Thursday, November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Poemas

Throwback in the sense that I wrote these almost seventeen years ago. Copyright of the poemas (poems), of course, belongs to me. Do not reproduce in *any* fashion without my express, written approval.

The Mariachi

Ay, ay, ay,
I sing every night.
"Mr. Mary-achee," says a little voice.
Señor Mariachi, I respond, fixing her español.
"Seenyor Maree-achee," (trying to sound like me--her papí)
"Can you play me a song?"
Sí, senorita. ¿What canción?
"America the Beautiful."
Chiquita, that's not a song for me. Tell me one that a mariachi sings.
"But I don't know any, Mr. Mary-achee."
Sí, yo sé hija. . . . I turned away, tears in my eyes, I know daughter. Yo sé.

The Mariachi, También: Hija
My papí--he's the mary-achee
He plays guitar and sings

He wears a big sombrero and pants--both black with pretty red and yellow
"Play me a song," everyone says.
So I did, too.
¿What canción?

A song--I thought and thought. Then I remembered the one from school, "America the Beautiful."
He cried and told me it's not a 
canción for him--a mary-achee.
I don't know why he cries. . . . I don't know a song for a mary-achee.

The Mariachi, Tercero
He plays me every night
Strumming his fingers over my strings
Plucking and picking, making the right sounds.
He sings, too.
A mariachi always does.
The beautiful music we make together, his hija does not know.
She sits and listens to the canciones, but still she does not know.
"America the Beautiful!"--he's never played that on my strings
Canciones--Celito Lindo, Alla en el Rancho Grande y El Rey . . . these are the songs of a mariachi
These canciones his hija does not know 

And with her proper English and poor español, she never will.

¡Hasta la proxíma vez! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Abuelita or Schoolmarm?

I just can't stop myself on wordless Wednesday. 

I'm not sure who's abuelita this is, but she looks nothing like my grandmother. And as a matter of fact, she looks more like an old English schoolmarm than anything else. I mean look at that teacup . . . a teacup for hot chocolate . . . c'mon!

Maybe that's what happens when Nestlé conjures up the image of a grandma--silly Swiss (LoL)! You'll also note that this is a bar form. The kind we had as kids were in a hexagon shape and they were thick stacked bars. You can still find it in those bars, which I think are easier to use than this long bar because for starters they're individually wrapped. This is one whole bar and much harder to break apart.

Nonetheless Abuelita still makes some good hot chocolate, and now that it's getting colder, I'll have to whip some up and share the recipe soon!

¡Hasta la proxíma vez! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Receta: Frijoles charros

Today's recipe is one of my favorite to make because it is so easy. It can be served as a side dish to accompany enchiladas or mole or can just be eaten by itself as a soup, which is one of my favorites, especially on a cool day.

To start with you need pinto beans. For this I used a one-pound bag of beans. Some stores have beans in a crate that you can measure and bag yourself, but those didn't look so good when I checked.

One-pound bag of pinto beans
Next you take the beans out of the bag, put them in a colander and rinse them well. You are removing traces of dirt and also looking for "bad" beans or other debris that may have found its way into the beans.

Rinsing the beans
Finding bad beans and debris (i.e., rock)
 Once you have thoroughly rinsed your beans and fished out all the bad beans, which look very wrinkled, are darker, or the skin comes off, you place the beans in a large pot or olla (sometimes called a jaro) and cover them with water. You put about twice as much water as there are beans. Then you put it on the stove, cover, and cook on low for about two hours, checking to see how your beans are progressing.

Beans in the pot, with twice as much water as beans.
Beans on the stove, covered, on low heat
Cooking beans

When the beans start to lose their markings and are still a little hard, it is time to add the rest of the ingredients.These include bacon, garlic, onion, tomato, and cilantro. Some people also add jalapenos to their beans, I don't care for them that way. But if you like your beans with a little kick, the beans can definitely be made that way.
Other add-ins

I suggest a good thick cut bacon for beans because it adds a good amount of flavor to the beans. You take about four slices, cut them up, and then cook them on the stove in a frying pan.

Cut up bacon
Frying up bacon
 While the bacon is frying, it is a good time to chop up the vegetables, about a 1/2 cup of onion, 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, and about two tomatoes.

Chopped up veggies
 When the bacon is about cooked, add both the onion and garlic to cook them up as well. 

Adding garlic and onion to the bacon to cook.
Then it's time to finish cutting up the tomatoes and cilantro.
Tomatoes and cilantro
 Add the bacon, garlic, onion, tomato, and cilantro to your beans, add salt--but be careful because the bacon does add some salt--to your beans. You may have to add a little more water to your beans, depending on how soupy you like them. Cover the pot and continue to cook for another hour or so on low heat until the beans are completely soft.

When you're done and served up, your frijoles charros should look something like this:

Ready to eat!

Let me know if you try this recipe or how you like to make your frijoles.

¡Hasta la proxíma vez! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Wind Chimes

I feel like I hit the ground running this morning and have just now been able to sit down for a minute and put thoughts to paper (well Web paper).

It's Halloween and although it's not one of my favorite holidays it is on the eve of Día de los Muertos, which is a time that I do look forward to. I spent my morning cleaning house and finding things to put the finishing touches on the altar.

I was thinking of something to write about, which is hard to do when you're cleaning and putting things together--my mind raced in all kinds of directions trying to not forget anything. And because it was a cool morning, I decided to open the house up and let some of the fresh air in. I've said before I just love fall days for this very reason--wind, cool, but still warm enough in the day to wear shorts and flip-flops.

After I opened the house up, the wind rustled the leaves on the trees and for some reason that sound always reminds me of my grandmother's house. Maybe it's because unless it was bitterly cold, she usually had her whole house opened up all the time--no air conditioning. So when I heard the leaves rustle, I just stopped for a minute and waited.

What I was waiting for, I wasn't entirely sure. And then there was silence after the leaves stopped rustling and it came to me, there were no wind chimes. My grandmother LOVED wind chimes and always had them around--in the front, in the back . . .  EVERY WHERE.

So I went looking for wind chime sounds because I don't have one, and this came as close as anything to the sound I remember. We'd take naps with the windows open and the leaves would rustle and if it was windy enough, the wind chimes would sound.

Such a weird thing I'm finding that so many of my senses--smell, sound, and taste--have memories of their own. It's a magical thing on some levels.

¡Hasta la proxíma vez! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Receta: Salsa Roja

I know, I didn't think I'd get to this either, but it's time for another receta (recipe). This is one of my favorite red salsas to make, especially during football season. There's just something about chips and freshly made salsa that satisfies that need to munch while you watch your favorite team squirrel away their hopes of winning a game or pounding the other team into oblivion. . . .

Ingredients for Mild Salsa
4 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup onion
1/4 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
La Costeña canned jalapeno slices
salt to taste

I have used a mini chopper in the past, but prefer a blender because it holds more. So I start off with two Roma tomatoes (tops and bottoms cut off) and then I roughly cut them up into smaller pieces.

Two Roma tomatoes
Two Romas, cut into pieces

 Then I cut up onion, cilantro, and garlic.
Onion, rough chop.
Cilantro, rough chop
Garlic, two cloves, rough chop

At this point, I put everything in the blender and decide that I need to add two more Roma tomatoes.

Two more tomatoes; rough cut these too.
This is what it all looks like in the blender:

Salsa ingredients in the blender.
At this point, I add salt. It really is to taste. So I start off with maybe 1/4 teaspoon. But now, it's time to add the jalapenos. I like my salsa mild where I can enjoy the flavors with a little amount of heat, so I use a toddler spoon (no joke) to add the jalapenos and most importantly, some of the juice to my salsa ingredients.

My preferred brand of jalapenos for salsa
jalapeno slices
Salsa, ready to blend.
I know you may be asking why I would choose to use canned jalapenos slices as opposed to fresh jalapenos. Well, for starters, they're already cut up, so I don't run the risk of burning my hands or stinging my eyes while I chop. Additionally the "pickled juice" also helps keep the salsa when it's the refrigerator. (Also, if you want hotter to start with, use Herdez brand. They are hotter.)

Now it's time to blend:
Whirr, whirr in the blender.
Also, I suggest tasting after your first blend to make sure your salt content is OK and also to check for "hot" level. I prefer to use Tostitos Round bite-size chips. These chips are not too salty and provide a nice base for tasting the flavors in the salsa. After a taste test, I decided I need a few more jalapenos.

Adding more jalapenos
Blend in new jalapenos and taste again. That last little bit completes this batch of mild salsa. It is also mild enough for my children to eat it.
Look at all that yummy goodness!

I also have to make a batch for the hubby because he likes his much hotter than I do. So this is what the blender looks like when I make his salsa (more garlic, more onion, and the rest of the can of jalapenos and all the juice was used).

DH's salsa, ready to blend.
Whirr, whirr in the blender
DH's salsa . . . notice more green
He prefers Julio's Mexican Tortilla chips with his salsa. Let me know if you try this recipe or if you have any tips for when you make your own salsa.

¡Hasta la proxíma vez! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday: The House Shoes

It's fall, which is one of my favorite times of year, not because the leaves turn colors and fall from the trees (not many trees around here to do that) or because I like pumpkin anything, because I don't really care for many pumpkin foods. But it's because in the morning, it's so cool and crisp and by the afternoon it's generally warm enough and with abundant sunshine that it's the perfect mix of days. And in the mornings when I have the house to myself, I'll usually be found sitting at my desk sipping hot tea and wearing a pair of fuzzy socks. I'll be honest, I pretty much detest shoes. I'm either in a pair of flip-flops, barefoot, or if the weather's cool, fuzzy socks. And that's how I am this morning, cup of tea and pink fuzzy socks, working on getting my brain fired up to do some work.

As I sat here trying to figure out what I wanted to write about, the train that goes through the center of town--or what was once the center of town--and that you can hear for quite away reminded me of the train by my grandmother's house. I know I've mentioned it before but there seems to be no memory of my grandmother's house that does not include the sound of the train passing by or us stuck waiting for the train to pass so we could cross the tracks to get to her house or so we could leave from her house.

But today's not about the train, it's about the shoes, house shoes to be exact. Whereas I like to run around barefoot at home, my grandmother always had a pair (or six) of house slippers that she wore around the house and outside. I know that at some point they were certainly brand new, and I recall when I was older that my parents would buy her new house slippers, but the ones I remember most were the softly worn ones that had walked back and forth across the house from the bedroom to the kitchen and from the kitchen to the outside utility area to the washer and dryer and back again in circles all over the house and yard. And for some reason I only seem to recall those shoes in a light blue color; maybe that was her favorite color? They were the type of house slippers that didn't have the toes covered--they were open. And her perfectly colored red toenails peaked out over the top.

They looked kind of like this when brand new:

This image is not mine; I claim no copyright and it can be found here

They may or may not have been ribbed like this, but you get the general idea, except now imagine that they have been worn most days and they have been broken in to the point that they are still comfortable. Those would be my grandmother's house shoes.

It's weird to me, especially as I write this, to think of the simple things--house shoes and her painted red toe nails--that I seem to recall about my grandmother the most. Although there are also scents; it's weird how the nose has a memory, too, but that's for another day.

I'm off to enjoy my fuzzy sock day; enjoy yours in your house shoes, if you've got them, or your fuzzy socks, rain boots, tennis shoes, or high heels.

¡Hasta la proxíma vez! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Exprimidor

I recall my grandmother having one of these--or many of these as the years wore on. On a whim last spring, I set out to make my own fresh-squeezed lemonade so I bought a handheld juicer from a local store. It was a pretty red and smooth and had a good handle, but when I got it home I realized it was actually too bulky for me to be able to juice properly and didn't juice well either. So the next time I went to the mercado, I bought me one of these, un exprimidor de limones (lime juicer). 

It's easier to handle, juices much better, and was a fraction of the cost I paid for the one I got at the store. More importantly, it's just like the one my grandmother had and reminds me of her. And as I note, I found that I like limonada made with limes and not lemons . . . I'll have to remember to post that recipe when it gets hot again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday: The Front Porch

Ah, time for me to blog . . . as in it's been forever since I blogged and I actually have time to sit down and write.

Time is a funny thing; it can go by quicker than you realize and then another day, time just drags by as the minutes slowly click off the clock. You're young one day and the next day you wake up and you're forty, but it feels like you're still twenty-eight.
- - - - -

I suspect like many families during a different time and place, my grandmother's front porch was a special place during the afternoons, evenings, and well into the darkness of most any night.

I remember as a child sitting on the edge of the porch, watching my feet dangle without touching the ground. Of course, I was relegated to a seat on the ground because there were only four, sometimes six, chairs on the front porch, two on each side of the front door on opposite sides of the porch and occasionally one or two in front of the window facing the street.

I recall my grandmother always sitting on the left-hand side of the porch (where, if you weren't careful, you could hit the person sitting next to her with the screen door). Maybe she sat in that somewhat-precarious spot because you could see all the people coming over the railroad tracks and down the street toward the house. And if they saw her sitting there, they'd stop by and visit for a while.

There were so many times I recall that everyone sat outside, visiting, feeling the breeze sweep across our faces while the younger-than-me kids ran around from the backyard to the front yard, playing chase games.

There were the Fourth of July festivities that we gathered for at my grandmother's house. Her house was perfectly situated to see the fireworks that they'd launch from Amigoland Mall, which was just a hop, skip, and drive over the old bridge to Matamoros. And there was that one Fourth of July (or maybe there were more) that my mother and her brothers (as adults) decided to launch fireworks from the empty lot across the street. Luckily no one burned anything down or got hurt in the process, but it does make me wonder the crazy stuff they did as children.

The kids would get sparklers, and we'd write our names in the sky with those. And then there was the watermelon. Grandma could cut (gut?) a watermelon like no one I've ever seen before or since. We'd all end up with these huge wedges of watermelon out of just one melon. How she did it, I don't know, and I still wonder in amazement (and shiver in fright) at her skill with a knife.

We'd all take our wedges of watermelon out on the front porch where we'd sit around the edge and spit the seeds out into the yard, waiting for the fireworks to start.

But what I remember most about her front porch--other than all the neighborhood and family gossip and meeting all kinds of family I'd never met before on that front porch for the first time--were the chairs. From year to year and season to season that woman only seemed to want a certain kind of chair on her front porch, replacing them only when they'd finally rust out.

I ran across similar chairs just this past week, and I was instantly taken back to sitting on grandma's front porch listening to the adults talk while I sat there and tried to piece together what they were saying.

I miss those days on the front porch . . . and how in my younger days and naivete thought there'd always be another visit on the front porch with grandma and my aunts and uncles.

And now all I have are memories and pictures of similar chairs . . .

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I saw this the other day . . . who can resist a t-shirt mentioning the time-honored tradition of grandmas the world over (or at least my grandma)! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Return & Retread . . .

Hiatus has lasted longer than I expected, sorry about that. And blogging may still be a little more sporadic than I planned (Tues, Wed, Thurs) when I set out to first do this, BUT I am still alive.

Today's post is one that I wrote several years ago, I've modified it only a little. I know some of you may wonder why I usually only mention my grandmother or my grandparents together and hardly, if ever, my grandfather, maybe this will help explain some.

- - - 
The day I got the phone call saying that my grandfather died was bittersweet, because the truth be told, I had lost him years before that day in May 1995.

In my mind, he will always be the man I remember as a child and a teenager. You know when you're younger, things around you aren't always what they seem or what you understand them to be. I remember being three or four years old and visiting my grandparents house, and my grandfather would walk my sister and me down to the little neighborhood tienda (store) a few blocks away to get a treat. As we walked in, everyone would greet my grandfather, come and shake his hand, and "talk his ears off." My grandfather, unbeknownst to me at the time, was somebody--a somebody that had a life before he was my grandfather.

Me (left), my grandpa, and my sister (right), 1975.
As a young man, mantequilla (butter), as he was known, was a pitcher for a local baseball team. Mantequilla because his pitches were smooth, like butter. He played baseball for several years, often traveling to different cities in both the United States and Mexico for games. And you might can imagine my surprise, when I began researching and I found his name in various newspaper scoreboards . . . he was a good baseball player.

As an older man he was a delivery driver . . . and perhaps it was his baseball "fame" or just that he had grown up in the same neighborhood he lived in all of his life, that everywhere he went, people greeted him and talked talked his ears off.

Perhaps, it was his keen sense of humor that drew people in. In his sixties, he took his first ever plane ride for a visit he and my grandmother made to see my aunt and her family in southern California and my mother and our family in central California. I remember one afternoon he was teaching my brother and me how to play "dice" (I imagine he'd played it a time or two for money); the radio was playing in the background and then that song from Footloose, "Almost Paradise" came on. He turned to us with the dice shaking in his hand and a twinkle in his eyes, "Almost pair-of-dice, get it? Pair-of-dice?"

So many memories flood my brain when I think of my grandfather, and I only wish that as he neared the end of his life he could have remembered those and so many more.

My grandfather, like many older Americans, suffered from Alzheimer disease. My family and I watched as the simple, Sundowners Syndrome (his hallucinations began when the sun went down) developed into full-blown Alzheimer disease that required constant nursing attention. The vibrant, often witty man, with his own brand of humor disappeared slowly at first, and then more rapidly, in front of our eyes. He was replaced by a man who did not always recognize his wife, his children, or his grandchildren and was unable to care for himself, eventually dying from complications of that disease.

- - - 

In the end, it’s about remembering the people around us, our own strengths and abilities, and a lifetime of memories.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


As a result of some scheduling issues, there will be no new blogs until May 28th (date subject to change). 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Toast at Grandma's

This morning started out earlier than normal with a kiddo climbing into bed with me because of a bad dream. And then said kiddo proceeded to ask me if it was time for breakfast yet. . . . finally, I relented and got up.

When we made our way to the kitchen, I asked what was for breakfast. The reply, "toast." I congratulated myself because I had obviously come across as a woman who requested a no-hassle breakfast request. 

And as I put the bread in the toaster I was suddenly reminded of my grandmother. A morning, as I recall, that my sister and I were at her house when my parents went out of town (which happened like once in my childhood). I was maybe four years old. I woke up, got dressed and cleaned up, and went into the kitchen. Now, in my kitchen, walk in and make yourself some coffee (which I don't drink), tea (which I sometimes drink), or breakfast (which I usually don't make or eat), but in my grandmother's kitchen, you just didn't walk in and do anything.
Me, about three, on swing set

So she was tending to my breakfast. She might have asked me what I wanted (I was one of her favorites) or it's entirely possible that she  decided what I was going to eat. She had already decided what I was going to drink, café (coffee). OH yes, my grandmother was that grandmother--the one who doesn't listen when the mother asks to please refrain from serving her child coffee and the like. Yeah, my grandmother pretty well did what she wanted, especially in her own kitchen. 

This morning I was having toast. I recall sitting at the table (covered in plastic, by the way) with my sister as I waited for my bread to toast. It was bright in the kitchen; the sunlight was streaming in through the window above the sink and the window over by the stove, and the back door was open. And then in a flash, the toaster buzzed and out shot the toast. I don't mean a little bit, but literally flew in the air as if it had been shot from a rocket. It was the craziest thing and scared us silly. But we all had a good chuckle about it.

And so when I pushed the lever down on the toaster this morning, I couldn't but help smile a just little at the memory of toast at my grandmother's house. . . . 

¡Hasta la proxíma vez!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

This muñeca (doll) is one of the many kinds of dolls I remember from my earliest trips into Mexico (at that point, only Matamoros) when I was a child. The dolls are so simple, and yet they are played with for hours.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Salsa Verde: Recipe

After Sunday night's meal, I had some leftover chicken, just enough to make chicken tacos. But no chicken taco (or lots of other food) is complete without some salsa verde (green salsa). So I decided to whip up a batch.

Salsa Verde
salsa verde ingredients

2 lbs tomatillos
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup onion
4 serrano peppers
1/8 cup lime juice

First, tomatillos are not the same thing as green tomatoes. So be sure that you are buying tomatillos. Usually you can tell that they are tomatillos and not tomatoes because they are wrapped in a husk and are usually smaller, especially this time of the season.


This recipe calls for the ingredients to be broiled (roasted), so turn on the oven to broil while you're preparing the ingredients. Now it's time to work on the tomatillos. The first step is to take the husks off of the tomatillos and rinse the tomatillo well with water. They will be sticky and may even have dirt on them, so be sure to rinse them well. Then cut the tops off and cut them in half (if they're larger size).

peeling the tomatillo
Next separate and cut into pieces 3 cloves of garlic; halve the 4 serrano peppers (deseeding some if desired); and cut into pieces the 1/2 cup of onion. Then arrange them all on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

ready to roast
Place the cookie sheet under the broiler (or in the oven) and broil until the tomatillos are charred, soft, and clear juice is running from them. The other ingredients will char, too, but will have a good roasted flavor to them. Depending on the size of your tomatillos, this can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes. But I would advise that you remain vigilant to get the charring you want and not burn it all.

ingredients in blender

From this point, the salsa is almost made. Place all the tomatillos, onion, garlic, and cilantro into a blender. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add three halves of the serrano peppers and blend well. Add the lime juice and then add more serrano peppers to desired potency. Blend well. When it is all blended, pour into a refrigerator safe bowl to allow to cool. 
salsa ready to be cooled.

For this batch of salsa: I deseeded three halves of the serranos I had, because I wanted their roasted flavor without the heat. So in the end, I used all but one half of the serrano pepper, which was still seeded. When you first taste the salsa I made, you taste the lime but by the end of the bite you have the wallop of the serranos.

As I said, I had leftover chicken so I put my salsa verde on chicken tacos, complete with avocado, cilantro, and queso fresco. It can be used on a variety of dishes, including huevos (eggs) and chilaquiles or migas or just as a stand-alone to eat with chips. The salsa will keep for up to about a week in the refrigerator but does lose its potency the older it gets. A quick side note, although this may look like the sauce that is used in green enchiladas, it is not quite the same recipe.

chicken tacos with salsa verde

¡Hasta la proxíma vez!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Kick-Start

The week's gone by much faster than expected, and it caught up with me this morning when it occurred to me that I forgot to pull the roast out of the freezer yesterday so that I could cook it today. Now I will have to improvise the dinner meal. . . . 

This sort of thing never happened to my grandmother. She woke when the rooster crowed in the morning. I'm serious, although I don't know if it was her chickens that woke her. I do think that when I was older that it was the neighbor's chickens that woke me when we'd visit. 

But she just got up and got going and got breakfast started. And most of the time a pot of beans for lunch (and dinner) was already on the stove while she was making breakfast. I don't know how she did that day in and day out. Albeit, probably less so when I was older and her children were all out of the house.

Even so, I've got five less children than she did and I can't remember to pull the roast from the freezer for one meal, let alone get up early enough to have breakfast ready for the hubby and children before they're off to work and school. Let alone have something started for lunch by the time the clean up for breakfast is all done.

Oh and she cooked all three meals, too, every day. I've said it before and I'll say it again . . . I am better fitted for life now than for life then. Truthfully, she didn't know another way; no one did because there wasn't another way.

Maybe it was simpler then, easier, in a way. I mean it was a long way from the dirt floors she used to sweep as a child. Still I sometimes wonder what she'd think of my life and how much things have changed. For example, how the carne picada I made this week wasn't the full cut of meat minced with a machete like she used to make or how I managed to forget to defrost the meat I'd planned to feed my family this evening. And how I most definitely do not wake up at the crack of dawn and just get started like she used to.

She wasn't all work; I remember going to her house for lunch and Days of Our Lives was on the TV at the noon hour or how she'd sit and watch Dallas on Friday nights. She'd visit over the fence line with her neighbor and get the neighborhood gossip or how she'd always have "napoleon" ice cream in her deep freezer by the window, which I was sure was just for me.

I know it's not always that simple, the differences between her world and mine, and that she had good days and bad days like I do. . . . And mostly, I think, I'm just thankful that there's not a rooster around to kick-start my days.

¡Hasta la proxíma vez!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Changing my MO for Wordless Wednesday and adding words. I know, it really defeats the wordless aspect of the whole thing, and truly I'm kicking myself for it but I just can't stop.

These are jarritos . . . different than last week's jarritos but related all the same. These are made of clay (guanaclay) and are considered mini-decor items (see the holes in the platos [plates], you can run a string or ribbon through and hang all the pieces as decor). 

However, as a child I used to put agua (water) in them and play "restaurant" or pretend to cook and serve my siblings. And now that is what my children do with them, although they have not gotten to the point where they put agua in them yet. It will come to them, I'm sure.

And these jarritos, which literally translates to "little jugs," are related to the carbonated beverage Jarrito (from last week's truly Wordless Wednesday) because the soft drink was named Jarrito in reference to the tradition of drinking agua and aguas frescas (fruit-flavored water) from clay pots to keep them cooler longer. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Picadillo (Carne picada con papas): Receta

This is a fairly easy recipe and is good to eat, too. Around here you can even buy it in a burrito from many of the local quick-stop burrito places. Because this was only for a lunch meal and just for two people, I did not make a lot, so bear mind you may have to double the recipe.

Picadillo (Carne picada con papas)
ingredients for picadillo
1 pound ground sirloin
1 medium potato
1/2 medium salad tomato
1/2 medium bell pepper
1/8 cup onion
1/8 cup cilantro
1/3 can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
1 clove of garlic

Begin by add mixed spice, clove of garlic, and enough water to get spices wet in your molcajete and grinding it down, until it looks something like this:
ground spices
Then cut up the half of the tomato and bell pepper and the little bit of onion and cilantro:

vegetables (note: cilantro not pictured)

Next, peel the potato and cut it up. For years I would cut it into pieces the way the tomato and bell pepper are done. However, after a discussion with my mother I remembered that she used to do it in slices, so I thought I'd give that a go this time. I much prefer it this way because as the potato cooks it breaks into pieces.

potato, sliced

It is time to start cooking. Place ground sirloin in a 10- or 12-inch skillet and brown it, cooking it thoroughly on medium heat. 
ground sirloin, cooked
I usually cook it down until most of the liquid (water, grease) is gone and it's almost dry. Now, add tomato, bell pepper, onion, and cilantro to the ground beef and stir, letting it cook for just a minute.

Top, add vegetables; bottom, vegetables mixed in
Add the ground spices by tilting molcajete over the pan, and pouring 1 cup of water over them so that they slide into the pan. Stir spices in, adding about 1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste) as well. Then place the potatoes on top of the mixture and add another 1/2 to 1 cup of water. The water does not have to cover the potatoes, just enough that it covers the meat. And if you have tomato sauce on hand, use about a 1/3 of a small can to give it some more color.

potatoes on top
When it starts to boil, turn down the heat to low and cover with a lid. Cook it down for 30 minutes; stirring occasionally (this is when the potato slices will break into pieces). When you are done, your picadillo will look something like this:

picadillo, done

This picture was taken immediately after I took the lid off after 30 minutes; you can continue to cook it down for a few more minutes until more of the liquid is gone. I actually let me sit covered for about 30 minutes before I served it and much more of the liquid had been absorbed. 

As a note my mother says that you're not supposed to serve picadillo with rice because it already has potatoes in it; however, I love to mix it with rice all the same. So I usually fix a small batch of rice to go with it. It is served with refried beans and we usually have flour tortillas with it; however, my mother has now said that corn tortillas with every dish is how she grew up. But I distinctly remember her serving us flour tortillas with this dish, and so that is how I serve it.

Let me know if you try this recipe out and how it works for you or if you have any variations on it (like peas or carrots in the picadillo).

¡Hasta la proxíma vez!