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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: cooking, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 157
1. My First Baking Book / My First Juices & Smoothies

My First Baking Book
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62966-5
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Baking is so enjoyable, especially when putting silly faces and sprinkles on cupcakes and cookies. Created to be a hands-on experience, these recipes allow kids to have fun in the kitchen. Parental guidance and assistance is essential, since recipes may contain many ingredients or have hard preparation steps.

My First Juices and Smoothies
Author: Amanda Cross
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62967-2
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Yummy recipes for juices consisting of: all fruits; fruits & vegetables; and fruits, veggies and dairy/non-dairy milk or yogurt to make smoothies. This book is designed to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies in a way that tastes great and is easy to consume.

Snapshots of the drinks and snacks, as well as the kids enjoying them, accompany the recipes in these vibrant and colorful books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


0 Comments on My First Baking Book / My First Juices & Smoothies as of 9/5/2014 1:18:00 PM
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2. Harissa/ Hot Sauce

Soaking Chiles

In my continuing quest to recreate the Kurdish/ Turkish food I came to love while in Germany (more on that here and here), my latest cooking adventure was making hot sauce (harissa) to go with my falafel.

Evidently it’s possible to buy harissa at least a couple of places here in Charlotte, but once I found this recipe, I felt I really had to make it myself.

Basically you’re soaking dried chiles (minus seeds), then blending with garlic, lemon juice, spices, and oil. It’s not quite the same as what they served at my imbiss in Hannover, but wow, I do not care. It is OFF the hook! I’d eat it on green beans, corn on the cob, broccoli, oatmeal—–okay, maybe not oatmeal.

The recipe is not really all that hot (as a person who is usually happy with medium hotness salsas and sauces), but the flavor complexity is INSANE.

Harissa

I was short on lemons but long on limes, so I used lime juice. Also, the recipe calls for New Mexico chiles, but I had what I think were ancho chiles, so I used those instead.

The picture below of falafel with peppers and harissa also stars tahini sauce, this time made with lime juice and coconut milk, which was soooooo fantastic. The original recipe is in Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (the coconut variation is a suggestion of his). A similar recipe is here.

Speaking of which, it’s snack time and there are leftovers in the fridge. See ya!

For more food and cooking posts, click here

photo 2


1 Comments on Harissa/ Hot Sauce, last added: 8/29/2014
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3. You have Good Taste

This may not exactly be news to you, but: Taste is something personal.

You like your coffee with soy milk, and maybe also a hint of vanilla? Well, I like it black. You like potato chips? I like peanuts. You like macarons? I’d rather have a piece of chocolate.
But who is to say which one actually tastes better? It’s your word against mine.
Same goes for art. Take Van Gogh - his paintings were hated by many, and the poor guy had to live like a bum while making art, so who would have thought back then that poor old Vincent would become one of the most famous artists of the world a long time after his death?
201407 coffeeTakeaway
There are no rules for taste. Or for making art. That’s why really, you shouldn’t worry about what others think about your art. Seriously. Wether that’s writing, painting, drawing, music, poetry… You are the one making the art, and if it’s not quite like the taste of anyone who feels the need to tell you so - well, just politely thank them for the advice and send them off to get you that Soy Latte or Skinny cappuccino or whatever else your poison may be.
How’s your taste for cooking, and food?
If you like food as much as I do, and if you also like to draw or doodle, then I’ve got something that might be fitting to your taste:
201407-strawberry
Today my online workshop 'Draw It Like It’s Hot’ is starting. This is a 4-week workshop, for $69, in which we doodle food (=foodle), draw kitchen utensils and illustrate our very own recipes. Sweet!
Maybe you can join us in this foodie-art challenge? It'll be lots of fun! You can read all about it and join by clicking here.

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4. Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

I like food so I thought I’d give Food Wars! a try.  I thought the first volume was okay, but it didn’t blow me away.  Soma’s family owns a diner, and Soma’s number one goal in life is to be a better cook than his dad.  I love this storyline; it kept me reading The Prince of Tennis for a long time (and I need to catch up on that one!).  I’m not sure why I find this trope so appealing, but it is one of my favorites.  The protagonist working to hone his skills, hoping to one day surpass the person who taught him almost everything he knows, yeah, I really like that.

Food Wars! Volume 1 ends the competition between father and son very quickly.  Soma’s dad decides he’s going to sharpen his cooking skills, and he leaves Soma with hardly a word.  Off he goes, we discover, jet-setting around the globe, creating fabulous dishes at 5-star establishments.  Soma, in the meantime, has been enrolled in a prestigious culinary school.  The only hitch? He has to pass a cooking test, or he flunks out of school before it even starts.  His judge is fellow student Erina Nakiri, and she’s one tough critic.  From a blue-blooded family of in the gourmet food biz, she has already created a name for herself in the foodie world.  Noted for her incredibly discerning sense of taste, she has no patience for anything less than the best.  Unfortunately for Soma, that includes him.  When Erina discovers his background is from a humble family diner, she has nothing but contempt for him and his cooking.

 

I think the thing I enjoyed best about Food Wars! is Soma’s personality.  He’s brash and outspoken, but he doesn’t mean to come across as a douche, though he often does.  He just wants everyone to appreciate all kinds of food, especially meals prepared with less expensive ingredients.  He’s also very confident in his own abilities, having worked in the family restaurant since he was a small boy.  He makes himself a target the first day of school by sounding like an obnoxious jerk, making a speech in front of the incoming class that is cringe worthy in its arrogance.  Since everybody has a bone to pick with him now, he suddenly has dozens of classmates rooting for, and even actively participating in efforts to see him fail.  Most of the students come from wealthy families, with esteemed backgrounds in gourmet food industries, and they don’t want his kind there.

Volume 2 introduces a parcel of eccentric personalities for Soma to interact with, as well as his first cooking battle.  If he loses, he’s agreed to pack his bags and leave school for good.  His opponent is a genius with beef, and since her family has made a fortune selling grade A cuts of the stuff, he probably shouldn’t have challenged her to a cook-off using meat as the main ingredient.  That’s what I like about Soma; he feels so strongly about an issue that he jumps to accept any challenge, without having the faintest idea or plan of how he’s actually going to win. It’s always Ready! Fire! Aim! with him, with very entertaining results.

So far, I am enjoying this series. The drama of the food wars is fun, and the descriptions of the food makes me drool. I hate cooking, but even I’m tempted to try some of the recipes included because they sound so darned tasty. I have my usual gripes while reading a comic aimed primarily at boys, and I’m not sure how these 14 year old girls can have boobs the size of their heads, but then I remember that I am not the target market. It’s still fun anyway.

About the book:

Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town.  Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school!  Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And can he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

Leaving home for the first time in his young life, Soma moves into the  Polaris Dormitory—a place run by an old crone and filled with crazy and eccentric students! Barely settled in, Soma quickly finds himself in one of Tohzuki’s legendary cooking duels—a shokugeki! Who will his very first opponent be?

Review copies provided by publisher

The post Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Draw Tip Tuesday - Sunny Side Up

Welcome to Draw Tip Tuesday!
Today we're doing a quick food illustration - Sunny side up, or any way you like it.


Don't forget to sign up for my online workshop on drawing food and illustrating recipes today!

Draw It Like It's Hot starts this Monday. It's $69 and will run for 4 weeks, in which you draw your way towards an illustrated recipe, to be published on www.theydrawandcook, for the world to see!
For more info follow this link.

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6. Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burger

I’d been wanting to try these for a long time but never got around to it until last week. There were a few mishaps, but all in all, I was psyched about how they turned out, despite their less-than-photogenic looks. They even got the hubs stamp of approval—-as in, he not only ate them without complaint (he pretty much always does that) but says he’d like me to make them again. He even chose them leftover the next day instead of grilled chicken.

The recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Here’s the original recipe. I’ve cooked a lot, lot, lot from this book. Check out my archives if you want to see more posts about food and cooking.

1 can black beans, drained

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (I used gluten-free)

1 TB chili powder

1 garlic clove

a generous squirt of Sriracha sauce

a nice blob o’ ketchup

3 pickled jalapeno slices

Pulse everything just a little, not a lot, in the food processor. I accidentally left out the egg, but it didn’t seem to matter much, so I doubt I’d add it back in. I also goofed and blended the ingredients too long.

After processing, let it all rest a few minutes.

Form into patties and chill in the fridge for a little while.

Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium, add oil, then brown the patties on one side, then the other.

The next bit was tricky for me. The burgers actually had to be cooked a long, long time to get the right texture. You want the texture to be kind of burger-like. The right kind of chew, not mushy and damp.Maybe I had trouble because I added too much moisture and pulsed the ingredients too long. I don’t know. I may try browning and then baking next time.

What I ended up doing was just turning the heat down to low and cooking them forever very slowly so as not to burn them. I was afraid the whole experiment would be a wash, but lo and behold, they turned out very well in the end.

I didn’t think they were more than mildly spicy, but my daughter (who likes to remind me that children have more taste buds) said the spice factor was too much for her. I hadn’t expected the kids to flock toward bean burgers anyway and had made them turkey burgers instead.

You could totally crank the spice factor up or down. These are definitely going into the rotation.

If you want more detail about all kinds of tips and variations, do check out the original recipe.

I’ve been reading Jennifer Worth’s memoir, Call the Midwife, since I love the show so much. I was surprised that the show actually follows the memoir fairly closely. I’ve been watching old episodes of Foyle’s War, a British WWII detective show. Also tried Outlander (no, I’ve never read the books) and The Knick. I’m definitely on a mostly British historical kick. Not sure what I think of those shows yet. You?

Also doing some patchwork, some of which I hope to show you soon.


2 Comments on Spicy Black Bean Burgers, last added: 8/11/2014
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7. Science? It's Sedimentary, My Dear Watson!



Want a sure-fire way to make your summer rock this year? Think geology and food! As the weeks of summer stretch by, one way to keep kids engaged (and learning) is to head to the kitchen and cook up some science! Not only is this a fun way to tap into a child’s curiosity, but it maintains the momentum of learning that often stalagmites—I mean stagnates—during the summer.

Let’s get rocking! Actually, rocks come in three basic "flavors": metamorphic, sedimentary, and igneous. Metamorphic rocks are those that have "morphed" or been changed through heat and pressure. If you visit a museum this summer, you may notice the marble floor and statues. Marble is an example of metamorphic rock.  Sedimentary rock is formed from small pieces of other rocks and minerals fused together. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have a chance to walk on a sandy beach this summer. If you do, think of sandstone--a sedimentary rock formed by particles of sand cemented together. Then there’s igneous rock which is formed from liquid rock beneath the earth’s surface that has cooled and hardened.

Are you still on solid ground with all this science? Think again! Like a piece of delicious summer fruit, the earth has an outer "skin," but the inside is a whole different matter. In thickness, the surface of the earth is like the skin of a peach—only 4- 44 miles (6- 70 km) deep, compared to the rest of the earth which measures nearly 4000 miles (6400 km) to the center. Phew! Travel down to this center of the earth and you’ll find a solid metal core. This is surrounded by a thick layer of liquid metal—mostly iron and nickel. Even though the inner core has a temperature similar to the surface of the sun (9800°F / 5505°C), it is solid because of the enormous pressure pushing in on it. The next layer is called the mantle and the part of the earth that we live on is called the crust. The mantle is where the pockets of magma—molten rock—come from that erupt and form lava.

I don’t know about you, but all this talk about rocks makes me hungry. Head over to the kitchen to make this yummy Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna. Mmmm! 

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna  
Illustration copyright © 2014 by Leeza Hernandez.

Before You Begin
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Oven temperature: 375°
Yield: 4-6 servings
Difficulty: medium

Equipment 
Frying pan
Spoon or spatula
Rectangular pan (8 x 10 inches or larger)
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Small bowl

Ingredients
1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground turkey or beef
2 cups pizza sauce
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
Oven-ready lasagna noodles
Sliced pepperoni
1–2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Method
  1. With an adult’s help, cook the ground meat in a frying pan until it is brown. Drain off any fat. Add the pizza sauce and mix well. 
  2. Spread about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the rectangular pan. Top with oven-ready lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly to cover the whole pan. Top with more sauce—about 1/2 cup. 
  3. Crack and beat the egg, then mix thoroughly with ricotta cheese. Spread half this mixture over the noodles.
  4. Arrange a layer of pepperoni next, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  5. Repeat the layers. Cover the final layer of lasagna noodles with the remaining meat sauce and a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover the pan with heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 375°F oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Can you still identify the individual ingredients?


----------------------------

Posted by Ann McCallum, author of Eat Your Science Homework.

Remember the old excuse: the dog ate my homework? Did it ever work? Teachers are more savvy than that. But try saying that YOU ate your homework and you’ll put a smile on Teacher’s face. You know why? The kitchen is a laboratory, recipes are experiments, and food is science. Eat Your Science Homework releases August 5, 2014.

Ann McCallum is the author of several books for children including Eat Your Math Homework, Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere, and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant. Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds, was recently named a Junior Library Guild selection. Ann lives in Kensington, MD with her family.

Leeza Hernandez has illustrated several children’s books, including Eat Your Math Homework. She is also an author and graphic designer whose art has been featured in books, magazines, and newspapers. She is the recipient of the Tomie dePaola Illustrator Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Leeza lives in central New Jersey. Visit her online at www.leezaworks.com.

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8. A Bunch

It's true: I love flowers, they are a luxury item that is easy to get here in the Netherlands and they make the house feel alive, fresh and cheerful. But a bunch of carrots, or radishes, or well, any other kind of vegetable makes me just as happy, as they are so interesting to draw!
Looking forward to get more colour pencil drawings done during my upcoming online drawing course 'Just Draw It!', starting next Monday.

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9. Today's Recipe

This is a perfect recipe for a comforting but quick dinner. I prefer to eat it with a tomato salad or a green salad on the side. I've submitted it to www.theydrawandcook.com. You can find more of my recipes there by following this link.
This week, the participants of my online class on drawing food and illustrating recipes have been working on some wonderful recipes as well, as their final assignment. Would you like to do that too?
During the workshop, I help you through the fun process from doodle to final recipe, and you can submit yours to They Draw And Cook as well! Curious? It's $69 and starts August 18. Find out more here

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10. Ella’s Kitchen: The Big Baking Book

Ella's Kitchen: The Big Baking Book
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62844-6
Pages: 192
Price: $19.99

Website
Buy it at Amazon

In the follow-up to Ella’s Kitchen: The Cook Book, this yellow one is chock-full of baking ideas. But it’s not limited to just desserts. Lots of baked lunch and dinner creations are also included.

Ella’s Kitchen cookbooks are designed with children in mind. Kids are actively encouraged to participate in the assembly process, and tips are included, showing which steps are best left to little hands. Full-color pictures of the completed dishes fill the book, along with smiling children’s faces expressing how much fun it is to make and eat healthy food.

Recipes are healthy, low in sugar and salt, and in some cases gluten-free. They also include an abundance of mild spices, fruits and vegetables, designed to tantalize young taste buds and encourage them to eat a variety of foods. If you’re looking for a healthy cookbook that you can share with your kids, Ella’s Kitchen: The Big Baking Book would be a wonderful addition to your collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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11. Food!

Ahhh... sitting down after an exhausting day to eat great fresh food, made and served by a lovely lady, was a huge treat already.
But taking out my sketchbook and drawing the deli was the best treat I could give myself. An hour of joy. With the taste of Turkish Mezze in my mouth, the sound of Turkish television in the background, and admiring glances over my shoulder from the hostess.... what else could I wish for?


More food drawing in my current workshop 'Draw It Like It's hot' now also, yay!
So check it out if you're a foodie, like me and click here to join me! 

0 Comments on Food! as of 6/9/2014 1:51:00 AM
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12. Food doodling my way around

Illustrated recipes has been a favorite way of creating for me now for a few years. Ever since I discovered They Draw And Cook, I realized I'm not the only crazy foodie-artist!





Doing illustrated recipes (even the ones I did quickly in my journal, to remind myself of recipes to cook) even resulted in commissioned work. This recipe for Zucchini Patties, ignited the design for a food truck, which I saw in action for the first time just last weekend!


The story behind it:
The guys who run Mac'n'Cheez, they had this idea for their food truck/trailer but hadn't built it yet. They found my illustrations online and the patties recipe above, was exactly in the style they were looking for. They asked me if I could create their menus in that same style. Also, they were going to apply for festivals and fairs, but the trailer still needed to be built, so they didn't have any photos they could share for their applications. So they told me about their philosophy and what their trailer was going to look like. They didn't have a logo either. So I started sketching and doodling having fun and using my imagination, and came up with the drawing below.

They loved it so much, that they took that logo and had it made just like that, blinking lights and all.
photo by Mac'n'Cheez team
Their classic Mac and Cheese dishes have 4 different toppings, and I created the menus for those, to eventually paint on the blackboards inside the trailer.











It's a rare and wonderful experience when work doesn't feel like work, because you're simply doing what you love.

When illustrating recipes, I'm simply doing what I love. Because I realize I'm not the only foodie out there, I developed the 4-week online workshop 'Draw It Like It's Hot'. It's starting This Monday, June 9 and we doodle food (=foodle), draw kitchen utensils and work our way towards illustrating our very own recipes.


Why don't you join us?
There will be videos, step-by-step instructions, drawing prompts, and much more!
Class starts June 9, runs for 4 weeks and costs only $69.
Click here to enroll today

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13. Summer reading starts here. The Gluten-free Chicano. On-line Floricanto.


Review:  Linda Rodriguez. Every Hidden Fear. NY: Minotaur Books, 2014.
ISBN 978-1250049155

Michael Sedano


Something there is that does not love a Summer Book. The intent grad student with one hundred years of novels to read by September. The television programmer who wants you to sit open-mouthed in the dark watching re-runs. The curmudgeon who wants no one to have any fun and sneers at “genre fiction.”

Those tipos don’t love a Summer Book.

But grad students can use a break. Re-runs, give me a break. Curmudgeons will refuse to have fun, even with the kind of book tolerant gente want to read cover to cover--non-stop si se puede and the phone is Off.

When you pick up a Summer Book you intend to be happily absorbed by cool characters in rip-roaring stories. While you don’t intend to take notes you dog-ear provocative, memorable, artful passages where the author’s having lots of fun, too. In short, you intend to be entertained, and that’s what’s in store from Every Hidden Fear by Linda Rodriguez.

Rodriguez writes like she’s enjoying herself. Lavishing pages to develop a hateful asshole character who deserves to be dead, introducing detective Skeet Bannion and various residents of a small Missouri town threatened by real estate moguls from nearby Kansas City, killing him takes a while. Then the author kills the jerk with gruesome excess. Justice requires Skeet Bannion to step up in the face of inept local policing.

Bannion comes with a history of hair-raising times in cases sketchily alluded in passing detail. In fact, Every Hidden Fear will motivate readers to seek out Linda Rodriguez’ two earlier Skeet Bannion novels, Every Last Secret and Every Broken Trust. The Cherokee connection adds a unique resource to the character’s potential.

The detective’s a real-looking character, not some hot chick but plain old her. But there’s something about Skeet that has the local cop and a big muscular vato sniffing around. Skeet says it’s not important, keeps her nose to the grindstone as compense for no sex “in a while.”

Everyone else is hooking up. The little town has lots of good-looking women, old and young, who fell for the young heartthrob who left town and a knocked-up beauty behind. When the appropriately named Ash returns as front man for the mall developer, he threatens to name names. He claims fatherhood of the son in a public cuckolding of teenager’s father. He lives up to his name, ash-hole.

Skeet's teenager finds himself in a love triangle between the railroaded suspect, a teen heart throb girl, and himself. The girl lives with an evil stepmother, the one who gleefully describes Skeet’s beauty faults. The evil stepmother is hooking up with Ash’s rich, evil employer, himself a rapist.

What a suspect list. "Joe, you've got a strong suspect in Peter…Bea was most likely sexually involved with Ash when he was a kid…Walker was furious with Ash for causing all this trouble".

No spoilers here. Summer reads are supposed to be fun and Linda Rodriguez has enough formula to keep the pages flying by. There’s romance, intrigue, back-biting, crummy people you can’t do anything about. And there are serious issues like senior abuse versus senior love, steamroller economic development, growing up.

Rodriguez weaves a lament for hometowns throughout the book, in frequent references to passing trains, and walking. Trains become particularly potent. Every chapter carries at least one instance where Skeet hears a train rumbling through town. The motif becomes eccentric, noticed. It’s a set-up.

 “You noticed?” the author seems to say, having fun, when she has the failing cop, Joe, make her point about disappearing hometown economies. “Wish they hadn’t destroyed the trains. America’s railroads were the envy of the world, but we gutted them, and now can’t get to most places in this country by train. Damn shame!” I dog-eared that page.

With summer’s slower pace and vacation time, a Summer Book fills the leisure time need for fun, entertainment, and every now and again, something to make you sit up and take notice. Turn off teevee. Take a break. There’s a lot to “genre” writing that deserves attention. A good start in 2014’s Summer Book list is Linda Rodriguez’ Skeet Bannion novel, Every Hidden Fear.


The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Gluten-free Breakfast Crepe

Crunchy peanut butter and maple syrup wait on the table for the morning’s sweet beginning. You can prepare bacon, weenies, or ham in advance. These delectable delights cook in about five minutes, and you can turn out a batch of these in a short time.

This recipe makes a thin batter that spreads to fill a cooking surface. Two eggs create a creamy texture. Enhanced with sour cream and equal portions flour and milk, the batter cooks into a thin, flexible pancake you can use as a dinner entrée, a breakfast treat, or a quick merienda when the occasion fits.

Breakfast Crepe
Serves two or more, half hour refrigerator to table.

Two eggs
¼ cup King Arthur gluten-free flour
Pinch baking soda
Pinch baking powder
Vanilla or other flavoring to taste
¼ cup milk
1 tbs sour cream
greased non-stick frying pan, hot

Hold the Vanilla when you plan a savory filling like garlic butter. Look for The Gluten-free Chicano's Garlic Crepe in a future La Bloga.






Beat the eggs frothy with the dry ingredients and vanilla. Then add the flour and incorporate it into the eggs.


Whip in a tablespoon of sour cream. Be vigorous but don't mind a smattering of white spots where you didn't get all the sour cream into the mixture. You could substitute melted butter.


A non-stick surface is essential. Ladle a small amount into a hot pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Hot means the flame touches the bottom of the pan and nearly smokes. Let the crepe bubble before turning.


If you're good, flip the pan. I use a spatula, tilt the pan and delicately flip over. Don't worry about liquid; lift the crepe and let the liquid slide under then flip the crepe atop that.


The dappled surface indicates a hot surface. This thin batter cooks quickly once turned, half a minute or less.


The eggy batter is rich and flexible. The pockets formed on this side capture fillings if served this side up, or rolled with the outer side the first pour.




On-line Floricanto
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]--> Frank de Jesus Acosta, Xico González, Frank de Jesus Acosta, John Martinez, Fernando Rodriguez, Francisco X. Alarcón


Maya's Gift (Honoring Maya Angelou) 
by Frank de Jesus Acosta

Today a poet became her poems
Soulful songs of the caged bird
Child of Africa, cradle of humankind
Legacy of slavery, an American anathema
Inheritance of hope, spiritual defiance
Heart of conviction, defying abhorrent hate
Unbroken by bigotry, sexism, or poverty
Claiming the inalienable ways of love
Walking a life of advocacy, sovereignty
Inspiring women to rise in inherent divinity
Admonishing men to live in fullness of equality
Spirit pen of justice, revealing painful truth
Lies of history, dogma of tyranny, canons of greed
Envisioning a world with prose of possibility
Verses of healing for wounded generations
Women, mother, sister, friend, warrior shaman
Today you ascend, our guardian lyricist ancestor
Leaving us a literary legacy of eternal living words
Seeds of love; that the poem within us all may rise 

Poem by: Frank de Jesus Acosta



Original Dreamers
by Xico González

In the immigrants’ rights movement
often times we hear of the Dreamers
with their graduation gowns
fists in the air
and beautiful butterflies

Marchas, rallies and sit-ins
that lead to deportations
Sacrificios de sueños soñados

In senators’ offices
self-sacrificing dreamers
get arrested and deported
to prove a point:
the US immigration system is broken

For the dreamers,
la escuela o los guachos
Dos caminos
that end in papeles and green cards

Let me ask you a question,
what about the original dreamers?
Who speaks for them nowadays?

They have sueños too

Have we forgotten about the
padres, madres
hermanos y hermanas
that came to the US too old 
to go to school
or join the armed forces

They have sueños too

Pero le tubieron que chingar
In low paying jobs
como los files, la construcción, los hoteles,
rich people’s homes, and restaurants

You know the ones bumping
cumbias, norteñas, banda y racheras
in kitchens across the United States

The ones that yell,
“Apurate güey,”
“ya esta listo güey,”
“No mames güey,”

They have sueños too,

They dream that their children
will have a better life in this country
instead of discrimination and exploitation

They have sueños too

Migra raids at workplaces
that lead to deportations
Sacrificios de sueños soñados

For the original dreamers,
el trabajo y la explotación
Dos caminos
that end in fear and shadows

They have sueños too

Jesús
El jóven que trabaja en la construcción en la Bahía
has dreams too

María
La señora que cuida güeritos en Hollywood Hills
has dreams too

Jóse
El señor que trabaja en los files del Valle de San Joaquín
has dreams too

So let us help the original dreamers
dream their dreams of a better future
without the fear of being deported,
Exploited and used

Next time you hear of the Dreamers
think of their parents and siblings
because they share the same dream

They have sueños too.

© Xico González 
5/21/2014
C/S
I wrote this poem for the event "Filed Away: The Undocumented Experience,"  a conversation and exhibit sponsored by UCD SPEAK and the UCD Cross Culture Center.  The poem was inspired by two posters that I created for the 1ro de mayo: Dia del Trabajador Rally and Marcha in Sacramento.



Maya's Gift (Honoring Maya Angelou) 
by Frank de Jesus Acosta

Today a poet became her poems
Soulful songs of the caged bird
Child of Africa, cradle of humankind
Legacy of slavery, an American anathema
Inheritance of hope, spiritual defiance
Heart of conviction, defying abhorrent hate
Unbroken by bigotry, sexism, or poverty
Claiming the inalienable ways of love
Walking a life of advocacy, sovereignty
Inspiring women to rise in inherent divinity
Admonishing men to live in fullness of equality
Spirit pen of justice, revealing painful truth
Lies of history, dogma of tyranny, canons of greed
Envisioning a world with prose of possibility
Verses of healing for wounded generations
Women, mother, sister, friend, warrior shaman
Today you ascend, our guardian lyricist ancestor
Leaving us a literary legacy of eternal living words
Seeds of love; that the poem within us all may rise 



I Love You Forever Olivia
by John Martinez

For my mother

It is not a dream, but a loop,
A replay of her breast falling
From my sleeping face

The dawn, the sycamore
In the window, her hand
Hushing my lips
When I cried out,
Squeezed between
Her soft folds

And time doesn't fade,
But lingers in the crevices,
Between sweat and laughter,
How she combed my hair,
With hands of pain and joy

No, the sky won’t bring
Her back, bundled
In wings, as promised,
No golden chalice
Pointing her path to me

She lives right here,
In the journey of my blood,
She will always be-

So when the wind smiles
Into my window,
With the fruit of her breath,
I will always say:

"I love you forever, Olivia"

© John Martinez
All Rights Reserved


Mother
by Fernando Rodriguez

A single human being
can take many jobs
can make many shifts
Vacations there's not 
Courageous, brave, strong 
Delicate to the touch 
Yet hard to the bone

A restless being
Night without sleep
Sacrifice all and all that she has
Kisses and love struggles and more
The hardest profession
The worst valued one
There's billions of women 
but mother just one 
A day in a year for sure it’s not fair
To thank all the efforts
And all that she cares
Thank You mother
Today in your day




AZUL SIN FRONTERAS                     BORDERLESS BLUE
por Francisco X. Alarcón                 by Francisco X. Alarcón


Via James Downs:

From a new book of bilingual eco-poems by Francisco X. Alarcón, Borderless Butterflies: Earth Haikus And Other Poems / Mariposas sin fronteras: Haikús terrenales y ottos poemas that will be published by Poetic Matrix Press in 2014.


BIOS
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]--> Frank de Jesus Acosta, Xico González, John Martinez, Fernando Rodriguez, Francisco X. Alarcón

Frank de Jesus Acosta is principal of Acosta & Associates, a California-based consulting group that specializes in professional support services to public and private social change ventures in the areas of children, youth and family services, violence prevention, community development, and cultural fluency. In 2007, he authored, The History of Barrios Unidos, Cultura Es Cura, Healing Community Violence, published by Arte Publico Press, University of Houston. Acosta is a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His professional experience includes serving in executive leadership positions with The California Wellness Foundation, the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Downtown Immigrant Advocates (DIA), the Center for Community Change, and the UCLA Community Programs Office. He is presently focused on completing the writing and publishing a two book series for Arte Publico Press focused on best practices to improve the well-being of Latino young men and boys. Acosta most recently co-authored a published “Brown Paper” with Jerry Tello of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI) entitled, “Lifting Latinos Up by Their Rootstraps: Moving Beyond Trauma Through a Healing-Informed Framework for Latino Boys and Men.” Acosta provides writing and strategic professional support in research, planning, and development to foundations and community-focused institutions on select initiatives focused on advancing social justice, equity, and pluralism. He is also finalizing writing and editing a book of inter-cultural poetry and spiritual reflections.


Xico González is an educator, artist, poet, and a political and cultural activista based in Sacramento, California. He received a MA in Spanish from Sacramento State, and a MFA in Art Studio from the University of California at Davis.  González currently teaches Spanish and Art Studio at the Met Sacramento High School.
The work of Xico González seeks to empower people uniting in common cause against a common oppressor disguised in different máscaras.  Gonzalez's silkscreen posters address and support numerous political causes, such as the struggle for immigrants' rights, the Palestinian and Zapatista struggles, and the right for Chicana/o self determination.  González is not only an artist, but is also an activist/organizer that puts his artistic skills to the benefit of his community.  Xico's work contributes to the long dialogue of art, activism and the legacy of the Chicano Art Movement.  González has been influenced primarily by his mentors, Chicano artists Ricardo Favela (RIP), and Malaquías Montoya, and by early Chicano art collectives like the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F), and the Rebel Chicano Art Front also known as the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF).
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->

John Martinez studied Creative Writing at Fresno State University. He has published poetry in El Tecolote, Red Trapeze and The LA Weekly. Recently, he has posted poems on Poets Responding to SB1070 and this will be his fifth poem published in La Bloga. He has performed (as a musician/political activist, poet) with Teatro De La Tierra, Los Perros Del Pueblo and TROKA, a Poetry Ensemble (lead by poet Juan Felipe Herrera) and he has toured with several cumbia bands throughout the Central Valley and Los Angeles. For the last 17 years, he has worked as an Administrator for a Los Angeles Law Firm. He makes home in Upland, California with his beautiful wife, Rosa America y Familia.







My name is fernando Rodriguez and i decided to express myself in this poem as a gift for all the mothers because of what they do all year round. Writing gives me freedom and freedom gives me joy, joy gives me happiness and happiness is what we look for.









Francisco X. Alarcón, award winning Chicano poet and educator, was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, and now lives in Davis, where he teaches at the University of California.  He is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry, including, Ce • Uno • One: Poems for the New Sun (Swan Scythe Press 2010), From the Other Side of Night: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press 2002). He has two books poems coming out this year, Borderless Butterflies / Mariposas sin fronteras will be published by Fall 2014 by Poetic Matrix Press, and Canto hondo / Deep Song will be published by the University of Arizona Press at the end of 2014.
Francisco is also the author of four acclaimed books of bilingual poems from children on the seasons of the year originally published by Children Book Press, now an imprint of Lee & Low Books: Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems (1997), From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems (1998), Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems (1999), Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems (2001). He has published two other bilingual books for children, Poems to Dream Together (2005) and Animal Poems of the Iguazú (2008). 
He has received numerous literary awards and prizes for his works, like the American Book Award, the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award, the Chicano Literary Prize, the Fred Cody Lifetime Achievement Award, the Jane Adams Honor Book Award, and several Pura Belpré Honor Awards by the American Library Association. He is the creator of the Facebook page, POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070. 





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14. A Splash of Pink

My best friend just gave birth to a baby girl, so I thought this pink page would be suitable to post today. (I made a special dinner with the theme 'pink' for her baby shower last weekend, just in time! That's what this page is about)

A bit too much Girliness? Well then, here's some Sunny Sunday Bliss for ya!


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15. Today's recipe!

You can find this recipe, and many others on www.theydrawandcook.com

I illustrated this recipe during 'Draw it Like It's Hot', the online workshop on drawing food and illustrating recipes. I tested this recipe for several friends, and they all got very greedy. So here's a warning: these bonbons are seriously irresistible.


The workshop has just ended, but I will be teaching a new round of illustrating recipes, starting June 9. It's 4 weeks of fun for just $69. Click here to enroll today.

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16. Gluten-Free Waffles

Gluten Free Waffle

We’ve made gluten-free waffles before with our gf oat and buckwheat pancake batter, but these waffles are more traditional and fluffy. My daughter and mother-in-law were the first to try out this recipe, and everyone agreed they were delicious, gluten eaters or no.

Once again, the recipe comes from our go-to GF cookbook, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking. You make your own flour blend and then use it for various recipes. Waffle recipe here.

In other news, we have a snow day here. Enough snow to make the roads dangerous, but not quite enough to really play in it. The kids are making do, with gusto. Meanwhile I’m having trouble concentrating on what I should be doing. Keep checking my to-do list. I should mention that our daughter made the waffles again today, and it was surely a nice mid-week treat. Hope you are warm and cozy—-or at least, bundled appropriately and having fun.

For more of my cooking and eating adventures (many of which are gluten-free), click here. I’m about to add a new gluten-free tab so you can see all those in one place. Enjoy!


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17. Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Marshmallows

We actually made these around Christmas, as a rainy day activity with the kids. We just followed Martha Stewart’s recipe and added some crushed peppermint candy on top.

We loved the way the concoction of sugar and gelatin morphs into white foam. It made me feel like a chemist (my chemist grandfather, by the way, loves to make candy and measures things out neatly on little squares of waxed paper).

Candy Making

True to form, I tried to cut out some of the sugar, as drowning the finished cubes in yet more white stuff seemed a bit excessive. Turns out, though, that you kind of need the powdered sugar on top at the end to keep the marshmallows from being a total sticky mess. It’s like flour, I guess, when you’re rolling out pizza dough.

Uncut Marshmallow

Marshmallows weren’t hard to make but they were definitely messy, even for my high mess threshold. I would totally recommend a giveaway plan, since even my kids, who were sure they’d want to eat the whole pan on their own, couldn’t finish them before they were past their prime (a couple of days).

The best part for me was having a giant marshmallow (we call them marsh planets) to put in my hot cocoa, which I made not-too-sweet on purpose.

Marshmallow in Cocoa

For more of my cooking and eating adventures, go here.

Around these parts we’re still being absolutely buried by fourth grade homework (what’s up with that?). I’m still loving, really loving My Berlin Kitchen by food blogger Lisa Weiss of The Wednesday Chef. It’s got love, travel, international friends and family, and recipes to boot. Currently dreaming of baby artichokes with potatoes and separately, braised endive. Never thought I’d be interested in endive, but she makes it sound so exciting! As an added bonus, the book is making me want to keep writing, and in my mind that’s the best kind of book.

I’ve been sewing a bit, some of which you can see on my Instagram feed. You can find me there under Emily Smith Pearce or in the lower righthand corner of my blog homepage.

This interview with writer/ director David O. Russell (of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) was so good I may have to listen to it again. I also loved reading this interview with the author, the illustrator, and the translator of Sydney Taylor Award honor book The War Within These Walls. The translator (Laura Watkinson) is a friend of mine in Amsterdam, and the interviewer (Joyce Moyer Hostetter) is a friend here in North Carolina. Small world!

Also just sent out my nonfiction manuscript to some early reader friends. So excited to be moving ahead with it. How are you? Cooking/ reading/ watching anything good?


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18. Flipping all year long

Today is Pancake Day! Also called Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday if you take part in Lent. It’s traditionally a day to eat up all sorts of yummy things in your house that you are promising not to eat during Lent, like chocolate. It’s a long month if you’re giving up your junkiest habit so first of all you need to eat a shed-load of pancakes.

It’s strange people MAKE and EAT pancakes only one day a year.

HOW ODD?! Why only eat such a great food one day out of 365? We must change this silliness once and for all.

But how? …Time for a Seed Agent Mission.

WHAT IF?! We rename pancakes Flippers! Every time we make a pancake we call it a Flipper. Everytime we eat a pancake we call it Flipper. Everytime we see a pancake we call it a Flipper. Soon the world will call pancakes – Flippers!! And then we can eat Flippers ALL year round, and not just on Fat Tuesday.

There’s nothing that can’t be used to fill a flipper, sweet or savoury, hot or cold, the choice is yours Seed Agents! Try some veg-flippers! “Move along old-school lemon and sugar”, “Bye-bye gooey joys of chocolate”, “Hello pongy cheese, spinach and mushrooms!”

Have a go at making your own flippers here and experiment eating them with different fillings. Discover which one you like best!

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19. Not-Fried Rice with Roasted Veggies

Roasted Vegetables

I used to make fried rice with stir-fried vegetables on a fairly regular basis. Everyone liked to eat it, but no one liked to help clean up. Also, by the time I was done cooking, I was exhausted. After one too many complaints about the mess it made (from someone who will remain nameless) I vowed never to make stir fry again! Take that!

I stuck to my promise for several months, but I missed the flavors. So I tried to find a way to simplify the process.

Step one: I found a great recipe for baked fried rice. Yes, it involves less oil, and that’s nice and all, but even better, I don’t have to tend to it, and I still get that yummy chewy texture. So much less work! I don’t add the Sriracha that the recipe calls for at this stage since the kids wouldn’t touch it if I did. And I’d love to try the pineapple and cashews she uses—they look so yummy—but so far I’ve just stuck to whatever “usual suspect” veggies I have on hand. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, that kind of thing.

Step two: I pared down my list of vegetables to cut out some of the chopping. I usually feel like I have to put in a little of everything, but really, I don’t.

Step three: I roast veggies instead of stir-frying. Nope, it’s not just the same, but the veggies are still delicious. I cooked everything at about the same temp as the rice until the rice was done, and then I think I turned up the heat a bit.

I let the kids choose the veggies they want before we mix them all together for us. If I have time, I like to make this peanut sauce and of course, the grown ups always get  Sriracha.

Now I’d be lying if I said this version isn’t messy or time-consuming. It still requires a fair amount of prep and cleanup. But somehow being able to cook it unattended, all at the same time (rather than in batches) makes it less of a pain to make. Works for me, anyway.

Finished My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. Sigh. I miss it now. Are you reading anything good? I need something to curl up with. The weather here has been horrible this week, and I’m sorry, friends in northern climes, because your weather must be ten times worse. It’s starting to feel like that Ray Bradbury story where the people live on a planet where the sun comes out only once every seven years (All Summer in a Day). We can make it to spring, right?

The school’s book character parade was this morning and as usual was pretty much the cutest thing all year. Hope I can show you a pic of our little Marco Polo soon. The costume is pretty sweet. Marie Antoinette also looked great, though her costume was just a fancy dress we found at the thrift store.

Have a great weekend! And now, back to novel writing….


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20. Gluten-Free Crepes

Gluten Free Crepe

My friend Jamie first introduced homemade crepes to me when we used to do Thanksgiving together in Boston. Oh, those were fun times! We’d make crepes in the morning and just cook, cook, cook all day and listen to “Alice’s Restaurant,” that classic Thanksgiving tale.

Before that crepes had seemed so mysterious and fancy, but really, once you do them a couple of times, they’re no more difficult than pancakes. You just have to get the knack of how thick the batter should be (not very) and when to flip them (when the first inch or two of the edges are dry). Turns out it’s super easy to make gluten-free crepes, and they’re quite a bit faster than waffles.

Once again I used Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking with great results. A similar recipe is here on their blog (I didn’t use cinnamon). The one thing I would say is that the batter was a little bit thick, so I had to add a little more milk (I think I used almond milk). You want the batter to be just a bit thinner than regular pancake batter. The photo above is of the very first crepe, before I thinned the batter, so the shape is kinda crazy. But normally the crepes look and taste the same as regular ones. They were a big hit with the family.

Lately I’ve been making blueberry syrup with a big handful of frozen berries and just a tablespoon or so of maple syrup. I put them together in a microwaveable container, heat for a little bit (30 seconds?) and voila!

I’ve been slogging away at my novel, revising and adding new material. Also reading One Summer by Bill Bryson, a history of the summer of 1927. Very interesting. Crazy times!

Also, Wes Anderson’s new movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is now on my must-see list. Not sure if it’s related, but I’ve been dreaming about weird European hotels lately. Hmmmm…

Coming soon: pics of a recently finished sewing project. Hope you’re having a good week!


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21. Tomatillo sauce. 2 million eyes on the screen. Aural On-line Floricanto.


The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Tomatillo Sauce Versatile, Naturally Gluten-free
Michael Sedano

Sprawling among zucchini plants, tomatillo plants create shade mulch
Tomatillos naturalize after their first year in a garden. A plant sprawls, fruit drops, rots and deposits seeds. Over the course of the season the seeds, and whole tomatillos, get mixed into the loam.

Throughout late Spring, Summer into early Fall, volunteer tomatillo seedlings need to be weeded out, else they take over the garden.

This clump grows from a fruit dropped at center right in the foto above.
An early Spring prize is a small mound of seedlings marking the spot where a tomatillo buried whole has sprung back to life. Here is this season's crop of fresh tomatillos.

The tough seedlings take well to being dug up and transplanted to macetas. When the garden’s established, I plant tomatillos where they’ll sprawl to provide shade mulch and picking excursions. Water usage in drought means reduce water evaporation after you've reduced water usage. My vegetable garden borders a swimming pool, so every drop saved is another day less in purgatory.


There must be an horticultural rule, the bigger the fruit the smaller the flavor. I’ve eaten tomatillos grown larger than a small beefsteak tomato and won’t go out of my way to buy that variety.

My garden grows a tomatillo with fruit the size of a fat radish. It tastes OK, but the most intense flavor comes from a tiny olive-sized tomatillo with a lemony bite that enhances companion flavors. I saw that tomatillo on a Steinbeck walk through Salinas once, but the fruit wasn’t ripe enough for seed. Too bad Steinbeck wasn't born in the Fall.


Tomatillo sauce brings versatility to the kitchen from elegant entrée to finger-licking good snacks. Use this as enchilada sauce. Melt it with grated cheese or just warm it and serve as a dip. Stir ready-made carnitas into a sartén of salsa de tomatillo. Add lots of jalapeños o hueros o serranos o thai and use as taco or nacho sauce.


Modern appliances make speedy work of making tomatillo sauce. Broiler, blender, table.

Once in a cook’s lifetime you deserve to lay a chile and a tomato on an open burner, use your fingers to roll them around while the skin blackens and the juices begin to boil out. Smoke wafts up from the burner. When the chiles are really chilosos the smoke streaming into your nose burns making you cough and sneeze. Juggle the steaming handful as you drop them into the molcahete and run cold water across your palms with a sigh of relief then splash water on your face to stem the glow.

For gente on the go, comida corrida meets lots of needs. Broil. Whiz. Done. This salsa de tomatillo is almost fast.


Cleaning the ingredients takes only a bit of time, yet a busy person might consider making several quarts of sauce on a weekend and freeze in meal-size quantities, or eat it every day, on eggs for breakfast, in a taco for lunch, chile verde for dinner.

Ten minutes under a high flame broiler, or on a slightly oiled frying pan, blackens spots on the onion, tomato, garlic, chile, tomatillo. Add fresh cilantro sprigs to the blender. If the veggies get a little too done, most of the black stuff peels off and the rest adds flavor and character to your dish.


When you whiz up hot liquids keep the blender top ajar and cover the top with a dishrag before turning on the motor. The vegetables produce a good volume of nectar that you can drain off and use as a soup base, or incorporate it into your salsa.

When you use a lot more tomatillo than chiles, you make tomatillo sauce. If you use a few tomatillos and a large number of chiles, you make chile. "Chilly" in English.

Roast some extra chile pods and after the first few seconds in the blender, taste and add chiles to enhance the heat. Brighten the taste with a squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt.

Salsa de tomatillo is delicious as a simple dip. Warm it, and do your guests a flavor favor. Break chicharrones into small pieces, warm them to bring out amazing flavor, then serve and sit back and hear your guests exclaim about the most delicious chicharrones they've ever eaten. And oh yeah, that green sauce is really good.


Click here for a step-by-step narrative accompanying these fotos.

Two Million Eyes < Ten Years


Scroll to the bottom of La Bloga, in the
left corner there's the visitor counter.




Back when I was working for a living one of my standard lessons as a corporate trainer was "have a plan, work the plan, if you don't have a plan, any which way will get you there."

That was a bad thing, the any which way part. Winning by accident, instead of winning on purpose.

All this to bring up the magic of one million people bringing their interest and time to see what La Bloga has today. That's a victory for Chicana Chicano, Latina Latino Literature, y más.

We didn't start out with a goal to do other than write a blog centered around chicana and chicano literature, to reignite ongoing accord with similar minded gente that started at CHICLE. Now, half a year short of our ten year anniversary that magic number rolls around.

Rudy, Manuel, and I had not met in person but only via the auspices of María Teresa Márquez' much-missed CHICLE listserv. When UNM closed down CHICLE in 1999 it shut off one of the nation's only public venues for talking about chicana chicano literature. Rudy and Manuel kicked the idea around the Denver block, they emailed me in LA, and we launched. After a few issues, Daniel Olivas joined and La Bloga's team of writers has grown steadily since.

It's been a pleasure these million times, gente. Thank you for reading La Bloga.


Aural On-line Floricanto: Pablo Neruda's "La tierra se llama Juan" read by Elda Martinez


Students recorded this reading of Neruda in a media production class I taught at CSULA in the late 1970s. The kids brought 500 Años del Pueblo Chicano 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures
from their C/S 101 class and I gave them a handful of literature anthologies. These are the central resources of the production Chicano Messages of Liberation that I am digitizing from audiotape and 35mm slides.

When the team wanted the script to include Neruda I challenged them to defend it as Chicano Literature. "It's in the book!" they proved.

The were happy to edit out the overtly soviet communism at the end, making makes it a better reading and a better poem. Here's the full text.


Click here if media fails to play: http://readraza.com/poem_juan.mp3

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22. Kitchen Lessons for Writers


I think I can easily say I enjoy cooking as much as any of my other creative pursuits. Maybe it's the combination of colors (red onion, green spinach, the bright orange of a ripe pepper), or maybe I just love to eat! 

Whatever the reason, I've certainly spent quality time in the kitchen, and like many of my interests, cooking seems to overlap everything else I do. It's also taught me some important lessons not just about food preparation, but about life in general (e.g., never read while stirring béchamel sauce; if the pot won't boil it means the stove isn't turned on; pets are your best friends for cleaning broken eggs off the floor). Other handy tips I've learned include:
  • Kitchen space, writing space--it's all sacred space. For that reason I like to keep my work areas clean, uncluttered, and a pleasant place to be. The less time I have to spend searching for the right spoon or pen, the more time I have to create.
  • Fresh ingredients. Although frozen food can be a wonderful resource on the nights I'm late coming home from work or just don't have time to run to the store, nothing beats fresh. It's the same with writing and painting: the best ideas are the fresh ones.
  • Too much (or not enough) salt, sugar, and spice? A bland stew is boring to eat. Overly-spiced and it's inedible. When it comes to our creativity, not enough seasoning turns the work into a big yawn, but add too much and the story or painting becomes scattered, messy, and difficult to pull together.
  • Use the right tools. Whether I'm cooking or writing I like to keep my utensils simple: cast iron pans, a few wooden spoons, a really good spatula. For my writing I prefer a fountain pen, a legal pad, and my Alphasmart. Once I have a complete draft I clean it up on Word. That's it.
  • Do you really need a lettuce spinner? Depends on how much lettuce you eat! Seriously, though, I've never owned a spinner but I can see its usefulness. Every now and then we need a special gadget to make our work easier and fun. Maybe it's a set of glitter gel pens, or an ultra-expensive watercolor brush. Splurge.
  • Shake up the recipe books. I own one cookbook: Sunset Menus and Recipes for Vegetarian Cooking. I bought it years ago while I was living in San Francisco, and the only reason I keep it is purely sentimental. It reminds me of my days walking home up Market Street, then catching the cable car to go grocery shopping. Once upon a time it did teach me how to cook vegetarian meals, but since then I've modified, added, and changed just about every recipe in the book. It's the same with how-to-write books. Read them, then adapt them to suit your own needs and style. Better yet, put all your new ideas and methods into your own how-to book!
  • Fusion. There's nothing tastier to me than a dinner that includes more than one cultural influence: Thai burritos, or green chili quiche. My fusion tastes extend to my reading and writing, too. "Mixed genre" and "mixed medium" are two of my favorite terms. A mystery with romance elements; a pen and ink drawing on a collaged background and highlighted with watercolor--the possibilities are endless.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for forty-five minutes. There's a reason why you're not supposed to open the oven door while baking a cake. Sometimes you do have to follow the rules, especially when it comes to submitting work for publication: clean, double-spaced manuscript pages; a three-paragraph synopsis; self-addressed envelopes for return or reply. Read publisher's guidelines and follow to the letter!
  • Keep a sharp knife for editing. I'm terrified of knives. They scare me more than I can say. And yet I've learned the hard way that a blunt knife is one of the most dangerous things in the kitchen. My manuscripts benefit from bravery and a sharp pair of scissors, too.
  • Leftovers. Save your snippets of dialogue, character bio, setting, or unused scenes. They can either be recycled into a new manuscript, or stand alone as a poem or a piece of "flash fiction." Every now and then, though, go through your files and see what's gone past it's "shelf-life." Getting rid of the old makes ways for the new.
  • Too many cooks can spoil the broth. Some people can't stand mayonnaise. Others complain because you added cloves to the apple pie. And there's always somebody who will insist you absolutely MUST peel mushrooms before adding them to a sauté. Listen attentively, be polite, then see what works and what you need to ignore. Writer's groups, beta readers, your next door neighbor--everybody has an opinion. At the end of the day, only you know what's best for your manuscript.
  • Comfort food feeds the soul. Macaroni cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; endless spaghetti plates; bean soup on a cold day--sometimes old-fashioned is so much better than nouvelle. As much as I enjoy experimental literary fiction and an unconventional narrative, there are days when I need to read and/or write solid, strong, themed fiction that makes me fall in love with my craft all over again. (Hint: re-reading Velda Johnston's Masquerade in Venice never disappoints.)
Tip of the Day: What's a favorite recipe you haven't made in a long time? Examine the reasons for neglecting it: maybe you haven't had the time to spend on the required preparation or to shop at specialty stores for exotic ingredients. Or maybe the needed items are just too expensive, hard to find, and/or disliked by the people you're cooking for. Decide to make it anyway; schedule in a day for shopping and cooking, then invite friends in to share the finished results. While you're eating and socializing, here's a topic for conversation: what other creative projects have you put on hold? Brainstorm ways to get cooking again!

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23. What's the deal with procrastination?

Procrastination. The word alone is intruiging to me. I can hardly pronounce it correctly, and still, I know very well how to do it. Procrastinating I mean, not the pronouncing.

I know nobody who doesn't procrastinate.
Nobody. I think people who claim they never procrastinate on anything, are not being honest.
I think stopping by at the procrastination station is perfectly normal and healthy. Or well, at least I tell myself. I just did a very, very good job on folding the laundry. Instead of uploading stuff for one of my upcoming online classes. In fact, this blogpost is partly procrastination.
The upside: procrastinating on one thing, sometimes leads to something good on something else that you may loath doing if that's all you need to do: doing the dishes, painting a wall, rearrange your living room interior, do grocery shopping, scrubbing the bathroom floor.... Other times it's just sort of paralyzing, and you're spending way too much time browsing through Facebook feed, Instagram art or get buried deeper and deeper into Pinterest.

Now here's the kind of 'productive procrastination' that I really like: making a drawing while putting off doing a drawing. I was working on an illustration that I promised to make for a friend. She's getting married, and we wanted to give her something personal during her bachelorette day. Once I started working on the illustrated cocktail recipe for her, it felt great to be making something personal, but before starting, it just looked like a big mountain to climb, an assignment for which I actually really didn't have any time in my schedule.

Once I planned some after-dinner drawing time, I did some doodling and sketching, but then got so intrigued by drawing orange peels.... this is what happened:


That's what I mean: a fun result of procrastination behaviour, right?

In the end, I managed to finish my sketches and make an illustration. During a round of cocktails (of course!) we gave it to the bride-to be and she's very happy with it! She will hang it on the kitchen wall.





On April 28, my 4-week online workshop 'Draw It Like It's Hot' starts.
I wil show how to make stuff like the above, and much more!
It'll be great fun to work towards the final assignment along with your classmates: creating an illustrated recipe that will be published on the website theydrawandcook.com!
It's only $69 to enroll, so what are you waiting for? 
Click here to read more and join.

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24. Journal Pages

This self Portrait Project is getting out of hand, and I like it!
Doing self portraits gives me the opportunity to try out many techniques, and it gives me a lot of practice on making a portrait that looks like me (so far I haven't succeeded many times, but I'm having a lot of fun anyway)

On this selfie, I got a response that it had a little bit of 'the Shining' feel to it. I thought, 'now there's a fun idea! I'll try a drawing based on that famous film still of Jack Nicholson's 'heeeeere's Johnny!'
So I did.



Then, I got the question what would be the next film?
And.... another idea was born: to bring a bit of extra challenge, and to add diversity in my self portraits (it is, after all, the same face over and over again).
On my Facebook Page, people have been suggesting film titles and characters, that I could use for my film-themed selfies.



So if you have a suggestion for me... bring it on!

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25. Raza Hollywood's Best-Kept Secret. Sci-fi. Cleaning Nopales.

Review: Water & Power. Written and Directed by Richard Montoya. Opened May 2 in limited release.

Michael Sedano

Spider Man outdraws the Water & Power twins ten-to-one. In 16 theaters over opening weekend, the Richard Montoya written and directed independent film pulls in 2350 ticket buyers per house, weekend gross $40,000. The big-budget arachnid plays 4300 screens filling 21,000 seats over Cinco de Mayo weekend, pulling in millions. The numbers are mediocre. I’m sure Spider Man’s marketers would prefer to have sold more tickets. They should have made a better movie and people wouldn't be bad-mouthing it. 

Richard Montoya has made a superior film, and it’s time more people bought tickets to see Water & Power and get their friends into seats. Audiences will see every dime of the producer’s minuscule budget on screen. Dine on a visual feast of Los Angeles imagery, get pulled along by a compelling script. All in all, Water and Power is the best film gente aren’t seeing.

Should Chicanas Chicanos go see Water & Power because it's a Chicano film, or because of Richard Montoya? No, but there's that. Mejor, go see Water & Power because it's genuinely worthwhile, thoughtful entertainment. Lots of raza in-jokes but an informed audience will find Water & Power completely accessible, funny, and respectful of the audience's intelligence.

 I saw Water & Power on a Monday morning in Arcadia, with maybe six movie-goers. That’s a tough thing, to be in an empty auditorium with a good flick. Water & Power comes at the viewer in fast, rough-and-tumble bits that overflow with wit and intensity. Explosive laughs and surreal surprises are so much better when a full house lets loose a Montoya-inspired belly laugh.




The story of two brothers nicknamed Power and Water, comes together in fragments, with childhood flashbacks adding depth to the tragedy unfolding in the lives of a pair of high-achievers. Both have contracts on their lives. The cop brother for assassinating a criminal shot-caller. The politician brother for insisting on planting a million trees along the LA River without cutting in condo developers.

With cinematographer Claudio Chea, Montoya creates visual poetry with Los Angeles its persona. The filmmakers enchant with lush night scenes, aerial shots looking down, traveling shots crossing the river channel. Chea and Montoya define “noir” by the look and feel they achieve in the play of light against blackness. Le noir, darkness, permeates places the brothers take refuge, and the choices the carnales face. Then Chea and Montoya create wonderful contrast in the bright overexposure of scenes with the ice cream-suited downtown fixer embodied by Clancy Brown. The Devil.

The fixer scenes become visual metaphors for invincible power and evil. "Come into the light," the scenes scream, echoing a biblical line “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In the hard glare, Water learns his eastside connectas produce nothing but an opportunity to kneel at the devil’s feet. It's a savage moment leaving a viewer shifting uncomfortably in the seat.

Emilio Rivera as Norte/Sur carries the film, not solely owing  to his pivotal role between the two brothers but because the script gives him all the best lines. The audience watches mystified as Water acts like a vencido, treating a respectful Norte/Sur like shit. We’re on Norte/Sur’s side now, ambivalent about the good guy. Surprise and hilarity grow from a dance scene where Norte/Sur echoes Mae West, climaxing an arrestingly surreal scene that, more than any in the film, illustrates Montoya’s diabolical wit and his careful structuring of the film to arrive at this insightful moment completely disarmed.

Norte/Sur gets the best lines in the script, and the biggest laughs. For instance, climactic desperation builds life or death tension. Various barrios up in arms are out to revenge or protect, depends on whose side they’re with. Water, Power, and Norte/Sur sort out the alliances, strategizing whom to call upon from a roll call dozens of barrios and their muscle: San Pedro muscle, and Dog Town muscle, but not Frog Town muscle because of they're hooked up with Cypress Park muscle. Then how about Los Feliz muscle? A “who’s on first-“style double take, “Los Feliz has muscle?” Los Feliz is a mostly tony neighborhood bordering on Elysian Valley, the official name of Frog Town.

Local color is a constant feature of Montoya/Culture Clash scripts. Water & Power continues the technique, spreading the joy to the greater Los Angeles region. Out-of-towners will get most of the jokes. For sure, everyone’s going to enjoy the backhand Edward James Olmos takes when the characters are listing big Chicano stars. “Not Olmos” they declare unanimously, and Olmos—who produced the film—is crossed off the list, “no Eddie.”

Some of the juiciest, and inadvertently sentimental, local color occurs during a police line-up. Lupe Ontiveros, after a lifetime of playing house maids, steals her scenes as a brassy foul-mouthed cop. Ontiveros sounds completely convincing as an angry, empty-headed yes-woman cop acting tougher than any of the men around her. QEPD, Lupe Ontiveros.

While writer Richard Montoya is generous with the big laughs, he’s also incisive with a spectrum of lessons. Brotherhood and carnalismo come as a pair. Water and Power are little brother and big brother, but Norte/Sur is Power’s carnal. He gradually earns Water’s respect. Power and Norte/Sur’s intimacy comes with several surprises. Norte/Sur is paraplegic because Power shot him years ago. Norte/Sur is Power’s long-time snitch whose encyclopedic barrio knowledge makes Norte/Sur a kind of Greek chorus impelling the story along. I sense a sly homage to the shoeshine tipster in Baretta and Police Story.

No one will come to Water & Power seeking stereotypes or archetypes, and those who enter the auditorium with preconceived notions about gangs, cholos, cops, and chicanos will exit shaken. Maybe not about cops. The film opens with a speeding black and white, a uniformed officer enthusiastically hitting a bong.

The film doesn’t glorify gangsters nor offer an iconic nobility. For the most part, gang bangers exist as punchlines or puppets. Cholos, on the other hand, come with a look and a sense of humor. As personified in Norte/Sur, the cholo repels the straight Water vato but adds a different dimension to the hard ass cop persona of Power.

Water & Power, for all its chicana chicano characters is not about chicanismo. The film is about power, corruption, and moral expediency. The best lack all conviction, corruption infects all over, the cops, the fixers, the gangsters, the politicians, raza, Asian, anglo alike. They all come to a line, many cross it.

It’s not a chicano question it’s multi-ethnic: When opportunity conflicts with expediency, does a moral person do the right thing, even if life depends on it? Water & Power is puro noir. The characters do the right thing and get the bloody end of the stick anyhow. Evil walks away with clean feet, the audience walks away stunned, entertained, moved, informed. And eager to tell their friends, go see Water & Power.

How you got there, to be the one holding the stick, there’s a story in that. Told in Richard Montoya’s unique voice, it’s a story worth taking friends to see, Water & Power.


UCR Latinos in Sci-Fi Conference On-line at Latinopia

Interest among sci-fi writers and readers continues to grow around the idea to hold a science-fiction writers conference modeled on the National Latino Writers Conference once held on the National Hispanic Cultural Center's state-of-the-art campus in old Alburquerque.

Blogueros Ernest Hogan and Rudy Ch. García sat on the author panel at the recently concluded first-ever Latinos in Sci-Fi Conference hosted by the University of California, Riverside.

Jésus Treviño, a spec lit writer himself, filmed the panel and features it this week at Latinopia.

http://latinopia.com/latino-literature/latinopia-word-latino-science-fiction-1/




The Gluten-free Chicano
Peeling Nopales the No-Espina Way

Sadly, the title misleads a bit. Any time a cook prepares fresh nopalito pencas, an espina or two is sure to find a finger or palm. Así es, the romance of el nopal.

A sharp paring knife and careful finger placement between the espina carbuncles are two secrets to preparing nopales. 

Use a washable cutting board or work on newspaper. Draw the knife around the spiny perimeter of the cactus paddle, cutting away the outer ¼ inch of spininess.

Hold the penca flat and draw the knife across the face of the penca nearly horizonally. Most espina nubs cut right off. Dip the blade in a glass of water to wash away espinitas.

Steel the blade frequently to keep the edge slicing effortlessly.



Wash the pencas. There's a white espina in the top middle of the foto below.



Slice the pencas into ¼" strips. Draw the blade at a diagonal through the strips.


The nopalitos are ready to use in a salad, a stew, with scrambled eggs. Below, nopales simmer with carne de puerco. Later, the cook will add una torta de camarón.


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