Food, Living, Mexico

Pork Belly Tacos

Christopher Columbus took 8 Iberian pigs with him on his 1493 voyage. After Hernan Cortes overthrew the Aztec empire in 1521 he traveled to Oaxaca and he brought pigs that were descended from the pigs Columbus brought to Cuba. Since then, the pig has been an important part of Mexican food culture. From tacos al pastor to cochinita pibil to lechon- there are many ways to cook a pig and it is almost always a feast for the senses.

While I love my pork slow-cooked, sometimes I just don’t have the time. So I have worked on finding a fast way to cook pork without losing the delicious flavor and pull away tenderness.

Here is my recipe for a fast cooked, yet tender pork.

Pork Belly Tacos

  • 1 pound (1/2 kilo) pork belly, leg, or shoulder with some fat attached
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper from a can
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  1. Rub pork with minced garlic and salt.
  2. Heat oil in a deep pan or pot on medium-high.
  3. Sear pork until brown. Do not let the garlic burn. Add orange juice, chipotle, cumin and lime.
  4. Cover and turn heat to low-medium. Every 7 minutes turn pork over. After 45 minutes remove pork and slice thinly. pour left over liquid from the pot over top.
  5. Serve in tortillas topped with pico de gallo and salsa.

Provecho

Food, Living, Mexico

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde is perfect the perfect topping to almost any taco. The tangy tomatillos pair beautifully with pork, chicken and fish. This salsa recipe makes quite a bit but you can freeze half if you won’t use it all in the next week.

Salsa Verde:

2 garlic cloves

3 serrano chili peppers – check heat levels and use more or less depending on how hot you want to go

1 kilo (2.2 pounds) small green tomatillos, husks removed

3 cups water or chicken stock

1 cup cilantro

½ cup sour cream

Boil the garlic, chili peppers and tomatillos in the water or chicken stock until tomatillos darken in color but are still firm. Place garlic, chili peppers and tomatillos in a blender. Fill half way with water or chicken stock and blend. Add cilantro and blend. Let cool slightly and add sour cream and blend. Transfer to a pot and simmer on low until reaches desired thickness. Taste and add salt if needed.

For information on taking a cooking class with me, in-person in Huatulco, Mexico or online:

http://www.HuatulcoCookingClasses.com

chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com

Food, Living, Mexico, Uncategorized

Corn Bread Pudding with Poblano Cream

In last night’s online cooking class we made this sweet, yet savory, corn bread pudding with poblano chilies. I love this dish served with brunch or as a main served with salad. I originally came upon this recipe in a cookbook detailing Frida Kahlo’s favorite dishes.

For information about upcoming classes: http://www.HuatulcoCookingClasses.com Contact me to be added to our mailing list: chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com

Corn Bread Pudding

  • 4 tablespoons butter *half a stick *room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1.5 cups of corn kernels
  • 1/6 cup of milk
  • 1.5 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, separated

Mix butter and sugar together. Blend corn and milk in a blender. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and egg yolks together. Add corn/milk and sugar/butter. Mix well.

Beat remaining egg whites and when fluffy fold into corn batter. Pour into a oiled/buttered loaf pan. Bake at 175 C/ 350 F for 45 minutes.

Chiles in Cream

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 white onion sliced
  • 2 poblano chilies, roasted, seeded and peeled (If you cannot get poblanos you can use green peppers)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Sauté onion in butter on a medium heat for 10 minutes, add sliced poblanos and cream, turn heat to low and continue to sauté for 3-4 minutes.

Served corn bread pudding with poblano chilies in cream on top. Yum!

Food, Living, Mexico

Fish Taco Online Birthday Party

Since few people are traveling and getting together in person is not an option, I have been offering cooking classes online. This has been a challenging experience and also a lot more rewarding than I would have expected. I get to share my love of cooking and connect with people that otherwise I wouldn’t get to see.

A few days ago I was honored to be a part of an online birthday celebration for Leslie and her friends who are located in various parts of Canada and unable to see each other.

For more information about my online drop-in classes that are every Tuesday at 7pm CT or to book a private class for you and your friends:

http://www.HuatulcoCookingClasses.com chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com

 Menu for Online Cooking Class with Jane Bauer:
 Beer-battered fish tacos
 Street Corn Salad
 Chipotle Mayo
 Rum Horchata
  
 Recipes:
  
 Garlic oil- We call this ‘Heaven in a Jar’ at the cooking school
 1 cup vegetable oil 
 6 garlic cloves
 Mix in a blender until uniform. Keep in a jar and use with everything!
  
Fish Tacos
White fish filet such as mahi-mahi or any other firm fish like marlin, swordfish, sea bass, cod cut into strips 1-inch in width by 2.5 inches in length
Salt and pepper
Pour a generous helping of Heaven in a Jar over filets and massage them with your hand.
  
 Beer Batter
 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose wheat flour
 ½ teaspoon of oregano
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 bottle of beer
  
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and pour in beer in a gentle stream while mixing with a plastic spatula until the batter has the consistency of pancake batter. 
  
Frying: Heat 3 cm of vegetable oil in a pan. When oil is hot, place a strip of fish into beer batter and then into oil, fry until golden. Place fried fish on a paper towel to de-grease. Place fried fish onto a corn tortilla, top with shredded purple cabbage, grated carrot and cilantro. Garnish with cream and/or chipotle mayonnaise.
Mix and knead  with your hands until the dough is smooth and  homogenous. It should be soft but not sticky, like  soft  Play-Doh;  if   necessary,  adjust  the  texture with  more  water  or  masa  harina.
 
 Chipotle  Mayonnaise
 2 chipotle chiles (from a can)
 1 cup of mayonnaise
 1/4 cup orange juice. 
 Place all ingredients in a blender and mix. Taste and adjust. 
 Too spicy? Add more mayo
 Too smokey? Add more juice
 Not spicy enough? Add more chipotle
  
 Street Corn Salad
 4 cups corn (about 5 ears), cut from the cob- canned corn is fine!
 1 tbsp olive oil
 1/2 small red onion finely chopped
 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
 6 green onions chopped
 1 jalapeno pepper diced
 1/2 avocado chopped
 4 tablespoons lime juice (from about 2 limes)
 1/2 teaspoon cumin ground
 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper ground
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 tablespoons sour cream (or yogurt)
 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
 1/2 cup feta crumbled
  
 Mix all ingredients and serve!
  
 Rum Horchata
 1 cup of rice
 1 liter of water
 Cinnamon
 Vanilla
 Simple syrup or sugar
 Rum 
  
Soak rice in water for about an hour. Blend well so rice breaks down. Pass through a sieve. Add cinnamon and vanilla to your taste. Serve over ice and your rum of choice.
  
 Provecho!
   

Living, Mexico

Thoughts on Motherhood and Immigration from my September 2019 editorial in The Eye.

“When I think of immigration, I want to think of families. I want to think of unity. I want to think of a safe place, you know, free of persecution, a place where we can welcome a child that is hungry.”
Rashida Tlaib

Within moments of being born we are placed in our mothers arms and it is like being injected by a syringe full of love, truly the most powerful drug. Three weeks after my daughter was born my friend Bianca and I decided to drive from Puerto Angel to Puerto Escondido for the day. I strapped my baby into her car seat; a luxury item back then and we headed off. As I drove I glanced nervously in the rear view mirror to make sure she was snuggled and safe. I didn’t get very far before I pulled over to check and make sure she was still breathing as she was sleeping so peacefully lulled by the movement of the car. She was fine and let out a small yowl as I prodded her to make sure she was ok. Then I burst into tears and I said to Bianca, “How does anybody stand living with this heightened sense of love and responsibility?”

All parents have woken in the night to check on their children. While love is the drug, longing and anxiety and a fierce desire to protect are the side effects. What wouldn’t I do to protect my daughter? Even now that she is 19 years old and in college I get gripped with worry. I call her trying to sound casual but I feel relief flood though me when I hear her answer the phone.

Then there is the longing I feel as a daughter. I can remember my mother taking me late to school one day because of a dentist appointment. Perhaps it was the disruption to our routine but as she led me to the school door and everything was still because students and teachers were nestled safely in their classrooms I had the overwhelming sensation of not wanting to part from her. “Please, let’s just go home,” my 7-year-old self pleaded. Of course she had to go to work and she peeled me out of our embrace and nudged me into the building. 

What would you do if the place where you live became so fraught with danger that you worried all the time? What if you couldn’t find food and your children were hungry? Where would you go? What if their was no one to call because all the people around you were struggling in the same way? I would would gather my daughter and hold her close and I would do whatever it takes to keep her safe. There would be no other option. The moment her newborn skin fused with mine I was an addict to this love. 

I cannot imagine who I would become if I didn’t know she was ok. It is emotionally inhumane to deprive parents and children contact with each other. And yet, politicians are making public policy that does just that. Regulations and process that are  against the very core of what it is to be human. 

Recently on social media a man I know justified current atrocities by stating that immigrants being detained had broken the law. I was sickened by this argument. Laws are made by men. They are ever changing and should not allow us to deviate from basic human morality. Justice lies in the moral ethics of humanity, not within the ever-changing laws that are made to justify our brutalities against each other.

Jane

Food, Living

The love of good food

“The main facts in human life are five: birth, food, sleep, love and death.”  

E.M. Forster

This is my editorial from the August 2019 issue of the magazine The Eye.

http://www.TheEyeHuatulco.com

It’s our annual food issue! This month our writers explore lesser known ingredients and share their experiences of new food in new places. If you know me in person you know how important food is to me. I embrace the ethos that the best way to learn about a culture is through it’s food. So when I want to learn about people I ask ‘what are you eating?’

I just got back from a foodcation where I baked croissants in Paris and drank Pouilly Fume in the Loire Valley with a vintner whose family has been making wine for generations. I eased into long afternoon lunches of foie gras, leeks and red wine. Instead of post-meal siestas I took my cues from Paris’ best flaneurs and sat by the fountain in the Tuileries Garden people watching and enjoying the spectacle that is Paris.

Next I went to Delhi, India, where the chaos could not have been more different from the refined precision of Paris. I made butter chicken with chef Neha Gupta (www.saffronpalate.com) and while we made rotis we discussed what it is like to be women in business. This was especially interesting as very few women work in restaurants or hotels in India and the chance to interact with women was limited. Later in my journey, in Rishikesh, I was invited to join a home cook, Rashmi, while she prepared a feast of lentils and rice that was mouth-watering. It was an honor to be invited into her home and to participate in her everyday life.

There are many similarities between Indian and Mexican attitudes towards food as well a crossover of ingredients. Both cultures have a welcoming spirit and there is always enough to feed unexpected guests- the more the merrier. Ingredients seem to expand as you cook them and a small bag of groceries miraculously makes enough to feed a crowd.

While you may not be able to coordinate your own foodcation to Paris and India, you can have one right at home. Get together with friends, cook, explore new cuisines and new ingredients- invite the neighbors you never speak to over for paella or curry or tacos. Expand your palate and you will expand your circle of friends and knowledge of other cultures.

Happy eating and cooking!

Jane

Living, Mexico

Good vs. Evil – this month’s editorial from The Eye

“The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

The biggest villain of our time used his political position to divide the world. He rose to power “through charm, violence and cunning negotiations. He was an excellent speaker and surrounded himself with people who, like him, were not afraid to use violence to fulfill their political objectives.” historyonthenet.com

Once elected, as head of the state, he convinced lawmakers to grant “him temporary “emergency” powers for four years, enabling him to act without the consent of parliament or the country’s constitution.” He then divided his nation by singling out minorities and effected “decrees and regulations on all aspects of their lives. The regulations gradually but systematically took away their rights and property, transforming them from citizens into outcasts.” encyclopedia.ushmm.org

This leader is so despised that I once met a man who confessed that he had his name changed to prevent any associations with the genocidal maniac. A leader who separated families and put children in prisons- their only crime being their birth. When I first heard of this monster at the age of ten, I remember asking my mother ‘why didn’t you do anything?’ She would have barely been out of diapers when he reigned but it made me realize how helpless we can be in the face of such evil. It makes itself known in small increments and we are like lobsters in a pot with the temperature rising. We are unaware of our eroding morality as the bar for what we will tolerate moves further and further away from decency.

We have very conveniently bisected the world into good and evil which allows us to step over to the good side and feel ok about the chaos around us. We rise above the fray in our self-righteousness and we point the finger at the drug dealers, the ring leaders of organized crime, the terrorists, we watch Narcos and we tell ourselves we would never be that bad.

It is the comfort that we are ‘good’ that makes it possible to read the news about children being put in cages or traveling on rafts across dangerous waters to escape violence. Geography is the only thing that separates us from them, yet we see their situation as outside of ourselves. We do our part by sharing a post on social media and then we go about our business, our conscience relatively unscathed.

But if we want to be really good, really humanitarian, don’t we need to step back take ownership of our cog in the wheel?

I recently toured the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. It was haunting to see the rooms where she spent WWII hiding for her life. I cried at the testimonials they showed at the end of the exhibition about what an icon Anne Frank has become and how brave she was. I didn’t cry for Anne. She was an ordinary girl facing horrible adversity- inhumane adversity! I cried for all the ordinary girls currently facing inhumane challenges today and I do nothing. We all do nothing.

We are the villains when we endure leaders who put power above human dignity.

Living, Mexico

Traveling alone, but not lonely

Is there anything more exciting than visiting a new country, navigating a new city or struggling through a new language to get directions to find the closest place to buy wine? It can be challenging to find the ideal travel partner. Someone who is a close friend at home doesn’t a perfect travel partner make.

Six years ago, after spending close to sixteen years focused on family, I decided that I wanted to go traveling. I craved the kind of freedom of not being the organizer, of having my days stretch out before me in a new place without the pressure of taking into account the needs of others.

I chose Thailand and it was fabulous! I stayed in luxurious boutique hotels that cost a fraction of the price they would have at home. I ate on my own schedule, I explored the bustle of Bangkok and the picturesque streets of Chiang Mai. I didn’t meet too many people until I took a tour that overlapped with some ‘real’ travelers. True backpackers who carry their world with them like a turtle carries its shell. They were younger than me but it didn’t stop them from inviting me to join them for dinner or riding scooters out to a waterfall. I had a blast and I was bitten by the travel bug and a wanderlust that would always have me wondering ‘where to next?’

I continued to travel, staying in medium priced hotels and Airbnb’s until I met a group of young women in the Sahara desert of Morocco. We were heading to Fez and at the last minute, my Airbnb fell through.

‘Come with us to our hostel. I’m sure they have room.’ I hesitated. Would they even let me in or am I too old? Me with my small compact wheeled suitcase and Kate Spade purse. I decided to go with them and then find a place from there. There had to be a decent hotel nearby.

Fez was not my favorite place. A chaotic maze of streets full of men (more about that for another blog post.) We stepped into an oasis of busy calm. The common area was full of people lounging and drinking tea, posting on Instagram and talking about where they had and been and where they were going. The hostel had a private room but it wasn’t available until the following day. We had passed a hotel on our way in and I decided to check it out before deciding. I was able to leave my bags by the activity board- lists of everything hostel had to offer- walking tours, food tours, dinner was served at 7 and breakfast from 7-10. The hotel a few doors down was quiet. The front desk man showed me a room that was fine but his manner seemed critical when I said I was alone. I decided to stay at the hostel and it was the best thing I could have done.

I have traveled a lot since then and stayed in many hostels. In Porto, I met a 60-year-old woman who had walked the Camino and in Paris an older woman who was studying French as well as many young people seeing the world before deciding how they want to live in it. I find I actually enjoy sharing a room and I am inspired by how many female solo travelers I meet. Women like me.

My favorite site for the best listings: http://www.hostelworld.com

Travel light, travel happy!

 

Living

How important is money?

Here is my editorial from this month’s issue of The Eye magazine.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” English proverb

The above is one of my least favorite idioms. As a kid when someone would say this to me I would think, “money is made of paper and paper comes from trees so actually money DOES grow on trees.” Nobody thought my logic was very funny.

As an adult, I understand the meaning behind the proverb and I still don’t like it. Money IS just paper, or these days usually plastic. Money’s only use is the value we place on it. Its power lies in how it is spent.

In fact, more than ever we exercise our power, our political choices and our values in how we decide to spend our money. We are living in the consumer age.

What is your relationship with money? Do you read the menu from right to left – allowing price to dictate your tastes? Do you feel resentful when paying your bills or are you filled with gratitude about the services and goods you received in exchange? How much money do you need to be satisfied? Do you dream of fancy cars and big houses or is it enough that you can treat friends to dinner or a concert without feeling affected financially?

We live in an age where getting a deal is a badge of honor and growing your money is a source of pride. But what if every purchase came with a different criterion than cost? What if we valued paying more knowing that the people who made our goods were earning more? Low priced goods, from clothing to electronics to food, come with costs beyond money. Low wages, poor working conditions, GMOs that produce environmental damage, are all things that we endure to get the lowest price we have come to value.

What if when you bought a sweater you didn’t just check the price and the washing instructions? What if you checked to see where it was made and by whom? What if before buying a new computer you researched the company’s ethical practices in relation to its workers and the environment, rather than just looking at consumer reports about the functionality of the product?

This brings me to one of my favorite proverbs… “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Someone is always paying. Our affluent and comfortable lifestyle has been built on the labor and exploitation of others.

So spend compassionately! Tip well! Pick up the check! Buy less crap and spend more on ethical well-made products! Invest in experiences! Follow your money beyond your purchase and see where it’s really going.

See you next month,

Jane

Check out more of issues of The Eye: www.theeyehuatulco.com

 

Living, Mexico

Women in Politics

The editorial from this month’s The Eye magazine.

“For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and to elect but to be elected.”—Michelle Bachelet, head of UN Women, former president and defense minister of Chile, in The New York Times

Most people are astounded at the giant leap humanity has taken with regard to technology in the past 100 years. Equally astounding are the small steps we have taken on the status of women. 

Yes, women now have the vote (since 1918 in Canada, 1920 in the US and 1953 in Mexico) and can own property, in North America at least. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent US organization, 

When it comes to property ownership, women are not equal in the eyes of the law. According to the World Bank, close to 40 percent of the world’s economies have at least one legal constraint on women’s rights to property, limiting their ability to own, manage, and inherit land. Thirty-nine countries allow sons to inherit a larger proportion of assets than daughters and thirty-six economies do not have the same inheritance rights for widows as they do for widowers.” 

Even though we vote there is still a great disparity of representation of women in political spheres. It just doesn’t make sense. Women represent half the global population and in several studies it has been shown that women have a higher tendency to make decisions that benefit the community rather than just themselves. This is why organizations that give out small business loans favor women. Making decisions that benefit a community, organization and accountability are all qualities that make me think women are ideal politicians.

In 2019, women are still under-represented on the international political stage. We earn less than men and are at a higher risk for physical assaults and human trafficking. I don’t know how if we have come so far in the past 100 years; tv, cars, the internet, mobile phones, MRIs, ultrasound machines, cardiac defibrillation- with all these inventions to improve our quality of life, how have we lagged so far behind in our humanity? Why is it taking so long for women to be equally represented in politics?

It’s also not as simple as electing women. Why are fewer women running for office? Is it lack of opportunity, poor education, cultures that limit women to staying home and having babies? Is it the tolerance of misogyny from world leaders and super stars or the acceptance that our bodies are branding and marketing tools? I don’t know.

This progress is too slow.

Jane