Category Archives: General

About a Vegetarian and Vegan Book Signing in a Butcher Shop.

 

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My friend, Joseph Shuldiner, who wrote a beautiful sexy book called “Pure Vegan” and I decided to a joint book signing for our books (“The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” for me) in the Real Butcher Shop, a new store in Santa Fe brought into being by Tom Delehanty. Tom has been a chicken farmer in New Mexico for the past 20 or so years. The meat he sources for his shop is all from the West, grass fed, raised with care, and definitely not from CAFOs. He also sells the offal, and he also makes vegan/vegetarian stocks, gives space to a baker who is making http://www.gafasraybanoutletes.com/ breads from ancient grains, and he has a few excellent raw milk cheeses and other raw dairy. He plans to feature vegetables as the season progresses (and a farmer was present that day) and the store finds its stride. In short, he’s mixing things up while offering wholesome, nourishing food that’s traceable and has integrity. And since Joseph and I feel that we try to do the same in our work, only without the animals, we thought, why not join forces with Tom? I posted about the event on Facebook and those who were offended were free to let me know. And I do understand.

But I believe in the open table, a place where people can come to eat regardless of preferences, labels, and such, where vegan, vegetarian and omnivore can sit down together and break bread together. Exploring inclusiveness has always been the intention behind my work, and while I thoroughly enjoy the meatless meals I cook, I don’t like a label that pushes others away so I’ve never really felt comfortable with the word “vegetarian.” I don’t use it to describe an exclusive lifestyle, but more as an option. (That’s why it’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.”) We can all enjoy plant foods and have meals that are without meat whether we do so everyday, only on Monday’s, or on more or less frequent occasions.

Today, more than any other time, plant based way of eating is respected and even seen as valuable to one’s health and well-being. A meatless meal is now a viable option to the usual menu offerings of lamb, salmon, chicken and beef, regardless of who is eating. When recently interviewed by a graduate student who was doing a project on plant-based diets I was taken aback when he said, by way of introducing a question, “Nutritionists today say that with a plant based or vegetarian diet you’ll get all the nutrition you need.” I had to ask him if I had Ray Ban outlet heard him correctly, because that’s a huge change. The questions used to be, “Do you get enough protein?” And the assumption was you weren’t. (Another reason for saying I wasn’t a vegetarian – I didn’t want to answer that question all my life.) Nutritionists, dieticians, and doctors were very concerned about all the lacking elements in a meatless diet. No more, apparently, and that’s terrific. Now it’s a plus not to eat meat.

In the 30 plus years I’ve been involved with cooking dishes based on plants rather than meat, vegetarians have gone from being weirdos who had to defend their diets to something entirely more mainstream. Now it’s not a big deal if you say you’re a vegetarian or a vegan. And one might be a hardcore or simply experimenting. I have a niece who says she’s a vegan because she doesn’t trust or like the animal foods that are offered as part of the meal plan in college. She grew up on a farm and has parents who discern the differences between industrial food and well-raised food. Does that mean she’s really a vegan? For the moment, it’s a strategy. It might stick or not. I’ve taught more than one vegetarian cooking classes in which someone confesses that although they’ve been a strict vegetarian for twenty years they now dream of eating turkey. It’s possible that we change. I also know a 3rd generation Australian vegetarian (unlikely, when you think about it) who doesn’t even know the taste of meat and isn’t curious about it nor does he think of its absence as a lack. Others might be happy little vegetarians until they smell that roast pork shoulder studded with garlic and laced with rosemary or that roast chicken being pulled from the oven, then they succumb to something larger and possibly more fundamental than their ideals.

It’s also quite possible that one can be truly offended by the smell of meat. And the thought of animals being killed. After all, none go willingly to slaughter. I think about this a lot. Such people shouldn’t come to a butcher shop for a vegetarian book signing, but others might come and also take advantage of those vegan stocks, those nutty-chewy breads, that raw milk and amazing raw milk cheeses—even if they don’t eat meat. Hopefully there is room for all kinds in this world. In fact, the event was included a great big happy mix of people. Some ignored the meat. Others ignored me and Joseph. But it all felt good. Kind of like family.

Book Signing at The Real Butcher Shop on Sunday, May 25

I know, a vegetarian author in a butcher shop. Sounds weird. But it doesn’t stop there. I’ll be there with Joseph Shuldiner, the author of “Pure Vegan”, a gorgeous book that came out from Chronicle last year. We both thought, why not mix things up a bit? After all, what we are about in our work is offering Gafas Ray Ban outlet vegetarian and vegan food that’s free of any diet fundamentalism. And we are both about integrity in the foods we cook with, and the same is true of Tom Delehanty, who is the man behind Pollo Real and the owner of the newly opened Real Butcher Shop in Santa Fe.So really, it just made sense.

We all all be there so come join us!

Collected Works will have copies of “The NEW Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” and “Pure Vegan” and there will be tastes from our books to sample.

Sunday, 5-8, May 25, at the Real Butcher Shop in Casa Solana, between the co-op and A Better Day coffee shop.

The Mighty Gilfeather Rutabaga

A Gilfeather rutabaga (above) and regular rutabaga (below).

A Gilfeather rutabaga (above) and regular rutabaga (below).

I first heard of this vegetable as the Gilfeather Turnip, but it’s actually a rutabaga. Like other members of the rutabaga group (Brassica napobrassica) it has a long tap root and rootlets issuing forth in two bands that run down the opposite sides of the tuber. Unlike other rutabagas we know it is white skinned http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ and white fleshed whereas the usual rutabaga has a purple band of skin on the outside and inside the color is a delectable creamy yellow. (Also, a turnip is round and doesn’t have those rootlets or taproot.)  The flavor of the Gilfeather is rooty sweet with a bit of a peppery twang, much like any rutabaga, but many say, so much better.

When the Slow Food’s Ark of Taste first got going in the USA, this was one of the earliest members to board.  Seeds were scarce since the Vermont farmer, John Gilfeather, who grew this vegetable, was so protective of his favorite vegetable that he cut off both the tops and the long roots so that they couldn’t be Oakley Sunglasses cheap cultivated. Seed of course, was out of the question, but it’s hard to possess anything in full and a few seeds did get away. Thanks to the Ark of Taste and a few intrepid farmers, you can buy the Gilfeather turnips/rutabaga not exactly everywhere, but in a few select farms. (Find them by going to slowfoodusa/arkoftaste. Look up Gilfeather turnip then go to Local Harvest to find who is growing them. There are a few farmers.)

John McClendon, a farmer in the Phoenix area, is one who grows Gilfeather rutabagas. He placed a hefty specimum in my hand before we each packed up our books and vegetables at the Scottsdale Eileen Fisher store. (We were both showing our wares in this clothing store, but that’s another story.) I was thrilled with the gift and a tucked it carefully into my suitcase to take home.

John and Marcia McClendon at Eileen Fisher

But the next day I was lucky enough to taste one at FnB Restaurant, also in Scottsdale, grown by Mr. McClendon and prepared by the talented chef Charlene Badman. I can’t give away her secret, but I can say that it was a delectable dish—golden, caramelized, and oddly enough, heart shaped, but not cheap oakley sunglasses through any contrivances on Charleen’s part. Cut a rutabaga lengthwise and you might just get a big heart. And if you turnout to be a real fan of the Gilfeather rutabaga, this might just be your Valentine’s special. And keep your eyes open for this special heirloom vegetable.

 

What I Learned from the Drought

It’s been a long, hard, hot, dry summer and I’ve tried many times to write about it, but it always gets too moany-groany. So here’s the abbreviated version of what I learned from this summer’s drought, which is actually year 3 of a longer dry period.

 

When it’s dry, plants die. The world is brown instead of green. It’s easy to become depressed.

When it’s dry, there are no mosquitoes, so it’s a pleasure to sit outdoor in the evening.

During the drought the lilac buds just dried up without opening.

There are very few larkspur, although their blooms are welcome.Usually there are hundreds of them.

Leaves on the fruit trees yellow and fall early.

Those plants that do come up seem feeble. They’re shorter. They don’t feel robust, even when watered.

One carries a lot of water from the kitchen to the Magliette Calcio A Poco Prezzo garden. Where will a gallon of water be most effective?

Plants don’t thrive under hose-water, even if it is drip and is from a well. It’s just not like rain.

There are no weeds during the drought. No sprouting elms, no native sunflowers, no buckwheat or mountain spinach (orach), amaranths, pigweed, and tumbleweeds.  There are however lamb’s quarters and purslane. A lot of each.

The first monsoon rain drenching the garden.

The first monsoon rain drenching the garden.

 

When it finally does rain, which, miraculously it did, we are ecstatic.  Strangers talk with one another with hope and happiness in their voices.

I actually think for the moment that the crisis is over, that our weather world will be normal again.

The world turns greens. Or at least greenish.

There are mosquitoes. Lots of them.

And there are weeds. Hundreds and thousands of them.  They were just waiting for that moisture to fall from the sky. I tug at this grassy carpet pulling up elms, sunflowers and amaranths especially, by the handful. If these little green plants were insects or mice, their sheer number would be http://www.magliettedacalcioit.com alarming. Even as plants, go, it’s alarming. The fecundity of annual plants is such that one year when I didn’t weed then went into the far back yard, I was frightened by their sheer density. (The next year is when I started a garden.)

Sunflowers and amaranths seedlings

And now that the mosquitoes have driven me inside, I check my e-mail, and there’s notice for a conference —next February, which is six months hence—whose topic is “Drought, Opportunity for Change.” And that’s the same conclusion I’ve come to this summer. Despite the puddles in the driveway, drier times will continue and I’ve come to believe that the most important thing to cultivate is not this plant or that, but a rising mind, one that looks for and finds those opportunities that must be met if we wish to continue gardening for pleasure, growing food, and finding joy in our drying world. The conclusion?

I’m not moving to a rainier clime (at least for now). And I’m going to tackle gardening in hard times with gusto.

 

 

 

Connecting the Dots with Vegetable Literacy

Eggplant in Bloom

‘Vegetable Literacy’ is centered on 12 plant families and how they meet in the kitchen. It’s also a cookbook (some 300 recipe). Mostly it’s about connecting the dots between botany and the garden and the cook. People ask me what inspired this exploration and I have to say that I don’t recall a single moment in which that intention suddenly leaped to the fore. It was more like the idea of botanical families and the relationship between them and the kitchen had been there for a long time. Maybe it’s in my genes—my father was a botanist and gardener and farmer among other Ray Ban outlet things. And even though it didn’t occur to me plant anything until I was in my mid-thirties, something must have rubbed off.  And it rubbed off from my botanist brother, Michael, my many farmer friends and the gardeners I have known. Most of all, though, it was starting to garden that made plants and their families come into view with increasing clarity. Once I started to grow vegetables, I saw them in different ways: how much space they need, how large and many their leaves, how similar the blossoms within a family, the possibilities of eating more of them then what we see in the store or even the farmers market—hence the many little pointers about eating the whole plant—and more. The garden reveals the big and sometimes gnarly world that lies behind the pretty vegetable.

I’m the last person to write a book about gardening, and this isn’t a garden book. I’m still a beginning gardener; a fumbler in the garden. Here it is March and I haven’t even planted my peas. Expert or not, it’s amazing what a garden can teach one. It gets you to open your eyes and all of the sudden plants connect to one another, to you, and your cooking like never before. It’s a deep thrill that also be a cheap thrill. You don’t need an acre. Grow a pot of cilantro and use those little green balls before they become dried coriander and you have a really http://www.raybanoutletit.com/ special treat. Or try a larger pot of chard, and an even larger container of potatoes. One caveat is that you do have to be there for your garden and this is the one thing I really  had to work to make possible. No traveling in summer. No more teaching or going off here and there. It worked. But ironically, it looks like this summer I’m going to be away from my garden too much to take proper care of it doing what?  Walking around the country with ‘Vegetable Literacy’ in tow.

Presenting a book to the world is always a thrill and something of surprise. Here I am hunkered down in my office or out in the garden, and suddenly ‘Vegetable Literacy’ is out there, no longer my near secret activity of the past two years. As my artist husband says about his paintings, he wants them to “grow up and go to college” – that is, get out there in the world, and it’s the same with a book. Although this first foray into the world Occhiali Da sole Ray Ban outlet feels tender and vulnerable; a bit of shock, really, I’m thrilled to have had the chance to write ‘Vegetable Literacy’. I hope it inspires those who read it as it did me while writing it.

And tell me if you wish, what plant families are you drawn to?  In the garden or in the kitchen.

 

Greens From the Greenhouse and Greens from the Out-of-Doors

 

Kale, chard, and other greens from the greenhouse.

Kale, chard, and other greens from the greenhouse.

A neighbor in my village built an amazing greenhouse last year. Cold air comes up from the bottom and cools it in the summer. In the winter it’s 80 degrees and climbing inside when it’s freezing outside. No wonder he put a bed in there – who wouldn’t want to be warmed by the sun heated room when the night digits plummet to 6 degrees? The problem is that the greenhouse has been so successful that Scott, who built it, has far more http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ greens than he can possibly eat. This means that I, along with other people and two goats, have been the happy recipient of big bags of kale, chard, beet greens, spinach, arugula, and Romaine lettuce. These leaves glisten. They glimmer. They glow. And they are all as soft as flower petals. We enjoy them in soups, salads, braised, even in smoothies. Then I get to go back for more. To have fresh produce in winter is an unexpected joy and I am now seriously bent on putting up a greenhouse of my own.

When it comes to delicacy and cole crops, I have never really put the two together. It’s almost as if they wanted a blast of cold air to toughen up a little. I plunged them in cold water, then dried and refrigerated them thinking that would give them a little more backbone, but it didn’t. Not that there’s anything wrong with these greens just the way they are. They’re surprising, but I’m thrilled to have something from as close as down the road and picked as recently as this morning. This is food that’s alive!

Two weeks ago in Davis, California, I came across their opposites, you might say, while shopping at the farmers market. I bought a pound of mixed greens:  kale (four different kinds), savoy cabbage (that January cabbage again), some chard and other brassicas. No protection had been offered these babies. They’d been outside growing through the California rain and chill, growing thick and tough and strong. Unlike the greenhouse leaves, these were so tough and bouncy that for a moment I actually wondered if they’d become tender in the pan? I took them back to cheap oakley my sister-in-law’s house and braised them with garlic and my brother’s olive oil and in fifteen minutes they were tender and succulent and so, so, very good.  The greenhouse greens, cooked the same way, were also very good, but it was interesting to see the difference that actual weather makes in strength. The greenhouse greens collapsed to a soft, tender little mound. The field greens did too, but not  nearly as much, and you could certainly discern one leaf type from another. If you were from another planet, you might think that you were looking at two entirely different mixes of vegetables. And in a way, you would be.

I gave the field grown greens another try and used them in a salad of cabbage and kale, finely slivered and tossed with the same good olive oil I had been using with the greenhouse greens. They started out tough, but ended up toothy-tender, and because they were strong leaves from the get go, they were good the next day, too. The greenhouse salad was soft, the leaves didn’t need to be slivered at all, it was best eaten as soon as it was tossed, and it wanted a softer oil and less acidic vinegar than those from the out-of-doors. But was one better than cheap oakley sunglasses the other? They were different, and I’d be happy with either.

If you like kale salads, make your favorite and include some of that crinkly cabbage in it. And don’t shun those greens that are as thick as soft cardboard. They’ll be fine.

 

Kale and cabbage salad in a bowl by Robert Brady.

Kale and cabbage salad in a bowl by Robert Brady.

The Friendly Breakfast Bap

How could this be? I forgot all about baps, once my favorite little roll, until a friend wrote saying how she use to relish the breakfast baps at Café Escalera years ago. Hardly anyone came for breakfast but a few diehards, even though I managed get out warm baps practically before sun-up. I thank her profusely for prodding my memory of those tender, yeasty rolls. They were the perfect breakfast bread and they certainly cheap oakley provided one of the nicest way to greet the day—golden round baps, warm from the oven, tender inside but crusty outside, a saucer of homemade jam along side, maybe some thin slices of a good cheddar, a bowl of coffee. Indeed, a good breakfast. Plus “bap” is such a funny, odd word, and fun to say.

Marion Cunningham told me about baps years ago. She loved them, too, and thought they were indeed the just about perfect for breakfast, although she thought many things were, in fact, perfect for breakfast. She included a recipe in her little masterpiece, The Breakfast Book, saying in her head note, “This is the Scot’s breakfast roll. Crisp-crusted, soft-centered, and well buttered, a friendlier roll you’ll never meet.”

Imagine. A friendly roll. That’s so Marion. And it is true of baps.

And I think a friendly roll might be just what’s needed right now.  January is always a long hard month. It’s too cold to be lured by the seed catalogues (minus-1 yesterday morning!). Our tea-party governor’s address to New Mexico doesn’t cheer, nor does the NRA. I’m tired of food and thinking http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ about food and almost even cooking, except, now that baps have been brought up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll make up a batch. Not today, but maybe tomorrow. I’m out of yeast and they call for a lot.

Baps are not only friendly, but, as Marion pointed out, they’re Scottish—and that’s my heritage, at least in part, and my husband’s in full. No wonder I was once especially keen on baps—it’s genetic. But I don’t believe you have to have a drop of Scottish ancestry to enjoy these little rolls. (Plus I never saw them in Scotland when I went there.)

Here is Marion’s recipe. She calls for lard, for it’s good “barny” taste, so if you use it, do here. Otherwise, sneak in some salty Irish Kerrygold butter. Serve them warm with that special jam you’ve been saving and saving. If you’ve got the winter blues, now just might be the time

1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup warm water

3 (yes!) packages dried yeast, but cut back if you want to (I do at 7000 feet altitude)

4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ cup lard or soft butter

½ cup warm milk

1/ cup warm water

Dissolve the sugar in the water and sprinkled over the yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes.

In a larger bowl mix together the flour and salt and rub in the lard or butter. Add the now bubbling yeast, the milk and water and mix together with your hands to get a soft dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth. Divide into l6 pieces and shape into a ball. Put the balls on a greased sheet pan and set them aside to rise for 30 minutes while the oven warms.

Heat the oven to 400’F and bake the baps until golden brown. (I brush mine with a beaten egg, but you don’t have to.) Serve them hot from the oven. The picture is cheap oakley irrelevant, but meant to say that one day summer will be here.

Imaginary flower

Imaginary flower

Sage and Winter Squash with Sage

As on other plants, the (older) leaves turn yellow or fade, but the younger tips stay sagey green all winter.

As on other plants, the (older) leaves turn yellow or fade, but the younger tips stay sagey green all winter.

Sage with winter squash is my winter equivalent to basil with tomatoes. Carrots with thyme. Artichokes with Tarragon. It’s a combination I have a hard time getting away from, which is good because winter squash is coming on and my sage plants – bushes really – are full and glorious. Not surprisingly I’m thinking about both squash and sage and, coincidentally, how good they are together, and how many months they’re going to be with us.

Sage is a plant I’m especially fond of, not just culinary sage, but many others. Cleveland. Jerusalem. Pineapple. Mexican sage. White sage. There are sages with powerfully fragrant cheap oakley leaves and flower bracts stacked one above the other with little mint-like blossoms of blue, purple, yellow—even red— bursting from their calyxes. I’ve just brought my more frost-sensitive sages indoors where they thrive in the sun and give off their desert-sagey smells. While the sages (Salvias) are not the sagebrushes of the desert, (the Artemisia genus of another family), they do share some similar properties, namely that rough, resinous perfume.)

Though not quite as dramatic, culinary sage is no slouch, either. A mature plant is round and bush like with soft, silver-gray leaves. In the spring its violet flowers are almost sweet smelling, but not quite. There is a hint of mint, the family (Labiatae) to which sages belong, but it quickly disappears when blooms fade with the rising temperature of summer. But by fall it’s aromatic oils have turned muscular and complex, both savory and a little sweet at the same time, and that’s when those hard-skinned but sweet squash are around. I think they need each other, the squash and the sage.

I roast cubes of squash with garlic and sage. I chop sage leaves and cook them with onions until golden when starting a squash soup; I fry the leaves in olive oil until dark and crisp, then use them to garnish that soup once it’s finished, I also scatter them over seared wedges of Musquee de Provence squash or Delicata, or a galette made from Marina de Chioggia or butternut squash fried in olive oil. (No squash here, but I adore a pasta that’s tossed with handfuls of sage leaves crisped in olive oil with nothing more than salt, pepper and some good Reggiano.) Fried sage leaves give a textured edge to the tender squash as do breadcrumbs crisped with minced sage in olive oil or ghee then scattered over a winter squash risotto, puree, or another squash soup. However you use it, sage brings the http://www.oakleyonorder.com/ sweetness of winter squash, which can be considerable, into balance, dragging it down to earth. To me, it’s  hard to imagine squash without the tempering influence of sage. But then, rosemary and juniper are good, so is the bracing freshness of parsley, and pepper and pepper flakes, garlic, and so much more. Gorgonzola cheese spread over hot crostini and floated in the soup, below, is the best. What can I say?  (I tried to post a recipe but it came out too strange. Will try again in another post.)

Sage is an easy plant to grow. Buy a small one and soon it will be a large one. It will also drop seeds and make more plants. And a further bonus is that sage leaves make a Oakley Sunglasses cheap calming tea. Just pour near boiling water over them, let them steep for 10 minutes or so, then sip and inhale its now soft perfume. Why not have it with a piece of pumpkin (aka winter squash) pie, while you’re at it?

Sibley Squash


Winding up a Book During Tomato Time

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It’s September and that means that there’s still more gearing up to do before my new book, Vegetable Literacy, goes to press. We’ve just been through the first round of copy edits, always a hard (2-week) moment because I never have any idea how many mistakes it’s  possible to make. It’s been Ray Ban outlet vetted by my ethnobotanist friend, Jay Bost, for glaring errors in the plant department, and I’m hoping I’ve caught them all. I’ve been though the photoshoot with Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamilton – great grueling fun. I cooked nearly 50 dishes in a short week and of course the weather couldn’t have been hotter or more miserable during that time. Fans were whirling everywhere.  I’m working on the introduction, and thinking about all the people I want to thank, people who helped with their wisdom, experience, encouragement. Then there are references to reveal.  Writing a book is never just writing a book. All of this is a big part of it. And in the meantime, everything else recedes to the back and slips away. Birthdays. Meetings. Taking my pooch to the groomers. I honestly can’t wait to clean my office.

While I love a task, I’m ready to change gears. It’s fall. Leaves are starting to yellow. The buzzards are getting ready to fly back to Texas or wherever they spend the winter, and the garden is starting to falter here and there —one bean plant giving up the ghost, a squash deciding it’s had enough of all this production, the amaranth starting to redden.

But the tomatoes! That’s what’s getting me through these final weeks. It was a hard year for vegetables, especially the tomatoes, but now they’re coming around and they are what I want to eat. Every day. Twice or thrice. Thick slices of beefsteak typse with avocadoes. In BLTs with lean bacon from the http://www.raybanoutletit.com/ farmers’ market, or pasta tossed with an assortment of every kind of tomato, uncooked, chopped and covered with olive oil, capers, olives, garlic, herbs. Or salt roasted little guys over ricotta and grilled eggplant. To be fair, there are plenty of shishito peppers, eggplants, Romano beans and chard, among other good things to eat. But when you have a good tomato, it doesn’t take much more to have a meal.

I know we all know that, now. Everyone’s writing about tomatoes, picking them, buying them up at the farmers market, putting them up, and eating them like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t. And the great thing is you don’t have to be in the end stages of writing a book to enjoy them to the point of ray ban da sole outlet having a daily swoon or two, and I hope you’re doing just that, even if all you’ve got are the little ones.

Grilled eggplant with salt-roasted tomatoes and ricotta

Some Decent Places to Eat When You’re Driving Long Distances

I just sent off a piece to Zester Daily on road food. It was inspired by my own long road trips from New Mexico to California, a great find in a gas station, and Elissa Altman’s blog (see www.poormanfeast) where she recently bemoaned the pitiful offerings available when driving between Hartford and Maine. Also, I noticed that the latest Sunset magazine was all about the great places you can eat on the road in the West, that is if you’re anywhere remotely near urban areas or on the coast. If you’re a traveler on 1-40 and 1-5 it’s a different story. It’s bleak, and there’s next to nothing out there. I’ve had a long time to find that out.

Over twenty years of driving back and forth between my home in New Mexico and my family’s home in Northern California, I’ve found places here and there where you can get a Ray Ban outlet good cup of coffee, a decent breakfast, an okay meal or better.  Even though I bring a cooler of food with me, I want to get out of the car at a certain point, stretch, and be in a room with people while eating a meal. Knowing a few good options is valuable. I’ve got my own little list, but I’m sure others do, too. I thought I’d start by  naming my own resources and adding to them any others that readers want to contribute. This is about survival and happiness, not about finding a gourmet meal in the hinterlands that’s worth a special trip, though we could have that category too.

Your finds are welcome and they can be from anywhere, not just the West.

Flagstaff, AZ

Macy’s on Beaver Street for great coffee and decent, even healtful food.

Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar on  N. San Francsico St. (Downtown), for contemporary, farm-to-table and really good food! It’s small. Call first.

Williams, AZ

On the downtown strip that heads east, there’s a little coffee shop on the left where they make an excellent cappuccino.

On one of the cross streets there’s a large restaurant that serves a decent breakfast. And there are other places to eat as well. Lots of Mexican food.

Kingman, AZ

My latest find is Oysters, a Mexican restaurant on Andy Divine Avenue, going south. It’s near a bunch of motels, which is how I know it. It’s hot, the fans creak and don’t do much to cool the place down, but the beer is cold and the people are nice. I wouldn’t order oysters in Kingman, myself, but can be happy with a standard cheese enchilada or shrimp tacos.

Needles, CA

I’ve never found a place to eat, but I’m always happy in Needles because I’m finally in California.  Anyone?

Ludlow, CA, on 1-40  (Population 10)

You might have to be pretty desperate, but there is a café at this gas-station crossroad. There’s only one and it’s an A-frame and it’s south of the freeway. The waitress wears a long gingham dress and you can’t tell if she’s 45 or 70. She looks pretty weatherworn, and she’s sweet. There’s a guy in an Gafas Ray Ban outlet apron who walks around and chats with customers but who doesn’t do anything else apparently. The food is not as plastic as Denny’s, but the pork chops are like cardboard that’s been left in the sun. The last time we ate here we had to listen to “Big Dave” on his cell talk to a would be customer about dry docking his boat in LA during the entire time between ordering and the leaving. We had his conversation pretty well memorized by the time we left.

Why bother, you might ask? Because it’s in the middle of long hard stretch in the middle of nowhere, Barstow is next if you’re heading West, and you might just want to stop.

Barstow, CA

I’ve never found any place to eat in Barstow so I hope someone else has. Once when we stayed in a motel there we were told we couldn’t have any water because there was jet fuel in the city’s water supply. They loaded us up with bottles of water, but that also meant pretty choices in the local Mexican restaurant were pretty limited. Barstow is huge; there’s got to be somewhere to go. It’s just that by the time I get there I’m too tired to look.

Crossroads at Highway 58 and 395 (Kramer Junction)

If you turn north onto 395 and go a short ways, (matter of yards) there’s a Mexican café on the left that has the most amazing blue walls covered with photographs of food. It’s not that far from Barstow so you can go there for breakfast if you’re heading West. I love to eat there because of those walls, and also I know there’s nothing in Mojave.

The crossroads is intense with trucks coming, going and turning, gas stations, truck stops, and other restaurants, but none of them have these walls and photos.

blue wall tacos

Boron, Rt. 58

I’d bypass Boron if I have a long driving day ahead because there’s really no reason to go there, but for Domingo’s, which can be most welcome. The food is Mexican, it’s good, and as in Kingman, features some seafood, and Domingo, the man in charge, is there.  Given the proximity of Edwards Air Force ray ban baratas Base, there’s a good reason for the presence of all sorts of memorabilia from air and space events, photos of astronauts and the like.

Coalinga on I-5, Jaynes Travel Center

I was thrilled to find Baja Fresh in this quiet travel center on I-5.  I’ve stopped there for fish tacos any number of times, not at they’re the best in the world, but because they’re good, and the salsas are fresh. On the wall is written in big, cursive letters,  “No microwave, no can opener, no MSG, no freezer, no lard.” And it’s a strangely peaceful place.