Cooking Simple With Your Family

Collage of adults cooking with their children - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyWe have been interviewing Keisha T. Prosser – The Mobile Cooking Teacher on Using Your Cooking Skills To Teach Others About Good Nutrition (March. 15, 2016) and  The Mobile Cooking Teacher – Inspiring A New Generation Of Cooks (March. 19, 2019). To see the interviews again just click and follow the above links.

Keisha T. ProsserSplendid Recipes: Today we are going to let Keisha explain the right time to start teaching your children cooking skills. Okay Keisha, we pass the platform over to you.

Keisha: Thanks Randy. Do you have children? Have you ever thought when would be a good time to start teaching my child how to cook? But not only cook, but cook healthy meals.

It is true we are all busy, but our children will not always be with us, and they need to know the importance of COOKING. And it doesn’t matter if they are a girl or boy, we all should have some basic cooking skills.

Okay, so when is a good time to start teaching your children? Let’s talk about age groups and what are some skills they can learn during those ages.

Teaching Children Age Appropriate Cooking Skills

Here are the age appropriate cooking skills to teach your children.

Preschoolers – 6 years old

young boy learning to cut with a knife - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyThis age group can help preparing fruit and pasta salads, help with setting the table, and for those who can read, they can read the recipe ingredients and directions with you. Doing so will help them learn to follow recipe directions.

They can measure ingredients, learn how to use a food timer, including a meat thermometer. They can help with making smoothies by allowing the child to place the ingredients into the blender.

This is also a wonderful age group to let help with young girl helping to make cookies - Cooking Simple With Your Familybaking cookies, as they can learn the effort that goes into making one of their favorite snacks.

Explain to them how herbs and spices flavor a recipe. You might think teaching this to a preschooler to 6 year old would be something they wouldn’t understand, which may be true at first. But repetition is key to teaching children the skills of cooking.

Other things this age group can help with in food preparation is preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner, helping with menu planning, as well as helping to clean up the kitchen after eating.

This age group is the right time to start and teach them the importance of eating healthy.

Ages 7-12

young boy learning to cook - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyContinue with what they have learned up to age six, that is measuring ingredients, making smoothies, menu planning, and help with cleaning the kitchen.

Ages 7 to 12 is a good age group to start teaching kitchen prep work, that is cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses that will go into the recipe you are preparing.

Continue with teaching them the importance of healthy eating, flavoring foods with herbs and spices, including following and reading recipe directions.

 

Ages 13-18 

 teen boy preparing a recipe - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyThis age group can start learning to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner by themselves.

They even make their favorite cookies on their own, including learning how to cook different cuisines, like a simple Asian stir-fry or Mexican food, like tacos.

They still should be encouraged to read and follow recipe directions. At this age let them sit with a paper and pencil and plan out the weeks menu.

Letting them do this will help them learn appreciation for planning ahead to eat, instead of waiting to the last minute when you are really hungry, and may go for some junk food.

Cooking Simple

We all would like meals to be done in 20 minutes or less, at least I do.

young girl cooking - - Cooking Simple With Your FamilyHere are some simple ingredients you can teach your child to mix together to form different recipes in the kitchen.

You can do 3 easy things with these ingredients: Lemon, Garlic, Salt, Sugar, Olive Oil, and Onion.

Salad Dressing: Lemon, Olive Oil, Garlic, Onion, Salt and Lemon Zest.

Marinade: Lemon, Garlic, Onion and Olive Oil

The ideas are endless with these simple ingredients.

Having your family helping in the kitchen more is one way to make sure everyone is eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Preparing meals together brings you closer as a family. You are teaching your family how to cook healthier and smarter.

Remember, the heart of the home is in the kitchen, and a healthy kitchen, is a healthy heart.

Splendid Recipes: Thanks so much Keisha, for taking the time out to share all that you have with us on teaching good nutrition through cooking, inspiring future cooks, and cooking together as a family.

Keisha: No thank you Randy for this opportunity. And I appreciate any one who would like to follow me on any one of the social net works I am on.

Splendid Recipes: Yes follow Keisha on any one of the following social net works and keep up with the latest adventures of – The Mobile Cooking Teacher.

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Using Your Cooking Skills To Teach Others About Good Nutrition

cooking class, culinary, food and people concept - happy group of friends and male chef cook cooking in kitchen

The more you know the easier learning something new becomes. That also applies to cooking. Yes, anybody can acquire cooking skills. When you know and understand the basics of cooking, that leads to preparing good nutritious meals, something you can’t find at a sit down, or drive through restaurant.

Some individuals have taken their knowledge of cooking and preparing nutritious meals a step further. How so?

With their knowledge of cooking and nutrition, they want to share with others the benefits of turning food preparation in a home kitchen into a healthy nutritious meal.

Our guest today is one such individual. Her name is Keisha T. Prosser, and she calls herself: The Mobile Cooking Teacher.

Keisha T. ProsserAn Interview With Keisha

Splendid Recipes: Hey Keisha, how are you today?

Keisha: Doing just fine. Thanks for asking.

Splendid Recipes: Ready to answer some questions?

Keisha: Sure, but not to personal.

Splendid Recipes: No, nothing personal. Okay Keisha tell us, where are you from?

Keisha: I am a native of Philadelphia (USA).

Splendid Recipes: How long have you been working in the food industry?

Keisha: I have over 20 years’ experience in the food service industry.

Splendid Recipes: Wow, over 20 years. Where have you worked during those 20 years?

Keisha: I worked at Whole Foods Market, School Distract of Philadelphia, and as a Private Chef.

Splendid Recipes: What did those jobs teach you then, which have helped you now in the food service industry?

Keisha - The Mobile Cooking Teacher

The Mobile Cooking Teacher – Teaching a hands on healthy cooking class cooking class

Keisha: I learned how to be a better person and cook, and with that I have helped others to become good at healthy cooking. I don’t really look at it like a job, more like making new friendships.

I really enjoy cooking and showing others to prepare and cook different cuisines. Just seeing my client’s faces when they taste the food is priceless.

Splendid Recipes: Where did you learn your cooking skills?

Keisha: I graduated from “The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College” with an Associates of Science in Pastry Arts.

Splendid Recipes: For those of you who may not know where Walnut Hill College is, it’s in Keisha’s home town of Philadelphia.

The college was founded in 1974 and at the time was America’s first private college to offer career training in fine dining and the luxury hospitality industry.

The college offers four majors: Culinary Arts, Restaurant Management, Pastry Arts and Hotel Management. The majors are offered at the Associate and Bachelor’s degree levels.

Splendid Recipes: Keisha tell us what inspired you to want to work in the food industry?

Keisha: What inspired me was a nutritionist who came to our middle school. There was this one particular time, I believe it was March, yes the National Nutrition Month.

She came to our school and talk about the eating healthier and why we should. Though, I will say she brought food that I was not really familiar with.

Splendid Recipes: Oh really, what food was that?

Keisha -The Mobile Cooking Teacher - Talking to school children about homemade sugar cookies and life

Keisha -The Mobile Cooking Teacher – Talking to school children about homemade sugar cookies and life

Keisha: Green tomatoes, I don’t know much than about green tomatoes and personally I didn’t like green tomatoes. The nutritionist always seemed to bring food that to me did not make sense from where I come from.

Splendid Recipes: I guess at the time you might have not realized it, but March is also Dr. Suez Month, and Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite for many children. I guess therefore the green tomatoes and connection to good nutrition.

Keisha: Yes, that would be right.

Splendid Recipes: Tell us Keisha, what are you doing now with what you learned at Walnut College?

Keisha: I enjoy cooking, and I teach, “Healthy Cooking and Food Safety Workshops” at the local library, and Jenkintown Day Care Centers, both in Philadelphia.

Splendid Recipes: Is that all you do?

Keisha:  No, I also do public speaking at the local middle and high schools to teach the kids about the hows and whys of eating healthy.

Splendid Recipes: What is your hopes and desires when you are either talking about eating healthier, teaching others cooking skills and using that to preparing good nutritious meals?

Keisha: Since I have gone into food service, I always make sure that when I am teaching cooking skills, I do it in a way that people can understand, so they can prepare food in their own kitchens that is nutritious. I show them how to cook to benefit their health.

Splendid Recipes: Would it be fair to say Keisha, you have put cooking and nutrition into one package that will benefit your clients health?

 Keisha: Yes, that is right. My hope is that with the knowledge the individuals and families get from my workshops, will continue on to their own kitchen. Cooking and preparing food for themselves in a healthier way.

Splendid Recipes: Tell us Keisha what else you would like to share with us?

Keisha: I would like to share the importance of cooking together as a family.

Splendid Recipes: Great, we look forward to that Keisha. Thanks for your time.

Keisha: You’re welcome.

Please return for another interview with Keisha on cooking together as a family, March. 17,2016.

 Follow Keisha “The Mobile Cooking Teacher” on any one of the following social networks:
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Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon

Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon

Honeydew is another summer favorite fruit. If you missed the prior articles about the watermelon and cantaloupe you can read about them here: Articles on Melons.

It’s so disappointing when you get a melon that just doesn’t taste good. It may not be sweet enough or not ripe enough. It just makes the whole melon eating experience a let-down. That’s why we’re going to ask Mark a vendor at our local Farmer’s Market to show us how to pick out just the right honeydew melon so you can get the most flavorful, enjoyable melon possible.

Squeeze the ends of the honeydew melon. You want them to have a little bit of a give to it, as that means it’s ripe.

Look at the color of the outside of the honeydew melon, the more yellow it is, the better. Look for a golden hue to it.

The skin will have almost a sticky texture when it’s at its ripest.

Brown spots on the rind of a honeydew melon are kind of like brown spots on a banana. That’s where the fruit is the sweetest. So don’t shy away from a few brown spots.

Pay attention to the shape of your honeydew melon. You want it to be spherical in shape for the tastiest melon.

Weight matters, too. Because melons consist of mostly water, you want one that is heavier than it appears. This will be the juiciest melon.

Use all of your senses when checking your honeydew melon. Give it a smell. If it has a nice, pleasant aroma, then it’s going to taste good too.

Mark grabbed a honeydew melon up to his ear and started shaking it side to side. He said, “If you can hear the seeds rolling around in there, then it’s ripe.” I tried it, but couldn’t hear the seeds. He said that one takes practice.

Tapping on the melon with your knuckle and hearing a hollow sound, means the melon is ripe.

I asked Mark about honeydews that are orange inside?

orange flesh honeydew

An organic orange flesh honeydew…Picture credit: http://www.burpee.com

Mark said, “If you find honeydew with orange-flesh, that’s okay. This is a new kind of honeydew which is easier to tell if it’s ripe, the more orange it is, the better. However, be warned – it might not have as sweet of a taste as your typical honeydew melon.”

Make also said that if f a honeydew melon is picked too soon, that is, before it turns yellow, it will never ripen. He also said it’s best to avoid buying melons past August, because you probably aren’t going to get a very tasty melon unless you live in California where they are grown.

Mark pointed out that the most important thing when choosing just the right honeydew melon is to pay attention to the color of the rind. A honeydew melon starts out green. If it remains green or even has a greenish hue to it, then it’s not at all ready yet. Watch out for green spots too. This means it’s not ripe yet either. And it’s not going to get that way with time like bananas will. Honeydews don’t keep ripening after their picked.

Honeydew melon is really a melon you have to buy to eat right away. It doesn’t get better if you buy it early and let it sit in the sun. You also want to store it at room temperature.  However, after it has been cut into you will need to store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. This will help keep it fresh for up to two weeks.

Now go out and pick your perfect honeydew melon and then enjoy all of its sweet, watery goodness. You’ll never pick a disappointing melon again, thanks to the tips Mark shared with us on how to choose the best honeydew melon.

 

Header image credit: Epicurus

 

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Interesting Facts about Watermelons

Interesting Facts about Watermelons

The past week we have been considering this summers fruits, how to enjoy them, and how to pick a ripe one for eating. If you missed those articles here is each one you can link too:  Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons , How to Choose a ripe Cantaloupe , and How to choose and Store Watermelon.

Our last article was about choosing a ripe watermelon and how to store it properly. What do you know about the watermelon, other than it is good eating and makes a great summertime treat?  Read on for some interesting watermelon facts that may surprise you.

* Watermelon contains a lot of health benefits. It’s good for the heart and it is even believed to help prevent many well-known cancers.

* Some consider it to be a vegetable and not a fruit. While its sweet taste makes most say fruit, it is actually grown like a vegetable and harvested as such as well. It comes from a plant similar to what a pumpkin and other gourds come from. When the rind is used for pickling purposes or stir fried or stewed, it is being used like a vegetable. However, most commonly it is known as a fruit. The same is true of a tomato, seen as a vegetable, but is actually a fruit.

* Every part of the watermelon can be eaten.

* Watermelon is believed to come from Africa and was first cultivated as early as 2000 B.C. It is believed that it was used to refresh travelers as they traveled through Africa, and was also used as canteens. It came to the United States with African slaves, and the term watermelon appeared first in the English dictionary in 1615.

First seedless watermelon produced in 1939

First seedless watermelon variety grown in 1939

* The first seedless watermelon was introduced in 1939, by treating with acid on the blooming flowers before they were pollinated.

* It is said that, by weight, watermelon is the most consumed melon in the United States.

Japans cube watermelon

Square or cubed Watermelons Grown in Japan

* There are more than 1200 different varieties of watermelon. They even come in different shapes – including square melons grown in Japan (view latest news of Japans cubed-watermelon here…).

* If you have sun, bees, and water, you can grow watermelon. You will also need a lot of room. Watermelon is best planted in rows 8-12 feet apart. It takes about 3 months for a watermelon to be ready to harvest.

* Watermelons must be harvested by hand and not by machine because they are very fragile.

* August 3 is considered national watermelon day. So remember to eat plenty of watermelon on this day!

* Watermelon contains more than 90% water.

* The world’s heaviest watermelon was grown in Arkadelphia, Arkansas by Lloyd Bright. It weighed 268.8 pounds (121.93 kg).

* American comedian Gallagher became famous for smashing watermelon on stage with his Sledge-O-Matic. It was wildly popular prop comedy, especially in the 1980’s.

* Mark Twain once described watermelon like this: “It is the chief of this world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat. It was not a Southern watermelon that Eve took; we know it because she repented.”

Everything you could possibly ever have wanted to know about watermelons. Where it came from, to how it is grown, its health benefits, and even how well liked it is by famous people. Do you have any facts you would like to share with us? Just leave it in the comments below, thanks.

Return again for information on Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon.

 

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How to Choose and Store Watermelon

How to Choose and Store Watermelon
With the onset of summer we start to think about summer fruits, like watermelon. This is always a favorite treat in the summer because of how refreshing and light it is. But, nothing is worse though than biting into a watermelon that has gone bad or just wasn’t ripe enough to begin with. So you want to make sure you choose the right watermelon from the get go, and then also make sure you store it correctly(check out our article on How to Chose a Ripe Cantaloupe).

Here are some tips from Mark a vender at our local Farmers Market to make sure you get the most out of your watermelon this summer.

Choosing the Right Watermelon

Mark says, “You need to decide if you want a seeded watermelon or a seedless watermelon. There’s no difference in appearance between the two watermelons. The only difference is convenience, though I personally feel the seedless watermelon has a sweeter taste than the seeded melon.”

Mark showed us the easiest method for picking out the perfect watermelon is to give it a little tap on the side. If it sounds solid it’s not ripe, or if it sounds thick it isn’t quite ripe chosing a ripe watermeloneither. But if it sounds hollow then it’s ripe and just right.

After tapping on the melon and hearing that hollow sound don’t pick up that melon just yet, Mark says take notice of the melons appearance. A bright, green-colored skin that’s free of cuts and is firm and symmetrical is what you want to look for. You don’t want one that is narrow on one end or misshapen, because this means it grew in bits and spurts. It should also feel heavier than it looks. Since watermelon is 90% water (which is what makes it so refreshing), you want plenty of water in your watermelon. More water means it’s nice and ripe, giving it a much sweeter taste.

Now that you have picked the perfect watermelon for your summer event, you want to make sure you store it correctly so it lasts longer.

How to Store Watermelon

Mark advises storing your watermelon is in a dark, cool place, like a basement if you have one. But if not, then the next best place is in the refrigerator. This keeps the melon from rotting. Not only does it keep it fresh, but the coolness will also make it a much more refreshing summer treat.

Once you have cut into your watermelon, you want to make sure you tightly wrap the opened end with plastic wrap to store in the refrigerator. If it’s cubed or balled, just place it in a tightly sealed glass or ceramic container. If you sliced it, just place some plastic wrap over the exposed edge. This way it won’t attract the other flavors and scents from the refrigerator and change its taste.

Mark says your melon should last about a week in the refrigerator.

There you have it – the facts on how to choose and store a watermelon this summer. Look for our next article on – Choosing the Right Honeydew Melon -.

 

What Others are saying About Watermelon:

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

How to Choose a Ripe Cantaloupe

 

We posted an article awhile back about enjoying melons on hot summer days (Ten Ways to Beat the Heat with Summer Melons). I spoke with a few local  Farmer’s Market venders and asked them about how to chose melons that are ripe and ready to eat, and here is the jest of what they had to say, starting with the cantaloupe:

Cantaloupe, Mark said, is one of the most popular melons in America. While the cantaloupe is deeply loved by many, as Mark went on to say, “It’s equally disappointing when you get a cantaloupe that either isn’t ripe yet or has passed its prime”. To make sure you don’t suffer from this disappointment, here are some tips that Mark shared with us on how to chose the best cantaloupe.

* When picking out the perfect cantaloupe, you want to use your senses. Let’s start with sight. Look at the color of your cantaloupe. You want one that has more yellow tones to it. Pay close attention to the colors between the webbed portion of the cantaloupe. If it’s still green it’s not ripe; it was picked too soon.

* Look for a mark on the side of the melon that is flat and is slightly different in color. This is the side which was on the ground and did not see sun.

* Listen – Now you need to give the melon a little listen. Holding it in your hand, knock a few times on the side of the cantaloupe. If it’s deep and thick, then you have a good dense and full cantaloupe. If it has a high-pitched sound, then it isn’t ripe.

* Feel – You need to know how the cantaloupe feels in your hands too. You want it to be firm, but not too firm. Squeeze it gently on its ends. If there’s some give to it, it’s good. However, if it’s mushy and wet then it’s past its prime. If it’s too hard with no give then it’s not a ripe cantaloupe.

* Smell – This might be the most important of your senses when choosing the perfect cantaloupe. You want one that is very aromatic and sweet smelling. The sweeter, the better. If you don’t smell any aroma, then the cantaloupe is not ripe. If it’s an unpleasant odor, then it’s no good. If you do nothing else but smell, then you should still be able to find the most flavorsome cantaloupe possible.

* Taste it! Of course this isn’t something you can do in the grocery store or at the market, but clearly the best way to tell if a cantaloupe is at its freshest is by tasting it. Hopefully you have used your other senses in the ways described above so you don’t get a mouthful of tasteless cantaloupe. That would be a big disappointment.

once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riperThe thing when picking out the perfect cantaloupe is to remember the nursery rhyme Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You don’t want it too firm or too soft. You don’t want it too green or too yellow. You don’t want it too strong smelling or not smelling enough. It needs to be just right. Then you will know that you have found the absolute perfect cantaloupe.

Also remember, once a cantaloupe is picked from the vine it will not get any riper than it is at that moment it was picked. So don’t buy a slightly unripe cantaloupe thinking that if you give it a few days it will get better.

Please return as we have tips on How to Choose and Store Watermelon.

 

What Others are saying About Cantaloupe:

Tastes of Mexico with Pico de Gallo and Flour Tortillas

Tastes of Mexico with Pico de Gallo and Flour Tortillas

Pico de Gallo is a typical chunky salsa of Mexican cuisine. When pico de gallo is served at a Mexican dinner table, it is usually accompanied with guacamole and sour cream. And is mostly served with quesadillas, tacos, and nachos.

Pico de Gallo contains less liquid as compared to other salsas while retaining the same spicy taste.

It is widely popularized in Mexican, especially in regions such as the Yucatan and Sonora.

The history of pico de gallo is still largely a mystery. The thinking is, that it is derived from ancient Aztec culture.

Pico de Gallo 

8 fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

½ large onion, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and finely minced

Juice from 1 fresh lime

You could liven up this dish by adding other ingredients like shrimp, avocado, cucumber, radish or firm fruit like mango.

Pico de gallo is much like Kenyas (Africa) kachumbari, or chutneys made in India. The only difference is these two contain more liquid.

Place diced tomatoes, pepper and onions in a glass bowl and stir to combine. Next stir in cilantro and lime juice.

pico de gallo

Serve your Pico de Gallo with these Mexican dishes:


A flour tortilla is a type of soft, thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour.

It was inspired by the corn tortilla of Mexican cuisine, a flatbread of maize which predates the arrival of Europeans to the Americas.

The Mexican state of Sonora, is where the flour tortilla really originates. Sonora is in the North of Mexico, were weather conditions favor the planting and harvesting of wheat over corn (more popular in the south of Mexico).

Flour tortillas are only served with meals in Sonora. They are not a popular tortilla to serve in other parts of Mexico, were as corn tortillas are.

The simplest recipes (like this one) use only flour, water, fat, and salt, but commercially made flour tortillas generally contain chemical leavening agents such as baking powder, and other ingredients like lime juice.

Homemade Flour Tortillas

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups hot water

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Then make a whole in the center and pour in the oil and hot water.

preparing Homemade Flour Tortillas

Lightly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Next place the dough on a lightly floured surface and continue kneading until a smooth ball is formed.

Divide dough into 16 equal sized portions and placing each ball into a bowl covered with a cloth.

making flour tortillas

Next place each small dough portion onto a lightly floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin, round shape.

Preheat a large dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add one rolled out dough circle and heat until golden brown, then flip and cook until golden brown on other side.

Repeat with remaining dough pieces. Place each finished tortilla onto a plate.

After you have made your tortillas, have a medium sized piece of wax paper cut out and set aside.

Now separate each tortilla and while doing so place the first one onto the wax paper and each additional over each other.

Place the tortillas into a large zip lock bag. Seal and allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to about two weeks.

 

Homemade Flour Tortillas

Use your deliciously yummy homemade flour tortillas with these recipes.

What Others are saying About Tortillas and Pico de Gallo:

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Wonderful Beverages From Mexico

Wonderful Beverages From Mexico

Splendid Recipes and More (SRandM) present’s another post with Norma our guest blog speaker on the Tastes of Mexico. If you missed the last three conversations with Norma link here and scroll to Speaker Norma spoke May. 4-8, 2014 on the Tastes of Mexico.

Today Norma is going to present some great beverages from Mexico. What are they Norma?

Norma: Classic Margaritas on the Rocks, and Watermelon Aqua Fresca.

SRandM: OK so let’s get started.

Norma: I think the key to making a classic margarita is striking the right balance between your tequila of choice and the orange-flavored liqueur you pair with it. Strong flavored tequila needs a strong-flavored orange liqueur to stand up to it. As a result, the following is a more of a formula than a true recipe. Use your favorite tequila and orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

SRandM: Can you use any flavor you like other than orange?

Norma: Yes, and actually a true Margarita has no flavoring other than lime. But with the new generation of Mexicans, their changing things up.

So you will need

1.5 oz. tequila

1.5 oz. orange-flavored liqueur

1.25 oz. freshly squeeze lime juice

cocktail shaker full of ice and add the tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice

Fill a cocktail shaker full of ice and add the tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice.

Classic Margarita on the Rocks

Shake vigorously to combine and pour into salt-rimmed margarita glasses filled with ice. Serve with a wedge of lime, if desired.

Note this is a strong drink when first poured. The flavors will mellow a bit as the ice melts.

SRandM: OK Norma, while I enjoy this Margarita you just made…what do you have for us next?

Norma: Will I have a drink that is light and refreshing. It’s a popular drink in Mexico and is perfect for hot summer afternoons. It can be made with any number of fresh fruits, but melons are the most popular. While this beverage is non-alcoholic, rum or tequila and triple sec can be added to create a delicious adults-only beverage.

I am going to prepare a  Watermelon Aqua Fresca. Here is what you will need:

6 cups watermelon, seeded

1¼ cup water

1½ limes, juiced

4 tablespoons honey

½ lime, sliced

Fresh mint leaves

ice

Add the watermelon, water and lime juice to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If any seeds or large chunks remain, strain through a sieve to remove.

Pour the blended juice into a pitcher and stir in honey until blended, though you can replace the honey sugar. Now crush the mint leaves with your fingers and put them in the bottom of each glass. Fill the glasses with ice and top with watermelon mixture. Garnish each glass with a slice of lime or fresh mint leaves, if desired and enjoy the freshness.

Watermelon Aqua Fresca

SRandM: Norma you have out done yourself today with these wonderful beverages. So what will you present next time?

Norma: How about  Pico de Gallo and Homemade Flour Tortillas?

SRandM: Looing forward to it Norma. To our readers of Splendid Recipes and More, you know were to return for more great Tastes of Mexico from our guest speaker, Norma.

Link Here for: Tastes of Mexico with Pico de Gallo and Flour Tortillas 

What Others are Saying About Beverages and Foods of Mexico:

Mexican vs. Tex-Mex: What is the Difference?

Mexican vs. Tex-Mex: What is the Difference?

 

Today we have a guest blog speaker who is a native Mexican who will speak to us on the Tastes of Mexico.  Our guest speaker is Norma and the owner of Splendid Recipes and More (SRandM) is interviewing her.

SRandM: So how are you Norma?

Norma: Fine thank you. I just want to say I am excited to be a guest on Splendid Recipes and More. You have a lot of great recipes posted here on your blog. I had seen a few Mexican dishes as well.

SRandM: Will thank you Norma and I am glad you could speak with us. So Norma were in Mexico are you from?

playas de RosaritoNorma: I was born in the Mexican state of Baja California North, in a small beach town called Palayas de  Rosirito.

SRandM: Exactly where is Rosarito?

Norma: Across the border from San Diego, California. When you cross the border you come into Tijuana first, and Rosarito is about 20 minutes from Tijuana going south.

SRandM: So you told me you immigrated to the U.S. in 1992 and have been an American citizen since 2004?

Norma: Yes that is correct.

SRandM: What do you think about the Mexican food that is made here in the States?

Norma: For the most part it is authentic. But many Americans for their love of the Mexican food have made their own recipes using the ingredients we use in Mexico, and call it a Mexican dish. Such as New Mexico, they make enchiladas as we do in Mexico, but they use flour tortillas, and the Mexicans use corn tortillas. Some people have even made enchiladas, casserole style calling it an Enchilada pie, which is not authentic Mexican.

SRandM: Yes I understand. What do you think about the variations in Texas? Is Mexican food and Tex-Mex the same?

Before Norma answers our question, have you ever wondered what the difference is between authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food? If you look around online, you’ll find plenty of debate over which style of theorizing cooking is better. Some “traditionalists” even question if Tex-Mex is a legitimate form of American cuisine.

No matter where the debate leads, Tex-Mex has earned its place on the American table. Still, that doesn’t answer how Tex-Mex differs from authentic Mexican food.  So let’s allow Norma to answer that.

Norma: Will here’s a little history. The roots of Tex-Mex cuisine trace back to the Spanish. The Spanish missionaries brought their recipes to Texas, and when they left the area in the 1700s, the natives of the region had already assimilated portions of their cooking culture into their own.

chili con carneAlong with this influence, early colonization of Texas also included other cultures. For example, individuals from the Canary Islands brought a different flavor palate with them, which included cumin, garlic, and chili powder. These flavors now form the foundation for the Tex-Mex favorite, chili con carne.

SRandM: So chili con carne is not an authentic Mexican dish?

Norma: No, chili or ground meat with beans and the use of spicy peppers are a Western frontier dish.

This blending of outside cultures with Mexican farm food and Texas ranch food is evident in many other modern Tex-Mex dishes.

One example that comes to mind is the use of beef. You will find a lot more beef in Tex-Mex recipes than in traditional Mexican dishes. Even though beef cattle could be found in Mexico, grasslands were overgrazed and herds were scarce.

SRandM: What types of meat are most popular then, in authentic Mexican cooking?

Norma: Pork, turkeys, wild fowl, chicken, and seafood were more available to the average Mexican household, and as a result, these ingredients were used and are used today in Mexican dishes, with the exception of turkey. You won’t find that at all in any Mexican dish.

SRandM: I guess since beef cattle have long been a staple in Texas, it would make sense that beef plays a more pre-dominate role in Tex-Mex recipes.

Norma: That is correct.

SRandMore: What other foods are used in authentic Mexican dishes?

Norma: Will before trade and commerce exploded in Mexico, beans, corn, and rice formed the basis for many meals. As Mexican people moved north, these foods found their way onto the plates of many households in Texas.

In return, Texans introduced Mexican cooks to more plentiful milk and cheese, in addition to beef. This blending of cultures and cuisine created excitement, especially during the 1940s and 1950s as the borders between the two countries became more open.

 Los Pesos Tex MexSRandM: So could it be correct to say it was around that time when the term ‘Tex-Mex’ was coined?

Norma: Yes, and was proudly used to describe Mexican dishes adapted by Texan cooks. But I will say as the years passed, the recipes lost much of their heritage.

SRandM: How so?

Norma: Will by the 1970s, many Tex-Mex dishes were almost completely revamped into unrecognizable concoctions that are not authentic Mexican dishes.

SRandMore: Such as?

Norma: Will, like Chimichangas, cheese nachos, just to name a few is Tex-Mex cuisine inventions.

Much of what we know as Tex-Mex today can be traced in part to the fast food franchise explosion which introduced “Mexican” food to most Americans.

The menus you typically see featured in these restaurants have pre-made taco shells which house a variety of ingredients buried under piles of cheese and sauces.  Though these restaurants will give a general nod to a “south of the border” flavor, their menus really have little in common with authentic Mexican food.

Another fact I find funny, is restaurants that have popped up all over America make the claim to serve only “authentic” Mexican food, when they are actually making a stab at Tex-Mex.

SRandM: So do you feel Tex-Mex has stolen the spot light from the real thing?

Norma: Will when it comes down to deciding which is best – authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine – I really can’t find a right or wrong answer to your question.

All you can do is compare and decide for yourself which you prefer. There are many cookbooks available for both Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisines to see what appeals to you. You can also visit authentic local restaurants to try for yourself.


NachosSRandM:
Will that is all the time we have today Norma. Tell our readers what recipes you will be presenting in the next post?

Norma: I thought I would prepare some authentic Guacamole and Real Mexican salsa, a couple of great condiments that pair well with lots of Mexican dishes.

SRandM: We look for to that Norma. So to our readers, return here to Splendid Recipes and More for some authentic recipes that will be prepared by Norma, which is: Homemade Guacamole and Fresh Mexican Salsa.

Link to: Homemade Guacamole and Fresh Mexican Salsa

Image credits:

Chili con carne    

Palayas de Rosarito

Los Pesos Tex-Mex

Clip art of Nachos and Taco

What Others are Saying About Mexican and Tex-Mex food:

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Tastes of Mexico

Tastes of Mexico

What do you know about Mexico? Will did you know there are over 50 native tongues spoken today in rural locations. Spanish is the national language of Mexico. Mexico is also the most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world.

What do you know about the avocado, tomatoes, and chocolate? Descendants of the Aztecs speak a form of the Aztec language called Nahuatl (nah-watt-uhl). Many words of the Aztec’s have been translated and passed on to the English language, which the words tomato, chocolate, and avocado come from.

Mountain highest elevation in MexicoWhat is the highest elevation Mexico and when was Mexico City founded? Mexico has the highest elevation which is Pico de Orizaba at 18,490 feet and Mexico City is the oldest city founded in 1521 or 1325 if you count the Aztecs. It is also one of the largest cities in the world.

monarch butterflies in MichoacánMonarch butterflies migrate to Mexico every year from the U.S. and Canada to the forests of the state of Michoacán .

The first printing press in North America was brought to Mexico City from Spain in 1539.

Harvard University is the oldest university in North America. Wrong!! The National University of Mexico, known in Mexico as UNAM, was founded in 1551 by Charles V of Spain, and is the oldest university in North America. Harvard was founded later in 1636.

Did you also know Cinco de Mayo or May 5th is not a major holiday in Mexico? In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16 (Wikipedia).

What do you know about Mexican cousin?  We have another blog guest to tell us about it. Her name is Norma and she is native to Mexico. She was born in the Baja of Mexico in a town called Rosarito.

The posts of Norma’s conversations will begin May. 4th till May. 8, 2014, and she will be speaking about the foods of Mexico. She’ll be talking about Chicken Quesadillas, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Guacamole, Margaritas and more.

So please join Splendid Recipes and More with Norma for the Tastes of Mexico!!

Link here for first post: Mexican vs. Tex-Mex: What is the Difference?

 

Image credits:

Header Image credit: lwzfoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Image of Mexico City Cancun 360

Image of Monarchs: Scott Clark

Source of Facts about Mexico: Cancun 360

 

What Others are Saying About May 5th (Cinco de Mayo):