How to make chicken with mole sauce, Fidel style.

   Friends, I am reposting this chicken mole recipe from several years ago — well, recipe is not quite the right word. “Procedure” is more like it because this is fairly in-exact. But here are the ingredients you need. This is inspired by a good friend, Fidel, who has lived out here in Santa Cruz for many years. If nothing else, reposting and slightly clarifying this procedure will help me make this dish for my family. Enjoy. And feel free to send in your own recommendations for tweaks and additions if you wish. INGREDIENTS seven or eight garlic gloves two pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cubed three pounds chicken (drumstick/breast combination works really well, though i often go with just drumsticks) two or three packets of soft corn tortillas one puck of Abuelita Mexican-style chocolate 10 or so whole cloves. (as in, the spice called cloves. Not be confused with garlic…

The great Horace Kephart, “Dean of American Camping,” died on this day in 1931

  The “Dean of American Camping,” Horace Kephart,” died in a car wreck on this day in 1931. Though he was brought up in rural Iowa, he found his life’s calling in the wilds of North Carolina. After leaving behind a promising career as a librarian, he moved out to the woods and completed his masterwork, Camping And Woodcraft, which is still in print today (and very popular. To this day, Kephart’s recipe for cooker building continues to save me from humiliation and abject hunger in campgrounds from coast to coast.) My favorite edition of the book is available through the Great Smoky Mountains Association, with a useful and thought-provoking introduction that serves as a mini-biography of Kephart, with special emphasis on his life, his philosophy and impact. More than just a masterful camper, Kephart was a wonderful prose stylist; his book is written in an informal, knowing, chatty tone…

Seeking your stories about the delicious misery of American camping

Friends, campers, and camping friends: I need your help and your contributions! Right now I am working on a spin-off feature story about the “delicious misery of camping,” the reason why we keep on camping even when things go wrong out there for us. In fact, sometimes the homeopathic doses of awfulness can add intrigue to the camping trip and an additional incentive (at least we can brag about or laugh about the trips to other people later on.) With this in mind, I am hoping you can send me your stories about camping trips gone wrong — bears trashing your tent to get at a small snack-sized candy bar, your hot dogs floating away in an unseasonable storm, etc. These stories don’t have to be recent. Divertingly traumatic childhood campout stories are perfectly fine. Creature incursions, bear-bag fails and spoiled food are most welcome. It would be great if you…

Your mid-march Under The Stars update: travels to Tucson, upcoming big travel writing conference, continuing recuperation, and kicking myself for not ordering the Tres Leches cake in Tucson

Feeling under the weather back here in Santa Cruz, CA, but I sure had a big time out in Tucson. For one thing, I’ve never seen so many other Tilley-hat-wearing people in my life (and I made sure to greet every one of the Tilley people. We Tilley folks need to stick together.) It was pretty cool to hang out at the famous El Charro, and with Matthew Parker and Mark Woods as company. They have a specialty out there called carne seca — it’s like a haute Southwestern version of beef jerky — they hang the steak strips in the sun, in cages no less, swinging like gibbets over this restaurant, and then they reconstitute it with water and spices, and it is mighty good. Kicking myself for not ordering the tres leeches cake. (I didn’t know that was a ‘thing’ at El Charro. The waiter was so enthusiastic about the…

My March update: Tucson bound for Under The Stars, plus George Saunders and the cough without end

Thanks for taking a look a this. I’m just starting to pack my bags for the Tucson Festival of Books next weekend — my first one ever (thank you very much, Roberta and Dennis, for making this happen). I’m proud to be a featured author at the bookfest, speaking solo about Under The Stars at 10 a.m. March 12 at the Integrated Learning Center, Room 130, on the University of Arizona campus. I will try if possible to scare up some doughnuts for at least some of you but please don’t hold me to that — I just don’t know Tucson very well, having been there only once, in a great big rumbling RV, which I used to explore the Desert Museum, the stunning Saguaro National Park, which I visited during a rare snowstorm, and a few other remote areas including the Gilbert Rey Campground, where I once welcomed the…

My conversation with Toni Morrison about good and evil in Catamaran lit mag

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with Toni Morrison about good and evil as portrayed in literature and in popular culture. An expanded version of that q and a appears in the current issue of Catamaran, which is available at a newsstand or bookstore near you and can also be ordered online. (There is a paywall for this one so please go out and get a hold of a physical copy, if possible.) I hope you enjoy reading this piece. I had heard that she does not suffer fools gladly, and prepared like crazy for our talk. I checked out a wheelbarrow and a half’s worth of her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism. I’m glad I did. It was great to revisit her work after all these years, and I was fascinated by her stories about the publishing industry in the 70s, her friendship with Angela Davis, and the…

We’ve just added a few more Under The Stars events (so please save the date.)

hi everyone — Busy times. I just got back from my first straight-up vacation in about seven years. Now that I’m back in Santa Cruz, and have rested up for a little bit,  I just wanted to include some dates here for a bunch of brand-new reading dates for Under The Stars — two in Santa Cruz County, a couple of them over the hill, and some others in far-flung locations from Tucson to New York state. Here goes. Please “save the date” if one or more of these events are near you. Sunday, January 29 10:30 a.m. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos, during the “new beginnings” service at the church Los Gatos, CA  Tuesday, February 7 Under The Stars book group meeting at The Bookstore Plus (via Skype) 7:00 pm EST 2491 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY   Saturday, February 18 230 p.m. Porter Memorial Library Soquel, California…