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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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About Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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  1. Worst Halloween candy

    Sorry to have wandered off into the weeds-- The question was--worst Halloween candy. I've already admitted that as a child I craved candy corn, but of the other choices it would have to be anonymous hard candies or very old (dry) caramels. Tooth breakers, all of them. OK--what do you all hand out at Halloween? I think we've established that candy corn is the winner in the "Worst Candy" division, with Tootsie Rolls a distant second. I admit to being ignorant of current candy choices, so what other horrible options are left that we haven't identified? Nancy in Patzcuaro .
  2. Worst Halloween candy

    Halloween has come to Mexico, although we call it Dia de los Muertos. Several days before Muertos kids are circulating with their "calabacitas," which are either plastic pumpkins or actual hollowed out squash. Candy is appreciated but what they really want is a couple of pesos. In fact many of the squash have holes too small to push in real candy, so clearly they prefer pesos. I circulate around town with candy and pesos in my pocket just in case. Kids don't go door to door here, though that may change when kids come back from the US and the custom changes. As to favorite candy--I have to confess that as a child I loved candy corn. As an adult, not so much, though if you showed up at my door right now I would snatch it out of your hand. Give me chocolate any time, though. I learned early on, when we lived in Boulder and kids would show up at the door, that most didn't really care. Tootsie Roll pops were always a good choice given that candy apples and other homemade treats were off limits. But that was in the early 1970s before Boulder became "Boulder" and possibly things have changed since then. When we moved to the country and our closest neighbors moved away we had no takers at the door. I also learned that for the sake of our waistlines we should always choose candy that we didn't like, because the leftovers would be less attractive. One of the things that we've appreciated is how the customs from one country--the US--gets morphed in another country. Children, who are the most adaptable of us, can convert one custom--Muertos--into some else--Halloween. And in both cases they get candy. What could be bad? Nancy in Patzcuaro
  3. Vanilla sticker shock

    I just recalled that a friend asked if we could find imitation vanilla here in México because his wife makes a certain cake that just doesn't taste "right" with real vanilla. She couldn't find it in her local grocery store--though it's available in many forms online--so we found a bottle and sent it to her (via a friend going north who could mail it in the US). I think I'll buy a small bottle and test that theory myself. I still have a supply of the real stuff, but this thread has me worried about the price when I have to buy a new bottle. This way I could stretch my supply. Plus I'm not a serious baker. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  4. Vanilla sticker shock

    Several years ago, when we were exploring a move to México, my husband and I were fantasizing about growing vanilla as a cash crop. When we found out what a major pain-in-the-you-know-what the process involved we concluded that there were better ways to use our time. The flowers (they're orchids) need to be pollinated by hand, the flowers only last one day, and when the beans are harvested they have to be spread out to dry on the ground but also moved under cover at night so the overnight moisture doesn't undo the drying process of the day before. As wages in vanilla-growing countries rise it's understandable that the price of the finished product will rise as well. That, and the vagaries of climate, seem to have contributed to the higher cost. It doesn't help with sticker shock, however. I have heard, however, that artificial vanilla is a better product to use when baking because the volatile oils of the real vanilla evaporate (or boil off, or whatever) during the high heat of the oven. Does anyone have experience with artificial vanilla? I'm speaking of vanilla extract, of course. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  5. Stuffed Poblano Pepper

    Thanks, Smithy, for rounding up that post. Reading it again made me hungry for those chiles rellenos. Got to go to the mercado for the ingredients! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  6. Stuffed Poblano Pepper

    I wrote a recipe for chiles rellenos for RecipeGullet many months ago, titled "My Spanish Teacher's Chiles Rellenos." Stuffed with queso fresco, battered and fried and then cooked to finish in a thin tomato broth that then is used as a sauce with a bed of white rice. Rub the poblanos (or anaheims) lightly with oil before you toast them over the grill or gas flame--that pops the skin off much faster and you're less likely to overcook the flesh. Rub a little flour on the filled chiles before dipping them in the batter--the batter seems to adhere better that way. Separate the eggs and fold the beaten whites into the batter to lighten it. Rick Bayliss has a wonderful recipe for chiles rellenos with a picadillo made with salt cod--page 360 in Mexican Kitchen. I've also eaten them stuffed with shrimp and crab (and cheese, though as a rule I don't care for fish and cheese together). And of course there's Chiles en Nogado, the famous dish celebrating Mexican independence in the fall when the new walnut crop is ready and the pomegranates are ripe. These are stuffed with picadillo, not cheese, and are served at room temperature (as is the Bayliss dish). Hope this helps--Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  7. Oven spring

    High altitude baking requires adjustments in several categories. First, leavening (yeast, baking powder/soda) should be reduced. I have lived (and currently do live) at 7200 feet for most of my adult life. A recipe may call for 1 tsp. baking soda, but when you adjust for altitude (at 7200) this becomes 1/4 tsp, a pretty significant difference. Same thing with yeast--cut back by 25% and see how your bread turns out. Salt inhibits yeast, so I've doubled the amount for my bread. The reason you want to do this is exactly what MelissaH said--lower air pressure lets the bread rise faster, so you need less yeast. Also, because higher altitude usually translate to dry conditions, you may need extra water or other liquid. I'm mostly a bread baker, but when I make banana bread, for instance, I've learned to read the chart for how much to cut back on leavening. I haven't made a cake in about a century, but I often do quick breads or pies. Obviously you can disregard all of this if you're making a pie. Hope this helps. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  8. Drowning in Figs!

    The problem I'm having now--and I hesitate to call it a problem--is that I have too many ideas. I may have to ask Alicia to bring me more figs so I can try out all these great possibilites. The jury is still out about fig leather, mostly because my oven is too old and too imprecise to maintain at 140F. So I'm turning the oven on and off and hoping that sooner or later I'll get something resembling a fruit leather. Smells great, though. I have some figs macerating in vodka for fig liqueur, and I've given away quite a few, so now I'm down to the last 2 or 3 pounds. I'll make fig scones, and then I'll see what I have left. There's always more jam. If Alicia brings me more figs on Tuesday I'll definitely try out the pastes and purees that have been recommended. Right now our major problem is that we've adopted an abandoned puppy that seems to be mostly Belgian Mallinois, a common breed around here, and she's keeping us busy most of the time to keep her from eating the plants and our shoes. Fortunately she's very smart and has been easy to train. Not sure about the chewing and biting part, though. Only 3 months old--yikes. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  9. Drowning in Figs!

    Love it! Seems like a very happy fig pig! Or is it pig fig? N. in P.
  10. Drowning in Figs!

    Oh yeah--I've got the figs, I've got the vodka, and the recipe sounds easy and delicious. I think that will do nicely with the ripest figs that need to be used soon. That and fig leather. Great idea! N. in P.
  11. Drowning in Figs!

    Wow--great ideas everyone. Fig leather--hmm. I like that idea. Got a recipe or technique to share? These figs are mostly green with a few brown ones. I've always heard the green ones called "white" but that could definitely be incorrect. They have a milder taste than the brown ones, but they made some darned good jam last week, and I could make more if only I had more jars. I could probably scare up 3 or 4 but they would barely make a dent in this mountain of figs. I'm going to investigate making fig leather from the ripest ones first. My Spanish teacher has 5 trees so she has a surplus. She says the over-ripe ones fall off the trees and her dogs love them. They'll start showing up in the mercado now, but I will not be buying any! Thanks for the good ideas. I'm always up for more, though. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  12. Drowning in Figs!

    My Spanish teacher showed up today with a huge basket of white figs, in addition to the 7 pounds she gave me last week. I made 8 jars of jam, using up all my spare jars, so I need new ideas of what to do with what appears to be about 10 pounds of fruit. I hope you can help, and quickly--they're very ripe and I will have to do something with them in the next day or two. My teacher mentioned empanadas and bread, which are fine, but I'm looking for something that will use up most (or all) of them. Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. I've never had this kind of problem before--a nice problem, to be sure, but a problem nontheless. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  13. Peanut Butter and Jelly - The Sandwich

    I hesitate to say this, but has anyone tried peanut butter and mayonnaise? Nancy in Patzcuaro
  14. A Paean to Pears

    I am especially fond of Marcella Hazan's recipe for A Farm Wife's Fresh Pear Tart (p. 589 of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking). I've made it so many times that the book falls open to that page. I have added a tsp. of almond extract to the recipe and I sometimes make it with a streusel topping that includes pine nuts. It's a big favorite at potlucks. I used Anjou pears when I couldn't get Boscs, which I thought were better for the recipe. At one time I had a recipe for Pear Honey that included lime rind as one of the ingredients. Alas, I no longer have that recipe, but if anyone else knows anything like that I'd appreciate hearing from you. It was a superb way to use up a load of pears if you were prepared to process the jars. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  15. The Okra With The Fringe On Top

    Those look like the same things you find on squash blossoms. The green sepals enclose the bud and protect it somewhat from insects or climatic events, and the opening flower pushes through the sepals. By the time you get to mature okra they have withered away to almost nothing, poor little things. So they're just the end result of the process, in a kind of a way, from green bud to mature fruit--useful at the beginning but not necessary at the end. By the way, I'm not an okra fan except in gumbo. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
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