Archive for August, 2014

Peach Smoothie Recipe

August 29th, 2014 by Mike Hug

Peach Smoothie Recipe is a hit a Down By The River B and B

Peach smoothie recipe picture

Gather all the ingredients that you will use for the peach smoothie.

Our peach smoothie recipe is a blast of flavor that we serve our guests at Down By The River B and B. We have a secret ingredient and which is fresh peaches. We always pick the peaches that we use in our peach smoothies. We don’t purchase store bought peaches because they never have been picked ripe. Most store bought peaches are picked green and shipped in cold storage. Even when you let them ripen on the counter they never achieve the wonderful flavor which you find with fresh peaches. As Angie would say “There flavor is a party in your mouth”. Many of our guests have never picked a peach off a tree and they don’t know how intense the flavor can be.

pouring peach smoothie recipe picture

Pouring the peach smoothie into a glass for the guests

In a previous blog ‎ I told about how we plan our day when we go peach picking and then the process that we go through to prepare the peaches for future use in smoothies and in our peach pancakes. It is a long day but at the end we will have enough peaches processed to get us through the winter season. Ah but I am starting to go astray. So here is our recipe for peach smoothies. A word of warning, we us a heavy duty bar blender when making our smoothies because we work with frozen ingredients. If you have a light blender make sure your ingredients are defrosted.

Down By The River B and B

Peach Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces          Frozen Peaches cut into chunks or slices
  • 1 – 6 ounce      Peach yogurt
  • 16 ounces        Peach juice

 

Directions

  • In a blender place yogurt, peaches, and peach juice
  • Blend the mixture until smooth
  • Pour into glasses

Peach smoothie recipe pictue

Peach smoothie recipe complete and ready to serve to the guests.

As an alternate to this recipe to give it a twist, added 3 ounces of fresh raspberries to the mixture to add a little tartness and reddish color to the smoothie.

Serves 2 to 3

Picking Fruit In Willcox

August 23rd, 2014 by Mike Hug

Picking fruit in Willcox is an all day process at Down By The River B and B.

Sign at Entrance

Sign at the entrance to Apple Annie’s

Picking fruit in Willcox is one of the fun things we do, that could be considered work, for our guests to enjoy when come to Down By The River B and B. When we have the slower time of the year, picking fruit in Willcox just fits right into the routine. Picking apples for our apple pancakes is not a high priority with us because we can get good apples at the store. What is the priority is the peaches. We have dishes that we serve with peaches that require us to get peaches that are fresh and ripe. Peaches you find in the store usually don’t have the flavor of tree ripened peaches. Our guests love the real peach taste and many have not had a tree ripened peach.

Asian Pear picture

Picking fruit in Willcox offers a wide range of types to choose. Apples, pears and peaches are growing in the orchards.

When we are picking fruit in Willcox, we have never been disappointed with stopping at Apple Annie’s Orchard.  We usually leave by 7 so that we can get the fruit picked and be on our way back home before it gets too hot and steamy. Luckily for us there was fog in Willcox and so we were kept out of the sun most of the time. This year the fruit has ripened a couple of weeks earlier than normal. Mainly because of the warm winter and early spring, the trees blossomed earlier. We missed getting to harvest the Hale Peaches that we so enjoy. Instead we settled for the O’Henry Peaches which stays harder even though it is ripe.

46 pounds later we had our peaches picked. After the peaches we found the Asian Pears and picked 15 pounds of them. The fruit was perfect for us and was easily picked without the need of ladders or fruit picker devices. When picking fruit in Willcox, we have found it best to go during the week and not on the weekend. You don’t have to fight the crowds and you can pick a choose fruit better. Apple Annie’s also provides a picking calendar on their website to let you know the times to pick fruit. After paying for our fruit we decided to skip the fudge shop and also not to stop for apple pie that was coming fresh out of the oven. Yes there is more at Apple Annie’s than just going and picking fruit in Willcox.

Picking fruit in Willcox picture

Two buckets of peaches and a half bucket of Asian Pears picked in 30 minutes.

After we got back home the work begins. We wash the fruit and then start sorting by size. The larger peaches get cut into rings for our peach pancakes that we serve. A link to our recipe is here.  The smaller peaches and remnants of the rings are cut up into chunks for use in our Peach Smoothies. Of course once in a while some small piece needs to be sampled to make sure it is sweet enough to be used for our breakfasts at Down By The River B and B. It is all part of the “Quality Control”. Book a room with us and find out what breakfast is all about here in St. David.

The Common Raven

August 17th, 2014 by Mike Hug

The Common Raven Pulls A Prank At Down By The River B And B

Common Raven Picture

The Common Raven have a distinctive call and when close it is unnerving.

The Common Raven and the Chihuahuan Ravens are large black birds with distinctive calls and if you are concentrating on one thing, such as finding a snake, that call can startle you if it is close. Both of these birds can be seen at Down By The River B and B. The Common Raven is a little larger than the Chihuahuan Raven and the bill is longer and more curved. I haven’t been able to photograph either raven while here at the b and b.

Coachwhip Snake picture

The Coachwhip Snake, sometimes known as a Red Racer, hunts for small rodents, lizards and other reptiles.

I had to water the plants and trees because the monsoon rains were not cooperating and failed to fall at the b and b. That morning, I was almost finished and was finally watering around the patio. Just the day before I had walked by a Coachwhip Snake and didn’t see him until he quickly moved away. The snake’s camouflage is good. It is similar in color to the flagstone deck we have in the back patio.  It shocked me that a snake could be that close to me and I hadn’t seen it. I went in and got the camera. He had disappeared by the time I returned but I later spotted the snake as he reemerged. I was able to take some photos and then watched as he went into a planter on the patio.

Common Raven Pair picture

The Common Ravens usually are found in pairs. They will eat anything that they find.

I was watering one planter and was looking into the rosemary to see if the snake was still in hiding. Having a heightened sense of alertness, I heard this loud call just as I was looking at one area and jumped. “Snakes don’t make that sound fool” I said to myself. I figured that a raven had flown overhead and went back to watering. Then I heard the loud call again. I looked up but there wasn’t a bird in the sky. As I turned around, the Common Raven was sitting on the patio roof not 5 feet from where I stood. No wonder it was so loud.  Since I had the hose in hand I squirted the raven. The bird just spread its wings and enjoyed it.

The Common Raven flying picture

The Common Raven starting to fly off to greener pastures.

Well I haven’t ever had a chance to photograph any raven this close so I put down the hose and went in for the camera. I figured the bird would be gone by the time I got back. But no this raven was not moving and now there was another raven on the roof with the first. I took pictures of them on the roof and had a nice photo shoot. Then they both flew over to the fountain and landed there. So I thought I will just walk over and see how close I can get before they fly off. Amazingly, I was close enough that I could have reached out and touched them. Not a good idea with those bills. I settled for some good close up shots.

Our birding friend Randy always joked that you could tell a Crow from a Common Raven by the length of the nose hairs. Well with the close up, I could see that this bird looks like it does have nose hairs. The birds were really just curious and flew around the back patio looking at things and nosed around (pardon the pun). We do see the ravens around here but usually they are flying or scavenging on the road. These two must have been models because they didn’t mind posing for the photo shoot. After about 10 minutes they flew off and I haven’t seen them back. To quote Poe maybe they told me “Nevermore”.

Common Raven Close up Picture

A close up photo taken from about 3 feet definitely show what could be called nose hairs.

Willcox Winery Tour

August 11th, 2014 by Mike Hug

Willcox Winery Tour From Down By The River B and B

Willcox Winery Tour Map

A Willcox Winery Tour requires some planning. Using Arizona Wine Lifestyle Maps can show you the locations of the wineries you want to visit.

We love to take the Willcox Winery Tour and spend the day doing some wine tasting and meeting friends. During the summer season, the traffic at Down By The River B and B slows down and allows us to venture out to look at the many sites in Cochise County. Angie and I decided to take a day and do a Willcox wine tour visiting some wineries that are on the Willcox Bench. We hadn’t been to Willcox since the October Willcox Wine Festival. Our purpose then was to find an Arizona wine to have at our “Challenge on the River”, a blind wine taste test that we held in November, 2013. This time our intent was to find out about a new tasting room that was opened.

Willcox Winery Tour picture

Coronado was first on our Willcox Winery Tour and they offer a wide range of wines.

We started off the Willcox winery tour visiting Terry at Coronado Vineyards on the east side of Willcox. Our first visit to Coronado was during the second week that they opened the tasting room. This time we met some travelers who were there to taste and had a fun time discussing wine and our b and b. The wines range from dry to semi sweet and they do have some desert wines and a sparking wine. Every year we host a New Years Eve Party with our guests and friends. This year will not be an exception. At midnight we pour Coronado’s sparkling wine Dolce Veritas. The tasting room is open daily check their website for the hours.

Willcox Winery Tour Bodega Pierce picture

Bodega Pierce has just opened their tasting room. We wanted to stop and see what they had to offer and also to introduce ourselves.

After taking our leave of Coronado, we headed south to the center of the Willcox Bench growing region. We stopped at Bodega Pierce.  They have just opened their tasting room on Robbs Road in Kansas Settlement located just north of the Pillsbury winery. We had tasted their wines in October but under the name of Saeculum Cellars. Barbara and Dan are the perfect hosts and will take time to explain their wines to you. We actually got there as the rain started and it was pleasant to sip wine and watch the rain. It had been over a week since there was a good rain. We did enjoy their wines which are medium to dry and fruity. They do have a delightful Malvasia Bianca. That grape is usually blended with other wines and I haven’t tasted it much as a varietal. Their hours are Thursday to Sunday 11 to 5.

Willcox Winery Tour picture

Pillsbury Wine Company is building a new wine building to improve their facilities.

Next stop on our Willcox wine tour was Pillsbury Wine Company.  Located a little further south and then east on Bennet Place. We came to see Bonnie, Sam Pillsbury’s wonderful tasting room hostess and to view the new construction.  Pillsbury is having a new winery building constructed for the expanding vineyard and the building is progressing nicely. We were the only ones there for a while and got to catch up on what was going on. The wines are medium to dry. Just before we left we met another vintner who is just starting out with his winery. He told us it would be a couple of years before he gets to the point of having a tasting room. The Pillsbury tasting room is open Thursday to Sunday 11 to 5.

Willcox Winery Tour Zarpara Picture

Zarpara Tasting Room is in the middle of the vineyard

We end our Willcox winery tour with a stop at Zarpara Winery and we were greeted by Rhona and Mark. We stopped at Zarpara on the first week that they opened. They have a nice variety of wine from medium to dry. Rhona had just got back from Scotland and so we got to catch up on gossip with her. Her dog came into the tasting room with us but was summarily marched back out. Seems the dog had a run in with a skunk and after a while the scent would make its presents known. Zarpara had the honor of winning our “Challenge on the River” blind taste test with their wine Origen. The tasting room is open Friday to Sunday 11 to 5.

Texas Canyon Picture

Texas Canyon’s scattered trees offers some shade while you enjoy the views while you return from a Willcox Winery tour.

Our return home was through the town of Dragoon and into Texas Canyon. The area is picturesque and is even more so when the monsoon clouds and rain are in the mix. The loop trip on our Willcox wine tour lasted about 7 hours and was a less than 100 miles in length. We got home while it was still light so we could enjoy the sunset and relax. We have found that wine people are very friendly and everyone is helpful with directions to the neighboring wineries. So plan your next Willcox wine tour and stay at Down By The River after your loop trip. The next day you can head to Sonoita for more wine tasting loop trip or maybe just make your way home.

Willcox Bench Wineries

August 5th, 2014 by Mike Hug

Willcox Bench Wineries Produce Award Winning Wines

Willcox Bench Winery picture

The Willcox Bench Wineries have a perfect climate and soil for growing grapes.

The Willcox Bench wineries are plentiful and varied. The elevation is from 4300 feet to 4500 feet and the temperature range is 30 to 40 degrees. With the Arizona sunshine, this is a perfect grape growing region. A majority of the fruit grown for use the in Arizona wineries are from vines on the Willcox Bench. The wineries in the Verde Valley towns of Cottonwood and Page Springs grow some of their grapes in that area but the rest comes from Willcox. Even some of the Sonoita Wineries grow their grapes on the Willcox Bench.

The Willcox Bench wineries are located in a valley that is an old lake bed. The Willcox Playa is the remains of a dry lake that in the winter is the nesting area for the Sand Hill Cranes that migrate to the south from the northern latitudes. Bird watching on the bench, along with wine tasting, are two of the pastimes that the traveling public find enjoyable. The old lake bed provides the water needed to irrigate the vines. The summer monsoon rains also help to give the vines water during the July and August months.

Willcox Playa Picture

The Willcox Playa is a dry lake in the Sulphur Springs Valley and is where the Sand Hill Cranes spend the winter.

Originally when we started Down By the River B and B, the wine tasting rooms were in Sonoita and at Bowie. Over the years there have been many tasting rooms spring up on the Willcox Bench. In 2014, a couple of new tasting rooms have opened for business. Reports are that the Willcox Bench Wineries are growing fast as more vineyards come on line and when new ones open up we try to stop by to introduce ourselves and also take time see our friends at other wineries.

Willcox Bench Winery Grapes on the vine picture.

Syrah is one of the varietals that you can find at the Willcox Bench Wineries.

Many of the wineries here in Arizona grow their grapes on the Willcox Bench. Wines of Willcox has a list of 12 tasting rooms and there is another list of vintners that are associated with the Willcox wine growing region.You can also get a map of the wineries from AZ Wine Lifestyle  Naturally we can’t visit them all in one day so that makes if fun to go back to Willcox another time and stop at the other wineries. Some of the tasting rooms are available by appointment only while other have set hours. Aridus has recently added to the value to the bench with a modern crush facility for the vintners in the area. The local wineries now have access to a state of the art facility located on the Willcox Bench.

We have sampled wine at nearly all the Willcox Bench wineries over the years and we have found something we like at each one of the wineries. Probably one of the best ways to sample wines from the other wineries that you haven’t heard about is to go to the Willcox Wine Festival coming up in October or the one held next spring in May. Many vintners are there and the tastings are available in a wonderful festive atmosphere with food available and music playing in the background. In late July Angie and I decided to check out a new tasting room that was opening and also to visit some old friends that we know at some other wineries. Read our next blog Willcox Winery Tour for that information.

Willcox Bench Winery  Grapes growing picture

Some wineries us netting to protect the grapes from the birds and tall fencing to keep the deer out.

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