Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mexican Beef Stew / Caldo de Res

Hey There:

A few days ago I went to my local produce store for some tostadas and noticed they were selling bags of vegetables already cut-up and ready to be cooked. The exciting thing (for me) is that these were the veggies used in the Mexican Beef Stew (Caldo de Res) I grew up with! I bought the bag, looked up the recipe my Mom gave me over ten years ago and called her to verify some details. As with all family recipes I'm sure everyone has a different way of making it, this is my Grandmother's recipe, passed on to my Mom and now I'm making it!

Ingredients / Ingredientes

2 lbs Beef Shank / 2 libras Chamorro
The veggies can be as little or as much as you like, some will be found at Mexican grocery stores:
Corn on the cob / Elote
Bell Peppers / Chile Morron
Zucchini / Calabacitas
Carrots / Zanahorias
Pear Squash / Chayote
Cabbage / Repollo
Fresh Coriander / Cilantro
Salt to taste / Sal al gusto

  1. On a large pot add 10 - 12 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of salt, boil the beef shank at medium to medium-high for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Add corn on the cob and salt cook for an additional 10 minutes. My Mom used to cook the beef on a crockpot and then transfer them into a pot for the next step.
    1. En una olla grande agregar 10 - 12 tazas de agua, poner a cocer el chamorro a temperatura mediana o mediana-alta for 30 minutos o hasta que la carne este tiernita. Agregar el elote y sal al gusto, cocer por 10 minutos mas. Mi Mama ponia a cocer la carne en una olla de cocimiento lento y luego los pasaba a una olla para agregar el resto de los ingredientes.
  2. Add the bell peppers, zucchini, carrots and pear squash. Cook for 10 - 15 minutes.
    1. Agregar pimiento morron, calabacitas, zanahorias y chayotes. Cocer por 10 - 15 minutos.
  3. Add the cabbage and fresh coriander. At this point taste the broth and add more salt if needed. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
    1. Agregar el repollo y cilantro. Cocer por 10 minutos.
  4. Done!
    1. Listo!
mexican beef stew

One thing that I love to add to my Caldo is Spanish Rice, which is cooked separately and is added when it is ready to be served.

Now this is foodie tip, or delicacy or weird thing, whatever you want to call it.....bone marrow is so good! Seriously, even Craft & Commerce in Little Italy has it in their dinner menu! The way I love to eat it is by scooping it out from the bone, smash it on a tortilla, add a pinch of salt and eat. The consistency is buttery, the only way I can describe the taste is delicate. I haven't had this treat in years, it was awesome!

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. I also like to add Chile Buffalo, which is the wimpiest hot sauce there is (when I was a kid I used to add only 3 drops) and of course Mexican Coke has to be drink for this Caldo!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World Book Night US 2012

Hey There:

This year I was very fortunate to participate in the first US World Book Night! This concept originally started in England and Ireland in 2011 and this year US joined in the fun. So what is World Book Night?

"World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books, which will see tens of thousands of people share books with others in their communities across America to spread the joy and love of reading on April 23."

I learned about this movement last year thanks to a newsletter I receive from Irish author Marian Keyes (I LOVE Her!), one of her books, Rachel's Holiday was selected, and when I saw about it this year I jumped at the opportunity and signed up as a Giver!

When I signed up I was able to make three choices from 30 titles, depending on the demand I would be assigned one of my choices. I was assigned The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a story about a geek outcast who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and finding love. The story is a darling and I choose it because it has to do with Latino culture, Geeky things and it was the only title offered in English and Spanish (I asked for the Spanish version)

The books were ready to be picked up by Mid-April, in my case at Bluestocking Bookstore, a charming new/used/rare bookstore in the heart of Hillcrest. It's a charming store, open for 44 years, with the current owners for the last 13 years or so.

The owners told me 17 Givers were assigned to pick up their book shipments from their store and on Friday April 20th, they hosted a get-together with all the Givers so we could meet each other and compare notes on how and where we would give our books.

There were many interesting ideas, one Giver was going to sit at her local coffee shop and start giving out the books at random. The Bluestocking Bookstore owners where going to go walking around Hillcrest. I choose to take my books to Casa Familiar, a community center in the heart of San Ysidro.

Casa Familiar is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the community, with educational and cultural programs, they promote health and fitness, as well as help the community with social services questions and guidance. Many years ago I donated exercise equipment for their fitness center and I was very glad to see it is in very good condition and in good use! According to CEO Andrea Skorepa they have shared over 3,000 books with the community so I was very happy to take the books to them.

The list of books was very impressive, and so was the organization of this event. It must have taken a lot of energy to coordinate the thousands of books donated by publishing companies and send them to the right givers at the right time. I've read 30% of the books included on the list, so I have some catching up to do. The following are a few of the books offered this year:
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • Click here to see all 30 titles
If this program continues I plan to be a Giver for many years to come!

Friday, April 20, 2012

San Diego Weekend - April 21 - 22

Hey There:

I had nothing planned for the weekend and now I don't even know how to split myself to get to everything that's going on. Check out what San Diego has to offer:

42nd Annual Chicano Park Day
Saturday, April 21st
10 AM - 5 PM
National Ave & Cesar E. Chavez Pkwy (Barrio Logan)
San Diego, CA 92101

Awesome event with lots of food, vendors, regional dances, culture and it's free for the public. This year's theme is "Lowriders: Part of Chicano Park's History, Culture, Price & Future!" they cars look amazing, and trust me, after looking at them you will have the Lowrider song stuck in your head for days! These are some pics and a video I've taken from previous years. It is also a great time to check out the restored pillars, the artwork is just amazing!

On Sunday April 22nd, the troop from Danza Azteca Calpulli Mexihca is present to dance "Toltecas en Aztlan" they dance for hours. All the booths are gone and the park is clean, all you hear is Aztec music and the amazing dancers.

Adams Avenue Unplugged
April 21 & 22
Adams Ave in University Heights, Normal Heights & Kensington

Free music festival with 170 live musical performances, both at indoor and outdoor stages. You will see lots of booths, foods and get into your favorite pub to refresh yourself. My friend Sara Petite will be performing on Sunday April 22nd, at 3 PM

Taste of Hillcrest
Saturday April 21
12 - 4 PM
Fifth Ave and Robinson Ave in Hillcrest
Cost $30 - $35

Self-guided tour featuring over 40 restaurants, so far I haven't been to one, looks like it's something to add to my San Diego to-do list.

EarthFair 2012
10 AM - 5 PM
Balboa Park

This is the 23rd annual event, and according to the website it is the "largest free annual environmental fair in the world" attracting around 60,000 visitors...and trust me, you can tell! For this event, the best thing you can do is arrive by public transportation, it's the green and sane thing to do, parking is insane!

You can go walking around looking at exhibitors or lounge in one of the many areas with outdoor music stages, it's a lot of fun if you don't mind crowds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Garden Window - Spring Decoration

Hey There:

It's Spring Time! My theme for the season is blooming flowers and butterflies!

The flowerpot is a memento from my sister's bridal shower a few years ago. We had them as table centerpieces and I kept one, which now is perfect for my spring theme.

The grass is astro-turf, you can go to  Lowe's or Home Depot and ask for one linear foot which costs about $5. After I bought it, I cut the 3' I needed for the garden window and the rest is in my patio which my cats use to lounge.

I got the butterfly and flower felt cut-outs from Michael's and added some glitter to it. I'm still tempted to take them down and go crazy on the glitter...we'll see.

Of course, a spring motif can also be done with a few details. My neighbor pimped out her fern by adding colorful flowers to it, which looks very pretty.

The one thing that always excites me about Spring is that Summer is right around the corner...I miss the heat!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chicken with Roasted Grapes and Shallots

Hey There:

I have two dishes that I normally do when I have company and/or want to impress 'someone'. My first one is Cochinita Pibil (I seem to have misplaced the link, I'll re-post this recipe) and today I'll show you my second favorite: Chicken with Roasted Grapes and Shallots.

I found this recipe from Bon Appetite magazine and you can get to it from the Epicurious site. A small disclaimer here, I don't take pretty food pics, you should see the pics my friend Darlene from My Burning Kitchen takes, if you're a foodie that's a blog to follow!

The recipe is very easy to do and looks impressive!


1 1/4 pounds assorted seedless grapes (such as green, red, and black), cut into small clusters
6 large shallots (about 10 ounces), peeled, halved through root end
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme plus 6 large sprigs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 4-to 4 1/2-pound chicken, excess fat removed from cavity

Preheat oven to 400°F. Gently toss grape clusters, shallots, chopped thyme, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl to coat. Rub chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle inside and out with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place thyme sprigs in cavity. Place chicken in large roasting pan; arrange grape mixture around chicken.

 Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken thigh registers 165°F and grapes are shriveled, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter; let rest 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, arrange grapes and shallots around chicken. Transfer pan juices to small pitcher; spoon fat from surface of juices and discard. Serve chicken with pan juices alongside.

<I left the chicken a little too long in the oven, so the grapes shriveled a little too much. Normally they will tasted cooked, but plump and sweeter>

The night I made this recipe a British couch surfer who was staying at my place and I invited my friend, awesome San Diego country singer, Sara Petite over. I normally have rice pilaf as a side dish, but my couch surfer offered to make Mac n Cheese, plus I made a salad. We had a great night, the three of us had second helpings so we pretty much finished off everything.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Garden Window - Easter Decoration

Hey There:

Now it's time for the Easter decorations! Here's how my garden window looks like:

While most of the decor was bought at my local 99 cent store:

This time I did make a few crafty things: on the picture below the Easter eggs had a bit of glitter, but I went ahead, gave them a quick spritz of adhesive spray and gave them a bit more glitter. In the daylight they look very nice!

The Easter Bunny Garland was made using a template I downloaded from Martha Stewart.

And now check out my neighbor's garden window:

This time of year always brings back great memories. It is traditional for my family to make "Capirotada", a Mexican dessert that looks very weird, but trust me, it tastes so good! It is a seasonal dish, so if you see it in a Mexican restaurant menu, give it a try!


As soon as Lent started we used to save all the egg shells so we could paint them, fill with confetti, seal with crepe paper and hide them for the Easter Egg Hunt. The fun part started when all the kids had their baskets full of eggs and then we started to smash them on each other's head, the mess was awesome...and even better because the kids didn't have to clean up!

Have a very Happy Easter everyone!!