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Flan at El Paso Mexican Grill
Restaurant Review: El Paso Mexican Grill

El Paso Mexican Grill in Hammond is a tasty place to find yourself. Come with us and visit our other new favorite Mexican restaurant.

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

You may remember recently that BF and I went to a new Mexican restaurant in Hammond. Well, guess what? We found another one. We had no idea this was even here. And it’s right across the street!

I’ve also got a couple of updates, so let’s get to it.

Misfits Market Update

After my last post, I sent a link to Misfits Market on Instagram, and let them know that I wrote about my experience. They read it and responded that I could send a report to their support team about the carrots that were not in good shape. I declined to do that because they were usable once I cut off the bad parts. Yes,  I’m still eating avocados.

In the meantime, I still haven’t figured out why I need to keep the box, so I decided to see if Tab E. Cat was interested. He was.

Cat in box

There he is, our little apex predator.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Cat Catcher 3500.

The Meat Box

My second box from Misfits Market will arrive on Saturday. I was right, you can’t do your shopping until your “ordering window” opens, which is a few days before the time they charge your card. In my case, it’s Tuesday night at 10:45 pm Central. I have from Sunday through that time to go in and see what they’ve curated for my weekly order.

I had less trouble accessing my account this time, so that was good. The company puts together a $30 box of organic produce, and it’s up to you to change it (or cancel) as you like. I removed most of the fresh produce and added mostly meat. Re-ordered some sugar snap peas and kept the included bag of those cute little sweet peppers. No discount code this time, so I’m a little bummed, but that’s OK, I tried to find one.

This week, the website had only turkey bacon and bacon ends, and BF said “no” to the turkey bacon. So, I’m getting one package of bacon ends for the freezer, along with any meat we don’t use immediately. I added some ground beef, stew meat, and some chops. Full report in a future blog post.

Valentine’s Day

I forgot to recently mention that BF and I tried to have a lovely Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly what we wanted. Allow me to explain.

Chocolate covered strawberries in a box wrapped with ribbon

Very nice.

Again this year, BF brought some delicious decorated chocolate-covered strawberries.

Decorated chocolate covered strawberries

Aren’t they beautiful? And tasty, too.

He brought home some meat to grill too. The meat was grilled to perfection and delicious. Unfortunately, the second part of our evening wasn’t what we’d planned. We had an urgent plumbing problem at the Casa de Rurale that needed attention and couldn’t wait. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say that it sort of changed the vibe.

This year’s Valentine’s Day was a great dinner, but the “entertainment” was, to say the least, sub-par. Disappointing, but not as bad as it could have been.

At least we weren’t facing a winter storm with ice, snow, and a potential power outage.

Update On Buddy The Puppy

The new puppy, Buddy, also nicknamed “Broccoli Stir Fry,” has grown considerably since he arrived on January 29th. We have not yet weighed him, but he looks to be about the same size as Spencer.

Buddy the dog

Look at me! I’m cute!

Unlike Spencer, this 3-month-old canine is strong as an ox. I’m having considerable trouble walking him on a leash and keeping him from pulling me in another direction. Now that he’s getting bigger and more rambunctious, I must give the Pitbull periodic time-outs away from the puppy.

Buddy the puppy walking

I try to take him for a few walks a day around the property.

Buddy whines, of course, but the pit bull gets some “me time,” which usually means sleeping in the back room with me while the pup has his meltdown is on the other side of the doggie gate. BF estimates that Buddy will be at least as big as the pit bull, if not bigger when he’s fully grown. Don’t know what I’ll do when he gets that big.

It’s A Joke, Folks

The nickname “Broccoli Stir-fry” is just a tongue-in-cheek description used in the frustration of dealing with an untrained puppy who, we hope, will catch on soon and learn how to dog.

No need to send the animal rights activists over with torches and pitchforks. It’s a joke, that’s all. We’re taking care of him best we can, and the pit bull is just tolerating this weird little creature. There’s a lot of growling and snarling when they’re not sleeping, eating, or playing outside. The dog is not being mistreated.

The Mexican Night Out

BF and I frequently have what we call “dinner meetings.” This is a discussion to decide what we will attempt to pursue for the next evening meal. I usually ask the night before, with occasional requests during the day. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He frequently can’t make up his mind. “I don’t know what I want,” he says, but I’m thinking he’s deciding on which drive-through window is the easiest to get through at that time.

Recently, on a Saturday night, after I spent the day cleaning and Dancing With The Mop, BF again couldn’t decide on dinner. I mean, you can’t just throw something out at 6:15 and expect it at 6:30 unless you’re talking about frozen pizza or a Stouffer’s frozen meal. This is why putting food in the slow cooker is ideal for a Saturday–it’s all done. Then he said to me, “I was thinking about Mexican.”

Now you’re talking.

Headed To Hammond

Since there is a Taco Bell in town, that’s my “go-to” for Mexican. Yes, I know it really isn’t. On this evening, the plan was to head to Los Primos in Hammond, since we enjoyed it the last time. Off we went only to discover. . .they were closing. At 7:00 pm on a Saturday night. Can you imagine? (Not in Houston, that’s for sure.)

On the way, I noticed a Mexican place on the right side of the road (Los Primos is on the left a couple of blocks away.) I mentioned it to BF and asked about going there. He had no idea, he’d never been in it before.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been here for over five years now?

Well, we left Los Primos to go to the mystery place across the street. Hola, Amigos!

The El Paso Mexican Grill

We pulled into the parking lot and saw quite a few newer vehicles, mostly large pickup trucks. BF says that’s a good sign.

Wide shot of El Paso Mexican Grill

There it is!

Their outdoor sign needs a little work, but I guess that’s just because they’re too busy cooking for their guests.

El Paso Welcome Sign left

The left side of the entrance

 

El Paso Entrance Picture 2

And the right side.

It was cold this particular evening, so there were no patrons dining outside. I’m sure when the weather warms up a little more there will be plenty of outdoor dining.

We were greeted by a nice young woman and brought to a nice booth near the front window. A great server named Stephanie came by with the requisite chips, salsa. . .and a mild black bean dip that’s just fantastic.

El Paso Salsa and Black Bean Dip

Oh, that dip is so good!

And the menu.

El Paso menu

Looks good so far, but that website isn’t correct.

You’re totally in control until the chips and salsa show up. We definitely lost control at that point.

We decided on fajitas—BF had chicken and steak combo, and I had shrimp, since these are shrimp I don’t have to peel myself. And this is where the pictures end. . .because I didn’t think to take any, since we were enjoying everything so much. BF couldn’t get over how delicious his fajitas were.

The manager (I think, might be the owner too) is a very nice man who also appears to be Mexican and speaks Spanish came by to see how we liked dinner. BF declared it better than the *other* local establishment. I was impressed. But of course, I thoroughly enjoyed everything, too, and told him so. Everything was delicious, no complaints from me–except, why we haven’t been here before?

Now onto dessert.

FLLAAAAAAAANNN!!!!

Oh, yes, they have desserts, including churros, sopapillas, and FLAN. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I had a bit of flan. Normally, we don’t order dessert. But on this night, we ordered one.

Flan at El Paso Mexican Grill

Isn’t it gorgeous? Say it with me. . .FLAAAANNNN.

Mildly sweet and creamy, this one came with lots of whipped cream, and two spoons. I did mention to Stephanie that we’d be sharing this one. It’s not unusual, she said, and happily obliged us.

BF never had flan before. In fact, he’d never even seen one. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. One day I mentioned making a flan, but he gave me that look that says, “this does not compute.” Poor thing. Stephanie was kind enough to explain it—part pudding, part custard, with a smooth texture, and not overly sweet like a cake.

After enjoying his fajitas, a few bites of flan with whipped cream hit the spot. I asked him how he liked the flan, he said, “it was OK.” Well, he tried it.

Nobody Told Him

So after this visit, he called two of his car-guy friends who frequent the local establishment and asked, “Have you ever been to El Paso Mexican Grill in Hammond?”

Both said the same thing: “yes, we have.” BF was flabbergasted to find out that both also really liked the place but never said a word to him. Maybe they didn’t want us to go there and find out their little secret. Too late!

Oh, well—it’s our new favorite place in Hammond. I don’t care what anyone says about it, we’re happy we finally made it there. I told BF that El Paso is the place he can take me when he wants to apologize for something, ha, ha, ha.

Our Second Visit

Last week BF had another hankering for Mexican food mid-week, and not on a weekend. His first suggestion was to go back to El Paso, so we did. We were not disappointed, and this time I took a few more pictures.

Greeted by the aforementioned owner/manager, he was again nice and very tolerant of my limited billboard Spanish. He seated us in a different spot than our first visit, and we got to see more of the interesting décor.

Wall decor at El Paso

Isn’t that cool?

Love this wall:

Wall decor at El Paso Mexican Grill

You see a lot of “sun-and-moon” decor in Mexico and areas with a lot of Hispanic folks, like Houston, of course.

What a beautiful picture:

Painting in El Paso

Very appropriate for a restaurant

This painting was my favorite:

Painting in El Paso

Isn’t it gorgeous? Love the fold-down table, too.

Within seconds, a basket of hot chips, salsa, and black bean dip appeared on our table as they did last time. Our waitress was not Stephanie but was equally nice. The place wasn’t crowded this time, and we decided to try something different. For BF, it was the Chimichangas:

Chimichangas at El Paso Mexican Grill

This was what BF ordered. I had his guacamole.

For me, it was Chiles Rellenos, a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with Queso Fresco, fried, and plated under more Queso Fresco and a red sauce.

Chile Rellenos at El Paso Mesican Grill

Delish! It also wasn’t that big, which was perfect. I still took half of it home because, well, chips and salsa. BF did the same thing. That meant no cooking the next night so we could enjoy the delicious leftovers. Plus he always gives me his guacamole.

We didn’t order dessert this time, but I did suggest to BF that he try churros. Puzzled as he was, one of the ladies explained that to him. (Little fried sweet dough sticks with cinnamon served with chocolate syrup for dunking.) I mentioned to them that I once had churros with melted Nutella, at an AWAI Bootcamp many years ago in Delray Beach. Their eyes widened at that idea. BF turned his nose up because he hates Nutella. They were that good, but it was in a Marriott Hotel, after all.

I also suggested sopapillas, which BF also didn’t understand, until I said, “You know what beignets are? Same thing, served with honey.” Ultimately, BF passed on dessert entirely, possibly because I overwhelmed him with info.

More Tex-Mex In Hammond

We are quite thrilled to find another Mexican restaurant in Hammond, and it’s definitely our new go-to place. Highly recommended if you’re in the area. And if you’re not, they have multiple locations around the state, including Monroe, Denham Springs, and New Iberia.

But one odd thing I discovered is that their main website hasn’t been updated since about 2017. There isn’t a complete list of locations, either. The website on the menu isn’t online anymore. And the other oddity is that there are multiple websites for the same company. Or rather. . .well, I’m not sure.

There’s a website for one location in Baton Rouge, one in Slidell, one in West Monroe, one in Belle Chase, and another in Metairie. There is also one in Pensacola, Florida, according to the main website.

I’m guessing it’s franchised, and each one is individually owned. The websites all say, “family-owned,” but I’m not sure if it’s one family, or each location is owned by a different family. I didn’t think to ask, but then we were enjoying chips, black bean dip, and salsa too much.

Well, whatever the ownership situation is, Hammond will always be our favorite.

El Paso Mexican Grill is located at 1603 N Morrison Blvd, Hammond, LA 70401-1531, and their phone number is 985-956-7223.

Until Next Time

In addition to the upcoming meat box from Misfits Market, I’m working on a few other things to report.

Spring is coming, and that means lovely spring vegetables as well as gardening. Maybe. I’m trying to get BF to think about another round of gardening, this time on the far side of the garage.

He has access to a tractor with something called a “box blade,” which would render that area suitable for planting. Two huge tree stumps with an extensive root system are what stand in our way for a nice garden over there. But it’s protected from the main area, with an existing fence to help keep the local wildlife (and occasional visits from BigFoot) from destroying it like last time.

I should look for some BigFoot garden décor. Maybe even this sign on the outside of the garage. I bet that would keep the night creatures away from our garden. Along with anyone else who decided to show up.

Well, I still have my paint bucket garden. They’re cheap. Maybe I’ll try tomatoes again this year. I clipped a bit of basil from last year’s plants back in November before the winter chill got here and sprouted them on the kitchen windowsill. They’re currently planted in a small ceramic pot. Now I’ve got two small plants in the kitchen window waiting for the day they can grow outside.

Time to see what Tractor Supply has ready to bring home and plant. BF just turns his nose up. Until next time. . . .

Happy Dining, Amigos!

Menu from Los Primos Restaurant
Restaurant Review: Los Primos

In the quest for delicious Mexican food in the middle of Louisiana, Los Primos is an oasis of deliciousness. Come along for a trip with me and BF.

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Hello again, Dear Readers:

This week marks six years since I crossed the Sabine River to visit BF for the first time. We didn’t “celebrate” like we did last year. We’ve decided on a movie for Valentine’s Day: Ghostbusters: Afterlife. We’ll get that from the red kisok somewhere.

I suggested the fourth installment of Hotel Transylvania, which is only currently available for streaming. But BF thought the newest Ghostbusters film would be better. The menu is yet to be decided, but we’ve got some great choices. There may be some chocolate waffling going on, too.

Update On Spencer

We’re still mourning the loss of our little free spirit, Spencer.

My phone went off with a text notification a couple of weeks ago from our very nice animal communicator friend, Ami Pope. She read my previous post describing him and enjoyed reading the stories. She said that Spencer was glad I shared all the memories and was surprised that I remembered everything. He is very happy with a new family, running around, and sends us much love.

Spencer was unforgettable. And I forgot to mention one more thing about him: he was also a mouser.

Living in the “piney woods,” mice are a given. We’ve had them a few times but have taken steps to keep them out. Mousies are especially persistent when it gets cold because they just want to be warm.

You’d think with a cat, we wouldn’t have any. Sealing up the holes has kept them out for some time, and we’ve not had any inside since. BF caught one or two with a sticky trap, Tab E. Cat has caught six, and Spencer caught three. No kidding, he really did, but we didn’t take any pictures.

When he found them, Tab E. Cat’s feline hunting nature would quickly become activated, and he sprang into action. The mouse didn’t last long after that, and I apologized to each one for the outcome of their visit. In BF’s case. he picked up the trap and took it out. Spencer would just leave them in the middle of the floor and stare at them, wondering what they were.

The Big Mouse

Actually, Spencer caught four if you count the “big mouse.”

Picture of north American Possum

Source: Google Images

A few years ago, we went to someone’s house one summer evening so BF could help a coworker work on a car (naturally.) Anticipating a short visit, we put the dogs out with fresh water and left. It was only about five miles up the road.

As things often do with cars, it took longer than expected. One of BF’s favorite mechanic memes says, “Every 20-minute project is just one broken bolt away from becoming a three-day nightmare.” That was certainly true in this case, and we returned home at about 1:00 am.

Nature’s Surprise

When we pulled up to the house, I looked over at Spencer’s little spot and he was not alone. There was another creature lying on its side, looking, well, deceased. Spencer was looking around like he didn’t understand why the creature wasn’t moving. I said to BF, “Honey, there’s something over there by Spencer.”  Both BF and Spencer were unfazed by the creature’s presence. I didn’t know what to think but was still a little freaked out.

North American possum

Source: Google

I stayed in the truck, and BF fearlessly approached the creature that was somewhat smaller than Spencer. He quickly discovered that it was “playing possum.”

Carefully, BF picked up a shovel and approached what he realized was a standard American opossum. This beast opened one eye at BF as if to say, “hey, can you help me out here?”  BF then gingerly scooped up the animal with the shovel, carefully carrying it to the back part of the property behind the house where there are large trees. On the way, the possum looked at BF with a look that said, “is the coast clear?”  As BF slowly lowered the shovel to the ground, the animal gave him one more look that said, “Hey, thanks, Buddy!” Off he went into the dark night, never to be seen again.

BF just laughed. Spencer didn’t understand.

Los Primos The Restaurant

A few months ago I told you about the accidental discovery of the grocery store called Los Primos in Hammond. I was ecstatic, and still am. Finally, I got BF to consent to a dinner date at the restaurant side. We were not disappointed, either.

When most locals think of “Mexican food,” two places come to mind: Taco Bell and La Carreta. While the food is good, I’m not a real big fan of La Carreta. Mardi Gras decor and Fleur de Lis on the metal tabletops in a Mexican restaurant? No. But it’s *the* place here, with steak nights on Thursdays. (There’s also a La Carreta in Hammond, but we’ve never been to that one.)

So one particular evening, we set out to Hammond for dinner. We happened to have been on a long phone conversation with Ami’s husband at the time, no kidding. After hanging up, we went in to have some delicious and authentic Mexican food.

Salt and pepper tray on table at Los Primos

This greeted us, along with the menu. Cute, isn’t it?

Then a nice lady handed us the menus.

Menu from Los Primos Restaurant

The Menu

She didn’t speak too much English, so you know it’s authentic. (Most of the staff in La Carreta speak fluent English with varied accents, none of them Hispanic.) Oh, and don’t forget!

Chips and salsa in Los Primos

Of course!!

Yes, you’re all about self-control until these show up. Hey–I’m not sedentary!

While BF ordered his usual Coca-Cola, I had no problem asking for slices of limos for my water–and they brought me some.

Mexican Coke

THIS is the real thing!

BF didn’t seem to mind that it was Mexican Coke, famed in Texas for having cane sugar.

Looking around, we saw some equally authentic decor:

Antique picture in Los Primos

Emiliano Zapata portrait

It’s a nice portrait of a man named Emiliano Zapata, a Mexican revolutionary and political figure. There was also music by:

Pepe Aguilar music in Los Primos

Music, maestro!

Pepe Aguilar was actually born in San Antonio, Texas but raised in Mexico. Born into a musical family, Pepe is very famous in Mexico for his music as well as being a businessman. We just enjoyed the music while we were there.

What We Had For Dinner

As I’ve said before, I don’t speak much Spanish. Fortunately, these nice folks at Los Primos do understand enough English to take orders and whatnot. We were the only Gringos having dinner that night, and it was a Tuesday or something, just a week or two prior to Hurricane Ida.

So BF ordered steak fajitas on this date night:

Steak fajitas on hot plate

For BF

And as is my habit, I ordered shrimp fajitas:

shrimp fajitas on hot plate

Oh, YEAH!!!

Because they are shrimp that I don’t have to mess with. Both plates also came with accompaniments, including handmade tortillas:

Plate of beans, rice, salad and limes

Oh, these were good!

Needless to say, there were takeout boxes involved. And a spot of shopping in the grocery store side after we were finished. BF sat in the truck while I shopped.

Poking Around Los Primos

I’ll just admit that the wait for dinner wasn’t long, but my curiosity also got the best of me.

Chances are you’ve seen regular-sized bags of this masa harina in the grocery store, especially if you’re in any grocery in Texas.

Stack of large bags of masa harina in Los Primos

That’s a lot of masa!

I’ve got one in the pantry, sealed up for the next time I attempt tamales. But like any restaurant, they buy larger sizes of everything, and masa harina is no exception:

50 pound bag of masa harina

That’s right–fifty pounds!

I’ve never seen these before, even in Houston. After trips into so many Mexican restaurants, I’ve never seen a bag this big. Even visiting places like the El Dorado Mexican Restaurant in Clear Lake never let anything like this sit out. That’s OK, since Los Primos is an authentic little place much like El Dorado, which is also family-owned. (And they’ve got a new location in League City.) These 50-pound bags were just eye-popping!

Much as I enjoyed going to El Dorado, I’m also glad to find Los Primos for a little taste of Mexican food right in Hammond. We’ll be going back for another delicious meal.

Until Next Time

Los Primos is located at 1320 N. Morrison Blvd, Suite 118, Hammond, LA 70401. As I mentioned in the last blog, the information I found says that the restaurant is open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. As always, call ahead (985-429-1722) before you go. Hopefully we’ll be visiting them again soon.

Winter is still here, and Mother Nature is offering bipolar weather with up-and-down temperatures that look like lottery numbers. But since it’s still winter, I thought nice hot soups would be a good idea. Two easy and tasty recipes are lined up for the next blog post. Both are good, easy to make, and. . .vegetarian. But there is a considerable amount of cheese involved. BF actually likes one of them, so stay tuned.

Ole!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiesta Arroz Con Pollo
Fiesta’s Arroz con Pollo

Today’s post is not sponsored, but more of a love letter to Bolner’s Fiesta Spices Company. If you like a good chicken and rice, you’re reading the correct blog today.

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Hi, again, Dear Readers:

If you’re in Texas, you probably look at Fiesta Spices like you look at the shelves when you shop–it’s in every grocery store, everywhere. Of course, it is, because the company is in San Antonio, and their spices are widely available throughout Texas. But when you find it in the middle of Louisiana, where Hatch chiles are not embraced, that’s something to celebrate.

I can get a small selection of Fiesta spices and products at Albertson’s, which includes their River Road brand of Cajun-style spices. I had no idea that River Road was a Texas company until recently.

BF’s Seasonal Mantra

Yes, he’s saying it: “I hate cold weather!” Repeatedly, and more often if there is an implication and/or inference of snow in the forecast. Despite my sincerest hopes, snow has not made an appearance, and for this BF is happy. However, despite the incredible Arctic chill, we’ve fared well. And as BF is fond of saying, “it gets cold in the piney woods.” He’s not kidding, either–it was 17F when that cat showed up five years ago.

Still, the closest thing I get to a fireplace is streaming on my Roku through YouTube or another streaming channel. I look for the ones with music, but there are some with just the crackling sounds. PlutoTV’s fireplace channel is now just a loop of commercials until Christmas.

For many years I’ve asked BF for a space heater that looks like a fireplace. I’ve shown him multiple available models that look and feel like a fireplace but don’t carry as many risks as a real one. We could even build a nice little wooden mantel for it and put the “fire” inside. Nope–didn’t think it was a good idea.

But last week saw the purchase of exactly that–a space heater with a fireplace-like inset. We got the last one at Walmart. All the rest of the heaters were gone in anticipation of the sub-freezing weather. Obviously, last year’s big freeze is still on everyone’s mind, both here and in Texas. I use it in the back room where it gets really cold, and the pit bull pulls his little cushion in front of it to stay warm. Awwww. . . .

Powerless

Sure enough, last week we woke up to no power. The weather was fine, just really cold. BF got up, started the camp stove like he’s done many times before, and got cracking on bacon and eggs for us. After a short phone conversation with his brother, he went back to sleep. He had to go to work at noon. Meantime I started dusting because I don’t need power for that.

Entergy said the power would be back about 9:30 am, which came and went. About 11 am, I asked him to please get the generator set up so I could plug in a heater. He dragged it to the house, filled it, and started it up. I went inside to get an extension cord, only to see the ceiling fans start turning. Nevermind! I flipped the switch to turn it off and that was the end of it. BF was out in the shop snickering because he knew what happened. I plugged the heater in for the back room, the HVAC system kicked on, and he went off to work.

BF also purchased another indoor heater this week, one that runs on the same propane bottles as the camping stove. It will keep us from freezing if we have another outage, and no need to go into town for petrol if we don’t need it.

Mr. Heater propane heater

And it works well, too, because we tested it.

Since it is winter, though, we always need something warm and comforting for dinner. Luckily, I found something that’s easy and fast.

Finding Fiesta Spices

Living in Texas as long as I did, I got used to buying certain things. When I moved here, I had to find what I needed locally or order it online. Ask our mail ladies how many packages they handle from all over the US with my name on them.

A few years ago I found in Winn-Dixie one spice brand I used to buy, but not many of the Mexican variety. What am I supposed to do with a tiny bottle of cumin?

I always bought Fiesta because it was there, it’s good stuff, and readily available. I brought a fair amount of it with me when I moved. Leave Texas and the brands are all different–and you can’t always get those big containers of ground cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Then one day I stumbled on Fiesta Spices in Hammond. Oh, Happy DAY!!

It was kind of an accident–I went into the Albertsons to look for something Rouses didn’t have available. I walked down the spice aisle and there it was! A whole section of the shelf of JUST Fiesta Spices. And River Road, too!!

I was so happy, I didn’t know what to buy first. (I think I bought a big container of chile powder.) BF stayed in the truck while I went into the store since he’s not enamored with grocery shopping. Really. He’d rather not be bothered with grocery shopping, ever.

Foodies Of Instagram

In the quest to make a good dinner for both myself and BF, it’s frequently a hit-and-miss proposition. Really, the thing I think he’ll dislike is the thing he asks for again. And the thing I think he’ll enjoy is what he’ll turn up his nose at, loudly. (“She’s tryin’ ta kill me!”) But this time, things went well, and all because of an innocent Instagram post a couple of weeks ago.

I follow a myriad of people and companies on Instagram, including some food bloggers and culinary celebrities I’ve mentioned here. Jen Fisch of Keto In The City and Emilie Bailey, The Texas Granola Girl, are two of them. Others include Stephanie O’Dea, Ina Garten, (The Barefoot Contessa) her protege Lidey Hueck, Rachael Ray, Valerie Bertinelli, Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) plus her two daughters, and of course, the Goddess of the Home, Martha Stewart.

I originally joined Instagram to follow sewing maven MimiG, who occasionally posts foodie stuff, some of it in sponsored posts. I also follow her talented sewing/designing husband Norris Danta Ford, both of whom are very nice folks. Since then I’ve followed more like Emilie Bailey and Jen Fisch, both of whom are active on IG.  I even follow a couple of personal injury lawyers who produce interesting video content. Many will answer questions if you ask (the lawyers don’t give legal advice) and interaction seems to be easier on Instagram.

Of course, food companies are all over Instagram, including Caulipower, and a Texas favorite, Fiesta Spices. And that’s where it started.

Fiesta’s Instagram

So this particular day, the folks at Fiesta Spices posted a picture of Arroz Con Pollo, or Spanish chicken and rice. The post (and the recipe) featured Fiesta’s Spanish Rice Seasoning.

screenshot of Arroz Con Pollo on Instagram

Oh, don’t you want some?

That sure does look good. . .so I asked:

Screenshot of questions on Instagram

They answered.

Dinner is solved! The recipe is also on Fiesta’s website.

We had another reason to head to Hammond, and a quick trip to Albertson’s was added to that trip. There it was, the Spanish Rice Seasoning right on the shelf. Also got some chicken thighs on sale, broth, and promptly forgot the cilantro.

Bottle of Fiesta Spanish Rice SEasoning.

Found it!

Recipe on side of Spanish Rice Seasoning bottle

There it is!

Wait, hang on–you mean they have it in the big bottles? For $8.72? Yep, that’s good to know.

Making Arroz Con Pollo

This couldn’t be easier to make, and it’s faster than the jambalaya BF insists upon making occasionally. (I know, keto what?)

Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo

The setup

BF isn’t a fan of chicken thighs the way I am, but that’s been the least expensive option lately:

Two bags of chicken thighs for the freezer

Ready to freeze.

Ideally, boneless and skinless chicken thighs would be the best option, but I got what was on sale and just removed the skin myself.

Skinless chicken thights

Usually, the bones fall off anyway, but not this time.

Just get all your ingredients together, and get started.

Arroz con Pollo setup

The setup, part 2

I used my chili pot, and it worked perfectly. First, add the olive oil:

Adding oil to the pot

Not a whole lot

Then start frying the rice in the oil:

Toasting rice in oil

Just like this, until it starts turning brown

Then add in the tomato sauce:

Adding tomato sauce

Just like that, 7 ounces

Then the seasoning:

Adding Fiesta seasoning to pot

One tablespoon

The 2.5 cups of chicken broth:

Adding chicken broth to pot

Instead of just water.

Carefully add the chicken thighs:

Adding chicken thighs to pot

Just lay them on top

Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the chicken is cooked. I think.

Covering pot with Fiesta chicken

And don’t mess with it, either.

I actually don’t know how long I cooked it for, I just looked at it a couple of times. I cut open one of the chicken pieces, and it was done. Might have been 25 minutes, but of course, the chicken is the barometer. You can add a little more water or broth to the rice if needed.

When you open your pot, this is what you get:

Fiesta Arroz Con Pollo

Oh, YEAH!

The rice is deliciously cooked:

Fiesta cooked rice

Just like that.

And you’ve got a tasty one-pot meal that’s on the table in less than an hour.

Feeding Arroz Con Pollo to BF

Now comes the scary part: will he like it?

Two plates of Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo a la Fiesta, or Spanish Chicken & Rice

I’m happy to report that it was a two-thumbs up! BF really enjoys this dish and will be happy for me to make it again. I better order a restaurant-sized bottle soon. He’ll keep me around for this one.

Arroz con Pollo could be a perfect dish for our Valentine’s Day “dinner and a movie” night.

Now that I think about it, I bet you could make this in the Instant Pot, too, although maybe not using the pressure cooking function. I’ll have to fiddle with it and see how it works. If the power goes out, I can plug the IP into the generator, saute the rice, add everything, and then cook it normally until done with the glass lid. Maybe pressure cook it for 15 minutes? I’m thinking ahead to the next winter power outage, and if we can do this on the generator.

What Happened Next?

Two days after this success, Fiesta posted a picture of a spatchcocked chicken seasoned with their Chicken Rub, featured by a different poster.

Spatchcocked chicken

Featuring their Chicken Rub

As you can see, I also mentioned the previous night’s dinner from their post. And when I went to Hammond the next morning to run errands, I picked up a bottle of their Chicken Rub for us.

Bottle of Fiesta Chicken Rub

There it is!!

A few days later I took two chicken thighs out of the freezer and used this chicken rub:

Two chicken thighs coated with chicken rub

Ready to roast

I forget what else I made with it, but BF enjoyed this dinner and said I should make it again.

Two winners in a week! (Although BF may soon complain that he is “clucking” from all the chicken.)

Fiesta’s Tamale Kit

During the holidays, lots of companies have online contests for different things. In the case of Fiesta Spices, it was a bottle of this or a that. Not expensive things, but it was fun, so I entered and tagged people every day.

Then on December 19th, at 8:37 in the morning, I got a message on Instagram from Fiesta. I won their Tamale Kit!!

Fiesta Tamale Kit

Here it is, right from the factory in San Antonio!!

As requested, I sent them the address, and it arrived on December 28th. Woo hoo!! But checking their website, it’s out of stock right now. So I guess I got the last one.

Now for the bad news: making tamales is a long-term commitment. Seriously. Lots of labor and a little hand cramping. But done correctly, well-made tamales are delicious. At this point, I don’t know when I’m going to be making our own tamales. When I do, I will need to get a Food Saver to freeze five dozen of them. Meantime, Texas Tamales will have to take care of our cravings for real tamales.

Buying Fiesta Spices

If you’re in Texas, you already know where:  your local HEB, Kroger, Food Town, Randall’s, Fiesta Mart (the grocery store chain, I miss them too), and every other little place that sells Hispanic foods and goods. Toss a quarter in any direction in the state of Texas and you’ll likely find at least a few Fiesta Spices products.

Locally, there are two stores I’ve found that carry Fiesta Spices. The first is Albertson’s in Hammond. Chances are the other Albertsons carries them too, but I’ve only been in the Hammond store. Amazingly, the Walmart in Covington also carries a huge selection of Hispanic foods and spices, and I believe they had some as well.

I don’t remember seeing Fiesta products in Los Primos last year, but I may have also missed something. In my defense, I was just wide-eyed at all the wonderful things from Mexico they have. It’s been a while since I’ve been there, but I should make more Salsa Macha soon.

But if you’re in a place like, say, Idaho, chances are Fiesta Spices aren’t something in your regular grocery store. For that, you have the option of a) buying from their own website, or b) ordering from their Amazon store.

Prior Exposure

Now, this wasn’t the first time I’d ever had Arroz con Pollo, nor will it be the last (now that HE likes it.) My mother had a complete set of The Betty Crocker Recipe Collection, circa 1971. In it was a recipe she used, sort of, and made many times when we were growing up–Arroz Con Pollo.

Recipe card for Arroz Con Pollo

This was one of the few I remember her making from the hundreds of cards.

If I remember correctly, she didn’t use pimientos or olives:

Back side of recipe card for arroz con pollo

The 1970’s version of haute cuisine.

It was pretty easy, so that was the draw, plus everyone ate it. The recipe was scaled down for a family night dinner for six. But we didn’t know it was simply Spanish chicken with rice. This was New Orleans in the 1970’s, before Paul Prudhomme and Emeril and all that.

Recipe “collections” like these were sold as a small package bought monthly for a small price, and the storage box usually came with the first package. Over a year or two at that price you’d have the entire collection in your kitchen. Most people didn’t add up the total cost of these little “collections” that you bought for a small sum every month. My father bought the whole thing for my mother, and I only recall that recipe ever being used. Maybe one day I’ll go through all the cards and if there’s anything else that rings a bell.

Then one day, about 15 years ago (and probably more) my mother decided to get rid of her Betty Crocker Recipe Collection. I convinced her to give it to me instead of tossing it in the trash. As a fan of the always amusing and occasionally crass Vintage Recipe Cards website (also on Instagram), I might actually use one of these recipes one day. But nothing with aspic, gelatin, or other “gourmet” techniques of the day. Occasionally recipes from this collection show up in the postings.

Until Next Time

If you’re looking for something new and different for dinner, Fiesta’s got you covered. Their website has a huge library of recipes featuring their spices and products, both Mexican and Cajun. Let’s face it, a muffuletta has nothing on these Fishing Sandwiches.

Wait. . .did someone say Chorizo? Hang on, is that an Overnight Oatmeal recipe?

There are also keto recipes featured, and guess what? The links take you to The Texas Granola Girl’s website! These were two of the many recipes that feature Fiesta Spices (and of course, sponsored by the company.) Keto Deep Dish Pizza and Keto Shrimp Etouffe look like two dishes I need to try really soon, especially the second one. Oh, wait, there’s a Mexican Shredded Beef recipe for the Instant Pot.

Wonder if he’ll *almost* want to yell at me as he wanted to the first time I made the Wheat Belly Gumbo recipe.

Another warm and delicious vegetarian recipe is coming, along with a couple of cookbook reviews and another Spencer story. Right now, we all need warm comfort food, and I’m looking for more of those too. Don’t worry, spring is on its way, and soon we’ll be watching the Gulf of Mexico again. Meantime, make some delicious Arroz con Pollo and find something funny to watch.

Happy Dining!

 

 

Lost Primos storefront
Los Primos Of Hammond

Los Primos is the little Mexican grocery store in Hammond. Let me take you to our local “little Mexico.”

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

OK–have you tried the Salsa Macha yet? I’ve emptied that big jar, and am down to the two small jars. Need to make a trip to Winn-Dixie for more peanuts, and soon, back to Hammond for more dried chipotle chili peppers.

I’ve used it on a few things and even eaten a small spoonful at a time. The warm, smoky flavor is amazing. What I’ve used it for the most has been. . .egg salad. No kidding. Slice or chop three hard-boiled eggs, and add them into a small bowl. In a separate small bowl (custard cups are good for this), mix about three parts of regular mayonnaise with one part Salsa Macha. Mix well, then mix in with the chopped eggs. Mix well and enjoy. That is fabulous. Unfortunately, I didn’t formally measure anything.

Oh, and BF finally did try it after I basically cornered him and twisted his arm (not physically.) I put about one-eighth of a teaspoon on a saltine cracker and asked him for his opinion. He’s always leery of anything with any kind of peppers in it, including sweet bell peppers. Peppers and tomatoes give him a bout of heartburn, especially at night. But I wasn’t asking him to eat a large amount, just a little taste. This shouldn’t give him heartburn, but he was adamant. He ate half of what was on the cracker and said it was “Ok, but I don’t want it again.” That was all I was asking for. So, more for me, and he gets heartburn from seemingly everything.

I’ve also started back working on my new copywriting website, which has been sitting idle for a while. Banana Rat is also doing a bit to help me with it, mostly the back-end stuff on WordPress.

Piggybacking on last week’s post, I want to tell you about an accidental discovery and a big surprise. Of course, BF never thought to tell me this place even existed.

Hammond, Louisiana

The Casa de Rurale is a half-hour away from this sort of metropolitan city. It’s a little more than an hour north of New Orleans, and home to many “bigger city” amenities like Starbucks and Target. (It’s the closest of both to us.) If we can’t find it in either Walmart, Winn-Dixie, or Tractor Supply, chances are it’s on the list for the next trip to Hammond. We’ll visit Target, Rouse’s, Hobby Lobby, or a bigger Winn-Dixie while we’re there.

Hammond is also home to Southeastern Louisiana University, one of the top three universities in Louisiana, and also one of the fastest-growing. What does Southeastern have? College students from all over the US. So naturally, there’s Target, Starbucks, and other businesses they’ll know from home. It’s why there is a Trader Joe’s right outside LSU in Baton Rouge. You’ll nearly always see college students in there as well as local folks (and people like me who just love it but don’t live close by.)

When we go to Hammond for a shopping and foraging excursion, BF just smiles and gives me that same look when he looked into the very full pantry after I moved into his house. It’s the smile and the look that says, “Yes, dear, whatever you say.”

And it was on this day that we went to Baton Rouge, first to say goodbye to Alvin Calhoun. As we made our way back, he wanted to stop in Hammond–“it’s a surprise,” he said. I don’t normally like surprises–y’all know I’ve had way too many to think it’s going to be good. Thankfully, this one was different.

The Chinese Lunch Place

On the way home, BF decides we’ll be stopping for lunch at this little Chinese takeaway in a strip mall on Morrison Blvd. Before we get there, he just keeps telling me it’s a great little surprise.

Oh, boy, he wasn’t kidding.

Walking through the car park, hand in hand, I look over to my right and I see it:

Lost Primos storefront

How have I never seen this place before???

Could it be? A real Hispanic food store? It is! When I saw the words “envios de dinero,” in a sign on the door, I knew what was inside. I had to go inside and investigate.

Of course, BF had his little heart set on Chinese takeaway, and he had to physically pull me into the Chinese place. Not throwing shade on the nice Chinese place, but once I ordered I walked out. Because there’s a real Mexican grocery store in Hammond–right next door!

I left BF to take care of the rest and pick it up. Told him to text me when he was done and ready to leave.

Los Primos Of Hammond

Have you ever walked into someplace and your eyes just soaked up everything? That was me in Los Primos. The Spanish music was playing over the PA system, brightly colored stuff was everywhere, and I was the only Gringo in the place. This was the first thing I saw:

Shelf of Spanish goods

Isn’t it gorgeous??

The brightly painted coffee cups, the clay pots, and the little shopping bags were my favorite.

I walked around a bit and saw the wall of dried spices, just like you’d see in Fiesta or Food Town:

Dried chili packets hanging on the wall

They’re all here!

Found the chipotle I needed!

Packet of dried chipotle chiles on the rack

Bought two of these

And other Hispanic spice-rack favorites:

Spice packets hanging on rack

They’re all here! (Although I don’t know what they’re all for.)

Sesame seeds were also needed for the Salsa Macha, and I was able to get a package here.

Sección de Comestibles (Grocery Section)

When I first moved to Houston, I was just shocked at all the different Hispanic, organic, and other specialty foods that were available in the regular grocery store. Stuff you just couldn’t even imagine buying in a grocery in New Orleans in 1998. But there it was, for anyone to purchase, no matter their ethnicity. I regularly bought one or two new things to try while I was in Texas, especially when I visited Phoenicia Foods on the west side.

While my eyes and ears were soaking this all up in Hammond (the first time), BF sat in the car park, in the cab of the truck, looking at Facebook. I think he was just afraid to walk into the place.

Los Primos also has a variety of groceries that are commonplace in most Houston grocery stores.

Los Primos grocery shelf

All kinds of things, and lovely decor hanging from the ceiling.

Goya is the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the US, and its products are available outside of the US as well.

 Unknown snack bag

I bet this is tasty.

And don’t forget your nacho chips:

Bag of Nacho chips

Didn’t get these, but I could have

I got what I needed for the Salsa Macha:

packets of dried chiles and sesame seeds

Just what I needed!

I also bought another pound of fresh chorizo from the refrigerator case, as well as a couple of things to snack on during the trip home:

Empty packets of raw almonds and pepitas

These didn’t survive the drive.

Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) are something I haven’t had in at least 5 years, and probably longer. They’re just not something people eat here, but they’re so delicious and I just love them. I used to have a recipe for roasted and spiced pepitas, but I think the cookbook is now long gone.

BF had been up since about 5:00 am and was tired, but still graciously took me to Los Primos the second time when I needed some ingredients. I did offer him both the almonds and pepitas, but he passed.

Departamento de Carnes (The Meat Department)

Although I didn’t buy anything this time, I did take pictures:

Meat department price list

No, I don’t know what that all means, other than chicken and chorizo.

But I’d be willing to wager that this is chorizo:

Chorizo Sausage in bin

I’ve never seen that much chorizo in one place before.

And because I don’t understand much Spanish, there was only one guy I could talk to–the nice guy at the one register! That’s OK. I told him I was making Salsa Macha, and he said, “Oh, that’s so good! You can get big containers of it at Costco, too.” Well, Costco is an hour drive in any direction, so I have to make it myself. Not that I mind.

Fresh Produce, Too

There were folks putting up a little produce in the back. Not a big department, but they do have pinto and black beans in bulk bins, along with those little wagon wheels. (Never had those, and they’re wheat. You fry them up like croutons.) What I did get was some limos (limes.) At first, I didn’t realize that’s what they were. Look at the size of them:

Large lime in palm of hand

That’s the biggest lime I’ve seen since I left Texas!

The young lady putting up produce didn’t speak any English, but she did know what I was talking about when I said “limes?” She responded, “Si, limos.” I responded, “muchas gracias!” Because I was so happy to find these monster-sized ones–all we get in Winn-Dixie and Walmart are the golfball-sized models. The smile on my face told her everything.

No seeds in these limos, so I can’t re-grow them, either.

The Little Strip Mall

Los Primos is located at 1320 N. Morrison Blvd, Suite 118, Hammond, LA 70401.

It’s literally in the corner of this little strip mall, along with the Chinese takeaway, a donut shop, and a few other local shops. They’ve been in business for, as I was told, 11 years. They don’t have a website or any social media pages, either.

It looks like they are open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, but I’d call ahead (985-429-1722) to be sure.

There’s A Restaurant Too

Just on the other side of the wall from the Chinese takeaway, Los Primos also has a sit-down restaurant that, I hope, we’ll be visiting one day soon. Apparently, it’s a great place for a cheap date, which is perfect for us! (La Carreta is nice but a bit pricey.)

Reviews are mixed online, with some saying it’s a great and authentic Mexican, others saying something else. Yelp has the most that I’ve seen so far, mostly positive.

I didn’t even realize there was a restaurant until I was leaving–the second time. I’m sure they thought I was bonkers, but honestly, it’s great to find such a place around here. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can have a “date night” here. My birthday is in October, so fingers crossed.

Until Next Time

I’m working on a couple of upcoming topics, and there is another new book coming from Emilie Bailey, The Texas Granola Girl. Yes, it too is keto, but this one is vegetarian. I’ve already notified Miss Alice about the book, and I’m sure she and her daughter will eat it up. (Get it?)

The book comes out in September, and I may be lucky enough to get an advance review copy again. Based on the last two books from this lady, I can’t see anything being bad about this vegetarian food, whether for a side dish or for a main dish for people like Miss Alice.

If there is a topic you’d like me to explore and write about, by all means, let me know! I’m always looking for new blog topics. Leave a comment below, or use the contact form to get in touch. (I think I need to add a widget to the site so the contact form shows up everywhere.)

Good stuff is coming soon, and so are the holidays, so. . . .

Buen provecho! (Bon Appétit!)

 

Big Jar of Salsa Macha
Salsa Macha!

Salsa Macha–a most delicious thing to make any time. It’s perfect for your charcuterie boards, too.

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Hello, again, Dear Readers:

Apologies again for being later than I wanted, but I’ll explain myself shortly. It’s summer, and the living is easy (we hope.) As always, fall is coming, and certain people in the US population are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Pumpkin Spice Latte season. Heck, everything pumpkin spice–you know who you are.

If you just can’t wait, you can make that PSL at home with a recipe from Starbucks’ own website. Who would have thought it?

But remember–while y’all are sipping your hot PSLs, I’m still trying to enjoy my iced coffee and avoid heatstroke.

With all the rain we’ve had this year, I don’t think we’ve seen a day of 100F temps here. Houston, and most of Texas, has seen multiple 100F days.

This Year’s Gardening Attempts

We have not attempted to repeat last year’s gardening disaster.

I really haven’t mentioned the paint-bucket garden, but we’ve got basil and a few other things growing. I really need to plant the sprouted avocado seeds so they can grow into actual trees.

Avocado Trees in paint bucket

Just plant the seed into the dirt. . .and wait. No kidding, I’ve sprouted several but lost a couple.

Think of how many friends we’ll have when they find out we have avocados growing! Well, except for BF and his brother. Say “guacamole” and BF starts retching.

Two batches of pesto were the result of the last basil cut, and I’ll likely have that much when I cut this batch.

Basil in paint bucket

Think I have two cups here? (Yes, that’s an automotive jack behind it.)

I’ve also got two Anaheim chili pepper plants growing, and one has two medium-sized peppers on it.

Anaheim peppers growing in paint bucket

Darn bugs! I’ll get two if nothing else.

Unfortunately, the little peppers that began forming when the flowers dropped off became slug food, and so I may only have those two. We’ll see, since “cold weather” probably won’t start until at least October. And then there’s lettuce:

Lettuce growing in paint bucket

I need to turn this into a salad real soon

I’ve also bought some plants:

  • “Coolapeno” peppers, the heat-free jalapenos
  • Green onions, as always, but I need to add more to the pot
  • Orange bell peppers
  • Yellow tomatoes
  • Strawberries (the slugs have really decimated this one)
  • Mint (a plant that is overgrown in the bucket and we recently buzz-sawed with a hedge trimmer)
  • Parsley

And as always, sage:

Sage in paint bucket

I try to keep it around for fall dishes

Unfortunately, I didn’t plant them all right away, leading to more of BF’s smarty-pants comments about “science experiments.” I remind him that none of his previous female companions ever brought urban agriculture or other improvements into his house and his life.

Home Visit Nibbles

So a few weeks ago, our district leader OR decided she wanted to make the drive to do a home visit. It’s an SGI tradition of visiting members at home, particularly those who have recently begun practicing Buddhism and offering support. The leaders chant with the members and they discuss. . .whatever. In this case, it was the upcoming district meeting. And, I suppose OR wanted to get outta the house for a while.

Now, because of where I live, nearly everyone is an hour away. The closest members are J&B, who live in Albany, near Hammond. Basically, I’m practicing by myself out here, although most are a phone or Zoom call away. Since I’ve been practicing since 1986, though, I think I’ve got the hang of it. I don’t understand why they want to drive an hour–each way–to do a home visit, but I gave up protesting.

While we were chanting, BF showed up. But he quickly bugged off to the shop and left us alone to talk. He doesn’t mind the home visits, of course, but he does enjoy acting up when people are visiting me.

When someone does drive out here, I try to make sure I have some food and coffee to offer. I’ve baked some delicious treats from the first Babycakes book. I also have the second book but haven’t looked at it in a while. Maybe next time they come by I’ll make that Pineapple Upside-Down Cake on page 116 again.

On this particular day, since it was just OR, I told her I’d make a couple of those little keto chocolate cakes in the Instant Pot for her, and of course, coffee. OR is from Los Angeles, and is Hispanic herself–her parents came from Mexico years and years ago, and she has been in Mandeville since about 2006.  Knowing that I’m a fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex food, she decided to bring something special. Naturally, I didn’t think to take pictures.

Salsa Macha

So OR made a stop at The Fresh Market for a few things, including a box of little gluten-free nut crackers, a small tub of chicken salad, and a couple of slices of Swiss cheese. Why Swiss, I don’t know, I like it fine, and I just said “thank you.”

Along with these nibbles, she brought this:

Bottle of Salsa Macha

It was full when she brought it

Then she asked for a very small spoon, which I happened to have:

Cocktail spoon and regular spoon for Salsa Macha

The spoon on the left is a cocktail spoon, and the one on the right is a regular teaspoon from our flatware

Puzzled by her request, I went to the only one I knew I could put my hands on, in a box of Maldon Salt Flakes in the pantry. I have more of these tiny spoons, but I don’t know where they are.

We sit at the table and she explains:

  • Take a cracker
  • Fold a slice of cheese to make smaller pieces
  • Add a bit of cheese onto the cracker
  • Add a bit of chicken salad to the cracker on top of the cheese
  • Drip a bit of this incredible stuff on top of the cracker stack
  • Eat and enjoy

What the heck is this amazing thing you’ve brought here? OR responds, “It’s called Salsa Macha.

I have eaten it and become enlightened.

The Recipe

OR is a fan of Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS. I like to watch her when I can, her food looks delicious. Pati is actually from Mexico and is married to an American. They have three sons and live in Maryland. They have, however, lived in Texas.

Pati has three books, which will be going on my “wish list” soon. Her newest will be released in November, called Treasures of the Mexican Table: Classic Recipes, Local Secrets. Her most recent book graces OR’s kitchen, and all three will eventually grace mine.

This recipe is from a longer TV show segment on Cali-Baja Fish Tacos. You can see the whole segment here, and she starts making the Salsa Macha at about the 3:55 mark.

While the tacos look absolutely delicious, they are not gluten-free–she uses regular flour to batter the fish, and makes flour tortillas as well. Just thought I’d warn you.

OR said that since she made the salsa the first time, she carries around a jar of it and puts it on EVERYTHING. No wonder she has that glow of enlightenment.

I’m also writing about this recipe to piggyback on my last post on charcuterie boards. Because you can easily put this on any charcuterie board–just add a warning that it’s a bit spicy as well as contains peanuts. You don’t want an allergic person unknowingly ingesting it and having to go to the hospital.

If you do put this on your charcuterie board, I highly recommend putting the little cocktail spoons out for Salsa Macha. Because if you put a regular teaspoon out, someone will grab a large amount not realizing it should be consumed in small amounts. It does have enough of a bite from both the garlic and the chile peppers that a big tablespoon will overwhelm even the most tolerant of spice-lovers.

Making The Salsa Macha

Let me say at the outset that I am by no means an expert on Mexican and Tex-Mex food. I make no secret of the fact that it’s just one of my favorites. Living in Texas for 18 years, it’s all around, in the same way that red beans & rice, jambalaya, and gumbo are here. You know what I’d rather have, starting with the chips.

When most people hear the word “salsa,” it’s usually accompanied by the word “chips.” It’s either a freshly made tomato garnish, or it’s the kind out of a jar. Either one is good, especially if the chips are hot, fresh, and salty. However, this salsa is different.

Salsa Macha is cooked, and has no tomatoes. In fact, it has. . .peanuts. No kidding.

Ingredients for salsa macha

The Setup (part 1)

Of course, getting all the ingredients together was a challenge (I’ll tell you about that in a minute.) When I mentioned to OR that I was making some, she said she used a whole cup of peanuts, so I cracked open more before I made them.

Prep work involved a few other things, including peeling garlic and deseeding and deveining the dried chile peppers. That took a while:

Cut open dried chipotle pepper

Since it’s dried, they pretty much fall out.

By the time you get them all done and get to this point:

Cut chipotles in bowl

Ready to add

You’ve had a snootful of the pepper dust and have sneezed multiple times. Just cut the tops off, cut in half, or cut down one side, and the seeds are easy to remove.

The packet I got is actually 2.5 ounces, and the recipe calls for 2 ounces. Well. . .by the time you remove all those seeds, I’d say you got exactly 2 ounces.

I also measured out the sesame seeds, white vinegar, brown sugar (just for the first round, I think a sugar replacement like Swerve would work too), and salt for later.

Cooking

First: add 1.5 cups of olive oil to a pan:

Olive oil, 1.5 cups

It’s gonna be good!

And heat over medium heat:

Olive oil heating in pan

Once it’s heated, but not boiling, add the peanuts and the four cloves of garlic:

Garlic cloves and peanuts in hot olive oil

Like this; there are actually four cloves in the pan

Now, don’t walk away from it–you’re actually frying these ingredients:

Closeup of frying peanuts and garlic

Don’t let them cook too long

Pati says that peanuts are cooked long before you notice them, so that’s why it’s important to stay at the stove for this one.

Next, add the seeded and deveined dried chile peppers:

Adding chipotles into the pot

Right in there

Along with the sesame seeds:

Adding sesame seeds to the pot

Right in there

Cook a little longer until the chiles are toasted and done, about another 30 to 60 seconds, then take off the heat. (I just moved it to an unused burner.)

Pot and food processor work bowl

A safety tip is coming.

Grinding And Processing

Here’s where you should pull out that big food processor, you’ll need it.

Let me iterate here that this is HOT oil, and you’ll need to exercise great caution at this point. Hot oil burns badly, and nobody wants to check into the burn unit, ever. If you have small children or animals, shoo them out of the kitchen and away from the stove for their own safety.

Because I was using a cast-iron pot, I brought the food processor bowl to the stove and scooped it in a little at a time. Better safe than sorry, and I don’t want to get injured.

Scooping out of the pot

Just like this

I used a couple of tools to clear the pan:

Clearing out the pan

I got all of it out!

And dumped the last little bit into the work bowl.

After putting the bowl on the motor unit, I added the last ingredients:

Adding brown sugar to the food processor

Brown sugar

White vinegar:

Adding white vinegar to the workbowl

Right in, 3 tablespoons

And of course, kosher salt:

Adding kosher salt to the food processor

Just a teaspoon, but you can add more if you like.

Then hit the ignition:

Running food processor

Grind it up to a nice paste

What you get is this lovely and delicious thing that you won’t want to live without:

Salsa Macha finished

Delicious!

It makes a good bit, and so I filled one big jar and two small ones:

Jars of salsa macha

Into the fridge! (Store it in the fridge if you’re not using it immediately.)

When I clear out that jar on the right, I’m going to wash it well and return it to OR. BTW, those little Ball jars do come in handy for lots of things. Walmart, Amazon, and sometimes Tractor Supply has them.

Finding Ingredients

Raw peanuts are called “green boiling peanuts” here. Why? People boil them in salt and eat them like that. I can’t say they’re bad, but I never had them before I moved to this area.

Now you may be thinking, “Amy, how did you get that kind of thing in rural Louisiana?” Good question–I almost didn’t. That’s why this post is a bit later than I intended. I stayed up a little late last night to make it, too.

OR has access to not only a “Hispanic foods section” in the Mandeville Walmart, but there is also at least one “Mexican grocery store” in the area, too. I’ve been in that Walmart and seen it myself, bought masa harina and corn husks there for our chicken tamales I made once. But Mandeville is nearly an hour one way. Not a good option.

I went to our local Winn-Dixie and Walmart looking for the dried chiles, to no avail. I was on the phone doing a FaceTime call with OR looking for them, but they really don’t have that kind of thing here.

Then I remembered that there IS a Mexican grocery store nearby–in Hammond. So after being up since 6:00 am, and driving an hour from Franklinton to get home from work, BF took me to the little Mexican grocery in Hammond and then brought me home. Once back at the Casa de Rurale, BF went into hibernation for a while.

If you’re in an area where you can’t find these chiles, you can get them online at Fiesta Spices’ website. They have a whole section of their website just for dried chile peppers. Now that I think about it, Albertson’s in Hammond carries some of Fiesta’s spices, so maybe I’ll drop by there next time and see if they have the chiles, too. If not, everything is available online, thank heavens.

Will BF Eat It?

That’s always the question. I didn’t really make it for him, anyway. But he alternates between “I’ll try anything you make” to “I don’t think I’m gonna like it, I’d rather not try it.” Whatever. I’ll let you know.

If you eat this, you, too, will be come enlightened. I’m being silly when I say that, but that’s how good it is.

For my next blog post, I’ll tell you all about Hammond’s Tienda de comestibles, or little Mexican grocery store. We’ve recently seen folks speaking Spanish here, no English. Aside from the other considerations, it could mean more Hispanic foods may become available locally if the migration trend continues. Maybe it’s time for me to finally learn Spanish, even if I have to use DuoLingo. But for now, I can get some of these wonderful Mexican ingredients, along with ready-made chorizo, on the same trip as visiting Hobby Lobby, Rouse’s, and Target.

Until next time–Disfrutar! (Enjoy!)

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