Category Archives: Culture

Pasteles Salvadoreños

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“Pasteles” or “pastelitos” in El Salvador, may be different than what you’re expecting.

In middle school Spanish class I learned that “pasteles” are “pastries”, as in dessert – So years ago when my suegra told me she was making pasteles and then served meat-filled turnovers, I was perplexed.

As many of you know, (and as I found out), in El Salvador, pasteles can refer to savory empanada-like main dishes like the turnovers my suegra served, but it differs from country to country.

Served with curtido, Salvadoran pasteles easily became one of my favorite meals. Here’s my recipe so you can make them, too!

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Pasteles Salvadoreños

The filling:

1 lb. ground beef
2 cups potatoes, cooked and diced
1 cup green beans, cooked and chopped (optional)
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. achiote molido (ground annatto)
reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce, to taste

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and raw carrot, stirring for about 2 minutes.

2. Season ground beef with oregano, salt, pepper and achiote and then add it to the pot, stirring occasionally until brown.

3. Drain the grease once the beef is cooked, and then return to heat. Add in potatoes (and green beans if using.) Stir to combine and remove from heat. Season with a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce and additional salt to taste. Set aside and allow to cool.

The Masa/Dough:

3 cups MASECA masa harina
1 tsp. salt
1 tablespoon achiote molido/ground annatto
3 cups water

1. Mix the dry ingredients and then add the water a cup at a time, mixing by hand until combined. Set aside. Keep a bowl of fresh water nearby for wetting your hands as you form the pasteles.

Forming the Pasteles:

1. With moist hands, take a handful of masa, slightly larger than a golf ball, and shape it into a tortilla.

2. Put a large spoonful of filling in the middle and then bring the sides of the tortilla together like a taco and seal by closing your hand gently to form the pastel into a half-moon shape as shown below.

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3. Fry pasteles in a large, deep pan with plenty of canola oil over medium-high heat, flipping to slightly brown on each side. Remove to paper towel-lined pyrex or plate.

4. Serve pasteles with curtido and salsa. Makes approximately 18 with leftover filling (which is great the next day over rice as picadillo!)

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Notes on Curtido and Salsa:

While I already have two curtido recipes (here and here) – as well as salsa recipes (here and here) – I’m always experimenting and I’d like to share new versions I have for each since both turned out great. The salsa recipe, while using canned tomatoes (which I know some are opposed to) actually tastes more authentically Salvadoran in flavor than previous salsas I’ve made – much closer to what you typically get with pupusas and other dishes at Salvadoran restaurants. The new curtido recipe is great because it minimizes chopping vegetables by hand if you’re in a hurry, comes together quickly, and has a nice texture similar to coleslaw thanks to a little help from the food processor.

Salsa Roja Salvadoreña

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (and the liquid)
1/8 cup diced onion
1/8 cup diced green pepper
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
salt, pepper and oregano to taste

1. In a food processor set to mince, add tomatoes and liquid, onion and green pepper. Process until completely combined.

2. Pour tomato sauce into a pot on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then simmer one minute. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Add salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Cool and serve or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Quick Curtido Salvadoreño

1/2 a small cabbage, washed and chopped in large pieces
2 large carrots, washed, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1/2 small onion, chopped
apple cider vinegar
warm water
oregano, salt and pepper

1. In a food processor set to chop, add cabbage, carrots and onion all at once. Process just until chopped. (The texture will resemble coleslaw for this curtido.)

2. Put cabbage mixture into a large bowl, add apple cider vinegar and a little warm water to taste. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Serve or keep covered in the refrigerator.

Do-it-Yourself Lotería Ornaments

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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.

Each year we decorate the tree and each year I’m not content with the ornaments I have to choose from or the ones available at the store. None of the ornaments are quite what I’m looking for which means I end up looking for unconventional ways to remedy the situation. One year I even ended up hanging capiruchos on the tree!

This year I decided I’ll make my own ornaments. Because the holiday season is so hectic, I wanted something that wouldn’t take too long, and because the budget is tight this time of year, I didn’t want it to be too expensive either. Here is the craft that resulted!

These Loteria ornaments took me about two hours from start to finish and cost about $15 if, like me, you have many of these items on hand already. I’m so happy with the way they came out. I can’t wait to decorate the tree. Here’s how you can make your own custom ornaments for yourself or as a gift. Will you make Loteria ornaments or something else? Other ideas: family photos, photos of your native country (if you live elsewhere) or, the covers of favorite books – the possibilities are endless!

Custom Handmade Ornaments

What you need:

Jigsaw, table saw or handsaw
Safety glasses
3/8 x 3 x 24″ pine craft board (two)
#216 – ½ x ½ in. zinc screw eyes, 10 pack (three)
Medium grit sandpaper
Ruler, yard stick, or measuring tape
Pencil
Scissors
Elmer’s Glue-All, general purpose adhesive
Small craft paint brush
White mason line (string)
A heavy book
Digital images you wish to make into ornaments (and a printer)
Card stock for your printer (not available at Lowe’s)

Directions:

1. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a line on each of your boards every two inches.

2. Wearing safety glasses, use a jigsaw, table saw or handsaw to cut the board on each line so that you end up with 24 two inch blocks of wood. (I used the Rockwell BladeRunner sent to me by Rockwell. It cut through the wood like butter and was really comfortable to use right on the dinner table where I do most of my crafting. I think I see more projects involving wood cutting in my future!)

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3. Lightly sand the rough edges on each piece if necessary. Set aside. (Optional: You can paint the blocks of wood any color you like and allow to dry. I chose to leave mine natural.)

4. Print whichever images you wish to use on your ornaments on card stock. (Card stock is sturdier than regular copy/printer paper and will hold up to glue better.) Make sure that your images are small enough to fit on the face of the wood block. I kept mine around 1 ½ x 2 inches. I found Microsoft Word useful for this. I scanned the images into my computer and then opened them in Microsoft Word which has a built-in ruler across the top of the document.

5. Cut out the images with scissors.

6. Using a small paintbrush, brush glue on the back of each image, (working on one image/ornament at a time.) Position the image in the center of the block of wood and push down to adhere. Place a heavy book or other flat heavy object on top of the ornament for a minute to help the image to dry flat and adhere well. (Optional: If using specialty decoupage craft glue which advertises that it can be used for “sealing” as well as adhering, feel free to paint over top of the image to give it a finished glossy look and allow the ornament to air dry without any heavy object placed on top. Painting over top the image is not advised if using Elmer’s Glue-All.)

7. Once dry, twist a screw eye into the top side of each ornament. If your fingers become tired, needle-nose pliers will help you screw them into the wood. Tip: Sometimes a careful little tap with a hammer will help get the screw eyes securely into the wood before you attempt to turn/screw them in.

8. Cut the string, (I used white mason line because I like the simplicity of it, but you can use any color or type of string you like), into pieces about 4 inches long. (You will need 24 of them.)

9. Put each piece of string through the screw eye on each ornament and tie in a knot.

10. Your ornaments are ready to hang on your tree! Feliz Navidad!

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Want more creative ideas?

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Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Feliz Thanksgiving!

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Hola! I’m sure all of you will soon be busy cooking, eating, and spending time with your familia if you aren’t already, but I wanted to give you these printables I made to keep the niños busy while the chumpe (pavo!) is in the oven.

Have the kids fill out these little notes of thankfulness to practice their Spanish and express their gratitude for loved ones, then cut them out and give them to family!

Instructions:

1. Choose the thankful notes you would like to use – (Either “te agradezco” or “le agradezco” depending on the intended recipient.)

2. Click on the image below to be taken to the download page.

3. Download by clicking “Download” on the top right hand side where you see the blue arrow. Open the PDF in Adobe Reader then click “print.”

Have fun and Feliz Thanksgiving!

Click here to go download!

Click here to go download!

Click here to go download!

Click here to go download!

All You – Celebraciones!

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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!

¿Has visto esta revista en tu tienda WalMart? En esta edición de diciembre 2013, “All You” empezó a publicar un folleto dentro de la revista que se llama “All You Celebraciones” que oferece contenido especialmente para latinas en inglés. Tengo el honor de ser incluida en la primera edición de “Celebraciones” con otras blogueras latinas, compartiendo como celebramos y mantenemos nuestras tradiciones vivas. Chécalo!

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[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Have you seen this magazine at your WalMart store? In this December 2013 issue, “All You” began publishing an insert within the magazine called “All You Celebraciones” which offers content especially for Latinas in English. I have the honor of being included in the first issue of “Celebraciones” with other Latina bloggers, sharing how we celebrate and keep our traditions alive. Check it out!

El Mejor Chocolate del Mundo

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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!

Muchos de ustedes saben que he estado muy ocupada creando una “guía de regalos” para ustedes, pero hoy quiero darles un vistazo a uno de mis regalos favoritos que estará en la guía.

Chuao Chocolatier está basado en San Diego por el venezolano Chef Michael, y los chocolates que él crea son fuera de este mundo. He sido un fan de la variedad que se llama “Spicy Maya” entre otros por muchos años, pero hoy probé otras variedades y no estoy exagerando cuando digo que es el mejor chocolate que he comido.

Las combinaciones de sabores creativos y la calidad del chocolate no se puede comparar con cualquier otro que he probado. Sabores que uno puede creer ser demasiado extraños, en realidad son deliciosos, (por ejemplo, la barra de “Maple bacon” o la barra de “Pop Corn Pop”.)

Los animo a encontrar un distribuidor cerca de ustedes o ustedes pueden ordenarlos en internet – para ustedes mismos, o para algún miembro de la familia que ama el chocolate. Echa un vistazo a todas las variedades y déjeme saber cuál es su favorito!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Many of you know I’ve been busy creating a “gift guide” for you guys, but today I want to give you a sneak peek at one of my favorite gifts that will be in the guide.

Chuao Chocolatier is based in San Diego by Venezuelan Chef Michael, and the chocolates he creates are out of this world amazing. I’ve been a fan of the “Spicy Maya” variety, among others, for a number of years, but today I tasted other varieties and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you, it’s the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten.

The creative flavor combinations and the quality of the chocolate cannot be compared to anything else I’ve tried. Flavors you think might be too strange are in fact delicious, (for example, the “Maple Bacon” bar or the “Pop Corn Pop” bar.)

I encourage you to find a retailer near you or you can order online – for yourself, or for a family member who loves chocolate. Check out all the varieties and let me know which one you most want to try!

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. A sample of Chuao chocolate was received for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Feliz National Pupusa Day 2013!

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It’s that time of year again – Día Nacional de la Pupusa! I hope that you’re all celebrating by eating some delicious pupusas either from your favorite pupusería or homemade.

While you’re waiting to eat, here’s a National Pupusa Day crossword to keep you busy. How much of a pupusa expert are you? You can download the crossword as a PDF or Word document to print and share as you like, or you can even play it online! Click the image below to be taken to the National Pupusa Day crossword puzzle!

Click here!

Click here!

(If you get stumped, “Latinaish” is the answer key password.)

If you want more pupusa fun, here’s an easy index to my favorite pupusa blog posts here on Latinaish. (Quite frankly, I was a little shocked by how many there are. If El Salvador’s Tourism Department is looking for an Official Pupusa Blog Ambassador, I’m your gringa.)

Humorous Pupusa Blog Posts:

You down with O.P.P? (Yeah, you know me!) (A suegra story.)

Feliz Día Nacional de la Pupusa [2010] (This post includes “ORACIÓN A LA PUPUSA SALVADOREÑA.”)

El Salvador: The Mariachi Story (The time we ate pupusas in Planes de Renderos and my acting like a tourist cost Carlos a lot of money!)

Pupusa Day 2011 (My son’s funny answer to how Salvadorans celebrate National Pupusa Day.)

How to eat a pupusa (video)

Recipes:

How to make Pupusas de Queso (video & post)
Mini-Pupusas de Queso y Frijol
Pupusas Revueltas with Salsa and Curtido (videos & post)

Regalitos de Bolivia

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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!

Una amiga mia, (Susan de Medina Adventures) me dijo que quería mandarme regalitos de Bolivia – el país de su esposo. Con alegría acepté su amable oferta y esperé pacientemente los regalitos en el correo. Bueno, llegó el paquete y cuando lo abrí, no podía creerlo. Esas cosas no eran “regalitos” – eran regalotes! Me encanta tanto cada cosa que ella y su esposo me mandaron. ¡Vean por ustedes mismos la maravilla de los recuerdos bolivianos!

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[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

A friend of mine, (Susan of Medina Adventures) told me she wanted to send me some little gifts from Bolivia – her husband’s country. Happily I accepted her kind offer and waited patiently for the little gifts in the mail. Well, the package arrived and when I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. These were not “little gifts” – they were big gifts! I love each thing she and her husband sent so much. See for yourselves the awesomeness of the Bolivian souvenirs!

Ofrendas and Changing Beliefs

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Today has been a busy day since Día de los Muertos is also my youngest son’s birthday. We’ve been celebrating with him and preparing to celebrate again with family tomorrow, but I also took time to set up our ofrenda over the past couple days.

This year marks a turning point for me culturally because I included many of my own loved ones on our ofrenda. Last year I actually added my paternal grandfather, but I did so hesitantly.

I say “hesitantly” because as much as I admire the holiday and feel it’s a good way to remember Carlos’s loved ones, I hadn’t felt comfortable remembering my own loved ones. Originally I thought, well, this is a Catholic holiday and being that my father’s side of the family is Jewish and my mother’s side of the family is Protestant, it just doesn’t make sense to include my family. However, with each passing year I realized that my hesitance was not truly about the mixing of religions – my hesitance was actually an Anglo-American belief so deeply ingrained that it was difficult for me to recognize – and that belief is that remembering loved ones is something painful, sad, fearful and unpleasant.

When I added my paternal grandfather to the ofrenda last year, it wasn’t an easy thing. I chose my favorite photo of him, one I took myself when I was probably no older than eight. I still remember the moment I took it. He gave me the camera, a Kodak Instamatic, I think it was. He showed me how to load the film, snap a photo, and he set me free. I ran around my grandparents’ house in New York photographing everything. At one point I followed my grandpa out to the driveway. He was wearing one of his signature newsboy caps. “Hey Grandpa,” I said, “Let me take your picture.” He smiled down at me – that is the photo I put on the altar. I added Corn Flakes, the cereal he used to eat every morning, a little trumpet to represent his love of big band music, and a dreidel because he was Jewish.

While I experienced sadness at first, that sadness lifted and I began to experience the holiday as it’s meant to be celebrated. My boys asked me questions about the altar, and I had the opportunity to share stories with them about my grandfather which felt really good.

This year as I set up the altar, I realized that my attitude toward remembering loved ones had changed and I now felt comfortable including my great-grandmothers. As they did last year, the boys asked questions about photos and items on the altar. I was more than happy to tell them stories, the good memories of so many people I was blessed to have known.

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Related Links:

Altar 2010
Altar 2011
Altar 2012

Bohemian Shakira-style Brass Washer Bracelet

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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.

I don’t know why, but whenever I see an armful of pretty bohemian-style bracelets I think of Colombian singer, Shakira, and she’s the inspiration for this bracelet made of simple yet surprisingly elegant-looking materials. Cotton string and brass washers are re-imagined into a piece of jewelry that will be sure to attract attention and compliments. With the holidays soon upon us, this is an idea you may want to add to your list of crafts to try. It’s affordable and quick to make, plus your favorite amiga, hermana, sobrina or prima will be sure to love it.

Bohemian Shakira-style Brass Washer Bracelet

What you need:

10 to 20 flat brass washers (small #8S, Blue Hawk/HILLMAN)
string (Blue Hawk twisted cotton twine)
scissors
sticky tape

Directions:

1. Cut 4 pieces of twine to 4 feet long.
2. Tie the pieces together at the top leaving about 4 inches above the knot. (See photo below.)
3. Tape the knot to a surface to secure in place.
4. Tie string #1 around strings #2 and #3 in this way: String #1 goes OVER strings #2 and #3 then comes back UNDER strings #2 and #3, then over itself.) Pull gently so the loop moves up and tightens at the top. (See photo below.)
5. Tie string #4 around strings #2 and #3 in the same way as described in step 4. (Note that strings #2 and #3 always remain together in the middle.) Repeat step 4 and step 5 about five to six times.
6. Slide a washer onto string #1 or #4 (alternate) before tying around strings #2 and #3. Repeat step 4 and 5 before adding another washer. Keep repeating steps 4, 5, and 6 until bracelet is long enough to tie around your wrist.
7. Tie the bracelet off the same way you tied the strings together at the top in step 2.
8. Cut off any undesired excess string.
9. Bracelet is worn tied around the wrist, (I double knot it to keep it from falling off.)

The supplies

The supplies

The method.

The method.

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

A Trip to: Colombia

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the Hispanic Heritage Month “A Trip to” series here on Latinaish. Join us as we virtually visit different Latin American countries through the photos and words of people who live there, have lived there, or have visited and have a lot of love for that particular place. Today Diana of Speaking Latino shows us around Colombia!

Bogota is the capital city of Colombia where cachacos, the name given to the people from Bogota, are extremely kind and love both salsa and their traditional music. Bogota is at 8,612 ft. above sea level and, for those that aren’t used to those heights, that will make you literally “feel” the city.

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The historical center of Bogota is located in La Candelaria. Among the government buildings and plazas you will find a busy Plaza de Bolivar where on one side the Palacio Liévano or Lievano Palace is located. This is the seat of the mayor of Bogota. Passing by the Plaza de Bolivar is the Carrera 7, a busy street that has undergone the process of becoming a pedestrian walkway in some segments.

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One of the obligatory stops while in Bogota is the Gold Museum or Museo del Oro that is located in the historical center of the city. It displays a pre-Hispanic collection of gold artifacts made by the indigenous cultures in Colombia before the colonization period.

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Monserrate is a mountain that has become a symbol of Bogota. After a short funicular or cable car ride you will get to the top which is at 10,341 ft. above sea level. While there you will be able to eat at one of the restaurants or kiosks and visit the church.

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An amazing view of Bogota can be seen from Monserrate. There you will notice how big the city is. In fact, it is the largest city in Colombia and one of the most populated in Latin America.

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The T Zone or Zona T is a pedestrian intersection in the form of a T located in the Zona Rosa. In this area are dining options, fashion designer stores, and malls. It is a lively place to hang out.

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One of the most impressive things that I’ve seen in my life is the Salt Cathedral or Catedral de Sal constructed inside of an active salt mine in Zipaquirá. It includes all the elements to be labeled as a Catholic cathedral with regular religious activities and a mass celebrated every Sunday. They have enhanced the experience with color changing LED lights and even a retail area where you can find Colombian crafts. The Salt Cathedral is about a one-hour drive from Bogota and, even if you are not Catholic, it’s worth the visit.

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Bandeja paisa is perhaps one the most emblematic dishes of Colombia, especially popular in the Paisa region. The traditional bandeja paisa is a generous plate (or literally a tray) that includes all of the following: beans, rice, ground meat, chicharrón (fried pork belly), chorizo (sausage), avocado, sweet plantain and a fried egg on top.

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A hot alcoholic drink called canelazo is traditional in the Andean highlands and can be found also in Peru and Ecuador. The Colombian version consists of aguardiente (alcohol from sugarcane), panela (unrefined whole cane sugar) or sugar, and water boiled with cinnamon.

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Editor’s note: Did you enjoy this guest post? If you have some nice photos of a Latin American country you’d like to share as we did here with some short descriptions, please email me to be a part of this special travel series!

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