An Oh-So Tasty Tradition


Pine Strawberry Fire Chief Dave Staub pulls a golden taco from a deep fryer. The puffy tortilla forms the base for the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation popular Navajo tacos.

Pine Strawberry Fire Chief Dave Staub pulls a golden taco from a deep fryer. The puffy tortilla forms the base for the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation popular Navajo tacos. Photo by Joy Hafford. |

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The Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation (SCAF) operates the Pine/Strawberry Community Center Thrift Store and Senior Dining Room, providing valuable services for area seniors and the entire P/S community. Proceeds from the store and SCAF’s annual fund-raisers and charitable events fund daily senior lunches, social activities, Meals on Wheels and other vital programs.

One SCAF activity that has become a tradition and a great fund-raiser is the Navajo Taco Sale held during annual summer Arts and Crafts Guild festivals. The oh-so tasty treats are real bargains too: for just $6 you get a beef taco piled high with everything you like, $5 buys a bean and cheese taco with all the trimmings or a dessert peach taco a la mode with caramel and it is just $3 for one drizzled with powdered sugar and honey.

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Pine Strawberry Postmaster Ray Argel loads up a Navajo taco with just the right combination of meat and beans.

SCAF’s signature Navajo tacos are highly-anticipated in the community and by festival-goers — some making the trek to Pine annually just to consume one (well, at least they say it’s just one).

What is it about these tacos that make them so special?

Madison Feyrer-Melk, 16, of Fountain Hills, nailed it saying, “I love how it is crunchy on the bottom and soft on top. It’s delicious.”

But are they good for you?

“These tacos can stimulate a lagging appetite,” says Pine resident Richard Hafford, who discovered them at a festival years before eventually retiring to the area. He recently battled pneumonia and was unable to eat for four months due to food penetrating his airway. Once healed, he couldn’t find his appetite, until a taco ignited it.

“I think my appetite has finally kicked in,” said Richard, devouring an entire taco that covered an 8-inch plate and was 2 inches high.

“It’s just what the doctor ordered,” he added.

On July 6, I visited the SCAF Senior Dining Room and spoke with Terry Burkhart, kitchen manager, to see just how the volunteers prepare the tacos.

It all begins with a fresh flour tortilla direct from CC Foods Tortilla Factory in the Valley. On the day of the event at 7 a.m. on the taco timeline, it’s showtime for Terry who single-handedly sautés 150 pounds of ground beef and readies the 80 pounds of lettuce and 50 pounds of tomatoes.

When the order ticket is submitted, volunteers like Fire Chief Dave Staub and Sheri Earp with the Pine Strawberry Business Community place tortillas in a deep fryer so that each one is served fresh and warm.

Ray Argel, the community’s postmaster, Tom Hadley and alternating volunteers skillfully and generously spoon refried beans or ground beef onto the taco (also referred to as fry bread).

SCAF President Dave Burkhart, Dave Earp and Dave Prechtel are among the volunteers who pile on the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and olives (made according to specification) and hand it to the awaiting consumer, who then adds their desired ingredients from the condiment bar like onions, jalapenos and salsa.

The taco is very “ut-zah-ha-dez-bin” (it is done well), as the Navajo code talkers would say.

Fund-raising has never tasted so good!

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Dave Earp serves up the lettuce and tomatoes for one of the very popular Navajo tacos sold by the Senior Citizens Affairs Foundation at every summer holiday arts and crafts festival in the Pine/Strawberry community.

Mark your calendar for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 when SCAF holds its next Navajo taco fund-raising event in conjunction with the Arts and Crafts Guild Labor Day weekend festival.

If you want to be part of something special, consider joining the SCAF volunteer team (and help Terry Burkhart chop some tomatoes!).

The taco sale brought together the community with many groups lending a hand including SCAF and the PSBC, P/S Fire Department, P/S Post Office and the Mountain Village Foundation.

The taco fund-raiser shows the spirit of the communities of Pine and Strawberry in action!

For further information on SCAF, visit www.pinestrawberry scaf.com.

Fry bread fanatics

Can’t wait for Labor Day weekend to enjoy some delicious fry

bread? You don’t have to.

Another fund-raiser that features fry bread is the Mazatzal Casino’s “Frybread for Families.” The next one will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, July 18 at the casino. Choose from plain, honey and powder sugar, bean and cheese or an Apache taco. Price is $5 for fry bread and a drink.

Proceeds go to support local families in need throughout the Rim Country.

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