Cooking · Culture · Photography · Travel

Invitation To Flow

Everyday, watching my son dive under white capped, rising, churning waves, the brunt of the crash passing over, I am reminded that we can flow in all kinds of conditions.

Always, there is a path of least resistance. It is our choice to take it or not.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Already, I am tuned in strongly to all I have to be thankful for. Externally, this is obvious. Daily magenta sunsets, baby turtles flapping their way to the sea, whales blowing a powerful hello, 75 cent pork rib tamales, with potatoes and carrots, steaming in the own juices. Warmth… I have a beautiful lot to be grateful for.

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~ You are full of grace ~

Though this year, what lies internal receives my greater focus, my greatest thanks. My keen self awareness is host of my party this year.

We have not been invited to any Thanksgiving gatherings. I feel us still carving out our place and relationships here. As well, our foundation of American culture within our little, slightly complex, non-coupled, co-habitating family is less than united. An American, a Frenchy, a bright young sun, newly living together in Mexico.

Who knows what the day will bring. Always, looking out to see/sea, I am comforted by the expanse, my sense of opportunity.

Last year, opportunity did not seem to be knocking and so, I invited her to invite. I posted on FB that our family was seeking a Thanksgiving connection. I was slightly shy to do so, but in other ways it felt good. Of course, I received a lot of love. It was cool. We were welcomed by a neighbor-friend to a cozy, delicious gathering with folks we otherwise might not share time with. Our hearts and community expand asking, receiving, giving thanks.

They were not sorry for having us either, “Seven” is a great conversationalist, and I brought these…

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The apple tart was requested by “Frenchy”, asking that I please keep it simple. I did. Though I added pear, I used no cinnamon, nor lemon zest. It was tricky to curb my inclinations, but it felt good to get outside of my view. Give even more less a try. It was, of course, fabulous! Great butter crust, thin bed of homemade apple sauce, layers of thinly sliced Cortland and Empire apples, red pear. For shine, I brushed the top with warmed seedless raspberry jam.

Ah, and then the Foccacia Pugliese, from my Nonna to my Papa to me. Yeast, salt, potatoes (cooked and milled), flour, water, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, salt, salt, olive oil, olive oil, salt. Ha!

Who knows, who knows, the waves they come, the waves they go… Today may be flat, tomorrow raging. Let us dive, grab a line, hold hands, float alone…

Keeping simple. Fluid. Awake.

Keeping holy and slow…

Buen Provecho, Grateful Ones. Buen Dia de Grace.

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Cooking · Culture · Photography · Travel

Give It A Try

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Have you ever eaten cactus? Pig snout? Grasshoppers? Well, come to Mexico and try! There’s lots of great beaches here, too.

Today, I let my son “Seven” skip school for World School, and big market day. After our front seat AC, kid-movie-on-the-dvd, happy-go-lucky-bus-driver ride, I had to stay in the vein of “Yes!” I could not resist huge vats of frying pork fat.

I tried a taco de trompa, pig snout. It was as you might suspect: porky-tasty, gummy-chewey. I piled it with taco bar texture and spice. “Seven” stuck with carnitas or “regular” roast pig. Isn’t it funny how many omnivore-types freak at the thought of eating noses, feet or tongues, but have no problem with butts, shoulders and legs?

Ahh, that is another subject beast. For now, let’s touch on something a little less complicated, shall we?

Cactus! Humble star of the Mexican taco bar. Nopal, those hearty, prickly plants that grow with little water. We can eat them! I suppose to me they are uncomplicated because Some One Else harvests the brilliant green, clumps-of-tiny-sticker covered paddles, then Some One’s grandma holds them gently in her deep-brown hands and carefully cuts out the tiny-sticker-clumps. Finishing them off near julienne.

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In Mexico, we can buy nopales in many frutería/veggie stands, neatly packaged in clear, hopeful bags. Clean strips, or whole oval paddles. 12 pesos a pound. That’s 75 cents.

My first cook, I kept it simple, though not typical Mexican boil simple. I sautéed. After caramelizing a Spanish onion, I added garlic, then the nopales, sprinkling salt each round. Nopal cooks quickly… A little way in their clear, sticky liquid, their okra-like quality, shows up. By the end they’ve reduced to half their original mass. Rough, dainty cactus are full of water.

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I found them curiously sour. I was pleased I hadn’t squeezed in a lime. On the other hand, the fruit, the “tuna” or prickly pear, is sweet, melty, soft. Refreshing. Super hydrating. Light green or vibrating deep-purple-pink. You can peel the bulb by carefully breaking open the top with your thumb and pulling down the skin to make a star. Inside you’ll find many small-beebee-sized black seeds, which I swallow whole. To read more about nopal click here.

“Seven” and I like the cactus veg. It has a lot of give-back in the mouth. Smooth, slippery. Slightly green bean, slightly asperagee, but tart. I like to add them to a fresh tomato sauce to enjoy with spaghetti. (Spaghetti...my favorite comfort food.) Our new dinner-explore reminds me of a wonderful dish my Nonna used to make with these crazy green beans, 8-year-old-fore-arm length, super skinny flat, twirl around your fork with the linguine kinda green beans, with clingin’ garlic and tomatoes. Nonno’s Garden Memory Update = Spaghetti Nopales.

Que rico los dos!

And pig snout? Hmm…I put this in the Balinese Dragonfly-On-A-Stick category: happy to have been there, done that! El Fin.

Buen Provecho, Amigos!

Remember, Slow & Holy…

No wall between us.

Xo,
e.

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Cooking · Culture · Recipes · Travel

Everyday Watermelon

I know at this time of year where I “come from” watermelons aren’t in the shops, nor in the minds of the people. Too cooling. Out of season. But I would eat them all day. I’m in another realm. One where today, walking with my son “Seven” to our first potluck gathering since we moved to this sweet, Mexican beach town, sweat was literally dripping off my upper lip. And I’m not a sweater. So I thought.

Moving along, I was wishing the bright yellow Guadalupe shopping bag I was carrying that was stressing my arms and belly could ride easily atop my head, the way that old woman was carrying a big, green-black plastic garbage bag-full atop hers, strolling along, smiling with her friend. Mine was too bulgy, busting my biceps with it’s loaded up. Sarongs, travel dishes, bamboo utensils, cloth napkins, bikini, sunscreen (probably expired), water, clean clothes, and a big, full, silver bowl, our first homey dish for school potluck at the beach. Watermelon Rice Salad.

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~ Do you know about these? I wish everyone had them.
“To Go Ware” Photo courtesy R.E.I. ~

Five people brought popcorn. It was good.

Our salad was superb. “Seven” and I ate some before we left. He said it was “the best ever”, then added he would like it with scrambled eggs. “No way”, I said. “It’s so clean and amazing.” A wonderfully balanced bowl. The flavor of celery is cleansing to me, offering a tiny, smooth-bitter bite, while the green beans add a sort of flat sweetness, very different from that of gushing watermelon. Lime. Onion. Zing.

“Seven” helped make the salad by picking the flat parsley leaves off the stems, and keeping his chunky mitts off the melon.

~ Watermelon Rice Salad ~

2 cups Cooked Rice
2 Tbs. Good Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Fresh Ground White or Black Pepper
3 Tbs. Lime Juice
3 Stalks Celery, small diced
1 Cup Steamed Green Beans, small diced
2-3 Tbs. Parsey, Mint or Basil, rough chopped
2 Tbs. Red Onion, fine diced
1 1/2 – 2 cups Watermelon, small diced

I started by breaking up the rice into a large bowl, pouring over mucho olive oil, sprinkling generously with coarse sea salt, grinding black pepper around and squeezing in 2 very juicy, small limes. So simple. I mixed it well, to melt the salt and coat the rice, to bring the juice alive. I added the celery and green beans. I mixed. We left the parsley leaves whole. Then I added the red onion and mixed again. Finally, gently, we added our brightest star, our beautiful-sweet-juicy-red watermelon, cubed a tiny bit bigger than her two green friends. I made sure to squeegee all the fabulous juice from the cutting board. It totally makes the sauce. Mix. Taste. Remember. Northern Summer.

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There was some great Pollo Asado, whole grilled chicken, at the sandy potluck table. Some one bought it from the side of the road, and I sure was glad. It was fantastic with our salad. Popcorn side, a few tostadas. Avocado, cucumber. Crazy orangenta sun sinking into a silver-blue sea. Small fire burning. Kids taking turns fishing into a late arrival bag of “Big Mix”, orange, chili-cheese-powder coated puffy corn stuffs. Big Hit!

It was not much like potlucks at “home”, and that’s A-okay. I’m brewing home within.

Buen Provecho, Amigos, where ever…whatever it may be!

Take in it slow and holy.

XoXo,
enza esperanza

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~ The start of mural alley. Golden Life.
I do not know who painted this beauty. ~