Life

Ketchup Isn't Spaghetti Sauce

There are many things that my mom made up when I was a child. One of them is spaghetti.

Though I was raised in the United States, I grew up in a mini-Honduran home. Our food, language, mannerisms, and so much reflected my family's culture, mixed in with some Nickelodeon. Every now and then we would be treated to some mac & cheese and mashed potatoes to take a break from our typical sides: rice & beans. Maccaroni -- yum.

Then.... there was spaghetti. Before I explain my mom's recipe, you have to understand that she was labeled as the cooking-challenged daughter. This will make sense in a second. The one upper hand my mom had and STILL has, is her life-changing white rice. Divine!! Best white rice you'll ever have (no, it's not JUST rice... it's the perfect portion of peppers, onion, tomato -- AND perfect texture). Other than that, seasoning and food knowledge just doesn't come natural to her. At all. So one night, she decided to make spaghetti. It went like this:

She boiled her pasta and drained it. Then she added some butter to a heated skillet and tossed the spaghetti in. She seasoned it with garlic salt and finished it with.... (wait for it) .... ketchup. And that's it. You have your garlic and tomato flavorings, what else do you need?! The insane part? We LOVED it. And to top it off, my mom kept making whatever we loved, and would suddenly be hit by inspiration. She started experimenting with sour cream for an "alfredo" type of sauce. (pause) Sorry, I had to catch my breath from laughing. And it was STILL good! Don't judge my taste buds. I should probably not speak for my brother because who knows if he was a fan of any of these experiments. I swear we didn't eat like this all the time, hahaha.

Anyway, I forgot to mention her beans are also ON POINT. But that's a skill most of my family has acquired. I'll get there one day.....

As a tribute to my mother, I want to share with you an AMAZING spaghetti sauce recipe I made last week.


(taken with my iphone)

Ingredients (btw - you can do HALF this amount if it's just 2 of you)

  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 4 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups fresh sliced mushrooms (not necessary)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons white sugar (I mixed white & brown)
  • 1/4 cup basil
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pinches baking soda
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I don't think I ended up adding the cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons of white cooking wine (not necessary -- just my personal choice)
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano (personal preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley (personal preference)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (personal preference)

Directions

  1. Saute garlic and onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes first (get those flavors out). Then add the whole tomatoes (crush them into the pan!), tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, mushrooms, sugar, salt and pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, white wine, red pepper flakes, and 1 pinch of baking soda in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 3-4 hours minimum. **I know that sounds crazy, but it's not bad at all. Plan ahead when you want to cook this. I started it at 3 p.m., set it on simmer, then worked on my website the rest of the time. Once 6 p.m. rolled around, I cooked the pasta and meat and it was good to go! Some of you might have to try it on a Saturday. Trust me, once you gather the ingredients, you literally just toss them into the skillet and simmer!!
  2. After your lovely waiting, stir in another pinch of baking soda; the sauce will foam. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and almost brown. Make sure to scrape the sides of the pan in to the sauce.
  3. After the sauce is fork consistency (or just delicious), stir in Parmesan cheese (taste sauce FIRST!). Watch that the cheese does not burn. Taste sauce. If it is too tangy or acidic, add another pinch of baking soda and simmer another 1/2 hour (or cook meat in the mean time).
  4. I cooked ground turkey on a different skillet, seasoned with seasoning salt (the red one, not to be confused with white salt), and added 2 pinches of Mccormick 's steak seasoning (I'm my mother aren't I?! :). I let that cook through then scooped the spaghetti sauce INTO the skillet with the meat. I served it with bow-tie pasta and it was DELICIOUS!!!
(Revised version from Allrecipes.com)

I'm a spaghetti fan. Clearly I didn't have very high standards of it as a child, so this was pretty exciting for me. And while I can make this delicious spaghetti sauce, my mom still reigns her throne of white rice. Were there any crazy/goofy recipes your parents made as a child? I know some of you were blessed with AMAZING cooks! But there had to be at least one crazy dish. Can it top ketchup spaghetti?!

Confused feet...

Ack! I'm getting cold feet everyone :( I'm really torn about performing in a couple of weeks.

In Atlanta, I was also part of a Salsa studio and involved in the performance classes. The biggest difference (because there's quite a few) was that we were assigned a partner from the beginning. The new studio here in Arizona rotates partner for every practice.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy rotating partners because you are exposed to different leads and you learn more about yourself as a follower. Unfortunately, there are some guys that are committed more than others, and as a result, you'll dance with someone who can't finish the routine or might pull your arm OFF in the process.

And now I'm starting to freak out a little. Our performance is in TWO weeks and we have yet to be partnered. There hasn't been any connections made because we constantly change partners! I'm seriously nervous about who they'll pair me up with because it has to be a collaboration. Plus, it doesn't matter how much -I- might know the dance -- in salsa, the female MUST follow the guide. It will be obvious if I back-lead because it'll look like a dance of "catching up." I don't want to back-lead -- that's not dancing.



I think we're going to find out this week (I HOPE!) who our partners will be. I'm seriously considering dropping out of the performance. That's not me at ALL, but there's no confidence when I don't know what our actual performance will look like -- 2 weeks from the day of. There's only 2 guys who know the entire routine and only ONE that can complete it with music.

Would you risk it, even if you knew only one guy could do the entire routine with music?

I wouldn't be so torn if the performance wasn't around the corner. There have been plenty of times in Atlanta when my partner and I had tough spots in our performance and didn't feel ready, but we had worked together from week one. We knew what each other's strengths and weaknesses were after understanding each other's rhythm.

Two weeks might still be plenty of time -- but it all depends on who I get partnered with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I have the dance down to a tee, buuuut, I'm not the one who's leading it. Poor guys have all the pressure! What if the person I get matched with still hasn't learned it by performance week? Do I make the decision that we can't perform then? So much to think about :( Would love to hear your opinion!

p.s. That photo was taken in Spain from the first Flamenco show I had ever been to. It was mind blowing how something could be SO intense, powerful, and passion-filled coming from one person.

I'm Such a Girl

Ok, clearly I am at a point in my life where there are lots of people having babies. I mean, people that I know. However, that was not the case at ALL until my bestfriend just delivered her baby today.

I got all emotional like I was the one who was pregnant! Kristen Lewis and I have been bestfriends since middle school. Back when we used to write notes and my name was spelled "Alahundra." Hahaha. Story of my life with my name :) For some reason we both just clicked and -- wait -- for SOME reason? No, let's not play. Let me count the reasons:

-Kristen and I are both loud.
-Obnoxiously loud in high school.
-We liked to laugh. Kristen taught me to laugh at MYSELF.
-This included many accidents (on both sides) where laughter came first, followed by "Are you okay?!"
-We worked at the same restaurant and went to the same high school = ridiculous memories.
-There was typically never something we weren't willing to try. That includes skipping school for lunch to get free, DELICIOUS, fajita nachos from my Aunt's job downtown.
-Putting on the MOST ridiculous performance during our improv class (cheerleaders with asthma) that was applauded by our friends but incredibly scorned by our teacher.
-If we were in trouble individually, that's okay. But in trouble TOGETHER? Forget about it! That would just be more trouble.

When Kristen found out she was pregnant, her and Billy each chose one person to tell. They would tell the rest of their family & friends once they went to the doctor and had everything checked and confirmed. I remember missing her phone call and listening to her voicemail. I thought there was something different in her tone and when I called back the first thing out of my mouth was "You're pregnant?!" She was!!! I was so honored to be that person to receive the call.

It blows my mind that the same girl who drew on the seats of the school bus with me (remember the turtle lady?!), peed between the portables because we could NOT hold it and her car wasn't working (only to later find out she hadn't fully shifted it into park! :), convinced me to audition for Arts Magnet by playing improv games with me, shared the MOST intense secrets that one day on the DART train, snuck out to the roof of my house so we could tan only to be embarrassed to see construction men working two houses down whistling at us -- is now a mother to a boy who will probably do ten times as much ridiculous things in his childhood.

She's a mom. Wow. When I saw the first photo of her holding Kent, I realized I was no longer an onlooker of friends with babies. Today my bestfriend, the face I've been SO familiar with in my childhood, is holding a child of her own.

No, I'm not pregnant. Just emotional. Happy Birthday Kent :)


Kiki & I on her wedding in 2006

Time for Change

Hello. Let me re-introduce myself and apologize.

I came to a realization today: When I dedicate myself to one blog, the other suffers. Some of you may or may not know that I have another blog. The funny thing is that I don't have a problem with content, I have a problem with TOO MUCH content. I become so overwhelmed with my ideas for my "photography" blog and I end up running away = no post. I feel so, so, so insanely blessed that there's people out there who even care about what I have to say.

So my scatter brain self has 2 blogs... what was I thinking? :)

It would be so easy for me to say that I just moved to Phoenix, and so there's nothing for me to really post in terms of photography. WRONG. Photography consumes me. Y'all, I work during the day AND even at night when Jose comes home. The problem is, I just got married and have TONS of wedding material I want to share with the world, including furnishing my first home. On top of that, I have my bazillion Spain photos to go through. THEN, I'm also re-designing my website.

I have only reached out to ONE photographer here in Phoenix, and that was to ask if they had a blog. I'm so anxious to finish my website because my current website doesn't include a SINGLE photo of my fashion set. You guys, there's photos I hadn't shown Jose until last week from my first workshop! I'm afraid of reaching out to photographers right now because I don't think my website reflects the complete direction I want to move into. So I'm forcing myself to finish before reaching out. But I get so anxious....

It's time for change. I need to create a blog that will combine BOTH my personal and photography content. One with little tabs to hold categories. Why have I waited this long?! Because that's typical of me. Become so overwhelmed that it finally pushes me to find functionality. Now I'm crossing my fingers functionality will be cheap.

On a different but still-photography-related note. You're going to DIE or pee in your pants when I share some of these bullfighting photos from Spain!!! Fine, fine... I'll post one :)



p.s. I promise to share more of this journey in re-starting (read: STARTING) my photography journey here in Phoenix to hopefully one day become a truly, full-time, professional photographer.

p.p.s. Have you heard of Jasmine Star? I'm taking her Creative Live Course right now and taking MAJOR notes!! I'll make sure to share the knowledge with y'all!

We Were Flying

It rained. Rained, rained, rained. Our second city in Spain, and the weather wasn't letting up. We opened up the tourist booklet the hotel gave us and scanned some of the options. Surfing? If the water wasn't FREEZING. Kayaking? Phone number is out of service. And then we saw it. I had been skydiving before, but this... this was different. Jose smirked -"Well, we finally found something you haven't done... what do you think?" It was a little pricey, but ... when would we EVER get the chance to fly in Spain?!

"We stood so tall, we caught a plane
By the wing and held it safe
Until we found it a place to land"



I'm finally finished editing this, and an exhilarating emotion runs through me every time I watch the video. Mainly because it takes me back to Spain, the wedding (still!), and being able to do all of this with Jose. I feel so lucky... so blessed to be able to experience things like this. Yes, paragliding does make you feel incredible, but "Oh, for love we become larger than life size.. great in the eyes of someone... larger than life size we become" -- A Fine Frenzy.

Have you ever or would you consider doing something like this?!