Thursday, May 5, 2011

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo the "Write" Way

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo at her high school today, my granddaughter's Spanish II class is bringing in treats with a Mexican flair.

Last week, each student was assigned one or two recipes and was asked to bring in the food today to share with the rest of the class.

Yesterday afternoon my granddaughter and I went shopping for ingredients we didn't have on hand. She brought with her recipes for two Mexican dishes she found online--Churros and Hot Popcorn.

Shopping was the easy part, except maybe for trying to find popcorn other than the microwavable kind. After we got home, Cari busied herself in the kitchen laying out the storage containers of flour and sugar, along with the butter, salt, oil, and cinnamon. Her brother Michael helped out by digging out the air-pop popcorn machine from the back of a cabinet.

I cleaned out the popper while Cari diligently followed the recipe directions, measuring the water, the butter, and all the dry ingredients, putting them into a pot, turning on the heat, and waiting for the mixture to thicken.

It never did.

She called me to the stove and told me something wasn't right with the Churros. She thought maybe the recipe measurements were wrong. We dumped out that batch then checked and double checked the recipe amounts against the measuring cups and spoons. She printed out a different recipe and we tried again. After our second try, the batter was another watery mess and still wouldn't form into a ball.

When I dipped a finger into the cup she used to measure flour, I discovered the problem. She had grabbed the cannister of powdered sugar rather than flour. On our third try, the mixture was much better. Rather than starting from scratch, we added flour to the watery powdered-sugar-butter mix then formed the mixture into a ball. The powdered sugar gave the Churros batter a sweet taste, even before being formed, deep fried, and rolled into cinnamon and white sugar.

Making the Hot Popcorn was also an adventure. As the corn popped--some of it bounced out of the bowl across the kitchen--Harley, our black lab, circled the island chasing errant kernels. After Cari sprinkled Parmesan cheese and Chili Powder on the popcorn, it gave it a kick. Not bad.

Except for cleaning up the mess, it was a fun evening. I'm sure the high schoolers in Cari's Spanish class will enjoy all the treats she and her classmates bring in today.

The lesson I learned is that cooking is a bit like writing. To get the best results, it helps to plan ahead and have the right equipment and ingredients on hand, but occassionally happy accidents create something original--an unexpected delight that becomes a treasured family memory.


  1. I love the comparison of cooking to writing! Plan ahead (plotting, outlining, character sketches etc.) but sometimes happy accidents happen (a new character takes center stage, a short story is born from a novel scene, etc.)

    (Although, I am a little concerned because most of my meals consist of throwing everything into a pot and hoping it tastes okay at the end. What does that say about my writing...?!) :)

  2. Hi Madeline,
    Thanks. You've mentioned several important aspects of writing that I didn't include in my post.

    I think your cooking method of throwing everything into a pot shows your creativity, and I bet you've created a lot of happy accidents in the kitchen!


  3. Cinco de Mayo is a pretty big deal here in San Antonio. Glad you had fun!

  4. Hi Carol,
    It's big here, too. Hope you have a great day!

  5. Oh, Donna, I don't know that my husband would agree about the meals turning out to be happy accidents!! Some of my writing, maybe, yes, but meals? Hmmm... :)

  6. Great analogy! And your Mexican treats sound yummy!

  7. Nice tie-in to writing...It sounds like you two had fun.

  8. I fixed a Mexican inspired supper to give a nod to Cinco de Mayo. Nothing fancy but tasty. Cheers.

  9. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks. Cari did a great job with the Churros after we figured out the mistake.

    Hi Sioux,
    We did have one.

    Hi Sally,
    Sounds yummy.

  10. What fun! Isn't experimenting in the kitchen one of the best things - esp with a granddaughter. Sweet churros - a good variation on an old idea - bet Cari could win a contest with her original treat. Experimenting with new writing forms is a great analogy too. Thx!

  11. Nice analogy. I like that about the "unexpected delights." How true!

  12. Hi Marcia,
    Thanks. It was lots of fun.

    Hi Tammy,
    Thanks. Some unexpected delights in my life have given me the most joy.



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