Monthly Archives: June 2016

Putting Together Traditional Pozole For My Birthday Party And Gig

I became Pozolera For A Day. It was time to prepare for our annual end-of-June bash, and we decided to celebrate my birthday on the 25th. Maria, who usually prepares her excellent pozole for our parties, was leaving that very day for Chicago (a bad choice, if you ask me, with the weather and all). But she said that she would cut up the fixings and prepare the chile, and it’d be easy for me to do the rest. An innocent enters the world of pozole. What was I thinking??

I like pozole, and I had a general idea of how it’s made, so I agreed. And thus began a long day for me. Besides getting to perform in our rock band, I made pozole! We had purchased all the ingredients the day before – four or five pounds each of pork and chicken. So at about 11:30 in the morning I put two large vaporera pots on the stove, each about half filled with water, each with a clove of garlic and a whole onion, and turned on the burners. We have a small stove, well over 40 years old, and the vaporeras didn’t fit on the stove top without touching.

And at this point we both got nervous. What the heck do we know about making pozole?

But we moved on. About an hour an a half later, the water had begun to boil, and I had been cutting the meat into small pieces. I added the meat the cooking water and waited. Maria said when the meat had begun to cook, I should toss in small handfuls of rock salt, and I did that. About an hour later I added the liquidified chiles – red chile for the pork, made with guajillo and ancho chiles, and green chile for the chicken, made with fresh poblanos. I also added the prepared corn (thank goodness I didn’t have to do that the night before!) and at this point the wonderful smell intensified, and my two huge pots filled the kitchen with the wonderful aroma of pozole.

Meanwhile, in the world outside the kitchen, our large patio was being transformed with white tables and colorful (new!) chairs, and the stage was being set up with fairly large equipment for our performance. I normally help with this heavy job, but today I was otherwise occupied. Lots of photos follow.

Early morning:



Well, we’re farmers, too! Later:


And then:

Yeah – it rained.


But our crew kept on working. It was lucky that the rain came early.


And working:


We had help with the serving and doing of so many small things that must be handled. Nena, and Lupe, nieces, took care of that, including taking charge of the youngsters that come in without being invited, and get excited running around  and playing hide-and-seek, ignoring the barriers we had put up to keep them from getting into our garage and the bags of fertilizer and seed.

IMG_3488The guests began to arrive.

Josefina brought a gift:

IMG_3489I’d never seen such an amazing petunia before. And she brought a beautiful hanging basket of different colors!

Here it is:

IMG_3490We got a bit of a late start, and when we began to play, I admit, I found it very difficult to to focus. There was a small group of little boys running through our garden, grabbing at each other’s food and pieces of lemons (who’d have thought?) and it was the very first night that I saw June bugs this year, and they were attracted to the bright light on our stage.  They adorned my hair, crawled up my bare arms with their stickery little legs, found spots they enjoyed on my keyboards, and generally made nuisances of themselves.

Things improved, and we played until – it began to rain in earnest. That ended my day as a pozolera, and happily, the pozole really turned out to be tasty, especially when I had time to enjoy it today.

Tomorrow we head back to the fields with 1400 liters of water and 5 workers – gotta keep the young corn plants happy and healthy!


Our Corn Is Coming Up!

Each field in our part of the world has a name. It’s an old, old, and official name, written on the fragile old plans drawn of the lands around our rancho, and everyone here knows the names of each field.

This one is el joconoistle, or xoconoistle, a type of prickly pear that used to abound there, and the brave little corn plants are coming up!

IMG_3440There are little green rows of corn In the field adjacent are more little baby corn plants. I raised that young ash tree at our house, from one of the buckets of seeds that fell on our patio last year.



And over in la tabla grande, the big board, planted a day later with different seed (we ran out of seed!), are more little corn plants in very long (1000 meters, a kilometer!) rows.


One day soon we hope to get our new well with its cold, tasty water working to water the field that lies below it. The rich land around the new well has had a three-year rest.



Doña Julia’s Birthday Party

We were invited to a family party in El Toro. Our friend Ana, the person who schedules and manages things at the small church is a friend of ours, and asked us to come and celebrate her mother-in-law’s seventy-first birthday.

Here’s Doña Julia in front of her house. I’ve described the construction of the vast majority of homes in Mexico, and hers is the same – brick and mortar. Hers has a useful design, with several bedrooms and two bathrooms, side by side. Gotta love that!


We were honored to be invited, as every other person there was part of her family. I’m not sure how many sons and daughters she has, but there were at least four sons and four daughters at the party, with their husbands, wives and children, including Ana’s daughters. Here are two of them, both beauties.


We had a guitar with us, and we sang las mañanitas, and a few other songs, including Eres Tu, originally performed by Mocedades from Spain, and Solamente Una Vez, by the great Mexican songwriter Agustin Lara.


The food was wonderful – Toñio, Ana’s husband and Doña Julia’s son, prepared tacos. There was a variety of meats including carne asada and chorizo, served up with grilled onions and smallish yellow chiles stuffed with cheese (excellent, and a new dish for me).

Naturally there was a cake, accompanied by a gorgeous gelatina with fresh fruit, which is every bit as important as a birthday cake in our part of Mexico.


This guy had his very own table!


Rain was threatening when we left for home, but Ana’s teenaged daughters were wangling a ride to nearby Tecuan for a “big, big dance” complete with two popular bandas. And Doña Julia sent me home with a snippet of a climbing version of corona de Cristo, a spiny plant with red flowers. I hope it wants to live at our house.

So Much To Relate! Harvesting and Planting!

Here’s the condensed version.


We harvested our wheat. There was concomitant drama: parts of some of the fields weren’t mature and the grain elevator owner asked us to wait four days, causing several days of stress and worry:   Would it rain? Would the wind knock it all down? Skimming over the days of stress and wonder, it all turned out fine. We didn’t have a magnificent harvest, but it turned out to be quite respectable after four long days of hot and dusty harvesting.


We had had to delay our planting dates because of other, more pressing personal and human problems, but that’s a story for another day.


As immediately after the wheat harvest as we could, we began our corn planting, hiring a nephew to drive the tractor, using our brand-new planter-seeder. IMG_3328

Torn between planting an established and famous strain of hybrid corn seed, and a brand new type, we ended up using mostly Cimarron, an expensive seed we bought from a new dealer, the daughter of a local friend. Until we ran out. That caused us to scramble to order more, with delays and not-exactly-the-truth finessing by the dealer. We ended up ordering a new hybrid from a trusted dealer who even delivered the seed and loaded it into our pickup so that we could rush out to the last two fields to finish the planting before the rains came.

IMG_3365Planting usually results in long, long days, even though the work isn’t too taxing. The guys that are hired for loading have lots of waiting before they move into action, loading the canisters of the seeder with seed and fertilizer. Often one worker helps the other load bags weighing up to 100 pounds onto his shoulder, whereupon he walks to the tractor carrying it, and dumps the contents of the bag into its canister.IMG_3364

There are minimum half-hour waiting times. There were some unexpected problems (aren’t there always?). Some parts – nuts and bolts things – got lost, and we found out to our chagrin how much the tractor company charges for replacements. Since they weren’t available anyway, at least not locally, we made substitutes.

And the cycle starts over – instead of hoping that it won’t rain and ruin the crop or the planting, now we’re hopefully watching the skies for clouds to coax the baby corn plants out of the ground.