Every year, towards the end of February, students in the greater Tucson area receive a two day holiday falling on the Thursday and Friday that coincides with the celebration of the Tucson Rodeo. The rodeo is the first major outdoor rodeo of the year and fans travel from far and wide to Tucson to enjoy the event and to soak up the desert sun that is mild and comforting in the winter. A highlight of the festivities is the Tucson Rodeo Parade, the World's Largest Non-Motorized Parade. I'm sure the rodeo has its merits, but I can never seem to get too excited over it. For many families in Tucson, the rodeo holiday is the perfect time to head out of town for a ski vacation.
|A birdseye view of Durango Mountain Village from my seat on Lift One.
|The gang riding Lift One.
|Maddie looked picture perfect when her red scarf floated on the wind.
|My view from the car window heading back to town.
So, what are the big takaways? Sure, I'd rather spend time in Durango than Pinetop/Lakeside any day, who wouldn't? I love the pervasiveness of brick buildings in Colorado and the mining town vibe of Durango. While Sunrise doesn't have great accomodations, the skiing is terrific for families. Sunrise is less than a four hour drive from Tucson and Phoenix, and Durango is about ten hours. In recent history, there has been a couple years (and yes, this factoid surprises everyone) where Sunrise has received more snow than Purgatory. As not to confuse you, similar to the artist formerly known as Prince, Durango Mountain is more well known as Purgatory. The ski area was renamed Durango Mountain a few years back, but just about everyone - including me - still calls it Purgatory (much more catchy with the hint of rebel).
|A shot of Main Street in Durango, Colorado.
This year we stayed in the gorgeous second home of our friends Sara and Bill, which is more accurately described as a beautiful log cabin with windows that frame stunning views of rolling hills, pine trees and notably the La Plata mountains. There was no Nana to cook our meals so Sara and I planned carefully to accomodate the meat eaters, the non meaters and teenage palates. We agreed that a hearty breakfast daily was in order, but we didn't want to be saddled with cooking responsibilities every morning, or the grease splatter mess to clean up. So, the day before we departed for Colorado, I cooked up trays and trays of bacon, two packages of breakfast sausages and two packages of chicken sausages, and thirty Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with (or without) Sourdough Starter
Preparing pancakes is my secret for using the last of my sourdough starter before refreshing it. Leftover pancakes are wrapped individually and stored in the freezer. Pancakes defrost quickly and reheat nicely in a toaster oven.
If you do not have sourdough starter in your refrigerator, but like the idea of this recipe, you can use the preparation method detailed in our Grandma Elsie's pancake recipe: separate the eggs and whip the egg whites until stiff. Thoroughly whisk the egg yolks and liquid ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients together, increasing the all-purpose flour to 1-1/2 cups. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in the egg whites. Thin batter with additional milk, if necessary. Cook as directed below, beginning with step four.
|Whisking in the sourdough.
1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sourdough starter
1 lemon, zested and juice of two lemons
ghee or coconut oil (or oil of your choice), for cooking
fresh berries: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and
a dollop of raspberry sauce if you are feeling so inclined
maple syrup, or syrup of your choice
1. Combine flour, baking powder, nutmeg, sea salt and sugar in a bowl.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well combined and frothy. Add the sourdough starter and the milk and whisk well. Add the ricotta cheese, the lemon zest and the lemon juice and whisk well.
|Only fresh zest and juice will do for these pancakes.
4. Preheat a griddle or non-stick pans over medium to medium-high heat.
5. Grease each pan with ghee (or high heat oil, such as coconut) for cooking. For each pancake, pour approximatelly 1/4 cup of the batter into the griddle or pan and cook on both sides until light golden brown. Alternatively, immediately after the pancake is poured, sprinkle 6 or 7 fresh or frozen blueberriers. When you see bubbles forming across the pancake, flip carefully and cook until golden. Serve with more butter, fresh berries and maple syrup.
6. The pancakes keep rather well when transferred from the griddle to a cookie sheet set in the oven at a low temperature, say around 300°F. That way, when you are finished cooking all the pancakes, everyone can sit down together for a wonderful breakfast or brunch. Remember the bacon (it can be cooked in advance and can be reheated in the oven), and the lattes, too!