Hanging Tortillas on the Clothesline

Extra tortillas don’t go to waste in our house. Sometimes I set them out on the kitchen counter to dry so we can use them as a dog snack. Yesterday, Russ decided to hang some on the clothesline to dry more quickly. It didn’t take long for Chucha to find them and check out the new laundry. She was told not to help herself. For her obedience, she was given a tortilla dog treat. Maybe she can’t resist dry tortillas because of their crunchiness. Or maybe it’s because she’ll eat almost anything, short of a carrot.

If you have extra tortillas and your dog doesn’t mind sharing them, they are also great in chilaquiles, with either red or green chile sauce.

I have a  family matter to take care of and I don’t know when I’ll be back to the blog, nor do it know if I’ll have an opportunity to write for the blog during this period. Please bear with me. I will return and I hope to find all my faithful readers still here, waiting for me.

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Salad of grilled nopal with carrot, jícama and beet wins recipe contest

I entered a recipe contest hosted by Muy Bueno Cookbook, and I won! The winning recipe is for Salad of Grilled Nopal with Carrot, Jícama and Beet which was featured on Cooking in Mexico last month. Check out their site — they did a much better job with the photography than I did when I first wrote up this recipe.

I never win anything, so this is a big deal for me. The prize is a beautiful Muy Bueno 2011 calendar, with each month featuring one of their Latino inspired recipes and a gorgeous photo.

Muy Bueno Cookbook is selling these calendars, with part of the proceeds benefiting the Denver Foundation, a non-profit group that will use the funds for neighborhood improvements. The photo below shows this calendar; click it to order your own. And make this salad! It’s so colorful and so good for you.

Holiday gift idea: make a cake stand for your foodie friend

Here’s an idea for your holiday gift giving — unique cake stands made from thrift store finds using glass candlestick holders and attractive plates.  All you need is one pretty plate, a glass candlestick holder and a tube of epoxy. And the urge to go thrift store shopping, a favorite past-time of mine when I am in the U.S. (My Mexican readers may not find materials for this project so easily, unless Walmart has glass candlestick holders.) I read about this while cruising the net one night. Wandering Chopsticks, a Vietnamese food blog, had all the instructions.

I look for special plates with a bit of flair, something that sets them apart from the ordinary. The plate on the left is by Dansk and made in Japan, the center plate has a leaf motif and may be hand-painted, and a Spode bone china plate from England is on the right. None of the plates cost more than $2, and the candlesticks were around $1 each. (Chiles from my sister’s garden in Santa Fe, New Mexico, are on the Dansk plate,  in case you are wondering.) Wandering Chopsticks also used glass goblets, but I prefer the look of candlestick holders. You may like the glasses, so check out her site to see what she made.

To make a cake stand, clean both plate and candlestick holder with very hot, soapy water. If  the candlestick holder is second-hand, check for any wax residue and remove completely. Wipe the areas where the epoxy will be applied with rubbing alcohol to insure super cleanliness.

Measure across the bottom of the plate to determine the exact center. Apply epoxy to the candlestick holder rim, and place on the upturned plate. Work on newspaper in case there are any drips of epoxy that escape you.

If any movement happens when you place the candlestick holder on the plate, you have a few minutes to make adjustments and reposition the candlestick holder. Don’t try to turn the plate right side up — the epoxy is too fluid and the plate may slide around. Leave the plate upside down and place a plate on top of the candlestick holder, with a weight on it. Leave the plate undisturbed overnight, until the epoxy is completely set.

After I made the round of thrift stores in Santa Fe, I set out my purchases and played around with different combinations of candlestick holders and plates, with an eye for matching height of candlestick holder to size of plate, and design of candlestick holder to the pattern on the plate. I particularly liked the square candlestick holder on the right (above).

For long-life for your recycled cake stand, carefully wash by hand, not in the dishwasher. And, of course, you will now have to bake something to display your new plate. Maybe Coconut Macaroons. Or Eggnog Cream Cake or Fruitcake Bars for the holidays.

Shopping at the Sunday market in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, again

I hope I’m not boring my north of the border readers by sharing photos of the La Cruz Sunday Market for the second time in as many weeks. It is just such a great event for our little town, with such nice items for sale. The market provides an outlet for the many creative vendors, and it gives the townfolk a chance to socialize and check out the wares together. I never imagined such a market ever happening in our pueblita when we moved here thirteen years ago.

Last week, I had no photos of the craftspeople and their wares — I wear blinders if there is food around — so here are some scenes from this morning, starting out with the many handmade items. I wish you could have been there.

I don’t know everyone’s names or where they are from, but they offer quite a variety of quality handmade goods at reasonable prices. I know where I’m doing my Christmas shopping.

Our plaza was spiffed up last year when El Presidente, Felipe Calderón, visited the international boat show at the new marina in March. The plaza’s gazebo is a perfect place for bands, and Tatawari, a local banda of talented, young musicians, kept our feet tapping with their spirited jazz and flamenco.

The moment of truth. Despite my best intentions, this was the sum total of my craft photos, and the rest are all of food! What can I say? Once a foodie, always a foodie. Enjoy.

This is the time of year when the climate could not be any better. An umbrella, un parasol, is used for sun, not rain, in the winter. Alfajores, fabulous cajeta-filled cookies, are made by Argentine born Christian of Vera Bakery in Bucerias. Thanks, Christian, for the alfajor you gave me. Did I ever luck out by having you as my market neighbor. Now if I can just keep my hands off your table of delectable goodies. Talk about temptation staring me in the face for four hours!

And I will close with my favorite of them all, the organic squash blossom flowers that are so beautiful, I take them home to enjoy in a vase, instead of turning them into quesadilla filling.

The La Cruz Sunday market is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Look for me next Sunday. I’ll be selling organic coconut products under the ficus trees next to Christian. To my faithful readers, don’t give up on me. I’ll be back with more recipes this week.

NOTE: The Sunday Market in La Cruz has begun a new season, and is now located next to the Fish Market at the La Cruz Marina. 

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Sunday Market in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle

A new Sunday Market has come to La Cruz, full of organic veggies, hand-crafted jewelry, clothing and paintings, and lots of wonderful baked breads and pastries. Organized by a group of local residents calling themselves Cooperativa Huanacaxtle, this market has the great feel of farmers markets many of us grew accustomed to north of the border, while still retaining a connection to tianguis, the Mexican street markets.

Pictures speak louder than words, so take a virtual walk with me through last Sunday’s market. Be sure to check out the organic squash blossoms, arugula, radishes, baby squash, cilantro and much more from San Jose. Beautifully fresh at reasonable prices, what more could we ask for.

If you haven’t yet had breakfast, are you in for a treat. Whole wheat breads, quiches, pies, cookies — home made or made by a local bakery, they, too shout freshness. Christian of Vera Bakery in Bucerias offers mouthwatering focaccia and Argentine cookies, alfojores, filled with dulce de leche and rolled in organic coconut, sold by his market neighbor Kathleen (ahem, yours truly). Grace specializes in American baked goods, including fruit pies, buttermilk doughnuts and cupcakes. Her son helps her sales just by sitting there and looking so cute.

Organic Super Foods from Puerto Vallarta has homemade organic peanut butter. I bought some, along with their flaxseed tostadas, and it was hard not to eat the whole tub of peanut butter with a spoon. Archie’s Wok was represented by a big selection of salsas, with chips for sampling each one.

There was also fresh cheese, a product no longer seen in U.S. farmer’s markets, with the concern over raw milk. (I have been eating locally purchased fresh cheeses for years, and can only say the panelas and queso frescos are wonderful and cause me no problems.) Doña Guera also has yard eggs, something not seen too often here, a surprise given the numbers of hens and noisy roosters that roam the streets our town, crowing their presence day and night.

Obviously, I focused on the food and not the hand-crafts, but they are worth checking out, also. I’m just too food-oriented for my own good, but I’ll try to make up for it with another market report in the future.

La Cruz Sunday Market is 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on the plaza. You might want to bring a shopping bag and a bottle of water. There is a children’s program to entertain the youngsters while their parents shop.

NOTE: The Sunday Market in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle has begun a new season, and has a new location. You can find it next the the Fish Market at the La Cruz Marina. It is bigger than ever and may be Banderas Bay’s premiere farmers’ Market.

More Reading:

Farmers Market May Be Finding Their Niche in Mexico (Banderas News)

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