Texas to Mexico

Discriptions, pictures, recipes & monologue of life for a Texan in Mexico. The Mexico experience...

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Blogging about Pigeons in Mexico!!

There are large flocks of pigeons everywhere you go in Mexico; there are even songs written & works of art dedicated to them. However, you really don't want them living in the eaves of the house, which seems to be the case next door to us! The eaves of the house were left open to the elements when building was completed in October. There must not have been an American style "final walk through" before the homeowners moved on November 1st because the open eaves would have been a problem for most people buying a new house. Really incredible that this gaping hole escaped notice!! Our cat has been quite watchful in the mornings as there have been pigeons living in the eaves of the house for sometime now. Katerina is quite the sentry watching from an upstairs window & seeing all of the Springtime bird activity! And while she is VERY disappointed that the eaves are no longer going to house her favorite prey I am sure the birds will find a new bird home to relocate somewhere nearby. And, who knows that could be the house next door once again. The big solution for closing up the open eave was to have some guy stand on a ladder & shove a piece of Styrofoam in the eave space! It only took him 5 trips up the ladder to get the Styrofoam cut to the right size... Real high tech solution! I believe even the pigeon can figure this one out!

Pigeons without homes in Mexico run the risk of being dinner, especially in Oaxaca! Tequila & Pigeon??? hmmm...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jerry Jeff Walker said it best: "I love that Sangria Wine..." I am sure he should have mentioned how well it goes down on a warm Spring day in Mexico!

Torreon Circle of friends has live auctions from time to time to help raise money for a local orphanage. The Ex Pat women of Torreon either give generously from things they have aquired along the way or donate baked items, etc. I took a Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit pie~yummy...which seemed to be a good choice for auction (I did have to remind people that it was made by a Texan!!!!!) But for anyone who knows me & my love of Fostoria glassware I flipped out when I saw the large stack of Fostoria Americana dishes sitting there ready to be auctioned off! I of course jumped right up & grabbed those plates! My friend Caroline took home a vast amount of hand painted El Palomar Mexican pottery. I did however win one useful auction item: a Spanish couse on CD, certain to have me speaking better in "Ten Minutes"!!! (let us hope) All in all a fun time was had by all & there was even delicious Sangria wine being served! And, even south of the border when you are drinking Sangria what baby boomer isn't thinking Jerry Jeff Walker? While Sangria isn't anything new down here my favorite glassware is. Fostoria is as rare here as Shar-Pei puppies!!!

And of course "Flat Stanley" was there bidding the prices up~all for a good cause though! Last thing I heard, he was leaving with some baked goods & Mexican pottery he purchased:) One more Mexican experience for "Flat Stanley", how does he do it all?

"Yeah I love that Sangria wine

Just like I love old friends of mine

They tell the truth when they're mixed with the wine

That's why I blend in the lemons and limes"
Texas' own: Jerry Jeff Walker

Recipe for Spanish Sangria
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup sugar
2 cans of Fresca
3 blood oranges, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 limes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 Peach, cut into cubes
1 Apple, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bottle red wine (not too expensive or cheap~you be the judge)

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher; stir until sugar dissolves. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Add ice & serve. Yield: 6 servings. YUMMY!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shopping in Mercado Juarez with Flat Stanley!

Today on an outing with our Ex Pat friends we took along "Flat Stanley", it is a project for 3rd graders which is part of a National Literacy project many American children take part in. Students send a "Flat Stanley"; based on the book by Jeff Brown, to a friend or relative so they can take photos of where they take "Flat Stanley". There are many celebrities who have participated in the project thus far including Mohammad Ali & Texas'own Willie Nelson. I am sure the vendors at the Mercado Juarez really wondered at the sanity of the American women who were posing & taking photos with cardboard cut out of the little guy! My friend Carolyn was sent the little character by her niece. She scores big points for this one! It was fun & gave us all a reason to act a little crazy too! Gee, imagine that!

During our pre-Easter downtown Torreon blitz we met the most adorable puppy ever. Who knew we could find Shar-Pei puppies in the Mercado in Torreon? When asked if the owner would sell the pup to us, he named a price of $2500 pesos. He did seem pretty attached to her & may have not really taken any amount for her but she was cute, even when she was gnawing on the items he was trying to sell the Gringos who swarmed into his Mercado stand this morning!!

After shopping in Centro Torreon we stopped for lunch at Los Farolitos & of course took the little Flat Stanley along too! My friend Carolyn really should be getting the Aunt of the Year on this one! Surely, there can't be too many 3rd graders in the heartland of American who have an Aunt who will go the distance in Mexico with their school projects!

"Flat Stanley" was shown a good time South of the Border!! Check out the Flat Stanley literacy project: http://www.flatstanleyproject.net/

Monday, March 26, 2007

It should come as no surprise that in Mexico, a predominantly Roman Catholic country, Easter is the most widely celebrated and important religious holiday of the year. There are pagents & colorful parades & certainly there are foods that are quite specific to the season.
For Easter there are alot of local restaurants serving some of the holiday favorites of Mexican bread pudding: Capirotada, Arroz con Leche & Flan Napolitano. These light desserts are served at the very modest stands in the local Mercado & at the high end dining spots throughout Mexico, the recipes vary according to cost & availablity of ingredients.

Zacatecas Cathedral

Flan Napolitano

1/4 c. Sugar
4 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk~La Lechera, or Eagle Brand
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. cream cheese (small Philadelphia cream cheese packet)

Caramelize & melt sugar in the bottom of flan pan (9 inch cake pan with high sides will be fine also but cover firmly with foil when baking), allow it to darken, set aside. Add all remaining ingredients: eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla & cream cheese, placing into a blender. Blend till this mixture is smooth, about 1 min. Then pour into Flan Pan onto caramelized sugar in bottom of pan. Place lid on flan pan & clamp down. Place flan pan in H2O (about 2-3 inches up the side of the pan in water bath) Bake 1 hr. 15 min. @ 350 or till knife comes out clean & flan is firm. Cool in pan. Can be refrigerated over night for best firmness & flavor. Place in warm water to loosen from pan & turn out onto platter or cake stand. The burnt sugar caramel makes the top of the Flan a nice golden color. This is wonderful alone or topped with fresh fruit.

Cristo Roto, Aguascalientes


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Police & the Pollo chicas "touristas"!

Today on the way down Independencia Blvd. with a friend I was pulled over by the Torreon "Policia" for driving through a yellow light. For a fleeting moment I had visions of myself in a local jail or in the very least having some tough cop demand money! (normally I am quite law abiding...but my stomach did a quick flip when I realized he could make big demands or worse!) In Mexico driving through a yellow light can be the same as driving through a red light in the states. The officer in question was on foot & motioned me to pull over & before he approached my car. With as much drama & guile as I could muster; I played the part of the completely uncomprehending tourista! I told him I didn't understand since the light was yellow!!! This caused the very young officer who spoke no English whatsoever to throw his hand to his head, utter the word "Americanos" & search the heavens for God to somehow reach down & help him with the dilemma I posed! He finally implored me to use much caution & let me drive away! I was very lucky indeed to get away without the slightest hint of paying him bribery $$. A ticket here is usually between $20 & $40 but can be a big head ache; having to go to the Federal building for payment of traffic tickets. There are times the Police will actually remove the license plate from the car so the ticket has to be paid quickly. For a "gratis payment" many police officers will let you pay them & drive away without the ticket. While this sort of thing is officially discouraged it is a way of life in Mexico. I felt like my little performance this morning was really quite worthy of an Oscar! I hope I don't have to draw on those talents again any time in the near future though. Shortly after this little episode this morning I found out a friend of mine was stopped yesterday more than likely by the same officer & she too made a plea of tourista ignorance. I am afraid if the guy sees us at one of our weekly Pollo Chicas lunch he may indeed decide the jig is up....really don't want to be singing Jailhouse Rock anytime soon! I guess my angels were watching out for me today!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dunas de Bilbao & Celebrating Benito Juarez Day!

While we are surrounded by desert here in Torreon the Dunas of Bilbao are more sand than is normal to this area. Today we visited the Dunes with our friends Rodolfo, Coco & their daughter Natalia. Dunas de Bilbao is impressive with fine desert sand, a product of the erosion of the natural elements by the passage of time, you could almost be in the Sahara Desert. It seems endless at first glance but is really only a few kilometers long & there is not much else in the area surrounding the Dunas. For that reason the area has been chosen by different directors to be used in their movies, most notably Dune. There were people using 4 wheel vehicles on the dunes & boards to sled down the dunes. It was very cool to see the dunes but a bit unsettling to read about desert vipers living in the dunes...once we were back home! We saw some large holes in the dunes that we assumed were from small mammels, I'm not so certain now?? And me in my new sandals.....

Near Matamoros we enjoyed visiting an important historical site in Coahuila, La Cueva del Tabaco (the Tobacco Cave). In 1864 Mexican President, Don Benito Juarez, hid the general archives of the nation in this cave from the French Army. Many people sacrificed their lives & freedom so the documents that are still used for the Mexican constitution could remain safe. Today was Benito Juarez Day, so it seemed like a well timed visit to this important historical site. Although, like many historical sites it is visited by many but kept up by few. The inside of the cave was less exciting & seemed like bats had been the most recent guardians of history!

No trip to a small town is complete without a quick tour through one of the local churches. In Matamoros we visited Iglesia de Sra. del Refugio. The church took 80 years to complete (1920-2000)& the sanctuary was decorated with colorful stained glass windows, beautiful marble flooring. Matamoros & other little burgs we drive through on the way to somewhere else have surprising little jewels in store when we need a break on a long drive. I am almost certain we have driven through other little cultural wide spots in the road.

Our Lady of Refuge, Matomoros, Coahuila

Regardless of why we had our holiday today in Mexico, a great day was had by all!! Sun & Sand in Northern Mexico, who knew?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A brief visit turns long....Deltza Zeta, Tex-Mex & Family time!

While home for our "quick weekend visit" that turned into quite a long running event because of John's accident, we did get to visit with our girls. John's injury not withstanding, it was nice to see our daughters & have family time. Jacqueline & I attended the Delta Zeta Sorority Mother/Daughter Day luncheon in downtown Austin at Rio Grande. The dining location was very nice & is situated in the old Spaghetti Warehouse which is better known for being the site of the MTV "Austin Real World house". We had the luncheon buffet style & were offered several varieties Tex-Mex items as well as Quesadillas a standard Tex-Mex menu item. In Mexico they do offer Quesadillas on some menus & I have seen the typical Tex-Mex looking variety but they also have more traditional methods of preparing the Tex-Mex fast food version. I have included a more tradtional Quesadilla recipe which at first sight seems more like a Taco than what we know as a Quesadilla!

Delta Zeta Sorority Mother Daughter Day!

While Texas & Mexico are often light years apart, our shared cultures make for some interesting food additions! Which I believe Lauren & Jenn can attest to from their San Antonio visit! *The typical Torreon horse drawn cart on Independencia Blvd.~just another day in Mexico!

Quesadillas de Lomo~Pork Loin Quesadillas

*Dough for Quesadillas
2 1/2 cups of corn tortilla dough, masa
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
*Quesadilla filling
1/2 pound pork loin
2 chorizo sausages, about 12-16 oz.
1 potatoe
1 large tomato
1 chopped onion, diced
1 chopped clove garlic, minced
10 chopped olives

chopped jalapeño chili pepper, deseeded
vegetable oil

1. Combine the corn dough (masa), flour, baking powder, shortening and salt. Mix well & leave it resting in moisted cloth.

2. Cook the pork loin. When cooled, string in fine strands. Bake in the oven @ 350 for 20 minutes per pound. Rest meat before shredding.
3. Cook chorizo, peel and cut in cubes, set aside.
4. Roast, peel and liquefy tomato adding in the onion and garlic. (blender or molcajete is perfect for this step)
5. Saute the chorizo & the pork loin together. Add the cubed potatoes,tomato, onions, the olives and the jalapeño pepper. *JALAPEÑO is optional. With this traditional Mexican dish spice as usual can be adjusted to taste!

6. With Corn Tortilla dough, hand make tortillas, fill them with the meat preparation, fold them and fry.
7. FOR SERVING: Slice small amount of lettuce and radishes then sprinkle, vinegar, salt and pepper. Place the fried Quesadillas over this light salad. Salt & Pepper to taste! Salute!