Thursday, May 31, 2007

South of the border stampede!

Even if the Bull Fights are synonymous with bovines in Mexico, the Cow Parade is here. There is no doubt that some people are just plain confused when they see the Cows for the first time. This woman obviously was, she kept looking & shaking her head!

Cow Parade which began in 1999 was started as a public art exhibit which makes art accessible to everyone. It is the considered the world's largest public art exhibit. Since Cow Parade is inspired by cultural aspects & artists interpretation the Cow Parade in Mexico has many centuries of both art & history to draw on. In Mexico City one artist even painted a Frida Cow as an homage to famed Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo. The Torreon cows are certainly eye catching in the downtown area near the Museum. But my favorite by far is one of the privately owned Cows is near my husband's office & he walks past it each day on his way into the office.
Most important, CowParade ultimately benefits charity. To learn more about the Cow Parade go to:

The Privately owned Cow: La via del Primer Picad, in front of Tyson de Mexico offices.
Cow Parade in Mexico: A Moo~y Bueno Experience!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Color & Accessories do alot for a dull space!

With a little bit of paint, live plants, a modest budget & a shopping buddy this lobby of one of Torreon Manufacturing Giants was transformed into a better place to receive guests!
Yep, paint can make a huge impact!

We rearranged things, ditched some ancient silk plants, hung a picture & made a huge impact with color. Even managing to find a not so shabby copy of the prehispanic "Colima Dog" to place in the lobby. With some primitive Mexican pottery, a rug & terracota paint the whole place is warmer & much more inviting. All in all, mucho better!

Like the HGTV show Design on a Dime, alot can be done with paint, fresh plants & accessories in a small amount of time!

Flower Markets in Mexico

Blanco Street in Torreon, Street of many flowers.

The floral market in Torreon is a total assault of the senses. It's an area which is something akin to a flea market & shady place you wouldn't want to be after dark.... Blanca Street is packed with flower vendors & small shops that make floral arrangements to order. The prices for fresh flowers & arrangements is incredibly inexpensive. The combination of low prices with many vendors in a small area make the vendors very pushy & ready to pitch their wares at each curious shopper. We bought some large arrangements that would have been 4 to 5 times the price at home & only cost $250.00 pesos. As we peeked into the back room of the Lupita Floreria shop one of the men making up the arrangements kept saying "beautiful" in English, apparently one of the few english words he knew. Some of the arrangements were 3 ft across at the center & filled with roses & lilies & birds of paradise; still the same cheap prices! Glad we visited early in the morning as the selection is best & the flowers haven't wilted from the mid day heat. Flower markets in Mexico don't have large walk in refrigerators for keeping the flowers fresh, the vendors use buckets of water to keep their blossoms fresh till all are sold for the day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jicama, fruit or veggie?

Jicama, the strange looking vegetable that is sold in the Latin section fruit section in most grocery stores at home rarely gets more than a glance since the appearance makes one think it could be something like a turnip or parsnip. In Mexico the vegetable is routinely featured on salad bars or as part of fruit salad. The plain starchy taste gains a burst of flavor when served with fresh lime & a sprinkle of chili.

This salad recipe is a wonderful warm weather concoction & is a nice change from the standard summer favorites.

Watermelon & Jicama Salad

2 med. jicama (peeled and cut into thin match sticks)
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 piece watermelon, about 2 lb piece
2 c. fresh pineapple chunks
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeds removed & minced very fine
1/4 c. Pine nuts, toasted
lime slices (garnish)

Toss jicama with lime juice and salt. Cover & refrig. 30 mins.
Cut rind off watermelon & discard. Cut melon into 1/4 inch cubes to
equal 4 cups. Remove seeds. Add melon , cilantro,jalapeno or serano to the jicama/lime juice mixture; toss well. Refrigerate & toss with Pine nuts just before serving.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Elotes!!! Fabulous Mexican Street Food

Roasted corn is a popular street food served all over Mexico but is also widely popular in Texas & Arizona these days. I have seen it sold deep in the heart of Texas & recently at the Festival in Parque Alameda. So common now north of the border that Austin American Statesman did an article more than a year ago about street foods & gave Elotes high reccomendations. Here in Mexico you can buy it by the ear or eat the shelled kernels from a cup with mayonaise, lime & cream.

Roasted Corn w/ Chipotle Butter
1 stick butter, at room tempurature
1-3 tbsp pureed chipotle in adobo (depending on how spicy you like it)
juice from half a lime
salt and pepper

*to get Chipoltle puree: take 1-105 gram can (a teeny tiny can) Chipotle in Adobo & puree in blender.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Once the oven is heated roast the corn, husk on, for about 30 minutes or until the corn is soft. Ahead of time combine the butter, chipotle puree & lime, dash of salt & pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly, keep at room temp so mixture stays smooth & soft to spread. Once the corn has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and pull down the husks. Once the corn is roasted the husk & silk should remove easily. Slather on the Chipotle Butter & Serve.

Corn is wonderful grilled & is sold grilled streetside more often than not in Mexico.
Remove outer husk. Turn ... on grill. Turn often. Roast 12 to 15 minutes. Husks will brown but corn will be delicious.

Festival de las Artes Coahuila

This week kicked off the Festival de las Artes Coahuila in one of the local parks in Torreon. We took an excursion to check things out & saw some interesting sights as well as picked up a few Mexican Artesanos items. One of the Pollo Chicas is returning to the states soon & was gathering things for her trip home. I found an awesome little hand beaded key chain with a rooster on it. While in the Parque Alameda one does not want to venture a trip to the bathroom. Don't ask why but it involves paying a few pesos for the privilege as well stepping over a dog, being handed a few squares of t.p. & for lack of better words & more colorful language~primitive bathroom conditions!!

A couple of Pollo Chicas

Questionable Bathroom's never good to look closely, especially when you are being rationed the t.p. & there seems to be a canine assistant for the attendant!

Muy Linda, perfect for Pollo Chicas to keep the keys on!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Circle of Friends in Torreon

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one”

Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure~
After being introduced to the Ex Patriot's group here called Circle of Friends I knew I could somehow make it here. This group has certainly helped me keep my sanity on almost every level since arriving in Torreon. International moves are never as simple as they sound, so coming together with a group of women who share ideas & thoughts is nothing short of a miracle. There is the way you do things before you get down here & the way you do things once you are here. Meeting these women really has changed life down here for me.

Without these women as friends, Torreon would be like living in a lonely little dust bowl!

A friend is like a heart that goes
strong until the end. Where would we be in this world
if we didn't have a friend.
- By Emma Guest

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Coke South of the Border~Toma lo Bueno, take the good!

Coke, drink of choice south of the border, Charros & otherwise!

When we used to go to the border in the 1970's we would stop for a bottle of coke once we crossed the border. Before the bottle water craze, coke was what you cooled off with south of the border. Somehow the Coke always tasted sweeter & seemed to have a different flavor than it did in Texas. When I moved down here I discovered that Coke truly is made differently here versus the states. Coke uses cane sugar in Mexico still & corn syrup back in the states, hence the flavor difference. Annual cola expenditures in Mexico exceed the amount spent on the 10 staple foods combined, including milk, bread and eggs. The poor quality of drinking water in Mexico drives the high consumption of other beverages. In Mexico City, the world's largest soft-drink market, where 18 million thirsty people are drinking Coke! When we were in Monterrey a few weeks ago I was introduced to a new drink by our Realtor. She told us about giving this same recipe to a bartender in Las Vegas. Soon Charro Negros will be spreading across the west! I know this isn't brand new but I had never heard of it. Coke or Coke Lite may be used~Salute!!

Charro Negro
1 ½ oz. El Charro Tequila Reposado
3 oz. cola
Juice of ½ lemon (or lime~when in Mexico!)
Margarita Salt
Rub rim of chilled highball glass with lemon and dip into margarita salt. Fill glass with ice and add tequila, lemon juice and cola. Stir.

Roadside Coke Vendor/Store in the desert of Coahuila. Looks a bit like Crummley Grocery Store may have 50 years ago at the edge of Austin!! (For all the Texans old enough to remember that place!)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stuffing those Avacados South of the Border Style!

Shrimp Stuffed Avocados
10 ripe Avocados
3 C. cooked baby Shrimp,
1 C. Lump Crab meat or Surimi
2 Stalks Celery, diced with celery tops included
2 Green Onions, chopped fine tops & bottoms
1 med. Red Onion, diced small
1/2 C. fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 C. Chunky Salsa, drained (most of the liquid)
1 C. finely shredded lettuce of any type
1 C. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. Cocktail Sauce
Salt/Pepper, Lime wedges

Cut Avocados in half, peel & remove avocado pit. Sprinkle with lime/lemon juice to prevent browning. Mix next 10 ingredients & season with salt & pepper to taste. Spoon into Avocado halves & serve on bed of lettuce & with fresh lime wedges.

Viveros in Mexico

A visit to a Mexican nursery can be sensory overload!

The town of Lerdo was our destination this week as we took a trip to visit a few of the local nurseries. Lerdo has many nurseries that dot the little town & some are virtually hidden by the little allies & side streets of the small town. One of our favorite nurseries even has a water tank which is home to a family of turtles while the neighboring nursery has cages of birds. There seems to be something for everyone at the viveros in Lerdo! Mexicans love plants, which have figured heavily in artwork & has been recorded in 16th century history books. The Spanish arrived in Mexico & were overwhelmed by the site of the gardens in Texcoco & in the Cuitláhuac Palace. These gardens have all but disappeared but the diverse climate & geographic position of Mexico makes it an extraordinary place to find spectacular & enormous variety of plants. I have seen the smallest, most impoverished looking little adobe house on the side of the highway in the desert with plants flourishing which seem to give life to the often dismal surroundings.

Carolyn was looking for little splashes of color for her Jardin & found many options at the nurseries we visited.

A small cactus was my big plant purchase for the day. Easy to transport during our upcoming move...

All good shopping expeditions need refreshments afterwards to refuel & relax. Our friend Joan met us at Moma Yoya's in Torreon for Gorditas.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Paris or Mexico??

Today I passed what is surely one of the wonders of the world right here in Northern Mexico. I wondered what in the world people from France would think of the Eiffel Tower replica at the busy intersection in Gomes Palacio: A 223-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower has been built in honor of Gomez Palacio's more than 100 years as a municipality. The replica was built with French funds. Hmmm, stranger yet! I am told the crazy traffic flow at that particular intersection was invented by the French. (So they are to blame..) Next time I am gritting my teeth going through there I will think of them & no doubt it will occur to me this is just like Paris! It certainly raises an eyebrow or two as people view the replica & wonder why? I really have to stop asking why; after all this is one of the wonders of the world right here in Gomes Palacio in front of a Soriana Grocery Store.

Hard to believe since Gomes Palacio could be instantly mistaken for Paris...okay, not Paris!! The mountains,the little donkey carts, the desert, the heat...Another incredible sight in Mexico! La vie de phase!
Merci peuple de la France~

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

5 things I have never blogged about me!

Well, actually there is alot I have never blogged about me since this blog is more about Mexico & Texas but none of us are an open book...

1. I hate the noise made when people rub on balloons & make that awful squeaky noise! Darn, that makes my teeth hurt! Nails on a chalkboard~doesn't phase me one little bit. Balloon noise...I have a meltdown!
2. My first job ever for a very short time was in a Popeye's Fried Chicken~ utter irony for a current Tyson: "Pollo Chica"! Popeye's had a really aweful uniforms then & this chica had to wear too!!!
3. With generations of men ahead of me on my Dad's side of the family I should have had a Roman number V (5) after my name. Somehow my Dad never seemed disappointed at not having sons.

4. My sister & I fancied ourselves detectives at some point in our youth! One summer we read every Nancy Drew book in print. Many mysteries were solved by the Decker sisters. What grand dreams we had back in the day! *At this point in our lives with 6 kids between us, I think the mysteries have been solved. Where has the time gone, Sister?
5. I was a terrible student of the Spanish language throughout school~where did that get me?? Ah yes, right here in Mexico speaking my Tex-Mex!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bringing the Tex & Mex together for a favorite!

Post Mother's Day I offer this family favorite as a tribute to my own two daughters who will one day make this for their families! No, this isn't offered on any menu in Mexico but North of the Border it would be hard to find anyone who doesn't have a version of this recipe.

Texas Bean Dip, aka: 7 Layer Dip
1 can Refried Beans, any type
8 oz. sour cream
3 ripe avocados, mashed and lightly salted
1 package of taco seasoning mix
½ c. mayonnaise
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. grated cheese
¼ c. green onion
¼ c. black olives
1 tomato, diced
Spread beans onto a small platter. Mix mashed avocado with lemon juice and spread on top of bean dip. Mix sour cream, taco mix, and mayonnaise together and spread on top of avocado mix.
Top with grated cheese, tomatoes, green onion and black olives. Serve with Tortilla chips.