Friday, November 30, 2007

White Bean & Escarole Soup

I love Soup Weather~there is nothing quite like cooking up a nice pot of soup & warming up all the way through at dinner time.

1 head escarole, cored
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped or shredded carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dry thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained, navy beans are also good
3 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Blanche the escarole in boiling water for 1 minute. Rinse it in cold water.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and brown it on both sides.
Bake sausage in the oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until it is cooked through. Drain excess oil from the sausage (I blot the excess with a paper towel), chop sausage into bite-sized pieces.
In a medium stock pot, combine the onion, the carrots, the garlic, the water and the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil. Simmer the mixture over medium heat until the onions are clear.
Stir in the thyme, bay leaf, cannellini beans and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Take half of the mixture and purée it in a food processor or blender.
Return the puréed mixture to the stock pot. Stir in the sausage and the escarole. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Simmer for an additional 5 minutes and serve.
This makes 6 large servings or 8 medium-size.

*I have used both Kale & Escarole in this soup. You can also leave the sausage out entirely to make it veggie only or change up the sausage according to taste.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's not just a state of mind~

Good to be home

I only know how I feel when I am here. It's just hard to take the Texas out of the Texan. I love the way Fall smells, the sun feels & the wind feels with a "Blue Northern" blows in, putting that chill in the wind. The people, places & spirit of Texas are just hard to get when I am any other place on earth. Day to day these things carry me through & give me a mental anchor to let me drift back home when I need to.

Friday, November 23, 2007

From my point of view~

Home again!

Words can't describe the feeling when I see Texas from any angle! On those days when Texas & Mexico are worlds apart this is a blessed & wonderful sight.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thinking Green just before Turkey Day!

If this drink is good enough for Oprah then it is worth trying! I needed to use up the produce as we pack up & head to Texas for Thanksgiving. I juiced it all & it is really quite tasty! Salute & Buen Provencho!

Green Drink Recipe
2 apples, cored
2 big handfuls of spinach
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1 celery stick, chopped
1 thumbnail length of ginger root, peeled
1 lemon - juice only (use peel slice for zest)
1 medium cucumber

**I can't find lemons here & substituted persian limes. Also, he suggested adding sweet things if it is too tart. I added the juice from 2 small clementines. Anyway, one can feel quite virtuous having something like this a day or so before Thanksgiving~helps to stay the course!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

1 1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 Cup pumpkin puree
1/2 Cup olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 Cup dried Cranberries,(toss with 1 Tbsp. flour)
1/2 Cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift together flour, salt, sugars, baking soda & set aside.

Mix the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs & spices then combine with dry ingredients, do not over mix, stir in nuts & dried cranberries. Pour into well buttered & floured 9X5 loaf pan. Bake 50-60 min. till a skewer comes out clean from center. Turnout the pan & let cool on a rack. This recipe can be doubled quite easily.

I started this recipe with a fresh pumpkin~

A Pot of Zesty Pumpkin Soup~

Pumpkin Soup

6 C. Pumpkin Puree (3-15 oz. cans)
4 Tbsp. Butter
2 Med. Yellow onions, chopped
2 Garlic gloves, minced
2 Tbsp. Flour
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. curry powder
2 dashes of Tabasco, Cholula or fave hot sauce
pinch of Cayenne pepper (or 3 chili pequines, dried)
1 large Green Apple, peeled, diced
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable broth
1/2 c. whole milk
1 tsp. Thyme, fresh
Salt & Pepper to taste

Saute onion, garlic, apple in butter till translucent & slightly golden, add flour to make Roux. Slowly add 2 cups Broth. Add Puree, seasonings,thyme, then rest of broth. Add enough broth to give consistency of a thick soup but not too thin. This may vary some if you use fresh pumpkin. Simmer over low heat till Soup is heated (approx. 30 min.) Remove from heat & add milk & serve in heated bowls.
Top soup with extra fresh Thyme.

Thread your Chili Pequines onto a toothpick so you can locate them in your Soup, Stew, etc.

¡Feliz Día de la Revolución!

, Celebrate in style this week!!

Sending out some South of the Border Love, from now till Thanksgiving~

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It was one of those started with Spinach Salad!

As I bit into my spinach salad yesterday at lunch I broke a piece out of one of my molars! From my lunch hour the rest of the day went downhill. John & I had numerous phone conversations as he was driving back into town about my problem & how best to solve it on a Friday afternoon. I was supposed to meet a friend to have a leisurely visit to a local craft fare. She ended up staying with me till I made it to a late evening dental visit. Quite fortunately John made some calls & has friends who made an appointment with a dentist in Monterrey as well as drove me there with a personal driver. The dental office was near the Hospital San Jose in Monterrey. I really was impressed with both the Doctor & his staff as well as the state of the art equipment. He examined me & told me he would put a crown on my tooth after I saw someone else for an emergency Root Canal!!! The reality is that I broke about half of my tooth on that gritty Spinach Salad! He made some phone calls & within 30 minutes the Dean of the College of Dentistry at TEC de Monterrey who does only restoration & root canals was giving me an emergency root canal till 8:30 pm last evening. I return for the crown on Tuesday & then head to Texas for our Thanksgiving holiday. By then I will be thankful all of this is behind me! Right now my jaw feels like I've been kicked in the head. I think it will be a very low key weekend.

*Of note: I was impressed by the level of care I was able to get & how quickly people responded. Often we think the medical care South of the Border as being somehow less than standard. I can attest to the fact that it was premium care & quite first class. Even if it wasn't my idea of how to spend a Friday night in Mexico~ At one point the doctor wasn't sure the tooth could be saved since there was so much broken out & one of the roots looked inflamed. For the fine care I received & friends who helped with this minor crisis I am thankful this Thanksgiving holiday~

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diabolitos & Dangerous Roadways

After a late night at the Friday wedding, John's week of meetings & my week of visiting we headed back to Monterrey on Saturday afternoon. Our trip was thankfully pretty uneventful but I did happen to capture a "Diabolito", one of the small desert dust cyclones of which there are many in Coahuila. I also had my camera ready as we headed into the hairpin turns of the mountain pass between Saltillo & Monterrey. I was told my a local recently that it is rightfully called "The dead man's slope" or "cuesta de los muertos". The sign alone really says enough... I guess the sign is cheaper than building a better,straighter road to begin with. The many roadside shrines are a testament to the danger & constant conditions which put the traveler in peril. I guess that is Mexico danger, devotion & unpredictable~all rolled into one!

Katerina & some of the guys in her life!

We took Katerina with us to Torreon, she visited her vet while we were in town. This visit was punctuated with some Rabies shots & the introduction of a new friend. Generally when she visits Dr. Sergio she has the run of his office. She is such a frequent visitor that she is called the Princess around the clinic & sits at his laptop & in his chair. This trip was a little different for her as she is no longer the only cat at the clinic. She met "Diego", an adorable orange Tabby. Sergio explained to us that he recently rescued Diego from an airduct system in a house in Torreon. Now he is a permenent resident at the vet clinic. Diego & Katerina seemed to be on very friendly terms by the time we arrived to pick her up on Saturday morning. The only snag in the friendship came when we put her cute little satin pet carrier in the car & realized that Diego had sprayed her carrier to "mark" his territory...we realized about half way to Saltillo that the strange odor was Katerina's kitty carrier. Needless to say Sunday was spent cleaning the kitty carrier so it is fresh & clean once again! Ahh, the price of kitty friendship.

Wedding in Torreon, Coahuila

John & I attended the wedding of Luis & Marcella Compean Friday night in Torreon. It was a beautiful service in the Campestre with a very grand reception following at the Montebello Country Club. We arrived back at our hotel by 1 am but were by no means the last to leave. Out at Montebello celebrations were still going strong till the wee hours, I'm certain. *I did find out that almost all evening weddings in Mexico are very formal affairs. I was one of 3 women out of approx. 400 guest not wearing a floor length gown. I felt fine wearing my dress but will keep that note in my head for next time. I'm still living & learning, somewhere South of the Border.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A good hair day!

Today I had a hair appointment with one of our local stylists, even though the appointment started later than scheduled, which was not my fault~a true "South of the Border time" thing... It was a good hair day. My friend Lori (who has not too many bad hair days) came to the salon for a show of support & great company as well. The salon at one point was an adventure in disorder. But eventually I was quite pleased with the job well done. Joey was a prestigious Golden Scissors Nominee this past year. I really don't know what that is other than a high honor. Bravo Joey! I like my hair today, although tomorrow is another day...

You just never know how the day will progress here South of the Border! Lori even drove me past the Gianormous Milk Carton Sign so I could capture another Mexican photo opportunity. Just another day down south!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

In Mexico ~ we women stick together!

I love these women!! With 190 million people in Mexico all it takes is a few good friends to keep me sane South of the Border!

Friends, spending time, having fun~

South of the Border outings are always more interesting & exciting when you have friends to share it with. Whether shopping, lunching or just wandering, it's better with friends. We walked through clusters of people down in Centro today exploring the ordinary, extraordinary & inexplicable.

Another fun time with the Chicas! Great day: Caroline, Joan & Lori!! BTW, where is other Chica in these pics? hmmm...Strange to have her Chiliquiles photo but not Lil Martha.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Caldo Pollo~wholesome tradition.

Riding for hours against the blowing wind yesterday with the Bob Seger tune~"Against the wind" in my head, dinner needed to be wholesome & warm. Caldo Pollo was the perfect dish for a hearty, early evening dinner. This traditional Mexican meal is served with a dish of avocado, cubed cheese & lime wedges to be added to taste.

Caldo Pollo
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans or chick peas, drained
6 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced and browned on a dry skillet
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 pinch cumin
2 whole chicken breasts, about 2 lbs total
2 chipotle chiles (canned chiles, drained & whole)
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper lime wedges(to garnish)

Place the carrots, stock, browned garlic, oregano, chilies, cumin& salt in a dutch oven (5 Quart) and bring to a boil.
Add the whole chicken breasts, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes.
Remove chicken to a plate to cool about 10 minutes.
Remove the chillies from the soup and adjust the seasoning.
Remove the skin & bones from the chicken& tear or chop it into coarse pieces.
Add garbanzo beans & chicken to the pot simmer 5 minutes.
Add cilantro & serve with wedges of lime on the side.
Serve with Avocado & cubes of Queso Chihuahua if that is your preference~

Desierto puebla de Agosto 28

Driving to Coahuila yesterday we drive through a small roadside town in the desert named for the patron saint day of Saint Augustine~August 28th. Some spots on the highway in Northern Mexico are little more than wide spots in the road. This small town had a few vendors serving the needs of travelers & many homes are painted in vivid colors keeping the dust from making the bleak landscape totally brown.

Like a mirage in the desert the Giant 6 Pack beckons drivers onward...well, that & the 25 speed bumps leading into town~

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cleaning out & straightening up!

Pretty neat & tidy!

I cleaned out the refrigerator since we are traveling to Torreon for the week. I have a real adversion to returning to green & growing things that shouldn't be...

Post Script: After last night's dinner of veggies & left overs there aren't many green veggies left! Also, Patti we are waiting for another visit for the Dom...I'm trying to be good here South of the Border...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Evening out South of the Border!

We attended an ASOMO Fall Harvest Dinner & dance last night here in Monterrey. We are tired & resting from the fun but all in all wonderful evening. The dress I brought back from Texas worked & the vintage jewelry looked spectacular. My shoes were a killer on the slippery sidewalk but nothing too catastrophic. Security was high & we needed our passports to enter the venue but dinner & company was very nice indeed. Also we won a case of wine...although John says when there is an auction & tickets or $$ exchanged it is not truly winning! I still say "won".(besides, there was an American flag present last night~a total winner!)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Austin to Mexico~ company in Monterrey!

Dinner & cocktails on the Terrace under a Mexican starlit sky~

We had a dinner al Fresco last night when our friend Chris was in town from Austin. We dined outside under the stars, ate grilled steaks & not for the first time recently I served mushroom soup. It went well with the salad & steaks the guys grilled. All in all a very nice evening.

Mushroom Soup
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Large Yellow Onions, sliced
1 lb white & Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. Porcini Mushrooms
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
3 cups Vegetable Stock
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup skim milk
2 Tbsp. Sherry
1/2 lowfat Sour Cream
salt & pepper to taste

Saute onion & garlic in olive oil, cook till onions are softened. Add mushrooms & cook for another 5 min. stirring. Add the chopped Parsley, our in the stock & season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & reduce the heat, cover the pan & simmer for 20 min.
Put the flour into a bowl, mix enough milk to smooth into paste, then stir into soup. Cook stirring for 5 min. Stir in remaining milk & the sherry then cook for another 5 min. Remove from the heat & stir in the sour cream. Return the pan to heat slightly, warming gently but not boiling.
Remove from the heat & serve garnished with parsley or other fresh herb of choice.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I made something today!

Picture this~I made an apron because a girl can never have too many of those! Yep, I did have a little furry sewing assistant. She is truly helpful in the department of texture & color!