Red or Green?

May 10, 2019
Red or Green?
I have always been intrigued with chilies, how to cook with them and what chilies go with what dish.
Chili peppers are fundamental flavour-building ingredients in Mexican cuisine, 
I’m pretty well versed with the chilies used throughout Mexico and California. Such as the:
Ancho or dried poblano
Pasilla aka chile negro
Chile de Árbol
But, are you familiar with some of Oaxaca’s rare chilies, such as:
Chilhuacle Negro
Chilhuacle Rojo
Chilhuacle Amarillo
Chilcosle Chilies
Taviche Chilies
Pasilla de Oaxaca
Chile de Agua
From Vera Cruz:
Chile Comapeno
From San Juan Potosi:
Chile de Cambray
I’ve always been familiar with New Mexico Hatch Chile. Even as a child my Mama’s best friend Teya Yáñez introduced us to Hatch Chile from New Mexico.
“Red or green?” is the “official state question,” and the color of your chile preference will reveal your roots as a northerner or a southerner in the state.
As for me, it will always be red; I love those rich deep flavors.
Recently, while in New
Mexico for Easter I purchased some Hot Chimayo Chile Powder at Farmer’s Market. I was not familiar with this chile.
I was able to smell it and it was smokey.
I recently made enchilada sauce  from it and I was very impressed with the flavor it was sweet and hot. The smokiness seemed to dissipate.
Well I’m hooked. Of course I had to start researching some of New Mexico’s chilies.
And I learned of these:
Big Jim




So much to learn. I recall having a college professor who told me Raquel you would be great at doing research, I may have missed my calling.

Abrazos y Besos

There Are Prayers That Are Groans!

April 12, 2020

It was the 1970’s. I was 17 years old. I was protesting generations of abuse of a Mi Tatara abuela, Mi Bisabuela, Mi Abuela, Elena y Mi Mama, Elena.

I left home angry; this was a response to not having a voice… not feeling heard, as well as the restrictive societal norms and gender roles of my community (Mexican), a sense of injustice and a feeling of being controlled. On a more personal level I had seen my Mama beat by my father. I was also aware of her struggles as a single Mama.
This anger propelled and compelled me!
Remember, I was 17 years old, heck I was protesting everything and everyone.
Once away at college, I was pretty much in the front lines of women libber marches, rallies and protests. Protesting and protecting what I thought were my rights and my ability to control my body! Carrying the sign boldly, Our Bodies/Our Choice!
I was the new Chicana! A trailblazer, a pioneer! I felt I was re-claiming my God-given rights.
Although, I never totally bought into “white women libbers” beliefs.
I felt as a Chicana there were blatant obvious differences in my struggle and the white women’s liberation movement. They had their narrow focus on individual rights of women. While, I along with other Chicanas were focused on implementing changes for the “entire community.”
I was baptized Catholic. I was born in Hanford, California my Mama was born in Chicago. I am a Mexican of American descent, 2nd generation. Or a Chicana if you will.
In the 70’s I marched and protested for what was most important to me; and these are not in any order of importance, women’s rights, handicapped rights, education, and Cesar Chavez (rights for farmworkers).
I and many Chicanas in the movement played a foundational role in building community programs and leadership roles, but rarely received recognition for our hard work.
Fifty plus years later, first and foremost, nothing is more important than my relationship with my Lord. He controls my life.
Believe me in my quiet reflective times I think of my college life from 1970 to 1976. Was it all in vain? My hope and desire is that it was not in vain, I pray I was able to help someone stay in school or improve someone’s livelihood. Or on a more personal level, inspire someone in my own family….. to desire and dream to do better.
These thoughts were provoked by something I recently read by a girlfriend of mine. She stated that she was on the “right side of history” because she believes in free choice for women! WOW!
I am a different woman today. I feel differently about certain issues. I have matured. Little did I know that my opinions on these issues would change so dramatically as I gained a better understanding of myself and our society.
I do not believe nor support abortion or infanticide even though some call it a women’s chose, reproductive rights, or constitutional rights! Or, another description, that it’s a health-care service (surgery) that allows people to live the life they’d like to live.
Although, I realize these two issues are different there are also similarities.
We have been here before in the 1920’s and 30’s, during the height of the eugenics movement. Activists sought to “improve” the human herd by preventing the so-called “unfit” from being born — generally through involuntary sterilization of those considered eugenically incorrect.
Famous birth control advocate and social Darwinist Margaret Sanger, proudly spouted “the extreme eugenic view that human ‘weeds’ should be “exterminated.” The authors also claims that killing healthy and able-bodied babies should be allowable because, “we also need to consider the interests of the mother who might suffer psychological distress from giving up her child for adoption.” The mind boggles.
Princeton University’s bioethics professor Peter Singer became famous by claiming that newborn babies are killable because they have not yet developed the cognitive capacities to be considered a “person.” He wrote in Rethinking Life and Death. 
Source: The American Spectator
Infanticide Makes A Comeback by Wesley J. Smith 
February 26, 2019
I see it as murder of a defenseless life that has not hurt anyone.
I see clearly the errs of my ways and past!
There are prayers that are groans. Al I can do is groan at times. My heart bleeds, I weep because we do not value human life.
I believe the Catholic Church is not for me and without going into all the issues/problems of oppression and sexual  abuse. I essentially do not believe what they believe. For example, I do not believe the Pope is the designated earthly representative for God.
I believe the Democratic Party is oppressive and wants to keep people down and helpless. Now, don’t misunderstand me, the Republican Party has a multitude of problems, also.

Romans 15:13-15 New Life Version (NLV)

13 Our hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your trust in Him. May your hope grow stronger by the power of the Holy Spirit.

14 I am sure you are wise in all things and full of much good. You are able to help and teach each other. 15 I have written to you with strong words about some things. I have written so you would remember. God helped me write like this. 

Abrazos y Besos

People Can Get Out of the Ghetto, Slums, Barrio or Projects. But You Can’t Take the Ghetto, Slums, Barrio or Projects Out of People!

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

  • April 10, 2019

This is a conversation I recently had and wish to record while it is Istill fresh on my mind.

From someone I truly respect; he is educated, a Christian, humble and more than anything he is fair.
Also keep in mind I write very personal issues affecting me as first and foremost a Christian women of Mexican ancestry who is happily married living in Texas. If this does not relate to you or not compute I understand.
But, I also view it as a pervasive societal problem that does not require you do be any of the above to identify with.
My friend was referring to an affluent California community with every ethnic group represented.
A large percentage of the children are spoiled rotten to the core and have a sense of entitlement!
The parents have good jobs, own nice homes, drive nice cars. But when times get tough the ghetto comes out in them!
Physically we can move out of the ghetto, slums, barrio or projects but mentality we still remain imprisoned behind the bars, “the mental bars” as if a prison!
I wonder why we can have the nice clothes, beautiful home, rad car, good education. And, still act uncivilized when we get angry, are under pressure or are confronted or don’t get our way; we immediately regress and want to kick ass or bring out the guns!
And, I speak from personal experience I have never wanted to bring out the guns! But, I won’t lie I have gotten so exasperated at times I  wanted to “kick some
And I have been trained and taught anger management to incarcerated youth.
We have become educated and that education affords us the ability to purchase nice homes, cars, clothes and all the “superficial stuff.”
But, we have not learned conflict resolution nor how to control our anger or what to do with it and deal with it in creative outlets!
These are the topics that keep me awake at night and I ponder. Where did we go wrong? How can we change the course of direction of the “mess” we created! And, by using the term mess, I am being kind.
It aches my heart to even admit this is so, but it is.
I recall while in college many late night conversations of what was success and how we would succeed as Chicanos (Americans of Mexican ancestry)
We had long drawn out conversations of nebulous concepts such  as sharing, carino, non-competitive, pride, culture, class, diversity for our make believe society’s we dreamed of creating. We explored how we would do things differently from the mainstream Western world. We so wanted to improve our future world.
Why would we want a different world. We sought a less competitive society. Which led to discussions of focusing more on family and not make it so much about the almighty dollar.
So what happened?
I think we all graduated from college and went out into the working world, we started making money (something which was foreign to me). And, we assimilated as we drove our Beamer’s onto the freeway of life en route to a Nordstrom shopping spree nirvana!
We married and desired nothing more than to give our children everything we had lacked and more. Creating these little monsters we now have. We thought that by gifting them every toy and car they would be fine.
Unfortunately, these spoiled brats grow up to become entitled adults that feel the world owes them.
The real problem is today we have a whole generation of spoiled entitled brats who believe rules don’t apply to them, whose parents refuse to be parents and hold these brats accountable for their behavior.
We need God in our families.
Thank you, Father
Abrazos y Besos

Aunt Lupe

I’ve taken a short hiatus from “posting,” since I never stop writing!
My energy has just been focusing on other priorities.
In mid-March we moved from our Casita Hug (our RV) to a small apartment. This is a temporary move until we build our Casa Hug.
And we finished the month by taking a trip to the Holy Land. Have been unpacking and adjusting to our new living situation. And, also planted a small herb garden. I am so grateful and Thank you my Lord.
I plan to be writing about my trip of my life-time to the Holy Land in the near future.
In the meantime allow me to share my Aunt Lupe with you. The eldest child of mis Abuelitos Mireles.
 March 12, 2019
Aunt Lupe
I have a burning desire to share my Aunt Lupe with you. Because she was a special soul and a great Aunt, that nurtured all her nieces and nephews.
In fact, she was a loving soul to all whom
she encountered.
If you are a younger descendent of the Mireles, Rodriguez or Garza clan and did not have the opportunity to know Aunt Lupe. You truly missed out on a special soul. And, should do everything in your power to learn of her.
I have many pictures of her, but could not find one to save my life. Since they are in storage (we are temporarily living in an apt. till our home is built).
It’s sad and unbelievable to me, we sometimes do not recognize a person’s significance or value until they pass. Then after death,  everyone is a “special person.”
I recall her gracefully  dancing with a broom as if she was a star on the Lawerence Welk Show. Our weekly Sunday evening family entertainment. I remember her love was Pedro Infante, and how she and Mi Mama, Elena or otherwise known as “La Bebita” enjoyed listening to him on the radio or records.
As a child, I recall when she worked at a clothing market in Huron. And, she worked at the 5th Lane Bowling Alley or Ray’s Market directly next door.
I also remember she was an “au pair” for the O’Neil family in Huron, before I or anyone in Huron knew what that meant! I’m not sure Huron still knows what it means. The O’Neil’s loved her so much she went on vacation with their family to Catalina annually.
Every year during Christmas she would make her infamous “rum balls.” And many other Christmas cookies in which the whole family participated in. But, these were different times.
I remember she introduced our family to different foods, foods I’m sure she was taught to make by the O’Neil’s or Vi from Ray’s Market.
 Such as creamed eggs on toast. This is an old dish you never hear of nowadays. It was an interesting dish with sliced boiled eggs in a white sauce over buttered toast. I also recall her introducing us to the infamous tuna casserole we ate on Fridays. Since all of my family was Catholic and we adhered to no eating of meat on Fridays.
Aunt Lupe was a devout “practicing” Catholic who was very involved with the church in Huron, St. Francis Cabrini, unlike the rest of our family.
I recall we sometimes didn’t have chips to sprinkle on top of the tuna casserole and she would use crushed corn flakes to sprinkle on top of casserole before placing in oven. Yummy.
Essentially, she introduced my family to more “Anglo” food. When previously we had mainly eaten Mexican food with the exception of meatloaf, hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti and barbecue.
But, she wasn’t an amazing Aunt exclusively because of her delicious cooking, baking and how she taught me how to cook many dishes.
But, because of the amazing woman she was. She was very petite, I never heard her cuss or say anything negative about anyone. She was quiet and “stuck to herself.”
I recall while living at Polvadero she purchased a little red Falcon car, my uncles taught her to drive her little Falcon, she putted around in.
I recall a suitor who came around for a short time, while they still lived at Polvadero Ranch. Not sure what happened there. Probably one or all of her four brothers scared him away.
But, my Aunt Lupe never married.
I’ll never forget the day at about 12 or 13, I learned that Lupe was not my Abuelito Hignio’s daugther. I was a child so I didn’t really care about adult matters. I also don’t know how or who revealed this.
The whole family was in shock and I only heard partial whispers. As an adult I learned that my Abuelita had had her before meeting my Abuelito. It’s really not important because Lupe was very loved by all.
I know she was Mi Abuelita, Elena’s favorite, “la consentida.” But, this is a small part of our family history.
First, I heard her father was an Italian man. My Abuelito Higinio called him “tu macaron” or “your macaroni.”
But, later I was told by the Chicago side of the  family that the Italian was not her father.
But, (according to Laura) from Chicago side of family Lupe’s father was a man named Severo.
When I was about 13 years old, I had an accident on my bicycle, I fell off and broke my ankle. I had a cast on for a few months. The day they removed my cast my Aunt Lupe taught me how to shave my hairy legs. She was very loving and there for us when at times my Mama wasn’t.
I recall her taking classes, I’m not sure what she was studying. I only know that shortly after, she moved to Fresno with one of the Avila girls
(another girl from
Coalinga). She, worked as a dental assistant or in some similar capacity in a dental office.
In 1970 I was 17 years old. I attended summer school in Fresno at City College and she allowed me to live with her. This was a temporary situation for about a month and a half before I left to Humboldt State. It must have been
hard on her since my Aunt was very prim, proper and conservative. And, she was a devout Catholic. I on the other hand, had none of those qualities.
I know she worked in Fresno for awhile and later returned home. She basically sacrificed her life to care for Mis Abuelitos. I know she didn’t view it as a sacrifice. She loved them and was so good to them.
Mis Abuelitos had since moved from Polvadero Ranch to a home on 5th Street in Coalinga. They passed on.
As she aged she remained in Mis Abuelito’s home on 5th Street, as if her security and comfort. Later, we learned she had brain cancer and she moved in with my Uncle Manuel and Rosa, where they cared for her, in their home in Hanford. She then went into a rest home. Where she passed away on December 3, 2008.
I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to have spent time with her and to have learned so much from her; you were a loving patient teacher, Aunt Lupe, who made a large impact in my life.
Thank you, Father
Abrazos y Besos

In Your Easter Bonnet

March 12, 2019
I can hear Judy Garland
singing this song in my
Easter is a time of
recognizing and
celebrating the
resurrection of Jesus
Usually around January,
my family would start
collecting the washed
out eggshell of eggs
known as “cascarones,”
in preparation for Easter.
Mi Mama was so clean
she’d put diluted bleach
water inside the eggshell
to take away the egg
smell and turn upside
down to drain.
We had fun dying and
making the cascarrones,
we usually purchased
confetti, but, some years I recall cutting up strips of tissue into tiny pieces of the many color.It took us many hours.
And, also dying the hard
boiled eggs. In
anticipation of our Easter
egg hunt with our
During Easter my Mama
loved making her famous
potato salad and chile
beans to accompany our
carne asada, ribs and
tripas, or whatever my
family had a craving for
that year. There was
always salsa, dips, chips,
cascarrones and way too
many candies. Our life
was  a blending of two cultures.
I remember our cute
Easter baskets. That
overflowed with candy,
treats and were topped
off with a large chocolate
egg or bunny wrapped in
shiny tinfoil. We would
get together with our
cousins the Garza’s to
play and eat, but we
never shared our candy.
I recall us “all” strutting
our Easter Best to
church. My Aunt Lupe
usually herded all four of us  into church. My Aunt Lupe was a devout Catholic and very involved in St. Francis Cabrini Church in Huron, Ca.
In retrospect, it must
have been very difficult
for her, since we didn’t
wish to be there and we
couldn’t wait to get
home, whether It was
Easter or not. I’m not sure why Mi Mama did not join us, but she must have been going through a soul-searching period.
Thank you and God
Bless you, Aunt Lupe.
Stay tune for my next
post on my Aunt Lupe.
Typically it was a pretty
pastel dress with a
matching new purse and
always a 2nd new outfit
of casual shorts and top
we changed into after
church. Allowing us to
run around like the little
“rascals” we were at
whatever park my family
selected for that year.
Many years it was Los
Gatos Canyon in
Coalinga. And,
occasionally Roeding
Park or Kearney Park in
Fresno. Before, the
gangs and drunks
started shooting at each
other. I also recall the occasional drunk husband smacking his wife. Not a good memory, but reality.
Now, I stop and reflect never quite understanding how our
family provided for us all 4 and later 5, with  not one, but two outfits on Easter, especially  since we didn’t have a  ton of
Inevitably, by the end of
the day someone had
split their shorts or had
some kind of injury and
was crying. I tell you we
were wild ones.
My Aunt Lupe always
wanted us to understand
that this was a Christian
holiday and not merely
about cracking
cascarones on a person’s head and eating
As a child, these were
most important: family,
food, candy and cake, I
so enjoyed all of our
family traditions. I
couldn’t ask for more.
Now, as an adult as I
await and celebrate the
return of Jesus Christ,
it’s a time to look back on
all the memories I
enjoyed with my family.
Thank you, Father

Abrazos y Besos


February 28, 2019

A Progression of Home Next Door

Life moves so crazy fast. Regardless, I learned a long time ago to keep my “own” pace; I function much better. 

Then, at times, it seems like some things move so slow. Our builder, only builds one home at a time. He is currently working on a project and due to unforeseen weather conditions the project he is currently working on, will not be completed till this summer. At that time he will start our home. I have had fun meeting with our architect. She is an excellent listener and has completed the “first draft” of my vision with Mi Corazon’s input.
During our Boerne home remodel, I was quite instrumental during Augie’s absence of taking on the  responsibilities ofremodeling our home. At times it was very stressful; requiring multi-tasking of complex and technical scenarios. In dealing with the electrician, painters, carpenter, floor guys etc., or a combination of them at the same time. This was all Greek to me. But, I welcomed the challenge as I wanted to help and participate. Besides, I was learning new skills.
Obviously, this has been a much easier process of just researching “Pinterest” and “Googling” ideas for “Hug Hacienda.” 
Thank you, Mi Corazon for trusting in me and giving me free reign to make our home comfortable for us. 
I think cooking, designing and decorating are all similar to Arts and Crafts! I luv Arts and Crafts, this playing lifts my spirits and creativity feeds my soul. Thank you, Father for my gift; of being able to see the big picture and give attention to the smallest detail, creativity, color, design and vision to bring our Casita to fruition.

Abrazos y Besos

Olé Molé-The National Dish of Mexico

February 26, 2019

I have several obsessions, molé being one of them. I have had the pleasure and been blessed to travel and eat some phenomenal dishes, in our travels throughout many lands. But, I can say, no dish offers the layers, dimensions and complexities of flavors that molé does. I have seen moles dark as mud!Molé runs through my blood!It has also been called the “national dish” of Mexico. Augie and I had the honor of taking a molé negro cooking class in Mexico. It was an experience of a lifetime, comparable to our Tuscany cooking class in Cortona, Italy or our cooking class in Algarve where we made Cataplana. The Cataplana is a regional culinary classic. Its appearance may be unusual, but the unique cataplana is a true symbol of the Algarve’s culinary tradition of seafood. Named after the cookware in which it is prepared. Typically it was copper, but now made of stainless steel.

“Two states in Mexico claim to be the origin of molé. Puebla and Oaxaca, the best-known molés are native to these two states, but other regions in Mexico also make various types of molé sauces.”There are several legends as to the origins of molé. Many years ago, this is the one I learned and I like of the brief history of molé while in college. 
It goes along these lines, that 16th Century nuns from the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla de los Angeles, upon learning that the Archbishop was coming for a visit, went into a panic because they had nothing to serve him. The nuns started praying desperately and an angel came to inspire them. They used what they had and began chopping and grinding and roasting, mixing different types of chiles together with spices, day-old bread, nuts, a little chocolate and approximately 20 other ingredients.. 
This concoction boiled for hours and was reduced to the thick, sweet, rich and fragrant molé sauce we know today. Although many believe the word mole comes from the Spanish word moler, meaning “to grind” it actually comes from a Nahuatl (Aztec) word, molli meaning, “sauce” or “mixture.” 

They killed the only meat they had, an old turkey, and the strange sauce was poured over it. The archbishop was more than happy with his banquet and the nuns saved face. Little did they know they were creating the Mexican National dish for holidays and feasts, and that today, millions of people worldwide have at least heard of molé poblano.

Mole of Every Color
For your information and to my surprise, our teacher did not use a lot of chocolate in our molè negro recipe above, just a small piece. I was under the belief we would be using much more. Most of that dark, intense, rich flavor comes from all of the roasting of chilies, seeds, nuts, fruits, etc.And, secondly every family has their own molé recipe, passed down from generation to generation. For instance, my family in Guadalajara uses toasted BIROTE in addition to corn tortilla for thickening the molè.
Sorry, I don’t have a recipe for you. When I am asked for a recipe, I panic. Since I cook from feeling, taste, and Mi Corazon. I do not use recipes, for the food I learned to cook by Mi Mama. I can give you a list of ingredients. But, this dish is not about combining ingredients! You really need to have someone guide you; for instance on how long and desired color to achieve when roasting chilies, seeds, nuts, etc.  Mole is very complex and deep-rooted in history. If you are seriously interested in learning how to make molé I would suggest a class or researching “many” u-tube videos. And, then develop a recipe to make it your own. For example, I do not like sweet molés, I prefer mine a little picoso (hot) with the slightest hint of sweetness. Molé takes many practices and trials and errors, similar to tamales. Molé is not the type of dish you see or make once and that’s it! Just recently, I viewed Abuelita Esperanza from Oaxaca, making an almond molé “Estofada Almendrada,” on u-tube with Erik Kennon. I will attempt to make this next, I feel confident I can master it.
And, lastly I feel compelled to add, you can give five different people the same ingredients and recipe, and they’ll all come out tasting different. Every person has their own, I don’t know what you call it! Their own love, soul, touch, flavor. I have seen some very simple molès that start with a flour rue, a puréedmixture of chilies, tomatillos, garlic and a few spices that can be made in a few hours for dinner and are delicious. Of course different, to 40 ingredient molés; which require a days work, it won’t compare, but it will be good in a pinch!
Oaxaca boasts an impressive 7 kinds of mole. It’s not all chiles & chocolate in the land of mole. Here is a listing of them.
1. Negro

This is the granddaddy or king of all the moles. All of the ingredients were laid out when we arrived. With 6 kinds of dried chilies, raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, onion, garlic, tomatillo, tomato, tortilla, plantains, bread, marjoram, thyme, avocado leaves, cinnamon stick, oregano, chocolate, and more. 
2. Rojo or Poblano

This sweeter, spicier and more versatile version is amped up with several kinds of dried red chile like pasilla, guajillo and ancho as well as pulverized raisins and almonds or peanuts. When the sauce is done, browned chicken, pork or beef is typically added and stewed until tender.
3. Coloradito

Somewhere between rojo and negro in color, this brown mole shares the base ingredients of whole spices, onions, garlic, seeds and chocolate and features an awesome secret ingredient for thickening and sweetening: mashed ripe plantain.
4. Amarillo

Picture all the goodness of the first three moles without the sweet stuff and no chocolate. And you have a delicious basic sauce to pour over or use as a cooking base for myriad Mexican purposes. It’s not unlike a simple Indian curry sauce, the sky’s the limit.
5. Verde

Extra pepitas or pipian, along with fresh tomatillos, jalapenos and cilantro are the key ingredients in bright green mole verde. It can be diluted with chicken stock when it’s finished and poured over cooked chicken to make a soupy sauce mopped up with tortillas or bread.
6. Chichillo

This one’s a little more intense. Round up all the beef bones you can find, you’re going to need them. This dark, spicy sauce starts with rich, homemade beef stock. The stock rehydrates dried chiles de arbol, anchos and guajillos which you then blend with the usual slow-cooked garlic and onions. Mole chichilo is thickened with either masa harina, lime-cured corn flour, or crushed fresh tortillas. No chocolate here, either. Excellent for braises.
7. Manchamantel

This “tablecloth-staining” mole lives up to its reputation: between the bright red chorizo grease, tomatoes and ancho chiles, you do not want to get this stuff on anything white. Featuring fresh pineapple in addition to plantain, manchamantel is a sweet, spicy, fruity sauce any protein would be lucky to cook in.

 Buen Provecho 

Abrazos y Besos




Roasting chilies, nuts & seeds.
We Have Molé!