Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I've only been here a year now (this is the 1-year anniversary this week, now that I think of it) and I usually have on hand the following ingredients, probably still difficult to find in Canada. You could do most of it quite well in Chicago, though I never went this far there.

  • corn-syrup-free Coke imported from Mexico
  • iced tea
  • Shiner Bock beer
  • proper top-shelf margarita fixin's, i.e., good tequila, triple sec,
  • fresh limes (ten for a dollar in season)
  • proper barbeque sauce
  • red salsa
  • pico de gallo (marinated vegetables with tomato, for tacos)
  • green salsa
  • escabeche (hot pickled onions and carrots)
  • ground ancho chile (dark red, smoky, mild)
  • ground guajillo chiles (red, spicy)
  • ground chipotle chiles (red, smoky and tangy)
  • ground jalapeno (green, hot)
  • if there's company I will spring for some queso, which resembles Velveeta until you taste it (served hot in a crock pot)
  • mole' sauce
  • mexican sour cream
  • green chiles, preferably Hatch, anaheim acceptable
  • (also poblano and serrano green chiles on occasion)
  • tomatillos (a.k.a. "Mexican green tomatoes", close relative of the tomato but has a paperlike husk)
  • I always have onions, regular peppers, on hand. sometimes mushrooms, zucchini and celery
  • fresh corn tortillas, coarse grind, strong preference for El Milagro brand
  • fresh flour tortillas, strong preference for lard-free house-made from Central Market
  • if there's company I will spring for some tortilla chips for the queso
  • pecans are essentially free in Texas, though they do require some work to shell them. Real Mexicans put ground nuts in everything. Not so much the Texans, who save them for sweets and chop them. Either way, roast em in a cast iron pan for a few minutes as soon as they are out of their shells. Watch carefully and stir constantly. Don't burn 'em.
  • I don't eat beef except when in a restaurant and essentially forced to as a social obligation, this happens in Texas. Also non-beef at rural restaurants is usually unpalatable compared to the barbecue or the burgers.
  • I mostly get quality fish, shrimp (very cheap! $5/lb.), chicken, pork, or non-beef sausage at Central Market and grill it and refrigerate it, then throw it in a stew when dinner comes around
  • I always have some low-fat refried pintos available from cans. Served with every meal including breakfast
  • Mexican chorizo is nice for breakfast, I found a turkey based one at H.E.B.


Prepping ingredients weekly:
  • roast and freeze some chiles. When frozen, peel and seed them, chop
  • and refrigerate.
  • grill some meats
  • boil some shrimp
  • cut up some peppers and onions and sautee slowly in garlic and salt
Typical breakfast:
  • Heat and crumble chorizo (NB, Spanish chorizo is not the same stuff), and scramble into an egg with some chopped roasted green chiles
  • Heat up a flour tortilla in a cast iron pan. Wrap around the scramble.
  • Serve with reheated refried beans.
Typical lunch:
  • Microwave a grilled sausage.
  • Heat up a flour tortilla in a cast iron pan.
  • Wrap, add good barbecue sauce.
  • Serve with salad
Typical dinner:
  • chop grilled meat, some sauteed vegetables, and a sauce, add spices to taste and cook long enough to blend spices
  • offer rice and refried beans
  • Optionally sour cream, and pico could be available, depending on the filling. Grated cheese and shredded lettuce possible if you're leaning more Tex than Mex.
  • for company, start with a tortilla soup
Recipes? We don't need no steenking recipes.

OK, here's a tortilla soup recipe:

Tex and Mex both tend to excessive sweetness with their desserts though I'll enjoy a tres leches or a chess pie on occasion. When we don't have company we settle for a square of chocolate. If the occasion calls for dessert and we don't have time to bake something I will pick up something at Dolce Vita on Duval Street. Not really thematically unified but yummm!

We are also close enough to Lousiana to make a difference. Between all the good food and the lousy walking and bicycling, it's really a treacherous place for the likes of me.

It's striking how differently I have treated my kitchen since coming down here, though. If I ever go back to Canada I will need a tortilla press of my own.

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