Friday, December 25, 2009

Ensalada de Nochebuena - Christmas Eve Salad

During Mexican Christmas celebrations colorful star shaped piñatas were traditionally filled with citrus fruit, peanuts, small jicamas, sections of sugar cane and colacion, or small pastel colored anise candies. Once the piñatas were smashed open they smell was intoxicating, even if the fruit was a little bruised.

This juicy, crunchy, sweet salad contains some of the same ingredients, and it reminds me of all the smells, colors and tastes of the season. Ensalada de Nochebuena is traditionally served the evening of December the 24th, but you can make it all winter long. To make this salad you'll need the following ingredients:

  • One head of lettuce
  • Two oranges, peeled and cut in sections
  • Once large jicama, shredded (or two small ones)
  • 4 ribs of celery, sliced finely
  • One cup of fresh pineapple, chopped
  • Two medium sized beets, cooked and chopped finely
  • One cup of shredded carrots
  • One stick of raw sugar cane, peeled and chopped in small pieces *(See notes about eating sugar cane at the end of the recipe)

  • About half a cup of toasted peanuts, or more to taste
  • Cut radish "flowers"
  • Seeds from one large pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup of the water where you boiled the beets
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of orange, lime or pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar

Chop, shred and chill all the ingredients. I use an electric food processor, it cuts things evenly and in less time than chopping manually. Line a large salad bowl with shredded lettuce, arrange the rest of the ingredients on top. I arranged mine in "wedges" like on the photo. Clock wise: Jicama, carrots, pineapple, orange, celery, beets and sugar cane.

Garnish the salad with the peanuts, pomegranate seeds and radishes. Aditionally you can also add anise seeds, and crushed colacion candy. Toss right before you are ready to eat. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a cruet and chill well. Serve the dressing on the side, or the salad will get soggy.

*Notes about eating sugar cane:

* How to eat? Raw sugar cane is very juicy and sweet, but it is also very fiberous. It is perfectly fine to chew out all the juicy goodness and spit out the woody, fiberous part. If you are having a fancy affair and you don't want to see your guests spitting, just omit the sugar cane from your salad. Supervise children when eating raw sugar cane. Don't cut into pieces that are too big, they could be dangerous if not chewed properly.

Where to buy? You can buy raw sugar cane at the farmer's market. It looks like a long stak of bamboo (see the picture above). You'll need to peel it and cut it down to smaller pieces. Here is a link for instructions for peeling and eating a raw sugar cane stick. Even better, you can also buy the cane already in sections, with the tough husks removed, at some Asian and Latino food markets. The come conveniently sealed in little plastic baggies.

Felices Fiestas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ornaments: Using Crepe Paper Rosettes

Some of my ornament kits include crepe paper rosettes. You can create some of your own, just follow these instructions. First, cut crepe paper ribbons that are about 15 inches long and about 2 - 3 inches wide. Make sure the grain of the paper runs vertically. Using needle and thread start sewing a running stich along one side of the paper ribbon.

Start gathering the paper by pulling the thread gently. Create a pleaded "fan" out of the crepe paper, then shape into a circle. Overlap the edges and secure with a droplet of glue, and sew the center together.

You'll have a nice fluffy crepe paper disk ready to decorate. You can create your rosettes in a variety of sizes by cutting the paper ribbons in widths that are gradually smaller.

Now, here comes the fun part - decorating them. You can also leave them "as is" and stack several rosettes on top of each other, they make a nice decoration for a wrapped gift.

To add extra sparkle you dip the edges or your rosette in glue and then in fine glitter. Let them dry for several hours before handling.

If you want to hang your ornament you can staple a piece of ribbon to the back of the rosette. You can also build your ornament by layering the rosette with a painted wood chip, embossed rubber stamped cut-outs, collage elements, charms and other embellishments. Here are some ideas, have fun.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Workshop: Guadalupe Holiday Ornaments

Guadalupe-inspired "Adornitos"
Saturday, December 12, 2009
3:00 to 8:00 pm
Galeria de la Raza, Studio 24th
2857 24th Street

San Francisco, CA

Create a Virgen de Guadalupe ornament, or your own interpretation of her: An Aztec warrior Goddess, a personification of winter, or a homage to Latina power and mystique. No sign-in necessary, just make your creation and take it home, ready to hang any place that needs a little sacred-ness. Only $7.00! We'll have lots of clip art, crepe paper, glitter, plaster add-ons and other precious embellishments available.

Estrellitas: Making Cardboard Stars

Some of my Holiday Ornament Kits provide glittery stars. With some patience and practice you can make some of your own. You'll need the following materials:

  • Recycled light weight cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Xacto knife
  • Ruler
  • Sticky glue
  • Acrylic paint
  • Fine glitter
  • Wire or ribbon
  • Trimmings of your choice
First, cut out two identical five point stars. You can dowload and print the pattern below courtesy of Math Central. They also have instructions for another 3D cardboard star , those instructions work better if you want to make a much larger star, by creating each point separately. They even provide the mathematical equation!

In this case, I use thin recycled cardboard to cut out two identical stars. The material used to make cereal boxes is perfect. To give the stars 3D points use a dull xacto knife and score the points of the cardboar star from the point to the opposite side (it will be a line that divides the star in two). Make sure you don't cut the cardboard all the way trough. Repeat on all five sides. If you are doing this correcty all cuts will intersect in the middle of the star. Fold and crease the star creating hills and valleys, using the scored guides. Next, repeat with the other star.

All you have to do now is glue the two stars back to back, to create a tridimentional star. If you wish, add a cord, ribbon or wire for hanging before gluing them together. Decorate as you wish. Here I'm adding glitter. First, paint the star in a flat color, then cover the entire surface with fine glitter in a similar color and let it dry completely before removing the excess.

Finish your design by adding crepe paper and other collage elements!

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Adornitos" - Holiday Ornament Kits

Las Posadas, or "Inns" are traditional Mexican Christmas gatherings. These parties are very colorful. Pinks, turqoise, charteuse and Rosa Mexicano (fucsia) are prevalent in decorations for a Posada. Decorations like piñatas, papel picado and paper lanterns called farolitos inspired me to design '"Adornitos", or holiday ornament kits. A base, cord, crepe paper, sequins, and other collage elements are included inside each baggy.

You'll have lots of fun designing the composition of your ornament and adding the trimmings. Additionally you can use materials you already have at home - wine corks, packing twine, recycled cardstock, paper doilies, etc. This season I will be posting some ideas and variations for the ornaments you can make. Enjoy!

You can also buy my kits at the Galeria de la Raza's Holiday Bazaar: Crucero Artero Navideño.