Vámonos de Pinta / Elote Cocido

 

Hace un par de semanas compramos maíz fresco de un mercado local. Mi marido tenía la intención de cocinar algo con él – ya fuera el pan de maíz de su bisabuela, o grits, o algo más. Honestamente, no recuerdo lo que estaba planeando cocinar; Pero a medida que la semana progresaba y la vida siguió avanzando, el maíz permaneció sobre la mesa, sin cocer.

 

El otro día estaba viendo las mazorcas y decidí hacer un bocadillo que atañe a mis raíces mexicanas – Elote Cocido.

 

Elote cocido (maíz cocido) es una merienda que se puede comprar en las calles mexicanas. A menudo consumida durante las celebraciones patrias. Es el maíz hervido en una mezcla cremosa, con queso, picante, insertado en un palillo.

 

Mi decisión de hacer esta botanita (pasapalo) trajo a mi mente, un recuerdo particular que inundo mis pensamientos: Recordé la única vez que “me fui de pinta” (me jubile/falte a clases) – cuando estaba en octavo grado (Segundo de Secundaria).

 

Nunca fui mala estudiante durante la secundaria – no tuve malas calificaciones; Nunca reprobé alguna materia. Yo era social; me llevaba bien con mis compañeros y maestros; participe en actividades extracurriculares, e incluso inicie un grupo de música (tocaba el “cuatro venezolano,’ un instrumento de cuerda muy parecido al ukulele).

 

Fui estudiante un poquito arriba del promedio, pero, sobresaliente hasta mi ultimo año de secundaria (noveno grado), cuando mis calificaciones tuvieron una mejora muy notable.

 

Un día, mi amiga Paty y yo decidimos irnos de pinta. Nadie sospecharía de nuestro plan.

 

Tenía que ser perfecto. Así que tomamos una semana para planear y preparar.

 

Podrías estar preguntándote ahora mismo, “¿Por qué saltar escuela?”.

 

Yo era una chica de iglesia que se llevaba bien con todo el mundo y trataba de portarme bien… pero siempre me ha gustado aventurarme, y he disfrutado los desafíos. Yo sabía que esto, haría subir mi adrenalina.

 

Así que después de nuestra semana de preparación, llegó el viernes cuando haríamos nuestra huida a la libertad. Fue sólo unas pocas semanas antes de los finales, por lo que el año escolar estaba por terminar.

 

Aquella era la semana de la “Feria de Ciencias” – por lo que había muchas caras de estudiantes y maestros ausentes en las aulas de clases, así que sería difícil para los prefectos saber por qué no estábamos en la escuela.

 

Salimos de nuestras casas vestidas con los uniformes escolares y nos reunimos afuera de la escuela. Nos subimos a un autobús y tomamos el metro, dirigiéndonos al tradicional lugar donde los niños se iban de pinta en aquel tiempo (no se si ahora lo sigan haciendo): Chapultepec.

 

Chapultepec está en el centro de la Ciudad de México, y alberga un bosque, parques, un zoológico, un castillo en una colina, un lago, un museo – un montón de cosas divertidas que hacer mientras no estas en clases. A veces, es referido como los “pulmones de la ciudad”, debido a sus vastas zonas verdes.

 

Cuando llegamos, vimos a nuestro alrededor y nos dimos cuenta que muchos niños de otras escuelas tuvieron la misma idea que nosotras. Había un montón de niños, vestidos con uniformes de secundarias de todos los extremos de la ciudad.

 

Ciudad de México es la ciudad más grande del mundo, alrededor de 30 millones de personas viven allí, por lo que la probabilidad de que hubiera otros niños que decidieron saltar escuela ese mismo día era bastante alta.

 

Era un lugar fresco para simplemente ir a esconderse por un día.

 

Caminamos súper felices. Nos sentamos y tuvimos un picnic, comiendo lo que se suponía que era nuestros almuerzos para el desayuno.

 

Fuimos al zoológico y pasamos un par de horas ahí. Pasamos el tiempo simplemente caminando por el parque.

 

Después, llegamos al lago, y decidimos alquilar una canoa. Se veía divertido.

 

Pero alquilar una canoa resultó ser caro para nosotras.

 

Afortunadamente, mientras estábamos esperando que nos atendieran, empezamos a hablar con un grupo de muchachas que estaban formadas y venían de la parte sur de Ciudad de México. También se habían ido de pinta ese día.

 

Nos dijeron que necesitaban meter dos personas más en las dos canoas que ellas estaban alquilando, así que bien contentas saltamos dentro de su canoa!

 

Mientras estuvimos remando alrededor del lago con nuestras nuevas amigas, un grupo de niños de nuestra edad que venia en otra canoa nos vieron, y comenzaron a hablarnos.

 

Empezamos a bromear con ellos. Nuestras bromas eran inocentes y amistosas, y los muchachos nos preguntaron si queríamos cambiar de barco; algunas de nosotras entrar en su canoa, y algunos de ellos saltar a las nuestras.
La idea era que nuestro grupo se hiciera mas grande, y sumando a los chicos pasar el resto del día juntos con mas diversión.

 

Por alguna razón no me gustó esa idea. Yo era muy escéptica.

 

Eran buena onda (chéveres), pero yo no los conocía.

 

Así que yo, junto con algunas de las otras chicas, nos quedamos en nuestra canoa, mientras las chicas que querían mezclarse con ellos, se pasaron al otro bote. Nos pasaron sus mochilas, y otras pertenencias para hacer espacio, para la gente extra que estaría en su canoa. Paty era una de ellas.

 

Cuando los muchachos y las muchachas comenzaron a mezclarse en las canoas, un par de los chicos se pararon entre los dos botes y comenzaron a sacudir la canoa de las chicas.

 

Las otras chicas y yo vimos a una distancia segura, mientras su bote se sacudía y todas cayeron al lago. Incluyendo a mi amiga Paty!

 

El lago estaba asqueroso. El agua tenía un olor terrible, y una gruesa capa de algas verdes.

 

Después de que cayeron, tuvimos que rescatarlas. Las miradas de algunas de las caras de las chicas estaban llenas de devastación.

 

Yo no estaba tan devastada… Aunque fue feo para ellas, moría de risa!

 

Finalmente salieron del agua. Con un olor terrible… No pudimos rescatar su bote.

 

Encontramos algunos rociadores que se prendían automáticamente para regar los jardines alrededor del parque. En los que las chicas, incluyendo Paty, pudieron limpiarse un poco. Por suerte, Paty trajo una blusa extra ese día, y pudo al menos cambiarsela. Así, seguimos caminando un poco más, hasta encontrar algo de comida.

 

Teníamos mucha hambre, así que nos detuvimos en un puestecito para comprar elote cocido. Ese fue el aperitivo perfecto para terminar nuestro día en Chapultepec, y nos dirigimos a casa.

 

Por supuesto, en el camino a casa, pasamos a la Feria de Ciencias. Nos aseguramos de ser vistas por varios amigos y maestros, para así tener una coartada perfecta.

 

Fue un día divertido y memorable para mí. Y lo mejor de todo es que no nos cacharon!

 

Nuestro plan había funcionado, y tuvimos un día de libertad, hicimos nuevas amigas, tuvimos un montón de risas y una buena merienda.

 

Por desgracia, Paty tuvo una reacción alérgica grave en su piel, por la asquerosa agua del lago en la que cayo; por lo que no pudo salir de su casa por varios días.

 

Aun así, el recuerdo del día en que nos fuimos de pinta estará siempre en nuestros corazones.

 


 

ELOTE COCIDO

 

Esta botana es súper fácil de hacer. Estos son los sabores base de muchos platillos mexicanos, y hay muchas variaciones. Así que pruébalo, y se creativo!

 

Ingredientes:

 

Mazorcas de maíz.

 

Agua

 

Mantequilla

 

Mayonesa

 

Queso Fresco rallado (Si no puedes encontrar queso fresco, usa queso parmesano)

 

Chile en polvo (Chile piquín)

 

Limón

 

Sal

 

Pimienta

 

Palillos para brochetas (para insertar y sostener las mazorcas) – Yo no tenia palillos para brochetas, así que usé palillos chinos.

 

INSTRUCCIONES

 

Limpia el maíz

 

En una olla lo suficientemente grande en el que se puedan sumergir las mazorcas completamente en el agua. Hierva el maíz por cerca de 15 minutos, o hasta que el grano esté blando.

 

En un tazón o una bandeja, esparce el queso

 

Saca el maíz del agua con unas pinzas de cocina. Sostenlo con una toalla (para que no te quemes la mano) e inserta el palillo/brocheta en el centro de la mazorca.

 

Sosteniendo ahora por el palillo, extiende la mantequilla sobre el maíz y luego cúbrelo con una fina capa de mayonesa.

 

Coloca el maíz en el queso y ruédalo para cubrir todos los lados.

 

Sazona con sal, pimienta y chile piquín, al gusto.

 

Exprime el limón sobre el Elote y a disfrutar!

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Tacos Dorados (Taquitos)

During the Easter season in most Latin American countries, many people refrain from eating meat. The month leading up to Easter is the Catholic season of Lent – and most Latin American countries have deep rooted Catholic backgrounds.

This is a time when lots of seafood is consumed.

Growing up, though, my family wasn’t Catholic. So during the Lent season, we were one of the only families around that was eating meat regularly. (Also, my mom didn’t like cooking seafood because of the lingering fishy scent.)

Last week, as I was thinking about Lent and seafood, and the fact that my family continued eating meats throughout the season, I was reminded of a time I was served some of the best fish soup I’ve ever eaten.

Before you get your hopes too high, I’ll tell you that this post is not about that delicious soup – though I am going to track down that recipe for a later date. Now, in Mexico we eat tacos dorados with soup, much like in many places soups are served with sandwiches or loaves of bread. Today’s post is about that delectable, crispy bite of comfort that’s often served with a soup and can stand alone just as well – Tacos Dorados.

It was a few weeks before Easter in the early 2000’s when a college classmate and friend looked over at me and said, “Hey, let’s get a group together and go to Acapulco.”

So, naturally, as I am full of spontaneity I said, “Yeah! That would be fun. Let’s do it!”

Within 24 hours, a group of five of us were on our way from Mexico City to Acapulco – about a 4-5 hour drive. In the group were my friend and his brother and sister, and my brother and me.

We had family friends that owned a house in Acapulco, and were away on a vacation of their own, who said we could use their house during our stay, so we were prepared for a non-expensive miniature beach vacation among friends.

The only expenses we would incur would be food and gasoline.

Then, on our way to Acapulco, I remembered that I had a friend who lived right outside of the city – in El Coloso. This friend, Eli (pronounced Eh-lee), would eventually become my best friend, traveling companion, and maid of honor. (In fact, we always talk about how, in that time, we never thought we’d be living in a Malaysian jungle together, or getting a free flight to Hawaii together, or getting lost together in different parts of the planet.)

I messaged her, and she replied telling me she would be in class on the day of our arrival.

Once we arrived in Acapulco and reached one of the most known beaches, we looked around and were all, frankly, quite disappointed. That’s when I decided to call Eli, who had just finished her college classes for the day.

Eli brought us away from the touristic areas and to the most beautiful local beaches with golden sands and crystal clear water nestled in between two mountain peaks. Needless to say, we were excited to find such a lovely area, and we decided that is where would continue our vacation the following morning.

That next day, Eli’s mother – Mama Berna – sent, with her daughter, some fish soup and tacos dorados for us to enjoy on the beach.

I grabbed a taco and poured some soup in a container and tasted both. As expected, the taco was perfection, but the soup surprised me with its delicate and intrinsic flavors.

Usually, fish soup is strong – it’s aftertaste and smell overpowers

This soup, however, was not that. The fish wasn’t soggy. It’s consistency was pure. The vegetables had a nice fish taste, but didn’t lose their vegetable essence.

I remember thinking a hot soup would not be good for a day at the beach, but it was actually light and refreshing and perfect for a beach day.

Seriously, I will get that recipe and make it for this blog one day.

Maybe the reason I thought the food was so good that day was because Mama Berna did not know us – we were just friends of her daughter – and she went out of her way to show us such love and hospitality.

Mama Berna really became someone very special to me that day – even without knowing her until later. She made that food with love and gave it to us without asking for anything in return.

That day changed all my thoughts on fish. It made me more open to seafood – as my mother didn’t cook seafood and we didn’t live in an area where seafood was fresh and readily available.

My little brother, Jorge, on the other hand, was not as open to anything seafood. He refused to taste the soup and missed out on a real delight. He didn’t care about the soup. So we didn’t care about him.

“Whatever,” I said. “Just eat sand.”

So we ate. We finished the soup and turned toward that heaping plate of about 50 Tacos Dorados, which I had already enjoyed eating one earlier, with my soup.

They were gone.

Jorge had eaten the entire plate of Tacos Dorados.

Still, to this day, when I think of Tacos Dorados, I think of what they probably would have tasted like after that delicious fish soup. And in my dear brother, this is one of his favorite dishes.

All that said, this is a great Mexican dish to enjoy with friends and family, especially with little ones who like to eat with their hands!

 

Enjoy!


 

TACOS DORADOS

The biggest issue of Tacos Dorados is that you must have access to corn tortillas, or at least MASECA corn flour.

Either purchase corn tortillas from your local grocer, or follow the instructions to make tortillas on the package of MaSeCa. I like to make my own tortillas, which is pretty easy.

 

— To make corn tortillas, add water to MASECA corn flour (use amount directed on package) and salt; then knead. Roll into balls and flatten to thin-ness of a tortilla. Place on dry skillet on medium heat and cook both sides. —

 

The tacos, traditionally, are filled with cooked shredded chicken, beef, or boiled and seasoned potatoes.

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat tortilla in microwave or stovetop, remove from heat, and place line of meat/potatoes in the middle of the tortilla.
  • Take one edge of the tortilla and reach toward the protein, and pull it toward the edge as you roll the tortilla tightly – Be careful not to spill out any of the meat/potatoes.
  • Once rolled, seal the end with a toothpick. The toothpick keeps the taco closed once placed in the hot oil. Use more than one toothpick if necessary.
  • Place oil (vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.) in a pan and bring to medium-high heat.
  • Place tacos into hot oil and fry until golden and crispy on all sides. If you have a fryer, this process is much easier.
  • Put the tacos on a platter with napkins or paper towels underneath to allow excess oil to drain.

At this point, once cooled, remove toothpicks and the Tacos Dorados are ready to be consumed. You can eat them alone as a snack, with a soup, or as a meal topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, avocados, salsa and whatever else your heart desires.

Mama Juanita’s Tostadas de Tinga

My husband and I are on a pretty tight budget. We are actually living off of about $80 a week on groceries – that’s like $12 a day for two people; which is like $2 a meal per person, if my math is correct.

One way we’ve found that saves a lot of money on chicken is to purchase a whole frozen chicken and break it down ourselves, instead of buying packs of chicken breasts or wings or some other part already butchered.

I usually take the ribs, neck and other unused bones and boil them to make a stock, and then pick the meat off those bones to use in dishes.

Today, as I started separating good meat from bone and cartilage, I remembered family members doing the same as I was growing up.

I started thinking about my grandma.

Mama Juanita.

Mama Juanita was one of the most loving and caring women I’ve ever known. When my family moved to Mexico from Venezuela, we moved in with her and my grandpa for a few months, and I learned so much from her, and about her, in that time.

I learned that when she got married to my grandpa – whose mother died years prior to their marriage – she took on the responsibility of her husband’s young brothers, who were orphaned. She adopted them, becoming a mother of four immediately upon marriage.

She and Grandpa then went on to have six daughters and a son, and Mama Juanita’s job for most of her life was to be a mother and wife.

She showed love through actions … and through food.

I began thinking of one of the first foods she taught me how to make – Tostadas de Tinga, which is a common dish in Mexico made of shredded chicken and a tomato-based sauce on top of a fried tortilla.

I was a 14-year-old junior high student and had just gotten home from school. I looked around and realized that my mother had already bought groceries and uncooked food was in the kitchen, and I was home alone.

But I was hungry. I didn’t want to wait for mom to come home and cook.

I already knew how to cook rice, so I was pretty sure I could handle any other culinary challenge. So I decided, after seeing the ingredients at my avail, to make Tostadas de Tinga.

But the problem was that I didn’t know how to make the staple dish.

So I called Grandma, then walked about a block to her house, grocery bags in hand, knowing that she would teach me how to prepare the dish. Honestly, I was hoping that she would just cook the meal for me and I’d learn as she cooked.

So I brought the groceries to her kitchen and prepared to help Mama Juanita with the meal she would surely make for me.

Something she always said (and now my mom says) is that “Somebody that helps is always welcome,” and I was sure that I was going to be a good helper.

But Grandma had different plans.

She sat down and explained each step to me as I completed each task, from peeling and cutting onions to placing the meat on the tostada shell.

So that day, I learned how to make Tostadas de Tinga, and I’ve never forgotten.

Mama Juanita passed away in 2012, but she left plenty of great memories and great food. And it’s amazing how those foods can bring back those memories!

I loved my grandma; and she loved me. My name – Johana – actually derived from “Juana,” which I take pride in because I know I will always have a piece of her with me.


 

TINGA

[Tinga can be eaten several ways – in tacos, on tostadas (my preferred way, with sour cream and queso fresco), with rice and beans, or a myriad of different ways.]

 

1 Large chick breast, shredded

3 Tomatoes

½ White Onion

2 Cloves of Garlic

Small bunch of fresh Cilantro (not enough to make the sauce green, just try to use your common cooking sense)

1 Cup Chicken Stock

1 Chipotle Pepper in adobo sauce (canned chipotle or fresh)

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1 tsp Cumin

 

Cut onion in thin slices and sauté on medium heat

While onions are cooking, blend tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, chipotle and about ½ cup of chicken stock

When onions turn translucent, add blended mix.

Add cumin to sauce and stir.

After about 5 min on medium heat, add chicken to sauce and continue stirring.

Add salt and pepper.

Let cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

 

*You will have about ½ cup of Chicken stock left over. This is so if/when the Tinga begins to dry out, add more chicken stock to keep saturated.

**If you want the Tinga spicier, blend more chipotle with some chicken stock and add to mix.