Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fall Baseball

The Diamondbacks may be out of the running for the World Series, but that doesn't mean we Arizona baseball fans are without some fun. From early October to mid-November of each year, we have Fall Ball.

Fall Ball is great for a relaxed, close-up view of up-and-coming players. Each of the 30 Major League teams sends 30 prospects to the valley. They're divided up into 6 teams: the Phoenix Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas, Surprise Rafters, Peoria Saguaros, Scottsdale Scorpions, and Mesa Solar Sox.

They play in training stadiums that are used for Spring Training in March. You can enjoy a nice, relaxed atmosphere with nearly perfect weather most days. Since the average attendance is fewer than 300 people, you can sit almost anywhere in the ball park. Some days we sit behind home plate, close enough to see all the action and here the players when they talk to each other (and sometimes say not-so-nice things to themselves).

Games are every day but Sunday. The season started on October 9, and the last game is on November 17. Games are scheduled either at noon, 12:35 PM, or 7:05 PM. Individual tickets are $6 ($5 for seniors or those under 17). If you want to buy season tickets, they're only $75 ($65 for seniors or under 17). You can also get a season ticket for the whole family (up to 6 members) for $105.

This year, the Chinese National baseball team will be playing a game with each team - it's part of their training for the Beijing 2008 Olympics games. Team USA will also be playing! These games are a chance to relax, see good baseball, and maybe get an early look at a future star!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Arizona Cook Book - Yum!

A friend found this book at a garage sale in California recently and sent it to me. What fun! This spiral-bound paperback claims to contain authentic recipes of Indian, Mexican, and Western origin. I think that in this case, authentic is accurate.

Let's see, what shall we try? In the Indian section, there's and interesting recipe for Blood Sausage. All I need is 4 cups of sheep blood, 1 1/2 cups of sheep fat, and a clean stomach (to contain the sausage - not mine). Or how about using that cup of acorn meal you have lying around to prepare some delicious acorn stew?

There's a whole section of recipes featuring pinto beans, including delicious Pinto Bean Fudge! Yep, there is the usual ingredient list, with one odd inclusion: 1/2 cup strained cooked pinto beans.

I was initially alarmed when I noticed a recipe for Pyracantha Jelly. I didn't realize that pyracantha berries were edible - a little research confirms they are not poisonous after all.

Under Beef Bounties, the adventurous chef can try Beef Earth Roast. The authors provide an 8-step instruction for "an economical, easy and unusual way to feed a large group of people." Instruction #1: Dig a pit 3' deep and 3' wide. Length depends on how much meat you cook. (A 10-foot pit will hold about 300 pounds of beef.) The remaining 7 steps are just as easy. Be sure to have green hickory or oak limbs on hand to create the 12 to 14 inches of live coals you'll need. You'll also need metal bars to place across the pit, 18" apart, and some overlapping tin to cover that, plus a tarp "in case of rain." Easy, indeed!

If you'd like your own copy of this delightful cookbook, Arizona Cook Book was published by Golden West Publishers, and when I checked was available online at several sites that sell used books, including alibris and Bon appetit!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Urban Fishing

So - you live in the desert. Guess you'll have to travel a bit to fish, right? Wrong! Fishing is a popular sport in Arizona, and you don't even have to travel very far to enjoy it!
There are 81 lakes in Arizona (according to, and 20 of them are smack in the middle of 11 of the state's cities. Here in the Valley of the Sun, there are 15 lakes in 8 valley cities.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department runs an Urban Fishing program. Their philosophy is : "...if people can't get out of town to fish, we will bring fish into town for the people." The department issues special Urban Fishing licenses, which you can even buy online at It only costs $18.50 for the year, for anyone over 14 years of age.
These urban lakes are regularly stocked with fish like trout, catfish, and sunfish at two-week intervals. They do this year-round, except between July 10 and September 10, when it's just too hot for the health of the fish to transport them.
If you go to any of these urban lakes, like the one in Encanto Park in central Phoenix, or Red Mountain Park in east Mesa, or Surprise Park behind the central library in Surprise, you'll see people of all ages testing their angling skills. They say the fishing is great!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hobo Joe

Recently we decided to drive south from our corner of the valley to check out the towns of Ajo and Wye. Our route took us through downtown Buckeye, where we spotted this 40-foot fiberglass structure just off the main road. We couldn't just pass it by without stopping to investigate.
It's in front of what appears to be an abandoned business of some sort. A short investigatory dip into Google suggests it might be a defunct lumber yard or old meatpacking plant. I did discover that the plaque under this figure is a little misleading. Years ago there was a chain of Hobo Joe restaurants in Arizona (partially owned by Barry Goldwater's brother Robert). One was in downtown Scottsdale. Another may still be operating in Cottonwood, Arizona.
A sculptor named Jim Casey created this character. Three sizes of Hobo Joes were produced, the largest of which we saw in Buckeye. There's a life-size one in the Arizona Railroad Museum, apparently. Should you ever find yourself in Buckeye, go to the corner of Monroe and Cemetary Roads and pay Hobo Joe a visit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Free Movies at the Drive-In

Wow! I just found out that we have not one, but TWO drive-In Movie theaters here in the valley. In Scottsdale, at 8101 E. McKellips, there are 6 screens showing first-run movies. In Glendale, at 5650 N. 55th Avenue, there are 9 screens. Admission is $6.00 for people over 12 years of age. These theaters have been here since the late 1970s!

So, what is free? This coming Thursday, September 20th, both sites are offering a choice of 3 double features for free. Here are the combinations: ET and Grease, Grease and Wayne's World, or Wayne's World and ET. Gates open at 6:45 PM, and the shows start at 7:45 PM. What a great way to relive "the good ol' days" or take the little ones to a movie where the whole family can relax!

Find Out What's Happening

Want to know what's going on here in the Valley of the Sun? There's a superb web site,, that will answer all your questions! Here are the categories it covers: Theater, Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Festivals, Kids and Families, Film and Video, Poetry and Literature, "Unique AZ," Museums, Special Events, and Free Events.

Find out all you need to know and order your tickets online, easily! You can sign up for emails to let you in on last-minute bargains and special offers, too. Check it out!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Kathy Reichs in Scottsdale

No matter what author or celebrity you're interested in, chances are really good that he or she will visit the valley at some point within a year. Since we're interested in books and authors, we enjoy going to book readings from time to time.

This past Thursday we headed for Scottsdale's Poisoned Pen Bookstore ( to hear Kathy Reichs talk about her books, including the latest - Bones to Ashes. Since this is her tenth book, store owner Barbara Peters turned this visit into a celebration, complete with rum cake for everyone! Dr. Reichs discussed each of her previous books and talked about how each plot was suggested by something she encountered in her work as a forensic anthropologist. She also shared some insights into the television series Bones, which is inspired by Dr. Reichs.

Poisoned Pen Bookstore is the largest mystery bookstore in North America, and hosts several authors each month. When we arrived in the valley three years ago, one of the first things we did was attend a reading by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, who talked about their new children's book, Peter and the Starcatchers. I got to see one of my favorite humorists and stand dumbstruck before him in the booksigning line (I could barely tell him my name). We also were introduced to a mystery writer we had not ever read. Now my husband, my younger daughter, and I count Ridley Pearson among our favorite mystery writers.

Poisoned Pen also runs its own publishing company, Poisoned Pen Press (, which I discovered while wandering the shelves of a local library. I picked up a copy of Desert Wives by Betty Webb and was hooked. I learned a lot about the polygamist sects living on the Arizona strip between Arizona and Utah, and was thoroughly entertained. At the Kathy Reichs reading, Barbara Peters mentioned that there'll be a new Betty Webb book coming out soon, on yet another controversial topic. I can hardly wait!