La Joya Dulce added yet another feature for your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding – eight new decorative outdoor light poles.
(There's a "bonus" view of Wayne's messy shop, including our two-man racing outrigger canoe -- watch for us on Steamboat Lake in the summer.)
Each pole is ten feet tall and anchored in half an oak wine barrel. These are readily portable, and can be placed wherever you might want to light up the night for your reception. Maybe outside the barn? Maybe between the barn and the arena? Maybe inside the arena? One person can move these pretty easily by rolling, but its even easier for two people to carry them.
All eight light poles are finished and ready to use, but we are still looking for just the right lights to string between these. We are going to “audition” a few sets of lights over the next month or so. We will have the lights and poles available for all of our upcoming weddings.
The shots above show the poles before they were stained, but they look nicer after staining, as shown on the shot below.
La Joya Dulce features both indoor spaces (our beautiful barn and our huge arena), and of course our ranch has the expansive outdoor spaces you expect at a ranch wedding venue. Our couples can decide how they want to “highlight” our features with these new light stands. Our light stands and lights are included at no extra charge.
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker and a nationwide fad:
This post has nothing to do with weddings or Steamboat Springs, but it is sort of relevant to ranching — as (small time) cattle ranchers, we eat some beef, and we sometimes like to cook it in the Instant Pot.
Once in a while we send a steer to be processed for our personal use. That’s a whole freezer full of meat for two people. Some of the cuts of meat are tasty steaks that go on the grill. (For some reason those get eaten first....) And our lean, grass-fed cattle make excellent hamburger. (You can try our ground beef when you are in Steamboat — we supply the local Italian restaurant Mambos.) But our freezer ends up with quite a few tougher cuts of meat, and the Instant Pot is great for those.
For instance, we have a lot of Chuck Steak. It would be way too tough to grill, but makes great chili or beef burgundy in the Instant Pot.
It took us a few tries to avoid overcooking veggies in the IP. The meat has to be cooked before the veggies go in. Chili is an example. If all of the ingredients — meat, beans, bell peppers, corn — were in the IP long enough to get the meat tender, everything but the meat would be mush. So instead, we pressure cook the meat for a half hour, then pressure cook everything else for just 5 minutes. The meat comes out tender, and the textures are preserved for the rest.
Some IP recipes are overly optimistic regarding cooking time. For instance, Wayne made this fantastic beef burgundy: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/the-best-instant-pot-beef-bourguignon/. The introduction says “this epic beef stew cooks in just 30 minutes in the amazing Instant Pot.” But that doesn’t include the preparation time, the time to brown the meat or thicken the stew at the end. So it actually takes about an hour start to finish. That’s still not very long and it turned out great. The recipe says to use “Certified Angus Beef,” but of course we used “Regular La Joya Dulce Beef From The Freezer.” (Photos in this post are the ingredients for the beef burgundy.)
Here is Wayne’s Instant Pot chili recipe. He makes it mild (even though he personally likes it spicier), so those who like it spicy can doctor their own bowls.
2 pounds beef (chuck steak, for instance)
42 ounces crushed tomatoes (3 cans 14 ounce)
Small can tomato paste
One 14 ounce can each black, pinto and kidney beans (3 cans total)
One 14 ounce can corn
One 14 ounce can beef broth
One Red bell pepper
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
Salt to taste
Cube the beef. Brown the beef in the Instant Pot on the sauté setting. While waiting for the beef to brown, dice the onion. Remove beef. Sauté the onion in the Instant Pot. Add back the beef and add the beef broth. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
While the beef is cooking, drain and rinse the beans, drain the corn, and dice the red pepper.
Release the pressure when the 30 minutes is over. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release pressure. Sauté with the lid off for a while to thicken it. If you want to add a tablespoon of corn starch to thicken it a little more, go ahead (mix the corn starch in a small bowl with a little water before adding to the chili).
Serve with warm tortillas, plus whatever you like on chili — salsa, chopped onions, chopped jalapeños, sour cream, cheddar cheese.
La Joya Dulce translates to The Sweet Jewel (Joya = jewel, Dulce = sweet). We kicked the dulce up a notch with this acquisition:
This is a full-size cotton candy maker, and it works very well. It came with about 30 pounds (!) of a special type of sugar (enough to make about 1,000 fluffy balls of cotton candy) and a huge box of paper cones to hold them.
Cotton candy is 100% sugar, but there is surprisingly little sugar in it. I put a tablespoon into the machine to get the nice-sized fluffball above, but about half the tablespoon stayed in the machine.
Our cotton candy machine is available at no extra charge. It is easy and fun to spin some extra dulce for the guests at your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding!
Julia Dordoni, “The Colorado Wedding Painter,” visited La Joya Dulce a few days ago. Julia’s service is fun and romantic – she sets up her easel at her client’s wedding, and paints a beautiful, impressionistic work of art on the spot.
Guests can look over Julia’s shoulder as her work progresses, so it is fun performance art, and the newlyweds end up with a unique, hand-painted keepsake of their special day.
Julia brought some samples of her delightful work. She has painted at several venues in Colorado and Hawaii. We think its fair to say that Julia loved the views at La Joya Dulce., and we’d love to see how she interprets our views.
Julia is a Steamboat-area local, and runs a hands-on “Pints and Paints” program at Butcherknife Brewing Company (just down the road from La Joya Dulce).
Photos in this post are from Julia’s website. https://www.julialiveart.com
Maybe she’ll be part of your Steamboat Springs Ranch Wedding? What an idea for a wedding gift!
La Joya Dulce sits on a bench above the beautiful Elk River Valley. The namesake of the valley and the river came marching across a corner of La Joya Dulce late yesterday afternoon. Here’s a video:
There were too many of them to get an accurate count – we did not see the start or end of this Elk Parade. I’m going to guess over 25 and maybe as many as 100.
Elk can easily jump over our fence, and we’ve seen them do it many times. But if enough of them jump it, one of them will eventually break the upper wire, and that’s what happened. So they made an easy path for themselves across the corner of the property.
The video and still shots were taken from a deck just outside the main house. The diagonal line in the last shot is our back fence, so these guys were pretty close.
Another in the series of things La Joya Dulce is proud to provide for your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding: our beautiful old oak church pew.
We added the pew a few months ago. These photos show it against the rubber paving bricks of our barn floor. But you are free to move it where you like. Perhaps a perfect prop for portraits posed in a pasture?
We keeping looking for new items to add to our inventory. We’ve got tables, chairs, a dance floor, a sound system, games and a tent. Kathie has lots of boots, and she’ll loan hers for table decorations. (Wayne isn’t loaning his Luccheses.)
The game of Cornhole has two governing bodies that can’t resolve a half-inch difference in the size of a Cornhole board. But that’s nothing compared to Washers. Washers is anarchy.
There are one-hole games, three hole games, box games, board games, and pit-in-the-ground games. Is a washer in the hole is worth five points, or just three? A washer in the box is normally one point, but some say in-the-box is good for two, with one point for the closest washer out-of-the-box. Should the holes be 21 feet apart, or 25? Does each side throw three washers, or four? (Some say only two!)
La Joya Dulce has opinions about Washers. Our game is the box game. Each box is 12 inches square (on the inside), with a scrap of carpet on the bottom.
Each box has one hole, and that hole must be a metal can.
The metal can is important. Wayne was disappointed to learn that the International Association of Washer Players (IAWP) recommends PVC pipe: “Repeated hits of the tin can will distort its shape and necessitate regular restructuring while the PVC remains almost impervious to damage. White or light-colored PVC is recommended as an aid to aiming….” It is sad that IAWP members will never hear the satisfying metal-on-metal CLANK of a well-tossed washer smacking a can. Also, the IAWP fails to understand that the distorted shape of a tin can is a feature, not a bug.
The distance between the boxes should vary according to the skill and patience of the players. (If everyone is always missing, move the boxes closer.)
We like three washers per player for each round. 5/8ths inch flat seems like the right size (1” washers are sometimes recommended, but those seem huge to us).
Scoring is one point for in the box, and five points for in the can (it is really hard to toss the washer into the can). No points for out of the box, and no points for a washer balanced on the edge of the box. If the washer hits the box and bounces out -– too bad, no score. But if a washer bounces from the ground into the box or can, that counts!
Scoring is subtractive for each round, and only one player can score in each round. For instance, Player One gets one washer in the can (5 points), and Player Two gets two washers in the box (two points). Player One scores a net three points. Of course it is possible that no one scores in a round – if both players put a washer in the can, they cancel each other out. First to 21 wins, unless others are waiting to play, then its first to 11.
La Joya Dulce makes Washers and other silly games available for your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding for no extra charge.
Do you want games for your Steamboat Springs Ranch wedding? La Joya Dulce has games, including Cornhole.
We were a bit surprised to find serious rules and regulations for Cornhole. In fact, we found two sets of rules, one from the American Cornhole Organization, and another from the American Cornhole Association. Fortunately, the rules are pretty similar. Both the ACO and the ACA:
However, the ACO and the ACA don’t agree on the proper size for a Cornhole board. The ACA insists that a regulation board must be 48 by 24 inches. The ACO shaves a half inch off both dimensions -- a regulation ACO board is 47 ½ by 23 ½. When Wayne made the La Joya Dulce Cornhole boards, he didn’t mean to take sides in the Great American Half-Inch Cornhole Board Size Civil War. But a standard plywood sheet is 48 inches wide, so our boards were made to the ACA standard. We hope any ACO loyalists can forgive us.
We’re glad the ACA and ACO agree that Cornhole bags should be 6 by 6 inches, and weigh 14 to 16 ounces. Traditionally, the bags are filled with 2 cups of feedcorn. But feedcorn can spoil if the bags get wet, so the modern substitute is plastic pellets. The ACA website clearly says that’s OK (“Due to the recent shortage of feedcorn, we will allow the use of plastic pellets (All Weather Cornhole Bags) in lieu of feed corn.”). The ACO rules don’t say anything about bag fill. La Joya Dulce supplies all-weather, plastic-filled bags.
By the way, you can check the ACO’s World Cornhole Rankings by clicking here. (At the time of this post, Kentucky’s Eric Zocklein topped the world rankings.)
La Joya Dulce’s games, including Cornhole, are included at no extra cost for your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding.
We keep our eyes peeled for ways to improve La Joya Dulce. We recently added a beautiful dance floor.
We weren’t actively looking to buy a dance floor. We responded to an ad for tables posted by a couple living about an hour from our place in California. We drove the hour to their storage unit, expecting to buy a dozen five-foot round tables. As we were loading tables onto our truck, the seller asked if we might have any use for a 16-by-16 foot portable hardwood dance floor, “with a few extra pieces.” Yes!
As it turns out, they had 24 pieces, each 4 foot by 4 foot, plus a wheeled rack to hold the pieces.
Twenty-four pieces is almost enough for a 20-foot by 20-foot dance floor – missing just one piece for the full 20-by-20. So Wayne made the 25th piece.
Wayne’s skills and patience are not adequate for him to create a hardwood floor, so he worked in pine. But at Kathie’s suggestion, he inlayed the single diamond logo of La Joya Dulce.
The dance floor we bought in California is now here at La Joya Dulce in Colorado. The dance floor is included with our bookings at no extra charge.
Come dancing for your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding!
The “main” ceremony site at La Joya Dulce is the huge flat area outside our indoor arena. But we have alternative sites for your Steamboat Springs ranch wedding, especially the area near our pond. We strapped on our snowshoes yesterday to take some shots.
The top of the dam can accommodate about 100 wedding guests, and we can move chairs or straw bales there for seating.
The area below the dam forms a natural amphitheater, with a view of the Sleeping Giant. Seating would be very casual (straw bales and blankets), but the amphitheater can accommodate a big crowd.
There are established aspen stands near the pond, and we planted new aspens in the spring of 2017. Its a little hard to see, but the picture above shows tape around the newer aspens to protect them from hungry ranch animals. The tape will come down in the spring of 2018.
Access to the pond is easier after the snow melts, including vehicle access as might be needed for guests with disabilities. Just imagine the snow you see is the green grass of summer …