Week One Winner!

Lockett Meadows by Tom White

Lockett Meadows by Tom White

Our fall photo contest is off to a great start with some excellent entries this week. After plenty of back and forth discussion among the members of the editorial team, we declared Tom White’s image of Lockett Meadows the winner.

We especially liked the composition in this photo. The negative space of the sky reflected in the pond mimics the shape of the mountains in the background, and the ring of plant material floating in the foreground mirrors the curve of the pond’s shoreline. The image also shows the progression of the aspen from bright green to brilliant gold and finally to stark white bare trunks on the higher mountainside.

Congratulations, Tom, and thanks to everyone who shared photos with us this week. Tom, please send your mailing address to aarond – at – rionuevo.com and we’ll get a book on the way to you. Don’t forget — the people’s choice part of the contest continues until the end of the final week, so encourage your friends to like their favorites.

This week the theme is yellow and gold, so show us what you’ve got!

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Week Two Theme: Yellow and Gold

2015-10-03 15.37.01In keeping with our celebration of fall color, this week’s theme is yellow and gold. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to submit a tree photo — yellow and gold show up in lots of unexpected places.

As always, submit up to three photos to our Facebook page by midnight next Wednesday. And remind your friends to vote by liking their favorite photos. We’ll announce the winner next Friday. And keep an eye out for our week one winner announcement tomorrow.

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Photo Contest Week One — Green

Green 1 Autumn is one of the most colorful times of year in the American West, whether it’s the mountain passes bathed in yellow and gold, a big pile of multi-colored pumpkins at the farmers market, or a batch of green chiles getting ready for the roaster. For the next six weeks we want to celebrate the colors of fall with our photo contest, and this week, the theme is green.

Don’t limit yourself to the obvious and literal — show us your creativity. As always, please post your photos to our Facebook timeline before midnight next Wednesday and let us know they’re contest entries. Be sure you own the copyright for the photos you enter, and no more than three weekly entries per photographer, please.

Green 2The Rio Nuevo editorial team will announce the weekly winner next Friday. Please spread the word so your friends can vote for their favorites for the people’s choice award. That winner will be announced at the end of the six-week contest, along with a grand prize winner chosen from the weekly winners.

Encourage your photographer friends to enter, too. The more the merrier! Each weekly winner will receive a book from the Rio Nuevo catalog, and the grand prize and people’s choice winners will receive an assortment of books along with a profile story on our blog.

Let the fun begin!

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Time for Another Fall Photo Contest!

Fall photo contest selfieThe days are getting shorter and the nights cooler, so that can only mean one thing — another Rio Nuevo fall photo contest. Every Thursday for the next six weeks we’ll announce a new theme, and entries will be due by the following Wednesday at midnight. We’ll announce each weekly winner on Friday. Each weekly winner will be eligible for the grand prize award at the end of the contest. In addition, we’ll do a people’s choice award for the photo that gets the most likes on Facebook.

The rules are simple:

  •                 Entries may come from professional or hobbyist photographers.
  •                 Rio Nuevo staff may enter, but won’t be eligible for prizes.
  •                 No more than three entries per week per photographer.
  •                 All photographs must be the property of the entrant.
  •                 Photos should reflect the theme and life in the West.
  •                 Prizes will be awarded at the discretion of Rio Nuevo, and have no cash value.
  •                 Rio Nuevo reserves the right to use entered photographs in social media for purposes of the contest. Any other use by Rio Nuevo will be negotiated with the entrant.

Spread the word! The more entries, the merrier! And be on the lookout for our first theme announcement next Thursday.

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Today’s Travel Tip: Leaf Peeping in Colorado

by Marilyn Noble

Vail Pass along I-70 shows off its autumn colors.

Vail Pass along I-70 shows off its autumn colors.

September is my favorite month in Colorado. The days are balmy and warm, the mornings crisp and cool, and the sky is a glorious deep shade of blue. And then there are the trees. A quick drive through the foothills west of Denver shows the aspens just beginning to shimmer gold, but up in the high country, the display is reaching its peak.

Flying over the state from Denver a few days ago, I could see spots of brilliant yellow and gold on almost all the mountains, from the Sawatch Range and Sangre de Cristos to the San Juans. Before I left, I spent a weekend on Colorado’s Western Slope and drove through a good part of the state. It was especially beautiful in the Crystal River Valley around Redstone and Marble and along Independence Pass between Aspen and Leadville.

If you want to see the splendor that’s autumn in Colorado, make an easy day trip from Denver by traveling I-70 west to Georgetown and heading over Guanella Pass, which is mostly dirt for about 20 miles until it connects to Highway 285 to bring you back to Denver. You could also continue up I-70 past Georgetown to Lake Dillon and Frisco and then drive over Hoosier Pass through the Mosquito Range. If you make that choice, be sure to stop for lunch at the Tiki Bar in the Dillon Marina. You can enjoy your burger and beer sitting under a tent on the lake, watching the clouds wander over the mountains and the wind surfers out on the lake. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.

The Crystal River Valley near Redstone and Marble.

The Crystal River Valley near Redstone and Marble.

If you have more time, head west to Carbondale and drive up the Crystal River to Marble, where they’re still pulling crystalline white Yule marble from the quarry that gave us the marble for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington. Stop and visit the historic Redstone Inn, built by John Cleveland Osgood as a dormitory for the unmarried coal miners who settled there to work at the end of the 19th century. It makes a good place to spend the night – Redstone is a small village filled with art galleries and shops and it’s off the well-traveled path that most Colorado tourists explore. To return, drive through Aspen and over Independence Pass, then along the Arkansas River headwaters to Buena Vista at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks. From there it’s an easy drive east on 285 through South Park, over Kenosha Pass (more color), and into Denver.

Even the tundra changes color in the Fall. At the top of Independence Pass.

Even the tundra changes color in the fall at the 12,095 foot summit of Independence Pass.

Independence Pass 3

Even with the haze in the air from the California wildfires, Independence Pass is still one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado, especially in the fall.

One note – I-70 through Glenwood Springs is currently under construction and is limited to a single lane in both directions. Expect slow, heavy traffic and delays. And one more thing – EVERYONE in Colorado likes to get out on the weekends to hike, bike, and see the colors, so traffic back into town on Sundays backs up on both I-70 and Highway 285. If you have a choice, go during the week when the trip is considerably easier.

If you want to get the best pictures of your leaf-peeping adventure, check out these tips from the Denver Post.

Marilyn Noble is Rio Nuevo’s cookbook and blog editor, and has written four cookbooks including Southwest Comfort Food and The Essential Southwest Cookbook. She is also the co-chair of the Southwest/Mountain Ark of Taste committee and the Colorado governor for Slow Food USA. She splits her time between Colorado and Arizona.


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What We’re Reading: September

This month we are reading a collection of supernatural tales—two ghosts and a time traveler.

american ghostAmerican Ghost by Hannah Nordhaus
review by Marilyn Noble

At La Posada de Santa Fe, a sad ghost haunts one of the upstairs bedrooms. She is Julia Schuster Staab, the original owner of the grand mansion, built for her by her husband Abraham. Hannah Nordhaus is the great-great granddaughter of the Staabs, and after having heard all the legends about her ancestors, she sets out to determine the truth from the myths. Her journey carries her from her home in Colorado to New Mexico, Florida, and Germany, where the family roots were established and finally destroyed during the Holocaust. Along the way she consults distant relatives, historians, and psychics to ferret out information about why Julia is a tortured soul who can’t leave the place where she lived and died.

Nordhaus is a skeptic about the spiritual world and not especially connected to her Jewish roots, but during the course of her research, both of those things change. She develops a new appreciation for her heritage and in particular, for the tribulations her ancestors faced living in the Wild West trading outpost that was Santa Fe in the 1800s. Even though they were successful and fabulously wealthy, for her cultured German great-great grandmother especially, life was difficult. Santa Fe was far from the chic center of art and culture that it is today. It was dusty, dirty, barren, isolated, and rowdy, a far cry from the small town in Westphalia where Julia was raised.

The book gives the reader a fascinating glimpse into New Mexico’s history, life and travel in the West in the late 1800s, the Spiritualist movement, the Holocaust, and the author’s own journey to embracing her family’s heritage and history.

ghost of greenwichThe Ghost of Greenwich Village by Lorna Graham
review by Jim Turner

It’s hard to find good, unusual books. Best sellers are not always for me, nor are books in which the author’s name on the cover is larger than the title. I like quirky mysteries, history, and the Beat Generation, so this book was a perfect fit.

As a writer, I like books about writers; go figure. The main character, Eve Weldon, is a writer for a morning news show very much like Good Morning America. The author worked for that show, so it’s a finely crafted insider view, charged with dramatic personalities. In between tales of 1960s Greenwich Village writers and artists, we get a fascinating look at the monumental amount of research involved in Eve’s job. It’s like preparing for graduate seminars on two dozen topics six days a week.

The novel weaves in several stories from different eras, another of my favorite styles. Eve’s mother lived in The Village at the height of the Beat Era, and gave it up to raise a family in Ohio. The ghost knew her mother, and died in Eve’s apartment. There are also lost manuscripts, and a “Stiletto Bandit,” not a man who carries a skinny knife, but one who wears high heels. One main thread is the poignant and courageous interaction between Eve and her mother.

Talk about life imitating art, last week I was called for a telephone pre-interview by a staff writer for a CBS online radio show. The interview turned out exactly like the ones Graham described in her book. It was uncanny; after an in-depth phone interview in which the staff writer appreciated the amount of fascinating material I gave him to work with, the star of the show used hardly a fraction of it. I urged my interviewer to read The Ghost of Greenwich Village, but his life is like Eve Weldon’s and Lorna Graham’s, so I’m sure he won’t have the time.

Gabaldon-Voyager-220x332Voyager (book 3 of Outlander series) by Diana Gabaldon
review by Caroline Cook

I’m late to the party on picking up Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, but after finishing Voyager, book 3, I am fully invested. Not just a silly romance series, Outlander defies genre and its thrills and love scenes are supported by the rich historical background of eighteenth-century Scotland, France, and beyond. Gabaldon has clearly done her research, writing in great detail about culture, military, government, and medicine of the time and place. And no wonder—the first three volumes push 1000 pages. She also doesn’t shy away from graphic violence, so reader be warned. Gabaldon has already moved the story ahead by decades by book 3, so I am interested in where she takes her epic tale over the total of eight books, which she completed in 2014.

The series thus far focuses on Claire Beauchamp, a twentieth-century British Army nurse, and her love with James Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scottish soldier. Claire, the “Outlander,” is accidentally whisked back in time during a Scottish honeymoon with her husband Frank and thrust into the world of James Fraser and the Jacobite risings against the English Crown. Voyager finds Claire and Jaime making the long and treacherous voyage across the Atlantic to the West Indies.

Outlander offers fun, somewhat light reading, while also being smart, detailed, and well-written. Gabaldon, a fellow Arizonan, has won me over.

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How One Author Publishes Cookbooks

essential swSanta CruzSW comfort

Have you ever thought about publishing a cookbook? Maybe your friends and family rave about your cooking, or you just love spending time in the kitchen concocting new creations. Here’s how noted food writer and cookbook author Diana Henry does it.

And by the way, Rio Nuevo is always looking for great cookbook ideas with a focus on the Southwest. You can email managing editor Aaron Downey or cookbook editor Marilyn Noble with your ideas or questions.


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Dining at the Grand Dame: An Evening at Chez Panisse

by Marilyn Noble

In the world of fine dining, restaurants come and go. Only a handful seem to stand the test of time and survive for more than a few years. Le Bernardin in New York, Canliss in Seattle, the French Laundry in Napa – all are among the few who have managed to deliver a consistently excellent dining experience without resorting to trendiness or being the next hip place.


The front entrance. Photo by Anne Van Roekel.

Chez Panisse is one of those places. Alice Waters, known fondly as the mother of American cuisine, founded Chez Panisse in 1971, and today it remains in the same funky neighborhood a few blocks away from the University of California campus. Waters began by sourcing her ingredients – organic, seasonal, and still-bearing-dirt fresh — from local farms long before it was the trend du jour, and that practice at Chez Panisse continues today. In the meantime, she’s written cookbooks, won awards, started a foundation and a program to teach school kids about growing and eating healthy food, and been instrumental in the growth of the Slow Food movement in the U.S. and around the world.

This past spring my son moved to the Bay Area and now lives just a few minutes away from the venerable Berkeley establishment. When my family asked how I wanted to celebrate a big decade birthday this year, I told them I wanted us to have dinner at Chez Panisse.

I had heard from several people that Chez Panisse had become a faded glory; that the food wasn’t any better or more creative than any other farm-to-table place; that the service could be uneven, snooty, and aloof; and that it probably wasn’t worth the hefty price tag. Still, with all of my involvement in the food world and having met Waters on several occasions, I felt like I had to at least have the experience of eating there once.

I’m happy to report that, at least on the night we were there, the naysayers couldn’t have been more off the mark. The staff was warm and friendly, the atmosphere was gracious and unpretentious, and the food was a celebration of the best of summer in California. It was a magical evening.

We walked in the door a few minutes early for our reservation, and the host gave us the option of waiting on the newly rebuilt front deck (a late night fire in 2014 destroyed the front of the place) or going upstairs to the bar. We made the second choice, and the by time the smiling bartender handed us our glasses of wine, the host was there to seat us. We had opted for the formal prix fixe dinner in the downstairs dining room, rather than ordering off the menu in the more casual café upstairs.

California halibut and King salmon tartare, with cucumbers and fennel salad.

California halibut and King salmon tartare, with cucumbers and fennel salad.

Once we were seated at our table, our server appeared with an aperitif – prosecco with mulberry and a hint of rosemary – and a plate of anchovies and heirloom cherry tomatoes sprinkled with a little mint. The tomatoes were so sweet they tasted like candy, and we were able to settle in to enjoy the evening and each other’s company. The first course was a tartare of California halibut and King Salmon with a fennel salad and cucumbers. The halibut was so fresh it had a buttery consistency that almost melted in the mouth. Even the non-seafood-eating member of the party said he enjoyed it.

The succeeding courses were artfully presented and the flavors melded perfectly – fettuccine with sweet corn, chanterelles, squash blossoms and basil; and the main course, grilled rib-eye with marchand de vin butter, grilled onions, straw potato cake, and wild rocket. Everything tasted as if it had just been picked, probably because it had. With each course we had wine, and our server knew how to make recommendations based on our tastes, food pairings, and budget. The final flourish was a mulberry ice cream and rose parfait vacherin (a type of meringue) with fresh-off-the-tree peaches.

House-made fettucini with sweet corn, chanterelles, squah blossoms, and basil.

House-made fettuccine with sweet corn, chanterelles, squash blossoms, and basil.

Grilled rib eye with marchand de vin butter, grilled onions, straw potato cake, and wild rocket.

Grilled rib eye with marchand de vin butter, grilled onions, straw potato cake, and wild rocket.

Mulberry ice cream with rose parfait vacherin and peaches. Yes, it was a deliciously happy birthday!

Mulberry ice cream with rose parfait vacherin and peaches. Yes, it was a deliciously happy birthday!








At our server’s invitation, I walked through the kitchen, where the atmosphere was peaceful and not chaotic. Everyone was focused on their tasks – obviously a group of professionals. The front-of-the-house staff was also professional, yet friendly and welcoming. We never felt rushed, and the courses came out at the right pace. No one even blinked when we discreetly took a few non-flash pictures with our phones. It was a perfect dining experience.

As someone whose usual dining out fare is a burrito from the taco stand around the corner or a late-night salad at the local downtown Littleton pub, eating in a place like Chez Panisse is a rarity and a special treat. But if you appreciate good food, I would encourage you to splurge once in a while on a really great experience. At the very least, investigate your local fine-dining scene. A new breed of chef is following in the steps paved by Alice Waters and Chez Panisse four decades ago. They’re sourcing high-quality, fresh ingredients from local farmers and ranchers and cooking seasonal, whole foods without pretension or fussiness. And that’s a trend worth supporting.

Chez Panisse offers two options for dining. The downstairs restaurant offers a fixed dinner menu that varies on a daily basis. The upstairs café is open for lunch and dinner and offers a full menu that also varies on a daily basis. Reservations are available one month in advance.

Marilyn Noble is Rio Nuevo’s cookbook and blog editor, and has written four cookbooks including Southwest Comfort Food and The Essential Southwest Cookbook. She is also the co-chair of the Southwest/Mountain Ark of Taste committee and the Colorado governor for Slow Food USA.


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Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection Coming to Tucson

The Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection brings together local food producers prepared to transact at a wholesale level and introduces them to wholesale food buyers at restaurants, hotels, etc. from across the state.

Farmer+Chef is the state’s only event of its kind, aimed at building wholesale food networks at the local level. The cornerstone of the event is the Suppliers’ Marketplace, a vendor fair exclusively featuring Arizona food producers and distributors. The event will feature a concurrent series of breakout workshops and close out with a reception featuring Arizona beer and wine.

General admission tickets are available for $10 each. Vendor packages are available for $75. Vendor packages include: 6′ table space in Suppliers Marketplace, table linen, and 2 General Admission passes.


Suppliers’ Marketplace:

The Suppliers’ Marketplace is an all day vendor fair featuring the best local food products Arizona has to offer. Producers, distributors and value added processors line up with displays and samples of their products, and wholesale information. Meet our producers to learn what is and will be in season, and set up future procurement relationships.

Breakout Sessions:

This year’s Breakout Sessions will occur in tandem with the Suppliers’ Marketplace, offering attendees a customizable experience. Sessions and panels will cover a diverse array of topics important to building up local food supply chains and establishing successful farm to table relationships. With a heavy focus on industry tools and skills, Farmer+Chef breakouts will equip attendees with a new toolkit, and prepare them for success in the Suppliers’ Marketplace.

Local Food Reception:

We will close out the day with a reception for attendees that features locally sourced appetizers and Arizona wine and beer. The end of day reception will run 5-7 pm.

Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection is brought to you by: Local First Arizona, Edible Baja Arizona, Tucson Originals Restaurants, Good Food Finder, Edible Phoenix, and Slow Food Phoenix.

Sponsored by: Merit Foods of Arizona, NPS National Processing Solutions, Bar & Restaurant Insurance, Green Living AZ and Tucson Foodie

**More information and registration here: http://localfirstazfoundation.org/azfarmerchef/**

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What We’re Reading: August

the-martian coverThe Martian, by Andy Weir
review by Aaron Downey

Sometimes the stars align. I received this book for my birthday at the time I was editing our forthcoming book, The Boundless Universe: Astronomy in the New Age of Discovery by Sidney Wolff, and shortly before the New Horizons spacecraft wowed us at the pinnacle of its nine-year mission with amazing photos of Pluto. So outer space was on my brain, and I devoured this finely crafted interplanetary shipwreck story.

Mark Watney, the engineer and botanist of the first manned Mars mission, is hurt in a freak accident during a storm and thought dead by his hastily departing fellow astronauts. Stranded and unable to communicate with the crew of his ship or Earth, Mark must muster up every bit of MacGyvering he can to save his own life with the equipment and smarts he has available. He’s like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, except with insane temperatures, a lack of easily accessible oxygen or food, and 70s TV shows to keep him company instead of Wilson the volleyball.

The brilliance of this book is in the voice of the narrator, Mark; he logs the math and physics of everything he is doing to solve his never-ending problems, but in a totally accessible, lively, and humorous manner. And the science is legit, according to Weir, a computer scientist who dabbles in astrodynamics as a hobby. As he posted earlier versions of the book online, he received many tips and corrections from fans within the world of scientists who know these things.

The day after I finished reading this book, I mentioned it in passing to Sidney, former director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (including Kitt Peak). Though not her usual fare, she had just finished and enjoyed it as well. The Martian is a fast and fun read for anyone who likes science fiction, but it has major crossover appeal to those who simply enjoy a ripping yarn about good old-fashioned strength, determination, and ingenuity in the face of all odds.

land of milkThe Land of Milk and Uncle Honey: Memories from the Farm of My Youth, by Alan Guebert and Mary Grace Foxwell
review by Marilyn Noble

Alan Guebert has been an ag journalist since graduating from the University of Illinois in 1980, and his weekly column, The Farm and Food File, has been syndicated in more than 70 newspapers across the U.S. and Canada since 1993. While many of his columns are no-punches-pulled commentaries on the state of agriculture, others are reminiscences of his life growing up on a Midwestern dairy farm.

His first book, The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey, is a compilation of those columns, revised with the help of Guebert’s daughter Mary Grace. He reflects back on the days of back-breaking labor and farm-kid high jinks with love, poignancy, and a good dose of humor.

His grandfather’s brother, Uncle Honey of the title, is an especially rich target. Uncle Honey was a sweet-natured, gentle man who worked the farm with the rest of the family and hired hands, but he was inept when it came to machinery.

“In fact, the machinery-killing Uncle Honey was the inspiration of my father’s favorite quasi-Biblical axiom. ‘The Lord protects fools and children,’ Dad would often say when he eyed Uncle Honey on a tractor. ‘That’s a wonderful thing,’ he’d add, ‘because either way, Honey’s covered.’ More borderline blasphemous than sacred, I knew it wasn’t a proper prayer. Still, it worked, because in the twenty years Uncle Honey bent, busted, and beat up every piece of machinery he touched, not one hair on one person, including himself, was ever harmed by all the mayhem.”

If you ever spent time on a farm, or just wish that you had, you’ll appreciate Guebert’s portrayals of family farm life—the work, the food, playing baseball in the pasture—and the richness that comes from living a life of hard work and simplicity, things that get lost in our uber-connected, always-on, 21st century world.

This book is a beautiful trip down memory lane, whether or not the memories are yours.

boys in the boatThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
review by Caroline Cook

I knew very little about the sport of rowing, and didn’t have much interest, before picking up this book. This true story about one eight-oar crew team of University of Washington students and their road to competing in Hitler’s Olympics, however, was absolutely fascinating, nonetheless. Brown focuses on one of the students, Joe Rantz, who overcome extreme poverty and a tumultuous family life to put himself through school and succeed at the highest level in his chosen sport—a sport that traditionally had been reserved for the wealthy elite. Rantz and his teammates faced a childhood and adolescence during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and entered adulthood as Hitler was weaving his web in Europe.

Brown puts you right in the boat with the crew with beautiful descriptions of technique and environment. You can feel the excitement and tension of each race as the team gets closer and closer to the coveted gold medal. Periodically we leave the racing waters of Lake Washington and get a glimpse at Adolf Hitler, Jospeph Goebbels, and Leni Riefenstahl preparing for the great propaganda stage that would become the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The juxtaposition is haunting indeed.

This may not be the most famous story to come out of the 1936 Olypmics, but it is just as compelling as any. There are no stars in crew like there can be in other sports—these nine men had to fully give themselves to and trust the other eight in the boat to achieve the perfect “swing” on the water.

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