Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

If you have a can of pumpkin puree leftover from Thanksgiving baking, I urge you to give this soup a try. Hearty, comforting and a tad spicy, it’s not overly pumpkin-y. This recipe is adapted from The Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite food bloggers and author of a new cookbook coming out in 2012. My version is more rustic, thick with chunks of tomatoes and beans, and fresh chiles and chipotle powder to lend a southwest twist. Continue reading

Mining for Opals

We went opal mining a few days ago. The description for Rockhound State Park, just outside of Deming, New Mexico, noted quartz, agate and even opals are found in the hills surrounding the campground, and visitors are encouraged to haul away the stones. I like opals. We needed a place to camp in southwest NM. Perfect!

Now, I have no idea how to mine for opals, nor even what a raw opal looks like. Continue reading