Agua de Berenjena (Eggplant Water)

eggplant-water

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Con el tiempo Carlos va tomando más responsibilidad en su salud. Hay un edad cuando uno se da cuenta que el pan dulce es para de vez en cuando y no cada día, y lamentablemente esos días están aquí para Carlos y yo.

Una de las preocupaciones Carlos tiene es sobre el colesterol porque es un problema hereditario para él, (y bueno, un amor para hamburguesas no ayuda.)

Recientemente Carlos mencionó la reducción del colesterol a su hermana y ella recomendó el agua de berenjena. Ella dijo que su suegra corta una berenjena en pedazos (con la piel), y la pone en una pichel de agua durante la noche. Durante los próximos días, se bebe una taza de agua berenjena cada día.

Busque alrededor de la internet y parece que esto es un remedio casero muy conocido en la comunidad Latina para todo tipo de problemas de salud. ¿Alguna vez has oído hablar de Agua de Berenjena? ¿Lo has probado?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

As Carlos grows older he takes more and more responsibility with his health. There’s an age when one realizes that pan dulce is a once-in-awhile food, not an everyday food, and unfortunately those days are here for Carlos and myself.

One of Carlos’s concerns is about his cholesterol because cholesterol problems are hereditary in his family, (and well, a love of hamburgers doesn’t help anything.)

Recently Carlos mentioned reducing cholesterol to his sister and she recommended Eggplant Water. She said her mother-in-law cuts an eggplant in pieces (with the skin), and she puts it in a pitcher of water overnight. Over the next few days, her suegra drinks a cup of the Eggplant Water each day.

I looked around the internet and it seems this is a well-known home remedy for all kinds of health issues in the Latino community. Have you heard of Eggplant Water? Have you tried it?

Conversations at Casa López – Part 5

casalopez-2

Here we go – my family’s most recent “bilingual moments” and funny conversations. (Be sure to share your recent funny conversations in comments!)

Carlos: [singing] Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, happy all the day…
Tracy: That’s not how it goes.

Carlos: He stirred the soup, right?
Older son: What?
Tracy: He means stirred the pot.

Tracy: Hey, I just thought of something. How do you say wrinkle in Spanish?
Carlos: Arruga.
Tracy: That’s what I thought. Do you think they called caterpillars the same name because they’re wrinkly?
Carlos: What?

[Me mixing up arruga and oruga and thinking they were the same word.]

Younger son: I’m going to take Spanish class next year.
Tracy: Por eso tenemos que hablar más español, para que estes listo.
Younger son: Vaya pues.

[This was just funny because he answered in such a Salvadoran way, which is obviously not what they’ll teach him in class. In class he’ll probably learn a more standard response like “Está bien.”]

Carlos: What’s the weather for tomorrow?
Older son: I’m not sure.
Carlos: Where’s your phone? Ask Sirius.
Tracy: You mean Siri.
Carlos: [trying to save face] Sirius is the male version.

Hot Dog & Egg Tacos

hotdog-eggs

On occasion I’ve been known to make hot dog and scrambled egg tacos for breakfast. I was actually introduced to the use of hot dogs like this by my suegra. To be honest, for many years I thought it was just one of her weird inventions but when we went to El Salvador there were hot dog slices on pizza and finely diced hot dog pieces in Chinese fried rice, so I began to get the idea that this unconventional use of hot dogs wasn’t just a suegra thing.

If you want to give it a try, here’s my recipe for hot dog and egg tacos. Feel free to experiment and give it your own spin!

Hot Dog & Egg Tacos

You need:

2 eggs per person
1 hot dog per person
diced Poblano or Anaheim pepper (about 1 pepper)
finely diced vidalia onion (a small handful)

salt to taste
white corn tortillas, warmed and lightly toasted
Cholula (optional) or Salsa Verde (optional)

Directions:

1. Crack eggs into a large bowl and lightly whisk. Set aside.

2. Cut hot dogs in circles or dice – whichever you like. (Diced is safer for little kids.) Add to a non-stick pan with the onion and Poblano pepper over medium heat, stirring for a couple minutes until hot dog is lightly toasted and the onion and pepper have become slightly tender but not soft.

3. Add the eggs to the pan. Use a spatula or flat ended wooden spoon to gently move the eggs around as they cook. Try not to brown the eggs. Remove from heat.

4. Salt to taste if desired. Serve inside warmed and lightly toasted tortillas with a little Cholula hot sauce or salsa verde.

Optional: If you happen to have frijoles molidos on hand, you can spread those on the tortilla before putting the egg and hot dog mixture into it!

Immigrant Voices: Monica Herrera, Broadcast Journalist

The following is a guest post by broadcast journalist Monica Herrera, a Salvadoran by birth and New Yorker by choice. I hope you enjoy it.

“I saw many great journalists putting their lives in the line of fire to be able to inform, a TV channel closing down their broadcast because they were not allowed to tell the truth. I cannot talk about being a journalist without mentioning this sad period of time in my country because during those moments I learned the power of reporting the news, the power of freedom of speech and how information can impact and transform lives.” – Monica Herrera

Mirador  Cerro Las Pavas -Cojutepeque

By: Monica Herrera

When I was growing up in El Salvador, a small but beautiful country, I used to play in my backyard pretending to be a teacher. I remember all of my students were imaginary because neither my sister nor my brother wanted to play that game with me. That was the first sign of what I would end up doing with my life. No, I didn’t become a teacher, but looking back I realize that at that age, I discovered I am a storyteller and I wasn’t afraid to do things on my own when necessary. Skills like that are essential for a journalist.

Reporting- NYC

Growing up, I was part of a generation in which the civil war was part of our life. During that time, TV and radio were the only way to know what was happening. I saw many great journalists putting their lives in the line of fire to be able to inform, a TV channel closing down their broadcast because they were not allowed to tell the truth. I cannot talk about being a journalist without mentioning this sad period of time in my country because during those moments I learned the power of reporting the news, the power of freedom of speech and how information can impact and transform lives. All these moments and experiences are the reason why I am a journalist.

Covering- Serena WilliamsAfter a series of events that took me out of my comfort zone, I moved to New York. I earned a scholarship at the New York Film Academy to study Broadcast Journalism. I came to this country with hopes and dreams, I learned how to move around the city and I worked hard to find stories despite challenges. One day I found myself in the middle of thousands of people who were marching in one of the biggest demonstrations in NYC, and later in the middle of a conference room asking questions to Serena Williams, one of the best tennis players in the world, and since then I haven’t stopped.

I am who I am because of where I come from, a beautiful country full of breathtaking views, but also full of contrasts, warm and resilient people who always laugh even in their struggles. They inspired me to never give up. Everyone has a different path, and on my path which led to New York I found a community of people not only from my country, but from different places that needed their stories to be told. The multicultural exposure I gained over the years has given me the advantage of being able to reach more people; in that process I found my voice and my place in life. I don’t know where my path will take me from here, but what I know is that I love what I do.

Volcan de San Salvador

You can follow Monica Herrera on Twitter, Vimeo, and Instagram, or check out her blogs: Sports in High Heels, and Courage is my Name.

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

How to make a Salvadoran-style wooden box

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

If you’re Salvadoran or if you’ve ever been to El Salvador, you know that little wooden boxes are a common handicraft made and painted in the traditional style – I own several little “treasure box” style ones and at first I wanted to try to make one of those complete with a lid for this month’s woodworking challenge. Once I started planning it out though, I decided that for my first attempt I should try a more simple design, so with Carlos’s help I made a medium-sized wooden box without a lid. The supplies and method I used are below if you’d like to give it a try!

How to make: a Salvadoran-style wooden box

What you need:

jigsaw
utility square
pencil with eraser
paper
heavy duty bar clamp
2 pieces of craft board 3/8 x 4 x 24″ (to be cut for the 4 sides: Left, Right, Front, Back)
1 craft board 1/2 x 6 x 24″ (to be cut for the bottom)
newspaper
sandpaper
Elmer’s Carpenters wood glue (interior)
painters tape
Q-tips
paper towels
paint in various colors (I used Valspar samples I already had on hand)
small craft paint brushes
permanent marker (black)

Directions:

1. Measure and mark your wood for cutting using the utility square and pencil. Very important! Remember to include the width of the front and back pieces plus the bottom for the measurement you need for your two sides. These are the measurements I ended up with:

Bottom: 6″
Front: 6″
Back: 6″
Left side: 6 1/4″
Right side: 6 1/4″

Tip: Craft wood is sold with a UPC sticker on it. When you remove the sticker it might leave behind a sticky residue. This can be removed with a little dab of peanut butter on a paper towel. (Yes, peanut butter!)

2. Wearing eye protection, carefully use the jigsaw to cut our your pieces. You should have 5: bottom, front, back, left side, right side.

Carlos-cutting-1

Carlos-cutting-2

3. Make sure all pieces are the correct size by doing a dry assembly of the box to see that the corners line up properly with none of the pieces being too long or short.

4. Lightly sand any rough edges if necessary.

5. On top of a layer of newspaper, glue the front and back to the bottom. Use Q-tips to remove any excess glue before it dries. It’s really helpful to have a second person helping you at this stage. One person should glue and hold the pieces in place while the other lightly secures the clamp. Do not secure the clamp too tightly or they may lean in. To ensure the sides are at a 90 degree angle, you can use a triangle square. Leave the clamp on for at least an hour to ensure the glue has dried. Now repeat step 5 to attach the other two sides. Note: Really try to avoid using too much glue which will cause your box to stick to the newspaper. If this happen, the newspaper can be sanded off with sandpaper.

Glue-Box

6. Once the glue has dried you should have a completed wooden box ready to be painted. Gently tap the sides to make sure you’ve done a good job and the box will hold together.

7. Practice a design with pencil and paper. Once you know what you want to paint, draw your design directly onto the box with pencil.

box-sketch-design

8. On a layer of newspaper, paint your design. Tip: Painters tape is helpful for making clean lines.

Tape-box

Paint-box-halfway-done

9. Once the paint is dry your box is ready to display or use!

Salvadoran-box-4

Salvadoran-box-5

Want more creative ideas?

Holiday-14-Blogger-Badge_200x200

 

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Feliz Navidad 2014

chico-feliz-nav2

Hola people! It’s Christmas week so I’m going to be spending a few days away from the computer eating tamales, taking naps, and making sure our dog Chico doesn’t open gifts under the tree that don’t belong to him. This week you’ll be able to find fresh content on my Facebook, Twitter and possibly Instagram, but as most of you know I write for other places on the internet besides my blog, so here are a few recent holiday pieces I’ve written if you’d like to check those out too.

Wishing you all a Nochebuena and Navidad full of felicidad, familia, and muchos blessings!

10 Facts About Navidad in Latin America

If you think Christmas is celebrated in relatively the same way all over the world, you’ll be surprised by the variation in traditions found in Latin America alone. Here are 10 unique ways the holiday is recognized from Mexico all the way down to Paraguay, and many countries in between. [Read the rest here!]

10 Songs for Your Nochebuena Playlist

We all know and love the classic bilingual Jose Feliciano song, “Feliz Navidad,” but it’s time to play DJ and mix it up a bit for your Nochebuena fiesta. Here are 10 danceable Spanish-language Christmas songs from all over Latin America and the U.S. to get the party started. [Read the rest here!]

Nochebuena vs. Christmas Eve: Same holiday? Kind of — and not at all.

If you’re bilingual and bicultural, you may be saying “Wait a minute, aren’t Christmas Eve and Nochebuena the same thing?” The answer is yes… and no. It’s the same holiday but chances are… [Read the rest here!]

A Holiday Sampler of Treasured Memories on Latin@s in Kid Lit

I was included in this holiday story round-up on Latin@s in Kid Lit. Read my story and others here.

Tamales y Creencias

tamal-pollo-salsa-roja

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Ayer no tuve tiempo por escribir para Spanish Friday porque estaba haciendo tamales para una reunion que voy a tener con mi familia. Este año hice tamales de pollo en salsa roja y también tamales de rajas con queso. Yo estaba un poco nerviosa porque cambié muchas cosas este año. Para los vegetarianos en la familia en vez de usar manteca en la masa, usé aceite. Y en vez de caldo de pollo usé caldo de verduras. Déjame darte un consejo que aprendí: Cuando utilizas el aceite en tu masa, cocinar el aceite primero en una olla. Traer el aceite a hervir por un minuto y luego dejar que se enfríe. En este video, la señora dice que da un mejor sabor.

Este año también usé MASECA para tamales porque mi tienda no tenía MASECA normal (y en mi opinión, la textura fue mejor – es un poco más gruesa.)

Las proporciones aproximadas que utilicé para mi masa vegetariana (porque alguien pidió que la compartiera) fueron:

1 2/3 tazas de aceite de canola (“pre-cocinado”)
32 oz de caldo de verduras (marca Swanson)
4 a 6 tazas de MASECA Tamal (Lo que dice “para hacer deliciosos TAMALES”)
1 a 2 cucharaditas de polvo para hornear de doble acción
1 a 2 cucharaditas de sal
1/4 a 1/2 taza de salsa roja (mi receta está aquí)

(¡Lo siento que estos son sólo aproximaciones, ya que no escribo esto mientras yo cocinaba!)

Primero mezclé la MASECA y polvo para hornear con la mano. Añadir sal al gusto. (Cuando puse una pizca de la masa seca en mi lengua, sabía sólo un poco salada.) Añadir el aceite y mezclar con la mano. Añadir la salsa y luego poco a poco el caldo de verduras. Mezclar con la mano hasta que la masa esté bien combinada. Dejé la masa a temperatura ambiente cubierta con plástico por una hora, no sé si eso hace diferencia o no. Esta cantidad de masa fue suficiente para hacer alrededor de 36 tamales de tamaño mediano.

Finalmente, usé el consejo que aprendí en el blog La Mija Chronicles de Lesley Tellez. Ella dice que en México hay una creencia de que si quieres que salgan bien tus tamales, tienes que tratar bien a tu olla. Algunas personas atan tiras de hoja de maíz a los mangos de la olla, cuenten chisme a la olla o cantan a ella. Según Lesley esto evita “mala onda”. Qué interesante, ¿verdad?

¿Cuāles consejos, secretos o creencias sobre como hacer tamales tienes tú?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Yesterday I didn’t have time to write for Spanish Friday because I was making tamales for a family get together. This year I made tamales de pollo en salsa roja and also tamales de rajas con queso. I was a little nervous because I changed a lot of things this year. For the vegetarians in the family I used oil instead of lard. And instead of chicken broth I used vegetable broth. Let me give you a tip I learned: When you use oil in your masa, “cook” the oil first in a pot. Bring the oil to a boil for a minute and then let it cool. In this video, the woman says it gives the oil a better flavor.

This year I also used MASECA for tamales because my store was out of the regular MASECA (and in my opinion the texture was better – it’s a little coarser.)

The approximate proportions I used for my vegetarian masa (because someone asked me to share) were:

1 2/3 cups “pre-cooked” canola oil
32 ounces vegetable broth (Swanson brand)
4 to 6 cups MASECA Tamal (the one that says “para hacer deliciosos TAMALES”)
1 to 2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup salsa roja (my recipe is here)

First mix the MASECA and baking powder by hand. Add salt to taste. (When I tasted a pinch on my tongue, it tasted just slightly salty.) Add the oil and mix in by hand. Add the salsa and then the vegetable broth little by little. Mix by hand until everything is well combined. I let the masa sit at room temperature covered in plastic wrap for an hour, I don’t know if that makes a difference or not. This amount of masa made about 36 medium-sized tamales.

Finally, I used the advice I learned on the blog La Mija Chronicles by Lesley Tellez. She says in Mexico there’s a belief that if you want the tamales to come out well, you have to treat the pot well. Some people tie strips of corn husk to the handles of the pot, tell the pot gossip, or sing to it. According to Lesley this helps avoid any “mala onda.” Interesting, right?

What advice, secrets or beliefs do you have about tamales?