Mexico!!

For the beginning of May we learned about Mexico in honor of Cinco De Mayo. Cinco De Mayo is one of my favorite holidays from Mexico, right next to dia de los muertos. Contrary to confusion around this holiday, cinco de mayo is not Mexico’s independence day. That comes in mid-September. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of a battle won in Mexico during a very hard time. All odds were against the Mexicans, but they were victorious and their people were protected.

We had a great time learning about Mexico! There are a lot of nonfiction books we read this week and I took lots of pictures so you could get a peek at the inside of the book and see if it is right for you!!

P.S. This was also the last theme we did in Michigan. There was so much more we could have done, but it wasn’t possible with packing and all.

P.P.S. I am so so thankful for pictures. I am finally completing this post in September, we did this theme in May. If it weren’t for all the pictures I took, I would have never remembered everything we did.

~Books~

~Fiction~

Three Friends, Three Amigos by Maria Cristina Brusca and Tona Wilson This was a pretty neat counting book. One side was in English and the other side was in Spanish. It went from one to ten, then back down to one, using different verbs. My husband would read the English side and I would read the Spanish, we all really enjoyed it. 

  Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla– An adorable bouncy rhyming short read, we thought this book was a lot of fun! The snug is at the age were, “oh babies are so cute” so she thought this was great! 

Paco and the Giant Chile Plant by Keith Polette- A south of the border version of Jack and the beanstalk, I almost prefer this version. With Spanish words incorporated into the story it makes it easier to remember the words, by actually having to use them. The main difference of the story is the chile plant has golden chiles on it. When the el Gigante terrible at the top eats the chiles he shrinks down to a normal man again, Paco’s padre (father). Padre had eaten a golden chile and it turned him into Gigante terrible. They go home and chop down the chile plant. They are no richer, but they are together again and happy and know they can work hard. That’s pretty sweet. 

 My Grandma Mi Abuelita by Ginger Foglesong Guy Written in a couple of words per page, both in English and Spanish, this describes a girl flying very far to see her abuelita. Simple and sweet. 

 My Colors, My World. Mis Colores, Mi Mundo by Maya Christina Gonzales- This was snug’s favorite book for the week, written with one side in English and the other in Spanish, it is about the author when she was a girl. She describes all the colors she would look for around her desert home. A great way to learn the colors in both English and Spanish. 

 Off we go to Mexico An adventure in the Sun by Laurie Krebs and Christopher Corr- This very informative story travels through Mexico, describing the landscape, cities and festivals. We enjoyed it, but it was a little long and overdrawn for us. The snug kept losing interest.

~Non-fiction~ (The pictures for the books are above the descriptions).

Cinco de Mayo by Mary Dodson Wade-  Another rookie read about series book. This one contained an easy to read and understand but elaborate explanation of the war that occurred on the 5th of May in 1862. 

Cinco De mayo by Lola M. Shaefer- A simplified version of the same book mentioned above. Telling the history of cinco de mayo and why it is so important in Mexico. Also giving some insight as to how it is celebrated in Mexico. 

Mexico by Gina DeAngelis- This book was a more in-depth over view of the country of Mexico. We enjoyed it, but only read a little bit at a time in order to get through all of it.

WWelcome to Mexico– Alison Auch- We enjoyed this book a lot, it was simply written with a young boy for a narrator giving us a tour of his home country. Going over city and country life and traditions followed by the people. It was a very good read.

Q&A Mexico by Fran Hodgkins– This was a pretty easy to follow book about Mexico also. It gave enough information to introduce and interest you, but not too much were you loss your preschooler. It was fun to ask snug the question and see how she answered it, then find out the answer from the book.

Crafts of Many Cultures by Aurelia Gomez- There were a lot of very interesting crafts in this book, you can see by the cover. Some of them were more challenging than others. We did the yarn art, which creates an art form that is found in Mexico. All the other crafts look interesting and easy to follow.

~Cookbooks~

Rancho Cooking by Jacqueline Hihguera McMahan- This was a great cookbook, a mix of Mexican and Californian recipes, there was a ton of variety. The recipes we cooked out of this book were aqua fresca de sandia, which was amazing, but chunky due to our lack of a blender and a granddaughter’s flour tortillas.

Simply Mexican by Lourdes Castro –This was a fun cook book, simple to follow with a ton of pictures and delicious recipes. I was very happy with everything we made from this book, which was; Fresh Fruit Lime Ice, fried caramelized bananas with ice cream and fresh corn soup. There was a great step by step recipe for chicken tamales with tomatillo-cilantro sauce but we didn’t have time to make it. We did eventually make the tomatillo sauce and it was incredible!

Dora and Diego Let’s Cook by Nickelodeon Books (whoops not pictured)- This book is great fun. The recipes are easy and wonderful and delicious. We had gotten this book from the library, but we will probably end up buying it, seeing that snug loves Dora almost more than anything right now. (Note we did end up buying this later on in the summer, no regrets at all).

~FOOD!~

I love making Mexican food and I love all of the cookbooks that we used for this week. We made and ate some amazing food. Here are pictures and overviews. Sadly not all the food we made is pictured, at the time I thought it would be too much, now I know, on a blog you can never have too many food pictures.

Black beans, peppers and rice with cornbread. Delicious and simple. Just take a can of beans, some rice and warm them together with spices of your choosing. Be sure to have some water on hand though, this is heavy eating.

These are Dora’s butterfly breakfast quesadillas. They were interesting. A little too sweet for me, but snug really seemed to like them. Here is what you will need.

Tortillas, strawberries, strawberry jam and cream cheese. It is simple really, you can warm a tortilla or not, then spread cream cheese on one half and then jelly on top. Top with sliced strawberries, fold over and enjoy.

Picture a little blurry?? Considering what this drink did to my sweet, at the time, 3 year-old child, the blur is an understatement. It is a Sonrisa strawberry-banana nectar drink we found in the Mexican food aisle. It was delicious, but incredibly sugary. We limited her intake and we should have limited it more, after just a couple of sips, she was off the wall. Completely.

Please note the corn in the background, in the food processor and on the counter. That is for the next picture.

This was from them Simply Mexican cookbook. On the left is steak quesadillas and on the right is fresh corn soup, it has a roasted corn guacamole that goes a long with it, which we skipped making. However, we did just make it the other night and it was delicious!

Now these next couple of recipes are special.

They are amazing and delicious.

I have an almost, sort of, not really step by step pictures of both of them. Along with recipes, from the respected cookbooks.

The first is…

Fried Caramelized Bananas-from Simply Mexican by Lourdes Castro

(serves 6)

 ½ light brown sugar, firmly packed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 bananas, peeled and halved lengthwise

¼ cup chopped pecans

1 pint vanilla ice cream

 Place a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the brown sugar and butter. Allow both to melt and mix well using a heat proof spatula.

When the caramel is hot and bubbly, add the bananas, cut side down, along with the pecans. Allow the bananas to cook for about 3 minutes before turning them over. The cut side should have a deep golden brown color and a slightly crispy texture. (Depending on the ripeness of the bananas they may break, don’t worry about this.)

Cook for another 2 minutes, using a spoon to drizzle the caramel sauce over the bananas to keep infusing them with caramel flavor.

Place the bananas on a serving dish or platter, top with scoops of ice cream, drizzle the caramel sauce and nuts all over it.

We made it without nuts, we aren’t too big on nuts in our house.

Here we are with the bananas in the pan, after the brown sugar and butter had melted. Some of our bananas broke. Like the author said, no need to worry. Snug obviously did not help with this part, but she did help with the banana prep.

Oh goodness, look at how delicious! Muy deliciouso!!!

Snug definitely helped in the eating though. Do you see the spoon in her hand, along with being feed my her doting father. Man are these things rich though, no wonder you are only supposed to eat a quarter of a banana.

The next thing we made were tortillas from scratch. Here is the recipe! It is the best one I have found and the tortillas turned out amazing! Now the recipe looks like a lot of work, it really isn’t, just a bunch of steps and some waiting.

It is from the cookbook Rancho Cooking Mexican and Californian Recipes By Jacqueline Higuera McMahan.

A granddaughter’s flour tortillas

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

4 tablespoons canola oil

1 ½ tsp sea salt

1 ½ cups warm water

(1)Stir the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl with a whisk. Transfer ½ cup of this mixture to another bowl and add all of the canola oil to it, blending with a fork. Place the oil-flour mixture in a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze for 1 hour.

(2)Use a pastry blender to blend the cold flour-oil mixture into the dry flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

(3)Mix the salt into the warm water until dissolved. Stir into the flour mixture until a dough forms. Knead for 1 minute in the bowl. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

(4)Form 12 balls of dough. Place on an oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Flatten the balls with the heel of your hand (through the plastic is fine). Let rest for 30 minutes.

(5)Pre-heat a comal or griddle over medium heat. Take out 1 flattened ball and roll it into a thick circle, rolling from the center in short strokes. To make a round tortilla, keep turning the circle of dough after each stroke with the rolling-pin. The tortilla should be about 1/8 inch thick and 9 to 10 inches across. You can hold it up and run your fingers underneath as you turn it to stretch it further; this step is not absolutely necessary but produces an even thinner tortilla.

(6)Gently lay the first tortilla on the comal or griddle. Turn over every 20 seconds. Push your thumb and forefinger into the edge of the tortilla and turn it away from you. You will develop your own rhythm. Golden freckles will form over the surface of the tortilla, indicting its lightness. Sometimes the tortilla will inflate like a balloon.

(7)When the tortilla stops bubbling and forming freckles, it is done. Remove immediately so it doesn’t overcook.

(8)Warp cooked tortillas in a clean dishtowel. When cool, wrap in foil or put in a plastic bag. Heat tortillas on a griddle to warm them up before serving.

Here is a picture of step number 4 before flattening. (gah sorry about the sad shape of my cookie pan).

Here we are on step 5. While not all the steps are pictured, Snug helped with each one. From kneading to as you can see rolling out the dough. So here she is rolling.

And rolling. And rolling. And rolling. And finally I had to step in, because when you are three, you only have so much rolling strength in your arms and for these tortillas we had to get to 9 or 10 inches.

There we go~ but…

look at how happy she is! She didn’t mind for one bit me stepping in and finishing up!

Now onto step 6. This is our “comal”, not really, but it is what we had and it did the job just fine. However, if you have one of those cast irons with the slightly raised sides, that would be perfect for this.

Finally step 7 and 8. Done tortillas. Probably a little thicker then they should have been, but they were delicious! We made quesadillas out of them! Fantastico!!

I also should mention we were having a little play date when we did this. Man was it crazy! Lots of fun though. I can’t wait to do these two recipes again and again and hopefully one day we will never have to buy tortillas! My favorite thing about this recipe is the lack of lard. Just makes it a lot easier for us.

Check out the next post Mexico part 2, for all of the crafts we did.

P.S. The mexican rice in the Dora cookbook is the best I have ever had. We also constantly make empanadas in our house, but neglected them this week.

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One response to “Mexico!!

  1. Pingback: Homemade Flour Tortillas, without lard! « The Crayon Apron

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