"The festival that became the modern Day of the Dead fell in the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, about the beginning of August, and was celebrated for an entire month. The festivities were dedicated to the goddess known as the "Lady of the Dead", corresponding to the modern Catrina."
"In most regions of Mexico November 1 is to honor children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes ("Day of the Innocents") but also as Día de los Angelitos ("Day of the Little Angels") and November 2 as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos ("Day of the Dead")."
Click here for some pictures from a Day of the Dead artists' competition. (No, not dead artists...)
They do have sort of a Halloween with kids in costume here. I saw/heard none in my neighborhood though I was prepared with a jar of 1 and 2-peso coins instead of candy. My friend Marvin reports that his neighborhood held a block party with streets blocked off and tables and chairs set up outside. Only the very youngest kids going door-to-door accompanied by their parents. Somewhat older kids had to eat of the pot luck fare first before sharing in the remaining sweet booty that was brought to the tables. A very orderly affair but as reported a friendly and enjoyable one. It's one aspect of Mexico I truly enjoy, families and neighbors getting together and enjoying life and each other.
Wifey is back in Belize on a mission of mercy so it's just me and the four-legged beasts on the homestead. Her appreciation of Mexico (and my cooking) grows exponentially with each passing day. Of course I miss her too yet, thanks to technology, we're in close virtual contact.
Today it's raining yet again thanks to a cold front from, of course, up north. A rather constant sprinkle with occasional downpours that have our cat and three dogs laying about much like the dead. Even the occasional rolling thunder roils them not. I'm envious but slept out so will seriously consider devoting the rest of the day to reruns of "24" and "The Big Bang Theory".
After completely dismantling, cleaning, and reconstructing my pasta machine, I didn't get to the inaugural Crab Ravioli that was on the menu. Instead, I resurrected a cast iron Dutch Oven and in short order I had a weekend's worth of chicken stew. Better than a slow cooker, once the chicken was browned, the onions and carrots softened, it was but 40 minutes later done to perfection. I do so like cooking with cast iron. It's not for every dish and I avoid cooking highly acidic foods (such as tomatoes), but for so many recipes, cast iron cookware is great.
In related cooking news, I found a source for delicious English Muffins. I had to resort to making my own in Belize even if Thomas' were found occasionally in some stores. It was just easier and better. Our local WalMart has a bakery (as do the other supermarkets) making pies, pizza, sweet pastries, baguettes (of various sizes), tortillas, etc. and now English Muffins. Six in a pack for 20 pesos (about US$1.50). Hopefully this will be a regular item but just in case, I vacuum-sealed two packs for the freezer. For those of you who would like to try your hand at making your own....
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4- 2 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup warm milk
2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
cornmeal for sprinkling
Some say dissolve the yeast and some sugar in the water and let it foam. That's called "proofing" which used to be done simply because one couldn't trust the quality of the yeast. I skip this and mix ALL the dry ingredients together very well then add the wet ingredients and mix well again.
Start with 1/2 the flour to which you add the dry ingredients, mix very well. Add all the wet ingredients then mix very well again. Before adding more flour, continue mixing several minutes after everything is incorporated. I find this step important. Then add flour to form a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl. You can mix by hand or with a machine but the process is the same. You may need more or less than 4 cups depending on your flour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and springy adding flour a little at a time as necessary to prevent sticking. The softer you leave the dough, the lighter the muffin.
Coat with very light spray of oil and let rise, covered, until doubled. Yes, I keep oil in a small spray bottle...
Punch down and roll into a log about 3 inches in diameter. Cut slices about 1/2 thick.
Preheat oven to 300F. On a cooktop, heat a cast iron griddle until a drop of water sprinkled on the griddle dances across the surface. Sprinkle some cornmeal then place several muffins on the griddle, cook for about 8-10 minutes on each side, turning them when they are starting to show dark brown spots (yes, just like the ones you buy). They will swell and puff while cooking. Because English Muffins are thick, it takes a while to cook the inside so after their turn on the griddle, they go into the oven for about 15 minutes or so to finish.