Latino culture, Latino family tradition, Mexican food, Mexican Vegan food

A to Z Challenge: O is for Olla

A variety of cooking pots, photo by Scott Umstattd for unsplash.com

 

I’ve passed the halfway mark of the A to Z Challenge. Yay me!

Today’s letter is O. O is for Olla.

An olla (hoy-ya) is a cooking pot. The pot can be any of the sizes above.

In my house, when Mom asked me to get her olla, the conversation was some version of this:

 “Small olla, big olla, the medium one?

“The one for the beans.” 

“Big olla then. Just say the olla for beans.”

“You’ve sat at that table cleaning beans for ten minutes, which other olla did you think?”

On a cold evening when Mom had more days in the week left before her next check, we feasted on frijoles de olla and hot tortillas.

The recipe is simple but not quick*:

1 lb. pinto beans, soaked for two hours. Rinse first.

6 cups water

2 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno

1/4 yellow onion

2 tablespoons salt

Combine all in a large olla, add the water. When it boils, cover and reduce flame to simmer. Check after an hour; salt to taste. When they’re soft they’re ready.

Cumin is also used but I hate the smell so no cumin in my recipe. Salt pork or bacon can be added.

If I’m making chile beans, like I am tonight, I add cooked soy chorizo, “beefless ground” (Trader Joe’s) and powdered New Mexican chile. The no meat recipe is for the vegans in my family.

The simple dish looks like this:

Frijoles de Olla, homestyle pinto beans. Photo by gailanng

Buen provecho! (Bon Appetit).

 

Here are a few A to Z Challenges that I’ve enjoyed reading:

For funny and weird French expressions see Evelyne’s blog.

Margo’s View: that little voice.

A blog of great DorkyMom doodles.

Short-short stories from Trina Balaka Looks Back.

 

Latina, Latino culture, Latino family tradition, Parenting

A to Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Chancla

The flying chancla, this one is yellow, can be any color or size.

Hello to the third day of the A to Z Challenge. Today’s letter is C and C is for “CHANCLA.”

Chancla is the deadliest word of the alphabet for those who grew up in a Mexican or Latino household.

A chancla looks benign, especially when on the foot. The word means flip-flop or slipper or sandal. If the chancla can easily slip off,  fly in the air and hit a target in one swoop, it’s a chancla.

In our house, it was a one size fits all tool of discipline.

There were warnings before the removal and use of the chancla:

1-The narrowing of Mom’s eye’s as she spied one of us acting up. You could escape or stop misbehaving.

2-The slight bend of the body to the right which meant she was reaching for the chancla. You can still escape or say ‘okay, I’ll stop.’

3-The swift removal of the chancla, thumb on the heel, sometimes a twirl before a blur of chancla flew through the air and hit its target. Usually one’s head, shoulder, or back. You’re a world-class runner if you escape during the execution of the third step.

Everyone I knew had a chancla wielding mom or grandma and no one thought they were being abused. Most of the time a kid didn’t pass number two above, “the bend” before they stopped misbehaving.

The chancla brandished by a mom was preferable to what a dad would employ, another C word, the cinturon (belt).

To make it super easy for one to understand the power of the chancla, and its widespread fame here’s a video about La Chancla

Many younger Hispanic households do not endorse the use of the chancla, for the reasons listed here.

I don’t endorse or not endorse the chancla, it was a reality in my household and used sparingly. And by sparingly I mean I outran the flying chancla most of the time.

I can’t run like that anymore.

Family, Grief, Latino family tradition, Memoir, Mothers, poetry, Strong Women, Travel

Hurricane Mom – Memoir, Part 3

Poem to Mother by Sharon Doubiago
Poem to Mother by Sharon Doubiago

 

Day’s flutter pass like wind blown pages of a book, occasionally landing on a chapter of happiness or sorrow.

Mom’s children leave. Each daughter marries. The hours spent on them are now hours gained to contemplate middle age, not that anyone would guess she was in her mid-life, nor would she correct them.

Grandchildren come into the world as her oldest siblings depart. Men of integrity, courage, and tradition. Orphan men who provided for siblings survived the Great Depression, and wars. Men who married young sweethearts, raised families, and weathered changing times.

The winds of life blow with the ferocity only death can bring. Mom’s brothers died soon after retirement, ravaged by cancer, the affliction of her parents. Their departure like uprooted trees in the landscape of her life.

Her career becomes her greatest pleasure, counseling the unemployed, connecting people with goals, encouraging youth, instilling hope. Evenings filled with meetings, groups of various acronyms, with one purpose: equality. Now there is a community pool, educational centers, and non-profit organizations serving people.

The pages keep turning. There is no slowdown in mid-life. Mom worked until 67, left after a mass shooting at her state office left co-workers dead, injured. Left her with post-traumatic syndrome. She thought about going back to college, for her Master’s degree, but serves on the Grand Jury instead.

Wanderlust struck. So much life, so much to live for. Egypt, Jordan, places we can no longer visit, were first on the agenda. Spain, Portugal, Canada, France, England, Mexico, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and half of the United States. Places visited in books of her youth or on TV.

She rescues working daughters, son, and walks grandkids to school, makes them snacks, watches them grow. Her home is open to her children when troubles strike. None of us ever go it alone.

Mom’s life temporarily shuts down when her youngest sister died, the one she protected, the one who helped her through every pothole in the journey. Cancer. Again. A light went out, brightness dimmed. The absence of phone calls, trips to casinos, shopping, laughing with her sister leave Mom depressed for two years.

Her eyesight dims like her joy. A prognosis of legal blindness curtails her driving, her independence and link to distant friends and extended family. Worse, it’s difficult to read.

Now family reunions take place in her dreams, between recurring nightmares. Pain fades, aches remain, good times are remembered, wistful visits to previous chapters of life.

The first great-grandchild is born, many grand nieces/nephews, celebrations of sacraments, birthdays, milestones. Tortillas, turkey, tamales, everything celebrated with food and family, traditions kept alive.

And the pages turn.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

Click here for part 1 and 2 of “Hurricane Mom.”

 

Author Sonia Sotomayor, Authors, Books, Latina writer, Latino family tradition, Latino Literature

Books for Christmas ?!

I’m that tia (aunt) who often gives books for Christmas and birthdays.  My nieces and nephews have lots of toys, too many clothes, and not enough trips to the library.My mom also gives books in addition to clothes and/or a toy.

I must say though that my nieces and nephews reactions haven’t been as forceful as the kid in the YouTube above, ‘pooh-poohing’ his way across the Christmas tree and the Wii set.

The kids might ‘pooh-pooh’ me in their mind, but my family wouldn’t dare giggle or they’d hear a few choice words in Spanish fly out of my mom’s mouth (the equivalent of ‘unappreciative brat’).

This year the tradition continues. Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrives think about giving some books to your family and friends, whether a child or an adult.

Today’s list is from a site that encourages reading about the Latino culture. The Best 2014 New Latino Authors was compiled by Jose B. Gonzalez, Ph.D., writer, poet, editor and John S. Christie, Ph.D., the author of Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination. Their website has tons of recommendations for adults and children, from  2006-2013.  (I apologize that the photos may not appear, however the links to the books are fine).

 The first list is for adults or older teenagers. The list below this one is from Flavorwire and are books for children. 

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My Beloved World

Sonia Sotomayor

1) This author needs no introduction. In her memoir, My Beloved World, the ever-inspirational Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor provides readers with powerful insight on the role that hard work and determination played in the early parts of her life as she forged a path to law school from housing projects in the Bronx to Princeton University, Yale Law School, and to the highest court in the nation.
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Reboot

Amy Tintera

2) If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, there is no doubt that you will absolutely love Amy Tintera’s Reboot. Not surprisingly, the film rights to this thrilling sci-fi novel have already been sold.  This is an author who knows how to push the limits of imagination and write young adult works that will leave everyone begging for sequels.
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Flowers In The Dust

Myriam Alvarez

3) In Flowers in the Dust, Miriam Alvarez tells an intriguing tale based on her grandmother’s life. This work of historical fiction paints a poignant picture of South America around the mid-1900s, and is a touching portrait of a woman whose devotion to family is inspirational. 
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Mario Alberto Zambrano

4) Mario Alberto Zambrano brilliantly weaves together a plot that that flows smoothly as it unravels like the popular game and novel’s namesake, Loteria. And just like the game, the story is unpredictable and full of twists. 
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The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Sonia Manzano

5) Sonia Manzano, author of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, has shown us that she has acting talent, having played Maria on Sesame Street since 1971.  And now through this novel, she shows off her writing skills.  Set in the 1960s East Harlem, this story is both gritty and witty as it revisits a time of the Young Lords, rebellion, and youth.
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Speaking Wiri Wiri

Dan Vera

6) In Speaking Wiri Wiri, winner of the inaugural edition of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, Dan Vera shows us why he is earning a reputation as a talented, sophisticated poet who is a master at playing with words. This collection, his second book of poetry, is a dazzling display of language and emotion.
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The Bolero of Andi Rowe

Toni Margarita Plummer

7) In the short story collection, The Bolero of Andi Rowe, Toni Margarita Plummer reminds us that this genre is alive and well.  She is a master of subtle suspense—the kind that creates tension waiting to explode until the final twist.
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The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old …

Sandra Ramos O’Brien

8)  Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood is a page-turning work of historical fiction with drama that multiplies over and over, in a style that will make it difficult to put this novel down.
pastedGraphic_8.pdfA Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

Laurie Ann Guerrero

9) Winner of the prestigious Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying is a poetry collection with images that are both haunting and fascinating.  Guerrero illustrates that she is part poet and part storyteller.
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The Mares of Lenin Park

Agustin D. Martinez

10)  Agustin D. Martinez, author of The Mares of Lenin Park, created quite the buzz in 2013.  His debut novel is part of an impressive line of works that tell the sometimes complex but compelling stories of Cubans during the revolution.

Flavorwire compiled a list of a few great children’s books with diverse characters and stories. These are classics, beautifully written and artistically pleasing.

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Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold

In this gorgeous book — a work of quilted art with story woven in — a little girl dream-soars above 1939 Harlem, looking down at the eponymous tar beach of her family’s roof. Evidence that imagination can overcome most anything.

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Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham

Second-grader Alvin Ho is scared of everything — especially school, which frightens him so much he can’t say a word. Adorable and immensely relatable, everyone will fall in love with Alvin as he worries over his descent from “farmer-warriors who haven’t had a scaredy bone in their bodies since 714 AD” and takes pride in his “gentleman in training” status.

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The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, Paul Goble

Goble’s Caldecott-winning 1978 story of a Native American girl swept up in a stampede is a masterpiece, surely one of the most beautiful children’s books of all time. For every little girl who has ever felt a deep connection to horses. You probably know some little girls like that.

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Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai

The Vietnamese-American writer Thanha Lai’s debut novel, which won the National Book Award in 2011, tells the tale of Hà, a ten-year-old girl who flees to Alabama with her family during the fall of Saigon. The language is beautiful and the story, based on the author’s own experiences, is quite touching.

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Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan

This chapter book follows 13-year-old Esperanza as her wealthy family loses everything during the Great Depression. She and her mother are forced to flee their fancy ranch in Mexico to California to work on a farm. Esperanza must remake herself in this new, physically and mentally demanding world — but after all, “esperanza” means “hope.”

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Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis

“It’s funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they’re just like seeds,” muses ten-year-old Bud-not-Buddy, on the lam from a foster home to find his father in 1930s Michigan. “Both of them start real, real small and then… woop, zoop, sloop… before you can say Jack Robinson, they’ve gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could.” A delightful modern classic and the winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award.

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Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, Ed Young

Some stories, like the Red Riding Hood tale, strike so close to the human heart that they re-pattern themselves across cultures and countries — if perhaps wearing different cloaks. This beautifully illustrated, immensely powerful book — dedicated “To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness” — is the version your literary editor grew up with.

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My Name is Maria Isabel, Alma Flor Ada

María Isabel Salazar López is the new girl in school, and her teacher insists on calling her Mary. How can María make her see that her name — her proper name — means everything to her? A sweet story about heritage and standing up for yourself.

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The Composition, Antonio Skarmeta and Alfonso Ruano

The winner of the Americas Award for Children’s Literature and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, this picture book follows two young boys in a village in Chile after one of their fathers is arrested and the agents of the dictatorship try to turn children against parents. Serious, edgy, and brilliant.

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The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

But of course. Keats’s beloved Caldecott Medal-winning book, published in 1962, made history for being the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. Add to that the beautiful collage-style illustrations and Peter’s charming, understated adventure, and you have an all-time classic that never seems to age.

Next post will be a list for Middle Grade and YA. Happy reading and have fun choosing some memorable books.