This week’s new picture I call Motel Aguila, and it’s another faded motel sign for my collection. Located as you would expect, in Aguila—a farming town some twenty miles west of Wickenburg. It’s also across the street from last week’s shot, which is how I spotted it. The paint on this sign is so faded that I don’t see a business name, and there’s only a whisper of letters left to show it as a motel.
As the sign suggests, there is no longer a functioning motel here. The buildings seem to be converted to apartments sheltering migrant farm workers. With less than a thousand permanent residents, there aren’t enough people to work the melon and lettuce fields surrounding the hamlet. The workers have to sleep somewhere and I suppose an old motel is better than the improvised lean-to sheds I’ve seen elsewhere.
Aguila isn’t a destination. There’s a café, gas station, a Dollar General store, and that’s about all. In 1973, Interstate 10 diverted traffic twenty-five miles south, so there isn’t a motel to stay at even if you wanted to. Besides, the only thing to see here is the eagle-eye window in the hills south of town and that’s a fifteen-minute investment along the side of the road (I’ll talk more about the eagle-eye next week).
You can see the larger version on here on my website. I hope you enjoy viewing it and tell me what you think.
With this recent cold spell passing through, it’s nice to have a change from the cold cereal that Queen Anne ‘cooks’ every morning. I know that she tries to be creative, but sliced bananas and raisins only go so far. On days like these, I like something warm and hearty that sticks to the ribs. Since my brain isn’t up to speed at the crack of dawn, it needs to be simple to make. I came up with this concoction last year when our pantry was depleted and I liked it enough to keep it in my repertoire.
Back in my short military conscription days (yes kids, there was a time when they would come drag you from your home), breakfast was the meal that had the best choices of food. But between the steam pans of rubber scrambled eggs and fried hockey pucks, there was always a pot of gray gooey glop with bits of brown chunks in it. Its formal name was Chipped Beef on Toast, but it’s better known as S.O.S. (look it up). My dad liked it and even made it once. My sisters and I refused to eat it. We didn’t even taste it. Years later, my curiosity got the better of me when I saw some in a Stouffer’s box so I bought and tried it. Guess what! It was bad. I don’t know why because I like red-eye gravy on chicken fried steak and I’ll occasionally gag down an order of biscuits and gravy. It had to be the mystery-meat that was in it. So, in my recipe, I replaced it with known chicken parts and a better tasting gravy.
A 10 ½ ounce can of Cream of Chicken soup—like Campbell’s
¼ cup of dry white wine—Vermouth, Sherry, Chardonnay it doesn’t matter.
¼ cup of chicken broth
8 ounces (about) of Costco Rotisserie Chicken meat (They sell yesterday’s leftovers in the deli which Anne freezes in 8-ounce portions).
A pinch of Poultry Seasoning or your own combination of celery flakes, sage, and thyme.
An English muffin for each serving.
The consistency is important. You don’t want to make soup, but you don’t want the kindergarten paste that comes out of the can either. The mixture should sit on the muffin and ooze off slowly. I find that thinning the base with a half can of liquid works best. The wine provides an acidic brightness that I like, but a half can is too much. You can blend the wine and chicken stock to get the taste that you like. I use a 1:1 ratio, but you can use all wine, all chicken stock, or all water if that’s all you have. It doesn’t matter; you’re not supposed to have to think about math in the morning. Combine all the liquids into a pot and heat on medium-high.
As the sauce begins to heat, split and toast your muffins. Chop the chicken meat into smaller chunks and add that to the sauce. Season the mixture with herbs. There’s enough salt in the soup and chicken that you don’t need more, but you can add your favorite pepper if you like some spice. When the sauce starts to boil, cover and simmer on a low heat for five to fifteen minutes—stirring occasionally—allowing the seasonings to blend. Arrange the split English muffins on a plate and glop the gravy on top, then you can garnish with more herbs and maybe a pinch of cayenne or paprika for color. There is enough sauce for two servings so you can share with your sweetie or—better yet—you can have seconds if they turn their nose up.
Can of soup has 300
8 oz of chicken breast is 300
Herbs add nothing
Wine is less than 30
Chicken stock is 10
English Muffin is 130
The entire pot and a muffin add up to 770 calories and a serving is about half (or less), so each serving is 385 calories. That’s less than two Krispy Crème doughnuts. It’s a warm hearty breakfast that tastes good if not downright decadent. Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think.
“Now for something completely different,” if you didn’t already know, that’s a quote from Monty Python and it’s relevant to today’s post. I’m adding a feature to my blog that I think you’ll like. Since I switched from a monthly newsletter to this blog, I don’t have to post my new images on a monthly schedule. Consequently, I’ve been adding new ones each week and that’s the pace that I like, so I’m going to also write a companion blog post to announce those pictures. When I was doing that in the newsletter it was successful and I hope it works well here on the blog.
With that in mind, let me tell you about this week’s photo. Over the weekend, I got up enough ambition to load my camera and go out shooting. I wanted to get a shot of the Saguaro Motel sign in Aguila—the little farming community west of Wickenburg on US Highway 60. The sign fits into my collection of old motel signs but after researching the story of Robson’s Mining World I wrote last month, I found out that the Robson family owned the motel and acquired their wealth by selling bee pollen as a miracle cure-all. That fact fits right in with the January photo series of the ghost town. The sign’s not all that spectacular but a shot of it and the accompanying cactus is. Unfortunately, they’re behind a locked chain link fence that ruins the shot, so I’ll have to go back and get permission to get inside the fence.
While I was there, I spotted this image next door. I named the shot Palm Shadow, and it is the shadow of a palm tree cast on the white clapboard side of the Robson Honey warehouse. The building’s green trim serves as a frame for the found wall-art and I included the afore-mentioned fence to give the image depth. It’s a scene that I probably would have missed had I not stopped for my original idea. You can see the larger version here. I hope you like it.
It’s February again and that means that Wickenburg will be celebrating Gold Rush Days this weekend (Feb 9-11). It’s the closest thing that we have to a street party. Wickenburg closes the streets around the city library to make room for carnival rides, food vendors, arts and crafts booths. The rodeo grounds—down by the river—will have a senior pro rodeo—old guys and gals take the spotlight.
There used to be a lot of local places to eat down around the fair, but most of them have closed. Anita’s Cocina—one of our better known Mexican places—is located at the fair’s center so they make a killing over the weekend. Another place that’s within walking distance is Nana’s Sandwich Shop on Tegner. They have a limited sandwich menu, but they bake a fabulous Lemon/Blueberry bread that you have to try. Be warned, it sells out quickly. Next, to the museum, one block over is the Local Press. Here you’ll find hand-made sandwiches with interesting flavor combinations. It’s another one of our favorites.
The event that is important for me is the Fine Arts Show held at the library. I have a couple of photographs that will be on display. One is Piedmont Crossing—the night photo of a crossing guard that was in the West Valley Art Show in Surprise. The second is a brand new print that I made last week called: Mine Mack. It’s of an old Mack truck at Robson’s Mining World. I’m really jazzed at how well the truck’s patina came out in the photo.
To be included in the art show, I also have to volunteer to work it. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing this year, but last year I was Sunday’s guest host. In any case, I’ll be around Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The weather will be great on Saturday with rain possible on Sunday. If you’re in the mood for a day trip, come on up and join in on the fun.