Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Winsome Wednesday! September 5, 2012

"Arizona Memories", 10"x10" mixed medium on canvas, by Tina C. Wells
We took a memorable trip to the mountains north of Phoenix this summer, where the weather was cool, and the forests full of wildlife (read more below). This piece is a canvas painted with acrylic; several photos and writings were added with decoupage, and then retouched with paint. The end result is an art memory board that combined special parts of our trip into a single art piece. It captures the hundreds of butterflies we saw in the meadow in Buck Springs, the aspen grove where Kenny carved his initials, and the deer we saw leaping through the forest. I would like to create new boards for upcoming trips, and make a collection to be displayed together.

Spinach Quiche

A few weeks ago, we were "GLAMPING" in the Arizona mountains. Quiche was a wonderful way to start the day, especially with fresh fruit, enjoyed by a morning campfire and cup o' joe. While we had a ham and cheese quiche camping (below), I wanted to share a spinach quiche recipe with you that is a favorite of mine.

Spinach Quiche
Start with a lightly baked pie crust in a 9"pie pan (recipe below)
1 box frozen chopped spinach, pierce box and microwave for 5 minutes
Combine spinach with 2 TBS chopped green onions, 2 TBS butter, and sauté, then cool 
Beat 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups half n half, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp pepper
Mix with cooled spinach sauté 
Place 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese on bottom of pie crust
Pour egg/spinach mixture over cheese in pie crust
Bake preheated 375 oven for 25-30 minutes

Pie Crust
3/4 cup Crisco
2 cups sifted flour (sift then measure)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup ice water

Mix flour and salt, then work crisco in with dough cutter; slowly add ice cold water and gently mix with fingers. Do not over work the dough. Divide dough in half and roll out half between two sheets of 15" long wax paper (freeze other half for future use). Refrigerate dough 10 minutes before placing in 9" pie pan, pulling off one sheet wax paper and placing dough in pan, then carefully removing top wax paper from top with knife and fingers.  Crimp edges. Pierce bottom and sides multiple times with a fork to prevent shrinkage. Bake at 400 degree preheated oven for 7 minutes before making quiche recipe above.

Journey to Arizona’s Beautiful, Wild Elk Country

You might wonder why we would travel to Arizona in August.  Surprisingly, just 2 hours north of Phoenix, 7,500 ft. in elevation, you find yourself in the woods, where afternoon thunderstorms are standard.  We are “glamping” with my husband’s brother and sister-in-law.  I call it “glamping” because I have been on the truly rough’n it kinds of trips with a tent, no running water, or bathrooms, etc. (I was, of course, decades younger when I did this).  We are camping with a trailer and generator that provides warm showers, a small kitchen, a bed and bathroom.  But the real glam, for me, is that we are not in a campground on asphalt with hook-ups to water and power, and a campground bathroom (the other kind of camping I have done); we are truly in the woods.  There are no numbered spots and reservations... you can just pull off on an old logging road in the national forest and make camp. Amazing!  There are hundreds of miles of these roads, and a person can seek out as much solitude as you like.  We are not so far out that we see no other signs of life, but far enough that we have tons of privacy, and it is wonderfully quiet.  We are tucked between the pines, the ground is covered in grasses, wild flowers, and the ever present yellowy-green ferns.  Whoever was here before us has built a swing from a pine tree branch and a perfect fire pit.  Terry and Stacee (brother and sister in-law) are amazing hosts and very generous with their gear and toys.  They have 2 ATV’s (all-terrain vehicles) for back woods, off road exploring. Camping with us are Stacee’s cousins, and our son Kenny, age 8. This place is 8 year old boy heaven, full of sticks, and stones, and old elk bones. 
We arrived Friday morning, and after setting up camp, we went for a long ride on the ATV’s.  We rode the logging roads, with some stops along the way at lakes and caves, all the way to the Mogollon Rim where we took in the gorgeous view.  We got back to camp in the late afternoon and enjoyed some wine, fruit, and cheese under the canopy as the rain gently came down around us.  When the showers subsided, James and I went out again in search of elk, but no luck, just free range cattle here and there.  Earlier in the afternoon, we spotted about 8 deer leaping between the trees- so lovely! We came back to camp to a beautiful campfire; and after our meal, we made s’mores, of course.

Mollogon Rim
Kenny with his Dad and Aunt Stacee and Uncle Terry

After a night of thunder and lightning, morning showed no signs of rain. One of my favorite parts of camping is coffee around a morning fire.  This was followed by a delicious breakfast of quiche and fresh fruit, an excellent start to our day.  After James and I had our ritual daily run, greatly enhanced by the scenery, we had some “Hunger Games” training! My husband is an archer...OK, I think he is incredible at it...he would argue this, but really it’s true.  He has been pulling a bow string since he was a kid, and is now training our son in the skill of archery.  Today will be my first lesson.  Kenny has a compound bow, which is fairly technical.  I will be making my “Katniss” debut with a traditional recurve.  My son and I had a 5 shot competition...he, of course, won.  While I have a way to go in the skill department, I really enjoyed trying this and would love to do it again.  
Katniss Training

We took another beautiful ride on the ATV’s, this time to the rim of Clear Creek Canyon. We took a short, but extremely steep hike to get a better look at this amazing canyon with rock walls of 1,000+ ft. How do I even begin to describe this?  Enormous, colorful rock formations that create a canyon in which a beautiful creek flows.  This is the home of big horn sheep.  God is an amazing artist!

Back at camp, we enjoyed Stacee’s “secret recipe” white chicken chili with corn bread and margaritas.  The smell of the campfire is wonderful, made of fallen pine branches, and pine needle kindling. Talk about aromatherapy. My son was having great fun adding more pine needles and watching them go up in flames- boys! We could hear a pack of coyotes not far off as we sang campfire songs and ate s’mores (I can’t say no).  Alas, a warm shower (my kind of camping), and...zzz.

We certainly made the most of our last day.  We took a 60+ mile (round trip) ATV ride.  We drove for about 12 miles through the pines until we reached the Rim Road.  It is aptly named as it winds along the Mogollon Rim.  We stayed along the rim for about 15 more miles with the most inspiring views, rugged rock walls, pines, and fallen trees, all in the Coconino National Forest.  This ride is breath taking, and I mean that literally; there are many spots where about a foot off the dirt road is a straight drop down, who knows how far. Incredible. 
We turned off the rim road toward Buck Springs where my husband spent his childhood hunting and camping. We stopped and took a long hike through Buck Springs to the remains of an old trapper cabin mingled in an aspen grove. We stopped for a brief picnic and long enough to carve Kenny’s initials in a large aspen, as James and his dad had done 35 years ago in the same area.  This place is so peaceful and gorgeous, I wanted to linger longer.  Kenny was busy catching butterflies, grasshoppers and horney toads.  The sky was full of huge billowy clouds, that kept teasing us with rain that never really came.  Buck Springs has a beautiful meadow with dense forests on either side.  There were signs of many elk all around, but mid-afternoon is not the time of day that they come out in the open. If we were only going to be here in this spot in a few hours, we would likely see a large herd.  We hiked back to the road, and eventually home. Happy.
And a good time was had by all...  

Thanks again to Terry and Stacee, who generously shared this experience with us, and put in many hours behind the scenes making it such a memorable trip. We love you.    

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