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Lela is held back, but finally comes through

As most of you already know, Lela II was born in Cozumel back in December 2010. Her first mission was ambitious, but we wanted to come in with a bang! For the months of December, January and February, Lela collected donations for a Blood Bank on the island of Cozumel– her new hometown.

Guests from Mazatlan,Cozumel and our new location Los Cabos rallied together to raise a tremendous $3117USD for all three months!

Our goal was to get through all the red tape – opening a blood bank was a much more ambitious task than expected, and we did everything in our power to achieve this goal. After months of meetings, negotiations, arguments with government officials and more, our Blood Bank proposal was rejected by the state of Quintana Roo and we had to abandon the idea of opening a Blood Bank.

We pondered, and ummmed, and ahhhed and wondered what to do…then it hit us – let’s sit down with Red Cross Cozumel and see where Lela’s donation could be best put to work! So, after looking at their big picture, Salsa and Salsa, along with Lela, Lela II and Lela III (hehehe) decided your donations would have to SAVE LIVES!

As it would have done with the Blood Bank, your donations went towards the purchase to two necessary pieces of equipment for the volunteer work of the Red Cross in Cozumel. You’ll be proud to know your donation went towards an EKG machine and a defibrillator. Both machines will be used in the 5 ambulances which Red Cross has on the island. The defibrillator has already save a man’s life and both machines will help hundreds of people more!

The Red Cross in Mexico runs solely on donations, with no government support. When we approached the Director for Red Cross Cozumel, Mr Dagoberto, with our idea, he thanked us with a hug which I can only describe as being the warmest, most appreciative hug I have ever experienced in my life. The machines have arrived to Cozumel, and Red Cross wants to thank each and every one of you,  thanks to your kind and generous help – you’ve done something that will truly make a difference to this island – and it is something that will last forever.

Thank you one and all – and we look forward to hearing from you.

Pamela

Dancing Chef – Cozumel

LELA the Donating Pig lends a helping hand to school in Sendai

It’s amazing that whenever you try to lend a helping hand, people come on your path who are in need. April’s cause was of course, Japan, because so many people lost their homes, their loved ones and are now struggling to rebuild.

We got in touch with a Canadian guest who went to Salsa & Salsa in Cozumel. She gave English classes at a school in Sendai for a while. The owner of the school is Michiko Eckard. She married an American, and moved to Seattle so her 3 kids could get an American education, but she arrived to Japan shortly before the earth quake struck. Since then she has helped many people in the Sendai community, including an elderly home and many internally displaced people. There is a lot of damage to the building, but the government inspectors did NOT give it a ‘red-tag’ (which means no one can occupy that building)!

Little LELA managed to collect the astonishing amount of $1,150USD, combining donations from Mazatlan, Cozumel and Los Cabos.  A hundred percent of our donations will be going to this school in Sendai where it will buy school books, and help rebuild parts of the school that were demolished by the quake. 

May’s cause for LELA will be the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was almost completely destroyed by the tornado that struck at the end of April. The money will go to the DCH Medical Centre in Tuscaloosa. As soon as we have more details, they will be posted on our website (www.salsaandsalsa.com/lela.php).

Sending you all our love,

Dancing Chef Maaike

Our Earth is hurting

Our Earth is hurting…earthquakes, tsunami’s, animals falling from the sky and icebergs melting.

Do you ever sit and wonder where it all went wrong? I often wonder who is to blame and I get angry knowing that it was generations before us that started the snowball effect that has led our planet to be in such a state. I too take blame for my generations lack of interest in saving our planet, but proudly say I am an avid recycler, I plant trees and fruit seeds whenever I can (wherever I can!) and I refuse to eat Shrimp or Fish that is not in season (so to discourage poaching).

I take comfort in knowing the little I do really DOES make a difference and if everyone did the same as I (or more) then our planet would not be hurting so much.

 

 

March and April has seen much devastation already, with the shocking images we’ve seen come out of Japan.

 

The earthquake, followed by a huge Tsunami, hit the countries north populations on March 11th.  The hardest hit city was Sendai, with the city being literally swept away in just under a few hours. It’s hard to imagine what being there would feel like…I mean, what would be going through the people’s minds?  I just can’t imagine it!! What horror!

Well, all we could do was watch it unfold on tv and pray…hoping that those who survived would be rescued and those who did not would be found to give their families peace of mind.

Lela sat patiently, as she also watched it all unfold and so April will be dedicated to Japan. 100% of the donations will go to Japan to help families who have been left homeless and children that have lost their parents. The death toll as of Wednesday has reached a horrific 12,468 with thousands still missing. We hope we can raise a record number for these victims and help them in same way, even if it is by giving them a little hope.

On a lighter note, we’re proud to say we raised a whooping $1722 New Zealand Dollars which went to the Red Cross in Christchurch, NZ to help those who most needed it after the earthquake they went through.

We’ll have some more updates on which group will be used for Japan.  There are so many charities helping out there and we want to make sure we pick one that has little, if any, admin costs, so that help is really reached to those who need it.

Stay tuned,

Pamela

Carnival in Mazatlan – The Return of the Muses

After shaking off all that confetti and getting an ash cross on our forehead, it’s time to share the on-the-ground experience of Dancing Chef Maaike. One of the world-famous Carnivals, after Rio de Janeiro and Venice, Mazatlan hosted a 5-day party all around town. This year’s theme was called ‘the return of the muses’, showing four mermaids: Artida from the Actic, Meridia from the African oceans, Ocasia from the Western seas and Levantia from Persia who inspires people to celebrate!

It started on Thursday March 3rd with the coronation of the King of Carnival, also known as the Ugly King (‘El rey feo’). Friday featured the coronation of the Floral Queen (‘reina de los juegos florales’). The Floral Queen is the first runner-up at the election of a dozen candidates. This year the concert for the Floral Queen was a tribute to the Beattles and Queen, combining a live rock band, the Sinaloa symphonic orchestra, Delfos contemporary dance and the local Angela Peralta opera choir of over 80 members. It was a vibrant concert of colour, sounds and movement with many sing-a-longs, like ‘We will rock you’ where everybody stood up and stomped and clapped to the beat.

 

On Saturday was the Coronation of the Queen of Carnival with a concert of David Bisbal, a famous Spanish singer. After the concert the newly crowned Queen was brought to down-town Olas Altas beach, to start the Naval Combat (‘Combate Naval’) which is a 30-minutes fireworks show on the 2 sides of the Olas Altas beach.

Sunday afternoon was the start of the first Parade: take a look at the pictures to see the highlights! Between each float there was a troop of colourfully dressed dancers. It was a wonderful family experience which gathered over 35.000 spectators.

The Infant Queen (‘la reina infantil’) was crowned on Monday with the nationally-known band OV7. All the under-18 population was at the concert, followed with a special small parade at Malécon. Tuesday March 8th was the last day of Carnival, with another Parade towards the historic centre.

 

After all that partying it was time to get back to work and school, since everything gets suspended during Carnival. It was a great time of celebration and joy with the whole family at the Gem of the Mexican Pacific: Mazatlan!!!

 

Greetings from Dancing Chef Maaike! Olé!!!

Communication

There is so much going on around me, so many people and places and different customs, signs I can’t read, I go to places only to find out I shouldn’t be there.

Living in Mexico has its challenges but nowadays its funny to hear myself at the bank or grocery store and in perfect Spanish ask for something while the clerk answers in English or asks for assistance.I encourage their willingness.

Some people are afraid to speak Spanish or even try to understand when someone converses with them.

When I need to call a hotel or a Mexican friend  I usually find that I am speaking much louder on the telephone.

maybe I think they will understand better. They don’t!

Either way communication is probably the single most problematic issue for those living in a foreign country.

I have friends that have actually lived in Mexico for years and still don’t speak the language, then when they call and get flustered or feel taken advantage of I wonder to myself why don’t they just learn to communicate , then they wouldn’t feel so out of sorts.

The problem I see with communication is that people are afraid to use the right or wrong word.

For many years when I introduced someone, I used the word introducir, which I thought in Spanish meant introduce. Not so. The proper word is present( presentar) the other word actually insinuates, well , lets just say ,don’t use it lol.

I admit I use the same word for many things, this, that, those, they are all one word for me, and I am wrong all the time. But I do a lot of pointing and laughing and everyone seems to understand me,because joy is universal.

Forget the traffic signs , no one reads them or follows them anyway and as far as bill boards, you only have to know the difference between banks and beers and condoms to understand what they are selling.

I think the best remedy for poor communication is laughter. When someone knows your trying, people are usually happy to help.

So throw your frustrations out the window, put-on a smile and try today to communicate with those around you in a new and loving hand waving way.

Express and connect with a joyful eye and people will exchange with a wink of approval everytime.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1182/536294374_73fe67e9ef.jpg

Ole- Leonique

Lela lends a hand this month to Christchurch, NZ

In the wake of the devastating earthquake which rocked New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch is left with the painstaking task of rebuilding a city which was hit hard by the 6.3 earthquake on Tues, 22 Feb, 2011.

Images and video footage of the earthquake bring back memories of the Chilean earthquake, with people looking around, not knowing who to turn to or what to do.

Having lived in New Zealand for a total of three years, it pained me to see the distress this earthquake has caused.  Less than six months prior, the same city suffered from another earthquake and the town was only just beginning to rebuild itself and its confidence.

I spent time further south in a city called Dunedin, a gorgeous city, filled with beautiful views, kind people and a port which invites anyone and everyone to visit the charming town.  I had been there with my then boyfriend, a New Zealander who had moved to Melbourne for new opportunities.  We met, fell in love and it was time to meet his family.  When we decided to move to Dunedin, we had left everything behind to start a new life.  I had already left home and had also moved to Sydney.  My life of adventure was well on its way!  Looking for work was easy, I had plenty of hospitality experience, so I joined the team at ‘The Reef Seafood Restaurant’ where I was the supervisor.  I grew to love Dunedin.  It’s people, it’s streets and even it’s weather (picture Seattle rain and its skies times 10!!).

Well, jump forward a good 13-14 years and that relationship did not work out, although we still stay in touch.  I had taken several trips to Christchurch.  I am a secret wine buff (oops, secret’s out!) so I enjoyed taking road trips to wineries in and around the Christchurch area.  Many of you have probably even tried some of the wines!!

As you can see from the map, there are many wine regions in New Zealand and Christchurch is a popular one in Canterbury.

I still get online and look for photos and video of the earthquake, as I find it hard to believe that many of the places that I have been through are destroyed.  Reports indicate that aftershocks are still disrupting many parts of the city, delaying the return of up to 1/3 of its residents.

LELA has chosen Christchurch as her cause for the month of March, and we will be donating 100% of her donations to the Red Cross in Christchurch, as we know they have feet on the ground over there.  We’d like to thank all donors as this cause holds a special place in my heart.

For those who are lucky enough to ever get to New Zealand, you’ll get to enjoy the beauty of its people, its food, its cities and its wine, because anyone who goes to New Zealand and DOESN’T try a glass of Sauvignon Blanc should be locked up!  ;)

I’d also like to send all our hopes and prayers to victims of the Japan earthquake.  We are working towards making Lela in April for Japan, but as our planet cries out for help, we cross our fingers that no more earthquakes shake our world and leave others in need.

Sending our love,

Pamela and all the Dancing Chefs

How to make Mexican Coffee or ‘Café de Olla’

Who doesn’t like a nice hot cup of coffee? Especially in these cold winter months it’s a good way to wake up in the morning:  ANY TIME is a good time for coffee!!! I was thinking of that during the Christmas Holidays how it would be nice to share another recipe with you: Mexican Coffee.  My mother-in-law prepared this for me when I came to Mexico for the first time in 2001 and I immediately loved it! This coffee is prepared in a special clay pot, hence the name ‘Café de Olla’ or Coffee from the Pot. The recipe calls for ‘piloncillo‘, which is a block of raw cane sugar, but you could use mascabado sugar instead. Enjoy!!!

Ingredients for 4 cups:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of coffee
  • 125 gram or 4 ounces piloncillo or mascabado sugar
  • cinnamon stick of 10 cm or  4 inches
  • 5 cloves
  • (optional: peel of  1/4 of an orange)

Preparation:

Heat the water in a saucepan and add the cinnamon and cloves. If you want, you can add the orange peel. Once it boils, add the piloncillo or mascabado sugar and leave it to dissolve. Lower the heat and add the coffee. Leave everything to boil for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and let it stand for another 5 minutes. Sieve before serving.

 

 

Buen Provecho!!!     Dancing Chef Maaike

 

 

Guess Hu’s Coming To Dinner?!

Guess Hu’s Coming To Dinner!

On the 19th of January 2011, in the wintery cold of Washington of D.C, the who’s HU of the world gathered around eating from precious china, sipping wines from exquisite crystal goblets and dining on world cuisine.

What?

Okay lets try again.

President Hu Jintao of China was seated at a state dinner,eating from vintage and gold filled porcelain dinnerware at the White House drinking rare red wines and wondering what the heck black trumpet mushrooms are all about let alone how to eat them.

 

Looks like the White house choose a subtle, classic comfort food for tonight’s affair.

Poached Maine Lobster(1st red item),Dry aged Rib Eye(2nd red,good choice) with buttermilk crisp onions,double stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach, yes naturally a comfort food staple for dessert.

Good old fashioned apple (hopefully one more red item)pie with vanilla ice cream.

I googled back to last years visit of President Calderon for the state dinner and found,Sonoran beef smothered in Oaxacan mole or with a roasted pork covered in salsa verde,a jicama vinaigrette salad finally a chocolate cajeta tart.

I would think the Presidents from around the world would like to sample the foods of the visiting country and not eat what they can get at home. But hey, maybe there’s a feeling of making them feel at home.

Fortunately The Obamas have enough red food items on the menu.

no doubt a superb Cabernet in there somewhere.

 

I guess Hu’s going to like that! Everyone’s going to love it, I am sure.

Just getting the invitation,is going to out weigh the food but I would have liked the Obamas to serve more of a vegetable medley or something green, lets face it Hu’s country could use a lot of green thinking.

If President Hu Jintao came to Mexico I am almost sure we would serve him a fresh fish with every kind of salsa to inspire his taste buds. I agree with the White House chefs that making a visiting dignitary feel at home is meaningful but in this case, I am not sure Hu’s going to enjoy it more?

Sounds like “Lets Chow Down” may be more apropos than Bon Appetite!

Leonique

 

 

Coquito – Great Drink!!

Coquito – Great Drink!!

Coquito on the rocks, With a cinammon stick to make it look pretty

Last month while we were talking about Rompope and all the things we mix it with, one of our Dancing Chefs who by the way is from Puerto Rico, told me about a similar drink, that is tradicional from Puerto Rico,  Coquito!!! (Little Coconut), so I took some time to look for the recepie, made it and let me tell you something if you like creamy drinks like Rompope and you also like coconut, THIS IS YOUR DRINK!!! Yummm! Really easy to make since you just have to mix up some ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 15-ounce cans cream of coconut
  • 2 14-ounce cans condensed milk
  • 6 ounces white rum (use less if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon coconut (or vanilla) extract

Preparation:

1. Mix all ingredients in a blender.
2. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Serve cold.

Serves: This recipe makes about 36 ounces.

Coquito with frozen strawberries blended together, and some cinammon on top

Coquito with Whipped cream and Nutmeg on top

Goes well with:

Ice Cream
Whipped cream
Fruit, Specially Frozen Strawberries (might want to blend them together and get a slush)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, let us know what you think!!!

Salud, Dinero y mucho, mucho AMOR!!!

Stephanie

Azteca Soup Recipe

Azteca Soup

Aztec Soup

We’re always finding new ways to make cooking fun. I recently found that taking pictures of my cooking creations has added a twist to my ordinary kitchen adventures. Over the weekend, it was raining and grey here in Cozumel (oh boohoo you say…I know – one day of rain versus your 3 months of snow just doesn’t seem fair does it!), so I decided I would make a nice warm soup, typical to this area. The chosen soup was AZTEC SOUP, or AZTECA SOUP, a very common soup served in Mexico. Similar to Tortilla Soup, the Aztec Soup uses the same ingredients, with the difference that tortilla is not blended into the soup, but rather, placed in the middle of the soup just before serving. I found myself this recipe about 4 years ago, when I first moved to Mazaltan, and ever since, have adapted it and made it my own.

You will need :

1 White Onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Poblano Chiles, chopped

1 Avocado

5 cups of stock (I used Veggie coz hubby is Vegetarian, but you can use Chicken Stock to get a rich full flavoured soup!)

2 tbsp of sour cream

Handful of Cilantro, chopped

2 Flour Tortillas

1 Can of Diced Tomatoes, opened

2 Roma Tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp sugar (to balance out the acidity from the tomatoes)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil for frying Tortillas (Vegetable oil is good)

1 tbsp of Olive Oil for frying vegetables

A Large Soup Pot Cutting Board, Sharp Knife, Spoon, Laddle, Tongs.

Instructions :

1.Chop all your ingredients that need chopping and put them in seperate bowls.

2.Heat Olive Oil in the Soup Pot and add onion and garlic. Allow to brown (10 minutes)

3.Add Poblano Chiles. Stir till they softenen

4.Add the diced fresh tomatoes, stir and allow to simmer for 3 minutes.

Then add the canned tomatoes. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. (commonly 1 tsp of each)

5.Fry well and add the stock. Bring to boil and then bring it to a minimum and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 

6.Allow soup to sit for 10 minutes.

7.In a frying pan, heat frying oil.

8.Cut your tortilla into strips, a finger in width. Add them to oil and take out with tongs once golden brown. Place fried tortilla strips on a paper napkin to absorb the oil.

9.Open up the avocado, de-seed, and cut into cubes.

10.Laddle the soup into a large bowl, add a dolop of soup cream, pile on the tortilla strips in the centre of the bowl, add the avocado and sprinkle some cilantro on top. Serve hot.

This is truly one of my favourite soups and I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do…especially in these cold snowy days you have ahead! OLE! Remember to put on some music, something that relaxes you, so that when you are cooking, you are relaxed, smiling and humming away (I cooked this soup with Bach and Beethoven! Made me feel like I was creating a masterpiece!)

Happy Cooking,  Pamela

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