Sunday, 19 March 2017

3 Thoughts for my Three-Year-Old

My darling daughter,


You've just turned three, a milestone I can't believe you've already reached. It is a cliche, but three years have flown by at the speed of light, it seems, each year faster than the last.


Parenting, advice, life, mother to daughter, love, strength, wisdom


Three years ago you were a tiny newborn, and we were clueless first-time parents who hardly knew what to do with you. 
Two years ago you were crawling around, holding on to the furniture to stand up and preparing to take your first tottering steps. 
One year ago you were a chattering two-year-old, starting to speak in a mixture of two languages.
Now here you are, growing so tall, so beautiful, the keeper of the best cuddles in the world.  You surprise us with your own points of view and your achievements, doing more things on your own. My heart is full of wonder and pride when I look at you, but also fears and worries for the future. So here are my three thoughts, three qualities that I hope I can transmit to you and inculcate in you as you
grow because I think these three things are really all the tools you need to stand you in good stead for the future.


Thought, advice,life, parenting

Three thoughts for my three year old.

Love

Love is the foundation of everything.  Most importantly, love yourself.  If you love yourself then you
will be capable of loving others, loving your life, loving what you do, loving the world you  live in.  This love will become your guiding principle; it will tell you what is right and wrong and how to live your life.

You know that you are loved deeply and unconditionally; you are our most precious treasure and we love you no matter what.  I hope you can grow up with the knowledge of this love secure in your heart, something constant and unchanging to give you strength when you need it.  I hope you will transmit your love through your actions, doing what's best for you, taking care of the those you love, taking care of the world you love, living the best life you can.

Parenting, life, advice, mother to daughter, love, strength, wisdom, milestones


Strength

Your first name, Emma, means "strong woman"; I love that about your name.  I'm always telling you how strong you are when you pick up or move a heavy object, but here it has a different meaning.

Strength means "resilience"
In life there will always be problems, setbacks, disasters, pain, loss, failure; these things are inevitable.  Hopefully you will be lucky and your problems will be small, but there's no way 
of knowing.  What you will be able to count on is your own inner strength that will enable you to overcome difficulties, bounce back from troubles and find your happiness and self worth.

Strength means "confidence"

Be who you are and who you want to be no matter what other people may tell you.  There is so much pressure from society, media and our own perceptions.  Sometimes our own insecurities try to stifle us.  So have confidence in yourself, have the strength to stay true to your beliefs and principles, to fight for what's right, to be yourself and do what you want to do, even if that means taking a risk, being different, being a lone voice.  It may be scary, but be brave if you know you are doing the right thing.

Strength means "perseverance"

Don't give up!  Set your goals and find a way to achieve the things you want.  Don't let your own doubts and fears stop you from going after your dreams.  Don't let others dissuade you from something that is important to you.  Don't let failure put you off; keep trying and trying and you'll eventually succeed if you stick with it long enough.

Parenting, advice, life, love, strength, wisdom, mother to daughter


Wisdom

I don't mean intelligence, although that helps.  For me, wisdom means making good decisions.  It sounds simple, but it isn't always easy.  It is one of the keys, however, to a happy and successful life.  Some decisions seem small and insignificant but can have a big impact; putting on your seatbelt, studying for an exam, deciding not to react negatively to provocation, being nice to someone.  All these decisions could have just as important an effect as apparently bigger, life-changing decisions.  

Choose the people you spend time with, the people who will influence you.  They are important, make sure they give you something positive.  Sorry you can't choose your family, but you can decide how to interact with them, how much you let them influence you or not.

Make your decisions wisely, but also don't worry too much about making mistakes - just have the wisdom to learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  Know that when something goes wrong it's not the end of the world, there is always a solution.  Wisdom is also knowing how to put things right and learning from the experience.




Thoughts, life advice, from mother to daughter, parenting



To end with, I want to give you one of my favourite quotes ever.  Success is often seen as being based on material things: career, money, possessions, but I think Maya Angelou's definition of success is just perfect.  It's also a definition of happiness, in my opinion; here the two go hand in hand.


"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it."



Success Maya Angelou quote


All my love,

Your Mummy xx 

Mummy Times Two

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Saturday, 11 March 2017

February in Review

I know February is a short month, but it just flew by before I knew it and March seems to be going the same way, which is probably why I'm so late in writing about last month's ups and downs.  Here are some of the things we did in February:


LIFE


February, monthly review, update, Mexican traditions, ranch, quote, blogging

Mexican Traditions

On February 2nd it's the Día de la Candelaria, Candlemas Day, which is celebrated in Mexico by eating tamales.  Tamales are made from corn dough and wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves with different fillings - typical fillings include chicken or pork with green or red salsa, or rajas, strips of poblano chilli cooked with cream.  Sweet tamales may have nuts or raisins in.

Traditionally on this day is the "getting up" of the baby Jesus; you still have your nativity scene set up in your house since Christmas so now is the time to get the baby Jesus out of his crib and surround him with sweets and candies.  In some villages or ranches, they have a huge party and give out sweets to everyone.  In our house this ritual was performed by my mother-in-law but the only sweet things we had were sweet tamales, so that's what she used, chopped into small squares and set on a tray.  Emma participated by eating the pieces of tamal with great enthusiasm.

Getting away from it all

We went to my husband's uncle's ranch for a weekend away.  We used to go there a lot when we lived in San Luis Potosí as it was nearby, but it had been three years since my last visit, I was still pregnant the last time we went there.  Emma loved it, she's a happy traveler and enjoys staying away from home and sleeping in a different place.  She was fascinated meeting the dog, seeing the cows, investigating and exploring, splashing in the stream and digging with a stick.  We all really enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing weekend.

Girl and dog, ranch, February, outdoors small girl big hat


Ranch, girl and dog, dog love, outdoors big hat

Ranch, cows, little girl, cowgirl, outdoors, Mexican countryside, watching




Play, digging, mud, outdoors, ranch


FEBRUARY GOALS - How did I do?


I listed some of my goals for February in my January Review post.  I know I didn't do very well with most of my goals; I must try harder!  Here they are again:

  • Most importantly; send off all the documents for Emma's passport application.  I finally have everything together, about a year later than planned, and have done the online application, so that's my top priority. - NO! Why haven't I done this yet?? I have to do it TOMORROW!
  • Publish at least one blog post a week, realistically I should be able to manage this. - Not quite, I only have 3 posts published in February.
  • Start scheduling social media - I have already started doing this just this week to try it out, now I need to make it part of my routine.  - Okay, I have been scheduling to tweet a few of my most recent posts but need to be more consistent and thorough with it.
  • Design a new header and logo - I've been meaning to do this for the past two years!  The parrot was only meant to be temporary. - Nope, still not done this.
  • Get a haircut!  My hair is a mess at the moment.  - NO, can you believe it?  It's an even worse mess now.  I need to get it cut THIS WEEK!
Looking back at this, I think "didn't do very well" is a bit of an understatement.  I was absolutely rubbish!  I failed miserably at meeting my most important goals and there's no excuse.

One area where I did do quite well was with Instagram, which I'd aimed to put a bit more work into in February.  I'd been stuck for a while, getting equal numbers of followers and unfollowers.  I joined a pod, used hashtags more strategically and tried to post regularly, at least every other day, and in the past couple of weeks my numbers have started going up a bit more steadily.


BLOG


I have lots of ideas for posts but I just can't get enough time to write them, which is a bit frustrating.  I need to organise myself better to improve my productivity.

So I only published three posts last month; We Love Books! #6 - Oi Dog! which I actually wrote in January, January in Review and a post for Pancake Day, Pancakes with a Mexican Twist.


EMMA SAYS...


Some of my favourite phrases Emma has been using lately:

Quiero jugay con los amales porque son muy bonitos.  = I want to play with the animals because they're very pretty.  (She was talking about her finger puppet animals).

I love oo so much!

A mi no me da meyo! = I'm not scared!
Come on mummy, you can do it!
What's going on?


MARCH GOALS


I'm carrying over the goals I didn't reach from February and adding a few more:
  • Reorganise my Pinterest 
  • Write more!
  • Repeat the 31 days of #YogaRevolution and aim to do some yoga very day.
March is a busy month, lots of birthdays.  Emma will be turning three and then a week later it's my birthday - the big Four-Oh.  Not quite sure how I feel about that - mostly a bit weird and incredulous as in my head I still think I'm about 20.  Not quite ready for it yet.

Here are some words of encouragement that I want to keep in mind this month (well, forever, actually):


Quote perseverance HelenKeller achievement

Cuddle Fairy

Monday, 27 February 2017

Pancakes with a Mexican twist

First, the sad news: Pancake Day does not exist in Mexico.  Even Carnaval, the equivalent of Mardi Gras or the Rio carnival, and which is quite a big celebration in many parts of Spain, is mostly only celebrated in port or coastal cities like Mazatlan, Veracruz and Campeche and, apart from a few small towns with their own distinctive carnival traditions, doesn't really make it into inland Mexico.

It is common to go to church on Ash Wednesday and receive an ash mark on your forehead.  Many people give something up for Lent (or have the intention, at least!) and join in with the tradition of eating fish instead of meat on Fridays during this period.

So mentioning Pancake Day in Mexico is generally met with puzzled looks and incomprehension.

Do pancakes even exist in Mexico, anyway?

Pancakes Mexican food pancake day Mexico


Of course they do.  They may be known as hotcakes which are like American pancakes, small and thick, more often than not made from a packet and typically served for breakfast with some kind of topping, not a filling.

Then there are crepas, like French crêpes, very large and wafer thin, usually made on a special hot plate with sweet or savoury fillings and bought from a stand, a cafe or a restaurant.  I've not heard of anyone making them at home.

My idea of pancakes is what I grew up with in England; something like a crepe but not quite as perfectly thin and the size of the frying pan it's made in.  Homemade batter, flour, egg and milk whisked together with no extra flavouring.  They were always dessert on Pancake Day, our favourite filling being lemon juice and sugar.

For Pancake Day this year - although I'm the only member of the household who knows or cares about it - if I'm going to go to the effort of making pancakes I'm going to make them for main course and dessert!  They WILL know it's Pancake Day!

Just in time, here are some of my pancake recipe/filling ideas that I may or may not make on the day:

Pancakes pancake day Mexican food sweet savoury toppings

Savoury Pancakes

Alambre Vegetariano 

This is a dish we had recently from a cocina económica, a kind of cheap restaurant that sells midday meals to eat in or take away.  We really liked it and it looks so simple to make I vowed to try it myself, pleased to have a vegetarian meal to add to my repertoire.  Then it occurred to me that it would also make a great pancake filling.

Slice onion and peppers (ideally two or three different coloured peppers) into strips and fry, then add sliced mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste.  If you want a bit more bite, you could add some chopped chilli or chilli powder, although it's not part of the original recipe.  When the vegetables are cooked through, you can add the cheese.  You need a cheese that melts, and plenty of it.  In Mexico asadero cheese or manchego cheese are usually used, but probably Cheddar cheese would work just as well, or you could experiment and see which goes best.  When we had this dish the other day, the cheese was gratinated on top, but as a pancake filling this isn't really necessary, just stir slices of cheese or grated cheese into the vegetables until it's melted and well mixed in, then serve on your pancakes.  Easy!

Spicy Bean Pancakes 

This is another vegetarian option, even easier than the previous one. (You may have noticed I like easy recipes, in fact I only attempt easy recipes!)

You need black beans, previously cooked, or use a tin of black beans.

Fry finely chopped onion and green chilli, the quantities depend on your taste, add finely diced fresh tomato, then the beans and salt to taste.  When the beans are hot, you can serve them on your pancakes with grated cheese or sour cream.

Spinach, Mushroom and Ham Pancakes

You could leave out either the mushrooms or the ham in this recipe and just have two ingredients if you prefer.

Slice the mushrooms and fry them in butter or olive oil.  You could add a finely chopped clove of garlic too, if you want.

When the mushrooms are cooked add the chopped ham and some baby spinach leaves and leave on a low heat until the leaves start to wilt, don't overcook them.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve on your pancake with sour cream.

Sweet Pancakes

Lime juice and muscovado sugar would be a tasty version of the classic lemon and sugar.

I think mangoes are just coming into season, at least the price is coming down which is a sure sign.  So how about a tropical fruit filling?  Chopped mango and banana, or mango and pineapple, served with vanilla ice cream or cream cheese, sounds good to me!

I have to include a chocolate filling here, who would say no to a chocolate pancake?  I have some cooking chocolate in the cupboard, plain chocolate which is my favourite.  My idea is to break a square or two of chocolate into small pieces to melt on the surface of the pancake as it finishes cooking, then sprinkle with almond flakes or popped amaranth or chopped banana and roll or fold it up.

I'll update this post with photos of the pancakes I actually make and let you know how they turn out on the day!

Do you celebrate Pancake Day?  What are your favourite fillings/toppings?  Tell me about the pancakes you're planning to make or have made in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!

Pancakes Mexican food Pancake Day sweet savoury fillings






My Petit Canard

Pink Pear Bear

Friday, 10 February 2017

January in Review

The idea behind doing a review of each month is partly to hold myself accountable to my goals and see how much or how little I've achieved, give myself some encouragement and motivation (if I don't, who will?) and set new goals for the coming month.  If I have to write about it, maybe it'll help me be more constant and persevere in working towards what I want to achieve.  That's a good word for me: PERSEVERE; I'm not very good at it generally so there's something I need to practise.  Should make it my motto.

January in Review

The other purpose of a monthly review is to record the best moments of each month, focus on the positive as much as possible, remember Emma's favourite things, funny phrases and sayings and include my favourite photos.  I hope there will mostly be highlights, but I may write about some of the low points, too.

LIFE

Rosca de Reyes

Día de Reyes (Three Kings Day) was on January 6th and they brought Emma a couple of very nice Peppa-related presents (Mexican children get presents from both Santa and the Three Kings, lucky things!).  We also cut the traditional Rosca De Reyes, a sweet bread in the form of a ring with crystallised fruit on top, and ate it of course.

Presents Peppa figures

I took up the #YogaRevolution 31 days of yoga challenge, although I started on January 2nd instead of the 1st, with the aim of doing some yoga everyday for the whole month.  Each session is approximately half an hour, so it's not a huge chunk of time out of each day.  While I was still on holiday, it was easy to keep up the challenge, as it was the first thing I did every morning.  Once I went back to school on Jan 9th (nice long holiday we had this Christmas!) it was a bit more complicated as I had to find time in the evenings.  I did miss a few days, but at the end of the month I had reached day 23, so only missed eight days in the whole month, which I think isn't bad at all considering I used to only manage one or two sessions per month!  Anyway, I intend to repeat the whole thing when I finish and keep practising and improving.

We had a really lovely day out one Sunday at the Granja De Don Pollo, a little farm especially for family and school visits.  It was fun getting close to the animals, being able to feed and pet them, and Emma really loved it.  So did I, actually!  Her favourite was the rabbits.  I'll probably write a post about our farm visit at some point.

Farm rabbit preschooler cuddly

BLOG
At the end of December I finally got round to buying my own domain name and one of my first goals for January was to transfer the new name to my blog.  I'm quite proud that I managed to do this all by myself!  So now, instead of having .blogspot.com at the end of my name, I'm just www.mummyandthemexicans.com, which sounds much better.  Of course, my DA plummeted down to 1, unsurprisingly, but rock bottom is a good solid foundation to build upon!

I also wanted to sign up to Amazon Affiliates since my ultimate goal is to monetise my blog and eventually earn something (anything!) from it.  In hindsight, maybe it was too soon to do this and it would have been more logical to work on increasing traffic first, but I didn't really think about that at the time and did it anyway.  So now I seriously have to work on getting my visitor numbers up.

I'd planned to write four or five posts in January, but struggled with getting enough time to write.  Weekdays are almost impossible; in the mornings I'm at work and get home around four; afternoons and evenings I'm with Emma and cooking, washing up, having dinner, etc.  By the time I'm free it's usually quite late and I'm too tired to think.  My main blogging time is at the weekend in the mornings before anybody else is up.  At the beginning of the month I published a food/recipe post,  Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry #10 - Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding) and a post on goal setting and achieving, How not to fail at reaching your goals and at the end of the month I wrote a book review of one of the books Emma got for Christmas, We Love Books! #6 - Oi Dog! but didn't publish it till the beginning of February.  I need to do better this month and publish at least one post a week.

I enrolled on the Project Productivity course by Aby of You Baby Me Mummy and have been, admittedly very slowly, working my way through it.  I've now divided up my goals for the year, sharing them out over the four quarters, which I found quite difficult at first as I wanted to try to do everything as soon as possible - not very realistic!

EMMA SAYS...
...A lot! She can be quite a chatterbox when she wants and often surprises me with the things she comes out with.

Favourite phrases: "I NEVER gonna....!"
"...and up and up and all way to moon!"
"This is the best ... ever!"
(I suspect Peppa is mostly to blame for these phrases!)

Funniest saying: She was sitting on the toilet and said, "The mummy is the pee-pee, the baby is the pun (fart!) and the daddy is the poo-poo!" I was in stitches on the bathroom floor!

She chatters away in both English and Spanish, now separating the two languages most of the time.  She occasionally comes out with a mixed-up Spanglish phrase, but that's not so common these days.  She knows who to use each language with and translates like it's the most natural thing in the world.  She can say something to her grandmother in Spanish, then turn to me and translate it into English, or vice versa.  Of course, at almost three she's not always intelligible in either language and can be babbling away and we haven't got a clue what she's talking about - or even which language she's speaking!

FEBRUARY GOALS

  • Most importantly; send off all the documents for Emma's passport application.  I finally have everything together, about a year later than planned, and have done the online application, so that's my top priority.
  • Publish at least one blog post a week, realistically I should be able to manage this.
  • Start scheduling social media - I have already started doing this just this week to try it out, now I need to make it part of my routine.
  • Design a new header and logo - I've been meaning to do this for the past two years!  The parrot was only meant to be temporary.
  • Get a haircut!  My hair is a mess at the moment.
I'm going to sign off with my Quote of the Month, on the subject of self-doubt again....

Quote doubt self doubt shakespeare





Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Cuddle Fairy

Cuddle Fairy

Saturday, 4 February 2017

We love books! #6 - Oi Dog!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com which means I make a small commission on purchases made from these links.

Books, children's book review, picture book

Oi dog, get off the frog!

Emma already knows the first line of this book off by heart.  It's one of several she was sent for Christmas from my parents and is already one of her favourites.

Oi Dog!by Kes and Claire Gray and Jim Field is a great book for toddlers and preschoolers as well as slightly older kids.  Jim Field's illustrations are funny and appealing and we love the absurd humour of animals having to sit on things that rhyme with their names.  Emma seems to think the dog's name is Oi Dog, which is rather cute!

Books, book review, picture book

This is a follow up to Oi Frog! which we haven't read, but I imagine that someone sets out the "rules" that frogs have to sit on logs, dogs sit on frogs and cats sit on mats.  In Oi Dog!, the frog has had enough of being sat on and changes the rules for everyone.  The last page is a great punchline where the frog reveals what frogs will sit on - can you guess? (Clue: it doesn't rhyme!)

So many different creatures make an appearance in this book, even quite obscure ones - how about gnats, gnus, boars and hornets?  And I would never have thought to rhyme cheetahs with fajitas!

Some of these animals get a bit of a raw deal, too; we have fun sympathising with the elephants, having to sit on a pile of smelly pants while skunks sit on their trunks!  Then there's the plight of the whales... rather uncomfortable, to say the least.  The frog's merciless retort of "They don't have to like it, they just have to do it" sounds like the downtrodden underdog (underfrog?) who turns the tables and is now taking out his revenge on the rest of the animals.

Anyway, Oi Dog!is great fun and provides learning opportunities too, from animal names to the possibilities of rhyme.  It also serves as a starting point for some funny and ridiculous conversations, which are the best kind, as far as I'm concerned.

Have you read this book, or its prequel?  If so, what do you think of it?  I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

Books, picture book, review
You can get the books mentioned in this post here:








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Monday, 16 January 2017

How not to fail at reaching your goals

Just to make this clear, I'm not writing this as someone who hasn't failed at achieving my goals... I almost always fail miserably so I want to analyze why and work out what I need to change about the way I set goals in order to succeed.

I was in two minds about whether to write a post about my goals for 2017, as I did that last year with 20 Things that will definitely happen in 2016, and it's rather depressing/ humiliating to reflect on my complete failure!

However, I'm going to try to look at it constructively, see what went wrong and come up with a "How not to fail" strategy that will hopefully be just as helpful for me as for anyone else.  Maybe even more so.  That's the plan, anyway!

Goals strategies success


My biggest mistake was this:  Lack of strategy
I really had no strategy for reaching the goals I wanted to achieve - huge mistake.  Without a strategy,
I was lost in the wilderness.  I actually forgot what most of my goals were!

Here's what I didn't do in my non-existent strategy:

No deadlines
As I said in my own post:
I need a plan - with deadlines, or none of this is ever going to happen.  I'm going to make a schedule for all of these goals and put it somewhere visible to make sure I accomplish them.

Did I do that?  No, I didn't!  

No breakdown of bigger goals into manageable chunks
This is key!  It's like having smaller stepping stones to get you across the river to your ultimate goal, one step at a time with daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly targets to bring you closer to where you want to be.

Not measurable 
A vague statement like "Do some yoga" is not a measurable goal.  I did do some yoga last year, maybe once every couple of weeks or so, but that's not really what I had in mind.  By specifying exactly how often, how much, how many, how long for, etc, then you are able to measure your achievement and how close you are getting to your goal.  

This year I decided to take up the #YogaRevolution 31-day yoga challenge on YouTube so I have to find time every day for a half-hour yoga session.  So far I've only missed one day and when the challenge ends I think I'm going to repeat the whole thing as I'm really enjoying it and feeling the benefits.  The idea with this is that I'm forming the habit of practising yoga daily and I'll just keep the habit going after the end of the challenge.



Not visible
I wrote my goals for the year in that blog post, which I never looked at again, and at the back of a notebook which I occasionally stared at and did nothing about.  So of course they weren't very present in my mind and I mostly forgot about them.

This year I have everything in my bullet journal, but the pages are starting to fall out, which is not great.  Feels like my planning is falling apart!  I think I'll have to get a new notebook, probably spiral-bound, that will hold together.  Apart from that, I'm going to try out the Trello app, on the recommendation of Aby from You Baby Me Mummy; she makes it sound like a really effective and useful tool and something I need to help me organise my life!


Bullet journal


Procrastination 
I am the queen of procrastination; always putting things off till later, tomorrow, next week.  The Mexican mañana (such a stereotype!) was made for me!

However, with a proper strategy in place to hold me accountable I should have the tools to block my own tendency to procrastinate and actually get things done.  If I want to succeed in reaching my goals I need to do all these things:
  • Keep my goals and planning visible to refer to every day 
  • Have measurable goals so I can track my progress 
  • Have smaller progress goals that are steps towards reaching the main goals
  • Keep all goals time-based, with deadlines for each step

I'm also doing a free online course, Project Productivity created by the very productive Aby of You Baby Me Mummy.  It focuses on setting goals and planning in order to be much more productive so I hope it will help me!

Lastly, my other deadly enemy:  Self doubt
There's not much I can say to help with the struggle against self-doubt, except to just keep ploughing on regardless and ignore those voices in your head that tell you you can't, you're not good enough, no one is interested in what you have to say, etc, etc.  Don't listen to them!


Self doubt Van Gogh quote


Do you have any other advice on how to achieve your goals?  Please share your experiences of success or failure, words of encouragement or advice in the comments below - I'd love to hear from you!




Cuddle Fairy

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The Pramshed

Friday, 6 January 2017

Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry #10 Arroz con Leche (easy rice cooker version)

Happy 2017 everybody, I hope your year has got off to the best possible start!

For my first post of the new year I'm going to start as I mean to go on, with a foodie post, which I'll hopefully be writing more of and more frequently.

Arroz con leche is Spanish for "rice with milk", or rather, good old rice pudding.  That may not sound like a typical Mexican dish, but it's arguably as much Mexican as British.  You see it on dessert stalls along with jellies and flans at fairs, markets and on the street, served in little disposable plastic cups and always flavored with cinnamon. It's a homely and simple dessert that has become part of Mexican cuisine.


Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry #10 Arroz con Leche

Arroz con leche, like many Mexican traditions, was brought to Mexico from Spain, but going further back in time, the origins of the dessert are most probably to be found at the place of origin of the main ingredient, in south-east Asia.

I have childhood memories of Ambrosia tinned rice pudding, and fonder memories of my mum's oven-baked flaked rice pudding, but I'd never made rice pudding myself.  Ever since I saw a recipe for rice pudding in the little recipe booklet that came with our rice cooker I've been wanting to try it - that was about three years ago, though!  That booklet got lost the last time we moved house and I just hadn't got around to looking for a similar recipe on the Internet ...until these holidays.

Of course, it's a dessert that's eaten all year round, but it does seem to me especially appropriate for winter - maybe it's because of the cinnamon, or because it's such a cosy, comforting dish.  Anyhow, I was determined to try it out in the rice cooker over Christmas.  It seemed so easy, and it was!

I sort of amalgamated/adapted several recipes I saw, some were for the stovetop, others were for a rice cooker, but I knew my recipe had to have both condensed milk and evaporated milk.  In this recipe, the delicately fragrant citrus peel mingles with aromatic cinnamon and the creamy sweet combination of milk and rice, making for an irresistible dessert and ultimate comfort food.

Arroz con leche

Ingredients:
1 cup rice (all recipes called for Arborio rice; I just used the normal long-grain rice we always buy as it's cheaper and it worked perfectly!)
3 cups water
1 cup milk (recipe specified whole milk, but I used skimmed as it was what we had in the house)
1 tin evaporated milk
1 tin condensed milk
1 lime peel, whole or grated
1 stick cinnamon
Ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

This recipe does no need any extra sugar as the sugar in the condensed milk makes it sweet enough.

First, rinse the rice and cook with the three cups of water, lime peel and salt in the rice cooker on the normal rice setting.  When it's done, the liquid should have been absorbed and the rice should be soft.  Switch off the rice cooker and stir the rice to make sure it's not stuck to the bottom, then add the three different types of milk, stirring them in.  You can put the cinnamon stick in whole or break it into pieces which, so I'm told, releases more flavour, but also means you'll be picking small pieces of cinnamon out of your pudding later.  If you want extra flavour, or instead of the cinnamon stick, you can mix in some powdered cinnamon.

Now close the lid again and switch the rice cooker back on.  I put mine on the low setting at this point, but, rather unhelpfully, I don't remember how long for.  I guess there's probably some variation among different rice cooker models anyway so I would advise you to keep checking it to make sure it's the consistency you want.  Definitely don't wander off and lose track of time as I tend to do, and don't put it on the "keep warm" setting either; I did this after I thought it had cooked enough, came back to it later and found most of the milk had been consumed.  I had to add extra milk while it was cooling, but that worked fine and it turned out well in the end.

Arroz con leche
Before I added the extra milk, looking a bit too dry.

Oh, dilemma - do you serve it hot or cold?  According to my mother-in-law, eating warm rice pudding will give you the runs (I didn't suffer any ill-effects, though, thank you!) so I guess the convention in Mexico - or in this corner of Mexico, at least - is to serve it chilled from the fridge.  And it is delicious cold.

Either way, serve with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon and enjoy!

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it went.  I'd love to hear from you!

Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry #10 Arroz con Leche



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