Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Some of the Best-Tucson Area Part One
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a 98-acre  zoo, aquarium, botanical garden, natural history museum, and art gallery founded in 1952. Located just west of Tucson it features two miles of walking paths that meander through desert landscape. It is one of the most visited attractions in the area.  The museum is home to more than 230 animal species and 1,200 varieties of plants. You need to set aside at least three hours to cover the area. Go early as it can be very warm by afternoon. 
There are always new discoveries no matter how many times you visit. 
Take for instance a new cactus I found called rainbow cactus. 
There are no shortages of cactus varieties here at the museum.    
How about this Devil Cactus pictured above 
and note the unusual texture and shapes of these tree trunks.

Down the road from the Desert Museum is
Saguaro National Park. It is located in southern Arizona on the outskirts of Tucson and part of the United States National Park System. The park preserves the desert landscape, fauna and flora contained within two park sections, one east and the other west of Tucson. The park was established to protect its namesake—the giant saguaro cactus. 

There is a six mile loop you can drive to enjoy the desert landscape which was fine by me since it was a warm day and the rattlesnakes were out. 

Mission San Xavier is located in a desert setting outside the city of Tucson. As you approach it the white structure looms large like what I picture the Taj Mahal to look like .
Mission San Xavier is the only mission in the nation still active preaching to the Tohono O'odham, a group of Native Americans who primarily reside in the Sonoran Desert .
Mission San Xavier is called the "White Dove of the Desert". The structure is an impressive example of Spanish mission architecture. The domes, carvings and arches distinguish it from other missions. 
For further information and lots more pictures check out my blog posting from last year. 
Check back tomorrow for next posting with stops at De Grazia Gallery and Botanical Garden with some amazing butterfly photos. 

To the food part just in time for Valentine's Day 

Buttermilk Red Velvet Cake
Cook's notes:  Traditionally the cake is baked in two layers but a 13 x 9 pan can also be used. I sprinkled crushed pecans over the cream cheese frosting. I must say this was one of the best Red Velvet Cakes I have ever tasted. It was a moist and fluffy cake. Using 2 TB. of food coloring does give it a rich red color. No need to use a whole bottle of red which some recipes suggest. Store cake in refrigerator.
  • 2 -1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1- 1/4 cups sugar 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 
  • 3/4 tsp.fine salt 
  • 4 heaping tsp. cocoa powder 
  • 1-1/4 cups vegetable oil 
  • 1 cup buttermilk (fluid) at room temperature 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 2 food coloring (1 ounce) 
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • Cream Cheese Frosting-recipe below 
  • Crushed pecans or walnuts for garnish 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil and flour 2 round cake pans or a 13 x 9 pan. 
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. 
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. 
  • Using a mixer blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed. 
  • If using cake pans:Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake until the cake pulls away from the side and the center of the the cakes come out clean using a toothpick about 16-18 minutes. 
  • If using a 13 x 9 pan bake 22 minutes.
  • Cool cake in pans for 6 minutes and then invert each one onto a plate lined with wax paper and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely before frosting. 
  • For a 13 x 9 pan leave cake in pan.
Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-3 oz. package softened cream cheese
  • 3 TB. softened butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • Beat all ingredients until smooth -add in more milk if needed for correct consistency.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you need to be careful where you walk. I enjoy these Arizona tours. It gives me a visual respite from winter.