Authentic Texas Style Peach Cobbler

May 20th, 2016 by Ashlie Dove

Cobblers are as all American as you can get. Early settlers found themselves unable to make their beloved puddings due to the lack of ingredients and cooking equipment available. Most of the time there were at camp and only had a fire to cook with. They then improvised with local ingredients to create their version of a “pudding” with a stewed fruit base covered with a batter or biscuit base. Some variations have a bottom and top crust. Most of the time cobblers were made in dutch ovens over an open fire.

Actually, using fresh fruit to make a cobbler isn’t exactly what you’d call “authentic”. The fact is that the first cobblers didn’t contain anything fresh, they were simply “cobbled” together from odds and ends by Western trail cooks. For the people living and working West of the Mississippi fruit mostly came either dried, preserved in syrup, or in some cases canned.

There are many types of fruit that you can use for cobblers but peach is a classic. There’s just something about peaches. Maybe it’s the velvety skin that makes them seem so impossibly delectable. A ripe peach when bitten into has a tender “give” to it, followed by a rush of incredibly sweet and flavorful juice that is about as close to being decadent, without being chocolate, as you can get. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy peaches during their summer prime in as many ways as possible. And one of the best, most time-honored ways to enjoy peaches is in a peach cobbler.

texas peach cobbler

This version of the peach cobbler dessert tops a biscuit like base with a juicy fruit topping. The batter goes into the dish first, then rises up through the fruit as it bakes. Your family will love this and they can reheat it and eat it throughout the day.

INGREDIENTS

Filling

4 cups peaches (ripe, sliced and peeled)

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons sugar

Batter

1 1⁄4 cups all purpose flour

6 tablespoons butter

3⁄4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Directions

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel the peaches. It’s best to use fresh peaches but you can also use canned and frozen peaches in a pinch or if peaches are out of season. Ripe peaches are easier to peel. When you press your thumb against the peach you should be able to feel the peach’s flesh move beneath the skin. If they are too hard you will have to peel them with a pairing knife (or wait for them to ripen).

To peel fresh, ripe peaches bring a pot of water to boil. Submerge peaches completely in boiling water for approximately one minute (less if they are really soft) then immediately dunk them in a bowl full of ice water. Remove peaches and cut a small X at the bottom of each and use these points as starting points for pulling the peels off. Peel and slice the peaches, place in a medium bowl.

If using canned peaches drain them and place them in the bowl. For frozen peaches, thaw and place in the bowl.

2.) Prepare filling by combining peaches, sugar, lemon juice & vanilla. Set aside.

3.)Prepare the batter by placing butter in an 8 inch square baking dish. Place dish over hot water for 5 minutes or until butter melts.

4.)Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Combine milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla together and add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter over butter and spread evenly. Do not stir the mixture

5.)Spoon the peach mixture over the  batter, gently pressing the peaches into batter.

6.)Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until crust is golden.

How To Plan a Memorable Family Reunion in 7 Easy Steps

May 15th, 2016 by Ashlie Dove

Previously in history, our extended family was our community. Now, our extended family is often widely scattered around the world, and our community is composed mostly of strangers. We may be lucky enough to create special friendships with some strangers but those relationships won’t all be like family. Because relatives share a history and hold a permanent connection to us, we should try a little harder to maintain a good and close relationship.

family reunion

Planning a family can be a large undertaking but it is very worth it. Even if it’s only once every year or every couple of years, it’s beneficial to stay in touch with family members near and far. There is nothing like the bonds of family and the memories that are made are irreplaceable. Because there will be multiple generations in one place it is a perfect opportunity for storytelling. It is especially important for seniors to have the opportunity to share their stories with the younger generation. One of the developmental stages of adulthood is engaging in storytelling and reminiscing. Also, by learning more about your family, you will learn more about yourself as well!

If you are planning or thinking of planning an upcoming family reunion, here are some tips to make the experience easier for you and others.

1. Create a Family Reunion Planning Committee

Now “committee” can refer to one person and if the family reunion being planned is small (25 persons or less) one person can handle the planning. If you are planning a larger family reunion then you can increase the number of people on the committee. The size of the committee will also depend on the venue, lodging and activities being planned. If you are planning a family reunion at an all-inclusive resort, many of these things are taken care of so the committee can be smaller. Be sure to delegate tasks to people in the committee so that everything gets done on time. You might also want to create a reunion website to keep everyone informed and get them excited about the event.

plan a family reunion

2. Decide on the guest list.

Ideally you should try to invite everyone that you can but if you have financial or space constraints then decide how far out on the family tree you want to go. Then be sure to invite everyone included to that distance as to not hurt any feelings.  For example, you could only include up to first cousins or extend it out to second or third cousins. Start with your closest relatives and work your way out on the ancestral tree. Then stop when you’ve reached your limit.

3. Decide on Type of Family Reunion

Family reunions can be as simple as gathering people together for a picnic in the park or as elaborate as going on a cruise in a faraway country. When deciding on what type or family reunion some things you might need to consider are:

Interests of the family members

If most guests are the outdoorsy types then a dinner out in a fancy restaurant in the city won’t be the best choice. Of course people have different interests and you may not be able to satisfy everyone but try to make the majority happy.

How frequent are the family reunions

If the reunions occur frequently there isn’t a need to go all out every year as it could get costly for all of the guests. Therefore, an annual picnic or BBQ in the park would suffice. However, if it is a once in a decade event then it’s the perfect opportunity to splurge a bit more.

Size of the guest list

Some venues are more suited to certain party numbers while others are more flexible and can suit a range of party numbers

Budget Constraints

Some family members might need to stick to a certain budget so keep that in consideration when deciding on a family reunion type.

If you are unsure about any of these questions, a good idea is to conduct a survey with family members to get some ideas of what is preferred.

4. Pick a Date

When picking a date for your family reunion be sure to allow plenty of lead time for people to plan and save up if there are any travel costs. Many of your relatives may have families so giving them lots of advance notice will increase your chances they will be able to attend. Those with school aged children are bound by the school schedule so keep that in mind as well. If possible, try to give at least 6 months’ notice.

family reunion

The reunion length will depend on how far people have to travel. The shorter the distance the shorter the time can be. If people are traveling a distance, it won’t be worthwhile for them to come so far to only stay for a day.

5. Decide on a Reunion Location

There are many places you can host a reunion and the number of guests you are expecting, the distance they are traveling and budget will have a big influence on it. For smaller groups you can hold the reunion at a restaurant, park or someone’s home. For the outdoor enthusiasts a camping trip might be the perfect fit. For larger groups you may want to consider a park, campground, a nice resort, or maybe even a theme park. Whatever you select, be sure there is an activity for everyone to participate in and that there is sufficient lodging, if travel is required. Also,be sensitive to the financial situations of your attending family members. You don’t want to plan a reunion that hardly anyone can afford

6. Create a Budget

Once you know your family reunion type and location you can get started on creating the budget. Create a list of all the expenses you anticipate to incur so you can forecast what your costs will be. Then you must decide on how you plan on recouping these costs. Most commonly people either charge an admission to attend the family reunion or conduct some fundraising such as holding an auction or a raffle. If people are aware that the proceeds will be going to fund the reunion they will participate in the fun. If you are planning the family reunion at an all-inclusive resort, the costs will simply be the cost of the stay and travel Some resorts may give you a volume discount so don’t be shy to ask.

7. Decide on Activities

How many activities and how structured your family reunion will be is entirely up to you. Go with what works best for the guests but be sure to have plenty of activities to keep the kids busy. Some families fund future get-togethers with silent auctions, bake sales and other fund-raising activities built into the reunion day’s events. During a multiday event, people may want to explore their surroundings, so compile a list of cultural and shopping destinations in the area.

Family Reunions on a Dude Ranch

For small and large groups, a dude ranch is a good option for many reasons. Because many dude ranches are all -inclusive not one person gets stuck bearing the whole burden of organizing and planning activities. There is no need to worry about entertaining everyone as there are so many activities available for young and old alike. The beauty of a dude ranch you can do as little or as much as you like. Your guests will have the opportunity to seek adventure together or just relax and chit chat on the deck. Also, you don’t have to worry about meals because it’s all taken care of at the dude ranch.

dude ranch family reunion

By holding a family reunion at a dude ranch, the financial awkwardness is removed since each family pays up front for everything. Because group decision making is at a minimum, a lot of potential friction is eliminated. People are not going to have to decide about where to eat, what to do for fun, and who’s in charge. Depending on the size of your group and the dude ranch, you   may be able to book the entire ranch just for your reunion. Lastly, you just can’t beat the hospitality of a dude ranch. They treat their guests like family so you will feel like you are staying with family.

We hope these tips will inspire you to plan a family reunion soon.

Happy Trails!

Priceless Cowboy Caviar Recipe

May 5th, 2016 by Ashlie Dove

If you are in Texas you might be lucky enough to try a regional treat called “Cowboy Caviar”. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t contain any caviar at all. It’s actually a black-eyed bean salad that is marinated in Italian dressing. Athens, Texas is, after all, the black-eyed pea capital of the world. It can be eaten with a spoon or even better yet do what the locals do and scoop it up with a tortilla chip. Texans like their “caviar” year round and serve it at barbecues and other informal gatherings.

Historically speaking, black-eyed peas were frequently eaten on New Year’s Eve in Texas and in other southern states. Some people, owing to a curious mix of tradition and superstition, still believe that the consumption of black-eyed peas consumed on the 31st of December will bring luck and prosperity throughout the coming year.

Interesting enough, however; “Cowboy Caviar” wasn’t created by a Texan but rather by a Yankee. Helen Corbitt, who was the head chef at Nieman Marcus at the time, was tasked to create an all-Texan menu that would include black-eyed peas. She had a personal disdain for the legume so this wasn’t an easy task and since she was unable to find an existing recipe that met her high standards she created her own.

The original recipe consisted of black-eyed peas and onions which are then marinated in a vinaigrette dressing. Since then, “Cowboy Caviar” has evolved into lots of different variations many of which also include black beans. This dip makes the perfect side dish, appetizer, or snack and is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet!

Ingredients:

Salad:

3/4 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed

2 green onions, chopped or 1/2 cup of chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (any color will do)

1 chopped jalapeño (jarred or fresh)

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1 ripe avocado cubed

1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained well

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained well

Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar or honey

1/2 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Tortilla chips

Directions:

1.)Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.

2.)Mix the salad ingredients together in a large bowl

3.)Pour dressing into the salad bowl and toss. Refrigerate an hour before serving to allow the flavours to blend.

So the next time that you are looking for something different to serve your guests consider preparing a bowl of “Cowboy Caviar” and be sure to tell them all about this delicious, healthy dish’s interesting history.

cowboy caviar

Happy Trails!

California’s Marble Mountain Guest Ranch

April 28th, 2016 by Ashlie Dove

The following article appeared in  Ranch & Reserve Magazine’s 5th edition.

California usually evokes images of surfboards, bikini-clad girls, tanned beach-goers, Hollywood stars and authentic Mexican food, but this “sunny state” also has a different, more adventurous side for you to discover!  Somes Bar in northwest California is home to the Marble Mountain Guest Ranch where guests can experience an all-inclusive, unparalleled ‘summit to sea’ vacation. Families and groups with diverse interests and needs will easily be entertained and engaged throughout their stay owing to the many activities to choose from as well as a youth buckaroo program.

Marble Mountain Guest Ranch is a true family-owned and operated business. Since 1981 the Cole family has been welcoming guests into their home and, as of 1970, they have been in the outfitting, guiding and dude ranch industry. Unlike many guest ranches, all of the activities are personally outfitted and guided by Marble Mountain Guest Ranch family members, which eliminates the handing over of guests to third-party vendors and does away with long shuttle rides to off-site locations. This hands-on attention enables the ranch to maintain the highest level of quality control and risk management, while providing its guests with exceptional individualized hospitality.  The guest ranch’s signature all-inclusive “saddle and paddle” or “raft and ride” vacation options coupled with its superb dining experience is sure to satisfy even the pickiest traveler in your group.

California Guest Ranch

Marble Mountain Ranch

Horseback riders will be awed by the stunning scenery of the Klamath National forest which provides thrilling mountain trail riding through ancient Douglas Fir stands to high vistas with views across deep river valleys and granite ridge tops. Riders and horses alike will find themselves challenged by an ever-evolving backdrop of dramatic, rugged landscapes. All of the horseback rides are designed to match individual groups’ riding experience with a ratio of 6 riders to 1 wrangler. There are also plenty of opportunities for novice riders and younger riders including round-pen and arena horse riding instruction

The ranch’s signature “raft and ride” program enables guests to either ride or sign up for various sport shooting and sporting clays activities available in the cooler mornings and then take part in the rafting trips in the warmer afternoons. Guests who choose shooting sports will get to experience the Western Firearms tradition in a sporting non-kill venue. The afternoon Klamath River Rafting program features class II and III beginner and intermediate level rapids and is suited for all ages and experience levels and also provides great swimming opportunities. Guests will find themselves navigating the gentle river currents that pass through the land of Big Foot in the Siskiyou Mountain. Wildlife enthusiasts will have the chance to spot otters, beavers, ospreys, eagles and a myriad of other creatures and perhaps even BIG FOOT himself! For adventure-seekers visiting before the month of July there are stand-alone rafting options on the thrilling California Salmon River, the Scott River, and on Clear Creek. The Cal Salmon, or “Slammin Salmon” is for advanced white-water enthusiasts only who are visiting in the spring, and is not included as part of the normal summer family guest ranch program.

More details are available upon request.

California Guest Ranch

Marble Mountain Ranch

Marble Mountain Guest Ranch’s target audience is families so that your kids, no matter what their age, will depart the ranch with lifelong pen pals from all walks of life and from all across the globe. Exciting activities that are based on traditional Western frontier experiences provide non-stop fun. Little ones enjoy nature walks, arts and crafts, feeding small animals, harvesting chicken eggs and more. Older kids take part in riding games, riding lessons, scenic trail ride adventures, and Western shooting sports at the range. Afternoon excursions include rafting, kayaking, and fishing. Evening activities are all about campfires, lariat challenges, fish-outs, and Western frontier games. At the end of their stay your kids will find it hard to choose which part of the vacation they loved most.

One cannot talk about the thrilling experiences and spectacular scenery at this California guest ranch without also mentioning the food!  Fresh mountain air and invigorating daily outdoor activities stimulate appetites and make mealtimes an important part of a dude ranch vacation. Healthy, hearty, and wholesome meals using only the freshest ingredients and produce cultivated from the ranch’s very own gardens and orchards are something to savour and enjoy every day. Upscale and original cuisine is brought to you by Executive Chef, and ranch co-owner Heidi Cole, who brings to the table over 40 years in the food service industry. Be sure to check out Heidi’s cookbook “Ranch Cooking – Simply Good” available in the ranch’s gift shop.

Last but not least at the end of an action-packed day, guests retire to either cottages or homes. Accommodations include fully furnished deluxe homes and housekeeping cottages with full kitchens, as well as smaller units that come with kitchenettes. Ranch cottages include 1-3 bedrooms that vary in size which can accommodate two people or as large as a group of seven. Every cottage provides beds with linens and towels, bathrooms with toilets as well as showers and a kitchenette.  Breathtaking sunrises in the morning and fiery sunsets in the evenings with a star-studded sky are included at no extra charge.

California Guest Ranch

Marble Mountain Ranch

There isn’t any cell coverage at Marble Mountain Guest Ranch although there is WiFi available in the lodge for those who really need to stay connected during their stay; however, a vacation at this guest ranch is the ideal opportunity to disconnect from technology and maximize family participation as well as reconnect with nature. Although many guest ranches offer great food, incredible scenery, superb hospitality and a marvelous horse program, there aren’t many ranches that excel at providing such a diverse program of activities designed to appeal to mixed interest groups and families.

California, or the Golden State as it is fondly referred to, is more commonly associated with surfers, swimsuits and movie stars, but it is also home to Marble Mountain Guest Ranch, a dude ranch that encompasses a singular all-inclusive outdoor adventure designed specifically for you and your family’s enjoyment.

Let RanchSeeker help you find your ideal guest ranch vacation destination! www.ranchseeker.com

Happy Trails!

 

 

Now This Is A Great Mother’s Day Idea

April 23rd, 2016 by Ashlie Dove

Moms are the best. They are always there for you, they love and support you no matter what and are someone you can always count on. So how do you show your appreciation for someone so special? Certainly, your mom will love anything you give her but you REALLY want her to love what you give her. There are countless presents you can purchase with each running some risk of not being right in some way. It may be the wrong size, it may be the wrong color, it may not work for her lifestyle or it may be the same thing you get her every year.

Choosing a Mother’s Day present isn’t difficult when you realize that what mothers want most is to spend time with their family. Mom’s love to share experiences and strengthen the bonds of family and create memories to be cherished for years to come. One of the best ways to do this is through traveling together where you are away from everyday worries and routines and can be completely focused on each other. A trip together is one of the best ways to forge the bonds of family and friendship while also engaging in some activity or indulging some interest. Just being away from the everyday, out of a comfort zone of the familiar, is already revitalizing and rejuvenating.

A dude ranch may not be the first place you would think of taking your mom but it is an excellent one, especially if the entire family is going. Dude ranches are like summer camp for the entire family. There are many fun activities to choose from including fishing, hiking, wild life watching, hayrides,and horseback riding so everybody gets to be a kid. Dude ranches tend to be very hospitable, laid back, “authentic” in their own way, and bring out a perpetual smile in everyone there.

mothers day

Aside from the typical activities, some dude ranches have some special offers and packages specifically designed for mom in mind or if you are going on a mother/daughter trip. Many dude ranches have specialty classes such cooking classes and wine tasting classes. Some have on site spas ready to pamper your mom. If you want to be a cowgirl for a week you can do that with some women’s weeks.

Here are some specials just for mom:

Victoria Weekend Spa Getaway at Echo Valley Ranch

Book this special packages at this special East meets West guest ranch and spa in British Columbia, Canada. Echo Valley Ranch features not one but two world class spas: European and Thai. Each spa has their own unique spa treatments that your mom can try.  This package includes all accommodations, meals, use of ranch amenities and a special 5 course British style dinner.

Echo Valley Ranch

 

Mother/ Daughter bonding at Women’s Only Week at Coffee Creek Ranch

 Coffee Creek Ranch is having a women’s only week from May 7 to 13 to celebrate Mother’s day.  Many unique activities are planned for this week including classes where you can learn how to cook healthy meals from scratch, how to bake with ancient grains and even learn how to make lotions and facials from items in your kitchen. Then head outside and go on a hike, a horseback ride or just kick back and stick your feet into the creek.

coffee creek ranch

No matter what you decide, be sure to let her know you appreciate her in every way.

Happy Trails!