A Mexican restaurant built around a lake.
Outside of Mexico, we haven’t been thrilled with the Mexican restaurants in our new area. There is one that is pretty good, but it’s a 45-minute drive away. In California, we had several favorites within walking distance. I think we get used to a certain flavor and anything else doesn’t satisfy the craving for Mexican food.
We tried a restaurant in Cave Creek for lunch Saturday called El Encanto and I was thrilled with the setting. It was built around a lake (man-made) that was teeming with ducklings, turtles and koi. They have indoor and outdoor seating with most of the tables with fabulous views. We had a window seat and I could have stayed there for hours!
Ducklings, a Mallard and a turtle resting on a rock outside our window.
The food was decent too. I wouldn’t say the best ever, but very good compared to other places we’ve tried. I found it a bit pricey, but the view made it worth it.
When you go out to eat, what is your favorite type of cuisine? Is the setting or atmosphere as important as the food?
Lemon Lush I made Saturday.
We had friends over for dinner this weekend. My husband suggested I make lemon lush for dessert. I usually make it during Christmas week.
It’s an old recipe that I discovered in the 1980s when I worked in public relations for the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament. When the tournament was over, we’d have potluck in our meeting room for staff and volunteers. One of the wealthy lady volunteers brought in lemon lush and it was a huge hit. I asked her for the recipe. So many people asked for it that she used the copy machine and handed them to us.
I kept that recipe in my old Betty Crocker cookbook until it faded. There are tons of versions online. The one posted below is closest to the recipe that faded beyond recognition. (Tip: you can use pecans instead of walnuts.)
Our friends loved lemon lush and asked for the recipe. I’m embarrassed to share it because it’s a Jello Pudding and Cool Whip recipe. But it tastes so delicious. When I’ve shared the recipe before, people look disappointed. It’s verging on embarrassment to share this with my new Arizona friends! But it tastes so good — I won’t stop making it. Maybe I should throw in some fresh ingredients like lemon zest or fresh lemon juice?
I think it must be a recipe from the 1970s.
Printed from COOKS.COMhttps://cooks.com/kb8i85fz
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups ground walnuts
1 1/2 sticks of butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of Cool Whip
2 small packages instant lemon pudding
3 cups cold milk
Using a pastry cutter, combine ingredients for crust and pat into the bottom of 9×13 pan.
Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes. Let cool.
Mix well and spread over cool baked crust. Refrigerate.
Mix packages of lemon pudding with 3 cups of cold milk. Once mixture has thickened, pour over filling.
Top off with more Cool Whip and nuts, if desired.https://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/prt/0,1613,129181-245195,00.html
What recipe do you have that is super easy but so delicious?
I read Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang this weekend. It’s not the first time I’ve read it, but it’s been ten years since I picked it up.
It’s a Young Adult autobiography from the Cultural Revolution in China. It covers the Red Guard teens who were enforcers of Mao’s dictates. I saw so many parallels with our world today — which isn’t a good thing.
The story opens up with the youth destroying a store sign “Great Prosperity Market” because of the “Four Olds.” Prosperity was no longer seen as a good thing.
“The names of many shops still stank of old culture, so the signs had to be smashed to make way for the coming of new ideas.“
Ji-Li Jiang proudly wore her red scarf and dreamed to be part of the Red Guard when she was older. Unfortunately, her family was black-listed because her grandfather — who died when her dad was seven — was a landlord. It didn’t matter that she had never met her grandfather and the family had gone through desperate times. A landlord was one of the worst things anyone could be. The ancestors of the landlord were marked for life.
Here’s an excerpt about the Four Olds from the online Britannica:
When Mao formally launched the Cultural Revolution in August 1966, he had already shut down the schools. During the following months, he encouraged the Red Guards to attack all traditional values and “bourgeois” things and to put CCP officials to the test by publicly criticizing them. These attacks were known at the time as struggles against the Four Olds (i.e., old ideas, customs, culture, and habits of mind), and the movement quickly escalated to committing outrages. Many elderly people and intellectuals were physically abused, and many died. Nonetheless, Mao believed that this mobilization of urban youths would be beneficial for them and that the CCP cadres they attacked would be better for the experience.https://www.britannica.com/place/China/Economic-policy-changes
It’s an excellent book and a quick read. What I found so eye-opening was how it showed cancel culture on steroids. Soon, nobody was safe. Everybody was being turned in. The former party leaders in the community were found to have some fault of Four Olds and they were treated as badly as Ji-Li Jian’s landlord family.
What are your thoughts about carrying the faults of our past generations?
Do you have any good books to recommend?
“Let’s go out for Mexican food for breakfast,” my husband suggested yesterday.
I had heard about a good Mexican restaurant in Phoenix from a neighbor. But it was a good 45 minute drive. Seemed a bit much to drive an hour and a half round trip for breakfast.
We talked it over and decided to try something close to home. I looked up all the Mexican restaurants in the area and only one had huevos ranchero (which I order) and machaca (my husband’s order.)
I called and the phone rang and rang. I looked online and saw you could order for pickup. I placed the order and my husband drove to pick it up.
He came back empty-handed and said the restaurant was closed. In the meantime, our daughter had called and I told her we couldn’t find good Mexican food around us.
“Don’t you have a Filiberto’s?” she asked.
She lived in Tempe for one year and had one around the corner from her house.
I found one 15 miles away from us. I called and called. They didn’t answer the phone. We decided to drive and place our order. We didn’t care to eat inside because it smelled funny to us. By the time we got home with our breakfast, more than and hour and a half had passed. We could have driven to the place in Phoenix!
In California we had great Mexican food everywhere. My favorite was El Gallito. I miss it. It closed a few years before we moved. There were many small mom and pop Mexican restaurants and we found several we’d go to all the time after our El Gallito days were over.
I wrote about El Gallito and comfort food HERE.
The breakfast was good, but not great. The eggs, beans and rice were good, but there was no sauce. I’ve never had “dry” huevos rancheros before.
I think we could make a fortune opening a Mexican restaurant in our area.
What’s your go to comfort food? Do you have good Mexican food where you live? What are the best restaurants in your area?
My mother had a few recipes that I couldn’t stomach. Mom loved the odd cuts of meat (like organs) and learned how to cook them from her mother and grandmother. I don’t remember many of our neighborhood moms cooking the same things.
I liked her chicken hearts that were dusted in flour and fried. But I passed on gizzards.
Beef tongue was a hard pass.
Mom’s beef heart I could handle. She’d stuff the heart and bake it in the oven. Then she sliced it and I’d have a thin ring of heart around delicious stuffing.
The oxtail soup I shied away from until I hit junior high. Then I discovered oxtails were the most tender delicious meat I’d ever eaten and the broth was rich but so flavorful. Years later, I made oxtail soup for my “at the time boyfriend.” I overheard him telling a friend that he had to marry me because of my oxtail soup.
“How can she make something so amazing out of !!#!??”
My dad’s side of the family had some oddball dishes too. Christmas meant Lutefisk and fish head stew. I could not get myself to stop staring at the eyeballs staring up at me from the stew. It definitely killed my appetite.
If you haven’t heard of Lutefisk this is from Wikipedia:
Finnish: lipeäkala [ˈlipeæˌkɑlɑ]; literally “lye fish”) is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling and burbot are also used). It is made from aged stockfish (air-dried whitefish), or dried and salted cod, pickled in lye. It is gelatinous in texture after being rehydrated for days prior to eating.
Besides the recipes I mentioned, my mom also served us canned Chef Boyardee ravioli, Swanson’s TV dinners, Space Food Sticks and Tang.
What are some of the foods you grew up with? Did your family cook anything odd?
One of the highlights of visiting my kids in Berkeley is pizza at The Cheese Board Collective. This place opened in the Gourmet Ghetto more than 50 years ago and has a line every single day it’s open. It’s incredible. They make one type of pizza per day. Period. You can order one full pie or half a pie. If you want to order ahead — the minimum is eight pies. The staff is cooking as fast as humanly possible, pizza coming in and out of the oven into boxes and out the door. They’re only open for hot-out-of-the-oven pizza from 5 to 8 p.m. Often, they close sooner than 8 p.m. when they run out.
The only issue we had with the visit to Cheese Board this past weekend was my husband. He’s not a stand in line and wait kind of guy. Usually one of my kids will do that and bring the pizza to their apartment, where we’ll devour it. My son’s girlfriend was working, my daughter was also working, so my son suggested we go to the restaurant and eat.
My son called and said, “Dad’s going to freak. Don’t rush over here.” Cheese Board was located between our airbnb and our son’s apartment, an easy half mile walk for us.
When we arrived, our son was halfway through the three- or four-block line, 25 minutes in. My husband said, “Let’s go somewhere else.”
“Don’t you want to stand and talk to your son?” Our son countered.
So we stood, talked and people watched. It’s quite an experience and the end result is sheer deliciousness.
I got a call from my daughter on her way home from work. “There’s no pizza left, right?”
How long would you wait in line at a restaurant? How long would you wait for a slice of pizza? Do you have restaurants in your area that have a following like this?