Like all kids, our son loves sowing seeds and watering plants. He even grew strawberries this year. He says, you need four things to grow plants: water, light, air, and love. While growing plants with love and then happily eating their fruits sound an odd kind of affection for plantkind (I do not know if plantkind is a word), the gardening activities give the children nice and adorable moments with parents. Anyway, this post is not about our gardening activities, rather it is about gardening by others (we being the consumer to enjoy the product). The post is about a farmers market. The market is called Ardovino’s Desert Crossing Farmers Market.
The address of Ardovino’s Desert Crossing Farmers Market is 1 Ardovino Drive, Sunland Park, New Mexico 88063. You are right, it is not in El Paso. It is not in Texas either but it takes just five to ten minutes to go to this farmers market from the Sunland Park Mall in El Paso. The farmers market is open only on Saturdays from 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM during the summer and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM during the winter.
We drove to the market area around 10 AM on a sunny hot summer Saturday. When I said “hot”, I really meant more than 100 degrees hot, not 85 degrees kind of hot. One of the many nicest things about this region of the country is the low humidity. In the east coast, summer days with 85 degrees of temperature may become unbearable due to the humidity. The temperature tolerance is higher in this region due to lesser humidity in air. Sunscreen is a must during the whole summer in the El Paso region.
At first, we directly went to the market area where parking was limited. We had to drive back to the large parking lot behind Ardovino’s. We were able to see the North Franklin Mountain from the parking lot. Duh… you can see North Franklin Mountain from almost anywhere in El Paso and near by towns of New Mexico.
Ardovino’s Desert Crossing has accumulated a long history since early 1900’s. It went through many transformations — from residence to an Army barrack to a border patrol outpost to a casino to an inn. Ardovino’s Desert Crossing was, once upon a time, Ardovino’s Roadside Inn, which was closed in 1973 after the passing away of the owner Frank Ardovino. Twenty four years later in 1997 the Ardovino’s Desert Crossing was opened by the heirs of Frank Ardovino. In addition to the farmer market, Ardovino’s Desert Crossing now has a restaurant with beautiful lounges. The restaurant offers full fledged banquet services.
Now that we have told you the history of Ardovino’s Desert Crossing, we can move forward to our story regarding the farmers market. There were around twenty stalls, or may be more than that, on that day. There were a variety of stalls: garden produce, handicrafts, jewelry, art, food stalls, as well as nursery booths.
There were a number of produce stalls full of fresh and organic vegetables including herbs, tomatoes, fruits, cucumber, different kinds of squash, and varieties of peppers. We were excited to find squash blossoms. We know a simple recipe. You will get the recipe by the time this article ends. We purchased two bags of squash blossoms; each bag contained ten to fifteen flowers. We also purchased some cucumbers and zucchini.
Some of the stores were selling different types of home made jam, jelly, and butter. There were baked items as well. Some of the stalls had frozen meat and poultry. We bought a dozen of eggs. The eggs were of different colors: light brown, red-ish brown, and a few of the eggs were green. When I asked, the seller told me that the green eggs are from a type of hen called Americana. Being able to speak with the farm owners directly was great, as well as it was informative.
The old windmill is still standing there by the restaurant. There is a large furnace underneath. Ardovino’s heirs know how to preserve history.
There were some green bean plants (not for sale) with red flowers near the shaded entrance of the restaurant. We took a few pictures of the trees, one of which is provided here.
There is a small water garden. The water is not clean but the small garden looks nice and and gives a soothing feeling.
The old food van is still there. They serve food from the van on Saturdays.
There is a small cactus garden after which there is a large chicken cage. Chicken cage was a major attraction for Dear Son.
There is a fruit tree shading the chicken cage. We think, it is a jujube tree but we could be wrong.
These are some of the greatest items we have seen there. In addition, we were able to see the trains going back and forth on the nearby tracks .
There was a stall from the Heart Animal Rescue. There were some adoptable pets there. Overall, the farmers market is an excellent educational and fun place for kids.
On our way back, we stopped by Sabino Segura River Levee Park (Latitude: 31°47’57.50″N, Longitude: 106°33’21.08″W), which is within one mile of Ardovino’s Desert Crossing. The park itself did not look well-maintained but it was good enough for taking a nice family walk near the bank of the Rio Grande River.
We felt great looking at the water and hearing the sound of the water. We felt sad when we saw the sign stating fishing is not not allowed due to unhealthy water.
The walkway inside the park was very nice. The sun was straight on top of us and was not helping to stay any longer. We came back to our car and headed back home around noon.
In the evening, we were ready for the squash blossoms! We used a simple recipe. Ingredients for 10 to 15 flowers are as follows:
- Paprika: 1/4 teaspoon (You can use cilli power instead of paprika if you want it to be hot)
- Salt: 1/4 teaspoon
- Batter mix or flour: 1 cup
- Canola or vegetable oil: enough to deep fry.
As said, it was a simple recipe. Clean the flowers. Sometimes there may be flower-bugs inside the squash blossoms. Make sure to remove them. Throw the paprika and the salt on the flowers. Our little one helped us by mixing the batter mix. One can use flour as well. Cups of water may vary from one to two depending on preferred thickness of the mix. The thickness of the mix is a choice and not a part of the instruction. 🙂 You can throw a little amount of salt in the mix. It can be as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon. I sometimes find flour or batter mixes too salty after being a bit generous. Another option is not to apply any salt in the mix but throw some salt on top of the final product after they are on the plate. Anyway, saltiness is a preference, not a formula.
Heat oil in a frypan. Dip the flowers in the mix and drop them on hot oil. Wait till golden brown. Use a spoon to transfer the flowers from frypan to a plate. I prefer to keep deep fried items on paper towels. The paper towels soak the excessive oil from the fried food. Ta-dah … ready to eat. Enjoy as soon as the blossoms cool down a bit.
This is how the squash blossoms’ journey from the farmers market to the frying pan in our kitchen ended. It tasted great. The activities involved were greater!
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