Saturday, May 23, 2020

Please help "Amigos al 100" in San Miguel de Allende

Many of you have been on my tours to San Miguel de Allende and other locals in Mexico.  Spending time with me there, you have seen how passionate I am about San Miguel, its culture and especially its people. 

Amigos al 1oo (Cien) is a group of volunteers trying to make sure no one goes hungry during this pandemic.  This beautiful town is usually full of jobs and tourist.  This group has teamed up to help each other through this.  It's a volunteer organization feeding San Miguel de Allende's neediest during this pandemic! It costs $10 dollars to feed a family of 5 for two weeks

If you click on the images, they will appear full screen.

One of my best friends in San Miguel de Allende, Guadalupe Alvarez, has been a strong force behind Amigos al 100!

To make a donation, this link will take you to Paypal

And if you go to Amigos al Cien in Facebook, you will read the amazing the stories of how a community has all chipped in to help.  The need is incredible
 This lady is one for the many beautiful faces they feed each day!
The local English/Spanish paper, The Atencion, wrote an article about Amigos al Cien.

 Deliveries are made to those out in the countryside.
 Trucks full of supplies.
Rotary International doing their part.  As are local restaurants, stores, businesses, residents...  People have been making masks...  Donations of books and games for the children... Residents volunteering their time...  If you can, please help.

Muchas Gracias.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A little Mermaid get together in my front yard

It has been since the end of March that the pool at the Denver Athletic Club has been closed and the Mermaids (Len named my water aerobic group, the Mermaids) have not been able to get together.  So Jennifer (fellow mermaid) and I decided to host a "social distancing" party in my front yard and limit the number to under ten ladies.
 I sent out an email to the mermaids and this is what I wrote:

Game Plan:
Everyone bring an appetizer
(along with a serving utensil).
Your own libation and lawn chair.
We will have designated spots appropriately
spaced out in the front yard.

Take your chair and drinks to your designated spot in the yard (there will be markers).
Place your appetizer on the large round table.
Sanitize your hands from the large pump.
Put on a pair of gloves (provided).
Serve yourself from the array of appetizers.

We will provide paper plates, forks and napkins.

Dress Code:
Nice casual... colorful if possible.
NO sweat pants, latex or pajamas.
Bras required.
Make up (optional but encouraged).
Pedicures and hair cuts not mandatory.
I made yard signs with everyone's individual name.  The drawing is of a mermaid soaking in a margarita glass with the caption, "What's Your Therapy?"  Secured to a piece of coat hanger, I put them in the grass, over six feet apart.
When this awful virus reared its ugly head, Jennifer ordered some TP on line.  It finally arrived, six weeks later, and it was the funnest stuff.  Petite rolls made in China!  A perfect party favor.   Jennifer found some mermaid fabric and made everyone a mask which was also included in the gift bag.  I tied the brown paper bags up with blue raffia with a tag reading " We have you covered!  Coming and Going.  Jennifer and Robin".   Then hung them on the back side of everyone's yard sign.
 Beth was the first to arrive with her puff pastry cheese sticks.
 Jennifer and Lynn.
I made Jalapeno Poppers stuffed with chorizo, Gouda and cream cheese, thinly sliced scallions  and then wrapped with a piece of bacon.
We had a great array of appetizers from two different shrimp dishes, smoked salmon, bean dish, skewered fruit and a cheese plate.
It turned into a beautiful evening and one of the hottest days we have had in Denver so far.  Fun was had by all and it was so nice to get together again!

Next get together will be coffee and pastries in the morning and everyone is to bring their own dumb bells and body bars.  I am sure we will receive some funny looks from people going by in their cars when we start doing our "arm" workout.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Having Tasajo in the 20 de Noviembre market in Oaxaca City, Mexico and at home!!

One of my favorite markets in Mexico is the 20 de Noviembre in Oaxaca City, right in the heart of the historic center and only a block from the main square.
And the part that intrigues me the most is the "Sala de Fume" (Hall of Smoke). And believe me, when it is in full swing, it is extremely smokey. 
Rick Bayless refers to it as the "Taco Corridor".
The hall is lined with independent vendors selling over a dozen types of meats and chorizos.  Along with vegetables to be grilled, tortillas, soft drinks, salsas and other condiments.

Once you select your meat, the vendor will grill it along with your choice of vegetables.  It is then delivered to table along with a variety salsas and condiments.  Talk about delicious.  
So the other night, I made Tesajo, salted air-dried beef, tortas (sandwiches) for dinner.  It was over the top.

I had purchased a beautiful, plump 2 pound piece of Flap steak, a low-end beef cut.  I prefer this to Flank steak, I find it has more marbling and is more flavorful.  I cut 1/4" strips, against the grain.   Then I put each strip between parchment paper and pounded it very thin, but not to the point that it would fall apart.  (FYI - your one arm gets a pretty good work out from pounding the strips of meat)
I put cooling racks over two large baking sheets.  Placed the pounded thin pieces of meat onto the racks and generously salted them.  My preferred salt is Maldon.  I let the meat air dry for at least 3 hours.
Light your grill to high.  Brush the meat with olive oil and grill, about one minute or less per side.  My condiments were some freshly made Salsa Cruda and a mashed avocado.  Along with some tasty tortas (sandwich rolls) that I had brushed with olive oil to toast after the meat was done.
My mouth is watering just looking at this plate of grilled meat.  Air-drying the meat certainly gives it an unique "aged" flavor.
Spread the mashed avocado on the bottom bun, top with the salsa and then the meat.  It was an excellent dinner and I certainly had plenty of meat left over for a few more lunches!

Buen Provecho.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Some of my bizarre and fun photos that I have taken over the years in Italy and Spain

Shop window in Rome - 2011.
Rome, Italy - 2011.  Len could have rolled that car down the street.  I know he would not be able to fit in it thou!  But who would.
 Rome, Italy - 2011.
 Santiago de Compostela, Spain window display, not quit ready - 2006.
Mercado de Abastos in Santiago de Compostela, Spain - 2006
 Mercado de Abastos in Santiago de Compostela, Spain - 2006
 Barcelona, Spain - 2017
 San Sebastian, Spain - 2017
San Sebastian, Spain - 2017
There is a good reason that this sign is on the promenade!
Barcelona, Spain - 2017
 Seville, Spain - 2011
 Fat chance!  Barcelona - 2019
Barcelona, Spain - 2017.  No comment.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Spaghetti with Fennel and Anchovies, a wonderful combination

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been trying a few new recipes.  I made this pasta dish last week and really thought it had some incredible flavors.  I served it as a main dish but going forth, I would serve it as a side dish.  This pasta would be perfect paired with some grilled lamb chops!
Spaghetti with Fennel and Anchovies

    2 large fennel bulbs
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  12 oil-packed anchovy fillets
    6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped and a bit more for garnish
    1 tablespoon orange zest, using a microplane grater
    1 tablespoon lemon zest, using a microplane grater

   1 lb. spaghetti   
 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan 

Trim and cut off fronds of the fennel bulbs.  Cut the bulbs into quarters and remove the core.  Cut the quarters into 1/2" slices.  Heat oil in a large dutch oven (I use my Le Creuset) until shimmering.  Add the fennel slices to the pot, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat with oil.  Cook until the fennel starts to caramelize,  turning a golden brown.  Turn fennel slices over.  Approximately 6 minutes per side.

Reduce heat to low and add the anchovies, garlic slices, red pepper flakes and mint.  Stirring often, cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the anchovies have disintegrated and the garlic is slightly golden.  Remove pot from heat and add the orange and lemon zest.  Cover pot to keep warm and let sit until the pasta is ready.

Return the pot to the stove and heat over medium-low heat.  Add the cooked spaghetti along with 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Add the Parmesan and cook, tossing vigorously, adding more pasta cooking water if needed, until the sauce is emulsified and the spaghetti is nicely coated, about 2 minutes.  

Plate the spaghetti and garnish with a few pieces of torn mint.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Streusel Banana Bread

With plenty of time on my hands, I have gone thru a stack of recipes that I had torn out of all my cooking magazines over the past few months.  I organized them and finally put them in the appropriate notebooks that I have ranging from appetizers, desserts, pastas, vegetables, etc..  And I bet like many of you, I have been trying a few new recipes.  This Streusel Banana Bread is a real winner!

    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 
       (plus extra to grease the loaf pan)
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
       1 teaspoon baking soda
   1/2 teaspoon salt
        1 stick unsalted butter, melted
        1 cup sugar
       2 large eggs, room temperature
       1 teaspoon vanilla extract
   1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cup mashed, ripe bananas (approximately 3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9" x 5" loaf pan.  With one piece of parchment paper (approximately 5" x 22"), line the bottom of the pan along with the ends, allowing at least 1" to extend the pan.

In a bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar and salt together.  Stir in the butter and pecans until evenly moistened. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour,  baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk, then stir in the bananas.  Mix this in with the flour mixture.  Do not over mix.

Spoon half of this mixture into the loaf pan.  Sprinkle half of the streusel mixture evenly over the batter.  Add the remaining batter and top with the rest of the streusel.

Bake for around 1 hour and 10 to 2o minutes.  The top will be golden brown.  If it browns to quickly, tent with tin foil.

Let cool for 30 minutes, then lift the bread out of the pan by grasping the parchment ends.  Let cool completely before slicing.

Bon Appetit!

PS:  Soon I will be posting another recipe, a new pasta dish!

Monday, March 30, 2020

Arte Objecto Mazahua, intricate embroidery

When I was in San Cristobal de Las Casas in the state of Chiapas this last February, and I am so glad I was able to travel, I took my group to  the Museo de Lost Altos de Chiapas 
Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzm├ín.  There is a gallery space that has special exhibitions.   And this particular exhibition was spectacular.
The Arte Objecto Mazahuan (Art Object Mazahua) Exhibition.  Artisans from the community of San Felipe Santiago in the state of Mexico produced 55 pieces of embroidery that are on display.  
 The detail and intricate designs are just beautiful.
It was designer Isabel Quijano Leon who established a relationship with the Mazahua and works with them in creating new designs and helps market their products.
A common thread in the Mazahua dress is the traditional "sacks", blouses of different, bright colors.
The exhibition has been presented in Merida at the Museo Casa Montejo, the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City, the textile Museum in Oaxaca and the Museum of Anthropology and History of the Mexican Cultural Center in the state of Mexico.  And I believe onto San Miguel de Allende.
 Hard at work.

Hopefully when life starts to get back to normal, the museo will re-open.  The show is there until June.  In the mean time, enjoy my photos of these incredible textiles.