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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Everything posted by Nancy in Pátzcuaro

  1. My husband's all-time favorite tomato is Prudens Purple, but he admits he also likes Gold Medal almost as much. In the Colorado mountains we were restricted to short-season varieties, so while one year I successfully grew Prudens, the following years were not as good. And here because I grow tomatoes in pots to shelter them from the rains, I can't grow anything that large. Sigh. Right now I have 4 tomatoes in process--Siberian (not to be confused with the old tasteless variety Siberia), Juliette (a small roma type), Very Large Cherry (from Seed Savers) and an unnamed slicing tomato called "bola" or ball. Just as I was in Colorado, I am hopeful.
  2. For as long as I can remember, Wednesday was always the day that the local newspaper produced a special section of grocery store ads. Websites like the New York Times and Washington Post post recipes and restaurant reviews on Wednesday. My question is--what's so special about Wednesday? When (and where) did this tradition begin?
  3. I was going to say Jackfruit, based on the texture. I'm not a fan, ever since our gardener on the coast brought us a big one. It's really really sticky when you take it apart--I told my husband I felt as if I had rendered a pig (it was that big). Oil takes the stickiness off your hands and tools. We didn't really like it after all that trouble. I understand it's a meat substitute these days.
  4. How about mincing the carrot tops too? Nice flavor. Actually a lot of vegetable tops are underutilized, like beet greens, but you only get them if you buy from farmers markets. And if they're not fresh--ick.
  5. Ah--that's the name of the butterfly who lays eggs on our vine. Not being a butterfly expert I didn't know the name. The resulting wormy thing has a big appetite for the leaves. Fortunately there are enough leaves to go around. I especially like to watch the bees as they gather pollen. They have to go up into the flower and get covered with the pollen, and then hover in air while they scrape it off their bodies onto the pollen baskets on their legs. Then they go back for more. One of nature's finer moments. Pollen is baby bee food but nectar makes honey.
  6. You can make passion fruit pulp to freeze to use in recipes. Scoop out the seeds and the gel around them and bump them around in the blender until the pulp separates from the seeds. Strain out the seeds and put in a container for the freezer. You can get a surprising amount of pulp from a modest amount of fruit. Creme brulee, anyone? Personally we just like to eat them, seeds and all. A friend can eat her body weight (a slight exaggeration) in passion fruit. Good thing we have a vine!
  7. How did it taste? Did you like it, or is it a "novelty" recipe that sounds interesting but ultimately disappoints?
  8. Gosh--that looks like an abstract painting! I especially like the little yellow-ish leaf in the middle. Reminds me of the day I went to visit an Italian family to buy a dozen eggs and came upon them in their kitchen juicing chokecherries for jelly. Amazing amount of red everywhere. I was glad I didn't have to clean it up!
  9. My memory was that it was called "Elaine's" but that may not have been the actual sign on the door. Remember, this was in the late '70s and many things probably will have changed. I'm not even sure where it was--probably on the main drag. I do know we had to drive past a pig farm on the way from the airfield, which was memorable in a not-good way. I could go for a pork tenderloin sandwich right about now, not to mention some fabulous late-summer tomatoes and corn.
  10. No, that was long ago, back in the 1970s, well before we started coming to México. We sold the airplane when we moved away from an airport and had no way to fly without a long drive. Didn't make sense. But I still remember all the wonderful airplanes at the fly-in, and those spectacular plates of corn and tomatoes in a little dive in small-town Iowa. And the pork tenderloin sandwiches were pretty swell also. Another memory is waking up in our tent early in the morning and hearing the dew drop on the bottom wing of a biplane parked next to us. That was actually the Parks known throughout the world as the one in Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Beautiful airplane, red with engine turnings on the cowling. There must have been many, many millions of dollars of aircraft at the fly-ins. We were very small beans in our little Luscombe.
  11. Back when we had an airplane we used to go to Blakesburg, Iowa to the Antique Aircraft Association fly-in at a most insalubrious time of year--August. Everyone tied down their planes and camped either under the wing or in a tent. We had a 1947 Luscombe, grossly underpowered for Colorado altitude but a real tiger in Iowa. Every night we'd pile into cars and trucks and drive into town for dinner at Elaine's (I think it was the only place in the little town), which was platters of sliced tomatoes, buckets of corn, and pitchers of beer, of course. Pork tenderloin sandwiches for protein. I miss the corn and tomatoes, but not the humidity. I don't think I've had such good tomatoes and corn since. Everyone traded rides, and a highlight for me was a flight in a Beech Staggerwing, a real beast compared to our little Luscombe. My husband was the pilot--I was in the right seat as navigator, a task for which I have no talent.
  12. Don't throw away the seeds! They make a very tasty agua fresca. For 2 melons, put the seeds and the juicy pulp around them into a blender with 4 c. water, 2 Tbs. honey, and 2 tsp. grated ginger. Buzz until smooth. Strain out the seeds, pressing on the pulp to extract all the juice, and enjoy. If you want more concentrated flavor you can throw in some of the flesh as well, which also makes it thicker. You can also make a smoothie with the flesh, yogurt, ginger and milk or fruit juice to thin. Sweeten to taste. If you still have too many melons you can freeze the puree as teonzo mentioned above, which will give you smoothie material for a taste of summer in the middle of winter There are recipes online for cantalope jam as well. Think of this as a good thing rather than a problem. You know, when life gives you lemons...
  13. I learned early on not to pick strawberries with children for the same reason.
  14. I've seen people put cilantro with roots into a glass of water and store it in the fridge loosely covered with a plastic bag. It's important to remove any yellow stalks or anything starting to slime when you bring it home. I think you can sprout the roots to make more cilantro after you've used the stems and leaves. But cilantro is pretty easy to grow, though it bolts badly.. I have some in a pot that's flowering but it's still usable. Lacy foliage and delicate flowers. I wonder if it will make seeds? I do like the idea of turning it into a paste that you can freeze. The volume of cilantro grown and consumed in México must be enormous--there are bale-sized bunches of it for sale in the mercado. I think it's in everything except--maybe--desserts.
  15. Smithy, what variety is the tomato? Looks very productive. Back in the day I used to grow a variety called Gardener's Delight, which bore fruit in large clusters like this one. It remains one of my favorite tomatoes but I can't seem to find it anymore, or at least the one in most seed catalogs doesn't sound the same. An enormous plant, great flavor, hugely productive. I have to grow tomatoes in pots under shelter (roof overhang) because the rain turns them into black mush. Very disappointing.
  16. The old wood and wire traps aren't as good as the ones that look like big clothespins, but even though can be defeated by clever mice. We tried everything--cheese, peanut butter, nutella in case they were chocoholics, bits of crackers, apple chunks. Either they ignored the bait or stole it without triggering the trap. We finally had to resort to poison, which neither of us was happy about. Part of our concern was the whiff of dead mouse in certain corners. Not a huge smell, but noticeable, and it didn't last very long. I can now say we are mouse-free, but for how long?
  17. What's your altitude? I've found that reducing the leavening makes a taller loaf. Sounds counter intuitive, doesn't it? I live at 7200 feet and reducing leavening agents--yeast, baking soda/powder--improves the loaf. It was explained to me that there's less atmosphere at altitude, so leavened items rise faster and then collapse. That doesn't explain the variation in your results, though. You might consider the humidity or temperature of the day. Look on the internet for a discussion of changes based on altitude. I find that simply changing the leavening is enough to improve the results, but there are other considerations, like amount of liquid and flour, and changes in baking temperature.
  18. Just a question--what's a "Michigan?" I understand Pizza and Submarines, but Michigans? Anybody know the answer?
  19. My husband bought this from one of those vendors who walk between the cars and try to sell things to people waiting at stoplights, so I don't know if there's a brand name on it. (I just checked--no name.) It's rechargeable, which is nice, though many of them seem to need batteries. This is in México, by the way, where there's usually one or more vendors at each stoplight--that is if there isn't someone juggling rocks (true) or dressed as some hybrid Aztec warrior dancing for tips, or washing your windshield whether you like it or not. México is always interesting.
  20. Thank you--that was very helpful. Especially here, where the humidity changes from dry winter to rainy summer, flour changes seasonally. In that case even weight measurements can be suspect, but at least they're within hailing distance of being correct.
  21. Why are there not more baking recipes that use weight instead of volume measures? What about the ones that ask you to scoop and level the flour, or spoon lightly into the measuring cup? That would result in wildly different amounts of flour. I'm gradually trying to convert recipes to weight measurement, but it's not easy. A kitchen scale is invaluable, not only for baking, and doesn't cost the moon.
  22. Not to derail this conversation, but I've found the best way to get rid of fruit flies is with one of those electric tennis-racket fly swatters. We always have lots of fruit on the counter in bowls and there has always been a cloud of fruit flies that takes flight when I get a banana or mango out of the bowl. By using the swatter a couple of times a day I've basically eliminated them. Oh, there's a couple of them hanging around but they are either only males or too discouraged to breed. I've tried all manner of traps--they really love red wine, for instance--but this remains the absolute best.
  23. Love that cake! We have a lot of mandarins on the tree that are almost ripe. Guess what I'll be making soon!
  24. Many years ago, when we were renting a house on the coast of México, the gardener presented us with an enormous jackfruit (they're all huge). I spent the better part of a morning cutting it apart. I told my husband it was like rendering a small pig! Neither of us cared for the taste, and I was particularly uninterested after all that effort. One thing that surprised me--they're sticky. I mean, really sticky. Fingers- stuck-together sticky. You have to use some type of cooking oil to clean your hands, the knife, the cutting board, the counters, the floor. It is sold all along the roads in the area, cut up already, which if you like the stuff is a real blessing. The giant fruit hanging from the rather delicate-looking trees presents an especially unusual image. Now people are using it as a meat substitute, which I don't get at all. Is it the texture? It's certainly not the taste.
  25. Of course I knew it was spoiled yogurt. However, it looked a lot more threatening than just yogurt gone bad, the way it was pressing against the container trying to get out. Just a joke, folks.
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