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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Everything posted by Nancy in Pátzcuaro

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. We're going to the annual Super Bowl party and the hosts have requested appetizers, side dishes or desserts. My spouse likes to make apple pie--I wish he wouldn't obsess so much over the crust, but that's an engineer for you--and I think I'll make cheese straws, though that is not certain. There is no Pepperidge Farm puff pastry here so I'll have to do without. I've made these before with a much simpler pastry, sort of a blitz type with much less rolling and turning, and it works nicely. I've been perusing my recipe files and have been sorely tempted by other things, so my decision may change at the last minute. So many recipes, so little time. I have no dog in the hunt this year--alas, the Broncos turned into the Donkeys, as they so often do, sometime in the middle of the season--so I just hope for a good game, without questionable refereeing and minimal injuries. I have a long history with the Broncos--anybody remember Craig Morton?--so I'm accustomed to disappointment. I just wish my dad had lived long enough to see the Cubs win the World Series. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  9. I love making chapatis--it's great fun watching them puff up in the oven. Turns out you can make up a big batch of the dough and store it in the fridge for when you want a few for your dal. In my experience the dough is improved, both in taste and puff-ability, by resting for a day or two in the fridge. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  10. The subtitle of Devi's book is "Lord Krishna's Cuisine." In that cuisine onion and garlic flavor, though not the texture, is supplied by asafetida. This seems to be a case of mixing spiritual practice with food, much as other faiths have restrictions on what they don't consume and why. It's fine by me, though I agree that onion and garlic are two of the essential ingredients. Does all Indian vegetarian food avoid onion and garlic or is Lord Krishna's Cuisine the only one? I admit to being ignorant of other styles. This book has always satisfied my craving for Indian food. Yeah, my copy of the book is heavily annotated and some pages are badly stained. The book falls open at favorite recipes. I have a friend who's vegan, and Indian food is one of his faves. It's a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. Nancy in Pátzcuaro (where there is no Indian food if I don't cook it)
  11. Indian vegetarian food has been a favorite cuisine in our house ever since I bought Yamuna Devi's doorstop of a book, The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. I have put the Madhur Jaffrey book on my list to buy in the US the next time we drive north. It's a little tricky to get the necessary ingredients but I have a lot of the special seasonings already and I can always stock up when I find myself in the right kind of grocery store. There are many fine cuisines in the world, but I think Indian vegetarian food should be on that list. In my mind one of the great cuisines of the world. So cook away and share with us your favorites. My mouth is watering already. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  12. I would encourage you to take seriously Lisa's advice about protecting your food (and yourself) from bears while camping. We spent many years car camping and backpacking in the Colorado mountains and securing food was always a high priority. It's a lot harder when backpacking--you have to rig up a rope around the food container and haul it up between 2 trees--but it was possible to do without too much trouble. Put all your food back in the cooler and put it in your car at the end of the day. Take your garbage to the campground dumpster, which should be bear-proof, every night. Don't leave any food lying around your campsite while you're off hiking. Not only might it encourage a passing bear to come back later but it could attract dogs or other critters who would have no shame in snatching that bag of potato chips off the picnic table. That said, unless there are bears who have become accustomed to raiding trash cans in the area, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. In fact we've never actually seen a bear in a campground or back country site. We now camp, princess style, in a small RV so we aren't as rigorous about this as we used to be. As I told my husband, I'm too old to sleep on the ground anymore. Have fun with this. It is wonderful to get away from the lights and sounds of the city. I assume you'll be doing this when the weather warms up. Winter camping is not for the faint of heart--we only did it once and did not enjoy it. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  13. We are going to our Catalan friend's house for paella. Not traditional but I'm sure it will be wonderful. We are at a disadvantage here, being inland and at the mercy of frozen seafood, but I'm sure Louis will rise to occasion. By the way, he's 95. I can only hope to be anywhere near as competent as he is when I get old. He says his mother lived to be 105 so we will have him for quite a few more years. I think a New Year's Eve dinner with salt cod would be appropriate. I do love salt cod. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  14. Back in the late 1960s I flew from time to time from Denver to Albuquerque to visit Santa Fe. The meals were unmemorable--some sort of mystery meat mostly--but each time peas were served as the vegetable. Now flying north-south along the Rockies is bumpy at the best of times and alarming once in a while. When we landed at ABQ the cabin was littered with peas that had gotten away from diners because of the turbulence. It was hard not to squash them as we exited the aircraft. I sympathized with the cleaning crew. This was Western Airlines--"the ONLY way to fly!" Long gone, as are so many of them. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  15. You know, I was unable to finish reading the whole list of your meals--my mind just couldn't stand it. My late parents were in assisted living (first) and then a nursing home, and they routinely complained about the food. Now, I have to say that dietary restrictions (low salt, low fat) make cooking edible food a bit challenging, but surely the use of herbs and other flavor-boosters could be incorporated into the food to make it more appealing. But the kitchen has to care about it and have the training to implement better techniques and ideally decent quality ingredients. My husband had back surgery a year ago June (successfully, thank goodness), at a major hospital in Morelia, and I have to say the food was actually edible and arrived at the proper temperature. Before each meal a young woman with a clipboard, dressed in an immaculate white coat, asked him what he wanted to eat. Breakfast choices included chilequiles, huevos mexicanos (eggs with tomato, chile and onion, named "mexicanos" due to the 3 colors of the Mexican flag), pancakes, french toast. Other meals he was offered a choice of chicken, pork , beef or fish, each with the appropriate accompanying side dishes, like steamed fresh vegetables, rice, etc. And tortillas, of course. It's not a meal without tortillas. Now this is a major institution with many beds, so it can be done on a large scale. I was completely astonished that the fish was cooked properly--i.e., not dried out or overcooked--even though it was tilapia. He was only there for 2 nights, so we didn't have a chance to experience their complete repertory. Included in his room cost was one meal a day for me as well, so I can vouch for the food. I'm very sorry, Thanks for the Crepes, that your traumatic experience--falling, surgery, recovery and rehab--was not improved by decent food. Was it possible for someone to sneak in something edible? How can these institutions provide better food? I think it starts with the administration, but someone has to make the commitment to do something about the dreadful food and then hire the right people to implement it. Possibly it would cost too much, which is always the excuse. Glad you're out of their clutches, even though cooking for yourself is difficult. How much longer in the wheelchair? Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  16. I don't think you can over-oil a board, especially if you live in a dry climate. We brought a 3 x 5 Boos countertop for an island counter in our kitchen when we moved down here, and I find I have to oil it frequently during the dry season. Of course I use it as a big cutting board and prep area which beats it up a little bit, so I keep a bottle of mineral oil around for touch ups. And when we go away for a day or 2 we oil it heavily before we leave. I think you'll find that you'll need to oil it periodically to keep it looking as beautiful as it does now. It is a gorgeous hunk of wood, isn't it? And my sympathies for your remodeling woes. There's nothing quite so disheartening as looking at the mess of tools and materials lying around your kitchen. You're fortunate to have access to another apartment while yours is in ruins. Fingers crossed that you'll be finished enough by the end of the year to move back in. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  17. Where have I been? I've just read the entire thread and realized that I'd missed it completely. I rarely use a recipe for soup--just look in the fridge to see what's there and wing it. But I do have a wonderful recipe for a tomato red lentil soup that can raise the dead, or at least cure the unwell. I cut this out of a cooking magazine a zillion years ago so I can't give an attribution, but here it is-- Spicy Tomato Soup 1-3/4 pounds ripe tomatoes or 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes 2 Tbs. vegetable oil 1 tsp. mustard seeds 1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 tsp. ground cumin 1/2 tsp. ground coriander 1/4 tsp. turmeric 2 dried red chiles 3/4 c. red lentils 6 c. water kosher salt to taste Peel and mince the tomatoes (or open the can). Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Cover and cook over high heat until they begin to pop and then reduce the heat to low. When the popping stops add the onion and cook, uncovered, until softened. Add the cumin, coriander, tumeric and chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute. Stir in the red lentils, tomatoes and water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are falling apart, 45 minutes to an hour. 6 servings. I can vouch for the restorative qualities of this soup, especially with a sour tummy. It has an Indian subcontinent tone so I suspect it came from that part of the world. By the way, I've been reducing my stock to the "jelly" stage so that I can freeze it in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into a ziplock bag. Why should I freeze all that water when I can add it later when I make soup? I essentially make frozen bouillon cubes. Saves a lot of space in the freezer, which is always at a premium. One cube makes about a cup of strong stock. I have a new supply from the Thanksgiving turkeys and that should last me until next Thanksgiving. I save chicken bones in the freezer but generally use fresh vegetables--what I call The Usual Suspects, carrots, celery and onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf--to make a pot of stock in between turkeys. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  18. I've relied for many years on "Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine," by Linda West Eckhardt and Diana Collingwood Butts (1995). Most of the recipes use the bread machine to mix and knead the bread and then you take it out to form it as you want. Wonderful recipes of all types, including an extensive chapter on sweet and holiday breads. There's a spiffy recipe for rye bread that I like very much. I'll bet you can find the book on Amazon. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  19. Here's another option: Last night as we were returning from a concert in Morelia we stopped for gas across the highway from what we'd heard was an avocado packing facility. While chatting with the guy pumping gas we learned that it will produce canned avocado puree. I'm assuming this won't be the chunky style most of us prefer for guacamole, but evidently this produces a product that is shelf stable and available all year when avocado production is in one of its low cycles. I don't know if this appeals to you, but it's an option. Clearly there's automation involved--I can't really see hundreds of people with knives and spoons processing tons of avocados, despite labor being pretty inexpensive around here. The facility is huge--easily twice as long as a football field and equally wide. We've watched it being built for the past couple of years. The first clue that something important was being built was the massive stone wall around it and the secure entry system in front. I also have a nifty avocado ice cream recipe that is dairy free and vegan, and stupid easy to make, if you want add it to your menu. The puree would be ideal for this. Nancy in Pátzcuaro (in the middle of avocado production in Michoacán)
  20. There's a restaurant in Zihuatanejo that prepares salsa at the table, and one can specify how spicy it will be, what other ingredients other than tomato and chile, etc. It's always a hit. The wait staff gets a chance to show off a little, make it a bit of a performance, and get a bigger tip as a result. The Zihua restaurant has a young woman whose only job is to make the salsa, so you might consider dedicating one person for the guacamole. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  21. I don't know if there's any way to make as much guacamole that you do and still produce it quickly without just dumping it in a blender. If you make it in a molcajete and take it to the table that way it could be a selling point. It's compelling to have someone mash avocados for your own personal guacamole--I'm sure your customers would love it. But if you're using 70+ avocados every day I don't think you'd have enough molcajetes to go around. This is not a problem that most of us have. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  22. For me it's the CI lasagne bolonese. No spinach, no ricotta, no mushrooms (alas), no mozzarella--just a good bolognese sauce, no boil noodles, bechamel and parmesan. Classic, a little boring, but always wonderful. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  23. Has anyone figured out how to judge when to go out in search of mushrooms? In Colorado the season is late summer into the fall, but the real question is whether they flush after a soaking rain, and if so, how long after the rain? After a heavy snow year to saturate the ground, with occasional rain to keep it moist? It's the hardest part about mushrooming--when to start looking. Nothing quite so disappointing as finding lots of porcini that are flabby and wormy because we should have been out there a couple of days earlier. I suppose mycologists have their theories. By the way, did you see the story in the food section of the New York Times about amanita muscaria? I thought it made a relatively poisonous mushroom sound a little too attractive to neophytes. Plus the author said that they can be mistaken for other members of the family, like Destroying Angel (amanita virosa), which is nonsense. Amanita virosa is an elegant white mushroom--amanita muscaria is chunky and crude in comparison, with what we call cottage cheese all over the red cap. Nothing else looks like that. However our experience is that porcini grow in the same places as the amanita muscaria, so when we find a patch we look closely for porcini. So they're not entirely useless! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  24. Here in México we use Microdyne, which is colloidal silver. I'm definitely trying the baking soda wash, though I don't know how to evaluate how well it works without a lab test. If anyone has any information about the effectiveness of Microdyne vs. baking soda, I'd like to hear about it. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  25. I don't have a specific recipe--it's different every time. Constants are shredded red cabbage, slivered red onion, a little garlic, a generous amount of red wine, cooked slowly for as long as it takes to get soft and jammy. I've added grated nutmeg, vanilla, dried cherries or cranberries, orange juice, a pinch of cinnamon, a little honey if it seems too tart--not all at the same time, of course. My German grandmother was famous for her sweet and sour red cabbage, so sometimes as an homage I've stirred in a little vinegar and brown sugar. But I much prefer it on the savory side. Salt and pepper, of course. I like the idea of apple juice too--gives it a nice fruit overtone. Allspice--hmm--gotta try that this TG. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
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