Boots and Burgers is now available!

Boots-Burgers-amazon

Finally, a fun and exciting hiking book! Everyone in Arizona lives within 15 minutes of a trail (and everyone eats) so Roger Naylor leads the way to beautiful hikes and incredible bites. Walk off some calories and put them back on! A humor and travel writer, Roger highlights his favorite trails all over Arizona, featuring Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, the Phoenix area, Tucson and the southern deserts, the forests of the White Mountains, and Arizona’s “West Coast.” Each trail is followed up by a nearby mom and pop eatery. Pass the mustard!

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Congratulations, Jag Fergus

"Back to School" by Jag Fergus.

“Back to School” by Jag Fergus.

Thanks and congratulations to Jag Fergus for her sweet Back to School shot! Please email aarond – at -rionuevo dot com and he’ll get one of our fine books in the mail to you. Your photo will become a finalist for the grand prize.

This week’s theme is open for submissions — show us your shots of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Post your photos to our Facebook timeline before midnight MST on Wednesday October 29. We’ll announce the week three winner on the 31st. And don’t forget to remind your friends to vote for their favorites — the people’s choice competition will run throughout the entire contest.

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Photo Contest Week Three – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Steve Fossett's Global Flyer, in which he set the world record for the fastest nonstop, non refueled circumnavigation of the earth in 2005. His time was 67 hours and one  minute. October 2004, Mohave, CA

Steve Fossett’s Global Flyer, in which he set the world record for the fastest nonstop, non refueled circumnavigation of the earth in 2005. His time was 67 hours and one minute. October 2004, Mohave, CA

Life as we know it in the West would never have happened without the advent of piston engines. The car reigns supreme, but then, much of the innovation in aviation has happened in this part of the country, too. And then are the trains that contributed to the establishment of the tourist trade in large parts of New Mexico and Arizona.

One of the fun things about living in the West is the great number of vintage cars and other heavy metal you encounter on a regular basis. The dry climate and warm weather make for great preservatives.

This week the theme of our contest is planes, trains, and automobiles. Whether it’s an art car, a low-rider, a vintage bomber, a train car turned tiny house, or a brand new, tricked out pick-up truck, we want to see what comes to your mind when you think about transportation in the West.

As always, post your photos to our Facebook timeline, and don’t forget to encourage your friends to like your entries (no more than three entries per person, please). You have until Wednesday, October 29 at midnight to give us your best shot. Good luck!

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Ghost Riders Launch Party

GRITS-BK-launch-party-flier

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Fermented Chile Paste

Fermented chile paste by Stephen Scott

(Reprinted with permission from the Terroir Seeds Knowledge Library.)

Fermented chile paste is one of my favorite toppings or condiments: I use it on eggs and sandwiches, and in soups, stews, and of course, stir-fry. Most of the chile pastes found in Asian markets will be fermented to some degree, with those made in America less so. Fermenting your own puts you in the driver’s seat, as you get to choose what flavors go into the process and how hot or mild the result is. After you’ve made a batch or two, you’ll reach for your “special sauce” before anything else!

We’ve just made a different type of fermented chile paste and wanted to share the process with you. This is completely different than our other chile fermentation recipe, Fermented Pepper Sauce. This method is still a lacto-fermentation, but instead of depending on the natural lactobacillus bacteria on the chiles, it uses organic whole milk yogurt to jump-start the fermentation process. What we’ve found is that this method really adds to the complexity and roundness of the flavors while decreasing the heat considerably. This is so delicious that a small dollop goes well on top of real vanilla ice cream!

This is a very quick recipe – our fermented chile paste was finished in just about four to five days, instead of a couple of weeks to a month for the more traditional lacto-fermentation. We hardly saw any bubbling in the air pockets, with none on top. Because of the yogurt culture providing the fermentation engine, we didn’t need to cover the chile mixture with water and then strain it out later.

The chiles we used were heirloom Anaheim and Serrano chiles, with only about ten percent being Serranos. I used the Anaheims for the mildness and well-rounded flavors, with the Serranos providing a different flavor dimension and some good heat. I just cut the stems off of the Anaheims, but seeded, de-veined, and de-stemmed the Serranos, and the initial mixture was still pretty shockingly hot! The heat was an immediate, front-of-the-tongue heat, which is typical for Serranos. The initial odor was unmistakably sharp fresh chiles and garlic, but after one day it smoothed out and had a very pleasant odor. After two days it started to smell very mellow with sauerkraut overtones and the chile/garlic combination fading. When it was finished the two odors were pretty well balanced, with the flavor being remarkably smooth, rich, and long lasting. The heat had really mellowed to a very moderate background that never intruded or was uncomfortable, only adding to the experience.

Fermented Chile Paste

2 – 3 quarts fresh chiles, any type you prefer

2 – 3 cloves garlic, or for more garlic flavor, use the whole head

1 – 2 ounce piece of ginger, optional

Fresh lemongrass stalks, chopped – use the bottom parts that are more tender, optional

1 – 2 teaspoons organic sugar, optional

1 – 2 tablespoons Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce, optional

1 – 3 tablespoons natural salt, such as Redmond RealSalt or Himalayan salt

1/4 cup organic whole milk yogurt (you want as many live cultures as possible)

Make sure the half-gallon fermentation jar is extremely clean — wash with very hot soapy water and rinse very well.

Wash and de-stem the chiles, removing the seeds and veins if you want. Remove any bad spots. The seeds and veins contain the capsaicin, or heat. Milder chiles won’t add much heat, but hotter ones will. I usually remove the seeds and stems from the really hot chiles for a better flavor that more people can enjoy.

Peel the garlic cloves.

Add the chiles, garlic, and ginger, lemongrass, sugar, or fish sauce to the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped into a paste. Use your judgment as to how fine of a paste to form. Stop and scrape the bowl down to make sure everything is chopped well. If the mixture gets thick and won’t move in the bowl, add 1/4 cup water to make it looser.

Add the salt – if the processor is full, add 3 tablespoons, if over half full, add 2 tablepoons and if half full, add 1 tablespoon.

Add yogurt and pulse again to mix.

Transfer the paste to the 1/2 gallon jar for fermenting. Replace the screw lid loosely to keep insects out but allow pressure build-up to vent.

Place the jar where you can observe it daily while it ferments, but not in the refrigerator yet.

Daily, remove the lid, stir, smell, and taste the mixture. You will see some bubbles and possibly some mold forming. White mold is good — do not be worried with white mold! Any other color is cause for concern, usually due to the jar not being extremely clean or the chiles not thoroughly washed. Stir any white mold into the mixture.

Store in the refrigerator to slow down fermentation and enjoy!

Notes:

When the flavors are to your liking, it is done. If left alone, the fermentation will continue for a month or more, but don’t feel you have to wait on it.

Make sure that you have at least one full inch of headspace between the top of the chile paste and the lid, otherwise it can bubble over and make a mess.

 

Ripe chiles

Ripe chiles

We started with fully ripe heirloom Anaheim and Serrano chiles – the Anaheims for flavor with the Serranos providing a nice heat.

Preparing the chiles

Preparing the chiles

The next step was to remove the ‘heat’ from the Serrano chiles by removing the veins and seeds. These contain the capsaicin which is a yellow oil in the seeds and along the veins.

Seeding the serranos

Seeding the serranos

A butter knife worked well to slip into the chile and remove seeds and veins all at once. Note the disposable gloves to protect my hands now and eyes later!

In the food processor

In the food processor

After the chiles and garlic were chopped up in the food processor, the yogurt and salt were added, then pulsed to mix in well. Be careful when pushing the chile mixture down to keep your face away from the opening, as it can be quite pungent, depending on your chile selection!

Transferring to the clean half-gallon jar

Transferring to the clean half-gallon jar

After the yogurt and salt are added, the chile mixture is transferred to the fermenting jar. We started with the quart jar, but it was too full so we transferred to a half gallon to give it enough space.

Fermented chile paste

Fermented chile paste

After about 5 days, the fermented chile paste was ready to go. The aroma started to mellow after the second day, and by the fourth it had a sauerkraut odor with undertones of chile – surprisingly delicious! We transferred the paste back into a quart jar to store in the refrigerator.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

The final product glamor shot!

Stephen Scott is an heirloom seedsman, soil building advocate, locavore, amateur chef, artist, and co-owner, with his wife Cindy, of Terroir Seeds in Chino Valley, Ariz. He has  been involved with heirloom seeds, environmental education, habitat restoration, soil health, and building local food pathways for more than twenty years. He’s an author, speaker, and educator on seed, soil, food, and health and how they relate to and strengthen each other. Their motto is “From the soil to the seed to the food you eat.”

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Congratulations, Bob Miller

Cinder cone and rainbow, Lassen National Park, CA

Cinder cone and rainbow, Lassen National Park, CA

Week one of our contest presented some tough decisions for our editorial team. We were all impressed with the variety, beauty, and technical accomplishments of this week’s entries. John Morey’s moody Breaking the Sorrows of the Storm, Lack of Precipitation at Willow Lake by Jag Fergus, and the serene Mid-winter at Bosque del Apache by Dawn Santiago were some of our favorites.

In the end though, we all agreed that the balance of light and dark, the starkness of the cinder cone contrasting with the watercolor clouds and the pine trees, and the eye-catching subtle rainbow were an excellent representation of this week’s theme of precipitation.

Congratulations to Bob Miller! Please email aarond – at -rionuevo dot com and he’ll get one of our fine books in the mail to you. Your photo will become a finalist for the grand prize.

This week’s theme is open for submissions — show us what Back to School means to you. Post your photos to our Facebook timeline before midnight MST on Wednesday October 22. We’ll announce the week two winner on the 24th. And don’t forget to remind your friends to vote for their favorites — the people’s choice competition will run throughout the entire contest.

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Fall Photo Contest Week 2: Back to School

DSC00709

First day of first grade, bad hair, missing teeth, and all.

Thanks to everyone who entered week one of the contest. We judges have our work cut out for us! We’ll announce the winner tomorrow, but in the meantime, the people’s choice competition continues, so encourage people to like your photos.

Fall is a bittersweet time if you’re a kid, but it’s also exciting — new books, new shoes, new and old friends, football, and early mornings waiting for the school bus. Our theme this week is Back To School.  Show us what that looks like in your world, whether it’s the lunch you pack for the kiddos every day, or your Wildcat (or Devil, or Bruin, or Buff) pride before the big game. Be creative!

Post your photos to our timeline — no more than three per person, please — any time between now and midnight next Wednesday. We’ll announce the winner next Friday. Happy shooting!

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Pretzels for Oktoberfest

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They could be prettier, but tasted just what you expect a fresh pretzel to taste like!

Ah, Oktoberfest. The scorching heat has finally broken here in the desert, and we also have a good excuse to eat brats and drink German beer. What could be better? Having experienced the real Oktoberfest in Munich, which has no match, I tried to think how I could bring a little of that to my home in Tucson without overworking myself too much. Pretzels! Those delicious, giant soft pretzels (Brezel in German) are wonderful and something I had never before attempted to make.

Lye is what gives pretzels that delectable, golden brown outer skin, but it is hazardous to work with and not for the amateur. I was pleased to find that baking soda is a viable and commonly used alternative. I settled on Alton Brown’s recipe, since I love his show Good Eats, and I have always had good luck with his recipes. The procedure is actually quite simple—you just have to follow the steps exactly. Soon enough my house was filled with the delicious smell of pretzels, and they didn’t come out half bad for a first attempt! I quickly found that a low, wide pot is much easier to work with than a tall one for the baking soda bath, and make sure you have a large sturdy spatula—one that is too flexible won’t lift out the fragile pretzels effectively.

Brotzeit platter at Oktoberfest - an array of German deliciousness.

Brotzeit platter at Oktoberfest – an array of German deliciousness.

The next order of business was to seek out some quality bratwurst or other sausage. The Sausage Shop in Tucson was just the ticket. They have just about every kind of brat you could ever want, plus many other specialty sausages. I was in there for about five minutes and smelled like smoked meat for several hours (a pleasant smell though it kept making me hungry).

If you can’t make it to Munich this year (and everyone should at least once!), try your hand at baking pretzels. They aren’t very difficult, but the result is impressive. Pair with some good mustard and they will go fast.

Now that's a Brezel. Only at Oktoberfest.

Now that’s a Brezel. Only at Oktoberfest.

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What We Are Reading: October

Here is what our staff is reading this month. We would love to hear what you are reading, love it or hate it, too!

Face of the enemyFace of the Enemy: A New York in Wartime Mystery, by Joanne Dobson and Beverle Graves Myers

review by Jim Turner

I told the owner of Book Tales, in Encinitas, California, that I like “bookworm mysteries” that cover bibliophiles, history, or time travel, like John Dunning’s Bookman series, Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time, and  Jack Finney’s Time and Again. She recommended Joanne Dobson, who writes a series about a contemporary assistant professor of english, but Dobson also writes history mysteries. Face of the Enemy: A New York Wartime Mystery takes place right after the Pearl Harbor bombing. A Japanese artist (daughter of a Japanese cabinet minister), is immediately interned on Ellis Island as an enemy alien, and she’s also accused of murdering an art gallery owner. Dobson weaves WWII public hysteria toward Japanese and Germans throughout the book, and also includes pro-German and anti-war factions. Book TalesThe story is told through the eyes of a nurse turned detective and her roommates, including a woman reporter and a Katharine Hepburn–style strong-willed socialite. The plot was tricky enough that I wasn’t sure I had the right culprit until the end. Once again, asking a bookseller what to read definitely paid off.

Slow Learner: Early Stories, by Thomas Pynchon

slow_learner.largereview by Aaron Downey

In the Introduction to Slow Learner, Pynchon gives every reason he can think of why the stories the reader is about to devour are simply no good. They are immature, amateurish affairs, he claims. At first I thought, “But that’s absurd. He’s one of our finest living writers, if he is, in fact, still living that is.” The first story suggested he was being overly modest. Of course it’s brilliant! It’s Pynchon! But as I read the next four, and they got progressively incoherent, less masterful, and rather boring, I decided that maybe he was correct after all and that we should have listened to him from the start. In fact, because he’s such a recluse with so little known about him, the Introduction, which at least gives a bit of insight into his methods, turns out to be the most valuable work in the book. So if you stumble across this book, read the Introduction. And then toss it aside and read The Crying of Lot 49 instead.

simpleassnowAs Simple As Snow, by Gregory Galloway

review by Sylvia Leon

If you are not into the average, young love story, then As Simple As Snow is the book for you. Author Gregory Galloway takes you on mystery ride with hints and codes for your eyes only. Within the first paragraph you know you are about to read a love story unlike any you have ever read before, but with that being said, I hope you are be able to figure out the story better than I did. I appreciated the unique approach to love but I found myself with more questions than answers by the end.

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Friday Photo 10/10

Lockett Meadows Tom White

Lockett Meadows near Flagstaff, Arizona, in fall glory. Photo by Tom White.

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