-400pixGhost 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

Posted in Books, History, News & Events | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Friday Photo 9/5

Dolliver Sedona

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, AZ. Photo by Sarah Dolliver, Focus On Nature Photography


Posted in Nature, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

One of THOSE people rides the California Zephyr

By Marilyn Noble

Point Reyes headshotA few months ago, Amtrak announced a traveling writer’s residency program. They pay your way and you get to ride on one of their long-haul routes and write, tweet, post, and Instagram your experience. It sounds like romantic good fun, but the reality, at least for me, was a little different. Last Thanksgiving, I did my own writing retreat aboard the California Zephyr, one of Amtrak’s historic lines from Chicago to San Francisco. I rode from Denver to Sacramento, a trip of about thirty hours.

I travel a lot and I enjoy flying, but I thought it might be a relaxing change of pace to take the train to our family Thanksgiving celebration. I envisioned it as a chance to work without interruption, catch up on my reading, snooze a little, and of course, take in the wondrous scenery of the Rockies and Sierra Nevada.  I elected not to do a sleeper cabin, partly because of the expense, but also because I hoped for some social interaction with my fellow travelers. And just in case it turned out to be not fun, I booked my return trip on Southwest Airlines.


Denver Union Station is one of the great train depots of the West, especially since a recent renovation has turned it into a multi-modal transit hub with restaurants, shops and a hotel. (Photo courtesy Creative Commons)

I dragged my bags from the light rail stop through mostly deserted downtown Denver streets under a brilliant pink early morning sky. Union Station was in the midst of a major renovation project, so Amtrak was housed in a temporary station a few blocks away. A diverse mix of travelers crowded the place — lots of older people, but also many families heading for the mountains for a long holiday weekend of early season snow sports.

I felt relieved I wasn’t the only train virgin. Several people approached the ticket window with a tentative, “I’ve never done this before. How do I…?” The unfailingly friendly woman behind the glass answered the same questions over and over, always with a smile. Chaos ensued when the conductor made the boarding announcement, but eventually everybody moved out to the train. I found my assigned car, stepped in and stowed my large bag in the rack, then climbed the narrow stairs to the upstairs seating compartment.

Silence reigned in the mostly empty car. The few travelers who had come from points east slept with the curtains closed. All of us were California-bound. I found a seat and settled in, pleased to notice the electrical outlets right next to me. I could keep my phone and laptop charged while I worked.

Promptly at 8:05, the engineer let out a blast of the horn, and we rolled slowly through parts of Denver I’d never seen before. That’s one of the fun parts of train travel – you get a different view of the familiar. We climbed into the foothills west of town via a series of switchbacks and tunnels. The Eastern Plains and Boulder spread out below, but the blazing early morning sun turned the grime on the window into an acid-induced, day-glow collage, which precluded any photography.

The tracks pass through twenty seven tunnels on this part of the trip; the longest of which, the Moffat Tunnel, is a little more than six miles. It takes ten minutes to traverse the tunnel, at an elevation of more than 9,000 feet at the apex, the highest Amtrak route in the U.S. The tunnel’s massive exhaust fans can’t vent all the fumes, so the conductor warned us to stay in our own cars until we came out the other side, since opening the doors between the cars will suck in the train’s exhaust.

Not all of the scenery was breathtaking. This is from the train platform in Fraser, the first stop.

Not all of the scenery was breathtaking. This is from the train platform in Fraser, the first stop.

We reached our first stop in Winter Park/Fraser two hours after we started, a trip of 70 miles, both beautiful and slow. I lost cell service somewhere around the sixth tunnel, which meant no Internet, and I felt free, if a little unnerved, to be untethered from the grid.

I spent the rest of the day watching the mountains, rivers and wildlife glide by – elk, bald eagles, the gorges and canyons of the Colorado River – along with plenty of coal trains heading the other direction. Mineral extraction is alive and well in Colorado. I did lots of noodling and a little work, although cell service remained spotty. We pulled into Grand Junction a little before four (about four hours longer than it would have taken to drive) and made a twenty-minute stop. It was the first time I got out of the train all day, and it felt refreshing to breathe clean air and stretch a bit. We rolled out again, this time into the wide open desert of eastern Utah and the pink and gold sunset.

2013-11-26 10.41.452013-11-26 12.40.292013-11-26 12.40.142013-11-26 13.31.33

2013-11-26 13.02.232013-11-26 15.37.492013-11-26 15.34.302013-11-26 13.59.50

(Above: The first day of travel from Denver on the California Zephyr takes you through the mountains of Colorado along the Colorado River and through the vineyards of the Western Slope. A highlight is Glenwood Springs, a small hot springs resort and a popular destination for travelers from the Front Range.)

On the advice of friends who had done the same trip a few months prior, I took plenty of food with me, but I decided to eat a proper dinner in the dining car. I showed up at my appointed time and the host seated me at a table with three fellow passengers. One, a woman who travels frequently from Grand Junction to Salt Lake City, said the train was easier than driving through hundreds of miles of nothingness. Another was a man who makes riding the train frequently a hobby. He had started in Milwaukee and was on his way to Seattle to visit friends. My third dinner-mate was a woman heading from Grand Junction to Reno. As we got acquainted, I told them I had enjoyed the trip through the mountains, but I was a little antsy at the lack of speed. The three of them exchanged looks.

The Reno woman launched into a diatribe about how awful it is to fly these days. From her comments, it seemed she hadn’t been in an airport in years. I said I fly all the time and actually enjoy it, and the man said, a trace of derision dripping in his voice, “Oh, I could tell you were one of THOSE people.” I asked what he meant, and he replied, “You know. Flyers. I knew it when you said the train was slow.” I felt like the nerdy kid who accidentally ended up sitting with the cool kids in the cafeteria. I waited for the hazing to begin, or for the conductor to show up and hustle me off at the next stop. But we finished dinner without incident and I returned to my seat after a stop in the lounge car for some wine.

During the long refueling stop in Salt Lake, swaddled in my blanket, feet up, and comfortably dozing, I stayed in my seat. I slept well until daylight pierced the cabin about 6:30 as we crossed the gray-brown wasteland of Nevada. After nearly twenty four hours of silence in the car, people started to chat, mostly about God and the Cubs. I stayed quiet, but I learned a lot about my fellow travelers – the gravelly-voiced preacher traveling from a funeral in New York to his home in Southern California, the ninety-year old woman going to visit her great-niece near Sacramento, the young dad headed to spend time with his fourteen-year-old son for the holiday.

Early morning along the Truckee River between Reno, NV and Truckee, CA.

Early morning along the Truckee River between Reno, NV and Truckee, CA.

In Reno, the train filled up with more holiday travelers and then started the climb into the Sierra foothills along the Truckee River. Back in the mountains, we slowed to a painful crawl over Donner Pass. I contemplated the late autumn landscape, feeling fortunate that I didn’t have to make this trip by wagon train like the early pioneers who suffered untold hardships on their way to a better life.  The ancient miners’ shacks hanging off the hillsides reminded me of the challenges of making a living in the hardscrabble gold camps of the high Sierra.

Donner Lake, known as the Jewel of the Sierra, is a natural freshwater lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. It was the site of the tragic demise of the Donner party.

Perspective is a valuable thing, because by that point, pretty much over the journey and ready for the destination, I was starting to get fidgety, counting the minutes to Sacramento.

For another three hours we snaked down the west side of the mountains along the I-80 corridor, through a scrub oak/pinon ecosystem dotted with an occasional shack or sometimes a small vineyard. Eventually the haze of Sacramento appeared. I was thrilled, because the gravelly-voiced preacher had hit his stride and was talking non-stop about the glories of the Lord. I respect other people’s beliefs, but the proselytizing was getting to me. I silently prayed for the trip to end.

The train station in downtown Sacramento lacks the grandeur of Denver Union Station, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless.

The train station in downtown Sacramento lacks the grandeur of Denver Union Station, but it was a welcome sight nonetheless.

We made a quick stop in Roseville, then twenty minutes later we rumbled across the bridge over the American River and into downtown Sacramento. I packed up my things, grabbed my bag, and emerged from the thin metal tube that had started to feel like a prison. My kids met me at the curb, and when we got home, my daughter handed me a glass of wine and a towel, then pointed at the shower. “Go!” she said. It felt so good to wash the stale air of the train out of my hair and off of my skin. And I felt grateful I had a plane ticket for the trip home.

This trip helped me discover something about myself that I hadn’t realized before. I’m a big believer in the concept of slow – Slow Food, Slow Money – but the slowness of train travel just isn’t for me. If I’m going to be cooped up for hours on end in a conveyance, I would rather it be a car so I can stop when the spirit moves me and watch the eagles fly and smell the cool air on the river bank, or grab a piece of pie in a little out-of-the-way spot where the waitress calls you “Hon” and keeps your coffee cup full. That, to me, is slow travel. But mostly I appreciate getting on a plane, relaxing for a couple of hours, and then arriving at my destination clean, refreshed, and ready to get on with things.  So yes, I guess I am one of THOSE people. But even THOSE people need an adventure now and again, just to remind ourselves about the things we appreciate in life.

Here's to Slow Food, Slow Money, and plane travel.

Here’s to Slow Food, Slow Money, and the journey to self-discovery.

Marilyn Noble is a freelance writer and the Rio Nuevo cookbook editor. Her latest projects include Southwest Comfort Food, Slow and Savory; The Essential Southwest Cookbook; and Modern Southwest Cooking. She was born and raised in Arizona, but now lives in Colorado where she is the Rocky Mountain Regional Governor for Slow Food USA as well as the co-chair of the Slow Food Southwest/Mountain Ark of Taste committee. She appreciates a good adventure.

All photos by Marilyn Noble using an iPhone 5S, unless otherwise noted.

Posted in History, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Friday Photo 8/29

naylor boots burgers

Congrats to author Roger Naylor, whose new book, Boots and Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers, has gone to press! Look for it this fall. Photo by Rick Mortensen.

Posted in Books, Nature, News & Events, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Decadent French Toast

New Southwest CookbookThis baked French toast is served by the Big Yellow Inn Bed and Breakfast in Cedar City, Utah. Carolyn Niethammer chose it for her New Southwest Cookbook. The inn typically serves it with berries and sour cream on top; poached apple slices or other fruits are also delicious. Take your cream cheese out of the refrigerator in time for it to soften so you can spread it easily on the bread. For best results, use good quality bakery-style bread rather than the spongy kind.

Decadent French Toast

Serves 8

16 slices firm bread
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Cinnamon and granulated sugar to taste
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup maple syrup
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and/or blackberries)
Sour cream for garnish

Spread 8 slices of bread with cream cheese and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Top each with another slice of bread. Cut “sandwiches” in half diagonally.

In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup. Cook over low heat 5 minutes until dissolved. Transfer mixture to an 11  x 17–inch baking pan and spread to cover the bottom. Add sandwich halves to pan. In separate bowl, blend together eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour over bread. cover and let sit 45 minutes or overnight in fridge. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Uncover and bake for 30–40 minutes, until the top layer has browned and the bottom sugar-syrup mixture has caramelized. Remove pieces to plates or platter, flipping so caramel side is up. Top each serving with berries and a dollop of sour cream.

Posted in Books, Food | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off