Central American Artifacts in D.C.

Did you know that the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. has a large bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit called “Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed“? It’s there until February 15, 2015 and features more than 160 objects from Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama – so check it out while you can if you live in the area. If not, here are a few highlights!

ceramica-de-los-ancestros

designs

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Lempa River jar in the form of an armadillo, AD 900-1200, Near Palacios, Oratorio de Concepción, Cuscatlán, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya figure, AD 600-900, Usulután, El Salvador

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Classic period Maya bowl, AD 250-600, San Agustín, Acasaguastlán, El Progreso, Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Stamps from Costa Rica and Guatemala

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Pre-Classic period Maya female figure, 200 BC-AD 1, San Jacinto, San Salvador, El Salvador

Carlos said, "Hey, this one looks like me!" even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Carlos said, “Hey, this one looks like me!” even though I told him that usually statues with hands on the hips are females.

Want more?

The National Museum of the American Indian website has more information related to the exhibit including photos, video, and even a really awesome printable coloring book for the niños!

A Sweet Game

BY TRACY LÓPEZ
(This was originally published on the now defunct CafeMagazine.com on June 14, 2010. Since this piece is no longer available online, I thought it would be fun to reprint it and take a look back at our familia during the 2010 World Cup.)

On Friday, my kids and I gathered around the television to watch the opening game of World Cup 2010, Mexico vs. South Africa.

I was rooting for Mexico, so naturally the kids were, too, (much to the annoyance of my Salvadoran mother-in-law who awakened to the entire household vested in green).

The kids really like fútbol but they have short attention spans, so to make it more exciting for them I promised candy at half-time – but this was not any ordinary candy. This was a mixed bag of “Dulces Mexicanos” from our local Latino market. Luckily my boys are pretty adventurous and were willing to give everything a try. Here is how they rated the Mexican candies, keeping in mind they’ve been raised on chocolate, butterscotch, jelly beans and other traditional U.S. candies. The candies are rated from one star (yucky-face inducing) to five stars (they’d eat the whole bag if I let them):

boycandy

Coconut “banderitas”: The tri-colored green, white and red Mexican flags were pretty to look at and tasted almost as good. Rating: ***

De La Rosa Dulce de Cacahuate: To be fair, I buy these all the time and am slightly addicted, so this candy is very familiar to the boys. They rated it highly and licked the crumbs from the wrapper. Rating: *****

Pica Pepino Relleno con Chile (lollipop): My younger son took one lick and rejected it. The older one took a few licks and ultimately agreed. I thought it was kind of interesting though. Rating: **

Duvalín Dulce Cremoso Sabor Avellana y Vainilla:
My husband really likes these, but the kids weren’t that impressed. Rating: **

Go Mango Enchilado: I think the boys were more put off by the way this one looked than the way it tasted. They barely gave it a nibble. To me it tasted like a slightly spicy fruit snack. Rating: *

Obleas con Cajeta: How can cajeta possibly not taste good? Yet, they didn’t like this one. Rating: *

Eskandalosos Paleta de Caramelo con Chile: I thought they would reject this one immediately but they loved it. They were fruity flavored with just enough spice to make them interesting. Rating: *****

Benyrindo: Deceptively shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle, everyone was fine with this candy until biting into it and releasing the tamarindo flavored juices. Maybe you have to be raised eating tamarind to appreciate these sorts of things? Rating: *

Pica Limón: One child rated this highly and the other rated it low, yet they both kept trying it and laughing. I think the fun of this one is watching people’s reactions after eating it. Rating: ***

In the end, Mexico and South Africa tied 1-1, bitter disappointment for fans on both sides who wanted to see their team win, but my boys’ memories of the game are not bitter; they are sweet like cacahuate, sour like limón and spicy like chile.

Tostadas de Plátano

tostadas-de-platano-6

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!

Desde que fuimos a un festival salvadoreño el año pasado y comí tostadas de plátano preparadas con curtido y salsa, he estado haciendo mi propia tostadas de plátano en casa porque me encantan. Tostadas de plátano son mi bocadillo favorito mientras ve partidos de la Copa Mundial, y van perfectas con cerveza o una gaseosa. Aquí está mi receta fácil, (que incluye mi nueva receta de curtido. Este curtido es el mejor curtido que he hecho. Creo que el secreto es un poco de azúcar moreno para garantizar el vinagre de sidra de manzana no es tan fuerte.)

Tostadas de Plátano Preparadas con Curtido y Salsa

Para hacer el curtido necesitas:

10 oz bolsa de repollo, (estilo de corto “angel hair” – o sea, cortado muy fino)
4 tazas de agua
1 cebolla pequeña, cortada en rodajas finas
3 zanahorias medianas, ralladas en el procesador
3/4 taza de vinagre de sidra de manzana
1/2 cucharadita de sal
1 cucharada azúcar morena
1 cucharada aceite de canola
orégano al gusto

Instrucciones:

1. Coloque el repollo en un tazón grande. Deja a un lado.
2. En una gran taza de medir de vidrio, calienta el agua a alta potencia durante 5 minutos en un horno de microondas.
3. Vierta el agua en el repollo. Tapar y esperar 5 minutos. Escurrir el agua. (Está bien si un poco de agua se queda con el repollo.)
4. Agregue la cebolla y la zanahoria al repollo.
5. Mezclar el vinagre, el azúcar moreno, el aceite y la sal en un tazón pequeño y verter a la mezcla de repollo.
6. Sazonar con el orégano. Mezclar bien para que todo el repollo está saturado. Deja a un lado.

_____

Puedes hacer la salsa con mi receta (aquí), o si quieres la manera fácil, sólo tienes que utilizar su marca favorita de salsa. Me encanta la “salsa casera marca Herdez – mild.” Hago puré de la salsa en la licuadora y después caliento la salsa en una olla hasta que hierva. Deja enfriar. El calentamiento de la salsa no es necesario, pero creo que le da un mejor sabor.

_____

Para servir las tostadas de plátano, póngalas en un plato, (Goya es la marca más fácil de encontrar. Puedes encontrarlas en el “pasillo hispano” en las tiendas Walmart pero hay otras marcas en mercados latinos.) Encima de las tostadas, añade el curtido y la salsa. ¡Servir y disfrutar del partido!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Since we went to a Salvadoran festival last year and ate tostadas de plátano prepared with curtido and salsa, I’ve been making my own here at home because I really love them. Tostadas de plátano are my favorite snack while watching World Cup matches and they go perfect with a cold beer or soda. Here is my easy recipe, (which includes my new recipe for curtido. This is the best curtido I’ve ever made. I think the secret is a little brown sugar to ensure the apple cider vinegar is not as strong.)

Tostadas de Plátano Prepared with Curtido and Salsa

To make the curtido you need:

10 ounce bag “angel hair” coleslaw (if you can’t find this, cabbage shredded very fine)
4 cups water
1 small onion, sliced in thin rings
3 medium carrots, processed in a food processor set to “shred”
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
oregano to taste

Directions:

1. Put the cabbage in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. In a large glass measuring cup, heat the water 5 minutes on high in a microwave.
3. Pour water on cabbage. Cover and wait 5 minutes. Drain. (It’s okay if a little water remains.)
4. Add onion and carrot to cabbage.
5. Mix vinegar, brown sugar, oil and salt in a small bowl, then pour over the cabbage mixture.
6. Season with oregano. Mix well so all the cabbage is saturated. Set aside.

_____

You can make the salsa using my recipe (here, or if you want the easy way, use your favorite non-chunky brand of salsa. I love the “Herdez salsa casera – mild” pureed in a blender. I then heat the salsa in a pot until it simmers, then allow to cool. Heating the salsa is not necessary, but I think it gives it a better flavor.

_____

To serve the tostadas de plátano, spread plantain chips on a plate, (Goya is the easiest to find brand. You can find them in the “Hispanic aisle” of most Walmart stores, but there are other brands available at Latino markets.) Top the chips with curtido and salsa. Serve and enjoy the game!

20 Salvadoran Slang Phrases (in GIFs)

This Spanish Friday I’m going to do things a little differently than usual. Instead of a post in Spanish followed by the English translation, I decided we’d have a little fun and I could do a Salvadoran version of this Mexican slang post on Buzzfeed, complete with animated gifs. Note: Guatemalans and Hondurans may also use some of these words/phrases – and some are probably not appropriate to use around your abuela. ¿Listos? Here we go!

hola-beauty-queen

1. ¿Qué onda, bichos?
Rough English translation: What’s up, guys?

puchica2

2. ¡Púchica!
Rough English translation: Shoot! [Can also be used as a positive exclamation when impressed.]

hiju

3. ¡Hijueputa!
Rough English translation: Son of a bitch!

magico

4. Ta’ chivo, ¿vá?
Rough English translation: It’s cool, isn’t it?

cabal

5. Cabal.
Rough English translation: Exactly.

chucho2

6. El cipote está afuera juegando con en chucho.
Rough English translation: The kid is outside playing with the dog.

patas2

7. Tus patas están bien chucas porque no usaste chanclas.
Rough English translation: Your feet are really dirty because you didn’t use sandals.

ride

8. ¡Ey, chero! Dame un rai!
Rough English translation: Hey friend! Give me a ride!

nervioso

9. Me da nervios.
Rough English translation: It makes me nervous.

paja3

10. Pura paja habla esta maje.
Rough English translation: This idiot tells nothing but lies.

cipitio

11. ¡No seas bayunco!
Rough English translation: Don’t be goofy/stupid!

chindondo2

12. ¡Ay! Golpeaste. Por cierto vas a tener un chindondo.
Rough English translation: Ouch! You hit yourself. You’re going to have a bump for sure.

pisto

13. ¿Tienes el pisto de la cabuda?
Rough English translation: Do you have the cash from the lending circle?

paco-flores

14. ¿Dónde está el bolado?
Rough English translation: Where is the thing?

bolo

15. ¡Qué bien baila el bolo!
Rough English translation: How well that drunk dances!

pupusa-bailando

16. La fiesta estaba bien vergóna. Estaba toda la mara allí.
Rough English translation: The party was really awesome. The whole gang was there. [And by "gang", I mean group of friends, although "mara" can also refer to criminal gangs as well.]

caida

17. Jajaja, ¡te pelaste!
Rough English translation: Hahaha, you screwed up!

vaya-pues

18. Vaya pues.
Rough English translation: Okay then.

yuca

19. Está yuca.
Rough English translation: It’s difficult.

vos

20. Vos.
Rough English translation: You

Refresco de Ensalada

refresco-de-ensalada

Hot summer days call for cool refreshing drinks, and Salvadoran “Refresco de Ensalada” (also known as Agua de Ensalada, Salad Drink, Salad Water, or Fruit Salad Drink), is like drinkable fruit salad. The tiny pieces of minced fruit are not to be swallowed! Sip the sweet liquid, and then savor the apple, mango, pineapple, and orange pieces that find their way onto your tongue. It’s a drink and a snack all at once! Assemble your fruit and get chopping!

fruits

Refresco de Ensalada

You need:

1 20 oz. can pineapple slices in 100% pineapple juice
1 mango, peeled
3 oranges
2 Granny Smith apples
juice of 1 lemon
6 cups cold water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Optional: iceberg lettuce
(See notes for additional variations!)

Method:

1. Put the lemon juice into a large mixing bowl.
2. Mince the apples into tiny, uniform pieces (as you see in the photo below.) Stir the minced apple into the lemon juice as you go along. (This keeps them from turning brown.)

cut-apple

3. Peel the mango. Mince. Add to the bowl.
4. Open the can of pineapple. Pour the juice into the bowl.
5. Mince the pineapple and add to the bowl.
6. Squeeze the juice of 2 oranges into the bowl. (Do this over a sieve to avoid seeds falling in.)
7. Mince the remaining orange and add it to the bowl.
8. If using lettuce, add 1 cup of minced lettuce to the bowl. (I kept mine on the side and added it to my individual cup later since Carlos didn’t want it in his.)
9. Transfer the contents of the bowl to a large pitcher. Add 6 cups of water.

(Note: Once we drank all of the liquid, we later added another couple cups of water to finish off the fruit, so you’re able to add more than 6 cups of water, but you’ll have increase the sugar and salt in the next steps if you do.)

10. Add 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir. (I prefer to keep the juice as natural as possible without adding too much additional sugar and it tasted great to me with 1/3 cup. Some may prefer this drink sweeter and you may add sugar to your personal tastes. Carlos added sugar every time he drank a cup of it but my boys and I liked it without adding more. If your fruit is super sweet, you may find you don’t want to add any sugar at all.)

11. You can drink this immediately, but it tastes best if you put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, (and even better if you can wait until the next day.) Serve cold.

agua-de-ensalada-pitcher

refresco-de-ensalada-con-lechuga
(I like lettuce in mine. It sounds odd, but give it a try!)

Other variations of this recipe typically include mamey, marañon, watercress (“berro”), and even cucumber. Feel free to experiment by adding your favorite fruits and vegetables, or fresh herbs like mint.

A Garden for la Virgen de Guadalupe

The garden before we fixed it up.

The garden before we fixed it up.

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.

Many years ago my suegra brought a very large statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe into our household. At the time I wasn’t happy about it because it was extremely large and she expected us to display it in the middle of our small living room. We ended up putting the statue in a garden on the side of our house, and that’s where it’s been ever since.

Over the years Carlos and I both became fond of the statue, (although we’re happy with its outdoor location and don’t regret putting it there) and this year we decided we should give a little more care to the neglected garden we put her in.

virgin-garden-BEFORE-2

I spent hours at Lowe’s trying to decide what I wanted to plant in the garden. We knew we needed top soil, so that went onto the cart first, but then I took forever choosing flowers.

Roses seemed a logical choice because of the story of the Virgen de Guadalupe, but I was a little intimidated by the thought of caring for them. It’s been a couple months now since we planted the roses though, and I have to say, they really haven’t been difficult. If you’ve always wanted to plant roses but have been worried you’ll kill them, I recommend buying some and giving it a try.

Carlos says I have a “good hand” with the plants, (that’s a direct translation of “buena mano” in Spanish – which is like saying someone has a green thumb), but it isn’t true. I’m not a great gardener and I’ve had things die before – a lot of the time I think I just get lucky, but really, the roses haven’t been a challenge at all.

Besides the roses, I thought it would be nice to plant rosemary. I love the smell of rosemary and the way the herb looks – but planting the rosemary was also symbolic. During the Salvadoran civil war, there was a Catholic archbishop named Oscar Romero. He was an outspoken defender of the people and it ended up costing him his life. “Romero” is how you say “rosemary” in Spanish.

For added color I chose some heather and snapdragons. Finally! All done and ready to get to work, right? Not quite. As we were getting ready to head to the check-out, a big spiky plant caught my eye.

“This looks kind of like Flor de Izote,” I said, calling Carlos over. Carlos inspected it. “It is,” he said, “That’s Flor de Izote.”

Flor de Izote! The national flower of El Salvador.

Flor de Izote! The national flower of El Salvador.

I checked the tag on the plant, (carefully because the leaves are very sharp!) and it was labeled “Variegated Spanish Dagger.” A quick check of the internet via my smartphone, and I found that these most likely are the same plant, or at least are closely related. (Any botanists out there who can verify?)

Flor de Izote went onto the cart. Instead of planting the Flor de Izote directly in the ground, I thought it would be nice to have it in a pot. Luckily, I spotted these beautiful pots made in Mexico. We hurried out of Lowe’s before I bought enough plants to rival the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

pots-at-lowes-for-gardening

Back at home, we unloaded the supplies and got down to work.

lowes-garden-supplies

pullingoutplants-garden

I don’t have any fancy step-by-step directions this month. We pulled everything out of the garden besides a large bush and the statue itself, then added some fresh top soil. I set the plants out, (still in their pots), to see how they looked in different locations. When I settled on the layout I liked, we dug the holes and planted them.

One thing I was still not satisfied with was the fact that you could see the ugly yellow gas line. Stacking some old cement patio pavers and putting the Flor de Izote on top helped, but Carlos ended up going back to Lowe’s and buying a white plastic lattice screen to help further disguise it.

virgin-garden-2

We’re really happy with how it turned out and we visit that side of the yard almost daily to check on things, water flowers if it hasn’t rained, (and sometimes fix things up. Our dog Chico has stepped on a few of the snapdragons and broken them. I also caught him trying to eat a rose one day.) If my suegra were here and she caught Chico in the garden, I can imagine her reaction and it makes me smile; she would chase him out of there, waving her hands as if to smack him, maybe with a chancla held high. She would almost certainly yell “¡Chhhhhht! Chucho condenado!” and then walk away muttering…”Ay, qué pecado…”

virgin-garden-3

Do you have a Virgen de Guadalupe garden? What did you plant in it?

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.

How to Paint a Portable Mural

how-to-paint-a-portable-mural-latinaish

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 have loved murals for as long back as I can remember, and so it was only natural that one day I would want to move from an admirer of murals to a creator of murals. At 12 years old I asked my mother if I could paint a mural on my bedroom wall, and I will be forever thankful that she allowed me to, no questions asked.

Since growing up and moving out on my own, I have continued to paint murals on the walls in every place I’ve lived. The only sad thing about a mural is that you can’t take it with you when you move, and if you decide to re-paint a room, it often gets painted over, with no way to preserve it. So when I decided I wanted to paint a new small-scale mural this time, I decided to make it portable. (Which is actually something Mexican painter Diego Rivera did in a much larger scale!)

I chose murals in La Palma, El Salvador, in the traditional style created by Fernando Llort, for my inspiration. While this portable mural measures only 8 x 24 inches, I hope to do a bigger one later. Here’s how you can make one too!

How to: Paint a Portable Mural

You need:

1 untreated piece of wood board (whichever size you want. The one pictured is 8 x 24 inches) – Try to find one with as little defects and knots as possible.

Paint in various colors, (I love the Valspar samples at Lowe’s which are only a couple dollars each. They come in so many bright, beautiful shades.)

paint-samples

Paint brushes in various sizes

A pencil

A yardstick

A piece of drafting paper

Directions:

1. Measure the length and width of the wood. On the drafting paper, with one square equaling one inch, draw a rectangle to the same dimensions as your wood.

drawing-mural

(Note: If you’ll be hanging the mural instead of just setting it on a shelf or mantle, you will need to carefully add picture hangers to the back of the wood at this point – Just make sure the screws are much shorter than the depth of the wood so you don’t go through and damage the side you’ll be painting.)

2. Within this rectangle on the drafting paper, create your design with pencil.

3. Once you’re happy with your design, you’re going to manually transfer it to the piece of wood, using the grid on the drafting paper as a guide. Don’t feel overwhelmed – just go square by square and draw what you see. Use pencil so you can erase and correct as needed. As you transfer the design, you may feel comfortable changing some elements of it – go ahead! It doesn’t have to be exactly like your original draft.

squares-on-wood

4. Take a moment to plan ahead and decide which colors you want to use and where. This may change as you work, but it’s good to have a general idea before plunging in.

5. Start painting!

painting-the-mural

finished-mural

6. Allow the paint to dry. Once the paint is dry, you can put your mural wherever you want, and because it’s portable, if you change your mind – no problem! Just move it elsewhere!

mural-on-shelf

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.