Café de Olla

Excellent Mexian coffee boiled with raw sugar and cinnamon. No cream needed.

In a medium saucepan, place 4 c WATER, 3 oz or 1/3 c PILONCILLO or DARK BROWN SUGAR, 1/2 STICK MEXICAN CINNAMON. Bring to a boil, turn heat down and simmer until the piloncillo is dissolved (about 7 minutes). Add 4 T GROUND COFFEE, turn off the heat, stir, cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain and serve.

SOME THOUGHTS ON GOING PLANT-BASED AND A RECIPE FOR VEGAN BARBECUE SAUCE

After much thought, some serious reading, and a few gross-out videos, I have decided to limit all animal-based products in my food intake. Vegan is not synonymous with tasteless. If you enjoy pizza, barbecue, curry, salsa, or any of the many flavors that distinguish different international dishes, they can be made without animal products and served over potatoes, cauliflower, portobello or other mushrooms, or just about anything you can think of.

Here is a recipe for vegan barbecue sauce. If you are a purist, look for organic ketchup, low sodium soy sauce, and vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Whisk together 1 c KETCHUP, 1 T MOLASSES, 1/8 c BROWN SUGAR, 1/8 c APPLE CIDER VINEGAR, 1 T SOY SAUCE, 1 T WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE, 1 t SRIRACHA OR OTHER HOT SAUCE. Makes about 1 1/2 c. Double or triple as needed. Spoon over baked beans, tofu, portobello mushrooms, mashed potatoes, vegan meat substitutes.


There is overwhelming evidence that human beings are designed to be herbivores. Some experts say we are frugivores–fruit eaters. Our ability to adapt to environments that are less than suitable for our species has given us great advantages over other creatures, but there has been a price in health and longevity for that adaptability.

Some people go vegan fanatically, but I favor gentle transitions and a light touch. A Whataburger Junior once or twice a year will not kill me, but a daily diet of Whataburger ingredients will be a serious obstacle to more years of life and the health and energy to enjoy them.

Many plant foods are delicious with little or no enhancement. Ripe pineapples, bananas, mangos, guavas, peaches, pears, apples, watermelons, cantaloupes, and many other fruits call for minimum preparation and no other ingredients. The same is true for nuts and seeds like pecans, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews. Ripe avocados and tomatoes need a little salt for my taste but nothing more. I like my strawberries with a little extra sweetness, but ripe bananas and strawberries mixed together are delicious with nothing added.

The “balanced meal” of meat, starch such as potatoes, rice, or pasta, green or other brightly-colored vegetable like green beans or carrots, a leafy salad, bread, and a beverage is firmly embedded in my mind because that’s what I learned as a child, but it is not the healthiest way to eat.

COOKOFF CHAMPION CHILI

This chili recipe is adapted from traditional birria, popular in the state of Jalisco and the city of Guadalajara. Birria is usually made with goat meat, but I used ground beef in this one. This chili won first prize in a chili cook-off at Bells High School in Bells, Texas, where I taught Spanish for ten years.

  1. (REMOVE seeds and stems from the chiles and chop them coarsely.)
  2. SAUTÉ 1 GARLIC CLOVE, 1/4 MEDIUM SLICED ONION, 50 g (1.76 oz) PASILLA* CHILE, 25 g (0.88 oz) ANCHO* CHILE in 1 1/2 T OIL
  3. ADD 1 c WATER, 2 cubes MAGGI TOMATO BOUILLION, and 1 1/2 t CUMIN
  4. BRING mixture to a boil, then cool and process in blender
  5. STRAIN and return the strained mixture to heat
  6. ADD 1/4 c WATER and 1 cube MAGGI TOMATO BOUILLION
  7. STIR IN 3 1/2 lbs GROUND BEEF
  8. COOK over medium heat until the meat is done
  9. SERVE with LIME JUICE, OREGANO, and CHOPPED ONION on top.

*Chiles have different names, depending on whether they are fresh or dried. On the left, the fresh version. On the right, what it’s called after it’s dried. If you are cooking outside of Mexico, this guide will help if the names are different. You can see what they look like.

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