February 13 Creative Logo
 

bits

A bit of news, a bit of inspiration, a bit of new work... a bit random, a bit blogish. “bits” is where it all hangs out.

food

mmmmmmMexican chocolate cookies

 

Feeling inspired by a bag of Mexican cocoa powder I've had in my pantry, I concocted these little morsels over the weekend and I have to say they are pretty amazing! You can find the recipe here. I hope you'll give them a try and let me know what you think!

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something wild

 

El Esposo and I tried something new for Valentine's Day this year... something relatively adventurous (though perhaps not as lusty as that intro makes it sound). We went to an underground dinner. This one was hosted by ForageSF, an organization that promotes our local food economy in the most direct way I can imagine… through foraging ingredients from locations like my neighbor's backyard, Golden Gate Park, and San Francisco Bay. They also collaborate with very small local producers, like Local Brewing Co. and Two Mile Wines, who provided the beer and wine pairings for our meal. The location was undisclosed until the morning of the event (because these types of dinners aren't strictly legal and/or just to add to the allure of the whole thing). It ended up being right here in the Mission District at a warehouse art space, which was transformed with fairy lights, flowers, candles and live music into a surprisingly intimate and romantic venue. We sat at one of two huge communal tables and enjoyed a really great evening of food and conversation. Some of my favorites were the oysters (with roe from herring netted by our host, Iso Rabins; the herring make a 6-day spawning stop in our Bay each winter) and the dessert, which was an indescribably luscious mix of flavors and fragrances.

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cookie monster

 

I attended my first ever cookie exchange over the holidays, hosted by my dear pal Cindy (event planner extraordinaire... she pulls off intimate parties for friends and grand fetes for captains of industry with equal style and grace). My contribution was a souped-up oatmeal chocolate chip number that I've been perfecting in recent months. It just gets better and better and I think it's time to share the recipe!

The last batch called out to be immortalized in illustration...

You can find the recipe here.

Happy baking!

... betsy ...

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celebrating : el dia de los muertos

 

Saludos de Tepoztlan, Mexico. My mom brought me to this beautiful town for a little culinary vacation at La Villa Bonita and we’ve been fortunate to be here during Day of the Dead, a major cultural celebration that takes place throughout Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America (as well as in many homes in the United States, of course). Beginning around October 31st, families prepare to welcome the spirits of deceased family members back into the home for a brief visit. Day of the Dead is actually celebrated over two days, the 1st and 2nd of November. Although it may sound sad or even macabre to non-Latin sensibilities, it’s a very joyous occasion here in Mexico and I’ve been so delighted to learn more about it and to take part in the celebrations with our hosts. Here are several photos and a bit more information about this wonderful tradition.




Marigolds play a huge role in the Dia del los Muertos celebrations. They decorate doorways, altars (ofrendas), and graves and—perhaps most important—they’re used to create a pathway leading into the home, so the deceased souls can easily find their way back inside to enjoy the elaborate offering of food and entertainment the family has prepared for them. With our La Villa Bonita host, Chef Ana Garcia, we visited the market in Cuernavaca to buy masses of marigolds to create the many beautiful decorations and pathway shown above, as well as food and other decorations for her home and the ofrenda.


We helped Ana prepare the ofrenda, dedicated to her grandmother and great grandmother. The altar typically includes a cooked whole chicken, salt and water, pan de muertos (sweet bread, often baked in the shape of skulls and other figures), incense, candles, more marigolds and a photo of the deceased. It may also include any number of other items, often things that the deceased greatly enjoyed during their time in this world. For example, tequila is popular in ofrendas; for the spirit of Ana’s grandmother, we left her favorite cocktail ingredients: vodka and tonic. I love to imagine her strolling in along our golden path of marigolds and kicking back with a tall, cool glass of vodka tonic, taking in the beautiful vistas of Tepoztlan.

On the evening of November 1st, many Mexican families open the doors of their homes to anyone and everyone, offering hot beverages and treats and an opportunity to view the altars they’ve created for their loved ones. Ana and her husband Robb took us to nearby Ocotepec, where this tradition is particularly lively. There were lines around the block for many homes! We also took a dark walk through the cemetery, where some families had begun to clean and decorate the graves of their family members in preparation for the big celebration the following day.

We returned to Ocotepec the next morning to find the cemetery transformed into an explosion of color and festive activity, including live music and picnics at many grave sites. Even the humblest graves were tidy and festooned with bright flowers. Those who have died during the past year receive the most elaborate decorations (see Roberto’s, below). It was an amazing and undeniably upbeat scene... a real eye-opener for this gringo (gringa?!)






There have been many other incredible experiences on this trip, including lots of great food, of course! I’ll share more in my next post.

Hasta pronto!

..... betsy .....

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