Welcome to Payson, Arizona

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Last weekend, Domenico and I decided to escape the heat of the Valley (mid-80s, guys) and spend a few days at his parents’ cabin in Payson. The weather there was gorgeous – cold, breezy air and sunshine. As you can see, there was even snow on the ground up at Williow Springs Lake, our fishing spot of choice. For the lake, we packed a picnic and loaded up the car with entertaining stuff (fishing gear and the camera for him, my latest knitting project and Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley for me, which is the perfect read for such a day, I must say). We weren’t trying to catch any fish, so we didn’t even put a hook on the line. Domenico was able to practice his fly fishing cast though, and I even tried my hand at it. Doesn’t it look like I know what I’m doing? I don’t.

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We pretty much have a routine that we follow whenever we visit Payson, which makes for a very relaxing and content stay. The rest of the trip was spent watching movies (The Descendants and Garden State), playing mastermind, exploring the forest, sleeping, and visiting the charming thrift shops in town. My finds included a crocheted floral blanket, two skirts, a polka-dotted blouse, a much-needed woven belt, a vintage dress, and two German doll wine bottle corks. All for $10, which I’m pretty proud of. We also walked around this little historic block on Main Street with a clay house built in the late 1800s and a “mansion” next door, according to the plaque. See the little ramshackle, white house above.

On our last night we made vegetarian quinoa chili and rosemary orange cornbread, which felt very homely served on floral plates in a wooden cabin. The chili recipe was adapted from this, but I made a few adjustments.

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Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Serves 4

1 c. quinoa, rinsed / 2 T. olive oil / 1/2 medium onion, minced / 1 c. corn kernels 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped / 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed / 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed / 1 can tomato sauce / 1 T. cayenne pepper / 1 T. ground cumin / fresh lime juice / fresh cilantro, chopped / 1 avocado / salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add onion and cook until golden, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the carrot, corn and peppers and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Add the uncooked quinoa, beans and tomato sauce. Season with chili powder, cumin, lime juice, and salt and pepper (if needed). Simmer for about 20 minutes and add water if it gets dry. Serve warm.

Garnish with cilantro and avocado slices.

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