A Unique Restaurant in a Unique Place

Lunch time. Cindy (friend Cindy, not relative Cindy) and I always do a web search to find the best (and inexpensive) local, indigenous restaurant.

So, when headed into Snowflake, Arizona, that’s exactly what we did. The reviews seemed to point to La Cocina de Eva (the kitchen or cooking of Eva).

By the way – Snowflake (which I’ve already stated somewhere) is not named after an elegant snowflake, but rather after Mr. Snow and Mr. Flake. (Wonder why they didn’t name it Flakesnow?)

Anyhow, we found the restaurant which was actually across the street from where our GPS told us it was. On the front window was a sign that read something like (can’t remember the exact words) If you want to “taco” about Jesus, let us know.”

Inside a multitude of pictures lined the walls, some of Mexico and some of the last supper and various other biblical scenes. The tables also had a biblical quote (not a verse, but a quote) and all the servers wore shirts that said “Jesus is the reason for my life.”

And this was our take on La Cocina.

  1. The food was delicious (just as the reviews had promise!) I had a the mini-chimi lunch special – lots of food.
  2. The servers were super friendly.
  3. The bathrooms were extra clean.

Well worth the stop and would highly recommend it to anyone driving through town.

New Food – Indian Bitter Melon (Karela)

So there I stood in the produce aisle looking at a strange vegetable that I have not seen before in my life much less bought, cooked or eaten. The sign said “Indian Bitter Melon.” I thought it kind of looked like a cute, green mouse. (Ok, my imagination on overload there.)

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I went to a quiet spot and looked it up on my phone and found a blog post by a lady who seems to be doing something similar to what I’m doing with new food. She explained that she mixed it with onions and some spices and sautéed it in her frying pan.

Her final take on it? The bitter melon tastes bitter. And although she tasted a lot of strange food in her life, she couldn’t handle this one.

But I bought one.

I brought it home and researched it further. The overwhelming take on it  – that it was an acquired taste and very, very bitter. One man on youtube said to soak it in a bowl of salt water for awhile to get some of that bitter taste out. (Though the original blogging lady said she did that and it helped NOT at all.)

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One cool thing I learned is that bitter melon lowers blood sugar and is considered a healing aid for many physical ailments such as diabetes. The melon is also recommended to cancer patients, to detox your liver and on and on … So bitter, but healthy.

The first thing the Internet told me to do was cut the melon in half lengthwise. You can also scrape off the outside at this time which is actually kind of fun. I did it in the sink over the garbage disposal and the little bumpy things kind of popped off.  (I’m sure they have a name, but I have never heard anyone talk about the bumpy things on an Indian melon so have no idea what that name might be.) You then scoop out the middle which is a white substance with seeds in it.

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The next instruction is to cut the remaining vegetable into slices.

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Different recipes said to sauté the melon in different combinations of onions, spices, etc., so I kind of made up my own recipe. The reason is looks brown is because of the chicken broth and several spices.

DSC_0051Of all the new foods I have tried this year, I was most hesitant to eat this one because of   the “acquired taste” label and the “Yes, it’s very bitter” evaluation.

But I was brave and took a little bite.

And it was … (drumroll) … bitter.

However, this is the thing. I kind of got this cloud of bitterness in my mouth, but it didn’t taste bad. I don’t even know how to explain it. Like celery that was overripe. (Not sure I’ve ever had overripe celery, but …)  I could handle this taste better than some other things I’ve eaten in my life like the piece of wheat germ candy someone gave me once that made me gag for the rest of the day. The melon didn’t leave any kind of aftertaste and I didn’t have the urge to spit it out or anything.

So I ate some more of the melon.

My final take on it is – I will not be buying it, fixing it or eating it again …

Unless, for medical reasons, my doctor told me to … and then I could do it without too much resistance.

So – 3 out of 10 (but medically sounds like a 10 out of 10).

A Sunny Morning in Tombstone

One sunny Arizona morning, I drove down the road to Tombstone … and arrived there just as the sleepy town came awake. Shop owners calling greetings to each other, people in period costumes chatting on the corners, the horses and stagecoaches rolling into town …

Mostly I walked around and enjoyed the sunshine and scenery …

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New Food – ahhhh … sort of

IMG_6724We were in the very western-looking town of  Wilcox, Arizona (home of cowboy Rex Allen).

After walking around some (as cold as it was in the Grand Canyon – it was now hot in Wilcox. I like the cold.)

That night we were visiting a couple Awana clubs, so needed to find a place to eat supper.

Right down town was a an old Dining Car  – called The Dining Car from 1929. We decided to try it.

The inside was fun – but the big-screened TV at the end of the tables sort of took away from the old, western Dining Car atmosphere.IMG_6718

Because we had a big lunch we weren’t very hungry so decided to get salads and split an appetizer. I saw they had corn nuggets. Now, somewhere in my history I think I have had corn nuggets (little fried nuggets with cream corn inside), but it was far away in my memory so I decided it counted IMG_6717as a new food.

Cindy was ok with that, so that’s what we ordered to split.

Soon the server brought us our salads and a basket of corn nuggets with ranch dressing. I’m ok with ranch dressing, though not the biggest fan in the world, but I tried a couple. They didn’t taste like I was imagining corn nuggets to taste, but hey, maybe this was some kind of western corn nuggets.

Cindy ate a couple and also got a puzzled look on her face.

And the corn nuggets were green – we were expecting them to be yellow!

Turns out we were eating fried okra – and there wasn’t a corn nugget in sight.

We told our server who apologized and soon brought us a fresh basket of food (leaving us the okra, too.)

And they were very good.

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A Day at the Canyon

The next day we went back to the Canyon, a little better prepared for the weather, which actually turned out to not be too bad. Yes, it was cold, but the sun was shining and that was a lot more preferable to me than heat.

We took one of the shuttle routes – up to Hermit’s Rest. The shuttle had nine stops along the canyon and we got out at each one and let the cool wind blow us around. The canyon stretched out ahead of us and to the sides of us in a palette of greens, browns, oranges, reds and grays.

And even though I didn’t have my good camera and took all my pictures with my phone – I still took at least 100 pictures and knew the whole time that it wouldn’t capture even a quarter of the beauty.

We ate lunch at one of the lodges inside the park and got our vegetables when we were supposed to get them.

And notice that I had four layers of clothes on in the picture, so I look rather stuffed inside my jacket.

Notice the snow-capped mountain in some of the pictures.

Ahhh … that mountain went with us one our journey! (I’ll explain later.)

So here are some pictures from the day at the canyon … but no matter how many pictures we took, we agreed that nothing was better than the sunset pics from the night before.

 

 

A Trip to the Grand Canyon

IMG_6487I have been to the Grand Canyon three times.

First time was when I was 17 and our family took a massive road trip to the West Coast so Dad could speak at a conference at Biola. I remember nothing about the Grand Canyon on that visit, except that the server at lunch was very mixed up. We had finished our dinners and our dessert when she brought out our vegetables. I just remember it being weird.

Second was about 14 years ago when I was writing the T&T books. I wanted a canyon scene and Ken and I were heading for California (again to speak at a conference) and we were going through the Southwest. What I remember about that visit is that it was a hot day (September) and we focused on walking down into the canyon so I could describe that experience in the T&T book. Though I didn’t identify the canyon as the Grand Canyon, I did describe the canyon. (No, we didn’t walk the entire way down – but we did walk about an hour or so down.)

Third time was a couple weeks ago. Cindy (friend) and I had driven down from Bakersfield, California (an 8 hour drive) and got to the canyon at exactly the right time to see a beautiful sunset and to realize that it was cold! 20 some degrees with snow on the ground.

We took some beautiful pictures (you couldn’t take any that weren’t beautiful) and then headed back to Grand Canyon Village and the general store to get gloves and hats to get ready for another visit the next day.

 

 

 

 

New Food – Cactus Candy

IMG_6703On our recent trip I was on a perpetual hunt for new foods … and I did have the opportunity to try some VERY new foods (at least for me) – but didn’t.

For instance, I passed up on the rattlesnake appetizer. I decided that  $10.00 for a bite of something I might not like wasn’t a good use of my money. (If it were less expensive or if someone had offered me a bite, I would’ve have tried it – but it wasn’t and  no one did.)

But I did discover a  new food I truly liked.

One morning, Cindy (the friend whom I traveled with) needed some time to catch up on her emails, etc., I had a couple hours to explore the area … and headed down the road to Tombstone, Arizona. I was there with Ken and we did the whole OK Corral, Wyatt Erp, Boot Hill Cemetery thing so this time, I was just there to wander around. The town was about 30 minutes from our hotel, so I didn’t have a lot of time, but I did enjoy walking around as the town was waking up and people were coming to work.

Side note … I was walking down the street and passed by two cowboys, or two guys dressed as cowboys – you can never tell in a place like Tombstone. They weren’t paying any attention to me, but were have an animated discussion about a gunfight.

Cowboy #1 – Oh, so you saw the gunfight?

Cowboy #2 – Yeah, I saw it on Facebook.

Times have certainly changed!

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IMG_7086Anyhow, back to the food. I walked in a store and a lady was dusting the multitude of products on the multitude of shelves – quite a job since there was a lot of glass. She was tired of dusting and so we started chatting and she told me about cactus candy, The prickly pair cactus has a red fruit and out of that fruit, they make cactus candy – very similar in texture to those boxes of orange, lime and cherry slices you can get. (Actually you can also eat the cactus leaves, but I didn’t know that until I saw them in Jewel tonight. – I’ll have to try those sometime.)IMG_7087

I didn’t eat the candy until I got home … if I had eaten it sooner, I would’ve bought some more. (According to the web, you can get it at Wal-Mart, but that sort of takes away from the charm.) The taste was fruity (of course, it is made out of a fruit), and pleasant.

I give it 9 out 0f 10. So, if you see Cactus Candy at Wal-Mart or somewhere – try it! (But it’s a lot more fun to get it in Tombstone.)