Monument Valley

Continuing with our November trip, while we had our base in Page, AZ, we took a drive out to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, through the Navajo Nation which covers most of the top Eastern Corner of Arizona and extends up into Utah.  Monument Valley itself is actually in Utah.  This is a place that should not be missed.  The picture above was taken while on the scenic drive through the park. The scenic drive is 17 miles in total. The road is dirt and extremely rutted in some spots so a high seated vehicle is needed, otherwise I would be worried of bottoming out.

Back to the picture – you can see a snow squall coming in from the distance.  This was November and there are areas of the desert and surrounding areas that do see snowfall in the late fall and winter months.


This picture was taken on our way back to Page while in the Navajo Nation.  Forrest Gump could have been running on this very road.

Back to Monument Valley.  Below are two of the most iconic sites in Monument Valley, The Mittens.  Buttes that look like hands, or hands in mittens.

The visitors center at Monument Valley is located at the entrance and includes a gift shop, restaurant and hotel.  We stopped in for lunch at the restaurant and had traditional Fry Bread (mine actually was a Navajo Taco).  Delicious.


As a few of the scenic stops along the drive in Monument Valley, local artisans sell their handmade crafts.  I’m sure during the summer months these stalls are full and even though it was November there were a few individuals still plying their trade.


Finally, here is a picture of the photographer who took most of these pictures, my husband Dave.





Food – Healthy and Not So Healthy

I have been struggling with healthy eating lately, but that’s a different topic and one I explore elsewhere.  I recently celebrated my birthday, both with family and friends.  Pictured above was Pasta alla Norma done my way.  And it ended up being pretty healthy.  I did not use whole wheat pasta here (could have and it would have been still great), but I did use a trick with the eggplant that I found in the cookbook by Joseph Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali entitled  Healthy Pasta: The Sexy, Skinny, and Smart Way to Eat Your Favorite Food.  In their recipe they roast the egglplant instead of frying it (and you know that frying eggplant is just a game of adding oil that the eggplant sokes up like a sponge).  The tomato based sauce was one I had left over and was made with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, a little olive oil, crushed red pepper and capers.  Add the roasted eggplant and a little riccotta salata and there was my Pasta alla Norma.

Along side of this dish, which I served to my daughter and husband just prior to my birthday, was some jersey fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and beautiful speck I purchased a Artista Salumeria in Chester, NJ.  What a find – I understand they have been there for about a year and a half, but this was the first time (and not the last time) I visited.


Mozzarella, tomatoes and speck (with a little salt, olive oil and freshly ground pepper)

A few days later I baked up a treat for one of my co-workers, whose birthday is the day before mine, and myself a dense chocolate bundt cake.  This ended up to be more like a huge brownie.


Chocolate Bundt Cake

Recipe can be found at Food Scientist Bakery.  This was my not so healthy birthday cake – 1 1/2 cups of butter and 5 eggs just to start and a lot of chocolate.  As I said more of big brownie than a cake.  A couple of words of caution here, make sure your bundt pan is large enough – mine I believe is just a standard size pan and this cake overflowed it.  Thank goodness I had a baking sheet underneath it.  Second, due to the size I baked mine for almost 1 1/2 hours (versus the 60 – 65 minutes indicated in the recipe).  The cake was a hit at the office, very chocolatey, and I did not make the chocolate glaze called for in the recipe, but just sprinkled with powdered sugar.

All pictures taken with my IPhone 6 – not fancy cameras or shots this time – I leave most of those to my husband.