Jerome – A Counterculture and Bohemian Mecca: Adventures in Northern Arizona, Part 2

Sedona 2017 041

Jerome, Arizona.

While I was standing in line to rent a car at the Phoenix Airport, the man in front of me asked where my friend and I were staying. He was from Philadelphia and vacationed in Arizona frequently. When I told him Sedona, he said that we had to go visit the nearby town of Jerome. “It’s an old mining town with shops run by a bunch of hippies,” he said.

That’s all it took to convince me that we needed to go there. I’ve found that some pre-planning is fine for vacations, but that the best advice often comes from people you meet along the way. This trip was no exception.

The day we journeyed to Jerome dawned bright and mild, like so many other mornings during our Arizona stay. Linda and I hopped in our rented Nissan Versa, which dutifully took us up and down the northern Arizona mountains (even though the rental agency clerk tried to talk us into getting a larger car to handle the elevation changes).

20171205_111326A large “J” on a mountaintop was the first thing we noticed about Jerome. Then came the hairpin turns as we wound our way up to the town, which is situated precariously on the mountainside that used to yield its copper to miners. We parked in an area close to stores and hopped out to explore.

We purchased some goodies from the Connor Hotel gift shop, marveled at a poster that proclaimed the existence of a Jerome Ukulele Orchestra, and partook of a wine tasting at the Dragoon Mountain/Cellar 433 Winery outlet, which is simply called “Winery” on the outside. We had also visited their tasting room in Sedona, and were interested to see what different varieties of Arizona wine they offered here.

We sampled a flight of whites served by Barry, who wore a bandanna around his head and whose ears sported many heavy earrings. Our favorite was called “Sun.” Like the name implies, it was honey-colored with the warm flavor of roasted nuts. Hints of honeydew melon, white peaches and ginger topped it off. Unlike the Sedona winery, no guitarist serenaded our tasting. But like the Sedona winery, the view was fantastic, plus local artwork graced the walls.


The view from the winery. The impressive building on the left used to be a hotel, but is now a private home.

Lest we walk around the perilous Jerome pathways in a stupor, we decided to cross the street to the English Kitchen Restaurant to eat lunch to cut the alcohol. That turned out to be an excellent and otherworldly choice.

Sedona 2017 038We sat in an inviting booth and learned about the history of the place from the back of the menu while the smell of hickory barbecue drifted in from the restaurant’s smoker out back. The English Ktichen, also known as Bobby D’s BBQ is the oldest restaurant in northern Arizona. It was built in 1899 by Charley Hong after his original restaurant in the Connor Hotel (where we had just been buying gifts) burned down when the hotel burned. Oh, and by the way, there used to be an opium den in the basement of the English Kitchen.


The counter in the English Kitchen/Bobby D’s BBQ.

Charley died in booth #3 of the restaurant, where he frequently slept. Apparently, he is still hanging around, his presence manifested by flying salt shakers and misplaced items. The restaurant turned into the BBQ joint it is today in 2011.

When our waitress came to take our order, I asked her where booth #3 was. She pointed to the booth where we sat. “Do you want to know what side he died on?” she said, with the ghost of a smile. I could guess, but asked anyway. She pointed to the side where I sat.


But that did not make me lose my appetite. I ordered the BBQ bacon cheeseburger with fries. Oh man, oh man, oh man. That was good! It came with four different barbecue sauce choices. My tastebuds grew up in Minnesota, so that means I chose the non-spicy sweet one. Sorry, I can’t recall the name, but the sauce complemented the meat perfectly.

After lunch, we waddled around town for another hour or so. We found a shop that specialized in kaleidoscopes. Don’t see that every day.

We could have easily spent several days looking through all the shops, but the Sedona hiking trails were calling us, and we had to answer. And besides, we needed to walk off all the barbecue.


Photo Caption Contest!



My family celebrated Thanksgiving early this year. This is my favorite photo from the memorable occasion. My dog Buddy is looking longingly at the turkey carcass.

It begs a photo caption. Suggest your best one by commenting below. I (the sole judge) will send the winner a free copy of my novel, Plover Landing. I will ship it anywhere in the world, so put your creativity caps on, people!

The contest will be open through Saturday, November 25. I will contact the winner privately for their address.

The Cream Puff of Happiness


I meandered over the San Francisco for a work conference and found the best concept for an eatery near my hotel. All they sell is cream puffs. A whole store devoted to the ultimate in decadence!

While growing up, I had heard about cream puffs on television, but had never eaten one. They were not sold in my city at that time. Once I was old enough to cook, I happened upon a recipe in my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook and promptly went about making them. I was in heaven with the eggy, creamy, fluffy result.

Now cream puffs are less of a rarity. But never in my wildest “I’m a hick from Minnesota” dreams did I imagine an entire franchise devoted to the sweet.

002Beard Papa’s offers several varieties of cream puff shells. At the store I visited, these included original, chocolate-covered and green tea-covered. Filling choices were vanilla, peanut butter, and green tea. (I suppose the green tea ones are for people who are trying to trick themselves into thinking they are eating something healthy.)

I ordered an original shell with peanut butter filling, and a chocolate shell with vanilla filling. Both were divine. The shells were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The filling was cold and custardy. I preferred the vanilla filling over the peanut butter slightly, but only because it’s more classic.

With everything that’s going on in the world today, it makes me happy that cream puffs have their own store. If I’m 20 pounds heavier once I return home, you’ll know why.

Scallop (or Shrimp) Linguine



This recipe is modified from one I got off the interweb from the Rachael Ray Food Network. This version is wheat- and corn-free. Although if you really want wheat, you can just use regular linguine noodles.

½ pound linguine noodles (brown rice spaghetti noodles work well)
1 pound scallops or 12 oz shrimp
Sea salt and black pepper
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 t thyme
3/4 cup white cooking wine
3/4 cup clam juice or seafood stock
25 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
1-2 T parsley
1 T lemon juice

Boil pasta in large pot. If needed, thaw shrimp or scallops under cool running water for 3-4 minutes (but fresh is better!) Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 T olive oil and 2 T of the butter.

For scallops: When butter is melted, add scallops. Brown scallops 2 minutes on each side, then remove from pan and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

For either: Add the garlic, green onion, thyme, salt and pepper to skillet. Reduce heat a little and saute 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine to the pan. Reduce it by cooking (boil) for one minute. Add the clam juice, basil, parsley, lemon juice and the remaining 1 T butter. Stir until the butter has melted.

For shrimp: Add the shrimp now. If raw shrimp, cook in sauce until done. If pre-cooked shrimp, cook less time until warm.

Add the linguine and cook for about a minute to combine and let the pasta soak up the sauce. Divide the pasta between two serving plates and if using scallops, top with the reserved scallops. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Aruban Dreams (Part 2) – Caves


Quadirikiri Cave

In the previous episode, my friend and I were returning from a trip to the Conchi Natural Pool in Arikok National Park in Aruba. After being spared a forced death march through the desert back to our car by some kind folks who had room in their Jeep, my friend and I were set to explore two of the park’s caves.


What we could see of Fontein Cave through the locked gates. Photo by Karen Brehmer.

The caves are drivable via a paved road that devolves into a gravel road. But first we needed some lunch. Boca Prins Restaurant appeared before us, an oasis in the middle of nowhere – at the edge of a sea cliff where the paved road ends.

I had THE BEST pina colada and fish stew of my life there. The cold drink felt wondrous after our morning adventure and the fish stew was light, fishy, and limey – obviously made by someone who knew what they were doing.

We tarried over lunch so long that by the time we got to Fontein Cave, the gates to it were closed (it closes at 3:30 p.m.). If we had been able to enter it, we would have seen native pictographs dating back 1,000 years, along with drawings by colonialists. Guess I will have to visit it again on my next trip to Aruba.


Quadirikiri Cave

Then we traveled to Quadirikiri Cave, which is known for its two large caverns and bats. The caverns are lit from holes in the ceiling. I could immediately see the appeal of the caves to ancient peoples. They provided shelter from the relentless and ever-present Arubian tradewinds and sun, and they were very roomy. I would totally have lived there 5,000 years ago.

On our way out of the park, we drove past some prominent landmarks that took the form of wind turbines. Aruba gets a good percentage (15%) of its power from renewable sources, with a goal of 100% for the year 2020. The wind-farm we drove past is not part of the park, but it’s just as impressive as some of the natural landmarks.

Thus ends our time in the park. Next up: Beaches and Butterflies.


Image by Karen Brehmer.

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Distraction

20170304_102544Never mind that President Donald Trump just zeroed out the agency I work for in his proposed federal budget. (I work for the Sea Grant Program under NOAA.) I realized I haven’t shared a recipe lately. Here’s a wheat- and corn-free version of blueberry buttermilk pancakes. I’d much rather think about them than Donald Trump’s budget.

If I let The Donald freak me out too much, he wins. I won’t let him win. But I will tell my friends to write their congressional representatives, and I’m sure I’ll blog more about this situation later. (Oh lucky readers, you!) In the meantime, I’ll cook some luscious pancakes in the sunshine on a weekend morning.

20170304_102057This recipe makes a lot of pancakes – enough for 4-6 people. If you’re sensitive to wheat, make sure to use vanilla extract that contains no grain alcohol. I make mine by soaking several vanilla beans in a bottle of potato vodka for a few weeks. For the gluten-free flour mix, I use Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free baking flour.

And if you’re sensitive to corn products, make sure the buttermilk you buy doesn’t have a lot of extra ingredients added to it (like “natural flavor,” which can be secret code for corn syrup). Also, don’t use table salt. It usually has cornstarch added to it to make it flow more smoothly. Use sea salt instead.


Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 T canola oil
1 cup rice flour
1-1/4 cups gluten-free flour mix
2 T cane sugar
½ t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt
1 t vanilla
1+ cup blueberries

Whisk eggs. Add remaining ingredients (except blueberries) in the order listed and whisk until smooth. Stir in blueberries.

Pour batter onto hot griddle. Turn pancakes as soon as they are puffed and full of bubbles, but before the bubbles break. Bake other side until golden brown.


This recipe makes A LOT of pancakes.

Gingerbread House Catastrophe


Tragedy struck the Marie household yesterday with the total and spontaneous collapse of a gingerbread house.

“I was in the kitchen doing something at the sink when behind me I heard this terrible crunching sound and a thud,” said Marie. “When I turned around, I saw the gingerbread house that my son and his girlfriend made spread flat out on the kitchen table. I swear, I didn’t touch it!”

Emergency responders on the scene reported that no people or animals were injured in the collapse. Damages estimated at $10.

Marie said that when she told her son about the incident, he instructed her to throw away the sides of the house, which had already been picked clean of frosting and candy, and to save the roof, which still contained candy.

“I sure hope this isn’t a harbinger of doom for 2017,” she quipped.