Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dulcería San Luis

Before leaving for Mexico City to spend Christmas with my husband's family, I stopped over at "Dulcería San Luis" to buy typical candies for the celebrations. This "factory" is pretty well known in our town. It is a family tradition that has been functioning for almos 100 years. It is small, but produces a good variety of homemede sweets.

Most typical sweets have to do with fruits and other types of food. For example: figs, orange peel, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, chilacayote (a type of pumpkin), biznaga (the inside of the agave plant) will be boiled with sugar in copper pots for hours to caramelize them. They are very delicious. Afterwards the syrup that is left over from the boiling is used to make piloncillo, a sugar cone used for sweetening coffee and Christmas ponche among other things.

Other candies are merengue, milk candies, coconut candies, obleas, lollipops.

I went to the Dulcería with my friend Lolis and her sister Marcela. She was buying a lot of stuff to take to her hometown, Colima, for Christmas.

This is the outside of the factory.

Lolis and Marcela picking the pieces right off the drying/cooling racks.

Mmmm, just the sight of it makes my mouth water.
Here we see mostly pumpkin.

Here workers are using the mixing drums.
These are for making coconut candies.

Coconut boiling with sugar.

Here some candies are being strained from the excess liquid.

Chilacayote ready to be boiled.

Pumpkin and chilacayote.

Workers have to stir constantly with big wooden spoons.

Here the pumpkin is ready, and is going to be
put on the racks.
Again wooden spoons are used.

Onto the racks.

Here they cool and dry.
The liquid is then used for the piloncillo.

This is where the coconut candy is mixed.
It goes round and round like a clothers drier.

Coconut ready to be shaped.

The coconut mixture is put onto a press
which gives it is shape, and squeezes out the excess liquid. The
liquid is used again. Nothing is gone to waste.

,After the press is removed the coconut is cut ito bars.
This is one of my favorite candies. It is called alfajor.

Dulce de leche-milk candy. Milk is boiled with sugar
until a paste is formed.

The paste is formed into balls, and a pecan is
pressed onto its side.

These are also very good...

Here are the counters where other finished products are exhibited.
The yellow candies are also coconut, but these are cooked in a different way.
The pink ones at the far right are the finished alfajor.

Big lollipops....

More the back, jars of dulce de leche.
This is in a liquid, caramel form. Many put it on bread..

At the checkout counter.
The flowers are obleas. The are made of flour. It doesn't
have much of a taste, but kids put caramel or
chilii sauce on them.
The rolls are made of guava fruit.
And some more coconut candy.

This is only a small sample of Mexican candies. They vary from one region to another, and the fruits used are endless. Hope you enjoyed this tour.
Enjoy your weekend....

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I had been in Mexico for two years, when the 1985 earthquake struck. I will be truthful, the place where we were living in Mexico City was very strong, and nothing happend. My husband and I just looked out our third floor window deciding it we should go outside. Before we knew it, the quake had stopped. At the time we were working in the afternoon, so we went back to sleep. This was at 7:00 a.m.

At about 10.00 a.m., we got up to no telephone, no electricity, and obviously no water (the cistern pump works with electricity). My husband said it had been probably a little bit stronger that he thought, se we dicided to go to my mother-in-laws house to take a shower there, and go to work.

The 20 min. drive was confussing, thousands of people were walking on the streets and avenues. These were people who had been in the subway. Since there was no elecricity, the subway wasn't working, and they had to get out. Some were literally kilometers from there place of work or their home, so everybody was walking to their destination (the Mexican subway system transports an approx. 3.9 million people a day, you can imagine!). As we were driving we saw a few walls about to collapse, but nothing alarming. As we drove into my mother-in-laws neighborhood, things were a bit worse, outside walls collpased, broken windows, cracks in walls. Her house had broken windows, a cracked wall and a collapsing outer wall, and we were like wow, this was strong. When she saw us, she started crying, so happy we were OK. We thought she was exagerating. For some reason this neighborhood had electricity, and everyone was silent and still as they were watching the news. I still cry today at the images I saw. Downtown was destroyed, hotels, shops, office buildings, condominiums, schools totally collapsed, places I had been in, eaten at, shopped at.......thousands of people trapped or dead. We could not stop crying......

The Mexican country, while being a Third World country, is not as poor a Haiti. In less then 4 hours housewives, whose houses had not suffered damage, were in the streets making sandwiches, lemonade, stews, and handing them out to the people who had lost their homes and were on the street looking for their families. By 7.00 p.m. neighborhoods got together to collect blankets, sweaters, socks, and so many things we knew all these people were going to need to spend the night. Many people in Mexico had the means to give things away for the needy, ..... I really don't think Haiti has this capacity, besides being the poorest country in America, the devastation was so general, it would be difficult to help themselves...

I did not know I was going to write all this. I have just let it come out. What I knew I was going to write was the following, because I could not just ignore the facts, and say nothing:

Although Mexico is not poor as Haiti, it still needed a lot of International help especially during the rescue missions, and for those who had lost everything. The Mexican people are so grateful to EVERY PERSON IN EVERY COUNTRY who donated for this cause. Unfortunately, it is payback time for Mexico (this is a debt I'm sure nobody would like to pay back). But the country has gotten together to help our Haitian brothers and sisters. Every supermarket, church, school, has become a place to take canned foods, medicine, diapers, antibacterial gel, and the list goes on and on and on... Everybody is giving and giving....You see, we KNOW how it feels to be helpless, not to know what will happen tommorrow, to loose complete families (we lost SO MANY friends during the '85 earthquake). Yes, unfortunately, we KNOW, and we really hope NOBODY would ever have to feel this. But we also know about the generosity of so many countries, how it feels to have a warm blanket, a sweater, a cup of fresh water, food, medical care and supplies.

So what do I ask? I ask all who read this, not only to donate with money, goods or drives (I know my blogger friends have done this already), but to get others involved, to let them know this is not something that will pass as some other sensational news shows up on TV, not to say "Geesh, I'm glad I live here and not there" and do nothing about it, not talk about it because "It is soooo depressing, ugggg". I ask for everybody to get involved, and help our brothers and sisters in need.......and I thank you SO much, because your help today, was help for us yesterday, and it will be my help to WHOEVER will need it tomorrow.

God Bless....

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pozole Verde.

Green Pozole.
Here is the how-to, just don't look at the dirty blender and filthy stove (incredible how messiness and grime shows so brightly on photograph, sheesh!)

It is very easy. Ingredients:

-Pozole corn (I think it is called hominy in the U.S.)
-Chicken or pork (mine is made with chicken, I used a whole one chopped into parts)
-Green tomatoes (or tomatillos)
-Serrano chiles (also called green chile)
-Radishes leaves
-White Onions
-Salt (you can also add chicken bullion squares)

-Diced or sliced radishes
-Diced white onions
-Shredded Lettuce or cabbage (I prefer lettuce)
-Dried full leaf Oregano
-Sour cream

First thing I do is cook the meat. I always use a pressure cooker, it is faster. All I do is add the meat to salted water, and and cook for 15 min. after the weight starts "dancing" (as we say here).

After the presuure cooker cools down, I take out the chicken (or pork) and put it in a bowl. While the corn is being cooked, I will chop or "pull" the meat for putting into the pozole bowls.

While the chicken was cooking, I put the following in the blender (or you can use a food processor):
-250 gms. (about 1/2 pound) green tomatoes (or tomatillos)
-Serrano chiles (I used about 6),
-cilantro leaves (about one fistfulls),
-radish leaves (just chop them off the radishes, wash them and put in blender, about two fistfulls),
-a head of garlic without skins
-two onions
-a bit of salt (remember the broth already has salt) and chicken bullion

Serrano chiles, and tomatillos.





Next the corn. I don't know how it is sold in the U.S. but here it is sold precooked in bags. It still has to be cooked for about an hour in the pressure cooker. After taking the chicken out of its broth, I put two bags of corn into the broth, and also pour in the contents of the blender.
Cook for about 1 hour....and done!
We went to buy the ingredients pretty late, so there wasn't
any white corn left. This corn tastes just as good.
I wash it three times, because it comes
pre-cooked in a bag.

I know, lots of fat in the broth...
but it doesn't taste the same without it.

Very bright green color.
It will change once cooked.

Serving: I put the meat at the bottom of the pozole, but most people will put it on top. Pour the hot pozole into deep bowls, put all the garnishes in small bowl so you can add whatever you like.
In some places, fresh cheese, and even canned tomatied sardines are added!

Squeeze limes over pozole...remember
we use limes on everything!

We spread sour cream onto the tostadas.

By the look on his face, guess he liked it....

Oh, the oregano.
We put it between our palms and crush it
over the pozole.


Digging in.

Yep... approved!

Hope you understood. I'm not very good at explaining recipies, but it really is easy.
Let me know if you make some....
¡Buen Provecho! (Enjoy your food!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dia de Reyes.

Three Kings' Day (Epiphany) is January 6th. It is the day in which Mexican children recieve gifts (toys, bicycles, candies, etc.). They also recieve gifts on December 25 from Santa Claus, or Baby Jesus, but Three Kings' Day is the max.

As you can imagine, the stores were full of people-supermarkets, Wall-Mart, Sam's, and all the small toy stores that are located downtown. Buying toys last minute is a way of life here. It is something adults enjoy, really. Todnight almost all stores will be open past midnight. In Mexico City many street markets will be open till dawn. Many people go after midnight to buy toys because they usually have last minute sales at that hour.

So children make their letter to the Three Kings, then tie it to a balloon and let it go. In our town we have a parade called "Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos". It has been a tradition for thirty years. A group of people get together and prepare this event each year. The money comes out of their pockets, and they decorate trailer beds with scenes that have to do with Christ's birth, always starting with the Angel announcing to Mary that she will have child. Other scenes include when the pastors are infomred to go and adore the newborn King, and ends with the Three Kings visiting and offering their gifts to Baby Jesus. The Kings are people from town who are dressed and made up, and ride by on horses (one of the kings is my kid's pediatrician, Dr. Ramón de León, but he is so made up, the kids don't recognise him). As the Kings ride by, the kids let go of their balloons with their letters attached.

Each year, an approximate of 250,000 people show up lining the streets to view the Cabalgata (our town's population is 500,000).

After the parade ends, everybody goes home to have the famous "Rosca de Reyes". This is an oval shaped sweet bread which is decorated with candied figs and cintron. Inside the "rosca" there is usually one or more small plastic or ceramic babies hidden (depending on the size of the rosca). The tradition is that whoever gets the "niñito" in his or her piece, has to pay for the tamales eaten at the feast of the "Día de la Candelaria" (Candlemass) February 2.. This is the day people literally "pick up" (levantan) the Baby Jesus from the Nativity scene, and put it away. Some people will take it to church to have it blessed, and they will even have a godmother for the baby, who has to dress the figure. There are many establishments that are dedicated solely to dressing the figure. At this event, tamales and atole is served.

So here are the photos starting with the afternoon photographing the stores downtown, till the moment when the shoes are left next to the tree to wait for our gifts in the morning. And it's at events like this in which I wish I had a good camera. The photos of the "cabalgata" did not come out well, but I hope you get the general idea.

Lots of stores downtown selling toys...

People hurrying home to hide the toys,
and leave them next to the tree tomorrow.

This is at the cabalgata. Many street vendors sell
primarily balloons, but many others sell food,
small toys, cotton candy, etc.

Lots of people.

Balloons...they have the drawings of the
three kings,

More balloons...

This is a big family event. The woman smiling there
in the middle, is a teacher from my school.
Everybody shows up herw.

Look at the crowd. We got up on a wall to see better.

The first float...

These are mojigangos, they are used to
cheer up crowds.

You can't see very well, but there are live sheep
on this float. It represents the moment when
Christ was born. The children dressed up in
front are pastors.

When the Angel informs the pastors
to go adore the newborn King.

And here is one of the Kings. Lousy photo,
but you can kind of see his costume.

Another photo of the Kings.
At this moment the crowd goes crazy, letting go of
hundreds of balloons and screaming out
the names of the Kings: Melchor,
Gaspar, and Baltazar.

My son with his ballon and letter...

There it goes....!

And back home, ready to eat our Rosca.
This is a small one, only one kilogram (about two pounds).
We are only four people.

Milk-chocolate to drink with our rosca.

Each cutting a piece...

My husband got the figure!
In the supermarket where we bought
our rosca, they put other figures in the bread.
These figures are for the Nativity scene.
This is a small chicken.
The original should be a small baby.

And now the shoes are ready for the Three Kings....

We'll see tomorrow what they bring us.

I hope you also enjoy Día de Reyes-Epiphany!
¡¡Buenas Noches!!!