Un Poquito de Sazón

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Puerto Rican food is amazing.

I grew up eating rice and beans with almost every single meal. All my meals were full of flavor and color (although I probably did not add green into the mix until I was older). I grew up expecting some sort of plantain as a side and wondered how people could ever eat anything else. Nothing said comfort like the smell of delicious food coming from my kitchen, whether it was my mom’s doing, my grandma’s creation, or a whole family effort for a special occasion.

I love all sorts of food, serve me a plate of pasta and I’m sold. Put a sushi boat in front of me and watch it sink into my belly. Living in New York City, you get spoiled with food. You are able to tour the whole world, one plate at a time and that, my friends, is the dream.

Still, Puerto Rican food is at my core. It’s the bite that makes me feel at home even when I’m a thousand miles away, that’s where the inspiration for this piece came from. I have a brand new kitchen (which I’m loving, by the way) and I wanted to bring in a little bit of home into the mix. I looked at some cool prints from Etsy but then I realized I could easily do this myself. So I bought a frame, made a list, printed it out and done.

Here’s a little bit of background into what each of these mean…

Sofrito – This is the essence behind pretty much every single Puerto Rican plate. I’ve always thought about sofrito as that weird green paste that my grandma made. Mix some garlic, peppers, onnions and God knows what else and you get sofrito!

Adobo – People make fun of Puerto Ricans because apparently we use a lot of adobo (as seen on this Vine, which I actually love). But hey, adobo is awesome so no shame there. This special seasoning is used on anything from chicken to scrambled eggs. It’s better than your average salt and pepper, but that’s just my humble opinion.

Mamposteao – If rice and beans is not a wonder on its own, this takes it to the next level. Take your average rice and beans, mix it with your choice of anything from onions to sweet plantains, do some magic and you’ve got yourself a nice mix.

Pegao – Pegao is that crunchy, almost burned rice that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan when you’re making rice. Not exactly what the dentist ordered, but oh my, it’s good. Some people may see it as a mistake to burn the rice, but in my house people actually fight for that special bottom.

Sazón – What helps make yellow rice yellow? Sazón. This special seasoning brings a lot of flavor to the plate. It’s also used for non-food references when you want to state that something needs that extra little something, or sazón.

Bacalaito – Bacalaitos are hard to describe, my first attempt sounded too gross, but trust me, they are awesome. Thanks to Wikipedia, I can now better describe them as salt cod pancake like fritters. Think less pancake and more fried, way more fried. Still a little gross, but give it a try.

Pastelón – Imagine a lasagna but instead of pasta, you use sweet plantains and then you add all that ground beef in between (no salsa). This is, of course, served with rice and beans. Again, not so sexy when I write it, but so delicious.

So, one thing is clear. I’m definitely not fit for writing a Puerto Rican cuisine dictionary but I can attempt to make words look pretty in a piece of paper. To strangers, it looks exotic and that’s cool, right? To me, it looks like home and that’s all I need.

Christmas Morning

In the midst of the sweet chaos that coming home for the Holidays entails, I wanted to take a second to be cheerful and cheesy. I love Christmas time, it’s really the best time of the year (besides my birthday, duh). I love seeing everyone come together, if only for a day.

I love seeing people go out of their way to come together in celebration, but most importantly, I love the magic it brings to life. I don’t even dare say what we know to be real or not, because on a day like today I like to believe that all of us believe a little more that we care to admit for. My little sister with special needs has already been told where the presents come from, but still, she left her letter with cookies as she did every year. I don’t think I’ll ever know what’s truly in her mind, if it’s pretend or not, but seeing her this Christmas morning made me very happy. She was sleepy and grumpy, but for a second we were all there in the floor opening presents together and it felt as magical as I always remembered it to be.

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When did we grow up?

That's me. Inside my mom's belly. When she was 25, one year younger than I am now and completely normal. (I love you mommy)

That’s me. Inside my mom’s belly. When she was 25, one year younger than I am now.          Totally normal, right? (Hi mom, I love you!)

Between the babies and the engagements… how did we get here?

In last’s week’s hunt for a nice #TBT picture that will make me happy, yet will not make any of my friends or family members die of embarrassment, I found myself going down an intense walk down memory lane.

What were we thinking in High School?

First of all, how I sat for basically 6 hours listening to new information and thinking is now beyond me. I can hardly go by 1 hour without checking my phone or reading a random news article (and by news, I mean Twitter).

I started thinking of all the awesome things I did during my school years in Puerto Rico and realized that there were a few memories that I had forgotten about.

Are we hitting that age?

I was thinking of this girl I was friends with during a summer in Girl Scouts camp, we got pretty close and now I can’t even remember her name. I actually can safely say I hadn’t thought about that summer camp in years.

We are now looking at life in years, not months or even weeks. Everything seemed to happen slower before, maybe because we had different mindsets or maybe because each year was more distinct and easier to tell apart from another, because obviously you are a totally different person going into 10th grade from 9th grade.

Now, we’re looking into friends we have not seen in years, and it’s ok because that’s apparently how life is. Everything is merging now, time is blurry and quite tricky. I’ve been working in Manhattan for two years now and although some may say two years is nothing, I struggle some times to pin point when certain things happened.

I guess it’s downhill from now, or uphill, up to you.

How did people keep track of life before Facebook?

Guess no Facebook meant more interesting High School reunions, where no one had to pretend to be impressed by your life situation because they had already stalked you extensively the week before.

So, are we… grown-ups?

I sure don’t feel like one sometimes (and by sometimes, I basically mean I never do). I guess we are always growing up, whether you think of it as becoming more mature or in all reality, aging.

Seriously though, am I an adult?

On giving thanks… with a side of puppies.

1288588995Source: http://www.loveitsomuch.com/

Giving thanks…

Remember? Thanksgiving? The whole reason you eat turkey?

I know, it’s hard to remember when all you see is Christmas lights and black Friday deals. I know Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks and all that. To be honest, for me it’s all about being with family and people you love. If you think about it, that’s a reason to be thankful, so there you have it. No matter how you wish to look at it, you have to be thankful during Thanksgiving, maybe it’s because you are off work or because you saved a ridiculous amount of money on something you did not even need to begin with, but you are thankful and you know it.

This will be my 7th Thanksgiving that I spend away from home without my family. Sounds tragic, but I’ve been blessed to be able to spend it with special people each and every year. Whether it has been with my friend attempting to cook a turkey in Boston freshman year of college, abroad in France with my amazing host family or even  last year with another friend roaming the streets of NYC looking for a place that was open for cheap  turkey feasting (cheap being the key word).

That’s what it’s all about, feeling that warmth from the people that you love and being able to say: “Woah, I’m lucky to have people that love me.” Distance sucks, but even in the distance I know I have SO many people that love me and care about me. Sure, I can be thankful for so many other things in my life, but I’m gonna let myself be cheesy and this year I’m going to be thankful for love in all of its forms. Whether it’s my mom’s morning text, a friend’s hug, a lover’s kiss or a puppy picture in my phone’s background.

However, just in case you still need some reasons to be thankful today, here are some Thanksgiving themed puppy pictures.

Cute-puppies-golden-thanksgivingSource: http://puppypicsonline.com/tag/thanksgiving-puppy/

thanksgiving-puppy1Source: http://puppypicsonline.com/tag/thanksgiving-puppy/

cute puppy leavesSource: http://seasonal-love.tumblr.com/post/10766392765

cutest puppies in leaves

Source: http://www.all-hd-wallpapers.com/wallpaper/animals/autumn-leaf-bed/254045thanksgiving-dogSource: http://www.vetconm.com/13-tips-to-keep-your-dog-safe-on-thanksgiving/

What are nineteen years?

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You don’t remember a lot when you are little, but for some reason your mind captures random bits of pieces to preserve almost intact. It’s not usually remarkable images, but simple daily smiles.

Nineteen years ago, I remember being taken to my “Titi Gladys” house for some unexpected play time. I don’t remember the worried look in my parents’ eyes or the tears hidden in everyone’s faces, because when you are four years old you don’t notice the bad things that much.

My mother’s brother, my dearest uncle, passed away 19 years ago in a car accident. Hard to say how much a four-year-old girl can remember, it makes me even a little angry that memories rely so much on age. I wish I had more memories with him, but I’m left with bits and pieces of an unfinished puzzle, a little girl too young to mourn.

Then just like that, I see myself quietly opening his bedroom door and jumping playfully to wake him up.

Rest in peace tío, I love you.

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