Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Bounty of Oregon

We're back from the wonderful week we spent exploring the bounty of Oregon. That's actually the name of the month-long festival celebrating the and sea. Our thanks go out to the friendly folks in Oregon for making our visit so enjoyable!

If you get the opportunity to visit this beautiful state, please try to go during harvest time. You'll get to see the grape vines in the orchards heavy with berries, road stands full of apples and pumpkins (there is even a map of these called "The Fruit Loop" and trees bursting with color.

Did I mention the seafood and the wine????? Wow!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Joys of Eating from the Farm Market

Yesterday my husband, daughter and two year old granddaughter joined me for a trip to the farmers market in Waxhaw to drop off some of my recipe cards for Donna and Bill to hand out with their home-grown butternut squash (it was so beautiful that I couldn't leave without a bag-full!), and we ended up gathering the ingredients for a late breakfast from the vendors there.

Fast food? Yes! Healthy and delicious? Most definitely! We bought a package of the most deliciously fresh organic whole grain pitas, then a container of Bosky Acres soft goat cheese and couldn't resist some giant oatmeal cookies.

We all piled back into my Forester and off we headed for Northlake Mall and a day of shopping. I sat in the back seat with Mary and spread the pitas with goat cheese and we all enjoyed that and the cookies more than anything we would have found at a fast food restaurant!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Mexican Spaghetti Recipe

While in Mexico City, my friend Manuela prepared Sopa Seca de Fideo, which she called Mexican Spaghetti. She told me the recipe is in the the cookbook "Frida's Fiestas," which is a cookbook honoring the famous Mexican artist wife of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo. Of course, I had Manuela help me find a copy in English! Here is the recipe. It is delicious!

Sopa Seca de Fideo

1 lb. thin spaghetti noodles
10 medium tomatoes
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
3 parsley sprigs
2 c. chicken broth
Pasilla chiles, fried and chopped, to taste
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 c. heavy cream

Saute noodles in hot oil in a saucepan until golden. Drain off all but 3 T. of oil.

Puree the tomatoes with the onion, garlic, and salt to taste. Add the puree to the noodles and simmer together until the mixture has thickened. Add the parsley and chicken broth to cover. Cover the saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the noodles are tender and the broth absorbed; add more chicken broth if needed. Discard the parsley.

Pour the noodle mixture onto a heated serving platter and garnish with chiles, avocados, cream and cheese. Serves 8

A Celebration in Mexico

We just returned from one of the best experiences we've ever had in a foreign country and I had to share some of the culinary discoveries we made. We visited Guadalajara, Mexico City, Acapulco and Taxco in Mexico.

Just feast your eyes on the display of fresh fruit in the picture! This picture was taken on a narrow street in the colonial silver mining town of Taxco in the mountains of Mexico, where the native farmers set up their colorful displays of home-grown fruits and vegetables along side hand-made crafts. It's customary for the vendors to offer their fruits for tasting before purchase, and we enjoyed tasting sun-kissed fruits that were new to us.

In Mexico City, we visited the large and bustling market where everyone was friendly and helpful....and the displays of produce, cheeses, breads, and fresh meat and seafood were dazzling. Although I wasn't there to purchase, the vendors seemed delighted to introduce me to new tastes and to pose for pictures. The language of food (and sales) is global!

While we were traveling, we tried to eat as many dishes as possible that were typical of the areas where we were. The food was fabulous and nothing like what we find in our local Mexican restaurants in Lancaster County. We had oysters on the half shell that were as large as dinner plates, tender and so sweet! Tortas Ahogadas (drowned pork sandwiches) were one of my favorite fast food items, and a late night visit to a taco stand introduced us to delicious soft corn tortillas topped with savory meat, beans and cheese. Poblanos stuffed with a sweet and savory pork mixture, topped with a creamy walnut sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds was one of the most beautiful and delicious dishes we had. The waiters were so helpful; many spoke English and those who didn't were patient with my broken Spanish.

We were introduced to "tequila completo" in the Mexican state of Jalisco, a tradition of sipping smooth premium tequila alternately with the tomato-citrus beverage called Sangrita. This was so delicious that I wonder why that tradition hasn't followed migrants across the border into our area! The non-alcoholic Sangrita is so healthful that I made some when we got back home and even my 2-year old granddaughter loves it!

Mexico is a country filled with history, natural beauty, and friendly people. With a government filled with corruption, no social "safety nets" for the poor or disabled, high unemployment and extremely low wages, there is a huge chasm between the classes. As industry moves south of our border, however, the middle class is growing and there is hope for many. What an educational experience this visit was for us and also served to remind us of all that the American people have to be grateful for here in the United States.