This is one of my favorite summer time treats.   The lime makes it as balances out the sweet and adds a tartness that begs for salt and spice.  I stumbled upon a variation of this sweet and sour treat on My New Roots the other day.  This is my adaptation of Sarah’s recipe, which can also be interpreted as the recipe of the Mexican fruit cart vendors all over Chicago’s Mexican neighborhoods.  The best takeaway from Sarah’s recipe is to let it marinade in the fridge for a half hour. I had never done this, but when I did I found that the flavors developed a depth that I had never experienced before. Quite unexpectedly much better than the original.

Mango y sandia con sal, limon, y chile

One Mango cut into cubes.

One half cup of watermelon

Juice of half a lime

A pinch of salt

A pinch of cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly, and adjust seasonings to taste. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Add watermelon to the mixture once mango is done marinating. You may also enjoy adding cucumbers or jicama.



We arrived in Barcelona exhausted from our week in London.  We saw many sites on our motorcycle tour through the city but did not have the energy to enter any museum, church, or exhibit.  Instead we wandered the streets by foot, visited the markets, marveled at Park Güell’s architecture and scenery, and dined on pinxtos and tapas along the way.  The city has an old soul that is sometimes hidden within hoards of tourists and flashy restaurants with picture menu boards.  We stayed three days before we headed down to the beaches of Sitges. It wasn’t nearly enough time, but we were lucky to get a glimpse of its charm and we look forward to returning one day so we can become better acquainted.



We arrived from our trip to Europe almost three weeks ago and I am just getting myself to organize and post all of my photos.  I’m not sure what happens to me after I return from a trip.  We always take these exhaustingly long, but wonderfully spectacular trips and when we get back I just want to sit and do nothing.  The last thing I want to do is sit at a computer and edit photos and write about what a fantastic time I had.  The first thing I want to do is visit my friends and family that I feel I haven’t seen in like forever.  Then there’s summers in Chicago making me want to be outside all day.

So now I am finally sitting down to tell you about our trip.

Steve gave me an Olympus OM-1 for our second wedding anniversary and I was so excited to take it abroad with me and I even shot a few test rolls before we left to make sure everything was working fine.  I was happy with my initial results and bought 4 rolls of Kodak Portra 400. We carried around my Canon and Olympus almost everywhere we could.  I was just so happy to finally shoot film again, so I knew I’d be pleased no matter how the photos came out.

London was fantastic.  The stylish people around each and every corner.  The pubs that spilled out into the streets as locals cheer on their favorite football team.  The free museums.  The fantastic restaurants.  The fish and chips. The shopping. The art. The culture.The markets.

 Oh. the markets. The Camden Market was eclectic.  Stalls were lined with local artists selling their handmade jewelry and other crafts, hooka lounges nuzzled in corners, and the smell of incense and food from every corner of the earth lingered in the air.  The Portabello Market at Notting Hill was cheerful and bright.  Fun souvenirs could be found from clever shopping bags to hip t shirts and dresses, leather bags, vintage anything, but mainly tin boxes, jewelry, and cameras.  I’ve never seen so many antique cameras in my life. The Spittialfield Market and Covent garden were equally entertaining, but the Borough Market stole the show.  The Borough Market is dedicated to food. glorious food. Freshly brewed coffee, quiches, fresh fruits, and italian salads got us started off for the day.  I wandered for hours around this market.  I smelled lovely indian spices, tasted cheeses, fruits, breads, chocolates, I watched cooking demonstrations by local chefs, watched as serrano ham was delicately sliced off the bone, tasted paellas and curries prepared in massive pans, and simply basked in the glory of it all.  Steve and I drank prosecco and just watched everything around us.  I was one of the happiest moments of the trip.

London was so full of life.  So much so that we could find a reason to rest.  We walked and tubed our way through the city from early morning till 11pm when most of the city calls it a night.  Too exhausted to stay out much later, we went to bed with smiles on our faces and London growing in our hearts.

Here are a few of the photos that actually came out from my two rolls taken in London.  One roll, to my ultimate dismay, came back blank–the shop owner said that my shutter must have never opened.  The blurry ones of me are taken by Steve.  He didn’t tell me that he couldn’t really see through the view finder until we got home.  I love them all though.  I had a blast playing around with my new camera and am so grateful for the few memories of our stay in London I was able to capture with it.

Stay tuned for posts on Barcelona and Paris! And if you don’t have enough with those photos, I will also be posting some of our digital photos as well as my instagram for those of you who weren’t able to follow me while we were away.


I am so lucky to have both sets of grandparents around at my age.  My grandmother on my dad’s side (the abuelita who makes the mole) lives here in Chicago, but my mother’s mother lives in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz.  I see them about once a year when they come and visit, but this year I saw them twice! Once this January when Steve, my mom, and I went to visit them and again this summer.  I was so lucky that they planned their short two week stay after our three weeks in Europe.  Needless to say, I tried to get them to myself as much as I could while they were here.  It was a challenge since all of my uncles and aunts adore them and want them to themselves, but I shared them with my mom and they came over twice with her to spend a little time in our home.

It was so nice to have them over.  Steve and my grandpa watched sports–Tour de France one Sunday and the Wimbledon finals the next. My grandfather absolutely loved it.  He doesn’t normally watch these sports-he normally sticks to the annual bull fights in Tlacotalpan- so it was such joy to watch his amazement as he got totally wrapped up in the matches.  In between his grandpa naps on the couch he would ask Steve questions about the rules of the games as he patiently waited for his meal to be prepared.

Meanwhile, my grandmother, mother, and I set off to make picadas for brunch.  Picadas are a staple in my grandparents state of Veracruz.  They are considered and antojito (snack or appetizer), but are also consumed for breakfast.  I love to eat them any time of the day.  They are simply thick homemade tortillas with the edges pinched up to contain their delicious topping.  They are traditionally topped with black beans, salsa, and white onions. I sometimes like to add steak, chorizo, eggs, or avocado.

As I was preparing the kitchen, I brought out my tortilla press (pictured above) but my grandmother insisted on hand making them as any grandma would.  My mother worked on the beans, chopped the onions, and crumbled the cheese.  I set to work on the salsa and scrambled some eggs.  My part was pretty easy so i pulled out my camera to capture the magic between my mother and grandmother.

They have one of the strongest bonds mother-daughter bonds I’ve ever witnessed.  My mother adores her mom and my grandmother doesn’t deny that my mother is her favorite.  It’s so special to watch them together.  They worked in silence, assembling the picadas, each knowing what the other is doing without looking.

The ladies served the men in true old-school Mexican fashion and we sat at the table and devoured our food and gossiped about family. it was so nice to have most of the favorite people in my life all to myself.

A happy sunday, indeed.


These measurements are approximate. I learned from my grandmother, and well grandmothers don’t follow recipes, so I just usually eyeball it.

You have two options for the dough:

A. Store bought masa.  You can pick this up at most Mexican grocery stores.  It is usually in the refrigerated section and labeled as Masa para Tortillas.  (be careful not to pick up Masa para Tamales)

B. Home made masa. I use Maseca masa flour mix for tortillas.  Again, this can be purchased at Mexican grocery store, but I have also seen it at my Whole Foods once in a while.
2 cups of Maseca
1 1/4 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 or 2 tablespoons of oil or lard (optional
  1. Turn your griddle on to medium high.
  2. Work through the dough with my hands. The consistency should be firm and just a bit sticky.  If it’s too dry add water, if it’s too wet add flour.
  3. Work the dough into small golf ball size balls.
  4. Flatten the tortillas with your hand so that they are about 4-5 inches in diameter. I use a tortilla press, my grandmother works them with her hands and finishes them off between two layers of wax paper to get to her desired thickness.
  5. Grease your griddle and heat your tortillas for about 1-2 minutes on each side depending on thickness. I usually re-grease between batches.
  6. Let cool for just a bit and pinch edges up along the perimeter.
  7. Top with whatever your hear desires.
Topping options:
black beans
queso fresco
white onions thinly sliced
ground beef
shredded chicken

Let me know how they turn out if you give them a try!

it was a real challenge to get this blog started. I couldn’t figure out a name, i didn’t know what I wanted it to look like, and then I had no idea what to write about. would people even care?  so i started to write about my participation in the Food Matters Project.  that was easy.  interpret recipes. take photos. write about it.  I got in a mini groove and I posted 8 times. i felt good.

then I went to my grandmother’s house and made mole and posted about that. A few weeks later I started getting all of these comment and follower alerts and to my surprise I realized that I had been Freshly Pressed.  part of me celebrated, and even boasted about it.  it was thrilling to watch those numbers go up on my stats page and it was especially fun showing my grandmother how popular she had become on the blogosphere. but then I just stopped writing.  I stopped thinking about what to write. i started to panic about how much of my homework day I was taking up by spending my entire Sunday in the kitchen.  there were lots of excuses, but the truth is that I got scared. the sudden thrust into a pool of hundreds of followers made me acutely aware of what I was saying.  would they still like me?  would they care if I didn’t write about my grandmother as often as they’d like?  ok, so I’m here to say that i am ashamed of my shame, but I am over it.

thanks to the advice of Kate and Abby, I will simply write for myself.  post photos for myself. experiment with new recipes for myself.  after all, I did start this for me–to chronicle my life, improve my writing, improve my photography.  and i hope along the way, some of my followers stay with me and and enjoy what I have to say. i did learn a few things in my short time blogging. it is a lot of work.  it takes dedication. and it won’t be great right away.

also, food blogging appears to be easy.  like a said: cook, shoot, write.  but it is not.  it takes time and planning and great lighting.  to do this you have to have a plan when you wake up.  start cooking right in the morning.  no matter if you are making a breakfast, snack, dinner, or dessert. i know this isn’t news to those who already have food blogs or even those who read food blogs.  it wasn’t even news to me. it was just hard to deal with the reality of it.  time management. dedication. skill.  this blogging business is no joke. and i wanted to do this for fun? eesh.  but i know in the end i will get the hang of it and it will be fun. plus there is nothing like the feeling of accomplishing something you started.

so there is my confession.  I do hope do stick around.  after all, it is nice to have fans. 🙂

stay for lots of photos from our summer so far.  europe. more cooking with grandma (and mom)! and our favorite thing to do in the summer–lounging on the beach.

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I want to share some photos of this past weekend before I get a chance to sit down and reply to all of the nice comments I received yesterday after being Freshly Pressed (yay!). I really should have posted these on Sunday night, but I haven’t gotten into a good blogger’s workflow yet so for now I will probably continue to post a few days late.

This weekend was filled with long hours at work and getting up in the wee morning, but Steve and I still managed to get out of the house once I got home to enjoy the amazing summer weather we’ve been having during this Chicago winter. I won’t get into how scary it is that we are having 85 degree weather when we should still be freezing. I’m scared for this summer (oh, the humidity!) and I’m scared for our Earth and all of it’s helpless creatures. Feel depressed? Ok, sorry. I hope these photos cheer you up.


One of the things that I am often guilty of is not reading a recipe the whole way through before I start cooking.  I find a recipe that sound or looks good in its description, I make sure I do all of my prep work before I turn on the stove, but I don’t read the directions all the way through so sometimes I end up making mistakes or creating something that I didn’t realize I started.

When I think of tomato soup I think about a creamy puree that I eat with my grilled cheese sandwiches.  This is exactly what I thought I would be making when I saw that the Food Matters project’s Joanne had chosen Curried Tomato Soup as this week’s feature.  I realized that I was chopping up carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower, but it still didn’t hit me that I would be making a wonderful full flavored stew that could satisfy the hungriest person.  Instead, I thought I would finally get to bring out my new hand blender to make creamy tomatoey goodness.  Alas, I did not get to use my new toy, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  It turned was so much better than I had imagined and the egg and cilantro added a dimension that was completely brilliant. Despite the 80 degree weather we’ve been having during this winter in Chicago, I could not stop eating it.

The only adjustment I would make from my first attempt at this recipe is the type of curry powder I used.  I should have used sweet curry instead of hot.  While it did have a good kick to it, my intuition tells me that it would have tasted so much better with the other type of curry since I had already used plenty of thai chiles.

Even though this soup was good enough to eat on its own, I ended up serving it with a gruyere and swiss grilled cheese sandwich on the side (not pictured).  All I can say is “nom”.

I love making happy mistakes in the kitchen.  No matter the outcome, I always learn something.  I look forward to many more mistakes and masterpieces as I push the boundary of my abilities in the kitchen.  I have a lot to learn, but this one was definitely a masterpiece.  Try it out and let me know what you think.

For the full recipe check out Joanne’s blog, Eats Well with Others.

Check out what everyone else fared this  week at the Food Matters Project.


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I spend close to 4 hours in the kitchen almost every sunday.  We don’t hold big sunday dinners at our house and rarely have guests this day (though we should do this more).  sunday is the day that we enjoy each other, a little bit of quiet, and get ready for the following week by catching up on school work and grading.  My time in the kitchen on sundays is my time.  I feel uninterrupted, focused, and charged.  The longer a recipe takes to make the more I enjoy it.  I love coming home with a grocery bag full of whole foods and creating a delicious and beautiful meal for my home.  It’s one of the best ways to spend a sunday afternoon.

This week’s recipe for the Food Matters Project was hummus selected by Erin at Naturally Ella.  The recipe called for dried or canned beans.  I opted for dried beans and headed home to start cooking.  It slipped my mind that dried beans take so long to prepare, so what should have taken about only 30 minutes to prepare took me over 3 hours from start to finish.

I’m not a big fan of flavored hummus except for any kind of Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods variation of chipotle hummus so I kept the recipe simple.  There’s a cute little restaurant in Greek Town that has the best hummus around and I aimed to replicate it.  The result wasn’t quite there but it was still very tasty.  In the process of cooking the beans also I prepared some Tabbouleh.  There is enough of both dishes for snacking for the rest of the week.  I’ve been adding them to my veggie sandwiches and I can’t get enough!

This project is really pushing me outside of my comfort zone.  I am slowly realizing how easy it is to make food that I normally purchase prepared from the grocery store. Tomato soup is one of the items that always makes it my shopping cart.   I can’t wait to making it on my own next week.

Check out what everyone else came up with this week.
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Oh my goodness. Bean sprouts were so hard to come by this week.  I stopped by Whole Foods every day since Saturday looking for them without any luck.  I thought about using alternatives, but resisted because I was so excited to use this new ingredient.  I had almost given up.  I almost decided to skip this week because I was so disenchanted from so many failed trips to the grocery store.

But then!  But then today I decided to make one last stop after class and to my sweet relief they had two bags left. It was 8 in the evening and had the urge to make something.  Everyone at the Food Matters project raved about how easy and quick this recipe was so I thought I could whip it up as a late dinner.  It only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.  The only downfall was that I had to deal with the horrific lighting in my kitchen.  This is the reason for my lack of photos, I promise I will do better with the next one.

Marcia from Twenty by Sixty chose the dish this week and you can check out the whole recipe on her blog.  You can also see what everyone else came up with at the Food Matters project page.

Overall, I was happy with my first attempt at a Chinese inspired dish.  However,  I’m not sure if I just made it in a hurry or if it just needed a little tweaking, but it just didn’t taste fantastic to me.  I served the dish with soba noodles.  Next time I will add more veggies and try it with a different noodle or even rice.

Try it out and let me know how it turns out!