Monthly Archives: January 2010

New Vintage Loteria Designs: La Muerte and El Cupido


Just in time for Valentine's Day!

I love my Vintage Loteria Cupid!  I don’t know if it is a boy or a girl… The image is from an old Loteria set that I bought at a flea market in Mexico.  This version has been around for a long time, and has been copied so many times that the pictures are rather grainy and murky.  I love building them up from 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inches to a usable size, then cleaning them up and making them beautiful again.

I think I am getting the hang of standardizing my image sets for CafePress.  I upload about 5 huge files to my image basket for each design I make.  The sizes of the images range from 9 by 12 inches to 23 by 35 inches.  I have found that the rectangles do well for shirts and oval objects, but the posters need specific measurements to get rid of any white edges.  The squares work well for circular items as well as squares, so I haven’t gone to the trouble yet of tailoring my designs to a circle shape (or an oval) yet.

Death in a pink frame...

My other design is La Muerte – which is seen in a lot of Loteria decks (The Cupid is not as common).  I like this image, which is a little more dynamic than the traditional standing Death in the Don Clemente deck.  I also liked the blue color in the background as opposed to the pink on the D.C. deck.  I chose elements that bring out the skeleton’s colors, as well as the scythe.  This is the 9 by 12 inch image.  The larger image for the poster has a pattern of colorful sugar skulls on the top and bottom, with a turquoise stripe coordinating the whole thing.

I like the idea of mixing up the designs in my shop, so that everything doesn’t just have the same image.  For one thing, one image won’t do for all of the items.  I have learned that over the years after my original impulsive shop opening with my Valentine designs.

I have 10 designs right now in the Vintage Shop.  After I’ve done two more, I can think about designing a calendar.  I have been selling quite a few calendars with my Milagros and Loteria themes.  It is very gratifying!  Here is a link to the Calendar Shop.


Three Kings Day is today


I bought two rosca de reyes yesterday at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  Today is Three Kings Day and also the first day back for the students.  I thought that I would treat them to a little celebration.  By the way, I may not have been looking in the right places in the past for rosca, because it now seems pretty easy to find.  This morning, when I went to get serving plates at WalMart, they had them too.  They were bigger than the ones I bought for the same price.

While looking around for juice boxes or something for the kids to drink with their cake, I made up my mind to make some atole to serve as well.  The tradition is to drink chocolate atole, called champurrado, with the cake.  I bought some packets to make rice atole, knowing that I would have to augment the chocolate factor, and add sugar as well.  When I got back to the internet, I found that I had all of the necessary ingredients at home to make atole with harina de masa.  I still needed milk.

Here are some links on atole, while I’m at it:

I worked on the atole for a while, using bowls, two different sized pots, a strainer (to get the broken cinnamon sticks out), and whisks and spoons.  I can’t really describe what I did, but I followed the package directions and kept adding Hershey’s cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and vanilla and even a little more milk until I got something that was thick without being chocolate pudding.  Then I wondered how I was going to serve it hot at school…

I washed out an Igloo drink cooler and put it in there.  Then, my mother came up with the brilliant idea of using my slow cooker.  That’s what I did.  I brought it to school, poured the hot chocolate liquid in, and set it on high until it got hot, then turned it on low to keep warm until after lunch.  Worked like a charm.

We only ate one of the king cakes in class – there were two little babies in it.  That’s strange to me, because there is only one in a Louisiana or French cake.  I have another left over.  Maybe I’ll offer it up to the teachers, or maybe I will make bread pudding out of it.

Two years ago, I made bread pudding from pan de muertos.  I think I will do something similar with the king cake.  It already has candied fruit on the top. I may take that off and chop it up instead of putting in the ate candy as I did in the recipe below.

Bread of the Dead Pudding

1 pan de muertos (large) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy) or dark rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup ate candy (or buy a brick of ate and cut into cubes)
1/2 cup raisins (I only had brown, but golden might be nice)

Place bread cubes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, sugar, calvados, and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes (I used a square baking pan and was afraid it would overflow, so I used a 1/2 cup measure to add the custard a little at a time.  I worked out perfectly) Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until pudding is set in center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Happy Three Kings Day!

King Cake, anyone?


roscas at the bakery

I am thinking about finding or making a king cake to bring to school on Wednesday.  It is Epiphany.  I remember well my different encounters with King Cake.  I am from Lafayette, Louisiana, so I have had all sorts of New Orleans style king cakes.  Being a gourmand, I have to admit that my favorite kind has always been one with as much cream cheese, fruit filling and icing as possible.

When I was living in France, I got turned on to the galette des rois, which is a puff pastry confection with frangipane inside.  Frangipane is a type of almond paste – coarser and more natural than marzipan.  I think it is also put in almond croissants.

When I came to Georgia, I had a great time sharing the king cake tradition with my students and friends.  I even would go all the way to New Orleans for Mardi Gras “just” to bring back kings cakes for my high school French students.  I know, the sacrifices we teachers have to make…  The most notable year was when I transported the aforementioned loaded cakes home and forgot to keep them horizontal.  Can I just say that we had a major collapse on our hands?

I used to have dinner parties in January, and I was so excited to find a bakery in Atlanta that made the frangipane filled cakes.  They were more expensive, so I was loathe to get those for my 6th graders that I taught at the time.  But I did buy a couple for one of my dinner parties.  My French friend clucked disapprovingly at my addition of a raspberry coulis, but I thought it went very well with the cake.

I only recently became familiar with the Mexican version of the king cake, called a rosca de reyes.  It is a relatively plain concoction – a yeast bread with fruit and maybe some nuts that is garnished with candied fruit.  I just happened to be driving home one January 6th when I passed a panaderia in Marietta.  They were making hundreds of roscas, and they were selling like, um, well – hotcakes.

I purchased a couple – one to share with my colleagues at school and a smaller one for my students.  I think they were pretty expensive:  $20 for the small one and $30 for the larger one.  Before I went home that night, for some reason I stopped by my favorite taqueria to have a couple of tacos de lengua.  I happened to mention to the proprietor that I had snagged these cakes on the other side of town, and she ended up buying one from me.

I was looking for recipes online and found this little group forum invitation.  You may go to the website, but here is the deal:

How to participate:
Please read and follow the instructions below. King Cake 2009

  • Bake or buy a King Cake, take pictures (if possible) and blog about the cake and your family tradition and don’t forget to mention who was the “crowned” king
  • Please link back to this announcement in your post, and eventually to the roundup.
  • Fill in the form below and your post will be listed in the roundup.
  • Last day of submission is January 8

If you click on the link to the right and look at last year’s contributors, you will see that there are all sorts of cake traditions for Epiphany.  I just read that even panettone – that Italian fruitcake that is on sale now everywhere – has been used for king’s cake as well.

Here are some more:  The Bolo Rei – from Portugal, the Tortell from Catalonia, Vasilopita from Greece, Banitsa from Bulgaria, etc.

Maybe I’ll make my old cheap stand-by.  One year, I purchased cans and cans of pop and serve cinnamon rolls.  It was easy:  I just opened up the cans, separated the rolls, and arranged them in circles or ovals – just like a real king’s cake.  I made some extra icing and either colored the icing green, purple, and yellow (Mardi Gras colors) or used sprinkles in those colors on white icing.  It was pretty good, too.  I just waited to hide the token or baby until after the cakes were done.

Hey, I just found a similar recipe from Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade!   Here is another using crescent rolls and a filling…  I did NOT, however, find and “easy” rosca de reyes recipe.  Hmph.

My New Year’s Day Menu


Okay, I gave a little thought to our New Year’s Day menu – since I was able to stop by an open Publix after I went to see New Moon.  I already had two pork tenderloins (next time I buy from Costco, I am going to open the little vacuum sealed packages of two and separate the loins out), but I had no greens and no black-eyed peas.

I didn’t even try to find fresh black-eyed peas – 5:00 PM on New Year’s Eve is not the time to be picky!  I got two cans of the Publix brand.  I was able to get my hands on the last bag of Glory brand Collard Greens, and I was set.  Here is what I fixed:

First, I made the Cornbread.   I used this recipe from   It calls for ground corn meal (I used the Bob’s Red Mill Medium Ground Corn Meal that has been in my freezer for a while) and masa harina (or, Harina de Masa – I used Maseca) as a flour substitute.  I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I substituted SaCo Cultured Buttermilk Blend (I checked the ingredients, and they look to be gluten-free).

The only part of the procedure that needed to change in the recipe was to add the Buttermilk Blend (which is dry) to the dry ingredients.  Then I added the water to the eggs and stirred them up.

I decided to write down my recipe and procedure, since I substituted and didn’t use a cast iron pan.  Try it:  It is a good recipe – my mother found the original last year and used it to make a great cornbread dressing.

Corn Bread #2.1 (Gluten-Free)

2 cups cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill Medium Ground)
1 cup Masa Harina (Mexican-style corn flour used for tortillas)
8 Tablespoons SaCo Cultured Buttermilk Blend (4 TBSP. per cup of water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups water
Canola oil spray for the glass pan

In one bowl, combine dry ingredients and cut in oil with a pastry blender (I used a fork). In another bowl, crack 3 eggs and beat with a fork.  Add 2 cups of water and beat with a fork until the eggs and water are mixed.  Then stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture and blend with the fork.

The original recipe calls for a cast iron pan, which I don’t have.  I used a glass pan, about 7 or 8 inches square.  I sprayed it with Canola spray and tried to melt butter in the bottom of the pan, but ended up dumping most of the butter out.

Bake at 425F degrees for 25 minutes, then turn and bake 15 minutes more or until done.

While the cornbread was baking, I made the Collard Greens.  I chopped and sauteed 1/2 red onion, 5 mini yellow bell peppers, 3 cloves of garlic, and 15-20 slices of Hormel Pepperoni (the Original kind – the Turkey is not gluten-free) in 1/4 cup of olive oil and a dollop of dark sesame oil.  When the veggies were soft, I added 4 cups of Organic Chicken Broth, 1/2 Tbsp. of Better than Bouillon Ham base, a couple of shots of balsamic vinaigrette and Wheat Free Tamari sauce.  After the liquid came to a boil, I added the bag of Glory Turnip Greens and tossed them in the liquid.  Then I lowered the heat and simmered the mixture until greens looked done.

Last night, I massaged the pork tenderloin with Williams-Sonoma Coffee and Spice Rub.  Then I added a little olive oil and lime juice and salt and rubbed that in as well.  I put it in the fridge overnight.  Today, I cooked the tenderloin in the oven – it only took about 20-25 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees.

Since Williams-Sonoma seems to have discontinued this item (even with a recipe on their website that calls for it), I found someone on Recipezaar who made his own version:

Ancho Chile and Coffee Rub –

1 Tablespoon French Roast coffee beans
1 teaspoon dried ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds

To prepare the rub:  Place the ingredients in a heated heavy skillet.  Shake the mixture over the heat and allow to toast for 1 minute or until mixture begins to release a strong aroma.  Pour into a spice or coffee grinder and grind to a coarse powder.

Finally, I strained and dumped two cans black-eyed peas with a can of chopped tomatoes and mild green chiles, one cube each of Dorot garlic and cilantro, and a cup of chicken broth with some of the collard green drippings.

It all came out great and there are plenty of leftovers, since there are only two of us here.

The only New YAmbrosia: A New Year's Tradition?ear’s Meal traditional item that I compromised on was the Ambrosia Fruit Salad.  Ambrosia is a fruit salad made with orange sections, coconut, and maraschino cherries (some people add pineapple).  My family used to have it for dessert – whether we wanted it or not – becaus it represented happiness in the new year.  I didn’t want to make Ambrosia, mainly because my husband avoids oranges for his gastric reflux and I didn’t want to eat that much salad myself.  So I came upon a compromise.  My husband downloaded a song or two from the band Ambrosia.  Clever, huh?

Then, while I was looking up links on New Year’s traditional foods, I could find nothing about having ambrosia on New Year’s Day.  It was mentioned as a dessert item on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but none of the sites I found required it for a New Year’s meal. I didn’t find it under “lucky foods“, either.  When I mentioned this omission to my husband, however, he asserted that his family also ate it as a New Year’s tradition.  Does anyone else have an opinion?

Well, it sounds like my husband is dismantling the Christmas tree, so I guess that signals the end of the holiday season.  I still have two more days of vacation, then two days of inservice at school before the children come back.  They come back on Three Kings’ Day, so I may have to find a Rosca de los Reyes to serve.