Thursday, June 23, 2016

Culinary Garden- 5 Week Update

My garden has become my baby. My pride and joy. I wake up every morning, and as I kiss my honey good morning and spoil him with his cup of fresh brewed coffee on his nightstand, I open up the shutters above the nightstand and peek out at my garden. In the first couple of weeks after I started the herb and vegetable garden, it was quite comical how excited I would get to see everything sprouting and growing. My boyfriend expressed signs of jealousy over the fact that maybe I liked the herbs and veggies more than him.

This past weekend was a milestone for me. I ate my very first home grown zucchini! It was so tasty. Store bought vegetables all pretty much taste like nothing. This zucchini reminded me of what they tasted like when I was a kid. Such a fresh, true and amazing taste. I saw it growing for a week and was unsure of when it needed to be harvested. So I took to the internet and found that it should be picked when it's somewhere between 6 to 8 inches long. Any bigger than that and it will start to taste bitter. 





I used cherry tomatoes from my neighbors garden, basil and zucchini from my garden and cage free organic eggs to make this frittata....so delicious! Even my son said it tasted so fresh and he had no idea I was using home grown veggies {happy dance}.





Now for the update on the garden.

Mint- It's doing beautiful. Growing healthy and quite robust. Smells delish too when I water it. Apparently, this plant will branch out under the soil and take over the area. I better keep a close eye on this one. I may transplant into a planter, and then place the planter in the soil to keep the under-soil branches contained. Frankly, as robust as it looks, I haven't had use for it yet. I guess mojitos will be the drink of choice for the  "triple-digit" weather weekend coming up.
Mint and Parsley

Parsley-  Another beauty. Growing healthy and robust as well. This I have used in pasta sauce and wow, what a punch of flavor.

Cilantro- This it appears I may have planted a little too late. Once the flowers start to grow it's already on the back end of it's season. But unlike basil, these flowers have to be left to grow and dry, as seeds will be drop and prepare for next season. Once all the flowers are dry, I have to cut this baby down.



Chives- This one I guess is doing well. It hasn't gotten huge, or branched out, or anything wild and crazy. I also haven't used it at all, so I may have to find something to use it on this weekend.



Rosemary- The indoor rosemary I planted outdoors flat out died. Needs replacement ASAP.

Arugula-  Wowza! This one really surprised me. I grew it from seeds!! I truly had no hopes for this one sprouting, let alone grow to this size!! I haven't harvested any at all...so what am I waiting for, right? I will cut these babies down tomorrow and use in my morning green smoothie, as well as a nice nutty salad for lunch. Can't wait {happy dance...again}!! However, because the "edible" flowers have already sprouted, this means this harvest is coming to an end. I need to start clipping at these fast, and pull them out in the next few weeks. This one can be replanted in the fall.





Jalapenos- This one is doing well too, and just starting to see tiny little buds growing. But it's being crowded by the zucchini plant its right, so it's a little hard to see.



Zucchini- This plant is just doing so well. I only had the one zucchini over the weekend. But already this week I see at least 5 more growing. It's amazing to see these sprout. The stem of the yellow flowers starts turning into a zucchini. Once it gets to a certain size, the flower dies off and the zucchini continues growing. 
Next week we may be having zucchini spaghetti!! I can't believe how huge this plant has grown. Having not followed the proper spacing suggestions, I planted the jalapeno and red bell peppers too close and they're completely branched by the zucchini plant now. I hope it's not affecting their growth.





Red Bell Peppers- Aside from this plant being taller and branchier, there isn't much more 
activity going on..meaning, there doesn't seem to be bell peppers growing yet. However, it does take about 80 days to mature. And, it is being crowded by the zucchini plant. I wonder if the zucchini is taking away it's air, or nutrients...I know sounds weird, but maybe it needs it's space. Or maybe I just need to be patient. I'l try the latter.



Basil- this one flat out died. A kind reader told me that you can't plant a basil in the same spot where it was previously planted. Being that I had a basil plant in that same spot two years ago and it did amazingly well {grew almost as tall as the fence, and had to give a ton away}, I thought it liked that spot and planted it there. But you're not supposed to do that. Basil apparently needs a new spot, and something else can be planted in the old basil spot. So I transplanted, but since it was already pretty much completely dead, it just completed it's death in the new spot. I also purchased a new basil plant and planted it next to the dying one. I think this one might do much better.



So, given that I'm having some degree of success with my culinary garden, I went out and purchased more. 

Tomatillos- These I planted in the "old" basil spot. I planted two. One died, the other is doing well. But, I just read that you need at least two so they can pollinate and grow big. So I have to get a second one since the one died. And, since I use a ton of tomatillos, it's probably good measure if I buy at least 3 to 5 more. Plus, I have to get cages for these.



What do you all think? I welcome any suggestions, tips and feedback you may have. Feel free to comment on the Facebook page, or below in the comments.

I'm no expert on how to grow your own herb and vegetable garden. This is all a hands-on learning experience. You can read more about my culinary garden growing experience here:
Planting My First Culinary Garden
Culinary Garden- 2 Week Update

~Sonia

Monday, June 13, 2016

Father's Day Gift Guide / Regalos para el Dia de los Padres

Hola friends-

I was really surprised at how popular our Mother's Day Gift Guide was. So I put together some last minute ideas for Father's Day. Yes, Father's Day is this upcoming weekend! You have plenty of time to place your order and get your gift on time to celebrate with the dads in your life.













Personally, I think I like some of these for myself!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mexican Street Style Corn / Elotes Estilo Mexico



Many memories of the years we lived in Mexico City, included long walks through the city. We walked to school, we walked to church, to the market, to the outdoor bazaar, to grandma's, etc. And when you walk the streets of Mexico City, naturally, you will come across many a street vendor selling paletas (ice cream bars), tacos, frutas (fruit), mini pancakes and elotes (corn). 


My brother, sister and I planned a "Seafood Grilling and Poker" day at mom's for Memorial Day weekend. I know kinda random, but who doesn't love a themed get together?? Adds an extra layer of fun. I picked up corn to grill and serve along with our salmon and shrimp kabobs, and somewhere between the grocery store and mom's, I started craving Mexican street style corn...the type we bought on the street during our many walks through the city.

So what is Mexican Street Style Corn you ask?? It's grilled corn, smothered in mayo, rolled in Mexican cheese and sprinkled with chili. I know this may not sound enticing, but trust me, it is SO good.

So this is what you do...


INGREDIENTS

Corn on the cob
Mayo
Cotija Cheese, shredded
Tajin Fruit and Snack Seasoning - this stuff is good!!


Peel the husks off the corn. Just pull from the open end down to the stump. I even pull the little stump off entirely.



Wrap them in foil. I place the corn right in the middle of a squared piece of foil. Then I fold the foil in half, to meet the long edges together. I fold the sides in tightly. The top I fold in such a way that it leaves a little handle.





Place the foil wrapped corn on the grill. We always place our corn on the top rack of the grill so they're cooking at the same time as the meat.




Grill for about 20 minutes, then check them. When they're getting a little browned and charred, they're ready. You may need to bring them down to the grill grates if it's taking too long.



Then cover in mayo with a spreader or knife. You can do a thick spread or just a thin layer based on your own liking. Then roll in shredded queso cotija, and sprinkle with Tajin.



A NOTE ABOUT TAJIN...this stuff is so yummy! It's a Mexican seasoning powder consisting of chili peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice. I add it to my fruit and veggies for a little extra kick. It's not hot...no really. I realize my Mexican taste buds have a higher tolerance for spicy food, but I honestly would consider this to be on the mild side, especially when you only use it sparingly.


                                                       

My elotes estilo Mexico hit the spot on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend. And a friendly game of poker was super fun with the family.

Have you tried Mexican Street Style Corn? I'm curious as to where you had it and if there were any other toppings available.



~Sonia



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Top 5 Mexican Wedding Ideas




Wedding season is in full swing! Although I'm not planning a wedding, I know someone who is!! It's super fun to see what everyone is pinning on their Wedding Pinterest boards and I couldn't help to fall in love with the nostalgic images in a Mexican-themed wedding. I can spend hours on Pinterest pinning a bunch of recipes, crafts, projects and decorating ideas I may never get around to bringing to life. But it's a great way to generate ideas, see pretty things and dream.

So I curated a few of my favorite Mexican-themed wedding ideas. I love bright colors, sarapes and pinatas...but if I was planning a Mexican-themed wedding, it would be more than the typical "fiesta" we usually see at party stores. Don't get me wrong, I love a good fiesta as much as the next girl, but a wedding to me, ahem--at my age, I feel would be more on the elegant side yet still reminiscent of my roots. 


1. INVITATIONS- Before guests ever set foot in the wedding venue, they will get a feel for the type of wedding you will have by the invitation. Invitations determine the theme, mood, attire and even the wedding gift budget.

These beautiful invitations exude the very essence of an elegant evening at the "Hacienda". They remind me of the lace dresses, doilies, runners and even curtains at my grandmother's house. The memories of both of my vibrant and loving grandmothers comes immediately to mind. I lost my paternal grandmother about 15 years ago. And although my maternal grandmother, my loving "nina Chayo" still lives, her memory has long been taken by Alzheimer's. You can read about her and some of the memories we created together at her ranchito in this blog post. I know they would both love these beautiful, lace inspired invitations I found at TulleandChantilly.com



TulleandChantilly.com

If you're looking for something more indicative of a Mexican theme, these exquisite laser cut wedding love bird papel picado inspired invitations by VintageBabyDoll on Etsy will unmistakably relay the message. It's amazing the detail that can be captured by this laser cutting process. These are just gorgeous!

VintageBabyDoll on Etsy



2. DECORATIONS- What would a Mexican celebration be without papel picado? It brings back great nostalgic memories of the years we lived in Mexico City during my teenage years. And these white "AMOR" papel picado banners look beautiful and whimsy with string lights. 


But if you want a true personal touch, check out VintageBabyDoll on Etsy for custom, laser-cut papel picado. You can have your names laser cut into the design. Super cute, personal and elegant.


VintageBabyDoll on Etsy


These chairs with the beautiful rebozos wrapped around them stand out beautifully against the dark wood. Easy and simple....although could be cost prohibitive to do the entire venue in rebozo-wrapped chairs, perhaps doing only the wedding party table would be a good option. Check out this entire wedding at Una Boda Original. You can find a good selection of colorful Mexican Rebozos here.


UnaBodaOriginal.com



3. TABLE SETTING- The table setting will make the look of the entire venue. Everything from plates, glasses, napkins, and centerpieces, to the types of chairs that are used. I especially adore the look of this table setting. It is simple, yet elegant and has just a touch of color. The dainty table cover (possibly lace or crochetcomplements the invitations, and the flowers and ribbons in the bright fuchsia bring that touch of brightness that is typical in Mexican celebrations. The wrought iron candelabra, another traditional touch of Mexican. How beautiful would it be to hang crystals and flowers from those candelabras to step up the elegance? I know, right?? You can find more details on this particular wedding at Una Boda Original



UnaBodaOriginal.com


4.  CAKE- This simply elegant cake with a lace detail at the bottom of each tier is absolutely stunning. Pair it with the same flowers in the bride's bouquet and table setting centerpieces to tie it all together. You can view this entire wedding at Ruffled


RuffledBlog.com


5. DRESS- This is a tough one!! I couldn't decide on just one and I guess this is the part where brides decide to have a custom dress made with features of different dresses combined. For starters, I do love the floret ruffles on this dress, in perfect combination with the very simple, long veil. The beautiful detailed lace along the edge of the veil, sprinkled with pearls is so classy. This veil reminds me of the veil my abuelita wore on her wedding day. This wedding can be seen in it's entirety at Una Boda Original.


  

UnaBodaOriginal.com

And then there is this beautiful wedding dress. Looks like this is a wrap that can be added to a simple, long sheath dress, either spaghetti strap or strapless....then you can take it off at the party. Simple elegance...with that beautiful, unusual fuchsia bouquet and a simple flower for a headpiece...understated beauty. You can see more gorgeous details on this Fuchsia + Cognac Wedding at Green Wedding Shoes.


GreenWeddingShoes.com

And one more, this beautiful embroidered belt complementing a simple mermaid dress is the ultimate "this is a Mexican celebration, people!!" statement item. To make this uber elegant, I would have this embroidered belt embellished with crystals or sequins. Gorgeous, right? You can find more "Mexicanisimo" wedding dresses at Es La Moda

EsLaModa.com


So what do you think? Did you have or attend a Mexican themed wedding? What did you like or not like?

~Sonia