Buen Provecho

In early December I came across a post on Volunteermatch.org by the non-profit usimmigrantcafe.org looking for volunteers who like food and to write. Um, yes, please! They describe themselves as “A nationwide non-profit platform showcasing immigrant restaurateurs in pursuit of their American Dream.”

Just that week, I’d spoken with a friend about my desire to become involved within the immigrant community. I wanted to do what I could to help and express gratitude to those who I believe make this country stronger and who, at various points in the distant and not too distant past, every member of my entire family had been a part of.

I responded to the ad and learned that the site was looking for people around the country to interview and tell the stories of immigrant restaurateurs within their communities. Writing and food?! Me, me, pick me!

It was up to the writers to choose the restaurant and the interview subject. I asked a few friends for suggestions and ended up interviewing Kattia Rojas at Albuquerque’s Buen Provecho Restaurant. She makes a great Costa Rican tamale, among other dishes, and recently opened a restaurant in the newly remodeled El Vado Motel. I wanted to know more.

Here’s her story.

Buen Provecho!

http://usimmigrantcafe.org/2019/01/26/buen-provecho/

If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share!

Gratitude + WTF

There is something about Thanksgiving that I just really, really love. Besides the pie, the cozy fuzzies, and the tradition. I love the craziness of it all.

I worked until 8 tonight and on what other night would I ever come home after working for twelve hours and decide to make a dessert that had terms I needed to google? When else would any of us drive for hours to argue about politics with people we don’t like very much (but do somehow love) and cook gigantic birds when we order takeout the other 364 nights a year?

I swore I bought everything I needed at the grocery store on Sunday and, yet, where was I at 8:10 tonight? Trader Joe’s.

“Do you sell tin foil?” I asked my cashier, hopefully.

“No, oh my god, I hope my wife remembered to buy some. We should, we really should have it. Do you mind if I have Siri text her while you’re swiping your card?”

Bouquets of flowers, bottles of wine, frozen pumpkin cheesecakes… the store looked like a herd of elephants had just run through, though the festive vibe made it seem like a friendly herd. Most shoppers were carrying baskets rather than pushing carts, the true procrastinators or, more likely, the guests; responsible only for appetizers, pie, flowers, and beverages. Maybe a baguette.

I am currently waiting for my hazelnuts to cool. I was supposed to bake them for 10-15 minutes or until their skin darkened and cracked. At that point I need to wrap them in a clean towel and rub them, so their skin comes off. So far, it’s been 20 minutes and the skin isn’t sloughing, no matter how hard I rub. Like a woman in a Turkish bath, scrubbing away, these guys won’t budge. I’m about to put them in the blender with the rice flour, skins and all, heaven forbid.

But, see what I mean? It’s funny.

I just googled ‘fruit curd’ upon realizing I had no idea what my recipe was talking about.

And all over the country people are stuck in traffic or airports or on the couch next to weird Uncle Joe. They are googling gravy recipes, calling their mom or missing their mom.

I will never forget a newscast I saw years ago on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. “What is it you love most about Thanksgiving?” the newscaster asked a bunch of people stuck in an airport somewhere. Mom was the overwhelming answer. And pie.

But, back to my hazelnuts and curd.

Wishing you and yours a Smagikal Thanksgiving and, whether you’re home alone, with friends or mom, roasting a turkey or making a tuna sandwich, baking a pie or trying that new 26 step recipe that seemed like a good idea last month, may the craziness make you laugh!

If you want to try the New York Times Cranberry Curd Tart with me, let me know how your skin sloughing goes!

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017817-cranberry-curd-tart?grocerylist

Zucchini Deliciousness

It’s like I just got home from a year of crazy. And now, suddenly, it’s fall, the end of 2018, I’m living back in my house, just returned from my trip East, and for the first time in a long time, maybe since last year, I feel settled. Like I can exhale. Like I didn’t know I’d been holding my breath until I no longer was. And, while I think about all of this and it soaks in, I decide that instead of making a fire, because suddenly it’s cold and flannel sheets with tea and slippers seem like a good idea, I decide that instead of that fire, I’ll bake.

Gluten Free Coconut Zucchini Bread

1 C sugar

2 eggs

2/3 C vegetable oil

1 t vanilla extract

11/4 C gluten free flour mix

1 t baking powder

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t xanthan gum

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

2 C shredded zucchini

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1/2 C shredded coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350

Mix eggs and sugar in large bowl. Add oil and vanilla, mixing well.

In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to wet ones, mixing well.

Then add zucchini, nuts, and coconut, mixing well.

Transfer to a lightly greased 9×5″ bread pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool. Enjoy!

If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share!

Gratitude

IMG_0978

Happy Thanksgiving, Smagicians!

It is in the low 90’s in Los Angeles right now, not exactly cozy baking or cooking weather. This fact would have depressed my younger self who was obsessed with everything being as it “should” be. Thanksgiving was supposed to be cozy, with the final leaves blowing off of trees, a big, happy family who all got along, and a faint hint of snow in the air. But, here I am, away from my family, cooking with a friend, and it is a beautiful, beachy day outside.  As I prepped my stuffing this morning, stirring onions and celery with butter before adding it to green chile cornbread, I made a mental list of all that I am grateful for. Towards the top of the list, along with friends and family, I put a level of flexibility that must come with age. I no longer cling to the idea that everything needs to be some certain and correct order to be great. That idea and pressure ruled parts of my life as a youngster and I didn’t realize it. Around the holidays, this desire for perfection and ideals seems to take over the plans of so many who, at any other time of the year, are logical and rational people who know perfection is a myth. So, don’t go there! Appreciate it all, let it be what it is, and laugh when it doesn’t go as planned! It’s all good!

Wishing you and yours a beautiful day!

Left Over Pumpkin

Want your house to smell like cinnamon and pumpkin? Want super light, flour-free deliciousness? I posted this recipe before but, it’s that good!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Almond Brownies

Ingredients:

1 C almond butter

1.25 C pumpkin purée

2 eggs plus one yolk

1/3 C date syrup (I used maple)

1 t baking soda

1 T cinnamon

1 C semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix almond butter and pumpkin until smooth.

Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour into a greased 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, depending on if you like thinner and or thicker.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Cool and/or refrigerate. Can be frozen too.

Enjoy!

If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share!

Saturday

Leaving my Storytelling and Spirituality Class (the best way to spend Saturdays), I head to Grand Central Market for my favorite fancy coffee at G&B Coffee. As I wait at a red light, a car pulls out of its spot just ahead of me. I will the spot to stay empty until the light turns green. It does. There is over an hour left on the meter. This is going well! I cross the street and head into Grand Central Market. Though it's been a fixture in DTLA since 1917, I only recently discovered it. Full of stalls serving everything from bagels, to burritos, falafels, and pizza, it has not only great food but better people watching. I take a seat on a stool at G&B and order my favorite drink, the "Business and Pleasure," (it comes in three parts, because why wouldn't it?!) and a cornmeal and cheddar waffle. I sit, drinking, eating, watching people and think about what a perfect Saturday I am taking part in.
How is yours? Go do something fun, something that makes you smile! If you already are or did, bravo! Life is short, eat the waffle.

If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share!

How I Ground. 

I returned from LA one day ago and have felt epically ungrounded since. With a list of things I should be doing, how to ground and come back to earth after several weeks, months actually, of floating this way and that? 

Chop wood. Haul water. Or, cook, clean, and listen to Bob Marley as the case may be. Tangible, simple, doable things that keep me out of my head and in the present moment. And, I end up with a clean house and delish meal as a result. Bonus! 

Today’s menu is kale and basil pesto over porcini ravioli, thanks to Trader Joe’s, or your local farmer’s market. 

1 bunch kale

1 bunch basil

4-6 cloves garlic

1/2 c olive oil

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup Parmesan

Salt and pepper. 

Put it all in a blender and blend until smooth. 

All measurements are approximate and you should add more or less depending on preference. Bon Apetit. 


If you enjoy these posts, please Follow Smagik.com and please Share!