Summer Succotash


This succotash isn’t really a succotash because technically, succotash should contain lima beans.  I never called this recipe succotash until two summers ago when our cajun friend Tracy, whose from Southern Louisiana, was visiting the Dusty Dog, and I was preparing this dish for dinner.  She said, “What’re you makin’ Boo?”

I said, “Corn, zucchini and tomato casserole.”

She said, “Oh it’s a succotash.”

I had never really considered succotash other than in relation to the Warner Brother’s character Sylvester and his catch phrase “Sufferin’ succotash”, but Tracy seemed to know the ways of succotash more than me so now when I plan on making this dish I say something like, “I’m gonna make my succotash thing.”

I put the word “thing” on the end because somehow it still doesn’t seem right to call it full on succotash with the missing lima beans and all.  I like the word succotash though – it’s like a song.  Or the makings of a good poem – maybe?  And, I’m happy I make a dish called succotash.


I wish I’d come up with this recipe on my own, but it’s a favorite from a treasured cookbook of mine called Pot Pies:  Comfort Food Under Cover by Diane Phillips.  I love every single recipe I’ve ever made in this cookbook.  They are all wonderful and worthy, but this recipe, which she calls Corn, Zucchini, and Tomato Pie, is one I turn to almost every week during the summer.  Since I make it so often I have adapted it just a bit.  This summer succotash is another great way to use all those zucchini and the other summer heavy hitters – tomatoes and corn.

photo-239 photo-228


It’s a great dish to take along to a dinner party or to make on a weeknight to go along with fish on the grill.  It tastes wonderful, it feeds a lot of people or a couple depending on how much you make, and it looks like you’ve spent hours whipping it up with it’s beautiful pie-like presentation.  There’s no sufferin’ with this succotash, so go ahead and haul in the zucchini and tomatoes from your garden, and stop by your local roadside stand where the area farmer’s are selling their corn, then put it all together into this delicious mix of summer flavors.


Summer Succotash 

(Adapted from Pot Pies:  Comfort Food Under Cover by Diane Phillips)

Vegetable Ingredients: 

2 zucchini or calabacita squash cut into chunks

4 ears of fresh corn shaved off the cob

3 tomatoes sliced thin

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste


Topping Ingredients:

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I like using Panko breadcrumbs but you can use whatever you have)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan

1/2 tsp garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste


Making the Succotash:

Preheat the oven to 350°.  In a casserole dish, mix together the chunks of zucchini, shaved corn, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper.


Place the tomato slices on top of the zucchini mixture.

Melt the butter, and mix it into the breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Make sure it is all incorporated, then sprinkle it on top of the tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.  Serve immediately.


Please Note:  You can assemble the succotash ahead of time, cover with foil and place it in the refrigerator for baking later.

Serves 8-10 side dish servings

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Quick & Easy, Recipes, Savory Pies, Sides, Tomatoes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Greek Quinoa Salad


Are you cooking with quinoa?  If you aren’t, you should reconsider.  It’s one of those whole grain, fiber powerhouses and it’s so good for you.  According to the Ancient Harvest Quinoa box, quinoa is a complete protein grain on it’s own.  They also claim it contains more protein than other grains.  It’s gluten free too, which is good for those who can’t tolerate wheat products, and it’s really quick to prepare – even up here at the Dusty Dog with it’s high elevation.  Unlike brown rice, quinoa only takes about 15 minutes from beginning to finish.

Over the past six months quinoa has been one of those new additions to my diet and a part of my purging of the white foods.  I’ve lost 11 pounds and three pant sizes by eating more grains, beans, fatty fish, and tons of fruits and vegetables.  Quinoa has been an integral part of my transformation.


During the summer months, I love serving cold foods I can prepare in advance, and quinoa works really well as a base for these types of dishes.  This summer I’ve been using quinoa in place of pasta in pasta salad and have been making enough to have it in the fridge to add to mixed grilled vegetables at dinner.


Lately, several friends of mine have been posting photos on Facebook of their Greek Island summer vacations, and it’s made me think back to a couple of years ago when we visited the Island of Santorini and had a beautiful Greek salad in the tiny town of Oia overlooking the breathtaking scenery of one of the most romantic spots in Greece.



This was the view as we ate that magnificent salad and drank delicious wine.  It was a cloudy, overcast day, but that didn’t dampen our mood and the beauty of the surrounding hills and stunning architecture.

So, all those photos of my friend’s Greek vacations made me think, why not make a Greek quinoa salad.  I’m clearly not the first person to have such an epiphany.  An internet search pulled up many Mediterranean and Greek quinoa salads, and my salad is not much different from theirs.  I’ve added a couple things that have nothing to do with a Greek salad but are Mediterranean  – things like artichoke hearts and pine nuts.  I thought they’d add some nice flavor, a little crunch and a tiny bit of something different.  This Greek quinoa salad will be the perfect cold side dish to serve with dinner tonight for our neighbors who are coming over for a sit down by the fire at our new fire pit that Rhonda and I built – no easy task in the rocky mountains where every inch of digging produces a wide variety of small, medium, and super sized rocks.


See all of those rocks – that’s what I’m talking about!  Building that fire pit has made me realize we can do just about anything to which we set our minds.  It was some really hard work, and one of my shoulders is still out of whack.


Dinner tonight will be a healthy mix of Mediterranean ingredients with nutty quinoa playing a major role. I’ll make the Greek quinoa salad this morning and it will be the perfect side to the garlic shrimp Rhonda plans to make on the grill tonight.  We’ll add a nice green tossed salad and it will be a complete meal.  Easy, quick, and simple this cold, do-ahead salad is the perfect addition to your next summer get together.



1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 small cucumber chopped

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes quartered

1 small purple onion chopped

1/2 cup kalamata olives sliced

1/3 cup pine nuts

6-1/2 ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts chopped

1 small bell pepper chopped (I used a red pepper since that is what I had on hand)

1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

juice of one large lemon

salt & pepper to taste

1 tbsp oregano


Making Quinoa:

Place one cup of quinoa in a sauce pan and add 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  When time is up, turn off the burner and keep covered for 15 minutes to absorb any extra liquid.  Set aside to cool.

Putting Together the Quinoa Salad:

Chop all the vegetables.


Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until well combined.  Chill for several hours before serving, so the flavors have time to combine.


Makes approximately 6 side dish size servings

Print This Post Print This Post





Posted in Quick & Easy, Recipes, Salad, Sides, Uncategorized, Whole Grains | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Dark Chocolate Zucchini & Coconut Muffins with Vanilla Bean Glaze


Zucchinis are everywhere.  Have you noticed?  If you have a garden, you know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t have a garden you know what I’m talking about too because, chances are your neighbor has a garden and they are giving you their extra zucchinis.

We don’t have a vegetable garden here at the Dusty Dog – not that we haven’t tried.  Our first summer, we installed a tiny raised bed in the front leach field and planted tomato and pepper plants.  Little did we know that growing vegetables is not really an option at 7900 feet unless there’s a greenhouse involved.  This year, I tried cold weather crops in a huge pot – swiss chard, lettuce, and some herbs – they would have been hugely successful if it weren’t for the rabbits.  The only thing thriving in that oversized pot is two thyme plants.  I guess the rabbits don’t care for thyme.

Obviously, I don’t have any zucchinis of my own, and neither do my neighbors.  But, the Taos Farmer’s Market vendors are laden with them.  Here in New Mexico, most farmers have what they call calabacitas, which are small, round, light green squash.


Calabacita is actually the Spanish word for little zucchini, and it isn’t clear from my internet search whether calabacita is an actual type of squash or not.  Yesterday, when I was at Whole Foods Market in Santa Fe, they were selling the small, round squash like the ones pictured above, and they called them calabacita squash.  Maybe they really are an actual type of zucchini, but I’m still not certain.  Calabacitas also refers to a New Mexican dish, usually made with zucchinis, peppers, onions, and chiles.

Every week, I buy several calabacitas and use them to make succotash and grilled zucchini.  Here’s one of my Farmer’s Market baskets full of last week’s harvest.


Recently, two of my friends from my Dallas writing group came to visit me at the Dusty Dog.  One of the friends went to Santa Fe for the day and came home bearing the most wonderful gift for me – black onyx cocoa powder from a new store called Savory Spice Shop.  The gift came complete with a tiny recipe card for zucchini cake.  It happened to be Farmer’s Market day, and I bought calabacitas and made muffins instead of cake for a small dinner party at a neighbors.  Since then, I’ve experimented with recreating this recipe to spruce it up a bit adding more cocoa powder, yogurt instead of water, and coconut.  My latest version of these muffins turn out so moist and delicious that it’s hard to stop eating them.  And they’re healthy too with a big dose of vegetables in every dark, rich, chocolatey bite.  I know you’re going to love having a new recipe for all those zucchinis lining your kitchen counter.  Better get out the mixing bowls – it’s time to start baking.


Dark Chocolate Zucchini & Coconut Muffins with Vanilla Bean Glaze


2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup Black Onyx Cocoa Powder or Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder

2 cups grated zucchini or calabacita squash

3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used no fat vanilla yogurt)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil (I didn’t realize until I was home from the store that I didn’t have canola oil, so I used grapeseed oil since that was all I had besides olive oil)

2 eggs beaten

1/2 cup coconut


Preheat oven to 350° and place cupcake papers into the slots of three cupcake pans or grease and flour three cupcake pans.

Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to remove any lumps.


In a separate mixing bowl combine the grated zucchini, yogurt, vanilla extract, oil, eggs, and coconut.


Combine the dry and wet ingredients mixing until moist.


Pour into cupcake papers and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To cool and glaze, place the muffins on a wire rack set inside a cookie sheet.


Glaze Ingredients:

1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk (I used half and half because we didn’t have any milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

vanilla beans from one vanilla bean

2 cups confectioners sugar


Making the Glaze:

Once the muffins are cool, begin making the glaze.  I use a large measuring cup with a pour spout to make the glaze, so it is easier to pour the glaze onto the muffins.

Sift the confectioners sugar to remove any lumps or if you don’t have a sifter, which I just discovered I don’t have at the Dusty Dog, then whisk the confectioners sugar with a whisk or fork to remove any lumps.  Slice open the vanilla bean using a knife, and using a spoon, scrape the seeds from the inside of the bean.


Add the milk and vanilla then whisk until smooth with no lumps.  This is a glaze, not an icing, so it will be more fluid.  If you make it too thick, it will look like this.


Pour the glaze over the cupcakes allowing it to run down the sides and coat the top.  Let the glaze harden before transferring the cupcakes to a serving platter.  These muffins are also great without any glaze.  Enjoy!


Makes 18 Muffins

Print This Post Print This Post
Posted in Dessert, Muffins, Quick & Easy, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Curried Onion & Goat Cheese Galette


On Saturday night, we hosted a dinner party for two women we didn’t know with some other women we did know.  How do you host a dinner party for women you don’t know?  Let me tell you how we got ourselves into this.

A couple of years ago we met a woman named Desiree’ who was a good friend of a new friend of ours at the time.  Desiree’ recently flew through Dallas on her way home from Brazil and  stayed with us for a couple of days.  She introduced us to a woman named Diane who lives in Dallas who knew the two women we invited to dinner on Saturday.  Diane knows about the Dusty Dog and called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she has a friend named Emily who was coming to Taos for a couple of months to check it out as her possible retirement spot.  She asked if we would introduce Emily to people – you know, help her network.  I’m always up for a reason to host a party or a dinner or a simple get together, so I immediately called Emily, and we made a plan to have a dinner party for her and another friend who already lives in Taos, but who doesn’t know that many people either.

Rhonda and I both love to spend the day in the kitchen cooking together, so we got out our cookbooks and the recipe binder and put together a menu dividing up who would make what things.  I recently purchased Chocolate & Zucchini food blogger Clotilde Dusoulier’s new cookbook The French Market Cookbook and was excited to make something out of this new treasure.  Since first reading about her curried leek tart tatin I have thought of little else.  Who doesn’t like leeks and curry?   And the combination of the two made my mouth water.  And then add in a yogurt crust, which sounded healthier than my usual tart dough, and I was sold.

I bought three pounds of leeks like Clotilde’s recipe instructed, but you know, leeks have a lot of bulk that doesn’t get used – like all the green parts.  Those green parts make up a lot of the three pounds she called for in the recipe.  I should have thought this through when I was weighing the gigantic leeks on the Whole Foods Market scale, but I was really more mesmerized and even a little embarrassed by the bulbous enormity of the leeks.  I called out to Rhonda across the produce area to where she stood at the fish counter and said, “Look at the size of these leeks!”

We had a good laugh at their largeness and moved onto finding the other ingredients for our Saturday night feast for two women we didn’t know.  Back at the Dusty Dog, Saturday came and a cooking fiesta began.  Rhonda busily prepared her tamarind marinade for the gigantic fillet of salmon she chose and then moved onto making homemade vanilla ice cream and pulling together a salad.  My only tasks were to make my special succotash that doesn’t involve lima beans, but I still call it a succotash (watch for this recipe in the coming weeks) and to make Clotilde’s curried leek tart tatin.    Once I cut the white parts of the leeks into 3/4 inch long rounds, I had a moment of panic when I realized there was no way the white rounds  were ever going to fill the center of a 10 inch round tart pan.  They barely filled the center of a small loaf pan, which is what I ended up using.  And there was no way the resulting tiny leek loaf tart was ever going to feed five friends and two strangers.  Plus, I had a lot of yogurt tart dough left.  In my hyper alert state, I looked around my kitchen and spotted onions.  Onions are like leeks right?  A light bulb lit above my head and that little voice inside my brain said, Why not use onions and make a galette to go along with the tiny leek loaf tart?


Viola – a new variation of Clotilde’s curried leek tart tatin was invented – right then and there, just like that, on a normal Saturday afternoon in the Dusty Dog kitchen.  I enhanced the curry with some turmeric root because turmeric is the new brain spice according to Dr. Andrew Weil, and we all want our brains to stay in top notch working order so lightbulbs continue to illuminate above our heads – right?  Plus turmeric is good for other stuff too like preventing some cancers and helping with the inflammation of arthritis.

Both the tiny curried leek tart loaf and the curried onion and goat cheese galette were a huge success with our friends and the strangers, and the dinner party went off without a hitch.  I’m not sure that two new friends were made on Saturday night, but everyone had some good laughs, a lot of great champagne, and delicious bold red wines to go along with the salmon, tart, galette, succotash, salad, and homemade ice cream.  The next time someone asks me to help some strangers get to know new friends I will probably do what I did this time – cook up a storm, improvising along the way, and invite the strangers over to the Dusty Dog or wherever I happen to be when the request to help strangers comes up.

Curried Onion & Goat Cheese Galette 

(Adapted from Clotilde Dusolulier’s The French Market Cookbook’s Curried Leek Tart Tatin)


Curried Onion Ingredients:

3 medium sized sweet yellow onions sliced into rings

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp good quality curry powder

1 tsp turmeric root powder

pinch of salt and pepper to taste

4 ounces goat cheese sliced into 1/2 inch circles for topping

Making the Curried Onions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion rings once the oil is heated.  Add the curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper.


Saute the onions on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are just beginning to get brown.  Don’t overcook them – they can go from just brown to burnt very quickly.


 Allow to cool while you assemble the yogurt tart dough.

Yogurt Tart Dough Ingredients (From The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier):

1 – 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp plain, full fat yogurt or silken tofu

5 tbsp unsalted cold butter diced into one inch cubes or 1/3 cup olive oil (I have made the dough both ways – I prefer using olive oil because it is healthier than butter and the pastry comes out just as light and wonderful.  Either way, you won’t be disappointed)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Making the Yogurt Tart Dough in a Mixing Bowl:

This dough can be made in a food processor or a mixing bowl.  I prefer using my food processor to mix pie and tart doughs because the food processor does all of the work for you.  If you mix this by hand it will be a bit more of a process to bring it together with you having to kneed it more to get it into a workable dough ball.

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and add the butter, salt, and yogurt.  Use your fingers or a fork to rub all the ingredients together.

When the flour and other ingredients are mixed together and there are no longer large clumps of butter place the flour on a floured work surface and knead together adding two to three teaspoons of water until a dough ball is formed.  If you add too much water the dough may become too moist – if this happens add in a couple of pinches of flour and continue kneading until the dough is not too sticky but not too dry either.  When the dough is the perfect dough-like consistency, separate it into four quarters and roll each individual quarter to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Making the Yogurt Tart Dough in a Food Processor:

Place the flour, salt, oil (or butter) and yogurt into the bowl of your food processor.


Mix the dough in quick pulses.  After you have pulsed the dough and the flour mixture is incorporated, add two teaspoons of water.   More water may be necessary if you used butter instead of oil.  Continue mixing with short, quick pulses until a dough ball forms.


Once a dough ball has formed, remove the dough from the food processor.   Working on a floured surface, knead the dough a little more to make sure it is the correct consistency to begin rolling.  Remember you don’t want the dough to be too sticky or too stiff, but rather you want a nice workable consistency that can be easily rolled.  If you use olive oil, the dough will be moist but not sticky.  When the dough is the perfect dough-like consistency, separate it into four quarters, and roll each individual quarter to about 1/4 inch thickness.


Note:  Clotilde recommends wrapping the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerating it for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight before using it in your recipe.  I didn’t do this because I failed to see that part of the instructions when I reviewed the recipe prior to making it.   So, when I did make the dough, I didn’t have time to wait 30 minutes.  My dough turned out perfectly despite not giving it time to rest.

Assembling the Galette:

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease one cookie sheet using olive oil.

Working with one rolled out round at a time, place your rolled dough onto the cookie sheet and place one quarter of the onion mixture in the center of the dough round leaving approximately 1 inch around the edge.  Place a slice of goat cheese on top of the onions.  Gently fold the edges of the dough around the onions making pleats as you need to making sure all edges are folded in toward the center.


Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned.


Serve hot out of the oven as an appetizer or as a light meal with a side salad or soup.  These are just as delicious served at room temperature making them perfect for a picnic or a do ahead appetizer.


Makes 4 individual galettes

Update on Mabel:

Sweet Mabel got adopted by a loving family with two children and an old dog too.  As of today, she is warming up to her new people and looking healthier than ever.


Print This Post Print This Post

Posted in Main Dishes, Miscellaneous, Recipes, Savory Pies, Sides, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Catahoulas, Hummingbirds, & Bears Oh My!


I’ve been alone out here in the mountains this week while Rhonda has been in Dallas working.  With our brood of eight animals someone has to stay behind and manage the clan.  That someone is me.  This is an every couple of week stint for us.  Rhonda goes to Dallas, and I stay at the Dusty Dog managing the load myself.  Woe is me right?  Fresh mountain air, chilly mornings and nights, sunny days with rainy afternoons, peace, and quiet.  Normally, it’s pretty uneventful out here other than a lot of chores – constant dish washing, composting, watering our untamed garden, keeping up with an inordinate amount of dustballs, and watching the meadow for signs of wildlife.  Believe me, watching the meadow takes a lot of time.

This week has been a horse (or a dog) of a different color.  Tuesday evening I was rearranging some furniture to accommodate a new pine table my neighbor Vickie gave us, and out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving outside my back door.  At first, I thought it was a tiny coyote, but quickly realized it was a really skinny, scared, and crying dog with it’s tail between it’s legs and not even close to the color of a coyote.


I have never technically rescued a dog all by myself.  I’m usually the nay sayer when a dog needs rescuing, reminding Rhonda that our inn is at full capacity.  No vacancy whatsoever!  But, this situation was different.  This is the wilderness, where coyotes, mountain lions, and bob cats are abundant and an on the verge of starvation dog was pacing and crying outside my door.  No exaggeration!  Starvation.  How could I turn my back on this poor creature who might not make it though another night alone in the wilds of Northern New Mexico?  I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I found her chewed off leg up my mountain a couple of days from now.  I say this because on Sunday morning we found a baby deer hoof up on our mountain.  I have the broken off hoof in my sacred bone pile but won’t torture you with a photo.

So, back to the stray dog starving to death outside my cabin door…I wasn’t sure what to do, so I started calling people.  My neighbors recently helped a homeless woman by letting her stay in their extra cabin, so they were the first people I called.  I figured if they helped stray people they may help stray animals too.  Wrong!  She was compassionate and concurred with me that we can’t boil the ocean, but she didn’t offer to help with the starving to death dog.


Next, I called the queen of animal rescue – Rhonda, who without hesitation said, “You have to get that dog.  She won’t survive on the mountain.”

And, thus began my first solo animal rescue.  With the help of some canned tuna, I lured the starving to death dog into our fenced yard, and waited for her to come to me.  It was a long wait – we didn’t actually get acquainted until the next morning when she finally came to me and let me pet her.  She remains very frightened and timid, but has been to the vet where she’s gotten a good bill of health other than having fleas and being nothing but skin and bones.  The vet said she’s about five months old and a catahoula mix.  Cata who? Turns out catahoulas are a mixed breed dog developed in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.  Is it a sign that a cajun dog showed up at my back door in New Mexico?  Might be – I’m still working this out in my head though trying to figure out what the sign might mean.  I don’t think the sign is that she is supposed to become one of the Dusty Dogs though.


I’ve named her Mabel (after one of my favorite historic Taos figures, Mabel Dodge Luhan) and introduced her to our dogs and cats.  So far, so good.  And, I’m trying to find her a home since we have no vacancy.  None!

Needless to say, Mabel and my own tribe of eight have kept me really busy this week, and I didn’t get around to the cooking I had planned.  Sometimes we just have to be flexible and go easy on ourselves.  I mean after all, I did rescue an almost starved to death dog.    The only thing I’ve cooked this week is a whole lot of hummingbird food.


I was at my people rescuing neighbor’s the other night for dinner.  We started talking about hummingbird food.  Riveting conversation right?  Wrong, but I realized not everyone knows how to make this simple syrup when one of the other guests said, “Oh, you actually have to cook the hummingbird food?”

Yep, you cook it.  So, this week’s recipe is for hummingbird food.  They like it much better than the red juice you can buy in the big plastic jug at the grocery store or garden center.  It’s easy to whip up and makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my hummingbirds – getting them off red dye and all.  But, before I get to the recipe let me tell you about the bears.  It has been a very active week for meadow watching.  Four different times, I spotted a large black bear meandering along in the meadow minding her own business.  The other night I watched a smaller black bear in the woods bordering the meadow, as she flipped over logs and clawed at them searching for insects.  I realized that the noise created by all of her clawing and shredding is not a large elk eating outside my window, which is what it sounds like in the dark of night, but a bear foraging for food across the street.


Black Bear Photo by Taos Neighbor Jack Saiki

Mabel, the hummingbirds, and the bears are keeping me company while I wait for Rhonda to come home to the mountains.  While waiting, I’m hoping a family comes along to adopt Mabel.  And, I’m really hoping the next time I’m home alone in the mountains that no surprise visitors show up.

Hummingbird Food



1 cup sugar

4 cups water

Making Hummingbird Food:

Put the sugar and water into a large pot and bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and let cool before filling your hummingbird feeders.


Note:  I make 16 cups of hummingbird food at a time.  It’s enough to fill my four feeders plus an old plastic gallon jug.  It keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Update on Mabel:

Mabel still needs a new home.  She’s made herself quite comfortable now that I’ve been letting her come in the house, but this can’t be her forever home.


Posted in Miscellaneous, Quick & Easy, Recipes, The Dusty Dog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Easy Peach Cobbler


Have I gone on too much about summer already (picnics, sun, fireflies, vacations)?   It feels like maybe I have, but summer is such a great season – especially now that I am out of that Texas heat and in the mountains.   Summer’s that time of year when produce is so plentiful that my head spins around with all the possibilities.  I have to control myself at the Farmer’s Market and buy only as much as we’ll use in a week’s time.  No easy task since so many wonderful treats tempt me.

Peaches are one of those summertime bounties I can’t get enough of.  What would summer be without the sweet fuzziness of a peach – right?  Up here in Northern New Mexico, many of the farmers lost their fruit crops to late freezes, but thankfully our local Cid’s Market had fresh organic peaches this week and they were gorgeous.


I found my current peach cobbler recipe about 8 years ago – after discovering a peach orchard near our house in Dallas.  We bought so many peaches that I had to figure out more creative things to do with them besides just eating them straight out of the bushel basket.  Not that there is anything wrong with a juicy peach straight from the bushel basket, but I longed for something more.  A baked delight.

I was tired of the complicated instructions of my old Martha Stewart peach cobbler recipe.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Martha, but sometimes she just gets caught up in too much perfection and a lot of complicated details most of us just don’t have time for.  So, when I decided to find a new simpler peach cobbler recipe, my online search yielded an easier approach – a recipe from Southern Living’s June 1997 issue.

It still said to peel the peaches and to make sure to always use ripe peaches, but years of peach cobbler making have taught me that peach cobbler doesn’t have to be complicated.  It really is easy.  I mean it, easy.  Easy!

Why waste the fuzzy peach skin and all the time it takes to peel that skin from the fruit? Didn’t your grandmother tell you the nutrients were in the peels of fruits and vegetables?  Mine did.


A couple of years ago, I didn’t have the time to peel the peaches; I just needed to get a cobbler in the oven and fast.  So, I decided to slice my peaches with the skin on and toss them into the pot just like that.  My friends Chuck and Deborah looked on in horror and never thought the cobbler would turn out.  It was a success though, and a short cut was created.  Nobody complained about the remaining peels – in fact, I don’t think you can even tell they’re in there.

The other thing is, sometimes I don’t plan ahead for making a peach cobbler and I decide, right then and there, on a random Saturday afternoon that I have to have a fresh, hot out of the oven peach cobbler.  But, I can’t find fresh peaches anywhere.  Ok, I haven’t actually looked everywhere, I’ve only really gone to one store where they only have hard as a rock, unripe peaches.    I discovered those unripe peaches work just as well – after all anything can be made to taste delicious with a little or a lot of sugar.  In this case, your cobbler will come out just as sweet and wonderful as if you’d waited days for those peaches to ripen.  No need to delay gratification where peach cobbler is concerned.


This summer as you dip your feet into an ice cold stream, or float down a river, or make baked beans for your cookout, consider baking a peach cobbler to top off your summer’s day delights.  You won’t be sorry, and if you don’t have time to peel those peaches or plan ahead for ripe fruit, don’t worry, your cobbler will still be a huge success and nobody will know that you skipped a step and couldn’t wait.  Happy baking!

Easy Peach Cobbler


Note:  Today, when I looked up peach cobbler recipes I found similar results.  Most recipes call for the same ingredients in varying amounts and the same process as the Southern Living recipe.


4 cups fresh peach slices with their fuzzy peels intact (about 12 peaches)

2 cups sugar divided

1/2 cup unsalted butter melted (if you only have salted butter don’t worry, it’s ok to use that instead – I do it all the time)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1 cup buttermilk or regular milk (I used buttermilk)

Generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg (both are optional)

Preparing the Fruit:

Slice the peaches and remove the pits.


Place the peaches and one cup of the sugar into a large pot and bring to a boil stirring constantly.



Remove from heat and allow to cool while you finish the rest of the cobbler.

Making the Cobbler Topping:

Melt the butter on the stove on low keeping an eye on it, so it doesn’t burn or begin to brown.  Place the melted butter in a 13X9 inch baking dish.


Combine the remaining ingredients – the flour, additional one cup of sugar, baking powder, salt and milk.  Mix together with a fork until the ingredients are moist.


Pour the batter over the butter but do not stir the mixture.


Adding the Peaches:

Place the cooked peach and sugar mixture on top of the butter and batter, and again, do not stir.


Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon or skip this step altogether if you don’t want the spices.

Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes – until the cobbler is golden brown.  Serve it warm or cold, alone or with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

I love this recipe because it’s kind of like magic – once the ingredients hit the hot oven, the cobbler topping pops to the top and creates a beautiful golden crust encasing the sweet peaches below.


Adapting the Recipe to High Altitudes:

Preheat oven to 425°.  Bring the sliced peaches to a boil on the stove.  Reduce heat and cover, allowing to simmer for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Follow the rest of the instructions as detailed above.  Bake for 15 to 25 minutes – removing from the oven once the cobbler topping begins to get golden in color.

Makes approximately 12 servings

Print This Post Print This Post



Posted in Dessert, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vegetarian Baked Beans for July Fourth


Fireworks, sparklers, hot summer sun, cookouts, and baked beans.  When I was growing up, summertime was my favorite time, and to me, the Fourth of July was the best holiday of the summer season.  I lived in a tiny town of 2400 people in rural, central Pennsylvania where I left the house in the morning and didn’t return until dark.  My friend’s and I would roam the woods, play under the old wooden bridge, and walk the couple of miles to town, crossing a towering rusty railroad trellis that loomed a good 50 feet above the Susquehanna River below.

The Fourth of July was a magic day for me.  One of our neighbors, a bald, tattooed, big guy whose name I kept thinking was Kip, but then remembered was actually Pick, would buy contraband fireworks across the state line.  He’d bring his haul back to our little neighborhood on Irwin Hill and set off a huge display.  Now that I’ve really seen a grand firework display, I realize Pick’s show was really a dud, but to my seven year old self it was a magnificent extravaganza that illuminated the twinkling July sky.

My mother, as you know if you’ve read about my potato pancakes, was not a very good cook, but on July Fourth, she’d make the sweetest, most sugary baked beans, and I’d eat them by the bowl-full.  My family was not a cookout family.  In fact, my dad hated being in the outdoors unless it involved a baseball and a bat, and we never owned a grill.  My mother fried her bland hamburgers on the stove in our galley kitchen, and she’d whip up some macaroni salad (a very basic combo of elbow macaroni, mayo, onions, and celery seed).  Then, she’d pull the steaming baked beans from the oven.  I’d ask if anyone wanted to make use of the picnic table on our backyard patio, but that question was always met with protest from my dad who would say, “Jesus Lisa, why would anyone want to eat with the bugs?”

After our indoor picnic dinner, I’d anxiously await the sunset, the darkening sky, and my friends return from their family gatherings.  As soon as dusk arrived, my friend’s and I would busy ourselves with sparklers and those little black dot-sized discs we’d light on fire and watch curl into tiny snakes. Pick wouldn’t set off his big firework display until the sky was dark as pitch.  Once he set off the first crackling star, we’d all sit in the yard to watch.  Even my dad would come out and ooooo and awwww with us.

Our July Fourth celebration this year will be at the Dusty Dog with all of our canyon neighbors and some friends from town.  We won’t have any fireworks out here because the cabin is in Carson National Forest and they’re prohibited.  Plus, it’s really dry and one little stray spark could set a wildfire ablaze.  Whatever you have planned for your Fourth of July celebration, I hope it involves a grand firework display, some of those tiny snaking discs, and a lot of good picnic food that you eat in the great outdoors.  If you don’t know what to serve as a side, consider this confection of baked beans.  Happy Independence Day and enjoy your picnicing!

Vegetarian Baked Beans


Please Note:  I realize that you don’t have time for any bean soaking at this point in your July Fourth day, but never fear, my mother never soaked a bean in her life.  She’d open up several cans of baked beans, rinse them off, and there she’d have her pound of northern beans.  It’s not really cheating.


1 pound dry northern beans soaked overnight  – or canned baked beans rinsed

1 medium green bell pepper chopped

1 medium yellow or white onion chopped

1 cup barbecue sauce – any smoky brand will do

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup mustard

1 cup brown sugar

1 -2 cups reserved liquid from cooking the dry beans – if you use canned beans, you can skip this ingredient

1 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper


Preparing the Beans for Cooking at High Elevations:

Soak beans overnight in enough water to completely cover the beans.  Remember beans grow about double their size, so use more than enough water to allow for your beans to expand.  Rinse the beans in the morning.

At high elevations, there is no way a bean will ever get soft unless you use a pressure cooker – I’m speaking from experience here.


I know, I know, you’re afraid of the pressure cooker.  I used to be just like you – afraid of all that steam and well, pressure.  It does seem like the lid will explode off, but that is what it’s supposed to seem like.  Don’t worry, get out your pressure cooker, place your soaked and rinsed beans in there with enough water to cover the beans.  Don’t use too much water or you will have a dripping, release of water and steam – again, I’m speaking from experience.

Pressure cook the beans for 40 minutes.  If your pressure cooker has different settings consult your pressure cooker book to determine which setting is best for beans.  Mine has two settings and I use the number 2 setting for beans.  After you’ve pressure cooked the beans place the pressure cooker under cold water to cool down the pot and to allow for easy release of the lid without scalding hot steam.


After you’ve cooled down your pressure cooker you can safely open the lid and place your beans in an ovenproof pot.

Preparing Beans at Low Elevations:

Soak and rinse the beans as described above.  Place rinsed beans in a large ovenproof pot and cover with 8 cups of fresh water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 to 1 -1/2 hours – until tender.  Stirring occasionally as they simmer.

Drain the beans reserving at least two cups of the liquid.  Return the drained beans to the ovenproof pot.

Making the Baked Beans:

Combine all of the ingredients in a large ovenproof pot.


 Cover with a lid and bake low and slow at 275° for 2 -1/2 hours.  Remove pot from oven, stir the beans, and determine if your beans are done.  They will probably be tender and ready if you live at a lower elevation.  Here at the Dusty Dog my beans are still cooking.   I added another 1/2 cup of bean liquid at the 2-1/2 hour point.  It’s been 3- 1/2 hours now, and my beans are still a little tough.  Looks like baking these beans might be an all day affair, but no matter how long they take, I know they will be a sugary delicious, melt in your mouth treat when they are done.

Please Note:  If you used canned, drained beans you will bake them until they have thickened – about 2 hours.


Makes 12 side dish servings

Print This Post Print This Post

Posted in Beans, Celebrating, Recipes, Sides, The Dusty Dog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Dusty Dog


Two humans, three canines, five felines, 678 miles, 11 hours in an overpacked car and we made it to the Dusty Dog on Wednesday.  We My partner shops for this journey as if we are going to the far reaches of Antarctica and as if there are no grocery stores once we get here.  I’ll admit, I like to bring along certain supplies that I can’t buy here in rural New Mexico – things like Segafredo Italian coffee, imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes, and fun paper plates and napkins for all of the parties and brunches we’ll host this summer.

photo-153 photo-155 photo-154

Twice a year, my clan and I make our way to the The Dusty Dog – our 1947 cabin in Taos, New Mexico.  Taos is in north central New Mexico about an hour from the Colorado border, and it sits on the edge of the high desert where the Rocky Mountains begin.


Taos is a tiny artist colony tucked at the base of the Sangre de Christo (Blood of Christ) mountain range, so named for the red color the mountains turn at sunset.   Taos has a population of around 5700 people, and it is a sacred place where art, music, ancient traditions, and hippies abound.  It’s not for everyone, but those of us who love it can’t stay away.

The Dusty Dog sits at 7900 feet elevation and is built into the mountain eight miles outside of town in a pine forest canyon that connects Taos to Angel Fire.  It is the wilderness out here with black bear, cinnamon bear, elk, mule deer, fox, coyote, and mountain lions roaming the woods.  Yesterday we spotted a hulking black bear making it’s way toward the Rio Fernando – the small river that runs along the canyon.  It was our first bear siting of the summer, which is always exciting as long as we’re viewing their activity from the front porch and not the trail.

The Dusty Dog got it’s name from – you guessed it – dusty dogs.  The first week we spent at the cabin it was early spring and very dry (now I know it’s dry all the time except from July to September when we have the monsoons in the afternoons).  Everyday, our dogs Ellie and Bella (Leroy wasn’t even thought of yet) would come in from playing outside covered in dust, and the name was born.


This is Ellie – she’s our Rottweiler mix who showed up at my car almost 10 years ago and refused to leave.  She’s got dust on her nose in this photo but you really can’t see it that well.  Ellie’s our guard dog.


This is Bella with our oldest cat Pooh – they were cuddled up on the last leg of our journey to the cabin.  We rescued Bella from the SPCA where she was returned twice.  She’s more cat than dog, but when we come to the cabin her dog self comes out a little more.  It must be that mountain air.

Leroy joined our menagerie two years ago and is now a full fledged dusty dog himself:

IMG_0045 6

He hit the lottery two years ago when my partner spotted his flea ridden, filthy little self running down the street in front of our house in Dallas.  He’s our baby with a smile that only two mothers could love.

Days at the Dusty Dog are spent cooking, doing the dishes from all that cooking, and doing “farm work” as we like to call it even though there really isn’t a farm involved.  It just feels more like farm work than yard work – all the composting, trimming plants back,  maintaining our trails, keeping the wild garden we’ve created somewhat tamed, and simply walking around our three and a half acres.

We all love our time at the Dusty Dog and with all that cooking I’ll be doing up here, you’ll be sure to get some new recipes this summer.   I have a packed pantry, a stocked refrigerator, and a full bar along with long, dusty days stretching before me.  Stay tuned for cooking from the Dusty Dog.



Posted in The Dusty Dog, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Fried Green Tomatoes


It’s official, summer has arrived with its long hot days, swimsuits, and sunshine.  And, along with summer comes tomato season, which is in full swing here in the south.  I see all of you posting on Facebook about your abundance of tomatoes – you know who you are.  Normally, I’d be right there with you trying to figure out what to do with so much summer bounty, but not this year!

We have five tomato plants thanks to my partner, “the farmer”.  Our plants are beautiful, vibrant, and healthy, all bearing new blossoms every day.  So what’s happening to all of our tomatoes you ask? Squirrels!

For the past few weeks, we’ve been finding tomato shells laying around the yard.  Remnants of the tomatoes that never were.  Red bowls of skin with all of their insides scooped out, but now that I’m talking about those empty tomato vessels I can’t find one to show you.  For about a week, we wondered who was responsible for the destruction, then I spotted the culprit, a big fat squirrel digging out the sweetness of a giant ruby red tomato.  Our squirrels are smart and know a vine ripened tomato when they see one.  We on the other hand, are lucky if we get one or two ripe tomatoes per week.


It occurred to me the other day, if I’m going to reap the rewards of our tomato plants, then I better get cooking with some fresh green tomatoes.


What’s better to do with these juicy green gems than cooking up some fried green tomatoes?  Even if you have an abundance of bright red beauties, why not harvest some of those shiny green ones and shake things up a bit.  After all, you can only eat so many tomato salads and only so much tomato sauce.  Have a great summer and go fry up some green tomatoes!

Fried Green Tomatoes



2 medium green tomatoes

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp garlic powder

pinch cayenne pepper

pinch black pepper

pinch sea salt

2 eggs

2 -3 tbsp canola oil


Making the Fried Green Tomatoes:

Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix with a fork or your fingers.  In a separate bowl, whisk the two eggs thoroughly.  Slice the green tomatoes into quarter inch thick slices.  Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Working with one piece of tomato at a time, coat the tomatoes slices in the egg and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.



Place the tomato slices into the hot oil and fry on each side for approximately 2 o 3 minutes.



They are done when they are golden brown.  Place the fried tomatoes on several paper towels to soak up any extra grease.  Serve immediately.


Makes 8 fried green tomatoes

Print This Post Print This Post









Posted in Recipes, Sides, Tomatoes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Crab & Cheese Turnovers


I love hosting parties.  I get into all the little details – from the menu planning, to making hors d’oeuvres, dips, and desserts, to putting out the trays of food on my favorite platters and dishes.  I like thinking about a theme and bringing the idea to life with decorations and even costumes.

My partner and I have been together for 9 years and the first party we threw was our annual halloween party.  Her idea of throwing a party and mine were two different concepts.  When I dug out my cookbooks and recipe binder, she dug out her food catalogs.  I was against the idea of ordering food for our first party any party because I really do love the process of conceptualizing all the details, making the little finger foods, and presenting a beautiful celebration for friends and family.

During that long-ago party planning, I looked at the collection of mini tartlet’s Rhonda wanted to order from Neiman Marcus – yep that’s right, Neiman Marcus, and I said, “I can make these myself.”  And my crab and cheese turnovers were born.

I was already making mini quiches for that party, and wanted a different presentation for another appetizer, so I decided to put the crab and cheese into the center of a pastry and call them turnovers.

The ingredients in these crab and cheese turnovers are loosely based on the Neiman Marcus food catalog tartlets, which after a quick look at their website, it doesn’t appear are available any more.  I’ve added some of my own touches.  I also use the most amazing and easy pate’ brisee recipe for the pastry.  My Aunt Betsy gave me this recipe years ago and said it came from the little cookbook that came with her very first Cuisinart food processor.  I think Cuisinart is onto something here – this recipe is quick to mix up in the food processor, and is one of the easiest doughs I’ve ever worked with.

This week, I wasn’t planning my own party but needed something to take to our best friend’s housewarming party.  The crab and cheese turnovers were a huge hit.  Next time you need something for a get together, consider making these delicious party treats.

Crab & Cheese Turnovers


Pate’ Brisee Ingredients (Compliments of My Aunt Betsy Dodge via her Cuisinart Food Processor Cookbook):

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold butter cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tsp salt (less 1 tsp if using salted butter)

1/2 cup ice water (minus 1 tbsp)

1 egg yolk

Note:  This is a rich, basic pastry dough to be used for pies, tarts, quiches, and turnovers.  If you are using this dough in a sweet treat, then you can add 2 tablespoons of sugar.  The above recipe includes an egg yolk and one tablespoon less ice water, which creates a less flaky, more tender, and easy to handle pastry dough.  If you want a more flaky dough, then skip the egg yolk and add the full 1/2 cup of ice water.


Making the Dough:

Put all of the ingredients except the water into your food processor fitted with the metal blade.


Process for about 10 seconds or until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  With the processor running pour the ice water through the feed tube in a steady stream and process until a dough ball begins to form – about another 10 to 20 seconds.


Turn the dough out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and separate into two balls.


Use immediately or wrap in the paper and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

If you refrigerate the dough then allow it to sit at room temperature until slightly softened.  If you freeze the dough then thaw it for 30 minutes before use.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/8 inch thickness and use for pies, tarts, quiches, or turnovers.

To bake unfilled pie shells, prick the bottom with a fork, cover with a round of wax paper, and fill with 2 cups uncooked rice or beans.  Bake at 425° for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.  Carefully remove rice or beans and allow to cool before filling.

To bake a filled pie, do not prick the bottom.  Fill and bake according to your recipe.

Makes enough pastry dough for one double crust 10 inch pie, or two 10 inch pies, or approximately 32-3 inch tart or turnover shells.

Crab & Cheese Filling Ingredients:

2 – 6 ounce cans fancy white-lump crab meat

1 medium red bell pepper chopped into very small pieces

2 generous tbsp chives chopped into tiny pieces (using scissors to cut them over the bowl works well)

1 cup gruyere cheese shredded

1 cup good quality parmesan cheese shredded

4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

1/4 tsp garlic powder

a dash each of nutmeg, cayenne, and pepper


Oops, I forgot to include the cream cheese in this photo, but don’t leave it out because it helps make the filling moister.

Making the Crab & Cheese Filling:

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix with your hands until combined.


 Assembling the Turnovers:

Lightly flour your work surface.  Using one dough ball at a time, roll it out to 1/8th inch thickness.  Using a coffee mug about 3 inches in diameter or a 3 inch round cookie cutter, make as many circles as you can.


I use a coffee cup because my “love mug” is the perfect size.  Work with the circles you have before moving onto rolling out the dough scraps.  Place approximately 1 teaspoon of the crab and cheese filling in the center of the circles.  Don’t overstuff.


Pick up one circle at a time and use your finger to press down the filling and fold the circle in half.  Make sure no filling is near the edges because it will ooze out of the turnovers when heated.  Seal the edges of the turnovers with a bit of water  – this will help the edges stick together better.  I usually just dip my finger into a small bowl of water and then moisten the edge of one side of the turnover.  It really does help them stick together.


I like to make fork indents on the edges of the turnovers – it just makes them look a little more finished and a tiny bit fancy.  Place the finished turnovers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


After assembling all of the initial circles, make another ball with the leftover dough and begin the process again until all the dough and all of the crab and cheese filling is used.  You may end up with a little extra dough and filling, but it shouldn’t be too much if any at all.

Freezing the Turnovers for Later:

At this point, you can either proceed to making the breadcrumb topping and baking the turnovers, or you can freeze them to bake later.  If you plan to freeze them, then place them on the cookie sheet in a single layer and drape with a clean dish towel.  Freeze them for several hours and then place them in a ziplock bag to keep them fresh.

If baking the turnovers immediately, preheat your oven to 375°.

Breadcrumb Topping Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup panko or regular breadcrumbs

1/8 cup parmesan finely grated

1/4 tsp garlic powder

pinch of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper


Mix all of the dry ingredients together with one tablespoon of the olive oil.  Brush each turnover with remaining olive oil – I usually do this with my finger, but you can use a pastry brush if you are gentle with the dough.  After each turnover has been moistened with the olive oil, sprinkle a generous amount of the dry ingredients onto each turnover.


Bake at 375° for 30 to 35 minutes – or until golden brown.

They are delicious both hot out of the oven or cooled.  Enjoy!

Makes 32 turnovers


Print This Post Print This Post

Posted in Celebrating, Crab, hors d'oeuvres, Recipes, Savory Pies, Seafood, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments