I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SRK Tour Adventures: New Mexico and Arizona

Alrighty, I'm back! Now where was I?

Oh yeah, getting ready to leave beautiful Texas...

It was a bit of a challenge coming down from Fort Davis as the roads were snowy and icy. (It was still early in the morning and they hadn't been cleared yet.) We just had to take it real slow; a little reminder of what our winter would have been like if we'd stayed up in Canada. ;-)

One last look at the mountains on our way to Van Horne.

After having spent a couple of weeks on the quiet desert roads of southwest Texas it felt strange to be back on the busy interstate with cars zooming by.

We soon found ourselves crossing into New Mexico. (Bye bye Texas! *sigh*) In Las Cruses we could actually briefly catch a glimpse of Juarez - its Mexican sister city - with its bright and colorful houses on the hillside. Wow! That's probably as close to Mexico as we were likely to get, at least this time around!

Rockhound State Park, Deming, NM
As we continued our way on the I-10, we could see beautiful snowy mountains ahead and to our left. (I later discovered that Don could hardly keep his eyes off those!) Interestingly our next stop, Rockhound State Park, turned out to be located right on their slope!

The Little Florida Mountains covered in snow; a rare sight I'm sure!

We arrived at the campground around 4pm and literally got the very last site with electric!!! Man, that was a close call! After the previous night's snow fall they were expecting yet another cold one, so we definitely needed to have the heater on. We pitched our tent on the group site which is used as overflow, snugly tucked away between 2 big RVs. Amazingly, in spite of the lack of privacy (there was only 3 or 4 feet left on either side of our tent! lol) it turned out not so bad after all. Our neighbors retired soon after sundown so it was pretty quiet. We were initially going to head off in the morning but decided to stay an extra day in order to explore the area.

We'd never seen so many cacti before! They were all over the place!!! Most of the green spots that you see on this photo, except for the odd bush, were bunches of cacti.

There's four different species of cacti in this next pic. Can you make them out?

I discovered a couple of new varieties we hadn't come across yet.

Fish Hook Barrel Cactus

On Todd's Desert Hiking Guide they describe them as having "two types of spines growing out of the ribs, the reddish, hooked spines (for which the cactus is named) protrude outward from the body, while more slender, radial spines criss-cross flat along the body between the ribs." I just found out that the yellow stuff sitting on top was fruit. Dang! Wished I'd known that before!

These were similar to prickly pear but more oblong shaped.

A lovely view of The Little Florida Mountains from the Thunder Egg Trail.

Look at that blue sky!

We quickly learned that the park is a favorite hanging spot for “rockhounds” because of the abundance of rocks and minerals scattered throughout it. Varieties of jasper, silica minerals, quartz crystals, chalcedony, agate, and common opal can be found. In fact, their brochure mentions that "visitors are allowed to take up to 15 pounds of rock for their personal collections." lol No way the driver/boss would let me bring that much - that's not to say that we couldn't do a little rock hunting of our own!

We didn't find much, as all the surface stuff has already been taken. Plus we didn't have any tools to do some serious digging. It was still a lot of fun to crouch on the look out for pretty stones. ;-)

Don found a seam from which I pried off a couple of nice pieces.

Rockhound State Park is also renown for its amazing sunsets. The sky looked like it was on fire on our last evening there!

Somewhere in New Mexico and Arizona
The next morning we hopped back on the interstate and made our way towards Arizona. The landscape consisted mostly of desert with mountains in the distance. I couldn't help but feel a sense of peacefulness as I looked out the window at the soft hues of green, pink and blue.

For some reason, New Mexico had the funniest road signs. I wrote them all down but lost the piece of paper (darn!) and now can't remember them. At least I got one on camera, it reads: "Caution Dust Storm May Exist" lol

We saw a road runner during a pit stop shortly after crossing into Arizona.

I found that Arizona's landscape was very similar to New Mexico at first, except with a lot more mountains.

We arrived at Catalina State Park just outside Tuscon around 4:30pm only to discover that it was full! Eeek! The state of Arizona is in major financial trouble and as a result several parks are already closed or will be closing in the near future. We figured that perhaps it explained why it was so busy on a weekday. We later discovered that Tuscon was hosting the biggest gem show in the world, attracting people from all over!

Since we were already on highway 77 North, we figured we might as well continue towards Phoenix and see if we could get a cheap motel along the way.

The Catalina Mountains

In no time we found ourselves deep into desert country with majestic saguaros for which Arizona is famous. Wow!

Don thought we better stop while there was still some daylight in order for him to add oil to the engine. His timing couldn't have been better! We saw the most amazing sunset ever! What a magical sight with all those great huge cacti! It's so rare that we're still on the road at sunset, I could see how this whole thing happened just so we could enjoy this special visual treat!

The first and only town we passed was Florence and it had only two motels to offer. Both of them were no-nos so we kept going. Don's sister Sandy and her husband Bruce did pretty much the same trip as we are now last year. This winter they decided to spend a few months in Arizona. As their RV was parked in Mesa, a suburb south east of Phoenix, we gave them a call to see if they could put us up for the night. Unfortunately that wasn't a possibility but they gave us a hand in scouting a potential roof for the night. Anyhoo, after much driving around we finally crashed at a cheap motel in Apache Junction, exhausted!

Usery Mountain Regional Park, Mesa, AZ
The next morning we pitched our tent at Usery Mountain Regional Park since our hosts in Phoenix weren't expecting us for another three days. The park is adjacent to the Tonto National Forest and is part of the lower Sonoran Desert.

When I'd called earlier the place was full so we were prepared to get settled in the overflow parking lot, but by the time we got there a few sites had become available. Yay! We were given a super spot with an unobstructed view of the Goldfield Mountains and with lots of privacy. It was so nice not to be in a rush to set up.

One of the main reasons we picked this park was that Sandy and Bruce were staying just a short drive away. We were looking forward to spending some time with them as we hadn't seen each other since the very beginning of our journey back in June, when we'd stopped for a couple of days near Calgary on our way to Quebec. They came to join us in the middle of the afternoon and together we hiked the popular Wind Cave Trail; a steep climb that offers breathtaking views of the area.

We made it!

Sure gave Kylo a good work out!

Bruce and Sandy

Sandy and Bruce had gone to a desert interpretative center just a few days before and learned a bunch of really cool stuff about saguaros. For instance, did you know that they only grow in the Sonoran Desert and that it takes them up to 75 years to develop a side arm? They can also absorb as much as 200 gallons of water in a rainfall. Some specimens may live for more than 150 years and grow as high as 68 feet tall! The inside of a saguaro is like wood and was used for construction and other purposes by Native Americans. So fascinating!

It's neat to observe how each saguaro is so unique.

Sandy has such a generous spirit and as always came bearing gifts: wonderfully fresh medjhool and barhi dates they'd bought at a farmer's market in Palm Springs and some watermelon that she'd dehydrated. Who would have thunk of that, eh? It's soooooo sweet and yummy! Yet another awesome snack for the road! All you have to do is slice your watermelon about 1/4 inch thick, place the slices on the mesh of your dehydrator and pop it in until dry.

Natural fruit candy!

We learned that it's an El Nino year which explains the unusual weather that has been experienced all over the country. In Arizona four inches of rain fell during the previous week which is enormous as they normally get only five inches in an entire year! Well, looks like we brought the sun along with us as the weather was gorgeous! Yippee!

In the afternoon Don and I went for a walk on a different set of trails that was recommended by one of the rangers. We started off on the Blevins, then continued down Amigos Wash, then back on Blevins towards the east. Once again we were blessed with breathtaking views!

Cholla Cactus

Cholla is made of cylindrical stems composed of segmented joints with super sharp spines. These little segments fall on the ground and when you get one of those into you, oh man, does it ever hurt! Kylo has been learning to be a 'desert dog', dodging cacti spines on the ground. We've started to watch him closely to detect whether he's got some pricklies in his paws. That day he did real good for about three quarters of the way but then got into a bunch of cholla thorns. Ouchie! Ouchie! The poor guy tried to get rid of them himself so we had to pry the thorns out of his mouth.

I had been eyeing this mountain from our campsite and was delighted when I discovered that the Blevins Trail allowed us to admire it for a while. Yay!

Ain't it pretty?

We hooked up with Sandy and Bruce again later that afternoon. For dinner I whipped up Russell James' Cauliflower Cheese that he'd shared in his latest newsletter. Cauliflower is one of those veggies we usually don't like raw as it develops such a strong pungent flavor as it sits. When I saw that Russell was marinating it in his recipe, I thought I'd at least give it a try since virtually everything of his I've made has been a hit.

Well, he's done it again!!! That guy is a genius I tell ya! This was sooooooo good! Marinating the cauli did take away the unpleasant edge and the sauce was oh-soooooo-creamy! Bet the latter would also be delish on some zucchini pasta!

Cauliflower Cheese
By Russell James
Published in his 'News From the Kitchen' eZine**

For the cheese sauce
1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked 20 minutes
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch turmeric

1 spring onions (green onion), finely chopped
5 chives, finely chopped

- Blend all ingredients except onions and chives in a high-speed blender until smooth.

- Stir in onions and chives by hand.

For the cauliflower
1 medium cauliflower, split into small florets (this will be about 4/5 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch turmeric

- Mix all ingredients in a bowl, massage in by hand and leave to marinate for 10 minutes

To assemble
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

- Mix the cheese sauce and cauliflower together and serve in individual portions in small bowls. The bowls can be placed in a dehydrator 1 to 2 hours before serving to warm through.

- Sprinkle the chopped chive over the top and serve.

Once again we were blessed with a lovely sunset...

It was supposed to rain the next day so we figured we better go shopping. (As it turned out it didn't but we still had lots of fun anyways!) Sandy and Bruce came to pick us up and we went to Sprouts and Trader Joe's. We also managed to find an Asian market in order to get some mung bean sprouts for Jeanne's Asian Spinach Salad and restock on nori and wakame seaweed. They had never tried durian so we thought it would be a good time to initiate them. We also found jackfruit which I remembered is one of Heathy's favorite. (She actually just posted about it on her blog!) We then spent the rest of the day in Sandy and Bruce's home on wheels. They sold their house in Calgary a year an a half ago and have been living out of their RV. Gypsies like us! Must run in the family, eh? ;-)

The jackfruit was some work to open! Most likely I didn't have the right technique. The flavor was unlike anything I ever had before, sorta like a cross between banana and orange. The texture was a little crunchy and I didn't care for it much, but it perhaps wasn't quite ripe.

A close up of durian and jackfruit

Last Minute Change of Plan
I know I'm jumping a little ahead of my story but I gotta share this latest development with you guys!!!

We were planning on leaving Phoenix this coming weekend and start heading towards LA where we'll be meeting our dear friend Jozzie next Thursday. (Yippee!) Well, so much for plans again... lol

Today one of the organizers of the Phoenix Meet Up Group, Patrici, stumbled upon my blog and sent me an email asking when we were going to be in town. She was thrilled to learn that we were still around. (Wow, talk about good timing, eh?) There's a potluck scheduled on Saturday and she's actually going to be bringing my Chocolate 'N Cream Charlotte! After writing back and forth several times we've decided to stay around a few extra days so we can attend the potluck and do a Raw in a Flash class on Sunday. This has got to be the wildest last minute development we've encountered on our tour so far! Woo hoo! What can I say? Gotta go with the flow... ;-)

Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour Itinerary
We've already started nailing down the details of the last leg of our journey across the US. Promises to be a fun and exciting one! I just recently updated our itinerary but I thought you guys might appreciate me posting the details here.

- LA, CA:
  • Dinner at Au Lac on Thursday Feb 24th and lunch on Friday Feb 25th (You'd be welcomed to join us if you'd like!)
  • Raw dessert class on Sat. Feb 25th at 2:00 pm in Oceanside (south LA)
  • Raw potluck in Santa Monica on Sunday pm
- Santa Barbara, CA
- San Francisco Bay area, CA:
  • Class in Sunnyvale in second week of March (more details to come)
  • Talk on being "Raw on the Road" on March 10th, 6:30pm
- Medford, OR:
  • Raw potluck on March 14th
  • Raw Italian class on March 18th, 6:00pm
  • Raw Asian class on March 28th, 2:00pm
- Portland, OR
  • Raw potluck on April 8th
Shoot me an email at sunnyrawkitchen(at)gmail(dot)com if you'd like more info about our scheduled events!

Other stops along the way...

- Olympia, WA
- Seattle, WA
- Anacortes, WA

OK, time to take a little break...

Coming up next: All about our uncooking blitz in Linda's sunny kitchen!


  1. Au Lac is amazing. Try the "Deep Fried Chicken" on the raw menu...it was amazing. We also had the pizza, the Ceasar salad and the Butterscotch chocolate...everything was amazing!!! Definitely the best raw restaurant I have been too...I wish I lived closer (I live in Ga). Enjoy :D

  2. Wow! Such an incredible trip - thanks for sharing! Those sunsets are amazing - I can only imagine how even more amazing they are in person. Actually, I do know a little of that b/c me and my family lived in NM for a brief time and had never seen such sunsets like that before. And roadrunners! As you get closer to Seattle, let us know! ;)

  3. so beautiful! I have got to get down there sometime. will you see kristen of kristen's raw?

    the cauliflower looks really yummy. i may have to give it a try.

  4. wow! such a beautiful world we live in...it's absolutely breathtaking!

    thanks for sharing...

  5. I love love LOVE your blog. I noticed we live in the same province (though I'm still in Mtl and not traveling around at the moment). I am also pretty sure that I saw you and the bearded gentleman from the picture on the terasse at Crudessence last summer. Possible?

  6. every picture and recipe are looked at with wonder and some of them i try!!!! you may pick up an award on my blog.. thanks for the recipies

  7. I've awarded you The Sunshine Award - for your deliciously inspiring raw recipes (although I don't comment on your blog, I do drool quite often because of it).

    Pop by my blog to pick it up if you so wish!

    Thank you!