Friday, June 30, 2006

las fotografías

This is a picture of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi. It is one of the churches we visited on our fieldtrip to Cholula, last wednesday.

This is a picture of the balloons in the zocolo, or town square. It´s where we meet our conversation partners in the afternoon and is located in the historic center of town.

These pictures are from my classmates here at the Insitute. I´m going to try to get my photos uploaded onto a computer, so I can share some more. But I don´t know when exactly I´ll have time. I am hoping that sometime next week I´ll be able to. I have some great ones from the pyramid in cholula. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How different is Mexico?

Here are some interesting things I have learned about Mexican culture and language:

1. This weekend we have the presidential elections. That means that Friday at midnight through sunday the bars and clubs will be closed. Just to make sure that everyone can make it to the polls on sunday. Interesante, no?

2. There are many words in Spanish that sound the same in english (cognates). However excited is not one of them. I tend to get excited over the little things in life, like having floss once my bags arrived and being able to take pictures of the pyramids yesterday. So I wanted to express my emotion to others in Spanish. Luckily I asked my teacher before I said something I would regret. Apparently estoy excitado, means excited in a sexual way, and estoy emocional, means excited in a happy way. How embarrassing could that situation have been if I told Lulu (my mother here) that I was excited in a sexual way to see the pyramids?!

3. In mexico the water and the gas in the houses works very differently. There are two containers on the roof, one holds gas the other holds water. It´s not very often that you are on the roof, so sometimes the houses run out of gas. This can be discovered when you take a cold shower. Now, to get more gas, you don´t call the gas company. You wait for the gas truck to drive by. But how do you know when they are coming? Each one has its own jingle that it plays really loudly as it drives by. If you want that company´s gas, you run out of your house and yell at them to fill your tank. So far I know two of the gas company´s jingles.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tengo mi malleta!!!

***DISCLAIMER: I couldn´t decide whether it was easier to write in english or spanish but I couldn´t seem to collect my thoughts in english. Therefore you are getting an entry in my very poor spanish. Enjoy! ***

Dia dos. Este mañana fui al aeropuerto para las tres vez y finalmente recibir mi malleta. Tenemos las clases en la manana, y estudio la differencia entre ser y estar. Para comida, voy al restaurante vegetariano. Nosotros tenemos dos opciónes para comida un restaurante mexicano o un restaurante vegetariano. Yo probo las dos este semana y decidio que yo prefioro. Ahora las dos son le mismo para mi. Este tarde caminar con mi guía de conversación. Fui al casa de cultura, la parián, y el barrio artista. Hay muchas cosas para comprar.

Day two. This morning I went to the airport for the third time and finally got my suitcase. We had classes this morning and we studied the difference between the verbs to be and to be. (There are two verbs for to be in Spanish, as well as to try) For lunch I went to the vegetarian restaurant. We have a daily choice as to which restaurante we want to go to for lunch. A mexican restaurant or a vegetarian restaurant. I am trying both this week to decide which one I prefer. Right now, both are the same for me. (I like both) This afternoon I walked with my conversation partner. We went to the culture house, the market, and the artists area. There was a lot to buy.

I´m looking forward to returning home this evening so I can unpack and finally settle in. Tomorrow we have a field trip to Cholula to see the pyramids. I can´t wait to snap some good pictures. This weekend I am trying to get a group together to go dancing. So we´ll see how that turns out.

Monday, June 26, 2006

¿Donde esta mi equipaje?

Hola! Right now I am sitting in the laboratorio de mi escuela. I´ve had my placement tests and oral exam and am now waiting for the welcome presentation. My flight from LAX to Mexico City was quite enjoyable. I was able to sleep for most of the way and the staff of Mexicana were quite pleasant. Once in Mexico City I made my way through immigration and found my gate for my next flight. I was then bussed to the other side of the airport with 6 other passengers to board our Turbo-Propeller plane to Puebla. The plane could seat 48 but as I said previously, there was only 7 of us on it. Twenty minutes later we had landed in Puebla. Unfortunately, my luggage didn´t make it. But neither did the luggage of three other passengers. You would think with so few people they would be able to get it together, but apparently this is very common. Strange how this is the one and only time that I didn´t travel with my toiletries in my carry-on. I guess I will know better next time.

I am really excited about my host family. Lourdes is my host mother and she lives with her 23 year old daughter Andrea. My house is literally three doors down from the school, I don´t think I could have asked for anything better. They are both really nice and see the importance of chatting with me and gently correcting my errors. Andrea speaks very quickly, so I often find myself looking to LuLu to repeat what she has said in a different way and slower. Although I understand a lot of what they say I am finding it difficult to express what I want to say. But practice will make that easier. Andrea works at a zoo, training parrots and LuLu has told me she is an expert in the kitchen and looks forward to sharing that with me.

I guess that is about all I have to say for now. I don´t want to take up too much time on the computers as I am sure other students would like to use them. Hopefully my bags will arrive this afternoon otherwise I am going to have to do some shopping. More to come soon!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Email to Blog . . . come in Blog

This post is coming straight to you from my email. It's a feature blogger has that allows me to email in my posts instead of logging into blogger. That way if the institute in Puebla has bans on blogging I can still make sure everyone knows what's going on. I'm not sure why they would ban blogging but you never know, and as I've learned from past travelling experiences, it's always good to have a plan B. With all that said my next post will be coming to you from the heart of Mexico, until then!

Friday, June 23, 2006


One of the best parts about cooking is getting recipes from friends. Now that I have found the world of food blogs I've discovered loads of new friends. Today's recipe comes from my friend at Everybody Loves Sandwiches. If you haven't checked out her food blog I think it's a must see. Gorgeous pictures and delicious recipes on a beautifully laid out blog. I was looking for a simple recipe to use up stuff in my fridge, mainly milk and butter, before I leave for Mexico and was feeling a little nostalgic since this week would have been my grandmother's 96th birthday. I decided to take a stab at Molly's Scones.

I remember the first time I made scones. I didn't follow the "roll out the dough gently" portion of the recipe and they ended up resembling hockey pucks. Although dense I still enjoyed them. Molly's recipe is perfect for avoiding the same mistakes, no rolling needed. And they require so few ingredients, it would be easy to whip them up for afternoon tea when surprise visitors stop by.

Molly's Scones

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cups flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Preaheat oven to 425F. In a small bowl mix together milk and egg until frothy; set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in butter with your fingers until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add sugar and milk/egg mixture. Combine to a smooth dough, kneading slightly. Mold dough into a circle, slice into 8 triangles. Brush tops of scones with milk and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Corn and Two-Bean Burgers with Chipotle Ketchup

Here's a vegetarian option to serve at your next burger dinner. The burgers turn out crispy on the outside and nice and moist on the inside. Probably a little too soft to bbq but delicious nonetheless. The chipotle ketchup gives the bean burger a smoky southwestern flavor.

Corn and Two-Bean Burgers with Chipotle Ketchup

  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup canned whole-kernel yellow corn, drained

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

  • 1 large egg

  • Ketchup
  • 1/3 cup ketchup

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large bowl combine kidney and black beans; partially mash with a fork. Add breadcrumbs, corn, onion and egg; stir until well blended. Form bean mixture into 4 patties. Set aside. To prepare ketchup, combine ketchup, honey, lime juice, chile powder, and cumin; stir with a whisk.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and beginning to brown. Spread ketchup on bun, top with a bean patty, lettuce and tomato.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What to Pack?

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life and in change there is power." - Alan Cohen

Wow, four days to go. Excited. Nervous. Scared. But most of all sick of waiting. It's the anticipation that affects me the most. What will my host family be like? Will they search my bags at customs? Will I still remember the basic Spanish I learned in college? Will my classmates be older or younger than me? Will it be pouring with rain when I get there? I know once I get there the nerves will go away because I'll no longer have time to think about them. But first I just have to get there. So that means I have to pack.

Curried Barley Salad

Not too long ago my roommate made dinner for a friend and yours truly. It was delicious but it left us with some random ingredients in the fridge. Mainly mango chutney and curry paste. While searching for a recipe that would use both I came across this brown rice curry salad from Everybody Likes Sandwiches. I substituted barley for the brown rice to increase fiber and protein in the dish but pretty much kept everything else the same. Although next time I think I might either decrease the curry paste or choose a different paste, as this time around it was quite spicy! Here's what I did:

Curried Barley Salad

  • 2 cups cooked barley

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 4 tablespoons curry paste

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 tablespoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1/3 cup mango chutney

  • 2 carrots, shredded

  • 1 bell pepper, diced

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 1 apple, cored and diced

  • parsley, finely chopped

In a wok, heat vegetable oil and curry paste. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add cumin and sesame oil and sit well to incorporate. Turn off heat. Add chutney and barley, mix well. Add shredded carrot, pepper, and celery. Cover and refrigerate until cool. Before serving stir in apple and parsley. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Butter Cake

Time to indulge my sweet tooth once again and work towards cooking everything found in my Donna Hay cookbook. Today's choice: a butter cake. Easy to make and very adaptable to a multitude of situations. Frost it with different flavors or add different spices and extracts to the batter to change it up. I added an orange glaze to mine. The first time I've frosted a cake without using the store bought stuff. Here's the basic recipe:

Butter Cake

  • 4 oz butter, very well softened

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup caster sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 300F. Place all ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on a low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth. Pour into a greased 8 in round cake tin and bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool briefly then turn out onto a wire rack.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kate's Kitchen: Eggplant Polenta Stacks with Tomato

This submission is from my New York cooking buddy K. She and I often trade recipes; it's quite addicting. She often has new and exciting things for me to try. Here is her latest with pictures! In her words, "It's a really yummy vegetarian main dish."

Eggplant-Polenta Stacks with Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) chopped seeded peeled tomatoes with juices

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Polenta
  • 4 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

  • Vegetables
  • 1/2 large eggplant, cut crosswise into four 1/2-inch-thick slices

  • Coarse salt

  • 1 large zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices

  • Additional olive oil

  • 4 large fresh basil leaves

  • 4 1/4-inch-thick slices mozzarella cheese

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Puree tomatoes in blender. Strain into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add
2 tablespoons oil and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Combine 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Parmesan and
butter and stir until melted. Mix in cayenne pepper. Spread polenta in 9-inch-square pan. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. (Sauce and polenta can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)

Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Pat dry. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Brush eggplant and zucchini with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until tender, about 2 minutes per side.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil large baking sheet. Using eggplant as template, cut polenta into 4 rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheet. Top each with eggplant, 2 zucchini slices, basil leaf and mozzarella slice. Bake eggplant stacks until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to plates. Rewarm sauce. Spoon around eggplant stacks. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

Serves 4.

I cheated and used pre-made polenta, the kind in the tube. I just sliced it and it was already in little rounds! Then when making the stacks I sprinkled on some parmesan cheese before the eggplant layer. For the tomatoe sauce I just chopped a tomatoe and simmered it up with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper (since i don't have a blender). It worked fine, kind of a chunky sauce. Be sure to line the cookie sheet with foil because the cheese melts all over the place.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hot Fatties- $0.25

Yesterday my roommate, E, and I went to Olvera Street, a thriving Mexican marketplace in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. It's been on our list of things to do for a while and it was the perfect way to get in the mood for Mexico. Can you believe my trip's only 7 days away?!

The highlight of the visit was the Olvera Street Museum. Just next to the old fire station, it's a large room containing a model of Olvera Street, a video about Olvera Street, and a picture timeline of the history of Olvera Street. One picture in particular caught my attention. It was a woman of Olvera Street making fresh Gorditas. Thanks to Taco Bell most of us know Gorditas by that name. However, in this picture the vendor had translated her sign "Gorditas calientes" into english, hence the name of the blog. Maybe it's just me, but I think something gets lost in the translation.

Outside of the museums there are numerous tiendas y restaurantes. One of the things I am looking forward to in Puebla is the shopping. Apparently Puebla is known for its production of arts and crafts including but not limited to Talavara Ceramics, engravings and bark paper paintings, onyx and marble objects, and textiles. El Parian and El Barrio del Artista are marketplaces that specialize in handmade crafts which I know I'll be visiting. I just need to remember to sharpen my bargaining skills while I am there.

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's BEAN a long week!

I got an email today from my cooking buddy K. She was looking for some good vegetable and/or bean recipes for the summer. As I was searching through my pile 'o recipes I came across the following bean recipes that I love. Unfortunately I didn't fair so well on the vegetable recipes, but I'm still working on it. Perhaps that will be the focus of next week's cooking. These recipes are all easy to put together with relatively few ingredients. Don't get scared by the number of ingredients in the curried couscous, it's well worth it!

Mississippi Caviar

  • 4 cups black eyed peas

  • 1 cup julienne-cut yellow bell pepper

  • 1 cup chopped tomato

  • 1/2 cup bottled reduced-calorie Italian dressing

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss gently to combine. Cover and chill 3 hours to overnight. Serve over salad greens or as a side.

White Bean, Tomato and Green Bean Salad
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 tsp sugar

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • salad:
  • 5 cups cut green beans (about 1 lb)

  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoe (or cherry/grape tomatoes)

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 1 can navy beans rinsed and drained (or any white bean)

  • 1/2 cup fet cheese crumbled (if you're into that, or you can elliminate and it's still delish)
To prepare dressing, combine first 7 ingredients stir with a whisk.

Place green beans in large saucepan of boiling water; cook 5 minutes. Drain and plunge into ice cold water; drain. Place beans in a large bowl, add tomato, dill, navy beans; toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing, toss to coate. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Black Bean Quesadillas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas

  • 3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded mexican blend cheese
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, cilantro and beans, cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occassionally. Place tortillas on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup bean mixture and 3 tablespoon cheese. Fold tortilla in half. Lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil quesadillas for 3 minutes or until cheese melts and tortillas are golden. Cut each tortilla into 3 wedges and

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tex-Mex Lasagna

Tonight I have invited a couple of friends over for dinner. That means I get to cook something delicious and not have to eat it for the next week. My favorite dish for entertaining is lasagna. It's the perfect make ahead meal. Pop it into the oven a half hour before you want to eat. Then sit, drink a glass of wine and chat with your friends until it's ready.

It's even easier now that I have discovered no-boil noodles. As a kid I remember watching my mom boil the noodles, cool them and dry them before preparing her lasagna (which by the way is the best no tomato lasagna out there!). It always seemed like such a production. But now with my new discovery, lasagna is that much easier.

Here's the recipe for tonights Tex-Mex Lasagna, a vegetarian option which is perfect for a light summer dinner.

Tex Mex Lasagna
  • 3/4 cup salsa

  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

  • 6 pre-cooked lasagna noodles

  • 1 cup forzen whole-kernal corn, thawed

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 2 cups preshredded mexican blend cheese

  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

Preheat oven to 450F. Combine first 4 ingredients; spread 2/3 cup sauce in bottom of an 8in square dish. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; top with 1/2 cup corn and half of beans. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese; top with 2/3 cup sauce. Repeat layers once; top with remaining 2 noodles. Spread remaining sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover and bake at 450F for 30 minutes or until noodles are tender and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes. Sprinkle with onions. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chicken Mango Salad

Last weekend I made mango chicken salad courtesy of Everyday Food June 2005. I loved the exotic flavor the coconut added to it and it was quite refreshing for a summer salad. Today I post the recipe and the picture.

Mango Chicken Salad
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut (toasted)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Major Grey's Mango Chutney
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
4 cups shredded chicken
1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced
10 ounces baby spinach

1. In a medium bowl, whisk yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, chutney, mustard, turmeric and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Add chicken and mango; toss.
2. Serve on spinach, sprinkled with toasted coconut.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cooking with Donna

Today I made a couple of recipes from my favorite cookbook, Modern Classics Book 2 by Donna Hay. They were simple to make and turned out quite delicious. I think I used a little too much banana in the banana cake, so it's not as cakey as I had hoped. Although my roommate seems to be in love with it. On the other hand, the apple and cinnamon tea cake presents like a professional cake. It would be a perfect piece to take to a potluck, impressive yet easy to make. Mine, aren't quite as picture perfect as Donna's but what do you expect.

Banana Cake
  • 4 oz butter, softened

  • 1 cup caster sugar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 cups plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 1 cup roughly mashed banana

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and brown sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs and beat well.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sour cream, and banana. Stir to combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a greased 10 in fluted ring tin.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Apple and Cinnamon Tea Cake
  • 6 oz butter, softened

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2/3 cup caster sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • topping
  • 4 small green apples, peeled, halved and cored

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup apricot jam, warmed

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  2. Place the butter, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and creamy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs and beat well.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and milk and stir until combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a 9 in springform tin.
  6. To make the topping, cut a row of deep slits in each apple half and arrange over the top of the cake mixture.
  7. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the apples.
  8. Bake for 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and brush the cake with the warm jam. Then return the cake to the oven for 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Cocina Poblana

As everyone probably knows I am really excited about experiencing traditional Cocina Poblana. So far I have found the following dishes that I intend to try while I am in Mexico:

  • Mole poblano: rich, spicy sauce made of chocolate, chile, cinnamon and nuts usually served with chicken (pipian)
  • Camotes: sweet-potato candies cooked in the stove
  • Tacos Arabes: spit-roasted seasoned pork served in puffy wheat tortillas
  • Rompope: liquor based on egg yold and vanilla, created by nuns
  • Tinga: a stewed pork dish, cooked with chipotle sauce and served on tostadas
  • Chiles En Nogada: meat and fruit stuffed green peppers topped with a walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds

I have also heard that there is a Pueblan style chalupa that is worth keeping an eye out for. This year the city of Puebla celebrates is 475th year. I hope that means I'll get to try Chiles en Nogada which are usually only made for special occasions. I guess if I don't get to sample them I'll just have to make them when I return.

Speaking of which, I did a little cooking today with my friend Donna Hay. Together we made a banana cake and an apple and cinnamon tea cake. They were surprisingly easy to make but unfortunately mine didn't turn out as picture perfect as hers. Regardless they are still delicious!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

14 days and counting . . .

With two weeks before I leave I decided it was time to look into what Puebla has to offer. If you haven't noticed there's a link on the side of my blog entitled Puebla. It takes you to wikipedia where you can find out that Puebla is the fourth largest city in Mexico. Who knew?!

I also stumbled across a few things I want to do while I am in Mexico. One is canyonning. Doesn't this look like something you've seen on the Amazing Race? Even though my mom is less than enthused, I think it looks like a cool opportunity that I definitely plan on taking advantage of.

The other cool place I came across today was the Africam Safari. Don't ask me why it's spelled Africam but it is. Basically it's a zoo with the feel of a safari. Probably not exactly the safari I have dreamed of, but definitely worth a look.

I have also been advised to check out the local town of Cholula and the famous discotheques of Puebla. Is two months enough time?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hiking and Mango Chicken Salad

June gloom has taken over LA which means it's perfect hiking weather. I was thinking about hitting the trails by myself this weekend but instead M invited me to join her on one of her favorite local trails.

Temescal Canyon Park is located in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area just off of Sunset Blvd. I'd never been out here before but as you can see it's gorgeous! This is a picture of the seasonal creek found near the beginning of the hike. I was lucky enough to grab a photo before all the kids and groups showed up.

The best part of hiking is being able to catch up with your friends while getting out in nature and exercising. The second best part of hiking are the views, like this one of LA. We could see all the way from Century City to the Santa Monica pier. On a clear day you can see down to LAX but today we could only just make out the pier in Venice.

This is a picture of part of the trail. Considering the number of people we met on the trail, it's amazing I was able to capture this shot without a single person. At one point we even met a real alpine man. At first all we could hear was his voice, singing loud and proud as he hiked to the peak. Eventually he emerged from the brush wearing lederhosen and carrying his walking stick to exclaim, "Isn't Los Angeles beautiful?!" We had to agree before wishing him continued enjoyment on his hike.

Honestly if you've never been out here and you live in LA, you should definitely put it on your list of places to hike. If you don't live in LA I would happily take you here the next time you come to visit.

The other activity that makes me happy is cooking. Today I tried a new recipe which I have listed here in case you are feeling adventurous. It's the perfect summertime salad that I found in Everyday Food (June 2005).

Mango Chicken Salad
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut (toasted)
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Major Grey's Mango Chutney
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
4 cups shredded chicken
1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced
10 ounces baby spinach

1. In a medium bowl, whisk yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, chutney, mustard, turmeric and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Add chicken and mango; toss.
2. Serve on spinach, sprinkled with toasted coconut.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Summer Begins

Although much of last quarter felt like a holiday, I am now officially on my summer break. It's wonderful but it's also bittersweet, because this may in fact be the last summer break of my life. How weird is that? I guess I won't officially be able to say that until I am retired because who knows, I may end up being a teacher and having summer breaks every year. At least that's what A thinks will be my career path.

Last summer break or not, it's going to be the best three months of my life. At the end of this month I'll be taking off for Mexico to live with a host family and immerse myself in the Spanish language for two months. Right now I'm super excited about the adventure, but I am also a little bit scared that my nonexistant knowledge of Spanish is going to make life very difficult. Regardless, I'm ready to release the familiar and embrace the new.

Which brings me to the reason why I am blogging. I am a scrapbooker at heart, but lately it's been more of a chore than a joy. So I am hoping that by posting this blog I can have something for people to look through and enjoy, like my scrapbooks, but without the frustration and hatred of cropping that I have been experiencing lately.

Hopefully I'll be able to post while I am in Mexico but who knows. So to all those who read this, enjoy!