Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)


Pain d’Epi
Nothing is more comforting than the smell of freshly baked bread. out of the oven. Growing up I can clearly remember coming home and the house was filled with that warm yummy smell of the fresh bread my mother was baking.
Hot fresh bread!


 Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Mix the flour, olive oil, water, yeast and salt together in a mixing bowl. When adding the salt take care NOT to put the salt is the bowl so it is touching the yeast but in a different part of the bowl. Salt can stop the yeast from rising fully. You may need to add some water if the consistency isn’t soft enough.
 Dust your work surface with flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is a soft dough. If you’re kneading the dough by machine the time is about 6 minutes on low.
Make the dough into a ball,  fold in all of the edges on the underside of the ball. Press a floured finger slightly into the dough, if it springs back it’s ready. Now shape the dough into a long and even tube form. Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap on a baking sheet and set in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size, about 35 minutes.
Using a pair of scissors cut the dough in sections so that it looks like a stalk of wheat.  Cut the dough at intervals at a 45 degree angles and turn the sections from one side to the next. Don’t cut all the way through just close to it.
Then brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and lightly dust with flour.
I place a pan of water in the bottom of the oven. This helps the bread rise beautifully. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the bread is a light golden brown, huhhhhh, just like wheat.

Lemon Drop Cookie Recipe




Lemon Snowdrop Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped candied lemon peel
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling and dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (French nonstick baking mats). In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg; beat on medium speed until combined. Add the lemon zest and beat until combined.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk in the candied lemon peel. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the plastic wrap until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Drop the balls in the confectioners’ sugar. Using the sugar to keep the balls from sticking to your hands, roll the balls of dough around in the sugar. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Slightly flatten them with the palm of your hand. (Refrigerate the remaining dough when not in use.) Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, until just golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool. When cool, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar.

Pineapple Rum

“Rations of rum were given to sailors in the British Army to be mixed with lime juice because it fought of scurvy”

All you need to make Pineapple Rum (plus a refrigerator).

Here’s what you need

  • A glass container large enough to hold the cut up pineapple
  • 1 pineapple
  • 1 bottle of rum

Cut the ends and all outsides off the pineapple. Cut the pineapple into any size pieces. I cut the core off separately but include it with the rest of the pineapple in the glass container. Pour the bottle of rum into the glass container then add all of the pineapple. Cover with airtight covering. Place in the refrigerator for 40 days. Save the bottle to put the rum back into at the end of the 40 days.

After 40 days/40 nights remove pineapple, strain liquid and voila …… pineapple rum! Bonus = eat the pineapple pieces at your own risk. Serve with ice cream for a real treat!

Peanut Butter Cookies 3 ways… plus some nutty fun facts.

Peanut Butter Cookies hot out of the oven!

So I was making peanut butter cookies and we got into a discussion as to make the cross hatching or not! Which of course my tendency to lateral thinking made me ask….. How did that trend even begin? Apparently some people think that there might be religious undertones good? Evil? Now a lot of people have allergies to nuts this would be an easy way for people to identify the fact that they contain peanuts. Sounds logical. We made them both ways to see if there was a baking reason to do or not to do it. In the end the flavor was the same and though some sources said that if you didn’t mash them down by hatching that they would crumble apart after baking. That didn’t happen so………… what to do? We decided to go with the hatching to identify them as nutty cookies for those with allergies.


Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with Chocolate Filling.






Peanut Butter Cookies with a Cream Cheese Filling. Wait who stole the cross hatches off these cookies?







Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1/2 cup sugar, white
  • 1/2 cup sugar, brown
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix first 6 ingredients together. Stir in remaining ingredients, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Shape dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet approximately 3″ apart from each other. Place a little sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Press a fork into the cinnamon/sugar mixture then press into cookies in one direction, repeat with cinnamon sugar for in the other direction. Bake 10 minutes and let cool.



Fun Facts

  • It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
  • There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
  • By law, any product labeled “peanut butter” in the United States must be at least 90 percent peanuts.
  • Peanut butter was first introduced to the USA in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis by C.H. Sumner, who sold $705.11 of the “new treat” at his concession stand.
  • In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec was the first person to patent peanut butter.
  • Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a physician wanting to help patients eat more plant-based protein, patented his procedure for making peanut butter in 1895.
  • Two peanut farmers have been elected president of the USA – Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
  • Grand Saline, TX holds the title for the world’s largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich weighing in at 1,342 pounds. Grand Saline outweighed Oklahoma City’s 900 pounds peanut butter and jelly sandwich in November 2010. Oklahoma City, OK had been the reigning champ since September 7, 2002.
  • Astronaut Allen B. Sheppard brought a peanut with him to the moon.
  • Tom Miller pushed a peanut to the top of Pike’s Peak (14,100 feet) using his nose in 4 days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and 3 seconds.
  • Adrian Finch of Australia holds the Guinness World Record for peanut throwing, launching the lovable legume 111 feet and 10 inches in 1999 to claim the record.
  • As early as 1500 B.C., the Incans of Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings and entombed them with their mummies to aid in the spirit life.
  • Americans were first introduced to the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in 1928.
  • Peanut butter was the secret behind “Mr. Ed,” TV’s talking horse.
  • Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth.
  • The oldest operating manufacturer and seller of peanut butter has been selling peanut butter since 1908.
  • The world’s largest peanut butter factory churns out 250,000 jars of the tasty treat every day.
  • Ever wonder where the term “Peanut Gallery” comes from? The term became popular in the late 19th century and referred to the rear or uppermost seats in a theater, which were also the cheapest seats. People seated in such a gallery were able to throw peanuts, a common food at theaters, at those seated below them. It also applied to the first row of seats in a movie theater, for the occupants of those seats could throw peanuts at the stage, stating their displeasure with the performance.


How to sneak a concrete staircase into a garden.

So, we’re building this 2 story structure for CAFE MANANA our coffee Shop and Gallery here in San Pancho. Having 2 floors meant we needed a way to get up and down. Now the idea of customers sliding down a pole was amusing but thought it might be hard for them to shimmy up the pole with coffee and baked goods in their hands. Though again amusing to visualize we decided to go a more traditional way. At first we were just going to go with a spiral iron staircase which here is simply referred to as a Caracol (snail) as we didn’t really want to eat into our garden. But with the a little putting of heads together with our abanil (mason) Beto we figured out to wrap a concrete staircase around the avocado tree.

The engineering of these concrete staircases is really an art form.  Check out the way this puppy is supported.

















Now the rebar you see sticking up has been embedded in the concrete between the blocks and now will be bent to go up the slope where more rebar will be added and wired together to then be enveloped in a bed of concrete.

Below you can see the underside of the wooden planks upon which the concrete (with rebar) will be poured. The use scraps from the bags of cement to fill gaps between the wooden planks to stop the wet concrete from oozing out.


These boards are used and reused from one job to the next and so sometimes need a bit of surgery in order to get the right length and support needed.


Boards are placed also on the sides of the ramp and landings so a proper layer of cement can be poured..



Here below you can see evidence of the stop-gap paper I spoke of.


Our iron doors and windows were ready a bit ahead of time so they installed those for downstairs as all of the cement work on the first level was complete. We stashed the ones for the second floor and the Herrero and his crew will return to install them. Then we need to get someone else to come and put glass in.


The railings below that are leaning up against the  new windows were from our rooftop deck where we had them removed and kitchen garden planters built knowing we would reuse the rails on the terrace of the shop.


The door is a bit dusty but we LOVE it!



Now can we talk about scaffolding! I don’t really think it was designed to use it this way but it works. Now pay attention ’cause I’m going to walk you through the anatomy of the scaffolding system presently being used at Casita Cielo Azul in the construction the Cafe Manana. So let’s go upstairs and inside where we’ll start…..


Now this hole really is for an outlet but as we don’t need it yet why not open it all the way to the exterior, stick a 2 x 4 through, wedge some scrap pieces in the make it a tight fit in order to help hold up the scaffolding the guys are using to finish the outside concrete work.


Noe here is the same board sticking OUT of the building. With the walking plank on top of it.


Now you might have to squint but in the pic below you can see the 2 x 4 sticking into the room on the bottom right and the walking plank it is supporting on the outside of the house on the left. You might now want to scroll back up a few shots to see the Physics of Scaffolding at it’s best.


Linc I do believe we’re about ready for the concrete to be poured encasing the blocks! Now speaking of concrete. Rather than using a mixer the concrete is mixed on the floor or the street and then toted, bucket by bucket to where it’s needed.


Painter David Villasenor…….. Cafe Manana Art Gallery, San Pancho, Mex.


So we are beginning to pick up some special pieces of art for the gallery aspect of the our to open in the fall coffee shop ……. Cafe Manana. Years ago we fell in love with paintings by the Mexican Artist David Villasenor. We would see his paintings in our travels throughout Mexico and were captured by the ones of indigenous people, the traditional clothing, the colors, the faces………. I have always been captivated by the colorful clothing and the satiny ribbons that woman braid into the waist long hair braids.

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Cafe Manana will consist of 2 stories. On the first floor will be the main coffee shop that will spill out into the garden where we’ll put a couple of tables for the nature lovers. I know when we used to only be down here for a week I almost hated eating inside, I always wanted to be outside. Clearly that’s apparent to anyone who has been to our house Casita Cielo Azul here in San Pancho as only our bathrooms and bedrooms are fully enclosed. All the rest of the living spaces are open-air. The second floor is being built so it can also be another living space should we need it. There will be a main room, a second room that can be used as a bedroom and a full bath. A balcony will cantilever out over the sidewalk in front of our property. The main house, sitting at the rear of our house will remain private due to the way we’ve designed the new building. We’re furnishing the second floor with art that we love enough to keep should it never sell.


David Villasenor died in 2007 but his daughter has kept his art alive through the talent of artists that were handpicked and hand trained by David himself in his studio. She came to visit us the other day in San Pancho to talk about the art we’re interested in carrying in the gallery. She brought along some paintings as well. Now the image you see of the girl at the top of this blog posting is that of a painting that we already own. It’s hanging in our dining room back in Evanston. It is STUNNING! A real show stopper! It’s a rare person that doesn’t walk through our dining room and stop….mesmerized……..and go “WOW!”!













Well this one, the one just above is our newest addition but this one is for the gallery. We new as soon as they unwrapped it, that this was the one. It measures approximately 48″ x 71″. These are no little paintings. For scale purposes you can also see it just below. Now I think we only have one full wall in the gallery space big enough for this piece so that’ll make hanging it simple and it’ll be sooooo easy on the eyes!


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Okay so I couldn’t help myself I had to give you a bigger view, isn’t she something!

A rooftop garden in the sun!

So our garden has gotten so full and lush that there was no more room for all of my herbs and edibles. We removed some sections of railing that we’ll recycle and use on the second floor terrace of the coffee shop/gallery. We had them replaced with long rectangular planters that I promptly filled with herbs, some vegies, edible fowers……. everything grows so quickly here and now that our kitchen garden has been  relocated to the rooftop of the house the plants and the sun are working so well together. We’re installing the irrigation system so these little beauties can get their liquid nurishment as well. So cool, it’s set to go on at 5:00 in the morning just like the system for the ground floor garden. This means the watering work is being done before we eeven get up. Man this is the life!













Latcho & Andrea, The Blonde Gypsies at La Playa in San Pancho





















I’ve heard of couples meeting while driving down the street and exchanging telephone numbers through the glass windows. Another story was that of two people being prepped for operations. Friends of ours met after a crime had occurred at her residence and he was one of the officers assigned to the case. Of course there are the, “How Stella got her groove back” story of people meeting on vacation.

So how many couples do you know when asked, “So, where did the 2 of you meet?”. Answer with the fact that in 1982 when they met as performers in a traveling Wild West show. Well our friends Latcho and Andrea can. Let’s take it one step further and point out that Latcho’s act was that of a fire eating medicine man, and Andrea was an Indian dancer. The Wild West show’s run didn’t last but they went on to joined Circus Atlas, where Latcho became Sabu the Living Volcano, and Andrea, Indra the snake dancer. Now come on beat that story, I dare you.

After life with the Gipsy Clan of Circus Atlas, Latcho continued as a composer and guitarist, and Andrea and Andrea as a Flamenco dancer but she also began playing rhythm guitar. They toured throughout Europe and Egypt where they won awards for best folkloric music group.

In 1996, they moved to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They still perform throughout Europe and the United States as well as Mexico which is where we met them a number of years ago. There used to be this funky pizza place here in San Pancho called Gallo’s.

Latcho and Andrea used to play at Gallo’s every Sunday evening. Now, San Pancho isn’t exactly a hub of nightlife and entertainment and back then the options could be easily counted on one hand.

Luckily for us we REALLY enjoy listening to the 2 of them so it gave us a weekly night of local entertainment.

This year for the first time Latcho and Andrea played at the San Pancho Music Fest, a 3 day event the last weekend in February. Local, national as well as international musicians come to play. These 2 put on a great show.

Sundays are “beach day” for Linc and I. We grab the camera and our Rummikube game and head on down just to relax. At  5:00 there’s a Cuban Salsa band that comes to play, excellent!!! An now, every Tuesday, Latcho and Andrea play at the same venue, La Playa. Brother, did I just call it a  “venue”. It’s actually the newest of our 3 beach restaurants here but it boasts great food, drinks and the cleanest bathrooms on the beach (you have no idea how high this point rates).

Red Pepper Hummus, Olive Tapenade and Parmesan Breadsticks.


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups cooked (or canned) garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  •  3/4 cup roasted red peppers (deseeded1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil

In a food processor, combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, and lemon juice. Process until smooth. Add in the  roasted peppers and basil and process until the peppers and basil are finely chopped. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chilling the hummus for a while will intensify the flavor.

Rosemary and Parmesan Cheese Breadsticks
 1 cup warm water
4 tablespoons butter (divided 3 & 1)
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet.
 In a mixer with a paddle combine water, 3 Tbs of the softened butter and yeast. Proof for a couple of minutes. Miix flour, salt, sugar,rosemary,  italian seasoning and garlic in a separate bowl . With the mixer set on low gradually add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Turn out on to lightly floured board and knead for 7 minutes.
 Cover and let rise for 60 minutes in a clean and oiled bowl turning the dough once to oil entire ball. Using a floured breadboard divide dough in half and then each half into 12 pieces and roll each piece into 10″ rope. Place 2″ apart on greased baking sheet. Cover and let the ropes rise a second time for approximately 30 minutes.
 Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with the remaining tablespoon of butter  and top with parmesan.
    Olive Tapenade
   1 cup pitted olives
   4 anchovy fillets
   1 TBS drained capers
   1 garlic clove
   1/4 cup olive oil
   Put the first four ingredients into a food processor and process.
   Slowly dribble the olive oil in and pulse while doing so.
   Garnish and serve.