tacos al pastor

The tacos.  Tacos al pastor.  How did they turn out?  One of the boyos thought they were some of the best he ever ate.  I will tell you I cheated.  I used beef instead of pork and I put the meat in the slow cooker with the marinade.  To get bits of crispy, the meat was put under a broiler after it was cooked so tender that it could be shredded with a spoon.  Much nicer then going out for tacos!  

I keep threatening that I am going to make barbacoa next.  It may be a poke bowl though.  I wish raw fish and rice.

tacos al pastor

10 guajillo chiles, seeds removed

2 chiles de árbol

1 pound chuck roast

8 garlic cloves, peeled

1 cup vinegar (I used a homemade vinegar that was rather fruity.  It had started as a fruit kombucha)

¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoons achiote paste

4 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/2 pineapple cored, and sliced into chunks

1/2 onion, roughly chopped

Put both types of chiles in 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Turn off heat and let soak for half an hour.

Put the meat in the slow cooker.

Pour the chiles and water they soaked in into a blender container.  Add everything else.  Blend about ten minutes.  Remember, I over blend.

Pour over the meat in the slow cooker to all but cover.  There should be extra which I put in the refrigerator for the next time I made tacos (yes, this has already happened so I cannot say how long it keeps.  But I had live vinegar yeasty beasties so it could have gotten very interesting).

Turn the appliance on low and let cook at least 12 hours.  High if you wish it to go faster.  The meat should be shreddable with a spoon.

I crisp it up in under the broiler.

Serve it on a tortilla or mjustat with pineapple salsa and cabbages.  I have actually been grilling my mjustat recently.  The boyos also ate this on salad and said it was the best!  Other words and noises were used but I do not have to repeat.

Goodness there are a lot of links to my own recipes!  


achiote paste

I have been eating out about once a week lately which is not very like me.  Part of it is Monday is an errand day for me.  Part of it has been business.  Part of it is trying "the best" tacos in town.  Most of the reviews are what are called around here "yuppie" tacos.  I have learned my favorite tacos are normally authentic to the Mexican culture.  It can be tweaked a tad but true to a Mexican heritage.  It also did not help that there is a new restaurant around the corner that has good tacos but yuppie prices.  Nothing cutting edge, just tasty.  Price was ouchy.

I like Tacos al Pastor.  They are usually made with pork which I can react to so it would be better if they were made with beef for me.  Or grass fed pasture raised hog.  Having inflammatory conditions make you more sensitive.

I did the research and realized that I was going to have to make the things to make the things.  Sounds about like the rest of my life and choices.  I needed achiote paste.  Other then collecting all the ingredients, it was quite easy.  I followed the Bon Appetit recipe quite closely.  I did use homemade vinegar instead of white distilled.  There is a fruitiness to it.  I also have the tendency to blend everything much longer then recipes call for.  I find it does make a difference.  Usually in a positive fashion.

I am also going to say that I am always surprised how the same spices are used across different cultures.  The spices in this Mexican dish are very similar to the spices used in my Swedish and Norwegian recipes.  Just different amounts.

achiote paste

3 whole cloves 

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup ground annatto seeds (I could not find whole which is what the recipe calls for)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons dried Mexican or Italian oregano

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coarse salt, I used Himalayan

4 garlic cloves

1/4 homemade vinegar (or distilled white vinegar)

zest of one lime

zest of one orange

In a blender (I have a small attachment to my immersion blender which worked very well), put all the ingredients up to the garlic cloves.  Blend on a high speed until finely ground.

Add the garlic cloves, one at a time, and blend after each.

Add the vinegar and blend.

Add in the citrus zest and blend.

This makes a very thick paste.  Not all of it is needed to make Tacos al Pastor so put it in a jar and store it in the refrigerator.  

I am actually making tacos al pastor again today.  There have been three meals of it so far this week.  But I have not had to use anymore of this paste.  It goes a long way.  It has a savory meaty flavor.  It would probably be very good added to other things but I have not tried.


Houston Fiber Fair

I went to the Houston Fiber Fair this last weekend.  Compared to what the fairs I normally go to, it was tiny.  More similar to the size of the Taos Wool Festival then the Estes Park Wool Fest or SAFF.  It was more yarn then fiber.

There were some pretty things.  But only one stall had fleeces.  Which the one I was interested in was sold before I went and bought it.  I was able to do three rounds of the fair before I made any decisions.  In about one hour.

I did sit for a bit and crocheted.  They had tables set up and I had brought my lunch.  The people watching was nice.  Would I go next year?  Maybe.  It was close.  It was free.  But I do prefer the fairs out of town more.

I did come home with yarn.  All of this was dyed by other people.  The muted tones are plant dyes and the brighter tones are not.  It gives me a better idea of what a small producer does.  It also gives me more ideas for what I wish to do with dyeing.

The bright yarns are becoming a sweater.  It gets back to the trying to add more color to my wardrobe.  I will either like the sweater I am making or I will decide it stresses me out.  If it stresses me out, I will sell it.  Or maybe make it into a shawl for the shop or for a friend who likes those colors. 

The muted tones give me ideas on what some colors some plants make.  And combination of plants.  I bought enough yarn for what I thought would be one shawl.  My best friend Nirinjan is currently into pinks.  I thought that these would be a good combination for her especially they stay in the tonal range she wears.  So if she chose not to like pinks the shawl or sweater may still be wearable. 

I may have bought extra yarn.  Then one of whatever I make will go up for sale.  Two shawls.  A shawl and sweater.  Because I was thinking of Nirinjan, one something will go to her.  There will be some traveling next month and I find that crochet travels well.  Keeps my hands busy so I will have time.  Embroidery does as well actually.



trying color in my clothes

I wear a lot of black and muted tones.  Browns.  Earth and plant tones.  I get told at least I do not wear just black anymore.  I do have to admit that my favorite dress to wear is a black dress and it is always in the laundry.  It is clean.  I wear it.

However, the last couple scenes of Captain Fantastic made me wish to add more color to my wardrobe.  It did not help that many of the opening scenes of that movie were on roads I drive every time I go to the mountain. I had a sky blue dress but it developed a hole in a difficult place to mend.  What to do?  I had a printed (oh my gosh, so hard for me too!) bright fabric in my stash.  Enough to make a dress.  At least it is blues and greens?


So the dress is done.  It is a-line, which I have leaned away from lately.  But I figured if it was too much for my brain it meant there was enough fabric here to make something else with.  Or I could just slim it down later.  Since I also did not know if I was going to like this dress, I tweaked the sleeves on my pattern a bit.  Less fullness.  That appears to have worked.

There is a lot of color here.  And a lot of fabric.  The fabric will soften over time because it is a corduroy.  There is a bit of stretch to it.  It goes well with my hiking boots.

This picture is of me looking down.  I will just have to decide if I can work with this.  Or if it stress me so much I will need to make it into something else or sell/give it a way.

(By the way, low flying helicopters and planes flying over the house still freak me out a bit.  And it is hurricane season again.  Sigh.)


the unexpected 

Today has been full of the unexpected.  Nothing has gone to plan.  I could whine and complain.  I could be angry and frustrated.  Instead, I have laughed at myself a lot, figured out how to do what I need to do.  But there is always bread dough.  It is calming to make and in the end, there is food for people.  Especially boys.  What more can you ask for?

Due to boyos asking for cinnamon rolls about twice a month, if not every time I bake bread, my laminating skills are getting better.  There is no fear attached to the process anymore.  I do not wonder if I am doing it incorrectly or not.  I know the rolls will be light and tasty when I am done so why worry?

I am even going as far as just making a bit of a larger batch of bread for the rolls.  Sometimes I just make the loaf smaller.  

I use tools that other people would think is not the right tool for the job.  But my Japanese noodle knife is perfect for cutting cinnamon rolls.  It was made to cut noodles which is just dough.  You could think of cinnamon rolls as very wide noodles.

In the end, the cinnamon rolls are ready to bake.  I am a little bit calmer deep in my soul.  And the boyos are happy.  I am thinking about trying this with kouign amman tomorrow.  The simple French style bread I have been making is what is rising.  I made the batch just a bit larger then normal to try just that.  Laminations with butter and sugar to see what happens.

If you do not expermint.  If you do not try something new.  What is the point?