Mole Poblano

Jorge and I made Mole Poblano this week. Our guests all enjoyed the dish and asked me to blog the recipe. So here you have our version of this classic entree from the central Mexican state of Puebla…

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MOLE POBLANO

(for 8 persons)

Place the following ingredients in a large pot and completely cover with water (about 3 quarts). Put on the lid and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and stew everything for 1/2 hour.

  • 2 chickens, cut into quarters, skin removed
  • ½ med. white onion, chopped coarsely
  • 4 whole cloves of garlic, skinned
  • 1 T. salt
  • 10 whole black pepper corns
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano

While the chicken is stewing, cook and char on a stove top griddle:

  • 1 lg. white onion
  • 1 lg. red pepper
  • 2 lg. Roma tomatoes

Cut the vegetables (charred skins and all) into large chunks and put them in the blender. Add:

  • 2 oz. of dark chocolate (La Abuelita)
  • 1/2  tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 T. chicken consommé powder (Maggi)
  • the contents of 2 jars (235g. each) of (DoñaMaria) mole paste.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the pieces and set them on a platter to cool for ½ hour – then remove the meat from the bones in as large pieces as possible. Set the chicken pieces to one side. Discard the bones.

Strain the broth, discard the onion and other bits, and then take out enough broth to cover the ingredients in the blender. Process until smooth. If your blender’s glass is not a large one, do one half of the ingredients at a time.  Transfer the mixture to a clay cooking pot or other large pot.

Reserve 4 cups of the broth so you can use it when making the rice, and add all the rest to the blended mixture in the cooking pot. Stir well and put the pot on medium heat. The mixture will be “soupy”, so you need to let it reduce by about a third, or until it has the texture of a creamy sauce.

Add the chicken pieces to the mole sauce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Measure out:

  • 2 cups of rice

And prepare it as you please, but instead of using water, use the:

  • 4 cups of reserved chicken broth

To the steaming rice, add:

  • 2 envelopes of condimento español

(this is basically turmeric and is available at you corner store or in the market)

Optional ingredients::

  • ¼ cup of toasted sesame seeds
  • light cream
  • red onion
  • cilantro leaves

To plate:

Mold ½ cup of rice on one side of the plate. Spoon the Mole beside it. To garnish the mole, I sometimes run a line of cream over the top and sprinkle it with the toasted sesame seeds. Sometimes I place thinly sliced red onion on top or I use cilantro leaves.

I serve guacamole, fried plantains and hot corn tortillas with this meal. I pair it with a robust red wine.

A surprise awaits…

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Every morning, opening up gmail is a surprise. I get frequent updates from family and friends all over the world. Over the course of a week, I learn about births, deaths, marriages, parties and the dates that my dear ones will be arriving for a visit. Gmail serves up photos, recipes, jokes, book and movie recommendations, reminders of promises made and debts unpaid.

As well, I receive a huge amount of bulk mail. This is sometimes useful and sometimes useless. I get entertaining and happy news, and I get stuff I don’t even want to think about. But either way, it’s all food for thought.

Yucatan Expat Life keeps me abreast of Merida’s international community news:

http://yucatanexpatlife.com/womens-march-allies-join-forces-merida/

For what I don’t even want to think about – Mexfiles’ predictions and points to ponder keep my consciousness on alert:

The Obama Administration record in Mexico

Here’s a video that’s too-funny-for-words – courtesy of my friend Lou who sends this clip from the Dutch equivalent of the John Stewart show:

But of course, not everyone has a Dutch sense of humour. The next message is an example of the point-of-view that has landed our world in its current state – I give you The Unseen Moon – no further comment

https://unseenmoon.wordpress.com/2017/01/20/adios-barry/

Steve Cotton, a blogger who lives way over on the other side of Mexico posts nearly every day. His writing is always thoughtful and sensitive.

http://steveinmexico.blogspot.mx/

Another of my favourite blogs comes just once a week. It is a “journal” and today it contained some wonderful quotations:

http://sylviasaltwater.com/of-all-the-things-ive-lost-i-miss-my-mind-the-most/

And finally, a warm-the-heart photo attachment from my friend Cliff Hinderman at the Grassroots Oaxaca Street Children’s holiday party. He tells me that many of the children’s gifts were donated by the participants on last year’s International Women’s Club fundraising tour:

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Some FAQs… and… FYI

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This past week, much has been written about the Women’s March on Washington and the Solidarity March Merida. The events will be held simultaneously. In Merida, we will gather together:

Saturday January 21st, from 12 noon – 3 pm, at Hennessy’s Irish Pub

From what I hear, many members of Merida’s international community would like to participate, but they need further information. The most frequently asked questions seem to be:

  1. What are the aims of Solidarity March Merida?

The first aim is to show support for all those participating in the Women’s March on Washington. Apart from the D.C mega-march, 1,364,010 people have agreed to join one of 616 sister marches or events – in support of women and other marginalized groups – that have been organized all over the world. Ours is one of fifteen to be held in Mexico.

  1. Who will be attending?

The organizational committee estimates that “between 50 and 200 people” will be at Hennessy’s.  To date, 75 people have confirmed their participation on Solidarity March Merida’s facebook event page. It would be helpful to have a closer estimate, so if you have decided to join us, you can register here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1661755250783901/

However, you do not have to do so – everyone is welcome – and the event is free of charge..

  1. Is there a program? What will we do at Hennessy’s? Will we march?

Our informal program includes music and mingling – but no marching. We have no wish to disrupt traffic or any of Merida’s regular Saturday activities.   Inside the restaurant, a banner will be stretched out on a long table, so bring your felt markers and write a personal message in support of what matters most to you. That could include:

Parity and equality for women

Fair, respectful treatment of immigrants, migrants and refugees

Support for social programs and health care

Opportunities for young people – they need to feel hopeful about the future

Education and loving support for children

Services for seniors – they need to feel safe and protected.

Respect for diversity – no one should be marginalized because of their ethnicity, socio-economic standing, sexual orientation, political views or religion.

At the close of the event, the banner will be hung on Hennessy’s outside wall for all to see.

We also hope to connect via cell phone with the 30 Merida residents who will be in Washington. If we are successful (we have been warned that the connectivity will be limited) we hope to show live feed on the pub’s TV.

  1. Will there be food available?

We will be at Hennessy’s over the lunch hour, so if you wish, at your own expense, you can order food and drink from the regular menu.

  1. What about the legality? Foreigners in Mexico are not allowed to take part in political events.

Solidarity March Merida will not address Mexican law and order or politics. In fact, an important part of the event is to show our support for Mexico, and use our voices to defend the country we call home during all or part of each year. We want the people of Mexico to know that we appreciate their hospitality and kindness. We do not support anti-Mexico rhetoric or bullying.

If you still have a question or would like to express an opinion, please use the comment section. I speak for all members of the event’s planning committee when I say that we want everyone living in the area to feel comfortable and committed to the Solidarity March Merida. We hope we’ll see you at Hennessy’s, noon until 3 PM,  this coming Saturday!

Thanksgiving 2016

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Today is the day I remember my USA roots.

My father was born in Carmel, California. At six, he moved with his family to Edmonton, Alberta because my grandfather, a geologist, had joined a Royal Dutch Shell team that would study the Alberta tar sands. While there, the great Depression began, and the oil conglomerate wished my grandfather – a happy new life in Canada – they had no money to move him and his family back to the USA or to the Netherlands.

And that is how our Dutch  family became Canadian. My grandfather simply settled where his work took him, and stayed because it was his only option. However, that turned out to be a very good thing!

Nowadays, if a person wants to study or work in a different country, the legal requirements are staggering. Like the nomadic first nations people, many others have also lost the freedom to cross borders in search of a better life – In fact even traveling to some countries as a tourist is difficult.

All over the world, many freedoms have been lost, especially in the past two decades. The pursuit of happiness, free speech, the right to choose religion, to have an education, access to health care and mobility are not the rights of all in many countries. A small elite enjoy what should be everyone’s birthright.

The United States’ Electoral College has apparently designated a new president – even though another candidate won the popular vote. The president elect is determined to uphold one right – the right to bear arms. It looks like the others are expendable.

Many people ask what they have to be grateful for today.

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But I do not. I have lived for most of my life in a country where there is great need. Every day I look around and feel grateful for my blessings. And I feel a responsibility. Those of us who have advantages need to continuously speak up for what we believe is right.

I am grateful to have my family, my friends, a good home, work I care about, and leisure time.

Because the world is in turmoil, I am thankful to be among those who are relatively well off. I think we have to stop crying, “The sky is falling – the sky is falling.” – we need to help prop it back up. Our rhetoric and our actions need to be positive.

Many of us will sit down with family and friends today. We’ll have a special meal – in many homes it will be turkey with all the trimmings. Each person will take their turn, and tell the others why they feel grateful. Maybe we could take an additional few moments to remind one another that with blessings come responsibilities.

In what small way (or large one) can you help others? Remember that a lot of kindness adds up.

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A Perfect Way to Handle Imperfection?

I fuss ALL THE TIME about Merida’s high humidity, the heat, the pedal-to-the-metal drivers, taxes, corruption, the economy, the class system, and, and, and – I complain long, loud and frequently.

This country is not – perfect – far from it.  But still I love living here because of the people – they are remarkable. They are creative, funny and they live in the moment. These past three days have once again hammered that home.

Despite almost unanimous dissatisfaction with national policy and looming international calamities (like potentially seeing Trump elected as president of the USA) Mexicans are able to live their lives with far less angst than most other people on this planet.

We’re winding down from a long weekend of celebrating Mexico’s Independence. Our family and friends have ditched the diets and indulged in copious numbers of tacos, bowls of pozole, and platters of chiles en nogada.  There has also been plenty of tequila and beer drinking, and most importantly – there has been music.

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Most fiestas get revved-up once the day has cooled down. The music starts off loud – ideal for singing along and spirited dancing. Dinner is served about midnight and often a mariachi will appear for an hour of rousing trumpets, strumming guitars, booming baritones and trilling falsettos. Sweet sad laments of love gone wrong, follow in the Mariachis’ wake. And at this point, most families who have  children head on home. But a surprising number of hardy partiers will stay on. With arms around their best friends, they spill their sorrows, and by about 3 am, they’ll have caught their second wind. Couples sway seductively to sultry romantic ballads that play for the rest of the night – and at sunup – everyone still standing will make a wobbly exit to the Santiago market  for tacos de cochinita.

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Those not brought up with such marathons often ask me – Why does the music have to be so loud? Isn’t this excess, escapism, and avoidance – bad for the eardrums, kidneys and cholesterol levels? Shouldn’t those little kids be in bed a lot earlier?

Actually, I used to agree but have come to believe that this national penchant for fiesta is healthy. It is a way to cope. Of course there are people who overdo it, and do so too often. But for the most part – the next day – life is back to normal – hard work replaces hard play. And the memory of a good time helps people handle the tough realities. Their resentment and frustration have been released, and don’t manifest in school shootings or other rampages.

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Just as we accept our own limitations and put up with character traits we don’t altogether appreciate in those we love, Mexicans tolerate the shortcomings of the country they love. Yes, they hope that some of the worst problems will be resolved sooner rather than later, but meanwhile they don’t let imperfection keep them from enjoying life.