Basic Home Cooking–Bringing Back Memories

Before I continue with the second part of “Reconnecting with Family – Under A Sad Event Part 1“, I thought I would show another family favorite recipe. I will admit I can be a picky bastard when it comes to food, the flavor, texture, aroma that soothes the soul -taking one back to their childhood providing brief moments of happiness when our Grandmothers or Mothers cooked our favorite meal.


The recipe for today is what my Mother called Mole-not the animal, not the unit of measure. This comes from the Mole Sauce. For generations past, the short cut was to use Grandma’s Chili Powder. This one product was the De facto standard in our house as well as our other family’s household growing up and became one of my tricks in the bag later on as well.  However, the manufacturer stopped producing it around 2009. 😦

It has taken me quite some time with experiments to find an alternative that is easy with ingredients that one can find at their local grocery store rather than having to order online and wait, wait, still waiting for the product to show up.  My solution was to use two different types of chilli powder. One provided the deep rich color while the other provided the flavor I was looking for.

So let’s get started!

Ingredients Needed:

Gold Medal Flour

Tones Mild chilli Powder – for the flavor while lighter in color

McCormick’s Mild chili powder / can use Clover Valley brand if in the midwest region.

Nestle Toll House Cocoa –This is a must no exceptions  Key ingredient!


Garlic Salt


Potatoes Russet or Idaho brand

Top Round Steak Note: If feeding a family of four to five then use the whole slab of round steak that comes prepackaged. What I will do at times is to buy a Top Round Roast and cut it into portions, that way I have some for Mole and fast steak sandwiches.

Russet potatoesGrab two to four potatoes and cut the potato long ways then slice a bit thicker than you would for potato chips or cut the potato in half however you prefer.  Once all potatoes are sliced, rinse then place in a bowl of water and place in fridge until needed. This is to prevent the potatoes from oxidation.

Round steakNext step. Grab the round steak and cut it into bite size pieces.

Now, that we have this done, grab two frying pans and coat with vegetable oil. Allow the pans to heat. Grab the potatoes from the fridge and strain the water. Place the potatoes in one of the frying pans on medium heat with lid. Place the round steak in the other frying pan. For the meat we will use less vegetable oil than we would use for the potatoes, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. While these are cooking on medium heat, grab a saucepan and place a little bit of flour. The measurement will depend on how much sauce you want. Start off with quarter cup of flour and slowly stir in water until smooth. Not too thick nor to loose. Allow to heat up a bit, now Shake some Tones chilli powder in a little at a time until the flour water mixture starts to turn red. Now shake the second brand of chilli powder in. Again a little at a time. Now you should see the sauce getting slightly on the darker side. While on the sauce, do not to forget to turn the potatoes over and to stir the meat around to cook even. Now, add about a tablespoon of the Cocoa into the sauce and stir. You may find that might need to add more Cocoa, add a teaspoon at a time and remember to taste the sauce as you go along to get that flavor and texture that you desire. Use a dash or two of regular salt maybe three depending on your taste buds, add the same amount of the garlic salt. At this time remove the lid from the potatoes and allow to brown a bit. Once the sauce is done pour into the frying pan with the round steak. Stir a few time and shut off burners.

All that is left to do is serve with the optional items like peppers and flour tortillas.

Cerdo picado -Chopped Pork

Chopped prkWhat does food have to do with Genealogy you might ask, and I will say everything. Food is a gateway to our past, our heritage inspiring us to create new dishes obtained from the past. The photos, the stories, heirlooms handed down from generations is not that different from the foods we eat.  Most of us have recipes filed somewhere that came from our parents or grandparents and if not on file then is retained in our minds from our childhood. Walking into a house, a whiff of aroma that delights our olfactory nerve sending a fond memory to our brain; like the commercials we see of waking up and smelling coffee brewing producing a smile on the face. Food like a certain photo or heirloom, can take us back in time for a moment providing a break from our daily mundane routine of life making us feel better for the moment.

On Finding your roots Tom Colicchio was a guest on an episode that aired on October 21, 2014 and discovered a long line of descendants from Italy which provoked him wanting to book a flight and learn all that he could about the foods that were created during that time period to honor his ancestors. a clip of the show can be seen here.

Food has everything to do with Genealogy.

Line cookI have cooked for over twenty years in the restaurant industry starting out as a dishwasher while maintaining my studies with high school. I was thrown to the wolves one day when the line cook on duty walked out during dinner rush. The owner came to me, “you’re on the line”. I was promoted from dishwasher to line cook in a matter of two months. But, I had a knack for it and my parents started teaching me how to cook at the age of seven. The dish above is Carne de cerdo picada en salsa de tomate, translation Chopped pork in tomato sauce. It is a simple dish to make and only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to make.

What you will need:


1 cup of long grain enriched rice

I used four small boneless pork chops and cubed them

1 cup of tomato sauce, I use Hunts brand

8 oz of water. Add a little more water if the tomato sauce seems to thick

About a tablespoon of butter

1 14.5 oz can of Chicken broth I used the 33% less sodium (the brand I used was Hy-vee similar to Great Value-Hey it was on sale) What I would suggest is that when you boil chicken the next time retain the stock and freeze it.

Canola oil spray to coat the pan to cook the pork in. (you can use vegetable oil as well)

Mild chilli powder

Dash of salt

Dash of garlic salt

Dash of black pepper

Let’s get cooking!

First, grab a pot to cook the rice in and place the tablespoon of butter in the pot.

Turn the burner on low to melt the butter slowly so that it will not burn. Once the butter is melted increase the heat to med low or medium if you feel confident. Next, add rice to pot. We want to brown the rice lightly be careful not to burn the rice. Once the rice is lightly brown then add the chicken broth, it should produce some steam from adding the broth. Next add the chilli powder. The chilli powder provides two benefits. One is to give it slight red color and a little zing. The adding of the chilli powder will be an eye judgement so be careful not to put too much in. Next, once it is boiling, reduce heat to the low setting and let simmer for fifteen minutes. I used to use Grandmas chilli powder so did all of my relatives and parents but when they discontinued it, I had to find a solution and that was using two different types of chilli powder. I used Tones mild chilli powder and Clover Valley chili powder to get the flavor and color I was looking for.

While the rice is on simmer, grab a teflon pan and spray with the canola oil then place the cubed pork in pan, add the dash of salt, dash of black pepper and the dash of garlic salt and cook thoroughly. Once the pork is cooked add the tomato sauce and the water and stir. Be sure to taste test to make sure the flavor is not overpowering. If over powered with salt or the tomato sauce to your liking add a little more water to it and stir and when I say little I do mean a little at a time. Once the pork is done set the temp to the low setting so it stays warm and stir from time to time.

Check the rice five minutes before the fifteen minutes are up and see if you might have to add a little more water to it. This is where the fifteen to twenty minutes comes into play.

Once the rice is done, dish up on plate and serve with banana wax peppers and warmed up corn tortillas.   A slice of heaven from my past and generations back. I hope you like this dish as much as I do.

Melt Butter
Red rice
Lightly Brown Rice
Chilli powder
Add chicken broth and chili powder, cover and reduce heat
Cubed pork
Pork chops
Cook pork and stir from to time
pork with tomato sauce
Add tomato sauce and water
Pork with tomato sauce
Chopped prk
Bon appetit


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