Archive for January, 2009

a quick trip to Missouri

January 20, 2009

Well, the new year has started as a hectic, whirl-wind of events.  We hosted some friends from San Francisco for a few days, attended a very nice wedding in Mexico City and I then received word that my grandfather was very sick.

I left  Mexico City for Missouri, and landed in a shocking cold front.  My grandfather passed away on January 13th and all of his grandchildren were able to attend the visitation and funeral.  I am sad, but it felt good to be with family.  I was also reminded by a friend today to be thankful for my current job (which I am) and had I been still with my previous job I would have had to fight to leave for a week (I would have quit on the spot).

I was able to spend a good amount of time with my grandma and we worked on a particularly frustrating jigsaw puzzle.  I wanted to have more time to look through the recipe box she showed me, but this visit wasn’t particularly conducive to reading recipes.

There was a lot of good food, stories and photos.  And, I am thankful for all of them.


January 7, 2009

I have been seeing these things in the food stalls around town and I just haven’t been able to figure them out. The food stalls here are very seasonal and I remember these things from last year.

They are green and steaming, appear to be a pod of some sort and sold in little bags. Usually the stand is also selling roasted peanuts. My first thought is fava beans, but I know that favas are called habas here. I asked Adolfo several times if they are habas and he always says no, but can’t tell me what they are – except that he doesn’t really like them… not unusual.

So, we recently had some visitors in town for a day and a half and they were also commenting on these things. And, finally, I was motivated to the dictionaries. First up, the International Gastronomic Dictionary in Spanish – no dice. Second, the Concise Oxford Spanish Dictionary (Spanish and English) – nothing. Finally, I looked in the Diccionario de Mexico. Jackpot!

Guasanas: Toasted green garbanzo beans that are sold in the streets of Jalisco.

Of course Adolfo doesn’t like them, he HATES garbanzo beans!

Now I’ve got to get my hands on some before the season ends.

Tamales and Clay Pots

January 1, 2009

The family came and went and we ate and ate and ate.  There was turkey and bacalao and romeritos with shrimp cakes and escargot and panela and sopes and on and on and on.  Adolfo and I are trying to radically shift our eating habits back into the norm, but we have so many leftovers in the fridge that we are still eating lots of meat and very few vegetables.

Yesterday a friend invited me over to her house to help make tamales for New Year’s Eve.  I grabbed a box of picadillo out of the freezer and headed over for the afternoon.  She did a couple things with the dough that I don’t remember seeing before, but that make a lot of sense.  The first is the addition of some baking powder.  I think this makes the dough steam up a little lighter.  And the second is the addition of some rice flour.  I’m not sure exactly what the rice flour does, but I like the end results.  She also added a few ice cubes to the mix while we were beating the lard and masa (dough) together.  Keeping the dough cold is probably good for the lard and makes for a slow addition of icewater, which was also needed.

In addition to the picadillo tamales, we made some of beans and cheese, pinapple and strawberry.  I haven’t tried the pinapple or strawberry, yet, but I’ve been promised a couple.  The dough turned out better than many tamales I have tried.  And, my friend’s son (14 mo. old) whipped through half a picadillo tamale before getting fussy and needing a nap.  I think that was an endorsement.

The other exciting thing that happened recently was that Adolfo and I happened upon an abandoned nursery with a crew of guys hauling stuff away.  We stopped and asked if we could take some of the left over pots and they said no problem as they were headed for the dump anyway.  So, I came home with seven new clay pots of various sizes and shapes.  I’ve already planted lettuce, radishes and onions and I’m making plans for the rest of them.

Happy New Year to you all.