Mexican Beef Stew

(Caldillo Duangueno) Beef Stew from Durango

This recipe is credited to Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, and the book is

“The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking”. The book is very worn out, and I have not changed a bit of this recipe (which is unusual for me, as I normally take 4-5 recipes, read them, add my own ideas and create my own version.  This wasn’t needed in this case.  My family loves it, and it is a warm, comforting dish that is fairly easy to make.

I have some explanations of how to prepare and use some of these ingredients. First off, use the lard—it cannot be substituted for the flavor in the recipe. Splurge if you don’t normally use it, but use it in the recipe.  Trust me.

Prepared chilies—are now found in most grocery stores in the ethnic section. If you grow them (which I do, but they are not always in season, and the prepared ones are wonderful). There are two types used in this recipe.

Ancho (dried) peppers are also known as poblanos (fresh), so if you see either, they are the same pepper. Mulato is the other type, which is sweeter and softer.  I buy a bag of each in the store, and they last a while.  If you can only find the anchos, use double.  It is all good. These are very mild peppers, and there is very little heat in this recipe.

Ok. Let’s prepare the chilies.  They are dehydrated, so they EXPAND.  Put them in a huge bowl, and pour boiling water over them.  Prick with a fork, and allow to rehydrate.  They will look like fresh peppers again.

Beef stock-always great to have fresh. However, if you don’t, use Knorr beef bouillon cubes versus anything else, as it actually tastes like beef stock.

Lean stewing beef—but into bite size pieces, and trim fat. Ok..we are ready!


3 ancho chilies

3 mulato chilies

3 TBSN lard

3 Lbs. lean stewing beef, cut into ½” cubes

I large Vidalia onion chopped

2 cloves garlic (although more won’t hurt)

1 large can Italian plum tomatoes (or fresh Roma tomatoes deseeded and skinned)

2 cups beef stock



½ tsp. oregano (fresh is bestJ)

Prepare the chilies. Reserve ½ cup of the seeds. Heat lard and sauté the beef until close to rare.  Set aside. Reserve remaining fat, and cook onions, and garlic in it. Add tomatoes.

Put prepared chilies and seeds in blender and blend to a smooth paste.

Combine everything in large pot, and simmer (do not boil or you will toughen the meat) for about 2 hours. Before it is done, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with tortillas that are tossed in a fry pan for about a minute.

Bon Appetit

Irish Soda Bread

2 cups flour

½ TBSP baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1/8 cup sugar

2 ½ TBSPS butter

¾ cup raisins

1/2-3/4 caraway seeds

¾ cup buttermilk or soured milk

1 egg (beaten)

Blend flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar together. Cut in butter until less than size of peas. Add raisins and caraway seeds and mix.  Mix in milk and egg.

Turn out onto floured surface, and knead for one minute.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 min. It is customary to cut a cross in the unbaked bread.

***This recipe is now going down to the fifth generation in my family. Bon Appetit.

Chicken Fried Rice

1 large chicken breast-cut into bite sized pieces

2 ½ cups jasmine rice- cooked until slightly dry

1 Vidalia onion or yellow onion

1 large or 2 small green peppers

1 bunch green onions (or scallions)

2 eggs, beaten

1 TB minced ginger

1 TB minced garlic

1-2 tsp sesame oil (can use hot—then omit the red pepper flakes)

Dash red pepper flakes

Soy sauce-use to taste when mixing all ingredients-should use about 1/3


Salt and pepper to taste

Other veggies can be added—mung bean sprouts, baby corn, water chestnuts, snow peas, etc.

(be imaginative)



Put a small amount of oil in wok or skillet.  Scramble up the eggs, and set aside.

Stir fry chicken.  Put aside.

Stir fry onion, garlic, green pepper, ginger, green onions.

Add cooked rice, and mix. Add back in the eggs and chicken.

Add soy.  Keep stirring. This is an individual thing, but the reason the rice needs to be dry is because this will remoisten it, and you do not want it to be mushy.  On low heat, keep mixing and stir frying the entire mixture. A wok works best for this, as it has a lot of surface area. It should begin to look done after a few minutes of stirring and cooking.  Add sesame oil and pepper flakes to taste. Salt & pepper to taste. This recipe can be done with other meats, fish, tofu,  or no meat at all. Experiment! Enjoy.  This is an easy one.


Bon Appétit


Fresh Tomato Soup

2 Tb olive oil

1 Tb butter

1 huge Vidalia onion, cut for sautéing

2 Tb flour

3 cups broth (homemade if you can get it—either chicken or veggie stock)

Prepared tomatoes (see blog for how to do this and if you save the juice subtract from broth)

1 large sprig of fresh thyme

3 Tb combination of these herbs—whatever you wish- Basil, Chives, Dill


Sauté onion in the oil and butter. After onions are translucent, add the flour and combine to form the roux. Add tomatoes and stir. Add your choice of broth.

Add crushed pepper and kosher salt. Add your choice of a combination of 3 Tbs of fresh basil, chives and dill.


Secure blender. (My husband made a wonderful version of “countertop tomato soup” from not securing the blender, so I am paranoid! I do this in small batches at a coarse setting, as I like a little texture, but this is an individual preference.  This soup is easy and nourishing. 


Bon appétit!


Chinese Beef & Veggies

1 lb. top round steak—cut on grain in small rectangular pieces
3 cups veggies
2-3 Tb. Soy
1 Tb. rice wine
1 tsp. hot sesame oil OR 1 tsp sesame and flakes of red pepper to taste
2 Tb. chopped fresh ginger
1 Tb chopped garlic
1 Tb cornstarch mixed with 1 Tb cold water in cup

All of these measurements are approximate. Use to taste.

Marinate meat in soy, rice wine sesame oil, ginger, garlic and cornstarch for at least an hour.
Stir fry meat until lightly done in wok or similar pan. Take meat off with slotted spoon to leave sauce in pan.
Add veggies and stir fry until desired degree of doneness. Crisp is best.
Adjust sauce’s ingredients

Bon Appetit

First Blog Post of 2014

ImageI’ve been a bit  amiss in my blog, and am now getting excited about the new year.  However, my poor garden is in it’s winter state, and normally does so much better, but we had the kind of artic blast.  After checking out the triage situation, I am left with some cabbage collards, Brussels sprouts, rosemary and lavender and am grateful for that.  For NC, it has been a tough winter, and it is still January.  However the light is getting ready to change, and it will be time to plant soon.

I did find an amazing surprise today.  There are five individual spinach plants coming up from the seeds I tossed in there in November to overwinter.  That made me smile.  They should be ready, along with the Brussels sprouts to eat next week.

This blog is not just a cooking blog, but it is a “freshness” blog about gardening, fresh foods, cooking and getting away from not knowing what is in season in the grocery stores.  If you see tomatoes in the store in January, they are not fresh.  However, seeing those same tomatoes in the store in July, and seeing people buy them and not know the difference amazes and saddens me.

We wandered out into the wilderness known as the garden today to pull up sticks, markers, pull out dead plants. We found the spinach plants, and the just about ready to eat Brussels sprouts.  It is time to amend the soil, add friend’s ashes from burn barrels and fireplaces, manure, leaves, and wait for a day to till.

Our wedding is March 15th, and we want the entire spring garden in and thriving before we head off for a well deserved honeymoon in Savannah.  Thus, we have work to do!

We used a live Christmas tree this year, with the intention of planting it–as we spent Christmas in Indiana.  We put it in today, and watered it generously.  We are excited about seeing this tree thrive, and hope that happens.  It was wonderful to be playing in the dirt again.  Here is a picture of our Christmas tree that is now in the yard. 

Happy New Year to all of you in Blogosphere.  I can’t wait to see what veggie takes the 2014 title of most prolific.  Last year, it was the year of the tomato.

Turkey Soup


This is a basic turkey soup. I got a package of large turkey wings, and simmered them for a few hours.  I took the wings out, got all the meat off the bones, strained the stock, cleaned the pot and reduced the stock by about half. 

That can all be put aside.  I did it on a separate night.  

The rest of the recipe consists of: (all veggies are chopped & all herbs are fresh)

  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 3 cups of Swiss chard (or spinach)
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjarom
  • 2 tsp. parsley
  • 2 ts[ salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 tsp. garlic

Saute carrots, garlic, onions, celery in a small bit of olive oil. Add turkey stock, herbs and stir for a few minutes. Add barley and simmer until barley is done.  Add turkey and Swiss chard.  Adjust herbs to taste.