“La Olla de Amor”

I have one of these “cazuelas,” a clay pot or cazuela de barro, typically used for molé. Before you cook in it, it must be “seasoned” or “cured.” It entails a bit of necessary work, but well worth it. Quite different then seasoning your cast iron skillets where you add oil. Here you want to add moisture. 

Frijoles de Olla/Bean Pot

Pots are seasoned on top of stove, due to shape. I have always said, beans made in a “cazuela de barro” a clay pot, are a totally different flavor, and you will be hooked. Tagines can also be seasoned in oven. For Italian and Spanish cooking cazuelas, manufactures usually recommend merely soaking in water for 10-12 hours. Glazed pots are seasoned differently than unglazed. The glazed cazuelas are shiny. I will focus on unglazed molé cazuelas, as seen in picture above.

Unglazed Cazuela

For leaching white lead from the traditional clay cooking pots purchased in Mexico.
Fill the pot with water to about an inch or so from the brim, adding 1/4 c. of white vinegar to each cup of water used. (ex. 6 cups water/ 1-1/2 c. vinegar). Place pot in the oven at 100 degrees and leave overnight. Check the pot in the morning by dumping out the water and looking for a white or silver ring; the white residue is the lead leaching out of the clay. This procedure may have to be done several times until there is no visible lead residue.

Clay pots can go directly over stove or wood flame, but when using an electric stove use a metal diffuser under your pot.

As you know, I enjoy cooking. I also have an attachment to some of my favorite pots, pans or kitchen implements. I have some favorite pieces I inherited from Mi Mama. I also have Mi Abuelita, Elena’s rolling pin she used daily, to make flour tortillas.

Now go out and make some molé.

Abrazos y Besos

I Am Not A Food Writer

February 18, 2019


I don’t want to be viewed as a cook writing about food and sharing recipes! There are a thousand bloggers sharing recipes!

I stated this in a previous post: Navidad en Mexico y Aqui.

“It’s way to easy to Google a recipe for anything your heart desires! Although, my favorite topics are my “family memories” and “food” specifically comida Mexicana.” I once told a friend on Facebook, when he asked for a recipe that that “stressed me out!” Why? Because we never used recipes when cooking and I still don’t! I don’t measure anything! 

I was taught to cook by using my senses and heart! My sight, taste, smell, feel and even hearing. Yes, hearing! Recently, I had a conversation with a chef I highly respect. And, she shared that she does not allow music to play in her restaurant kitchen. Because she listens to the food! This blew my mind. I had never heard anyone express cooking that way. But, it is so true! You can tell the status of food by the sounds while on the stove; “it sings to you.” And, these sounds are only expanded in a restaurant kitchen. You can also tell what all the workers are doing, by listening to the “ music of the kitchen.”

 I have such fond recollections of helping Mi Abuelita, My Aunt Lupe and Mi Mama. It is a deep rooted passion. “La Cocina” is where I am most comfortable Hence, my “food memories,” and “food anthropology.”
And while I also enjoy knowing the history of food and a particular dish I don’t want to mix history while cooking. It gives me a headache!

 I am a story-teller and the thrill for me is in the “anecdotal meat,” if you will, no pun intended. Which makes it uniquely me! I also enjoy writing about so much more beyond Mi Familia, food and its history. I write about anything that grabs my fancy and touches my heart.

Abrazos y Besos

Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

Capirotada

Original Written February  18, 2015

Modified February 18, 2019

Every year, about this time, you can bet, I start thinking of Mi Familia’s y Mi Mama’s capirotada. A dessert made of toasted bread slices drenched in a sweet and spicy syrup. It is soft and sticky, but there were crunchy nuts, chewy raisins and a creamy tang to keep it from becoming cloying.
 Capirotada (the name comes from a friar’s hat). And, was originally eaten savory in Spain. Sometime after capirotada reaches Mexico it evolved into a sweet dish.
This is a traditional Mexican dessert that is eaten primarily during Lent. The actual ingredients in the dish all have a symbolism connected to Lent and Easter. 
The bread represents the Body of Christ, the syrup is his blood, the cloves are the nails of the cross, and the whole cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross. The melted cheese stands for the Holy Shroud
There are many recipes on the Internet. As a young lady, growing up in the San Joaquin Valley of California, I recall families that added sliced onions or tomatoes and I was flabbergasted! But, women traditionally used the most basic of ingredients to make this old world traditional dessert. 
Many, do not toast the French bread or birrotes. Which causes your capirotada to be overly mushy. My family always toasted the bread on a cookie sheet in the oven, spread with butter. Made the syrup. And added different fruits such as apple slices, banana slices, raisins and nuts. My family’s recipe usually used a cheddar cheese. I have tasted many many variations, all good. But, some families add eggs and milk. Making  it more of a traditional bread pudding with a custard. Mine did not, the syrup was made with water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, piloncillio and other spices. Many families add a layer of corn tortillas on the bottom, my family did not. And many families also add Monterrey jack cheese, mine did not. This is one recipe I found that seems to be a good starter.

 Enjoy


Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)

INGREDIENTS:

4 bolillo rolls or French rolls

4 1/2 cups water

12 ounces piloncillo or 1½ cups packed dark brown sugar

4 cinnamon sticks6 whole cloves

3 cups cheese (Longhorn Cheddar or Colby) shredded

1 cup raisins

4 tablespoons butter 

Add sliced apples, chopped apricots, bananas, prunes, etc.


DIRECTIONS:Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut rolls in ½ inch slices and butter both sides, layer on a baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes on each side, until lightly toasted and dry. Remove and cool.
Combine water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, creating a syrup. Simmer syrup uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 2 hours. Pour through a strainer and discard cinnamon sticks and cloves. Set syrup aside.
Butter your baking dish. Layer ingredients in the following order: a third of the toasted bread, third of the raisins, fruit of your choice, third of the cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Wait 15 minutes and layer another third of the bread, raisins, fruit, cheese, and 1 1/2 cups syrup evenly over cheese. Let soak for another 15 minutes, and again top with the remaining bread, raisins, fruit, cheese, and syrup evenly over bread. Before baking let set for another 15 minutes.Cover the dish with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and bake 40 minutes, uncover and bake until cheese is golden brown about 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve warm.

Abrazos y Besos

Conserve and Preserve


February 17, 2019
Recently I learned of this career and it transported me back to my tour of the Louvre, many moons ago. I recall passing a room encased in glass to be visibly viewed by all. The workers were preserving antiquities and masterpieces of statues and paintings. I could have stood there for days watching them. My soul was happy as I became them and visualized myself gently chiseling and gingerly touching-up a nose as if performing surgery with the precision of a surgeon or a forensic reconstructor.

High-tech meets timeless craft in the Madrid workshop of Factum Arte, where they’re re-imagining the art of preservation. Efforts to conserve ancient architectural culture.

Had I only known as a child that this type of art/career even existed. But, I am not one to dwell on “what ifs!”

Madrid workshop of Factum Arte

Abrazos y Besos

Christ Is Our Treasure, Not Our Homes

February 13, 2019

Christ Is Our Treasure, Not Our Homes
The home exists for Christ. Our marriages, our children, our physical spaces — all these are means of joyful response to Him. Through the home, we treasure Christ and show others how to treasure Him also Titus 2:3–5Proverbs 31:10–31

It’s been cold here, really cold. My bones anxiously await Spring.  You know what they say in Texas……”if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change!”We’ve been exploring Abilene and I’ve been feeling more comfortable here. Being I am a small town girl I like Abilene, it’s down to earth! And, I genuinely like Texans, they look at you in your eyes when you talk with them. Mi Corazón has been doing what he loves best from his childhood; hunting. We drive to Ozona, Texas to spend times outdoors. 

The Joy of Anticipating, I think at some point in our lives we all get the opportunity to do a little rebuilding. Be it a career, relationships or sandcastles. Augie and I feel amazingly blessed to have the opportunity to build our home.  I know we both felt our last home was our “forever home.” And never thought we would be building, but if it is our Lords will, we will abide. 

We made a list of the things we desired for maximum happiness “minimally.” Hope this makes sense we want a simple modern ranch or mountain home. That does not tie us down to it!  With a low maintenance yard and  zero landscaping. In order to focus more on our true passion; our Lord and traveling.
We searched and researched. We knew our place was out there.We have found our space and will begin building in the near future.
Nothing can be more fun than designing your dream home. I have performed all the steps on the list, etc. simple! I have this in excess and more! Ideas and thinking is free! I have the vision, I’ve looked through tons of architectural publications, toured countless neighborhoods, taken pictures, budgeted, kept a design notebook, know essential features and needs and drawn- up countless floor plans. Then I wad up the sheet of paper, changing my mind the next day, and start over! Although, I have met with an architect. Which is a sign of progress to me.

Recently, we met with our builder of our future home, (Hacienda Hug). Due to some unforeseen weather conditions, he will not finish his current project till about August. Then will start to build our home, to be completed about winter 2020.I was able to live in our 5th wheeler about seven months. We’ve decided to rent a small duplex in Tuscola. Population 746. Till our home is completed, to not endure another winter in our 5th wheeler! Thank you, Father. It is small, not even completed, brand new duplex. Just 23 minutes northeast of  Abilene. I am trusting in my Lord. Proverbs 24:3-4 ESV 

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

Abrazos y Besos



No Respect!

Written July 24, 2014-Modified January 27, 2019

Nothing brought me more joy than to hear my Mama making flour tortillas almost every morning. It was a rhythmic sound of music from the palote, it was my alarm clock, as I laid in the warmth of my bed. There was no sweeter sound, it was truly the music of my childhood. But, even more than the sound of the palote. Were the smells of those golden disks of heaven, that I would soon be enjoying with a scrambled egg. 

Many Mexicans do not have much respect for the flour tortilla. 

“Few foods are more contentious among Mexicans than the flour tortilla. People rhapsodize about the earthiness of a corn one hecho a mano (freshly handmade); high-end Mexican restaurants in the United States boast on social media about their use of heritage maize to create organic, non-G.M.O. versions. The corn tortilla is an easy symbol of pride, an elemental food that connects Mexicans to our indigenous past and ancestral homeland. Those made de harina (of flour), by contrast, are bastard children of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, a hybrid of the corn flatbread that has existed in Mexico for thousands of years and the wheat that the Spanish conquistadors brought over. Recent Mexican immigrants deride flour tortillas as a gringo quirk.”From Article in New Yorker.

My maternal Abuelita, Elena was from Northern Mexico. White flour tortillas reign supreme in Chihuahua. 

In the United States food purists view flour tortillas as “gavacho” food! But, then again I question who the food purists are and what their credentials are?

In Praise of Flour Tortillas, an Unsung Jewel of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

By Gustavo Arellano, January  13, 2018

But, this is not the case! If you believe this, you have not had a good flour tortilla. 

I realize there are many ways to make tortillas, as there are women. And, we have not even discussed the regional differences. I have even studied how many turns are required to make the perfect tortilla. Essentially, I can tell if a tortilla will be good based on the color. I saw many tortillas and cooking methods, growing up. I have also researched this topic extensively on Google. As soon as I read to whisk the flour, I left that post. You do not whisk nor use a pastry cutter or blender! I read another post that used a mixer with a dough hook! That did it, I put my hands up in the air! You use your hands, your best instrument in the kitchen. This is where a mother’s love, desires, dreams, aspirations, prayers, and blessings are imparted to the dough, for her family, through her hands. How can a machine do that? And, very few simple ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, water, and  lard. I realize people do not use lard in this day and age. It is with great reluctance and hesitation that I say you may substitute oil. But, to get the best tasting tortillas, go ahead an indulge, use lard. You also need a well-seasoned comal and just the perfect heat. I recall Mi Mama affectionately and proudly placed the tortilla in her best and cleanest dish towel, to keep warm. 

I also read this hint, while Googling. Hints to keep them soft and pliable! Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towels as soon as they are done 
cooking. This is so the tortillas don’t dry out. I do not believe this for one minute! If a tortilla 
has the proper amount of lard. They will remain 
soft, regardless! I have never seen this done!

I also realize, everyone thinks their Mamas’ are the best. And they are. I mean these are fighting words, to disrespect someones Mama’s tortillas!  A good tortilla has the right seasoning, perfect moist texture (not mushy inside) and color. Shape is for esthetic purposes, but necessary. To me it was totally insignificant, in my youth. “I don’t care if they’re square,” my Abuelito, Higinio would say, “they do not go into your tummy round!” As he supported my first attempts at tortilla-making. He was my biggest cheerleader! It’s not that I didn’t want to make them round, it was just difficult for me to maneuver the palote to take a spin with your wrist, to form a circle. A skill I never mastered. 
Tortilla-making is another lost art,  understandably, it was/is back- breaking work. When now, it is so easy to just pick up a dozen at the supermarket, but they’re not the same and can get expensive for very large families. I recall growing up seeing what they call ” altos de tortillas,” or high stacks as tall as a foot or more. Made early in the morning usually before 5:00 a.m., in preparation to send the family off to work in the fields, and enough for lunch and dinner.As a young girl whenever I helped my Mama make tortillas mi panza (my belly) was always white with flour. I just couldn’t stay clean and seemed to put all my body into making tortillas.
I loved when they inflated and got puffy, Mi Mama would say her heat was just perfect.

I have tasted many tortillas within the course of my life, with the texture of crispy chapatis (Indian flatbread) or very thick like naan. Don’t get me wrong I luv chapatis and naan, just different culture! 

Most women accompanied the family to work in the fields, and did not wish to return from a long day of work to make tortillas for dinner, that’s why they made so many in the morning. 

What I would give to have a tortilla or two made by Mi Mama. I recall we’d slather them with margarine (that’s what we could afford) and they were so delicious and nurturing. 

Abrazos y Besos

“El Olor de tu Sudor Huele a BIROTE”

Original Written April 11, 2015

Modified January 22, 2019

I have very special beautiful memories of watching my Abuelito, Pancho pack the BIROTE (also known as bolillo) rolls standing up in a basket. He placed this basket on his head and rode off on his bicycle to make his deliveries. I wish I had a picture of this fond memory.

Many of you know I come from a long line of family bakers on my paternal side. My grandfather was a baker, my father was a baker and this beautiful tradition continues today, with my family in Guadalajara.

My family has two humble bakeries in Guadalajara. The first my grandparents started in 1955. And, the second in Colonia San Rafael my father and his family started about 1969.

La Panaderia de
Mi Papa  y su Familia 
Birote Going into Oven
Birote- Rolls of Love

El Birrote is the foundation of Mi Familia-not the traditional corn tortilla. I recall them spreading the BIROTE with refríes beans for a delicious meal.

Birote Salado is similar to the bolillo however it has a thick, crunchy crust and softer interior which is more salty than sweet. Tortas ahogadas (tortas ahogadas are a hearty Mexican-style sandwich, made popular in Jalisco, typically filled with braised pork.)

Typically made with Birote Salado because consistency of the bread permits the sandwich to be submerged in sauce without crumbling or dissolving.

Dough Rising

All of my fondest smell memories are related to BIROTE as if tasting a fine Pinot Noir with a broad range of flavors, bouquets and textures. 
In order for BIROTE to be “good,” it must also pass the test of color, flavor, texture and sound (when you knock on it). It should be crunchy on the outside and elastic in the inside. Color must be just right. I so enjoy the smell of the yeast. I can almost smell it now.

Perfection
Enjoying My Family’s Birote

Making bread is an art. Anyone can make bread, but to make good bread takes many years of practice. 
My family makes the famous BIROTE from Guadalajara. As a child they never made sweet Mexican bread, they focused exclusively on the BIROTE. But, nowadays due to competition they need to make the more traditional sweet Mexican bread.  
Together with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), BIROTE manufacturers are to file a Denomination of Origin claim to protect the savory bread. Should they win the classification, the name BIROTE could only be used for bread produced in Jalisco, just as only agave-based drinks made in this or certain other states can be legally called tequila.Similar to champagne. 
BIROTE is produced almost exclusively in Guadalajara because the city’s climate and altitude give the bread a unique taste and texture that cannot be equalled in other parts of Mexico.It is thought that BIROTE’S origins date back to 1864, when a Belgian named Camille Pirrotte arrived in Guadalajara as a sergeant in the French army. Sent by Napoleon, the French briefly occupied parts of Mexico at this time.In a bid to win over the hearts and minds of the Mexican people, the occupying troops were ordered to teach them French culture and customs. Pirrote was in charge of teaching the locals to make French bread.
I recall being introduced to BIROTE as a little girl, of about two or three, at my family’s bakery. As I grew, and returned to Guadalajara with frequency to visit mis Abuelitos y familia. I recall helping Mi Abuelito make BIROTE (in retrospect I was probably just getting in his way.) But he never lead me to believe that. Mi Abuelito Pancho always welcomed me to play with the dough as a child. Bread is such a tactile experience and I enjoyed getting my hands into it! All of the children in our family are encouraged to start playing with the dough at a young age, in order to carry on the family tradition. 

Isis

Isis at Work
They make the traditional Rosca de Reyes known as Kingsbread or Epiphany Bread for January 6. 
My Cousin, Samuel making the Rosca de Reyes

This picture above are Roscas from la Panadería de Mi Papa y su Familia, aren’t they beautiful?

Once home, I have always sought that color, flavor, smell and texture that was engrained in my DNA, as if on a life quest I sought it. And, since I knew what “good bread” was, I would seek out Mexican panaderias, here. Never quite finding it. Bakeries here just never measured up! I’ve had some beautiful artisan breads from California to Europe. For awhile, I got on  the Acme bread kick, which was possibly the closest resemblance to my family’s in Guadalajara. It became difficult for me to acquire, then I got on a La Brea Bakery kick, since it was so-so and easily accessible. I must admit some of the French baguettes were phenomenal and took me back to Mis Abuelito’s humble Panadería Castorena. 

Historical Article on my Dad and 
his Family’s Bakery 
My Family Made These Roscas

I’m embarrassed to admit, I do not bake, only box cakes, and those are a rarity! I’ve always said, “I can cook, but not bake!

“Years later, when Hush Harbor opened in Atascadero, I fell in love with Donny’s bread. I think, his “starter” is one of the best I have ever tasted. It reminds me of my family’s BIROTE  in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

Go out and treat yourself to some Birote and you’ll understand what I am talking about.

Abrazos y Besos