Entries from Tucson

Recipes · · Tucson

Crock-Pot Cowboy Beans

You could draw a Venn diagram for how easy, inexpensive, fast-to-prepare, tasty, and satisfying this recipe is and it would resemble a single ring staining the surface of your treasured mesquite wood desk. It could happen one day when you are working from home and are so hungry and the beans smell so good and you hastily ladle a sloshy bowl and eat them right there in front of your monitor because you don't think to use a placemat.

That might be a costly mistake – handcrafted mesquite furniture isn't cheap – but at least your diagram would never be mistaken for the rings of the International Olympic Committee because trademark infringement like that could be even costlier.

Which is to say, this is just about the best recipe in the world. There are only a few ingredients and you can prepare the whole thing in three minutes in the morning and it's ready just in time for dinner.

In fact, getting the cowboys to take their boots off before getting into the pot is the hardest part. Har!

Also, this is just as tasty if you substitute liquid smoke and a spoonful of coconut oil for the bacon. Honestly though, if you don't have bacon or liquid smoke or coconut oil, don't worry and make it without. Who needs them, really? Not you and not this recipe.

  • 1 pound pinto beans
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free Southwest Chipotle Seasoning blend
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 strip bacon OR 1 tablespoon coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

Sort through the beans to be certain there are no rocks or dirt clods.
Rinse the beans and place in the slow cooker.
If including the strip of bacon, cut it into half-inch strips and add them to the beans. If not, add the coconut oil and liquid smoke.
Toss in the salt and pepper, add the water, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  

A bowl of these are yummy enough on their own, but more often than not, we'll eat this with little tacos we make with chopped onions, cilantro and avocado slices rolled up in street taco size corn tortillas.

Notes · · Tucson


Do you ever google how to make a baked macaroni and cheese and all of the results require you to read a short story about a destination wedding before giving you the recipe? Then you discover the writer neglects to say how hot the oven needs to be?

Last year, years after people stopped bothering with personal blogs, I finally got to meet in person a friend I made because of the blog I had a lot of fun keeping at the turn of the century, before we all moved to the walled gardens of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, and the constant blah, blah, blah. He shared with me some of the important work he does and the beautiful images he was making. I wanted to do the same, but mostly I just fretted about frustrations and insecurities. Partly because that’s what I do, and certainly because at the time I needed to talk to someone and he opened the door. (Sorry and thank you!) He encouraged me to write down something I’m grateful for every day, which is something I’ve tried to do ever since, usually when I first wake up and I’m waiting for the coffee to brew, which is probably why half the time I write: “I’m grateful for coffee.” Because I haven’t had any yet and it’s all I can think of.

Today it was zinnias. It’s been a summer fraught with disappointments and things to be anxious about, but the scruffy zinnias really came through for me. They didn’t care about the heat or the bugs or the rains that never came. They weren’t deterred by people not rising to the occasion and doing the right thing. They didn’t wrap selfishness in a flag and pretend it was something else. They persisted. And if I were better at this and maybe if I weren’t typing it all out with my thumb on this tiny glass anxiety rectangle, I’d find the paragraph breaks and transitions to say persistence is what I’m grateful for.

But actually, right now, it’s zinnias.


zinnias in a window looking out to a container garden and birdbath

Notes · · Tucson

Marking six months of selfishness and stupidity

The next time you find yourself at urgent care, the delivery room, operating table, or even the supermarket and your doctor, nurse or cashier is wearing a mask, suggest they join you in exercising our freedoms by removing it. When you’re done there, go to your car, cut your brake line and drive away as fast as you like without wearing a seat belt. As soon as you get home (or wherever you land) pull yourself from the wreckage, brush aside the bodies, take the gun out of your waistband or bag and shoot yourself in the foot. Because you can.

Recipes · · Tucson

Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, combine sugar, milk and vegetable oil. Beat the egg and stir it in. Add the vanilla. 

Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir just until everything is combined. 

Cover the bowl and let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour or as long as overnight.

When you're ready to bake the muffins, place an oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to 425 F.

While the oven is heating, oil a muffin tin, remove the batter from the fridge, stir in the chocolate chips and fill the muffin cups to the top. Add some water to any empty cups. Put the muffins in the oven and bake for 9 minutes before turning the oven down to 350 F. Continue baking for another ten minutes or so – don't open the oven door for at least that much time. The muffins are done when you can insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. Note: these times are for a tin of 12 muffins.

Photos · · Tucson

Punked Pumpkin

These are some fallen pumpkin leaves from our raised bed gardens.

Photos · · Tucson


A dog with golden fur, in profile

Princess. Named for royalty because she is.

Photos · · Tucson

Flying Monkey

Meaux, a little black and grey dog

Meaux, in a rare moment, under the influence of gravity.

Notes · · Tucson

Barefoot and Maskless

A giant chicken pecks at bathers on a beach in response to the statement: Things will get back to normal by July

What a week. What a day. I lost my cool with a store manager today who said he couldn’t require his employees to keep their masks on. “What if they also took their shoes off, hung them from their ears, and walked around the store barefoot? Would you ignore that also?” I wanted to say but just walked out instead as the mouth breathing MAGAs in line looked at me like I was being hysterical – Guess what, I was! – and I felt bad for losing my cool with someone who was probably doing his best just showing up when even grocery shopping has become a partisan theater of sneers. Memo to all who continue to support or remain silent about our impeached president and his bigoted politics of division and death: It’s working.

Honest Stuff I Make Up · · Tucson

Quarantine Quick Bread

Loaf of banana bread cooling atop the oven

On Wednesday, excerpts from an upcoming collection of oral histories, Don’t Get Me Started on Starter, were leaked revealing he was the last person in quarantine to make banana bread.