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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Everything posted by Nancy in Pátzcuaro

  1. Cooking while Primitive Camping

    Wow--Are these state parks? That seems extreme to me, but then I've never been to NC and don't know how things work in that state. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  2. Cooking while Primitive Camping

    Another use for the flip over that nasi goreng mentioned a couple of posts earlier is to cook fish over a fire without losing too many pieces that fall into the fire. I also recommend a stir fry basket--sorry don't know the name for either the basket or the flip over thingy--that allows you to stir fry vegetables and meat. Look for it near the grills and other tools for grilling. The one I have is square with small round holes on all sides and the bottom. A flat bottomed wok with a handle would also be useful. Take a potholder or 2--they don't weigh much and take up very little space. Use them to cushion breakables. At some point you have to edit the amount of equipment you haul around, especially when you start using walk-in sites, depending of the distance and how many trips you have to make to and from the car. The cooler alone will require a trip of its own. If you're in a state park or national forest campground the tent site may be a very short distance from the car and you can pack more gear. By the way, it's true that most government campgrounds, whether state or federal, have rules about liquor consumption. They are routinely ignored if you're quiet about it and consume your beverage in an opaque plastic cup or glass. We now use a small RV and keep the bottles inside. Just be discreet. No one will get worked up about a beer or glass of wine. Now that I've encouraged you to break the rules, I hope your future camping experiences will be as positive as this one. I think you're already getting good advice about the food. Have fun! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  3. Gardening: (2016 – 2017)

    Host's note: this conversation is continued from Gardening: 2016 (midyear). After the banana plant produces fruit the "mother" plant dies. So do not remove any new shoots, which will provide fruit the next time around. Producing this much fruit completely depletes the plant and the new shoots grow dramatically after the death of the "mother" plant. Kind of a creepy metaphor, don't you think? I see in your photo that there are 3 new shoots. Each of them will produce a fruiting plant but you should probably remove at least one of the small ones, probably both, leaving the largest shoot. It can get pretty crowded if all three are left. Our altitude here in Pátzcuaro is too high for fruiting bananas but we can grow the "ornamental" kind. The same thing happens with this variety, and though there's a flower beloved by bees there's no actual fruit. I'm not a fan of bananas--never have been--but I love the plant. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  4. Using Mexican Chocolate

    Grate them on the large hole side of a box grater. That will make smaller pieces that will melt with heat. How old is this chocolate? Perhaps it's dried out and become harder than usual. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  5. Dead Men's Finger Warning.

    These look kinda creepy. I don't think I'd be tempted to try them. Dead men's fingers indeed. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  6. Tequila Cocktails

    Many years ago we were introduced to a cocktail called a Charro. It's essentially like a Paloma except it's made with either Coke (Charro Negro) or 7-up/Sprite (Charro Blanco). Tequila, lime juice, pinch of salt and either Coke or 7-up. Very refreshing on a hot summer day, and therefore slightly dangerous because they go down so easily. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  7. Favorite Homemade Sauces for Pasta

    Thanks for reminding me of an uncooked tomato sauce I used to make back in the day. It's from a 1979 Food and Wine magazine--the recipe is pretty stained by now--which I just dug out of cold storage. 1-1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (4-5 large, 8-10 Romas) 1/2 c. olive oil (these days I'd use evoo) 2 cloves garlic, peeled 1/2 c. black oil-cured olives Salt and freshly ground pepper Pinch of red hot pepper flakes or 1 sm. peperoncini, seeded and finely chopped 2-3 Tbs. fresh basil, coarsely chopped, or parsley, or dry oregano 1 pound spaghetti or vermicelli At least 2 hours before serving, seed the tomatoes by cutting horizontally and squeezing out the seeds, leaving as much moisture in the tomatoes as possible. Cut each tomato half into 4 long wedges or smaller pieces if you want a more subtle sauce. Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil in a non-reactive vessel. Slice the garlic very thin and add to the tomatoes. Pit the olives and chop coarsely and add to the tomatoes. Sprinkle on a small amount of salt and pepper and then add the dry chile flakes or peperoncini. Add the basil/parsley/oregano and toss again with a wooden spoon (?). Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Cook the pasta al dente and drain well. Toss with the tomato mixture--the dish will rapidly cool to tepid. This is a particularly nice dish for summer, taking advantage of good tomatoes and fresh basil. Serves 4-6. Of course the better and riper the tomatoes the better the final outcome. I also think it would be good with cherry/grape tomatoes, though perhaps the timing might change a little. Now I'm going to have to locate some oil-cured olives to be able to make this. I don't think it would be successful with kalamatas, which are readily available here. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  8. Blanco, Reposado or Anejo?

    Actually, we also omit Cointreau in favor of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Partly because it gives them a lovely fresh orange flavor, and partly because I no longer drink anything with more than one kind of liquor. Additional sweetness comes from a dash of simple syrup. Fresh-squeezed lime juice (from our tree), fresh-squeezed orange juice, simple syrup, and your tequila of choice--this recipe gets raves from everyone we serve it to. It's my husband's specialty, and he doesn't give out the recipe to just anybody. I disagree with AB about reposados--we prefer blanco for its flavor of the roasted agave, both for sipping and for margaritas. We enjoy Olmeca Altos plata and include it on our "favorites" list. Plus it's great value. When sampling tequilas you can find some very delicious ones (and some very expensive ones), but Los Altos is among the best values. Another fave is Espolon blanco. What's interesting is how different distilleries bring out different flavors from the same blue agave. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  9. Blanco, Reposado or Anejo?

    Always blanco, for everything--margaritas, sipping. By the way, a decent mezcal makes a pretty good margarita, though I think you'd have to give it a new name. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  10. The Drainer Topic

    Thanks for the tip--I'll check it out. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  11. The Drainer Topic

    Has anyone found a dish drainer that looks better than the usual plastic or plastic-coated wire ones? One that would look decent, perhaps even attractive, on the counter by the sink? Even when new the WM ones seem underwhelming. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  12. spatchcocking fowl

    I'm going to have to look for one of these shears. Every year at Thanksgiving my husband and I struggle to cut apart 2 big turkeys (they cook perfectly that way--leg/thigh/wings first and breasts last). Those poultry shears look ideal. Any idea where to find them? Amazon, I suppose. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  13. Fresh orange juice

    We finally replaced our faithful Braun citrus juicer with a Proctor-Silex--much cheaper and much noisier, but it works well enough. The Braun had too many broken parts that couldn't be replaced. Right now our juice oranges are perfect, but in the summer we'll stop buying them because the juice is pale yellow and flavorless. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  14. Future of Agriculture in California

    Yep--slip of the fingers while typing. Or perhaps some insidious auto-correct did it. One of my least favorite features of computers and word processing. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  15. Gardening: (2016 – 2017)

    I think that might be neem oil. It's useful against soft-bodied insects, mealybugs, scale, etc. Buy the concentrate--a small amount mixed with water will do the trick and the concentrate lasts a long time. I just dowsed a tomato plant that had a serious white-fly infestation and it dramatically cut down the population. It needs another treatment to keep them from coming back, which they will. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  16. The Savory Baking Topic

    I think I could make these with chicharrones, fried pork skin. It's ubiquitous around here, though the smell of them cooking makes me gag. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  17. Camping, Princess Style

    One thing about avocados--they require adequate salt (and some lime juice, IMO) so they don't taste bland. Sometimes a surprising amount of salt, but make sure you taste as you go along. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  18. Goan Pickle: "Prawn Balchao"

    Do you refrigerate this after storing in the glass jar? Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  19. Do you eat dessert in a restaurant?

    My husband jokes that my dessert is hidden in his dessert. I rarely order a separate dessert for myself but allow myself a bite or 2 of his. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  20. Camping, Princess Style

    I've heard that freezing excess avocados--did you ever think there could be such a thing as excess avocados?--is a reasonable way to preserve a bountiful harvest. I believe the technique is to puree them with a big pinch of salt and the juice of a lime or 2, though I would like something chunkier, or even slices for sandwiches. The puree would suffer less deterioration of texture, I think. Think smoothies, green goddess dressing, even guacamole, though we prefer our guac more on the chunky side. Ice cream is quite wonderful because even without dairy the richness of the avocado makes it deliciously creamy. Soups, cheesecake, cookies, sauces--the ingredient can benefit a lot of baked goods, among other things.. I think it substitutes very nicely for some if not all of the fat in baked goods. I make a quite tasty chocolate fudge that uses avocado as well as a small amount of butter. In your case I'd start pureeing and freezing because the puree is very useful in many other applications. I find avocado needs salt, and a generous squeeze of lime never hurts. We like them sliced and dressed with lime, coarse ground sea salt, and bit of fresh black pepper. Save the best ones for using fresh--the others will be just fine in other applications, like puree. It's a lovely thing to have too many avocados. Admittedly it starts to feel like an obligation and you may despair of being able to use all of them. But with a little creative giving away and having enough freezer space to accommodate the puree, you'll find a use for them. There's a restaurant in Morelia almost directly across from the Cathedral that serves a fish fillet coated in coconut with a slightly piquant avocado sauce. There are many delicious items on the menu but I find I always order that fish. Partly it's the coconut and partly it's the sauce. in fact I'm going to give that recipe a try one of these days. It's not a complicated dish, but the flavors work together brilliantly. In the past the fish has been dorado (mahi mahi) but now it's trout. I think I'll try it with grouper fillets (frozen of course). So rejoice in your windfall. And enjoy the many good things you can do with avocados. We have a tree that has been very good to us. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  21. Camping, Princess Style

    My recipe is a combination of 2 or 3 others, one of which had the step of pouring the hot oil into the batter and then pouring it all back into the skillet. It jump starts the cooking and seems to improve the overall texture. You're right--it sure does sizzle. I think the hot oil is incorporated into the batter more thoroughly than mixing it into the wet ingredients in the usual way, and there's a nice crust. But in any case you need to find a recipe you like, which is what we all try to do. Have fun experimenting! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  22. Camping, Princess Style

    Here's my go-to recipe for corn bread (and I can promise it's not cakey) Place 4 Tbs. oil in a 10" cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 400. Mix together 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 tsp. water and set aside. Stir together 2 c. cornmeal, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 2 Tbs. sugar in a large bowl. Beat together 3 eggs and 1-1/2 c. buttermilk Mix wet and dry ingredients until well combined. Stir up the baking soda/water and add. Pour hot oil into batter and stir well. Pour back into hot pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Don't overbake. The Southerners among us may object to the 2 Tbs. of sugar, but for the rest of us it's just about right. It may be too eggy for some--in which case reduce the eggs and add a bit of buttermilk to compensate--but we like it this way. We like leftovers toasted with butter in the toaster oven for breakfast. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  23. Future of Agriculture in California

    I'm not old enough to have experienced this myself, but I do recall my parents talking about "Victoria Gardens" during WWII. When we lived in Colorado at 7200 feet it wasn't possible to grow all our own food--hell, I spent 29 years trying to grow a decent tomato--but I did fill the freezer with green beans, which was about all that would grow reliably with a 115-day growing season. You'd think that would be enough time, but if about a third of those nights get down below 40 it takes most of the next day to recover. Winter squash was problematic most years. Potatoes and onions worked well. Carrots and beets, chard, spinach, leeks, broccoli and cauliflower (if you could keep it under row covers for insect protection)--those sorts of crops worked OK most years. Now I live in a place where I can buy just about anything I want in the mercado, so the incentive for planting a garden is greatly reduced. Though I don't really have space for it here. Thus far we have had no problems with water, and a lot of Michoacán produce ends up in the US. Right now there's an explosion of berry production--strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries--all destined for US and foreign markets. Driscoll and Dole are buying a lot of berries and probably own most of the fields. But I still miss having a garden. I may have to rip out some of the excess bouganvilleas and start growing my own. We have all gotten used to finding whatever we want, whenever we want it, all year round. Strawberries in January even though they taste like styrofoam, kiwis from New Zealand, grapes from Chile--I'm as guilty as anyone. Water will continue to be the most important factor in the future. The conflict between agricultural and domestic use isn't going away anytime soon. Those of us who grew up in the western US know all too well how this will play out. South Africa sounds as if they will have to work out that dilemma sooner rather than later, because people need water to drink and wash with, and the agricultural users need it also. This is why there are more water lawyers in Colorado than in any other part of the US. However, if it's not raining in South Africa the problem is the same for everyone, farmers and homeowners alike. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  24. New Walmart Grocery stores

    At least here in Michoacán Walmart has 3 levels of stores--Bodega Aurrera (the low end warehouse style store with a full produce section), traditional Walmart, and Superama (high end with a lot of merchandise that is hard to find elsewhere). Superama has a particularly good fresh fish department--I once saw a whole tuna on ice, and they regularly have full sides of bacalao at Christmas, thick with salt. Prices are only slightly higher. However, other than Bodega Aurrera, those stores are in Morelia and we don't go there very often. So we keep lists and do our shopping in one trip. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  25. What time do you eat Dinner?

    We've adopted the Mexican system of a good breakfast (fruit, yogurt, granola, toast with avocado, sometimes oatmeal or eggs) and then our main meal of the day between 2-4 pm. A snack around 7-8 if I'm peckish. My husband normally eats something at night because he has a bigger appetite than I do. When we invite friends for a meal we often return to the usual schedule and try to eat around 7. It's not quite like "eat like a king at breakfast," but it's worked well for us. Nancy in Pátzcuaro