Category Archives: Latino

Zapotec Ratatouille

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Before I came to Mexico, I made some (okay, a lot.  OKAY, TOO MUCH!) ratatouille in my crock pot.  Until we got tired of it, it was a good way to get our veggies in during the summer.  I am not always good about eating vegetables, and it’s nice to have some around to just heap in a bowl and run through the microwave.  With Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese on top, it was a meal.

There are a lot of recipes for ratatouille, but I definitely wanted to try and make it in the crock pot.  According to my computer, I either used this recipe or this one.  Because I live so close to the awesome and exotic Buford Highway Farmers’ Market, I had in the back of my mind an idea.  The idea was to make a ratatouille using vegetables and spices that come from Mexico.  I brainstormed:  Onion, Mexican zucchini, yellow squash, corn, poblano peppers, chayote, nopales, tomatillos… and I was going to use maybe epazote, dried chilies, cumin, Mexican oregano, and salsa verde to kick it up a bit.

I did a bit of searching on the internet, and of course, there are no new ideas under the sun, so I found a recipe for something called Mayan Ratatouille.  It is from Mario Martinez of A. J.’s Fine Foods in Phoenix, Arizona.  It is on several websites, so since I gave them credit, I will put it here:

Mayan Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled, cored & coarsely chopped
  • 2 chayotes (also known as cho-cho or mirliton), halved, seeded & coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded & coarsely chopped
  • 2 Arbol chilies, seeded & coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. achiote paste
  • 1 Turkish Bay leaf
  • 1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise & sliced
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded & diced (substitute canned diced tomatoes if desired)
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. dried epazote or 2 sprigs fresh
  • ¼ cup salad olives with pimento (or chopped pimento-stuffed green olives)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper or hot sauce to taste

Preparation:

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until lightly browned. Add the chayote, peppers, achiote and bay leaf and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini, tomato, paprika, cumin, and epazote and cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes.

Add all remaining ingredients except for the cilantro, mix well, lower heat to low and cook another 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in the cilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper or hot sauce. Serves 6-8.

So, here I am in Oaxaca, with markets all over the place.  I sent my husband to the local equivalent of the WalMart here – interesting that they have a Sam’s Club, but no WalMart – with a translated list of ingredients.  The ones he was not able to find, I made up at the big market called Benito Juarez.  This afternoon, I chopped and chopped, and here is what I have so far:

Zapotec Ratatouille

Ingredients:

  • 2 Mexican zucchini
  • 2 chayote squash (also called mirlitons)
  • 1/2 pound of chopped cactus paddles (nopales)
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 poblano peppers
  • 3 – 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tequila or mezcal
  • 1 – 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh epazote
  • 2 – 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of Mexican oregano (1 tsp. crushed)
  • 1 – 2 tsp. of paprika (I sort of over-poured…)
  • 2 – 210 gram cans of Herdez salsa verde
  • 1 – 210 gram box of La Costena tomato puree
  • 1 ancho chili pepper

1.  First, crush and dice the cloves of garlic.  Then, chop up the poblano peppers and onions into a dice.  Pour olive oil in to a pan and sautee until fragrant and softened.  Add Tequila or mezcal and let it boil for a bit…

2. While you are doing the cutting, cut up the tomatoes, zucchini, chayote, and nopales (I bought my nopales already chopped).  I added the tomatoes first, then cumin and let it simmer for a while.

3.  I added a can of salsa verde to the mix, stirred a bit, then dumped the rest of the vegetables in.  They needed to cook until they are soft.

4.  Now is when I start to randomly add herbs and spices.  Epazote has a bit of an anise/licorice taste.  I chopped that up, added some parsley, then another can of Herdez, and the tomato puree.

5.  Finally, I soaked the ancho chiles in boiling water.  Then, after they were soft, I put some of the liquid in a blender, added the chiles, some cumin, and a clove of garlic and some tequila.  I used it as a marinade for the chicken I made, and then added the leftovers to the ratatouille.

Okay, so it’s not that scientific.  Obviously, I am not ready to write a cookbook yet…  But play around with it and let me know what you come up with.

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Milagros as Wedding Cake Charms

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Here is a two layer cake with charms attached to ribbons

About 20 years ago or so, I had a college roommate who hailed from Abbeville, Louisiana.  She went to LSU for her “MRS” and eventually got it (him?).  When I went to her wedding reception, the first thing I learned was that she had made and decorated the entire three or four-tiered wedding cake herself (It was a red velvet – her colors for the wedding were antique white and red).  That was impressive enough – but she also introduced me to a Southern tradition I had never heard of before: the wedding cake charm pull.

Mignon Faget charm set

At one website I visited while researching this post, it is claimed that this tradition came from the French Creole settlers to Louisiana.  It is definitely more popular in the South.  In fact, the New Orleans jeweler, Mignon Faget, has a set of beautiful charms in sterling silver.  The Mignon Faget Cake Charm Set ($395) includes a Set of eight symbols:  Marriage (rings), Eternal Beauty (nautilus shell), Luck (red bean), Red Hot Romance (chili pepper), Prosperity (fleur de lis), Opportunity (moon profile), Stability (Corinthian column), True Love (heart).  Mignon Faget is an institution in New Orleans.

The most common explanation of the Wedding Cake Charm Pull is found under Victorian wedding traditions.  Ribbon pulling is a wedding tradition that can be dated back to the Victorian era when the bride would ask her baker to hide special wedding charms in a designated layer of the wedding cake. This was symbolic of the bride’s wishes of good fortune for each of her bridesmaids. Each charm is attached to a ribbon, and the ribbons are draped outward from the cake so that each bridesmaid can pull a ribbon and discover the charm that will reveal her fortune.

Each charm symbolized a different fortune. For example: an anchor symbolized adventure, the wedding ring indicated the next to marry, the four-leaf clover was an omen of good luck, etc.  Other common symbols were the coin (prosperity), a camera (fame and fortune), and the thimble (spinsterhood!).  Most people leave the thimble out…

Here are some websites that sell Wedding Cake Charms, and also provide the meanings behind each charm:

It is true that this is a good idea for other occasions.  There is a set for baby showers, graduation parties, birthday parties – my favorite was one for a little girl’s tea party.  Going with the Latino theme, it only follows that quinceaneras are next.

When I got married, I thought I would like to do something like a cake charm pull, too.  I wasn’t going to do it for the wedding itself, but thought about it for the bridesmaids’ luncheon.  It was at a Mexican restaurant called La Paz in Vinings (Georgia), where I was living at the time.  The luncheon was pretty small and intimate.  The guests were my mother, my future mother -in-law, an old friend of the family, my two bridesmaids (my sister and my best friend), and my little niece, who was going to be the flower girl.

I ordered this small, but really over-the-top chocolate cake from a great little bakery that used to be in Buckhead.  I think it was called Sweet Stuff and it may now be in Roswell.  The baker decorated the cakes with all sorts of tinsel and ribbon and it was very festive.  I tied the charms to these beautiful silk ribbon – exactly like this, but in several different color combinations. I arranged them under the cake board so they didn’t get all messy.

Isn't this pretty?

I was originally looking for milagros to use for my charms – La Paz at the time had a Mexican import store on the lower level.  I didn’t like their selection of milagros (or maybe I lacked imagination at the time) so I went with gold-toned charms instead.  But one day, I will come through with a milagro cake event.

Milagros (also known as an ex-voto or dijes) are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings in Mexico, the southern United States, other areas of Latin America, as well as parts of the Iberian peninsula. They are frequently attached onto altars, shrines, and sacred objects found in places of worship, and they are often purchased in churches, cathedrals or from street vendors.

Milagros come in a variety of shapes and dimensions and are fabricated from many different materials, depending on local customs. For example, they might be nearly flat or fully three-dimensional ; and they can be constructed from gold, silver, tin, lead, wood, bone, or wax. In Spanish, the word milagro literally means miracle or surprise.

From Teresa Villegas' Loteria installation

While I was doing my research, I decided to try searching under the terms “dijes” and “ex voto”. If you look up “dijes” on Google, you will just get standard charm bracelet charms, however.  An ex-voto can be a milagro,  an ornate heart, a painting, or some other representation of thanks or petition. It’s complicated.  For our purposes now, we are talking about the little metal charms.

Use your imagination – of course, there are lots of hearts – that’s easy.  All you have to do is provide the meaning.  There are little houses (stability), people kneeling in prayer (your prayers will be answered), horses (travel), a hen (good mother), angel or cherub (true love), a man or couple dancing…  There are also modern things like airplanes, trains, and telephones.

There are a couple of good books that can flesh out some of the symbolism for you.  I have two of those books.  I really love Milagros: A Book of Miracles by Helen Thompson.  The artwork is by Paddy Bruce and includes a lot of stamped tin accents.  It’s a fun book to read, and discusses the spiritual implications and applications of milagros.  Here is an excerpt from the book I found online.  You can also preview the book on Amazon.

The other book I have is a more academic work.  It is called Milagros: Votive Offerings from the Americas and is written by Martha Egan.  The outside is decorated by a lovely pattern of milagros – I once purchased an unmounted rubber stamp with that pattern.  But I digress…  I found another book called Vow:  The Way of the Milagro by Kay Leigh Hagan.  It manages to be somewhere in between the other two in idea, but with much fewer words.

Here are some other Milagro Resources:

  • The Collector’s Guide – a good resource with history and use of milagros.
  • Zanzibar Tribal Arts – this site sells milagros and has some meanings.
  • World Folk Art.org – great selection of unusual milagros – some pricey.
  • Sacred Art Images – good milagro category explanations.
  • Stranded.com – bead site.  The milagros meaning chart was salvaged from Fausto’s Gallery website, which seems to be closed now.
  • Saints and Martyrs.com – great selection – they say that their milagros are made from sterling silver and they are priced accordingly.
  • Tesoros.com – a good selection, including milagros on plaques from Peru (they are still small, but might make a nice change of pace.

Aguas Frescas: Horchata, Pt. 2 (Rated R…)

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The Smoked Horchata

The Smoked Horchata

Now, let’s talk horchata and alcohol. I found a couple of interesting general articles on using horchata as a mixer.  Of course, there’s the great Squirrel Horchata recipe at Chowhound. But here are some excerpts from a Horchata Cocktails Article on HalogenLife.com:

“Traditionally, forward-thinking citizens have spiked horchata with rum, Cointreau, Grand Marnier or brandy, but finding formalized cocktails has been rare (in California, some Latino bars apparently make a “Rice Rocket,” a potent mix of horchata, coconut-flavored rum and Goldschlager).”

Note:  I was just thinking about the “bling” factor of a liqueur with tiny pieces of gold floating in it, but I just read that Goldschlager has a cinnamon flavor.  That would make it more appropriate than I thought for a horchata drink.

and this (most intriguing):

“At the creative cocktail den Death & Company, you can pick up the very complicated “Smoked Horchata” crafted by bartender Joaquin Simo. The recipe involves reposado tequila, crema de mezcal, cinnamon bark syrup, house-made horchata (crafted with toasted coconut flakes and almond flour) and a dash of bitters. The resulting cocktail is dense but crisp. An unexpected summer drink, like the base liquid itself, it somehow manages to restore.”

Yay!!! I found a PDF of Smoked Horchata recipe, including the easy horchata (made with rice and almond milks with coconut water) and cinnamon bark syrup (added to other drinks as well) at Tasting Table.com.  It looks fascinating! Here’s another cinnamon bark syrup recipe used in a non-horchata drink from Imbibe Magazine.

Fodors.com highly recommends a horchata drink called The Spicy Brown Girl made at Stir Lounge in Las Vegas:

“While the Horchata gives the Spicy Brown Girl its creamy consistency, the drink’s zing comes from (mixologist Niles) Peacock’s homemade Ancho chile simple syrup, a spicy mixer that leaves the palate surprisingly hot. Other ingredients: Smirnoff Vanilla Twist Vodka, dark Crème de Cacao, and Peacock’s homemade Madagascar cello, which he makes with Madagascar vanilla beans.”

I could not find a recipe for the Spicy Brown Girl on the internet, so I looked for recipes for the components of the drink.  Here is an Ancho Chile Syrup Recipe to try (scroll to the middle of the page). I could not find a recipe for “Madagascar cello”, but I assume it is vodka infused with Madagascar vanilla bean pods.  Here is a link to Marie Brizard’s Vanilla Liqueur, which I think might be an acceptable substitute.

The Rosa’s Horchata Site had five cocktail recipes using their canned or bottled ready-made horchata. Click here for the page with the recipes and here for a PDF file to download.

On other random sites, I found some other drinks recipes:

  • Here’s one for Rum-Spiked Horchata, which uses condensed milk and then rum to replace some of the water.
  • Here is a Sarah Moulton recipe for a coconut rice cooler with optional rum added.
  • The Monte Alban on DrinkNation.com is similar to the Rice Rocket, but uses tequila instead of coconut-flavored rum.
  • DrinksMixer.com had the Rojo Robles,which adds coffee liqueur and raspberry vodka to the horchata, and…
  • The Reggaton, made with horchata and Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum.
  • In the middle of this article  is a recipe for Heavenly Horchata, made with tequila and Kahlua.
  • The La Palapa Horchata has vanilla vodka and amaretto added to it.
  • Horchata Macau uses just a bit of spiced almond horchata with Flor de Cana guava-infused white rum and fresh lemon.
  • the White Widow has tequila, melon liquor and horchata

I just found a fascinating article on orgeat syrups. The original orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange-flower water. It was, however, originally made with a barley-almond blend. (from Wikipedia).  Here is a step by step recipe for French orgeat syrup with illustrations.

This article from RookieLibations at Blogspot seems to be playing around with derivatives based on rice-based drinks.  Check it out – there are recipes for three different types of syrup.  There is a syrup using a horchata de melon recipe, which is used in a drink called the Melon de Rosa.  There is a rice horchata syrup recipe with a pisco drink called a Fausto Cocktail.  Finally, there’s a wacky syrup based on thandai (a northern Indian concoction) with a cocktail called the Isodo Cocktail.  Very creative!

Aguas Frescas: Horchata, Part 1

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I was doing some research into aguas frescas, after receiving a drink recipe ManekiNeko_horchata_jarfrom Chow.com that incorporated horchata. After doing probably too much research, I felt like I needed to make two entries: one on horchata one on the other aguas frescas.

Even though I had visited Mexico before, and had even been served a hibiscus flower punch at a friend’s party, my first experience with “making” aguas frescas was while teaching Exploratory Spanish several years ago.

I came up with this idea of having my students sample Mexican sweets and candies as cultural enrichment.  I went to the Buford Highway Farmers Market and was amazed at the variety.  Along with sweet breads, cookies, cajeta and sticky chili tamarind treats, I thought I would serve some aguas frescas.  Instead of making them from scratch, I found some convenient Klass dried drink mix packets and decided to use those.

When I prepared the powdered horchata drink for my first group of students, I asked one of my Mexican students to taste it and tell me what she thought.  She took a sip and made a face.  Then, she said, “I think you are supposed to add sugar to it.” DUH! But even after adding sugar, I realized that the horchata powder would quickly sink to the bottom.  If you shook it up and took a sip, you got a mouthful of grit.

I think I tried a liquid concentrate after that, but after having tasted horchata at my local taqueria, I realized that mixes would always be a poor substitute.  There’s supposedly a bottled version made by Rose’s Horchata that is the real thing – if I find it, I may try it.  Also, I just read that the people who make Rice Dream have added a horchata flavor. I’m all about the quick fix.

But, today I received in my Chow mail a recipe for a drink called “Squirrel Horchata”.  Briefly, I wondered about the powdered squirrel, but I quickly found that it was a cocktail made with horchata, dark rum, and Frangelico liqueur (a hazelnut liqueur). From there I quickly found some other agua fresca based drinks and cocktails.  But, today, we will only talk about horchata.

Horchata or orxata is the name for several kinds of traditional beverages, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley or tigernuts (chufas). Horchata, the Spanish way, using chufa is very different from Mexican horchata. Chufa, also called tigernuts can be ordered online. I remembered Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods trying it in Spain, and he did not like it at all.  Here is a video of his experience drinking Spanish Horchata.

Here is an article that features Salvadoran horchata, made with calabash, or morro, seeds.  It also talks about other horchatas.

First of all, here is a basic recipe for horchata (from the Food Network):

* 1 cup long grain white rice
* 2 cups skinless almonds
* 1-inch piece cinnamon bark
* 8 cups water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Ice cubes

Directions

Wash and drain the rice. Using a spice grinder (an electric coffee grinder works well too), grind the rice until fine; combine with the almonds and cinnamon bark. Add 3 1/2 cups water and let sit overnight, covered. Blend rice mixture until smooth using a blender. Add 2 1/2 cups of water and continue blending. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Strain horchata into a bowl first using a metal strainer and then a double layer of cheesecloth; finish with up to an additional 2 cups of water until it achieves a milky consistency. Enjoy over ice.

There are all sorts of variations.  Here are some of the recipes I have found:

-From Imbibe magazine, this horchata adds lime zest.
-From MexGrocer.com, a variety of agua fresca recipes includes a horchata made with skim milk.
Almond Horchata – no rice, just almonds.
-From Ingrid Hoffman, this one adds almond extract.
Brown Jasmine Rice Horchata – someone’s trying to make it healthy!
Indian Horchata with brown basmati rice and cardamom pods.
Horchata de Lima (Peru).
Horchata with Chocolate and Pumpkin Seeds from Saveur magazine
Horchata Rosa– the “rosa” refers to food coloring, not the crushed roses I was hoping to find.
White and Wild Rice Horchata from Garrett’s Table. “To make it, simply substitute 1/4 c. white rice for wild rice in the original recipe.”
-From the L.A.Times, horchata with toasted pecans and cantaloupe.
Barley Horchata – hmmmm.  AKA Horchata de Cebada (Barley).
Horchata de Avena (oatmeal) – at the bottom of the page. A picture of it is at the top.
Horchata de Venezuela – made with sesame seeds.

For a few minutes, I decided to do a search on Bubble Tea (boba tea) made with horchata.  Why not?  This boba tea recipe calls for rice milk anyway, why not substitute that with horchata?  There is also a chocolate version.

Basic Bubble Tea:
1 cup brewed black or green tea or espresso
7 to 8 ice cubes
1 cup rice milk or almond milk
sugar to taste
1/2 cup tapioca pearls

Instructions: Pour everything into a Martini shaker and shake for a few seconds. Pour into a large glass. Use this as a base and add anything you want to it such as nondairy cream, ground almond, or fruit juice.

You can make a chocolate almond variation by omitting the tapioca pearls and adding 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons ground almonds.

Horchata Chai sounds good, too!

-Variations on horchata at this website include “plain”, chocolate, and strawberry.
Strawberry Horchata from the California Strawberry Commission.
Peach Horchata from the Food Network.
This recipe uses cartons of organic vanilla rice milk and organic almond milk.
Cantaloupe Horchata uses the seeds of the melon instead of rice and almonds.
Coconut Horchata – really just fresh coconut, milk and sugar.
Yerba Mate and Horchata – okay… I was actually looking for green tea and horchata.

While searching, I also found horchata used in various dessert recipes:
Horchata Cupcakes
Frozen Horchata dessert
Horchata ice cream
Horchata ice cream With Canela and Pecans
Horchata Pudding
Cinnamon Horchata Cookies – second recipe down
Tonka Bean and Cinnamon Horchata Sherbet

Peruvian Yellow Beans, Part 2

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verdevallebeansperuanosI think this is my 3rd time cooking these beans.  I have found out a little bit about them, too.  Even though they are called peruanos, or Peruvian yellow beans, they are actually grown in Mexico and are also called Mayo Coba beans.

This time, I bought Verde Valle Brand beans, and pretty much stuck to the directions on the back of the bag.  It was pretty basic: 1 Cup beans + 9 Cups water = 4. But of course, being me, I cooked the whole bag (2 lbs.).  I soaked them overnight (the package suggested I keep them in the fridge.  When my husband came down to the kitchen, he said that the beans had soaked up all of the water, and he added a little more to cover them.

I had a lot of beef stock left over from making beef tongue the day before, which I reserved in a big bowl in the fridge.  I drained the beans and put them in my largest pot, then poured the stock on top of it.  I had bought some mild Mexican chorizo to use instead of the ham and turkey sausage I usually use, but I was a little surprised when it turned out that the “links” were plastic, and you had to squeeze the sausage out like toothpaste. So, it ended up looking like (very red) ground beef.  I added it to the pot with some sauteed onion and yellow bell pepper, then added a little more of my favorite new seasoning, Don Julio ground pepper and cumin.  I also added turmeric and garlic.

I brought the pot to a boil, then turned it down to simmer for 90 minutes. That was about right.  I siphoned off some of the stock – I like my beans thick.  I also added 2 Tablespoons of harina de masa to thicken it and took out a cup of beans and liquid and pureed it in the blender and added it back to the beans.  I just had some and they are great – maybe they need a little salt.  But they sure are yellow!

Mexican Green and Yellow Stew

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This morning (okay, noon) I got up and worked on more food.  My original plan was to add the beef tongue to the stew below, but decided it might be better to keep them separate and mix them in a burrito or over rice.

Mexican Green and Yellow Stew

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small poblano pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
6 nopal paddles, cleaned, de-spined and diced
2 medium yellow tomatoes, chopped
1 11 oz. can San Marcos Tomatillos, chopped
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 7 oz. can San Marcos Green Mexican Salsa
1 cube Dorot chopped garlic
1/2 cup Goya Recaito
juice of 1 lime
1 cup Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn
2 Tablespoons Maseca Harina de Masa
Don Julio Pepper and Cumin powder*, to taste
Cholula Chile and Lime Seasoning, to taste
Salt, to taste

1. Sautee onion, peppers and celery in a large pan or Dutch Oven.
2. Add other chopped vegetables and ingredients as they become ready: nopales, tomatoes, tomatillos, and cilantro and simmer until softer.
3. Add the can of Mexican salsa to the pan, along with the recaito, garlic, and lime and stir into the mixture.
4. Add other spices: Pepper and Cumin Powder, Chile and Lime Seasoning, and Salt to taste.
5. I add the Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn (which is frozen) last, because I don’t want it to lose its shape and “roasted” look.
5. I added the Masa Harina as a thickener.  It really added body to the mix.

I am eating this right now with brown rice and it is delicious – it may be a little tart for some, but I think that the addition of meat (tongue, for example) will balance that out.  I think that it would also be good in a soup, and I will try that later.

*I tried to find a link to the Don Julio products, but gave up.  I found this and some achiote powder in the Honduran section of my Mexican grocery.

Oh, I also found a recipe for Nopal Cactus Paddle Cake while searching – gotta try that!

Tongue in Slow Cooker, Part 1

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I know that I have spoken of beef tongue in the past.  Today, I thought I would try and record measurements and ingredients for my recipe.  Today was just the beef tongue braising day.  Tomorrow, I will add more ingredients to make a stew.

Tongue in Slow Cooker, Part 1

Place the following in 6 quart slow cooker:

1 beef tongue, 3 1/2 lbs.
4 cups Progressorecaito_1 beef broth, 4 cups
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
8 – 10 baby carrots, chopped in half
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Then, in 2 cups of water, dissolve and mix the following, then pour into the slow cooker over the tongue (tongue should be completely covered with liquid, so add water if needed):

3 – 4 Tablespoons Goya recaito
1 cube Dorot chopped garlic
1 cube Dorot chopped cilantro
1 Knorr mini seasoning cube parsley
1 Maggi Seasoning Cube, Cumin-flavoredmaggi_cumin_cubes

You may put the mixture in the microwave 30 – 45 seconds to speed the dissolving of the cubes, but it doesn’t have to all be dissolved to pour over the tongue.

And, of course you may use fresh parsley, garlic, and cumin if you like.  I do have to tell those that are sensitive that the Knorr and Maggi cubes have MSG in them.

Top with a bit of extra virgin olive oil poured into the slow cooker.

Cook on High for 1 hour, then change to low for 7-8 hours or until fork tender.

Here is a link to a good-looking beef tongue recipe for taco filling.

While looking for Maggi Cumin cubes, I came across CocinandoConNestle.com.  Anyone interested in Peruvian Chicken Stir Fry?  I know I am!  As for a definitive link, Maggi doesn’t have one.  I have seen them in the Latino food section of Super WalMart and at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.

I always keep three trays of Dorot frozen garlic, basil, and cilantro in my freezer.  I wish that Trader Joe’s would expand into the other products, such as chopped ginger, dill, and parsley.  dorotcilantroThere is even a Tex Mex mix.  I just read here that they are available at Ingle’s.  I will have to see it to believe it.

One other little tip – I have bought jars of the Goya Recaito and Sofrito sauces, and one of them went bad in my fridge.  One thing I think I could have done was to top it off with oil or water.  This time, I bought some small cubical containers and divided the jars among them and froze them.  I added a bit of water to the jar to make it easier to pour.  One jar filled about four little containers.  I am going to see if I can pop them out and put them in plastic bags so I can re-use my containers.

I have also strained out all of the veggies from my beef/tongue stock and am going to preserve that as well.  It smells delicious.

Inspired by: Ex Voto Hearts

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I do a lot of internet surfing.  I really like looking at E-Bay to see what’s for casabonam_1813_4470183sale.  I also collect images.  At first, I started collecting Mexican tin ornaments in the shape of hearts.  I had the images sorted according to what sort of ornamentation they had on them, and whether or not they were painted.  I then used them for inspiration for my Milagros line at CafePress.  I drew large copies of the hearts, then scanned them into my computer, where I worked on them in PhotoShop.  I loved the simplicity of the designs and they way they adapted well to my “digital quilting” style.

Later, as I refined my searches, I was able to find more intricate designs in heart ex votos.  An ex voto is an offering left at a church in gratitude or devotion.  These are often confused (interchangeable?) with milagros, with are charms made of metal or sometimes wood.  I collect the heart kinds, which seem to made in Peru mainly.  The Italian ex voto hearts are usually of the same style, with a traditional filigree surrounding the heart.  I find those less interesting than the Peruvian ex votos.

2e10_1I have lately done two collage pieces using these heart designs as models.  I construct templates to cut out the parts of the heart design, and place the heart on a background.  One example is my Montgolfier Milagro (in the background are hot air balloons, which were invented by the Montgolfier Brothers in France).  I will photograph and display the more recent one soon.

I have to say that I have loved hearts since I first saw Peter Max’s work.  I will qualify that I am pretty picky about my hearts, however.  I do not like the basic “country” heart.  I have to have some visual interest going there.  This is why I love the milagro hearts.  They are more ornate and original.

I cannot forget that my first designs I put up on CafePress were also based on hearts – My Valentines were black and white collages that I then colored.  I used to make valentines for family and friends with doilies and funky paper or cut outs from magazines.  Wow!  Me and hearts go back a long way!

Honk If You’ve Seen La Llorona…

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I have been cleaning up my studio and office and re-arranging my wall decoration.  I have all sorts of posters and things up there.  One of the things I came across was this bumper sticker.

la llorona bumper sticker

I know it’s not big, but I cannot currently use my scanner, so I had to go out on the web to get an image.  I have not put the bumper sticker on my car (yet), but I bought it because it is so different.  I bought mine on a visit to Houston, Texas at Casa Ramirez in the Heights.

At the time, I had done a lot of research on La Llorona for one of my lesson plans (here is the blog post) and recognized the illustration from Joe Hayes’ book.  I bought it a while ago on Amazon.com, but the book and the bumper sticker can be found at Cinco Puntos Press, Mr. Hayes’ publisher.  Here is the cover from the book:

la llorona joe hayes bookI believe his story is set in New Mexico.  I thought that it was interesting that the story is available on VHS and DVD.  I wonder if it is narrated by Joe Hayes, showing the pages from the book, or if it is a live performance that has been videotaped.  Oh, the illustrator is Vicki Trego Hill.

I may have to do a La Llorona themed poster for my CafePress Shop.