Have you ever been to Tijuana or Rosarito just for the tacos and aguas frescas? I have. That’s how good they are. Spicy tacos with fresh pico de gallo and grilled jalepeños, crunchy radishes and slices of juicy lime. And to cool your mouth off, and refresh from walking around in the sun, a big glass of fresh fruit water, or agua fresca. NEVER has water tasted so good, been so refreshing or needed a recipe. But that what we are doing here, a recipe for water.
Use whatever fruit you have on hand, or buy your favorites. Of course, citrus works great in all of them and the watermelon is a very popular addition. Lime, watermelon and mint is a very traditional recipe since all three ingredients are wonderful together and can be found in abundance in the same Summer season. Sometimes sweetened with sugar, but it really depends on the sweetness of the fruit and the opinion of the maker.
This recipe just happens to be made with what we had in our house at the moment. I love tangerines and strawberries and sometimes I get a bit zealous and buy so much I couldn’t possibly eat it all, so this is a fun way to use my overflow.
Aguas Frescas, Strawberry Tangerine
Makes 1/2 gallon with ice.
2 Cups of fruit (In this case: 4 tangerines,1 Lemon,1 Cup Stawberries)
1/8 Cup Honey
1 Pinch of salt
Drop your fruit into the container, and muddle it (crush it lightly). Add your sweetener (optional) and salt. Fill the container with ice cubes, poor water over ice and fruit to fill. Lid it, shake it, set it in the fridge or just let it sit, for 20 minutes at least, then drink. Traditionally the fruit is not filtered off when poured but hey, it’s your cup, do what you see fit.
These tomatoes are from my garden. I planted an entirely heirloom crop, this is my fist real garden, and each piece of food I pick from it, is a little gift of life. The sweet basil is ours too. All natural, no chemicals, good food, warts and all.
Tomatoes were not a favorite when I was a kid. They were grainy, crunchy and mushy at the same time, covered in a leatherlike skin and completely flavorless. When I was 21 years old, my future father-in-law was showing me around his garden, and he LOVED tomatoes and had them growing like supernatural weeds all over his yard. Have you ever seen what composted donkey manure does to a tomato plant? It’s quite frightening and seems to me like it could be the answer to ending world hunger. But I digress. . . my future father-in-law offered me a tomato, fresh from the vine, his pride and joy, warmed from the sun, sitting there in the palm of his leathery hand, still stained with the earthen efforts of gardening. How could I refuse? So like a good guest, and future daughter-in-law, I took it, and I took a bite out of it, and I was so pleased that I did not have to fake or exaggerate my reaction. That thing was amazing. It was not the same animal as the store boughts I grew up with, at all. It bore no resemblance, and that moment is frozen in time for me, 2 decades later, as being the beginning of my instant love affair with tomatoes. Here is my favorite way to eat them. This simple salad has all the right ingredients to highlight the tomato.
Mad Gringa’s Tomato Salad
4-6 tomatoes (cut up they will fill 2 – 2 ½ cups)
1/8 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 handful of sweet basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste if your tomatoes need it)
3-4 grinds of a pepper mill
Toss all ingredients together and let them sit for a few minutes before serving. This is fantastic the next day as well and the dressing created from it is delicious as a salad dressing or bread dipping oil as well. We like to eat this on crostini, fresh French bread, and our favorite way to devour this is on pizza. Store bought, restaurant, freezer section or homemade, I promise that this will turn any pizza into an experience.
Here, are our simple flat bread pizzas. But really, they are just a tomato salad holder to me. I love the flavors of tomato sauce, the cooked fresh tomato slices and then a scoop of the tomato salad on top. It is lovely.
Many of you know that my family and I are new to The South. And being foodies, we are enjoying what American Food is like 2000 miles away from our SoCal home. Watermelon pickles are one of the strange, Southern foods that has turned out to be a favorite of ours, especially when served alongside meaty burgers and steaks. If you are familiar with making pickles, the recipe will be just another simple pickle recipe. If canning is new to you, then you will need more help than I can offer here and a canning site like The Canning Granny will help you along that road.
Southern Style Watermelon Pickles
Cutting and Brining (Day One)
Peel the rind of a large watermelon, and cut away the inside until just a thin layer of pink is visible. Cut the rind into relish size pieces or spears, whichever you prefer and brine this for 24 hours. Brine= 1 Gallon of water and 3/4 Cup pickling salt. While your watermelon is in your big pot or bowl for brining, you may have to put a plate on the rind to hold it underneath the salt water.
The Next Day (Day Two)
6 Cups sugar
4 Cups white vinegar
2 Cups brown sugar
4 lemons (more if you like, they are delicious and add another layer of wonderful flavor)
1 Tablespoon whole cloves
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
4 to 6 sticks cinnamon, broken into halves
1 teaspoon mustard seed (the mustard seed gives it the “pickle” flavor. For a milder flavor use less, for a stronger flavor use more but remember, this is a sweet pickle recipe)
Combine all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. While the syrup is simmering, drain the cubes and rinse them, twice. Put them back into a rinsed bowl and poor the syrup over them, cover tightly and let this sit for 24 hours.
The Next, Next Day (Day Three)
This is canning day. You will need 5 to 7 pint jars, sterilize them according to manufacturer’s instructions. Bring the syrup with the watermelon to a boil and fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch of space to the top of jar and seal. Make sure you distribute some of the lemon into every jar. The jars need 10 minutes in a water bath. These pickles need at least one week to process before eating but we have noticed that the longer they go, the better they are but they’ve never lasted us more than two months in our house!
Please take the time to read about canning before you attempt this recipe.
Simple rustic recipes will always win me over compared to fancy, multi-step, complicated recipes. I believe this is due to the fact that once I decide I want to eat something, I really don’t want a big fuss standing in the way to the final product. This applies to snacks, main dishes and desserts as far as I’m concerned.
This recipe is so simple, so rustic, it looks homemade. You’re not going to win awards for plating, but you may bring the folks at the table to a wonderfully peaceful and heartfilled place. Strawberry shortcake, to be really delicious, must be done when the berries are truly in season. The strawberries are the headliner of the show, the shortcake is the stage and the whipped cream is the gown, but the Berry, oh, she is the Star!
There are three simple parts to this recipe. Prepping the berries, making the dough for the shortcake and throwing that in the oven, and while that’s baking, whipping up the cream. I prefer to serve this while the shortcake is warm, and the berries are room temp. I’m convinced that this brings out the best flavors in all of the components.
Rustic Strawberry Shortcake by MadMadme
• 2 pints of fresh strawberries
• 1 tsp fresh citrus juice (I prefer orange juice)
• 1/8 cup sugar or Honey
Wash berries, cut small berries in ½ and large berries into ¼’s. Drizzle citrus juice, and sprinkle sugar over berries. Gently fold together, you do not want to bruise the berries. Let sit in a covered bowl, stirring occasionally a few more times until the sugar is dissolved and a syrup is created. Done.
Drop Biscuit Shortcake bake at 450° F for 15 minutes
• 2 C flour
• ½ C sugar
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 ½ tsp baking powder
• 4 Tbl chilled butter, cut into very small cubes (approx ¼ inch)-You will get very different results if your butter is not chilled.
• ¾ – 1 C whole milk -The amount of milk will depend on the humidity and the moistness of your flour. I typically start with ¾ C, but if my dough will not hold together, I will add the remaining ¼ C.
• 1 Tbl vanilla extract
• 3 Tbl cream
• 1 T sugar or cinnamon sugar
+ • 1 C cream reserved for serving
I enjoy Master Recipes. They are easy to memorize, alter and offer good results each time. I have ONE recipe for all of my biscuits, scones, shortcakes and quick pastries. This recipe is just a sweetened variation of my Mater recipe. The fat is very important to texture and crumb. So when asked if it’s ok to cut the fat, of course it is, you will still get a lovely treat but it will be less supple, denser, and dryer. Know this ahead of time, and you can decide if that is the result you will be pleased with. I prefer using the fat, and eating less of a marvelous thing, then eating more of a lesser thing.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl (you may sift the ingredients for a very light texture but it is not necessary to do so). Cut in butter until you have a corn meal like consistency. To speed up this part, I do the dough in my food processor. I put my dry ingredients in, pulse a few time to incorporate. Then I add my butter, pulse a few more time to get the corn meal consistency. Combine the vanilla and the milk, poor in all at once, and combine in as few strokes (or pulses) as possible. Done. Your dough should be very thick and sticky, but not wet.
Use a lined baking sheet, I always bake with parchment paper because I want the bottom of everything to taste as good as the top! Drop large spoonfuls (I use an ice cream scoop) onto baking sheet a couple of inches apart. Dab or brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar or cinnamon sugar. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes, or until they are getting golden speckles on top. This recipe will yield between 8-10 scone sized shortcakes.
• 1 pint whipping cream
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 3 Tbl sugar
Whip cream, and vanilla until peaks form, do not over whip. Fold in sugar to sweeten.
Once the shortcakes have set (about 10 minutes) they are ready to be eaten. Break apart a shortcake, pile a scoop of strawberries and the sauce they are in right in the middle. Top it with a mound of whipped cream and drizzle a bit of cream (1/8 C approx) into the bowl itself. It’s a bit of Heaven and a lot of Summer, hanging out together in one place. Enjoy!
Books. This single word will trigger a flush of emotion is every, single member of my family. We love them, even the “e” variety. I’ve been able to give up many of my bound books for the ‘e’ variety in the last couple of years but I just can’t seem to make that transition with the craft books, the artsy, and inspirational books. Partly due to the lack of them available for my e-reader, but also due to the fact that I want to touch the inspiration, stick little torn pieces of paper between my hopefuls and feel the weight of them pulling on my shoulder as I carry them in my bag. They tug at me and bounce against my side like my children did when they were little, when they wanted attention, when they were just letting me know that they were there.
Last year, I took a huge step, and I chucked boxes and boxes of books. It was heart rending, but they are pricey to move across the country and it made me really narrow down to books that we love, that we use and can’t get digitally. And now my paired little library practically sings to me each time I walk by. I also joined a craft book club and painstakingly did my research on each book to make sure it would be a treasure trove of new, inspirational and challenging information for me. And since I’m part child, I need lots of pretty pictures.
Well, I just rec’d my last shipment of books and I’m pleased as punch with them! I also got a tot sweater pattern book at Joann’s for 1/2 price and I’m endeavoring to make my first tiny garment, as a gift to my niece, E.S. I moved shortly after she was born, and I’ve been gone almost a year, she has had her 1 year birthday, she walks, and talks and steals my heart from 2000 miles away. She is. . . well, she is my baby Sister’s baby girl, so she is very special to me. Being the mother of two girls, and watching my own Sister grow up (I’m nine years older than her), it is a strange and wonderful feeling to see the next generation of Little Ladies sprouting up the the garden of our family.
I already have the Crochet Bouquet, and I just love it, so I was excited to see what new inventions would come in the Crochet Garden book by the same folks.
Here is an example of the glamorous motifs this book holds.
This is going to be the first ‘doodle’ I make from the Doodle Stitching book. I love Babushka dolls and I appreciate that this book shows many examples from basic outlines to more complex options for the same patterns. I’m hoping to create many of these motifs in yarn on a larger scale for my crochet projects.
And below is the Paper Doll Primer from The Black Apple. Emily Winfield Martin, who is The Black Apple, is (it’s funny, I cannot think of a single word that captures her), she is whimsical, nostalgic, creative, colorful, evocative, warming, truthful and fictional at the same time. I think this is the best paper doll book I’ve ever seen and my Kooky Middle One will love it. Each character has a back story, a style, and a wardrobe. They are edgy, and believable, but still fantastical and playful. I hope Emily becomes a millionaire one day (if she is not already) just because I like her brain so much! (Note the retro clothing, the cupcakes and the tattoos, ah, I just love it.)
And here is my first attempt at a tiny garment. E.S. might swim in it, but I’d rather make it large for her so she can grow into it. And somehow, tiny people can get away with being lumpy and frumpy and still look amazing. When did I outgrow that? It’s not done Baby Sister, but it’s on it’s way to getting there. Send my love to the Blue Eyed Beauty Queen.
If you are interested in joining the book club mentioned above, feel free to use this link, if you join, I get free books that I will be using in the MadMadme giveaways. Thank you Mad Ones.