Sunday, February 08, 2009


The following is submitted on:


My favorite “spicy” memories would have to come from México. It’s a great place for them! Being grande, rubia (blond), and not used to extremely spicy foods, I couldn’t have felt more gringa.

The last full day of our 4-week stint in Guadalaraja, Miriam and I went with Mrs. Susan to eat at una pequeñita Tacquería owned by a couple in the church. We got there, and Jesús (the husband) started preparing our tacos right away. I could smell the grease – they looked so delicious! Mrs. Susan kindly reminded him “Son gringas, no deben ser muy picantes.” (they shouldn’t be very spicy for the gringas”) “Claro, yo sé, no son picantes para nada ” respondió. (of course, I know, they’re not at all spicy)

Miriam and I sank our teeth into those “not spicy” tacos and instantaneously felt flames leaping out of our mouth. Wow! Any hotter, and I really don’t think I could have continued. Sweating, tears forming in our eyes, we plunged on with our meal, taking big tragos de agua and breathing hard in between mouthfuls. Despite the unexpected bite from the spice, it was really quite rico. But I have to say that it was the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten. Patético considering, for a Mexican, it was “not at all spicy”. Ha!

I have developed a great appreciation for spicy cuisine these past few years, so my hope is that I’ve succeeded in killing some taste buds and building up a tolerance to spiciness for the next trip.

De todos modos, aquí llegamos a mi razón de escribir este post… I wanted to share a recipe that’s recently become a family favorite: fajitas!

Otra receta mexicana? Once again, it seems like I’m copying recent recipe ideas, but I’m really not! I didn’t even see the previous post until submitting this one. De verdad.

Up until about a year ago, I thought fajitas were pretty good, but didn’t get very excited about them. Our recipe was just so-so. It was only sort of spicy and just not very flavorful. We all agreed that something was lacking, but never ran across or really spent time looking for a better recipe.

Our friends served us their fajitas one evening when we were at their place, and we finally knew what a real fajita tasted like. One bite and I felt like my mouth truly was overflowing with flavor. My eyes grew wide and all I could think was “Oh wow. This… is… so… flavorful!” I couldn’t get enough of it.

So, our old fajita recipe se fue a la basura para siempre and we’ve happily adopted this one. It uses a lot of spices, which is why it’s so amazingly rico. I have to admit that I’m surprised my mom really likes it so much. She’s not usually into comida muy picante, and this is quite spicy. All of us in our little three-some really, really enjoy it.

La receta :

2 lbs. skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 tbsp red chili powder (or more if you like it spicier)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp salt
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1-2 bell pepper, in strips (or more, if you like pepper)
1-2 onion, in strips (or more, if you like onion)

Tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, refried beans, lettuce


In a small bowl, mix together spices for rub. Trim chicken and cut diagonally into strips. Add oil and mix well. Toss with spice rub, cover and marinate 15 mins to several hours. Stir-fry meat; when almost done add vegetables and stir fry. Wrap meat in tortillas and garnish with guacamole, sour cream, beans, cheese, and lettuce. Serves about 6 people.

Buen aprovecho!
(this picture does NOT do them justice, but I was too focused on eating my fajita to get a good picture... lo siento!)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Crepe Cake

The following is a contribution on


I’m too excited, yes even getting some chills right now, thinking of a blog where I can share some of my cooking adventures! Just you wait all you lucky people out there! You don’t know what you have coming. It’s Hannah Garrison.

*gasps are heard from people in front of their computer screens around the US*

People instantly IM or GT a True to check up on this name.
“I’ve heard about her. Doesn’t she eat peanut butter on eggs? Doesn’t she use ketchup as a salad dressing?”

Yes, so I have weird tastes sometimes, almost like I’m perpetually pregnant, but I also have normal tastes, too. I just really enjoy food. I love being in the kitchen (except when it needs cleaning). I love shopping for food.

First I have to spread the word about a website I stumbled across not long ago. I hesitate to share it. It’s almost like sharing some sort of addictive drug. “Here, have some! It’s good!” Seriously, it's dangerous, so beware and don't say I didn't warn you. I check it about every day and drool over the food pictures, browsing the recipes, and getting ideas that rarely actually take shape. Hey, it’s good to dream sometimes.

The website? : How does every contributor on this site make their pictures look so delectable? I want to take pictures like that.

It was through this website that I stumbled across this cake. I decided it looked too cool and intriguing not to try it. Find the recipe here:

I know... crepes again? What a coincidence! :) I do hope you know that Feb 2 is Crepe Day in France. It's that time of year.

Day 1 - Monday
First I look at the ingredients… they all look very basic; we have everything but whipping cream. Wait. Kirsch? What is that? I quickly do a google search and get on Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia. A cherry water. Hm. More searching on google, and I find that only some groceries stores carry it, it may be easier to find at your local liquor store (hm, no thanks), and that a substitution of something like almond flavoring wouldn’t be too off-base. After checking at Publix and Kroger and getting blank stares at customer service, I decide to ditch the Kirsch and go the almond flavoring route. Anyone every heard of Kirsch or used it?

Day 2 – Tuesday
It’s time to put the crepe batter together to chill in the fridge overnight! No big obstacles. Everything goes fine.

Day 3 - D-day

I get home from school to start prep plenty early to get everything done so it can chill in the fridge a couple of hours before taking it to Home Fellowship. First thing's first... the pastry cream!

Step #1 - the pastry cream

Looking at the directions, my mom and I are waiting for the end to say... "And finish by doing a twirl on your pinky finger before gently setting in the fridge to chill." Are all the steps really necessary? Does it have to be this complicated? We remark to each other several times, wondering if it would really make a difference if we boiled the milk with the vanilla, set it aside for only 5 minutes, or waited until the temperature went down to only 150. Well, we tried to follow it exactly as best we could! We didn't know what false move might cause an explosion or worse. ;)

Mom seemed to think that pressing it through the sieve wasn't super important, but I did think that it caught a suprising amount of impurities and little specks. In my opinion anyway, so I thought it was a good step to purify it. Although, yes, it probably really didn't make much of a difference.

Step #2 - making the crepes!

Let me start by saying that this step should have started earlier. I really was trying to keep on top of things, read ahead, anticipate future steps, but I fell flat on this one. Soon before I wanted to start making the crepes, I read that the batter needs to be "room temperature" before starting. Rats. I rush to the fridge and grab out the batter, wondering where in our ice pit (er, "house") might be the warmest spot. We find a nook on the couch by the window in the sun and leave it there for a little while before the sunny spot turns not-so-sunny and, for lack of a better place, I plop the container in my lap and coax it to warm up.

When it's warm "enough", we start the crepes! I was most worried about this step. I watched a youtube video by Martha Stewart on making crepes, and she made it look SO easy, but I still wasn't so sure. What I saw on the video was that you poured a couple tablespoons of batter into the pan, evened it out, let it cook a couple minutes, and then flipped it with your fingers and a small spatula. It didn't look too hard. I could do this, right? I lightly oiled the pan, heated it to medium, and poured the batter on. When it looked ready to flip, I eased up one side of the crepe, took it gently with my fingers to turn it, and...


What kind of fingers does Martha Stewart have?! That HURTS. That crepe was ruined; maybe if I try doing it really quickly next time. I repeated the first steps and once again... OUCH! I ended up with a mound of dough in the pan. This was not turning out; I was vowing never to make another crepe again. Using a spatula seemed impossible; it was so delicate.

Mother Dear kept suggesting that I leave them to cook a little longer and get brown. I have a tendancy to undercook things, and am usually abnormally scared of getting bread, eggs, pancakes and such overdone, so it took some coaxing, but I finally let one cook a little longer and then carefully turned it with the spatula. It kind of worked! It wasn't the most beautiful crepe, but it didn't end up a big doughy glob at least.

Little by little I got the hang of it, and by my last crepe, I was almost feeling like an expert.

I might add in here something else I learned in this crepe-making adventure, that over-greasing the pan leads to less appetizing crepes. I had to swab some out a couple times; the pan almost seemed to be producing oil each time, if that was possible.

Step #2 - the whipped cream

Mother Dear actually did this while I made the crepes. She then combined with the pastry cream from the previous day and started layering while I was finishing up the crepes.

The rest of the process was fairly easy. We simply layered, I had fun with a little decorating at the end (I like turning food into works of art), which Mother Dear seemed to think simply looked weird (she doesn't appreciate true art), and then we put it in the fridge to cool, albeit a bit late.

So... the final decision on this cake. To make again or not?

Honestly, it just wasn't my thing. I didn't really enjoy it that much. Some people at our Home Fellowship thought it was very good and raved about it. It looked kind of neat. It was different and a fun experience all-in-all. But, I wouldn't do it again.

If I did something similar, I would alternate a whipped cream type of layer with a layer of strawberry preserves or something. That would be yummy. But the time this took was NOT worth the product. It did give me possible ideas for the future. And I finally know how to make crepes! That's a must for every French teacher, right?

I do often have some very successful cooking ventures, so I'll have to share those later. Yes, this was a lengthy recount. Yes, if you actually read everything you do deserve a big gold star to wear. Yes, the next time I'll try to not be so wordy.

Keep experimenting!