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August 2012
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October 2012

September 2012

Rancho Gordo Visits Google

In the early days of Rancho Gordo, we received a call from the Google kitchens. Google happily feeds all of its employees with incredible food via many cafes and restautants on the Google campus. We've been sending them heirloom beans for many years now. 


Yesterday I drove with Molly and Julio from Napa to Mountain View to participate in their Top of the Crops day where we met with the chefs, showcased our products and answered questions. 


It was a lot of fun meeting the chefs and the other vendors. We were able to give them a sneak preview of one of our new, upcoming products and it seemed to knock their socks off. We'll let you know more about it soon but needless to say, I was really pleased by the reaction. 


We left Mountain View at 4:20 p.m. which was perfect for hitting all kinds of rush hour traffic and even being able to use the carpool lanes when we had them, we didn't roll into Napa until 7 p.m. Thank goodness for my car stereo and Lila Downs. 


Scrambled Eggs with Some Refried Beans


Sometimes I think this blog should be called Cooking with Beans and Eggs. Having six chickens, I tend to eat a lot of eggs and owning Rancho Gordo, beans are a natural fit, so I have lots of opinions and ideas about beans and eggs. 


If you find you have just a few beans left from your pot, you can mash them and then add them to scrambled eggs. The result is delicious and your eggs stay very moist. All the protein won't hurt, either. 


A Quick Thought on Cooking Bitter Greens

Still speaking of greens and clay pots and all the rest, I wanted to add that I like to take a green like dandelions and run my finger up the stalk, removing the hard stem. It normally will break off where the stem is still tender. Most people throw the stiff stalks away but I like to saute them for a long time with the onions and garlic, before adding the leaves. 


Here's my pot in action last night. I added someleftover Lila beans and ate it in a tortilla, making an untraditional but swell taco. 

Cooking with Clay No. 13: A Cazuela from Rancho de la Virgen in Oaxaca

I wrote about this pot when I had just returned from a trip to Oaxaca last year. The potters come from Rancho de la Virgen, near the city of Pinotepa Nacional, not too far from the border of Guerrero. 


This pot in particular has become a favorite. I don't know exactly why, but I've declared it my quelites pot. Quelites can be described as edible greens but mostly they refer to lamb's quarters. Technically, purslane and spinach would be quelites as well. I use this pot for everything from swiss chard to dandelion greens. 

My way with greens:
Normally I use chard as it's always available, cheap and delicious.
I start the pan on low and let it heat through, about five minutes. Then I add olive oil (most Mexicans would disagree but I love it, especially with vegetables), chopped white onions, a clove or two of garlic and a minced serranos, seeds included. I saute these until soft. If I have a good but not great tomato, I'll chop that up and add it as well. (Great tomatoes are for salad in my house.) Don't forget the salt. 

Once the base (is this a type of sofrito?) is cooked, I add the very roughly chopped, wet greens. They always start out high and seems too big for the pot but as they cook down, they fit just right. Chard cooks quickly and takes just minutes. Kale takes a little longer. I like some texture and dislike when they've cooked to a slimy mess. 
It's not traditional, but this mass tastes great stuffed into an excellent corn tortilla. It you're feeling a little needy, add some fresh mozerella or Oaxacan cheese but it's really not needed.  


The pot is very light (especially in comparison to chamba or the great pots we import from Los Reyes Metzontla) which means it's more fragile but it heats up faster. Rancho de la Virgen is known for it's well-made pots, made without kilns. This is a coastal style of pottery and I'm just itching to get some more. 


Books I Like: Street Food of Mexico and La Cocina Mexicana

I have a scary number of Mexican cookbooks. And there are a scary number of books out there celebrating, documenting, glorifying and sometimes unintentionally misinforming. If you're really interested, there are many books in Spanish which isn't as intimidating as it sounds. The kitchen vocabulary is pretty consistent and instructions tend to be vague, but the inspiration is priceless! 

I'm going to tell you what I think, both positive and negative, about some of the books in my collection. 


Hugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico by Hugo Ortega with Ruben Ortega. 
Bright Sky Press

I had a chance to eat at Hugo's, Ortega's restaurant in Houston, and he really knows what he's doing. It's a nice, comfortable place with killer food, good music and I can't wait to go back. His book is about street food but so much of Mexican street food is a replica of what's cooked in the home, that the limitation seems a little silly. And since the food is so regional, it would take a monster volume to cover the subject. But I really like this book for many reasons. Hugo is a great recipe writer. His instructions are straightforward and it's easy to imagine what the end result will be. He covers a lot of territory that others have done already but his non-nonsense style will be refreshing for a lot of us. Another reason to love the book is the participation of photographer Penny de los Santos. The matte-finished photos are colorful, a little gritty and never patronizing.

La Cocina Mexicana: Many Cultures, One Cuisine by Marilyn Tausend with Ricardo Muñoz Zurita
University of Texas Press

Marilyn has been giving tours to Mexico for years and writes good cookbooks. The theme of this one is Many Cultures, One Cuisine and in her introduction she makes a case for all the influences that make up La Cocina Mexicana. I'm not so sure the theme is all that cohesive or that the recipes go on to support this but they are great recipes and it's great discovering Marilyn's Mexico, which is somewhat different than My Mexico and I'm sure Your Mexico. Like Oretga's Street Food book, some of the dishes and recipes will be too familiar but there are lots of gems and obscurities that make the book worthwhile. Marilyn's stories are great and often helpful in conceptualizing the dish.