The Many Uses of Shredded Beef

While living in California years ago, we lived next door to a Hispanic family, mom, dad and seven kids. The youngest among the bunch was Frankie, and Frankie's mom was always cooking. Since I am food curious by nature, I was over her house a lot. It was from her, I learned many of the authentic Mexican food I enjoy today. I had tacos, burritos, fried pork skin and beef tripe in lard and served with cilantro lime sauce. The family raised bunnies in the backyard and butchered them for delicious feasts, that's a story for another day. Today, I would like to share with you the shredded beef I learned from Frankie's mom.

You can say shredded beef is a main staple in Mexican food. It is easy to make and can be used in a varieties of Mexican dishes. I make burritos and tamales and freeze them. I am not a fan of processed store-bought frozen food. But this, my friend, is a much better way to enjoy frozen food. No preservatives, no extra fat, no extra salt, no MSG, just wholesome food that are frozen. I send these homemade goodies with the kids when they come visit, to make sure they are well fed in college....


3 lb. beef (any cut), cut into large pieces,
2 medium onions, chopped into large piece,
fresh tomatoes, or canned tomato sauce or left over salsa,
1 large dried Mexican Ancho chili pepper,
1 T. onion powder,
1 T. garlic powder,
1 T. Salt,

1 T. mole (from a jar. You can use other sauce you have on hand, such as chipotle)


Heat a heavy stainless or cast iron pot until very hot, add chopped up beef. The beef will sizzle as it hit the pot. Let it brown on all sides, add the remaining ingredients. Cover with a tight led, let the meat simmer until tender and easily shredded. Approximately 2 hr. It is important, according to Frankie's mom, to let the meat cook in their own juice.

This beef can be used to make any of the Mexican entries calls for shredded beef, such as taco, burrito, tamales, sopes (Mexican pizzas) and tortas (Mexican hamburgs).


My friend came visit us and brought with her a fresh-caught steel head salmon. Just so happened I made some bagels. Gravlax! The thought marched right into my mind. Unfortunately, I didn't have any fresh dill on hand, so I substituted it with the McCormick salt free dill blend. It worked great, and it couldn't be easier!
1 part of granulated cane sugar, 1 part of kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and dill seasoning.
Place salmon in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap, cover salmon with the curing mix. Wrap tightly and place in a air tight container. Place in the refrigerator and let stand overnight. Yummmm!

Deep Wondering Thoughts While Planning the Garden

Strange as this may sound, but you should start your garden planning with a cook book or by recalling your favorite recipes. Scan through the ingredients you are most likely to use, and grow as much as you can. When I first started gardening, I was happy just to get anything growing. Gradually, as I learn to work with the veggies and knowing their characteristics, I learned how to pace myself and plan ahead so I can harvest throughout the season.

* Consider what to grow and how many plants to grow, take into account if you are going to just eat them fresh and/or preserve them. Certain veggies you don't want to plant too many, like zucchini, unless you plan to preserve them, such as turning them into soup or dried zucchini chips.
* Plant zucchinis for Zucchini Pancakes. Preserving the extra zucchinis by making zucchini soup (I finally have a good recipe and a brand new pressure caner to do this.)
 * Consider what to do with the vegetables once they mature.  Have several recipes ready. Eggplant Parmesan might be good, but having it three times a week can get old quickly. Think of other recipes that use eggplant. Here it helps to think international. Experiment with moussaka (Greek), ratatouille (Italian), stir-fry (Chinese)  or baba conoosh (Middle Eastern). You could also just Google image search "eggplant recipes", see which ones appeal to you and figure out how to make it.
 *For quick maturing crop, you may want to plant a succession of it so you will have a steady supply of it, but not overloaded at any one time. Vegetables fit into this category are: lettuce, baby bok choy, radish and arugula. These things typically like cool weather and don't do well in the heat of summer. So start early and resume again after the hottest part of summer has passed.
 * Plant beans for fresh eating and pickling.... Dilly beans, yummmm.....
* Plant peppers for fresh eating, stuffed peppers, chili rellleno, stir-fried peppers with chicken, beef. Roasted peppers. Pickled jalapeno peppers. Any left over peppers, cutup and freeze. Use them later for recipes like jambalaya, pasta sauce etc.
*Plant peas for fresh eating. Never a big fan of frozen peas... sorry :( They just don't have the crunchiness and sweet taste fresh peas do,..After the peas are done, put in kohlrabi. They should be good in the fall and into the winter.
* Plant cucumbers for fresh eating, Stallion White Cucumbers....ooooh, it's so good!