Entries from Tucson

Photos · · Tucson

Volunteer Safflower

Dried safflower plant and flower heads photographed against a black background

The colors of Safflower's waxy leaves faded after its springtime cameo, but its legacy of thorns pokes on.

Photos · · Tucson

¿Y dónde están las pipas?

Dried sunflower, capitula to root, photographed against a black background

This sunflower and its multiple flower heads provided us many hours of viewing pleasure this spring and seeds and seeds and seeds for the birds.

Photos · · Tucson

Wintry Panache

branch and red berries of a Chinese Pistache tree against a blue skey

In this photograph, I am apree-see-ating nature with the wintry panache of a Chinese Pistache.

Notes · · Tucson


Cuando andábamos cortando rábanos unos comíamos y otros dejabanos

White icicle radishes
Red radishes

Six months into this urban gardening busyness and all I know for certain is if you want a quick “win” (as they say), plant radish seeds in the ground or in pots, water regularly, and in five weeks you’ll have more of the crunchy taco condiments than you have refrigerator for. 

Photos · · Tucson

Do acorn squash taste like acorns?

Three acorn squash against an orange background

The cashier wanted to know if acorn squash taste like acorns and I said more like pumpkins. Later I thought who am I to say when I don’t know what acorns taste like?

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

The night before you make this recipe, sort through the beans to be certain there are no rocks or dirt clods. Rinse the beans and soak them in a pot of water. overnight. In the morning, before you put them in the slow cooker, bring them to a boil in a pot of water on your stove for 10 minutes. 

While the beans are boiling on the stove, add the coconut oil, onion, garlic, and seasoning to the slow cooker.

Toss in the salt and pepper, add the water. 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. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, until beans are cooked through. 

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.

Safety note about cooking beans at low temperatures: Since posting this originally, I have seen conflicting information about cooking beans at low temperatures. Some say cooking beans this way won't effectively remove the lectins , which can stomach problems. Others say, it's fine if you're cooking pinto beans, but not safe for kidney and some other beans.