Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Tomorrow we have a potluck at work. I'm taking my camera and I'll be posting pictures. I made broccoli salad and I have pics and the recipe coming up sometime this weekend. Watch out for the Llorona and enjoy her story.

The Weeping Woman(La Llorona)
by Joe Hayes
This is a story that the old ones have been telling to children for hundreds of years. It is a sad tale, but it lives strong in the memories of the people, and there are many who swear that it is true.
Long years ago in a humble little village there lived a fine looking girl named Maria Some say she was the most beautiful girl in the world! And because she was so beautiful, Maria thought she was better than everyone else.
As Maria grew older, her beauty increased And her pride in her beauty grew too When she was a young woman, she would not even look at the young men from her village. They weren't good enough for her! "When I marry," Maria would say, "I will marry the most handsome man in the world."
And then one day, into Maria's village rode a man who seemed to be just the one she had been talking about. He was a dashing young ranchero, the son of a wealthy rancher from the southern plains. He could ride like a Comanche! In fact, if he owned a horse, and it grew tame, he would give it away and go rope a wild horse from the plains. He thought it wasn't manly to ride a horse if it wasn't half wild.
He was handsome! And he could play the guitar and sing beautifully. Maria made up her mind-that was, the man for her! She knew just the tricks to win his attention.
If the ranchero spoke when they met on the pathway, she would turn her head away. When he came to her house in the evening to play his guitar and serenade her, she wouldn't even come to the window. She refused all his costly gifts. The young man fell for her tricks. "That haughty girl, Maria, Maria! " he said to himself. "I know I can win her heart. I swear I'll marry that girl."
And so everything turned out as Maria planned. Before long, she and the ranchero became engaged and soon they were married. At first, things were fine. They had two children and they seemed to be a happy family together. But after a few years, the ranchero went back to the wild life of the prairies. He would leave town and be gone for months at a time. And when he returned home, it was only to visit his children. He seemed to care nothing for the beautiful Maria. He even talked of setting Maria aside and marrying a woman of his own wealthy class.
As proud as Maria was, of course she became very angry with the ranchero. She also began to feel anger toward her children, because he paid attention to them, but just ignored her.
One evening, as Maria was strolling with her two children on the shady pathway near the river, the ranchero came by in a carriage. An elegant lady sat on the seat beside him. He stopped and spoke to his children, but he didn't even look at Maria. He whipped the horses on up the street.
When she saw that, a terrible rage filled Maria, and it all turned against her children. And although it is sad to tell, the story says that in her anger Maria seized her two children and threw them into the river! But as they disappeared down the stream, she realized what she had done! She ran down the bank of the river, reaching out her arms to them. But they were long gone.
The next morning, a traveler brought word to the villagers that a beautiful woman lay dead on the bank of the river. That is where they found Maria, and they laid her to rest where she had fallen.
But the first night Maria was in the grave, the villagers heard the sound of crying down by the river. It was not the wind, it was La Llorona crying. "Where are my children?" And they saw a woman walking up and down the bank of the river, dressed in a long white robe, the way they had dressed Maria for burial. On many a dark night they saw her walk the river bank and cry for her children. And so they no longer spoke of her as Maria. They called her La Llorona, the weeping woman. And by that name she is known to this day. Children are warned not to go out in the dark, for, La Llorona might snatch them and never return them.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Meatloaf Pie - A dish they serve in Heaven!

Well I did me some cooking again today, but...I didn't take any pictures. At least not during the cooking part, but I did of the finished product.

What I made today is a favorite with both my kids. It's Meatloaf Pie and I've been making this for them since they were grade schoolers. Meatloaf Pie is a meatloaf that you bake in a round pan and has the mashed potatoes on top so when you slice it, it looks like a slice of pie. The mashed potatoes look like frosting or meringue and the meatloaf is the pie part.
Through the magic of the Internet, here's photos of all the ingredients. The recipe is posted below.

You'll need some ground beef. I made two meatloaf pies. One to keep here for me and Jim (my son) and I sent one to my mom and dad's house that they will share with my daughter April (although truth be told, they may have to fight April just to get some for themselves!) So I had quite a bit of ground beef, but the recipe below will make on nice size pie.

Then you'll need breadcrumbs and eggs. These are the exact brand and style of breadcrumbs I used today.

Then you need catsup or ketchup, however you most prefer to spell it, I'm not judging! and some garlic and onion powder and salt and peppa!

You mix all those goodies up together. You can use real onions instead of the powder, but I live in a family of finicky eaters who won't eat anything with onion, or anything with green in it either! If I had my way, I would also add bell peppers, fresh tomatoes and maybe some canned corn to this recipe, you could try it that way.

Anyway, you also need to make some mashed potatoes. Just make them anyway you like your mashed potatoes. In our family we make them with butter, salt and pepper and mayonnaise and milk.

Now the secret...are you ready? Are you listening, cuz this is the secret ingredient that makes this recipe and your potatoes special. It's shredded cheese! Yep, I kid you not, shredded cheese. Mmmmmmmmm it makes those mashed taters just ooey and gooey and yummy. I usually use medium sharp cheddar cheese, but I guess you could use any kind. I didn't put a picture of shredded cheese on here because I'm trying to finish this so I can go have a piece of meatloaf pie, just don't forget to add the shredded cheese. Then put those taters aside and try to keep from eating them all until the meatloaf is cooked. here is the end result. I wanted to take a picture of the whole pie, but my son Jim couldn't wait and he tore into it while I was napping. You're probably saying, "OMG look at all that grease!" Well I admit it's a little bit of grease from the meat as I didn't use the super lean ground beef cause it doesn't have as much flavor, but mostly that's ketchup blood there and that's not bad for you ! And I only make this like 3 or 4 times a year, so it's not gonna kill ya!

I took a bunch of pictures of it because it just seemed like the heaven's opened up and shined brightly upon my meatloaf pie. I could almost hear choirs of angel's singing in joy! Oh, and as a sidenote, my mom gave me the pan I make this pie in a long, long time ago and I've always used it and think of her everytime I do.

And here's pictures of it sliced and again the sun is shining down in joy on my meatloaf pie and all is right and good in the world! Also, this stuff is awesome the next day as a sandwich. I just slice it real thin and heat it up and then put it on bread...mmmmm.

And so here's the recipe. I posted this on my family's website a couple of years ago and a couple of cousins in Arizona did actually try it and they said it was really good. Next weekend I want to try to make Biscocho's and this time I will take pics.



1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 cup crushed bread crumbs

1 egg beaten

1/2 c. onions chopped finely, but again if you have a finicky eater, you can use 2 tsp. onion powder instead

1/2 cup catsup

1/8 tsp pepper

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt to taste

**** Pie topping****

Prepare 3 cups mashed potatoes your usual way.


Combine all ingredients, pat into round pie or cake pan or even a square cake pan will work. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes, remove from oven and drain any fat.

Combine 3 cups hot mashed potatoes with 3/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese. Spread over top of the meatloaf, top with another 1/4 c. shredded cheese and bake another 20 minutes then serve.

Oh...........and the reason I said they serve this in heaven is because when Jim finished he said, "Mom, I bet they serve this in heaven." I swear, it's that good and all kids will like it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Things you see in the course of the Day

Do you ever just see something in the course of living everyday life and just say, "What the heck?" Well that happened to me and Lisa yesterday when we were commuting home on Hwy 99. We saw this:

"What the heck?" Just rolling along on the freeway is this guy in a truck with a trailer that was pulling these two deers. I don't know if they're plastic or cast iron or what, but why would you have these? What would they be used for? Heck if I know, but is was kinda cool to see.
The next 3 pictures I took with my camera during my lunch hour when Lisa and I were in a parking lot eating our sack lunch since it was a nice day. She noticed the tree coming out of the building and kinda blending in with the mirrored reflection on the building. These are awesome aren't they? She's so observant!

Tis Autumn, Tis Autumn! Oh Joy, Oh Joy!


I’m ashamed to say that I wrote this last weekend and just never got around to downloading the photos off my camera. I mean it all still happened the way I say it happened, honest! But it just didn’t happen today. Today it’s going to be about 91 degrees and autumn seems to have disappeared. I’m going to pretend that it’s still autumn though and hopefully by reading the below you’ll also feel all autumny, autumny…is that even a word? Well whatev, let’s fly to last weeks beautiful weekend.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” --George Eliot

Autumn has arrived in Shafter!! This morning the sun arose to a crisp, clean, clear beautiful day! I opened all the doors and windows and let the fresh breeze just take all those summertime air conditioned airs away!

Fall has also made us more ambitious. Only last weekend I said I was only a Foodie, but this weekend, both my sister and I were cooks…well maybe more like bakers. We both decided it would be a good day to bake.

I decided to bake some pumpkin bread from a recipe from For the Love of Cooking. On my way to the store I called my sis and she told me she was baking Empanada’s. I think she’s a bit more ambitious than me because I’ve never made those and they are way more time consuming.

Here's a picture of her empanadas. Sorry the picture was so blurry, but I suck at photography that way. Trust me, she's a much better baker than I am a photographer...they were really good. She wasn't thrilled with her crust, but I loved it! She's likes crispy crust and it was chewy and breadlike, how I prefer it. She bakes like a real baker, she just throws ingredients in...she doesn't use a recipe!

Right now as I write, the aroma of pumpkin bread fills the air. A fresh breeze is coming in through my kitchen windows and I hear Aerosmith and whistling from outside where my son is cleaning the garage. Pumpkin bread and a clean garage…does life get any better? Well let me tell you…it doesn’t!

Here’s the recipe for the pumpkin bread. It’s really easy to make, especially for like an office potluck, of which I have one on Halloween Day, now I know what to take.

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups of white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups + 1 tbsp of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup walnut pieces

I only added one little thing that wasn’t in the original recipe and that was a teaspoon of vanilla because I love the taste and smell of vanilla.

Here are the directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, and sugar and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well combined, add walnuts and mix. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 55-65 minutes or until a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the loaf. My oven took 65 minutes for it to finish.

This is a very nourishing, sweet but not too sweet, tasty bread. I’m a big fan of carrot cake, zucchini bread and banana nut bread, so this bread was right up my alley. Mmmm, this bread in the morning at my desk with a Venti Breve Latte with one Splenda from Starbucks!

Now here are some pretty pictures of the whole thing from start to finish.

1st picture is of the wet ingredients mixed together. What a beautiful color huh? And that's even with the bad lighting in my kitchen!

2nd picture are the dry ingredients...somehow they don't have the same pizazz as the wet ingredients, but there's lots on nutmeggy, clovey, cinnamony, gingery goodness going on in there, it smelled great. I could probably use it as a body powder for fall it smelled so darn good!

3rd picture...the magic happens! The wet and the dry mix together!

4th picture, all the dry is mixed into the wet ingredients bowl a little at a time. This smelled even better than just the dry ingredients alone.

5th picture. See that little gadget there with the gold top? I don't remember where I got this, it could have been my deceased ex-mother-in-law's or I could have bought it at a yardsale, don't know. But anyway, I love it. I always use it to chop nuts and sometime onions. I've had it forever. There's my nuts and I'm going to chop them in my manual food processer (the glass and gold thingy).6th picture. The nuts are chopped, even though it doesn't look like it. This gadget chops nuts up real fine, you'll see in the next picture, but it also leaves some big ones; almost like it knows they're going to look beautiful in the final picture.

7th picture, see how the nuts are chopped pretty finely but there are some bigguns in there too? My food processor is magical! Doesn't this look lovely?

8th picture, the final mixture. All pumpkiny and full of good spicefullness and nuttiness and sugariness and any other nesses you want to think of. I could just eat this with a spoon!

9th picture. My little pumpkin bread dough all tucked into his little bed ready for his little oven spa! In the next picture you can see upclose how good this looks. I thought about spreading the dough out, but wanted to see what it would look like with all the little swirls. Don't spread it flat, those swirls are amazing!

10th and final grouping of pictures...the finished product. Pumpkin bread. See how pretty those big chunks of nuts are in there? And see how pretty those swirls made the top of the bread look? Imma genius! Trust me, this bread is soooooo good and it feeds a lot of people. I had my sister take those first two slices when she brought me her empanadas. Then I cut about four slices for my mom, dad and daughter. Then I cut a couple of slices for me during the week and then I cut the rest up and took them to my mom's house the next day for a bar-b-que and shared with everyone else. They loved it as well. This would be a great Christmas present, or potluck food, or a neighbors gift. Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reflections from a Mother's Heart

It's been a while since I've done a post from "Reflections from a Mother's Heart". I have quite a few posts that I'm working on, but I have to download the pictures from my camera, so I thought I would just do a Reflections post today and get myself warmed up to do the others, so here goes.

The topic in the book today is...Where did your father go to work everyday and what did he do?

For as far back as I can remember my dad has been a farmer, farm hand, foreman, farm supervisor, tractor driver, mechanic, jack of all trades. My earliest memory of his work is when he worked in Eloy, Arizona for a man named Cecil or as he and my mom said it "Seeso". I don't know the name of the ranch but I know my dad grew cotton and hay. I know that he took me to work with him sometimes and Seeso used to call me Guerra. I remember that Seeso was very short and very light skinned and very fat and I liked him, he was always nice to me and I liked that he called me Guerra, he was also very Guerro.

I know that my dad worked very hard and left very, very early every morning to go to work. We were always asleep when he left and when we were little...up until I started school he would make a special breakfast drink called a "Ponche" which consisted of milk, raw egg, sugar and cinnamon. He would mix it up real good (when I make it now, I put it in the blender, but I know we didn't have a blender way back then) and he would warm it up (without a microwave) and he would put it in a bottle for me and my little sister before he would go off to work. That way he would buy my mom a little extra sleeping time as we would drink our warm little Ponche bottle and not wake up hungry as soon as he left. Now I know that you're probably wondering about why we didn't die of ecoli, drinking raw egg, but I have a theory about it that I call simply "God loves little Mexican children". More about that later.

I know that my dad left and did whatever he did at the ranch or the shop and then he would come home in the morning when my mom had us all "up and at'em" and she would fix him breakfast, this was usually around 6 or 7am. Then he would ride off in his truck again to return when it was lunchtime. He would have his lunch, grab a quick nap while we crawled around on his legs while he slept and then he was off again.

Sometimes, depending on how close he was working, we would see him off and on through the day until he came home, usually at about 6pm and he would have dinner and fall asleep. He worked hard and came home pretty tired.

One thing about my dad that I didn't know then, but I do know now is that he had a pretty bad temper and he was very sensitive about what people said about him, or how he perceived people thought about him, and I'm talking about people at work. His boss or a coworker could say something in all innocence and my dad would take offense to it and quit. He would go home and tell my mom, "Well I quit" and she would commence with the packing. Once I started school I would come home at least once a school year to see a U-Haul trailer parked in front of the house. I would hand my books to someone in my class and tell them with tears in my eyes that I wasn't coming back anymore and to please tell my teacher goodbye and give her my schoolbooks. And that would be that in that school.

Let me run down the list of schools I went to:
I started 1st grade (because at that time there was no kindergarten) at:

Eloy, Arizona, then

Toltec, Arizona, then

Harquahala, Arizona, then

Yuma, Arizona, then

Poston, Arizona, then

Calipatria, California and came to end up in

Shafter, California.

Now I could be wrong about that rundown, I seem to remember there might have been other schools, so I reserve the right to edit!

All I can say about my dad is that he lived and worked for us, his family. My mom tells a story of my dad stopping after work one day to buy himself his usual can of beer and I had just been born and he realized right then that by buying himself beer he was taking away from me. He realized that with the money he was spending for beer my mom could buy me a dress or something else I needed and he quit buying his daily beer.

My dad is still alive, and he's not in the best of health both physical and mentally. Especially mentally. I don't know if it's early stages of Alzheimer's or dementia or just paranoia or schizophrenia, heck I really don't know so how can I label it. But I know the brain my dad is living with right now is not the brain of the man that lived his life for me. I have to remind myself of that a lot because I do get angry with him because he does and says hurtful things right now, but I know that I am who I am today because of him. My children are Americans because of him. I survived being a single mother because of him. I have pride in myself because of him.

Yes, my dad went to work everyday and he did something at that place he called the ranch everyday...but his real work, his paycheck is us...his kids and grand kids. I once read this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson and when I did I thought...someday, when my dad passes this is what I want in his memorial cards because this is what my dad was...

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”
–- Ralph Waldo Emerson

You are and will always be a success dad, because I have breathed easier because you lived.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Look what I found!

Ok, so I haven't posted in awhile. There are quite a few reasons, one of them being that we've been kind of busy at work and I've been coming home really tired. But the real reason is that I found this super cool new computer toy that I love and am totally jazzed about. It's I don't remember how I found it, but I'm going to put a link on my blog for it.

Stumble is this little program that you install and it creates a toolbar on your browser. You personalize it by choosing several different topics you are interested in. For instance I chose:

Computer programs
Literature (and some others I can't remember)

The cool thing is you click the button on the toolbar that says STUMBLE and according to the topics you are interested in, it will show you a website you might like. If you like the website you click on "I like it!" and it saves that website to your favorites so you can access it again and it shows you more web pages similar to it. If you don't like the website, you click on the thumbs down button and it won't show you anymore websites similar to this.

So I've been having a lot of fun with this because it gives me lots of options I might be interested in without my having to search for them. Tonite I found a really cool little website at

If you want to go there, click under interactive toys and string spin and then just draw in the box. You get something that looks similar to this:

I did a bunch of them. I wish you could save them, but you can't. But go there and try it and look at the other things this blog offers. I plan to do so tomorrow, but for now I'm going to go wash my face and brush my teethies so I can watch CSI Miami.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Melissa's 2 Year Birthday Party

Yesterday we celebrated Melissa's 2ND birthday party. Melissa is the only one of Fred and Norma's kids to be born in a normal month with normal weather. The other three were born in the dog days of hell...SUMMER! So this one was really enjoyable, in fact...down right chilly!

Here are a few pictures. The one thing I forgot is that it gets darker earlier now so I didn't take any pictures while there was still good light, but the ones I did get I think were pretty nice. The theme was Cinderella.

Here's her cake. The funny thing about the cake is that her daddy Fred took the Prince Charming figurine away. He said to get "that vato" out of there! I told him, you know...a long time ago you were "that vato" and because of "that vato" Melissa is here today. He put the Prince back...I think he's ready to be a grandpa!

And here's CinderMelissa herself! Isn't she beautiful? I did so want to wear that crown! Ah, I remember my days in the Tiara Club *sigh* And why is the Princess CinderMelissa sad? Someone has stolen her crown! Now I know I coveted that crown, I wanted that crown, I wished it was my birthday so I could wear the crown...but it wasn't me! I promise...I did not steal the crown. I think it was her wicked stepsisters!

And happiness reigns again in the Land of Alarcon. CinderMelissa is once again wearing her crown, proving she is the most beautiful princess in the land and therefore saving her Tia Ale from being imprisoned for stealing the most precious crown!

The fairytale is over now! Now it's time to grub down on some of that delicious cake! Mmmmm, good.

And her most loyal subjects have all come bearing gifts. Too many to picture them all here. But you can see the huge Dora the Explorer doll her Nana got for her...and I believe that's a Vtech Laptop Computer in that blue box. It's never to early to get them going on technology!

CinderMelissa waiting for more presents. I think there are still a few behind you there CinderMelissa!

And a little something for the peasants! A pinata. It got a little too late and too dark to hang the pinata from the huge tree in the front yard. But being clever, her mom Queen Norma hung it from a nail on the back patio and just let each child give it three whacks, starting with Melissa and her daddy as you see in the next two pictures. Even I got a goody bag full of candy to take home! Wealth abounds in the Land of Alarcon!

And Ye Olde Tavern Alarcon doesn't do too badly either. Here you see the Old King, King Tata, CinderMelissa's paternal grandfather doing Jello shots! You go King!

And when the Jello won't come out of the cup, take a spoon to it, no shame in that!

Ahhhh, some of the peasants...up to no good! Are they about to steal CinderMelissa's birthday presents?

Yes, yes...that is what they are doing. I see one of the thieves wearing the crown! He's stealing the Crown Jewels and the Royal Scepter! And the other thief is trying to abscond with the Royal Laptop! But wait, it looks like Sheriff IkieDillo is coming to the rescue. Save us Sheriff Ikie!

There's the thief! Sheriff IkieDillo has caught him red handed!

Go Sheriff Ikie. That's the treacherous thief Freddie the Terrible! He can fight Sheriff Ikie all he wants, but he's not going to get way!

Sheriff Ikie giving Freddie the Terrible the worst punishment in the land. A tickle party from Dora the Explorer. Freddie won't soon forget this horrible punishment!

And that's all for now from the Land of Alarcon where they all lived...HAPPILY EVER AFTER!