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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Everything posted by Nancy in Pátzcuaro

  1. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    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
  2. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    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
  3. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Source for whole milk powder

    Thanks for those very helpful links. I also use a bread machine on the dough setting but I like the idea of putting the dough in what I assume is a large plastic bag to allow for expansion when rising and letting it rest in the fridge. I'm going to try this the next time I make bread, which will be soon. Normally I make half and half whole wheat and white flour but this time I'm going to use all white bread flour and make that recipe. N. in P.
  4. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Avocados and avocado prices

    Here in Pátzcuaro avocado prices rise and fall depending on the harvest. Right now I saw 30 pesos a kilo, which is high, but we are between major harvests and thus the price rises. Basic economics-- supply and demand. I do remember the first time we went back to the US and I came home from the store and said to my husband--"Avocados are a dollar apiece!" Apparently those were the days. But there is no substitute for avocado, and so we pay. th
  5. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Source for whole milk powder

    How did you use milk powder in bread baking? Did you add the powder to the dry ingredients, and if so, how much? I've always baked my own bread and would definitely like to be able to keep it fresher longer. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  6. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Source for whole milk powder

    Many people here in Pátzcuaro use Nido powdered milk as a substitute for coffee creamer. Bear in mind that there are several forms, generally made for children, so be sure you're buying whole milk powder. I add it to the milk when I make yogurt. The next time we're in the US I'll look for it at Walmart. It's a good product and it comes in a variety of sizes. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  7. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Aquafaba, anyone?

    Excellent! Thanks very much for those links. Lots of good info and I think an answer to my question about freezing aquafaba. So when I drain the liquid from the garbanzos just now finishing up on the stove I will freeze most of the liquid except for the amount I'll refrigerate for my pisco sour experiment. N. in P.
  8. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Aquafaba, anyone?

    Not sure if this is the correct forum--perhaps "Beverages and Libations" would be more appropriate. I am interested in using aquafaba as a substitute for raw egg whites in a pisco sour. I know how to make it, though I tend to cook my own beans rather than using canned ones. My question is, can aquafaba be frozen and still whip up like an egg white? It doesn't last very long in the fridge, I know, so I'd like to stockpile it a little for future use. I'm cooking garbanzos right now and I know not to pour the liquid down the drain. And if anyone has any tips for using it in other applications please let me know. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  9. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Cooking for 100+...ideas anyone?

    I have heard that, and while I'm sure it's true, there's always going to be a part of me that shies away from room-temp mayo. It may be a generational thing for those of us who grew up with mayo not being trustworthy out of the fridge for more than an hour. But if the science is correct we may use mayo in all our salads without fear. That would be a good thing. Thanks for enlightening us. N. in P.
  10. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Cooking for 100+...ideas anyone?

    Personally I'd avoid anything with mayonnaise that will be on the table for several hours. Having had an "issue" with mayo left out too long, I don't think you will want your party to be that memorable. There are plenty of dressings that don't require mayo, for a chicken or potato salad, for instance. I've used the French Potato Salad recipe in the Joy of Cooking, though if you want it a little creamy you can stir in some plain yogurt, which will hold better. You could put the dips or hummus and vegetables on individual tables so that people can graze without holding up the line. Beverages in another area to avoid traffic problems. I like the idea of lasagna or some other baked pasta, though that doesn't exactly say "July" to me. How about cold salmon with an array of fancy salads? How about roasting a turkey or ham? I think you wanted something special for the adults, so the usual casseroles may be a little too ordinary unless you have a recipe that is spectacular and unusual. For the meat lovers you could do several flank steaks that could be served at room temperature or used in one of the salads. Caprese salad is always good, and my sister makes a roasted corn salad that she has to hide from her older son because he'll eat it all in one sitting--recipe on request. What about vegans and vegetarians? If you want to do a casserole, I'd suggest eggplant parmesan or something cheese-less for the vegans--maybe a white bean casserole with Italian vegetables and seasonings and a dash of liquid smoke or hot sauce if you want. Deborah Madison's first cookbook (Greens) has some good timbales and substantial vegetable side dishes, many of them perfectly vegan. I have considerable sympathy for people with dietary restrictions because I have a few of them myself, though in my case it's because some ingredients make me sick, not because it's a lifestyle choice. But everyone deserves to eat what they like regardless of their reasons. The real problem with buffets is the amount of wasted food, either on the serving table or left uneaten on plates. I'm as guilty as anyone else for taking food that I don't eat, especially if the food is delicious and there are items that I didn't get to try the first time around. Eyes bigger than stomach--that's the problem. Will the kids be around when the adults start their party? Be prepared for them to be interested in eating again. They graduate from high school with 2 hollow legs, I swear. I sense that you're starting to have second (or third) thoughts. Just take a few deep breaths and start making lists. Simplify your menu so that you aren't juggling too many dishes. Focus on 2 or 3 good mains and figure out the sides to go with them. Even with a buffet you'll be better off with 3 or 4 sides in generous quantities plus appetizers (on the tables) and dessert. Frankly I prefer fewer sides that compliment the mains rather than a bunch of them that don't have good relationships to the mains. I've done several Thanksgivings for up to 80 people, and a time-line is essential--one week before, do this, 5 days before, do this, etc. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but I enjoy it. It's a lot of work--I hope you're not doing this all yourself--but if you're organized you can do it. It's even possible, with adequate advance preparation, to enjoy yourself! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  11. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Farmers Markets 2017

    Our sapote negro fruits are green and aren't really usable until they're very, very soft, and even then they're not favorites of ours. Perhaps I just haven't had a good one. We prefer chico sapote, which has fruit that tastes "like honey," as it was described to me by a fruit vendor in Chetumal. They don't grow at our altitude but we can drive an hour downhill and buy them for about 20-30 pesos a kilo. I will have to give sapote negro another try. It's interesting that there are fruits with the same name that look very different from each other. For instance, our passonfruits are yellow, not red. I'm sure they are all the same on the inside, though. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  12. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Loving Your Leftovers Series: #3 Pizza

    I'm with you, Shalmanese. It has to be cold, and it has to be for breakfast. Any other time it must be reheated, and I've had inconclusive results with the various techniques. You need to keep the heat low when using the cast iron pan method to avoid burning the crust. This is the voice of experience speaking here. And I agree that the microwave is the worst possible way to reheat pizza. Yeah, it gets hot, but the result is unsatisfactory, which is putting it mildly. And even if I put it on the heated pizza stone in the oven, which sounds like a good idea since that's how it was originally baked, it became brick-like. By the way, any leftover pizza is either my own or from Costco. We don't have many choices around here for decent pizza, sorry to say. And now the best place in Pátzcuaro is closing due to losing their lease, though we rarely brought home leftovers because the pizza was so good that we ate it all. So cold for breakfast it is for us. But I do appreciate all the other ideas, some of which sound pretty good. I'm open minded about food--aren't we all?--but I'm a little dubious about cutting up a perfectly good slice of pizza to make something else out of it. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  13. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    The Loving Your Leftover Series: #1 Sausages

    Because Italian sausage is largely unknown in México outside of the capitol, I've begun to make my own bulk sausage. Stupid easy--don't know why I didn't do this sooner. My only problem is that fennel seed is impossible to find here, so I have to make sure I bring some back after a visit NOB (North of the Border). I assume that leftover bulk (not in casings) sausage is eligible for what proves to be a nifty topic I generally use my sausage on pizza, but on occasion I've stirred some leftover bits into a simple pasta sauce to boost the flavor. I've also put the last few tablespoons in scrambled eggs along with onion and red bell pepper, and whatever leftover cold vegetables I have in the fridge that can be cut small and added to the eggs. Some weeks ago the New York Times had a breakfast casserole that used cooked Italian sausage, which could be left over from a previous meal, with croissants baked with egg that turned out to be a real keeper. Seems to me that we frequently remove the casings from Italian sausages anyway. I do the same thing with Mexican chorizo, though the Spanish type is firmer and more amenable to slicing. By the way, Mexican chorizo is a valuable leftover for any time you want a pop of intense flavor and spice. It's made for potatoes--and also cabbage, oddly enough. Leftover chorizo layered with sliced cooked potatoes and some onion and garlic and cheese and other good stuff of your choosing, basted with chicken broth at each layer, and then some good olive oil drizzled all over it, and baked until everything's bubbling. Salt and pepper, of course, on each layer, and a sprinkle of oregano would not be amiss. Notice that I've covered both leftover sausage and leftover potatoes, one of the other categories, in just one recipe! I really enjoy this new topic. I don't know about the rest of you, but I almost always have leftovers. There's only the 2 of us, and yet I have a problem in my fridge right now. Time for some ingenuity. If anything includes leftover sausage I'll definitely let you know. But first I have to dig out my stash in the freezer. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  14. As an aside, does anyone remember M. F. K. Fisher's book written during WWII--How to Cook a Wolf? I still look through that book from time to time because (a) her writing is so amusing, and (b) there are some good ideas there. During the war people were dealing with rationing, not to mention meat being almost unaffordable for many families, and her ideas of doing a lot with a little are very interesting. I doubt it would have any relevance to food kitchens and hunger relief, though. Just a remembrance of other times. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  15. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Planning a trip to Lima, Peru

    OK, I'm back on board with this subject. We will leave for Lima on the 17th. Most of our time will be spent away from Lima--just there at the beginning and the end--but we will definitely be eating at least one important meal before we return to CDMX on the 29th. The rest of the time we'll be in the Sacred Valley, Cusco, Puno and Machu Picchu. What could be bad? I don't expect we'll have extraordinary dining in Aguas Calientes, the town near Machu Picchu, but I assume we'll find edible and occasionally good food whenever we find it. We're looking forward to having an introductory visit to Perú with the idea that we'll come back later to further explore the places we liked. We did that with our first trip to Ecuador--the Galápagos, the mainland--and then returned for a month-long visit a couple of years later. I thought we'd never leave Vilacabamba--way too comfortable. But our flight was in Quito and we had to drag ourselves away from the sleepy little place. By the way, there was a B&B run by a Frenchman that was one of the most pleasant places we've ever stayed. Good breakfast, and at the time only $11 per person. But now we're on to Perú. Turns out we prefer north-to-south trips--no jet lag. And we speak enough Spanish to be able to communicate, which is more than I can about French. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  16. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Recipe "Disaster!"

    Yeah, raisins are one of the ingredients in picadillo, along with green olives, slivered almonds, fruit (generally banana but also apple), cinnamon, piloncillo (raw sugar), etc. Pork is more common than beef. I think it would make a very tasty tamale pie, though very unlike the Tex-Mex style we're used to. Picadillo appears most often in chiles en nogada, the Mexican national dish that is served in the fall to celebrate Independencia. Coincidentally, the ingredients mimic the colors of the Mexican flag--green poblano chiles, white walnut sauce, and red pomegranate seeds, and it appears on menus when fresh walnuts and pomegranates are available. I think there are as many recipes for picadillo as there are cooks. All this talk about tamale pie means that now I'll have to make it with picadillo, which I like very much. I guess I know what we'll have for dinner tomorrow! I'll let you know how it went, though I'm sure we'll like it. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  17. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Fruit

    Yep--the granular texture, the few black seeds, the color of the flesh all match. The tree is enormous. One time when we were driving toward Chetumal on the Belize border I stopped at a fruit stand on the side of the road to buy mangos. The proprietor showed me the chico sapotes and cut one in half. "It's like honey," she said, and she was right. It was love at first bite for my spouse. But as I said, usually I can find them at a couple of puestos in the mercado but not this year, at least so far. So we make do with the first of the mangos. It's a tough life. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  18. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Fruit

    One of the things I've appreciated here in México is rediscovering the concept of "seasonality," when fruits come and go by season. Right now we are flush with passionfruit--our vine will not stop producing--and mangos have reappeared, albeit at a much higher price than in the summer when you can buy them off the back of a pickup truck for 5 kilos for 20 pesos. Mangos will continue until late September or so. Blackberries disappear during the summer rainy season but are available now. The local area is full of hoop houses growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. We always have access to pineapples, most melons, and papayas year 'round, from lower warmer areas. The price of avocados fluctuates seasonally but they are almost always available (plus we have a tree). We should be eating my husband's favorite fruit, chico sapote, but I haven't seen it in the mercado for some months now. Some vendors sell imported apples and pears from the US but I use the local apples which are much more flavorful than the imports. The small Mexican peaches are just now coming into season--they're very fragrant and pleasantly sweet but there's a lot of pit in relation to the fruit. Nice for jam though. When mangos start to show up in quantity I'm going to make a couple of batches of mango jam and maybe put up some spears in syrup for use during the long mango-less winter. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  19. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Using Mexican Chocolate

    Mexican chocolate will be grainy for 2 reasons: first the chocolate isn't conched to reduce the size of the chocolate particles and meld it with the sugar (if any). Second, Mexican chocolate is ground with piloncillo (raw sugar), nuts and cinnamon, all of which will leave grainy bits. It should be chopped up prior to using, or ideally grated on a box grated using the large holes. The common commercial varieties--Abuelita and Ibarra--aren't particularly good but usually readily available. Locally here there are many other options, most of which are from small producers. One family starts with the raw beans and produces a very good quality product. It can be purchased as amargo (unsweetened), semi-amargo (20% sugar) or dulce (sweet, 40% sugar). Of course Oaxaca is the center of fine Mexican chocolate, but that's long commute to get some. There are chocolate shops all over the city where you can create your own blend. Here's a useful blog page that offers some good ideas to make it easier to work with-- https://www.chowhound.com/post/mexican-chocolate-372699 Hope this helps-- Nancy in Patzcuaro
  20. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Avocado Recipes

    Fortunately we live in Avocado Central in Michoacan, where growers ship thousands of tons every year. My favorite use is guacamole, of course, with our local chile peron (known elsewhere as chile manzana), but I've also made a delicious dairy-free "ice cream" that is wonderfully creamy. Then there's fudge using avocado as one of the main ingredients, and a friend makes Avocado Gaspacho. I've also had a non-baked pie with a graham cracker crust, though I don't have a recipe for that. Cold soup? It's not a party around here without guacamole, but we make it in a molcajete with cilantro, chile peron, lime juice, a pinch or 2 of salt, and diced tomatoes. Some people add onion but I find it too harsh. Maybe a little garlic. My husband is in charge of guacamole in our house, and he makes the best. Nancy in Patzcuaro
  21. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Waffles!

    Toliver, you are an evil influence on all of us. Fortunately I live in Mexico where the concept of Tater Tots is unknown, so this recipe will remain un-made as written. Unless I decide to shred up a bunch of potatoes and slap them in the waffle iron--just sayin'. I salute the person who first thought of this great idea. It''s on my list for next Sunday. In our house Sunday is Bloody Mary day and a lingering breakfast of something eggy (or waffle-y). Hash Brown waffles--just the ticket, maybe with a poached egg. By the way, if I'd thought of this during The Great Waffle Experiment I might never have tried to make cheese waffles and thus I'd still have that waffle iron. Waffle on! Nancy in Patzcuaro
  22. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Waffles!

    Comments: It has been my experience that waffle recipes differ very little from each other. Yeasted or not, eggs separated or not--those are the distinctions. Fruit and nuts can easily be included in recipes, as can corn meal and oats. My favorite waffle cookbook is of course Dorie Greenspan's. I especially appreciate the way she gives us permission to eat waffles at any time of day. Having said that, I have to relate The Great Waffle Experiment that took place many years ago when my husband was away and nobody was watching. The counters were covered with ingredients--roasted poblanos, sun-dried tomatoes, raisins, blueberries, grated lemon rind, walnuts, pine nuts, cheddar cheese--on and on. It was the cheese that was my undoing. I made a basic batter to work with and started adding ingredients and tasting the outcomes. By the way, this was being done on my parents' old non non-stick, which required extensive oiling to reduce sticking. All went well, though some experiments were more successful than others, if you get what I mean. I cannot recommend sun-dried tomatoes and raisins, no matter how interesting the idea may be. My Waterloo came when I tried to make cheese waffles. The cheese had a death grip on the waffle iron. I thought I'd oiled it enough--I had great hopes for that waffle--but only a jackhammer could remove it. I had another glass of wine and considered my options--I could keep hacking away at it, or I could just ditch the whole thing, throw away the waffle iron. I had a moment's pang about tossing my parents' waffle iron, but then I recalled that they never really made waffles, at least in my memory. I think it was a wedding present. So I threw away the waffle iron, cheese waffle still bonded like glue to the grids of the iron. And the next day I bought a nice Vitantonio with a blissfully-nonstick surface, which I have used to this day. Like all of you, I love waffles. I have no favorite recipe and I work through Dorie Greenspan's book whenever I get the craving. I tend to like waffles that are more substantial but are still crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Perhaps that's a contradiction? For what it's worth, my favorite waffle has a bit of cornmeal and blueberries. Real maple syrup, of course. We're going to a friend's house for brunch tomorrow, otherwise I'd be making waffles. But it is on my list for next Sunday. That and Bloody Marys. Happy waffling--N.
  23. OK--I'll dump this stuff back into the pot and see if I can get it to gel at a higher temperature. We're at 7200 feet here so boiling point isn't 212 in the first place. Thanks for the suggestion. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  24. Last night I made 7+ jars of a jelly I've made before, and it was a complete failure. I always have a significant crop of chile perón, which in other parts of the world are called "manzana," or apple chiles. The outcome has always been a wonderful rosy spicy-sweet jelly that goes brilliantly with cheese, or just on buttered toast. Chile perón is a beautiful golden yellow. I have to say outright that I rarely use pectin in my jams, preferring to let the fruit cook down until thick, so I'm not experienced enough to know what happened last night. I followed the same recipe as always but the jelly did not set up. The recipe is: 12 oz. of chiles, one red bell pepper, 6 c. sugar, 2 c. vinegar, one packet (6 Tbs.) powdered pectin. I grind the chile and red pepper in the Cuisinart with a cup of the vinegar and then put the chile-pepper mix into a kettle with the rest of the vinegar. I bring it to a boil and then stir in the sugar that has been mixed together with the pectin. Bring that to a boil and cook another minute. No gelling happened, so I cooked it a little longer and added more pectin (approx. 4 more Tbs.). Nada. So my question is--what happened? I bought the pectin this last summer while we were in the US so it's not too old to work, if that happens with pectin. Should I try liquid pectin the next time? And what can I do with 7 jars of runny jelly? Can I open the jars and try again with more pectin, or is this batch destined to be an endless supply of poultry glaze? I think it would be quite good on pork roasts, but still-- Thanks for your help. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  25. Nancy in Pátzcuaro

    Camping, Princess Style

    You'd be surprised at what can be produced in a small RV kitchen. My little kitchen forces me to pay attention to sequencing--first do this thing before you do the other things. My husband is constantly amazed at the food I can make, with only almost non-existent counter space, a 2-burner propane cooktop, and if we're plugged in, a microwave/convection oven. People in New York City make do with kitchens only a little larger than a coat closet, which amazed me before we bought the RV--a 20 foot Pleasure-Way Class B van. In short, it can be done. So don't worry about the size of the kitchen-- go for it, either full time or for vacations. It's a lot of fun. Our van is in storage most of the year, but when we go back to Colorado to visit friends and family we always build in 3 or 4 weeks of just bumming around in the van. Every year we talk about selling it, but it only takes a couple of days for us to say, "Nah--let's keep it!" In many ways a trailer makes more sense than an RV, but like you we don't have a vehicle to pull it. The prices of trailers are very attractive until you factor in the cost of a tow vehicle. But with a trailer you can go into town without having to drive the entire RV, which makes for more flexibility. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
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