Flocks of Snowbirds

Coloradans call the winter ski visitors “turkeys.” The skiers are called this because their faces get sunburned from being on top of the mountain, basking in the state’s lovely winter sunshine, but the rest of their bodies remain winter white. Like turkeys. Well, sort of. Takes a bit of a stretch of the imagination. Hey, I didn’t come up with the term.

In Arizona, the winter visitors are called “snowbirds.” I didn’t come up with that term either. I just know that when I’m in Arizona, I’m one of them.

I recently read that the Phoenix area population increases by somewhere around 400,000 residents starting sometime in October or November and begins diminishing around Easter, mid-April to early May. As we were driving here recently, we passed many large RVs with license plates from Minnesota or Missouri or South Dakota. But having spent a couple of winters here, I can tell you that the population hasn’t peaked yet.

There are still no long lines to get into restaurants. The streets are relatively quiet. There were places to sit at Mass yesterday. But it won’t be long. And, much as I hate to admit it (seeings as they are me), the snowbirds really are enough to drive a sane man or woman mad. Many drive too slow (especially merging onto the freeways, where they somehow feel it is perfectly appropriate to merge at 25 mph). It takes forever to pay a bill at a restaurant or go through a check stand because each person needs to make sure they are getting the best deal they can get. And my husband refuses to sit at the front of a restaurant that is located in a mall parking lot because inevitably, every year there are stories about someone hitting the gas instead of the brake and driving through the front window of a storefront eatery.

But, my Arizona family and friends, I must remind you of that number – 400,000. That is a lot of people who are bringing money into your economy. So smile, put up with us, and just know that someday in the future (and it will come sooner than you think), you will also be coming up on 60 or 70 years old and having to watch your pennies.

Bill and I are headed back to Denver, but we will return soon to spend the cold months of winter here. When we return, I will try to maintain my speed, keep track of which is the accelerator and which is the brake, and slide over in the pew on Sunday.

In the meantime, my sister had us over for a bon voyage dinner of brats, corn on the cob, and pasta salad. Here is the recipe for the salad (photo and recipe courtesy of acedarspoon.com):

Mexican Pasta Salad

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ of a box of pasta
½ green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ c. corn (fresh or frozen)
½ c. grape tomatoes, halved
½ c. cilantro
¼ c. olive oil
2 T lime juice
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of oregano
Salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, green pepper, red pepper, corn, and tomatoes, and mix well. Add pasta and continue to mix.

In a small food process, combine the cilantro, olive oil, lime, garlic powder and oregano. Blend well. Drizzle this dressing over the pasta salad and mix.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate.

Kids’ Whimsical Cooking

My mother didn’t teach me to cook.

Don’t get me wrong. My mom was a very good cook. She just didn’t teach me to cook, or my siblings either. She probably thought it was simply easier to do it herself. She prepared the meals; we did other things. As a result, I was a terrible cook when I first got married. Rice that could have doubled for wallpaper paste. A pie crust that was so hard to roll out that I ended up throwing it on the floor. You get the picture.

As the years went by, I must have learned through simply watching Mom how to do some cooking. I got better as time went on. Now I hardly ever throw a pie crust on the floor.

My 10-year-old granddaughter Addie likes to cook. She has liked to cook since she was a really small girl. She has a patient mommy who has allowed her to cook, and who has taught her a thing or two about cooking!

As I continue with this blog, I thought it would be fun to give Addie the chance to blog on occasion as well. She can talk about cooking from a 10-year-old’s perspective. As part of the process, Addie cooked dinner last night, and man! it was delicious.

Here is her first post:

Hi my name is Adelaide Grace McLain (I go by Addie for short). I am 10 years old and I will be doing blog posts about kids cooking on this blog. I have a passion for cooking and that is why my nana (the one who owns this blog) asked me to share my recipes. I have 3 siblings and so my family is a total of six. My favorite color is yellow and my favorite food is mango. I would have to say that my best dish is fettuccini alfredo which is coincidentally my first blog recipe.

I started cooking when I was about 6 years old. My mom was cooking fettuccini alfredo and I said, “Can you teach me how to cook?” After that, I started making breakfast for my siblings many mornings and coffee for my parents that I would bring up to them in bed.

I hope you like my blog posts.

Fettuccini Alfredo

1 stick of butter
¾ of a pint of cream
Enough Parmesan cheese to make the sauce thick.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the cream to the butter, stirring the whole time. Add the Parmesan cheese until the sauce is thick (probably around ¾ – 1 c. of cheese). This is what it should look like:

Cook your pasta, and pour the sauce on top.