Since the writing of our last post three weeks ago, Judy and I have been on the move. We left our winter haven in Palm Desert on May 6th, our youngest son Aaron’s 21st birthday, and drove north to the San Francisco Bay Area. Sadly Aaron was still in Rome where he has been studying abroad (is that one word or two?) since January with two of his roomies from the University of Arizona. We welcomed Aaron home on May 8th and then spent a few wonderful days with him until we began our journey east to Tulsa on the 12th.
Thursday, our first day of driving, took us south along highway 99 through the Central Valley and Bakersfield, and then turned east to Needles where we spent our first night on the road. Plans for Friday were to drive to Flagstaff, Az. and then down to Sedona for the night. As we were approaching Flagstaff, Judy noticed a sign reading, “Next Exit, Grand Canyon, Highway 64, North”. That was all it took for us to modify our plans, taking some time to visit this majestic crack in the earth. I had never been to the Grand Canyon and it had been many years since Judy’s last visit.
We arrived at the South Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park where we were met by Ranger Scott at the gate. Scott told us that the cost to enter the Park was $25 per car, but if we had plans for visiting up to four different National Parks during the year we could purchase a discount pass for the special price of $80. I mentioned to Ranger Scott that since Judy and I were now retired and planning on driving across the country every three months, we probably would benefit by getting the upgraded pass. Scott looked at me and said, “You can’t be 62”. Judy, of course, couldn’t wait to tell the Ranger just exactly how old I am. “He’ll be 65 this year”, she said, in that special little way she has of always rounding up. I really appreciate that, Honey.
Apparently surprised by Judy’s announcement of my advancing decline, Ranger Scott happily announced that because of my age I was qualified to buy a Senior Pass which would allow me, and anyone else in the car, to enter all the National Parks free of charge for the rest of my life.
In the car Judy had a book we had recently purchased, chronicling travels along old Route 66. The book suggested dining at the Hotel El Tovar while in Grand Canyon National Park. It’s located on the South Rim. The old hotel first opened its doors in 1905 after being built by the Railroad for guests coming to the area by train. It is absolutely charming and is not to be missed.
The Canyon itself is indeed Grand. It’s actually much more than grand, but I haven’t been able to find a word that could even begin to adequately describe all that it truly is.
Leaving the park we drove along the rim road to the East Entrance stopping along the way at various vista points to take photographs which, although they will certainly be beautiful, won’t provide the same sense of awe as being there.
The drive from the Grand Canyon to Sedona took us through some really incredible scenery in the high desert and up to the forested mountains surrounding Flagstaff. A few miles after passing through Flagstaff we began a winding decent where we dropped down into another small canyon, reminiscent of a drive we had taken many times from Truckee to Lake Tahoe. This took us the last 10 or so miles to Sedona. Rounding a bend in the road, the Canyon opened up and my jaw dropped as I first saw the awe inspiring red rock mountains that give this place such an incredibly spiritual feeling
That night, being Friday, Judy and I needed to find a good Italian restaurant where we could dine and, if possible, dance. Checking on-line we found a place called Dahl and di Lucca which had some fine reviews and which was located just a few blocks from our hotel. Upon entering the restaurant, Judy and I were amazed at the way the restaurant was decorated. The stone walls and authentic Italian décor reminded us of some of the Ristorante we had visited in Tuscany and other parts of Italy. Our table wasn’t quite ready so we ventured into the bar for a cocktail. There were a stack of books on the bar, all with the same title, The Elixir of Life, Finding Love and Joy in the Passionate Pursuit of Food by Lisa Dahl, co-owner and executive sous chef of the restaurant. Across the room we noticed Lisa signing books for another patron and mentioned to the bar tender that we would really like to meet Lisa and purchase a copy of her book for ourselves. We later learned that Lisa’s book had won a Gold Medal IPPY award for Cookbook of the Year. (See our link on the right to order the book for yourself.) Lisa was a joy to meet. We discovered that she had spent time in Northern California on her food journey through life, and we let her know of our food exploits as well. Lisa suggested we try a couple of her favorite entrées, which we did, and which made the dinner truly glorious, and the evening a huge success.
Saturday we drove from Sedona to Albuquerque. On the way we were able to visit another of our National Parks, the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Wow!!! And, using our new Senior Pass, we got in free. What a great find. Thanks Ranger Scott.
Sunday’s drive was planned to end in Amarillo for the night, but we were having such a good time listening to music of the 40’s, 60’s and the Greatful Dead stations on XM radio, and were so anxious to get to Tulsa, we simply pushed on arriving in T-Town that evening Over the next few days we were inundated with family and friends, all wanting to take us out to dinner or cook for us. Don’t they realize we have a blog to support and adoring fans wanting to follow our escapades?
Finally, after several weeks of turmoil, travel, staying in motels along old Route 66, and finally attempting to settle in to our new location in Tulsa where things weren’t quite ready for us, Judy and I have finally gotten to the point where we can begin to get back to what’s really fun, cooking, eating and writing about it.
Over the next few weeks we’ll try to post as often as possible. We’re actually going to be leaving Tulsa mid-June and heading to our summer residence in Lake Tahoe. We’ll be there for about three months which will give us plenty of time to try out new recipes and pass them on to you.
As I am writing this we are just coming out of a tornado warning. Normal in Tulsa but a little alarming to me. We’ve been watching a major storm pass through the area with major tornadic tendencies. As the sirens were going off in the neighborhood, I grabbed Judy, Oscar the dog, and a flashlight and headed for our “safe place” in the basement. We survived the scare, and went back upstairs for one of the most incredible meals we’ve prepared thus far.
From our kitchen to yours. Enjoy the adventure.
Moroccan Chicken with Raisins, Chickpeas and Couscous
|Moroccan Chicken with Raisins and Couscous|
1 pound Chicken Breasts, uncooked, skinless and boneless
1 pound chicken thighs, uncooked, skinless and boneless
1 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Onion powder
½ tsp Red pepper flakes
½ cup Chicken Broth, low-sodium, low-fat
½ cup White Wine
14 ½ oz tomatoes, stewed
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 large Onion, chopped
7 Garlic cloves, minced
5 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
1 ½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Cumin, ground
½ cup Raisins or Currants
2 pinches Cayenne Pepper
½ cup Couscous, uncooked
½ cup Chicken Broth, low-sodium, low-fat
¼ cup Chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans
Cut the Chicken Breasts in half. Season the Chicken with Black Pepper, Garlic powder and Onion powder.
Place in a re-sealable plastic bag in the fridge for about ½ hour.
Place all of the ingredients for the sauce in a large pot over low heat for 45 minutes.
After the sauce has heated for 15 minutes, place the chicken in a 350°F pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Next, place the partially cooked Chicken in the sauce pot and cook over medium low heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, prepare the Couscous. Bring ½ cup of Chicken broth to a boil and add Couscous, stirring until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
Yields 6 servings. PointsPlus value per serving is 7. Prep time is 15 minutes. Cooking time is about an hour. Level of difficulty is Easy.
Weight Watchers and PointsPlus are registered trademarks of Weight Watchers Intl. Inc.
Recipes shown may not be exactly the same as those found on any website. Judy and I tend to "tweak" each recipe we feature, to some degree, incorporating our own unique tastes and ideas. PointsPlus values, however, are accurate.
Photo by Barry Baruh