Friday, May 15, 2009

Going home~Who says we can't go home?

The Spirit of Mexico may never leave us but we are certainly going to do just that & leaving Mexico to head back home...

As we leave Mexico & return home I reflect on all the ways Mexico touches our lives. While it is true Texas is never far from Mexico both in distance & cultural connections. During the time we have both lived here & traveled to and from Mexico it has touched our lives in ways one cannot describe or even try to tell someone else. The friends we made in Mexico will be ours for a lifetime & the experiences we had will stay with us even longer. Texas will always be my home & birthplace but Mexico will always have a piece of my heart. **Besides all of the sentiment, I knew it was time to head home to Texas when my husband wanted ice cream & I paid 130.00 pesos for a carton of Blue Bell ice cream. Somethings are just sacred!

I spent last week running around visiting my friends, saying my goodbyes & having a few last cups of coffee. I was able to visit a Festival de Artesanias from Oaxaca which came to town just before we left Monterrey. The festival featured handmade products from across the state of Oaxaca. I was impressed as always by the quality of goods & the skills of the artist from that region. Most of the artist were very friendly & eager to show the wares they had made but one in particular impressed me when she gave me a demonstration of weaving with a traditional back strap loom. Alicia Gomez Navarro showed us several of the weavings she had made several of which depicted animals woven into the patterns. We of course bought some of her beautiful woven pieces, which are true treasures. Many of the typical Artesanias we saw from Oaxaca have been made for generations & the ancient traditions have been handed down from Nahua or Aztec heritage.

A Typical Tex-Mex Breakfast good enough for a meal at any time.
More than once during our moving time period I made up Migas for a meal. When moving easy meals featuring whatever was on hand & didn't require making a run to the "Super" was the comida del día.
"Migas" means crumbs, in Spain the migas or crumbs are actual breadcrumbs mixed into the eggs & scambled. In Texas or Northern Mexico it's Tortillas which are the "crumbs" in the eggs.

Huevos con migas Omlette

3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. Poblano Chili Pepper, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into small strips
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 roma tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
1/2 cup chopped avocado, sprinkled with a little lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
2/3 cup grated mild cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
crema or sour cream

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, and set aside.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the tortilla pieces and sauté until softened. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it is transparent. Stir in the chopped Poblano chiles, tomato.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, and "scramble" gently eggs are done or set. Remove the skillet from heat, and sprinkle the cilantro and cheese into the eggs, fold Omelette over carefully making certain the cheese is in the center as you would with a regular omelette. the Tortillas add density to folding it over may require both a spatula & silicon spatula. Top with Crema & serve avocado to the side. This omelette serves 2. Serve at once with warm flour or corn tortillas & favorite salsa.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo & Why all the Hoop-la?

For perplexed Cinco de Mayo celebrants & shrimp lovers I offer some South of the Border explanations.

The first year lived in Mexico I asked my Spanish teacher about how people celebrated Cinco de Mayo in Mexico? I seriously thought people strung up those Jose Cuervo banners I saw at home in all the Tex-Mex restaurants & had one day long extravaganza! I mean why not?? Back in the states it's a day of culture & foods. I'd already seen how they threw parties for Diez y Sies & other big events. I was quite surprised to find out that the celebration is called Cinco de Mayo but hardly rates a blip on the radar across most of Mexico. As we leave Mexico soon I have to wonder if I'll be celebrating Cinco de Mayo next year in the Estados Unidos with a different appreciation for the event?

The state of Puebla recognizes the day but it's not a national holiday throughout Mexico. The day actually celebrates the Battle of Puebla when the French under estimated how the Mexicans were seriously fed up with & quite angered concerning French expansion on Mexican soil. It took Mexico several more battles albiet years to clear out foreign intervention in Mexico. The real hero of the Battle of Puebla was a young General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. Texans may recognize the name Zaragoza as he was born in near the town of present day Goliad Texas. Ignacio Zaragoza moved from Goliad to Monterrey, entered a Seminary then later joined the Mexican Army. There he rose through the ranks & actually fought for reestablishment of a constitutional democratic government in Mexico & defeated the dictator Santa Anna. (I knew there was a reason I liked this historical personage!) General Ignacio Zaragoza died after contracting Malaria & dying at the youthful age of 33. So when you celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the States just remember this true hero of Cinco de Mayo. My tribute to General Zaragoza involves giving some South of the Border flair to a standard Thai dish. All Texans know that premium shrimp can be found in the Gulf. The shrimp I cooked for Cinco de Mayo are from the state of Veracruz & of course the Gulfo de Mexico! Feliz Cinco de Mayo~

Our dinner menu featured Drunken Noodles with 2 Different Chilies (which I am sending onto Girlichef for her Chili Pepper Challenge) & Krupek/Shrimp crackers sprinkled with Tajin, a Mexican Lime & chili seasoning~

Cinco de Mayo Drunken Noodles

16 oz wide Thai rice noodles
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 Red Bell pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Bell pepper, sliced
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 lb raw, peeled shrimp
1 can baby corn, drained & halved
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
fresh basil leaves, about 2-3 stems of leaves.
fresh cilantro leaves, about 2-3 stems of leaves.
3-4 Chilis Arbol*
oil for cooking
1 large or 2 small limes for juicing in sauce and garnish

Sauce Ingredients:
6 TB Oyster sauce
3 TB rice vinegar
2-3 TB fish sauce
3 TB sugar
3 TB fresh lime juice
1 TB Ground Chipotle Chilis (ground chiles processed or blended into paste)

Start noodles & have boiled & ready to add to dish since the veggies & shrimp come together quickly. Keep them in water so they don't stick together.
Saute onion, garlic & peppers in 2 Tbsp. Oil in large skillet. When the veggies are still crisp add the Chilis Arbol, Shrimp & cook till just pink but not over cooked. Add in the drained baby corn & water chestnuts. Drain the noodles & add them into the skillet, toss the shrimp, veggies & add sauce, stir well enough to blend the sauce over the mixture. The noodles are now drunken with the sauce, add basil, cilantro & serve with limes.
*Chilis Arbol are thin skinny Mexican Chilis the size of a small finger. Leave them whole when cooking with them. It makes it easier for a non-Chili lover to pick them out!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Veggie Tacos & life this week South of the Border.

This week in Mexico has been tumultuous at best. With the news of the H1N1 Influenza A~aka: Swine Flu becoming the media Feeding Frenzy of Spring 2009 we are certainly taking stock of our lives here South of the Border. Daily the news & rumors seem to mutate into some different form of rules or recommendations of how one should go about daily living here. I had to in fact laugh when we were handed thin, quite useless facial masks with a brief explanation of Influenza prevention methods on the back of a "Vote for me" paper insert. The facial masks as you can see might have been a better political point than true germ barrier. (yes, that is our lips you can see through the thin papery masks) The ultimate Flu prevention as always remains washing hands & avoiding sick people. Common sense & logic tells me this is so & yet it is hard not to become slightly panicked with a whole country wearing masks. Currently the warm Mexican greetings of kisses & hugs are a thing of the past as the government is telling the general populace to avoid even handshakes as well. As the government has asked the country to shut down all but "essential businesses" from May 1-5 we are certainly getting creative at home with our time & talents. Time to get creative & stay on my toes!

To make matters a wee bit more hectic here we have our entire household in an upheaval as we are getting ready to say goodbye to life as we have known it for the last several years here. We are packed up & will be ready to leave Mexico in a short time, returning once again to our home & family back in Texas. Will I continue to keep the blog moniker: "Texas to Mexico"? Yep, it is who I am & after all Texas was once part of Mexico. No matter where one goes in Texas, Mexico isn't all that far away.

These Veggie Tacos are my "Quarantine Creative" meal for the week! I am going through & using things up before we head out of the country. Sending this recipe on over to Gloria at Flavors of San Antonio for Taco Tuesdays!

Spicy, Sweet Veggie Tacos
2 med. white potatoes, diced with peels
2 lg. carrots, diced
1/4 cup onion, sliced thinly
8 large Crimini mushrooms, sliced in half (baby Portabello also may be used)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 4 oz. can of Mild Fire Roasted Green Chilies, undrained
2 Tbsp. Cilantro chopped
4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 clove of garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Whole Wheat or Flour Tortillas
Avocado & lettuce for garnish

Saute onion, carrot & potatoes in 2 Tbsp vegetable oil for 15 min. or till potatoes & carrots are almost tender then add tomatoes, mushrooms plus 2 tbsp. of Balsamic vinegar then mix in the can of green chilies, remove from heat, adjust seasoning adding salt & pepper then sprinkle with cilantro. Heat tortillas, fill with Veggie filling, garnish & serve. *The Mushrooms have are best kept in larger pieces so as to rather "meaty" quality & add pleasing texture.