Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tarantula Cream Pie

Bob Webb, Mimi's Dad, came to stay at La Posada Milagro for a few days. He's 83, with both a mind and sense of humor as sharp as a cactus thorn, and he loves pie. Because last night was his last night in Terlingua I promised I'd make him a pie, any pie, he could choose. So we sat down with an ancient and tattered copy of the old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (1953 edition, the same one my mom has) and flipped through the pie recipes. Banana Cream, he decided. Ha! My dad's favorite too. So while Bob, Mimi and everyone else in Far West Texas were taking their afternoon siestas I set to work in the kitchen preparing his special pie.Here we are, Bob with the pie baker. But how would it taste? Would he like it?
Buttery crust, perfectly browned meringue, extra bananas...he gave my pie a thumbs up. He didn't even look up until he cleaned his plate.
When we'd finished our family supper we said our "goodnights." But I would be back to Mimi's house sooner than I knew.
When I got to my room I discovered I had an uninvited guest.
Ay caramba! I've seen enough horror movies to know a tarantula when I see one! (Actually, an old James Bond movie comes to mind...)

I grabbed my flashlight and my dogs and ran back to Mimi's house (each bedroom here is like a separate house). "Mimi!" I said breathlessly. "I have a tarantula in my room."
"OK," she said. "I know what to do." She grabbed a Tupperware bowl and followed me back to my room.
Mimi placed the bowl over the spider, calmly, expertly, as if she'd done this a thousand times. "Usually I see them walking across the path when I'm going to the outhouse in the middle of the night," she said. "I almost step on them and that always sends me to the moon."

"I was proud of myself for not screaming," I told her. "But my heart is racing pretty fast."
"You did good," she said. I beamed like a praised child, the compliment all the more meaningful coming from a woman who pioneered this place 30 years ago.

Captured! It was now safe to go to bed. And though tarantulas aren't known to travel in pairs, I tucked the mosquito netting in tightly around my bed, just in case.
I lived through the night to tell the (true) tale -- the proof is not only in the pictures, Mr. Tarantula is still in his Tupperware -- and to have a piece of banana cream pie for breakfast with Bob before he left for his home in Witchita Falls.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kathy's Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe

Yesterday morning I was driving along Highway 170, mesmerized by the rugged rock formations of the Chisos Mountains, when I saw this Betty Boop trailer parked by the side of the road.Located just a few miles down the road from La Posada Milagro in Terlingua, Texas (where I'm staying and cannot seem to leave!) the trailer is part of Kathy's Kosmic Kowgirl Kafe. (Sorry about the dark photos -- it was a rare cloudy day -- as they don't do justice to the vibrant PINK paint with which this entire roadside eatery is covered.)

I was certain this place would serve pie. The kitschy-ness of its decor was screaming pie diner, like the one in the movie Waitress, only pinker. So I pulled over, parked my Mini Cooper next to the dusty pick up trucks and jeeps lined up in the parking lot, and inquired within -- or without considering the restaurant consists of a walk-up window and outdoor seating.

And there was the Kosmic Kowgirl herself dressed in all her pink glory, from head to toe: pink cowboy hat, pink t-shirt, and pink Crocs. I can only guess that her underwear is pink too. And god knows, she surely owns pink cowboy boots.
(Kathy is pictured here in her pink schoolbus, used for indoor seating during the colder months. With temperatures reaching 100 degrees this month, the bus -- nor her cowboy boots -- is not getting much use at the moment.)I scanned the menu for pie. Um, excuse me Dallas Barbie, do you mind moving your big, blond, Texas hair so I can read it? Thanks.
What?! No pie?! Kathy and I clearly needed to talk. And we did. "Pie is a good idea," she agreed. As far as my pie missionary efforts were going, boy, she was an easy convert. "Can you make some pies for me?" she continued. "We have a drive-in movie night on Friday and we could serve pie to our customers." She pointed to the movie screen, a white sheet strung up between the pink posts that hold up up her pink porch.
How was I supposed to respond? I'm the one who opened the proverbial can of...cherries. "Sure," I said. "I'll do it!"
The moral of the story is if you can't find pie in Texas be prepared to bake it yourself. Looks like that outdoor oven is going to get some use.
PS: Don't Mess With Texas or you'll get kicked with one of these.
(This boot pose is compliments of a Kosmic koffee-drinking kustomer who happens to be Kanadian.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009