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If you have ever lived in the American Southwest, and if you have ever gone to an outdoor event like a baseball game, there is a good chance you have eaten a churro. There is also a good chance that you have never made them at home.

Street vendors sell them from carts, and folks line up at concession stands to get the freshly made confections straight out of the deep fryer, messy with cinnamon sugar.

Fancy restaurants have taken to serving them a little more elegantly.

One reason you may have never made them is because they look complicated with their delicate flutes, crispy outsides, and creamy insides. Actually, they are easy to make. The dough contains as few ingredients as water, flour, and salt though there are recipes that call for eggs and what is really choux paste. Simple is still good. You do need a cookie press with a star-shaped disc or a special churrera made of gleaming plastic.  A sturdy pastry sleeve fitted with a large star-shaped tip may work, but the dough is firm and could tear a flimsy one. Churros have their origin as a street food of Madrid, but they are now very much a part of Mexico and the American Southwest. The churrera that I own was made in Spain by a large cookware company, Bernar, S.A. They even make an industrial-size churrera if you want to go into the business.  It was easy to find in our local cooking supply stores.  (Of course, this is New Mexico). I guess that you could even drop spoonfuls of the dough into hot frying oil, but then I don’t think you could legitimately call them churros.

Churros are a bit like doughnuts and a close cousin to the funnel cakes sold at county fairs and the beignets of New Orleans. They should definitely be eaten warm. They lend themselves to creative variations:  You can smother them in powdered sugar. You can dip them in chocolate sauce. You can put them on top of ice cream. You can top them with a fruit compote. You can drizzle them with cajeta, the Mexican caramel sauce made from goat’s milk, probably maple syrup, or just about whatever comes to mind. However you decide to serve them, folks of all ages, but especially the kids,  will be clamoring for more.




  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • oil for frying
  • cinnamon sugar (optional)


  1. Combine the water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until a smooth dough is formed. Cool in the pan
  3. Transfer the dough to a churrera fitted with the largest opening, or a cookie press, or a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch star tip.
  4. Place about 2 inches o frying oil in a deep, heavy pan and heat over a medium flame to 375°F.
  5. Press out about 5 inches of the dough into the hot oil, cutting it off with a table knife or your finger. Repeat until the pan is filled but not overcrowded.
  6. Turn the churros frequently until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to several layers of paper towel to drain. Roll in cinnamon sugar if desired. Serve while still warm.




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The Presidio is one of the jewels of San Francisco. It is hard to believe that it was once an army base; it is easy to believe that it was one of the most sought-after postings in the army. Several of my military friends were stationed there, and they describe a wonderful life.

Now the Presidio has been taken over by the National Park Service. The apartments for enlisted men and NCOs have been substantially upgraded and are now available for rent. Many of the officers’ homes have been converted into boutique offices or upscale housing. The base hospital has been turned into very stylish apartments. I have been told that the base commander’s home now rents for more than $30,000 per month. From the outside it is a grand house, and the views of San Francisco Bay are amongst the best in the city.

There are tennis courts, a beautiful golf course, and miles of walking and biking trails woven amid great stands of eucalyptus and pines as well as huge beds of native plants.. All of this is left over from army days. Not hard at all to see why the Presidio was such a choice assignment.

Some of the administration buildings have been converted to tourist attractions. These include an interesting Walt Disney museum, George Lucas Productions, a bowling alley, and a conference center. The Crissy Field airstrip has been turned into a waterfront mall of dark green lawn, perfect for flying kites or for outdoor events.

Walt Disney Museum in old administrative buildings

Walt Disney Museum in old administrative buildings

The scenery is spectacular. The Golden Gate Bridge is right there; the Marin Headlands are a beautiful view; and the imposing cliffs of Land’s End rise from the other direction. I forgot to mention Baker Beach, popular with the whole city.

With all of this activity and the wonderful attractions, there are not many places to eat. Fortunately, there is the Presidio Social Club near the Lombard Street Gate. During the Second World War, a barracks building was converted into clubhouse for enlisted men and women. Over the years, it had become a bit shabby and then with the imagination of the Park Service the place was refurbished and opened as a charming restaurant and bar.  The walls are covered with images of people from past days having a good time. The rooms are furnished with old-timey lights and spare-but-trendy chairs and tables. There is a nice but limited selection of wines, and it is a good place to get that old San Francisco classic, the Negroni. The food is well-prepared and includes some creative takes on comfort food – deviled eggs, meatloaf, grilled cheese, and chicken salad – as well as some more substantial offerings.

More famous San Francisco restaurants like Greens are not too far away, but the Social Club is definitely a great place for a break during your visit to the Presidio.

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