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Authentic, Irresistible Tacos at Home

If you’ve been anywhere on social media in the past few years, you’ve undoubtedly seen a few standard, non-stop circulating memes:

Brace yourselves

“Brace Yourselves” from Game of Thrones

dosxx

The Overconfident Man from Dos Equis

And then, the comments start to get juicy, and Michael Jackson pops in for a snack:

MJ

There’s always one.

…and then Gene Wilder shows his smug face…

But we all love the smugness.

But we all love the smugness.

And somehow, some pre-middle age ladies can make any conversation about wine.  (I refuse to believe that this demographic is actually that obsessed with it, but that it has become such a social media joke that they have tricked themselves into believing wine is the new sun.)

wine wine wine

What do you get when you cross an elephant and a drunken rhinoceros? ‘ElephWINO!

But there’s always one that seems to say what’s on everyone’s minds, all the time…TACOS.

Juan Taco

NO JUAN. Ever.

And I’ve got tacos on my mind today.  Just call me Juan.

My main squeeze, Yossiho, is from southern Mexico.  Tapachula, specifically….about as far south as you can go without being in Guatemala.

Tapachula

How I’m from Northwoods, USA, and he’s from South Jungle, Mexico, is beyond me.

Being the nopal-on-his-forehead kind of Mexican that he is, our weekend nights are consecrated to tacos.  We live on the east side of the city.  Every Friday night (and sometimes Saturday, too), we attend our sacred taco mass.  We drive 15 miles clear to the west end of the valley to a little hole-in-the wall, Azteca del Oro.  Of course, there are taco carts and dives all along the way.  We’ve tried them all.  But nothing tops Azteca.  Well, maybe Tacos El Gordo in Las Vegas, but I happen to prefer Azteca.  He may leave me if he reads that.

Nestled in a strip mall next to an AutoZone, and across the street from El Coyote night club, the sights, sounds, and smells are sure to delight.  Motor oil, meat grease, and canola oil from the woman frying chicharrones out front will slap your nose the second you leave the car.  And your eyes are in for a treat, too! You’re sure to see plenty of Trival boot and cowboy hat-clad Rico Suaves and sequin mini skirt-wearing mamis hiking up their tubetops and clunking along in their tacones. Don’t forget the insane base shaking the ghetto fab cars pulling into the parking lot.

A tiny Latino market with a short traditional menu by day, on Fridays-Sundays, 8:30 p.m.-5 a.m., Azteca devotes itself to Mexico D. F. style tacos.  You can order anything from your basic al pastor or chorizo to any part of the animal you can think of.  The real deal. (For the record, my favorite is sesos, or brain.  No judging until you try it.)

We go through phases.  Occasionally, we stay home and make our own tacos.  They’re ridiculously delicious and a much cheaper alternative to going out for tacos.  We drop about $28 on average every time to go to Azteca (or anywhere, really…it happens when your husband eats eight tacos in one sitting).  Making tacos at home is not only cost effective, but pretty easy, and delicious!

It also has a much cleaner bathroom, always stocked with toilet paper and hand soap.

Lucky for me, I live with a Mexican.

As I’m a fiend for all things “authentic,” we are a match made in heaven.

I actually eat vegetarian for the most part, except when travel or tacos are involved.  That’s great, because the meat is the heart of the taco.

I’ve perused Google and Pinterest occasionally, seeing what people are up to when they make tacos.  But I have yet to see a Mexican living in the U.S. share the secrets.  And that’s what this post is about to do.

What makes tacos so irresistible?

Admit it – you LOVE tacos.  You would eat them until it hurts.  If you can’t have the real deal, you’ll eat terrifying impostor tacos to get your fix.  Taco Tuesday?  Try Taco Everyday.  There are reasons you love tacos, and you may not even realize why.  Let me enlighten you!

Really good tacos

See? Tasty, authentic, AND homemade.

To make a successful, authentic taco, you need:

  1. The tortilla.

    It must needs be corn.  No question.  Usually, the tortilla is doubled or tripled, depending on the meat.  They’re smaller than an average corn tortilla, so it won’t do too much damage.  There is nothing worse than picking up a greasy, juicy taco, and having it all fall out the bottom.  Use two tortillas.  It’s insurance.

    The easiest is to purchase corn tortillas at the grocery store.  You can use normal size, but it’s too much.  Use a cup or a lid to cut smaller circles out of the large tortillas.  That’s what we do if it’s all we have.  Bonus if you have a Mexican grocery…they sell taco-sized tortillas for ridiculously cheap ($1.99-$2.99 for 60 tortillas).

    You can also make your own tortillas, using a simple mix of corn flour and water.  Once you have handmade, you’ll never enjoy store bought. [Recipe and tutorial coming! – check back]

    If you’re feeling like the domestic goddess of the universe, and you just had a baby with the authenticity police, you can go crazy and grind your own corn, making your own flour, and then making a tortilla.  Trust me, I would do this if I had the tools.

  2. The meat. 

    In the streets, you can order all cuts of meat, usually beef, pork, or chicken, and pretty much any organ you can imagine.  You don’t need to buy an 8-foot long intestine and pressure cook it to enjoy an authentic taco.  A simple good cut of meat and applying some tricks of the trade in prepping the meat before you cook it will yield excellent results.

    Yossiho’s favorite is a particular thin cut of beef.  He lets it sit in pineapple juice for a bit to soften it, macerates garlic and salt, and slathers it all over before cooking.  Unbelievable.  Chorizo is a great home choice because it comes already prepped and ready for cooking.

  3. The crunch.  

    Traditionally, tacos are garnished with chopped onions and cilantro, and [optional] radishes.  Keep it simple.  Too many ingredients will drown out the simple but delicious flavors that are all layered together.

  4. The acid.

    Lime.  Must add a squeeze (or three) of lime.  A good rule of thumb is about 1/2 to 1 lime wedge per taco.

  5. The spice.

    SALSA.  Salsas are the crown jewel of tacos!  They’re also the reason many people regular certain taco joints.  Authentic tacos have a couple traditional options: salsa verde [green], salsa roja [red], and an avocado-like salsa.  However, here is the easiest you can get creative with your tacos.  Salsa recipes are sacred, just like your granny’s spaghetti sauce.  But here I’ll share recipes for the three basic salsas [forthcoming].  We love to make a red onion and habanero quick pickle and use it as a salsa – spice and crunch together mean double delicious.

 

See?  It’s simple!  Tortilla. Meat. Onion and cilantro. Lime. Salsa.

the things

All of the things!

Now you’ll just have to have some discipline.  It’s so incredibly cheap to make your own authentic tacos that you won’t be able to stop.  Invite some friends over, and hours later, you’ve had well over a dozen tacos and already made plans to open your own restaurant.  But I wouldn’t know anything about that. 🙂

 

Have you made your own authentic tacos at home?  Do you have a favorite meat?  Salsa recipe?  Feel free to share.

Life Mexican by Marriage

The Honeymoon Phase is a Myth

Oh yes, I did.

I said it.  Someone had to.

I’ve been married for a short three months and some change, and I don’t have enough phalanges three times over to count how many times folks have asked me, “Shouldn’t you be in the honeymoon phase?”

I’d like to know who wrote the marriage policy handbook, and where I can get one, because I sure as heck have never seen this policy labeled anywhere in stone.

BrandonBurkPhotography.com

A private moment.

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Mexican by Marriage Travel

Hello from from the honeymooners!

 

The wedding festivities are over and the stress has finally dwindled, flaking off along the road on our way up here to Bellingham, Washington to enjoy each other’s company without too much worry of life for a week.

 

chug-a-lug

Weddings are stressful.

 

 

…but the drive isn’t.

 

Bugs and pines.

 

I now know why he loves roadtrips.

 

A friend from my life as a belly dancer, Lis, lives with her sweet family here in Bellingham in a cohousing community, and invited us to stay in the guest common house (old barn house) for a few days. We have loved it.

ch bellingham

The commonhouse, our home for a few days.

 

 

Lis made our welcome sweetly romantic.

 

Lis’s hospitality awaited us!

We have spent simple time together, enjoying each other’s company walking along the bay, in old town, on a trail, meandering the local supermarket for hours, sleeping way too much, or making breakfast (eggs, alder and applewood smoked bacon, and pico de gallo and tortillas, of course).

Breakfast at Mount Bakery: Smoked salmon eggs benedict!

 

Breakfast at Mount Bakery and locally brewed kombucha.

 

View from Chuckanut

 

We spent a solid half hour finessing this little guy.

 

at Marine Park

Marine Park

The good life.

 

We attempted to watch a scary movie the other night and fell asleep, and last night we rented a redbox movie and never even got it out of the case before falling asleep. Today we planned to go to Seattle, but have postponed until tomorrow and will spend another day wandering peaceful Bellingham.

Yesterday we slept way too much, but think we are caught up now! We went to the visitor center and got a few maps and then spent a few hours on the trails at Whatcom Falls Park.

  

  

  

  

  

Contemplating married woman status.

 

  

i just love my rings in the forest.

 

Leaves as big as your head!

 

  

Exploring the trails attentively.

 

We ended the night with dinner at Rock and Rye Oyster House, where we ordered poutine (!!!), oyster chowder, and a mixed dozen of local Sea Cow and Kamumoto oysters. They were absolutely delicious!

To top it all off, we wandered Fred Meyer to make a grab bag of candy to go with our redbox that we never watched.

Today, we want to go to the local seafood marketing Chuckanut Drive (serious) and pick up some oysters to munch on our own. We will drive farther down Chuckanut and spend some time in the state park. It is gloomy gray and gorgeous and we are so thrilled!

 

homework in the commonhouse

Yossiho doing his homework in the common house.

 

Yossiho is doing homework so I wanted to take a moment to write a post so I don’t forget too much about this week. I’m using the new iPhone he bought me…I’ve had an old HTC my entire smartphone life (with no aspirations for an iPhone) and it drove him nuts, so he surprised me with a wedding gift for himself, er, I mean, for me, and handed me a new iPhone 6S. I never used my Droid to its full potential at all, so I thought I’d try to make better use of this one.  One thing I do like is that it is easier to type and text, which means I may actually write in my blog more! Let’s just hope I edit more in the future and don’t ramble like I am now. I’d like to think a honeymoon and a new phone are both a “get out of jail free” card for quality blog posting.

Tomorrow we head to Seattle to explore for a day, followed by a visit to my great aunt in Port Angeles that never met, a drive around the lush Olympic Peninsula and down the coast to Portland, back to Utah via the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls. We actually have no written plan or reservations, but this is what we are mulling around in our minds.

Off to distract Yossiho from doing his homework!

Mexican by Marriage

If I get married, I want to be very married.

steph y yossi, BrandonBurkPhotography.com

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
-Audrey Hepburn

Well, folks, not sure if you saw the weather reports, but the mighty Hades froze over, which can only mean one thing – MARRIAGE!

Instead of the traditional “The Knot” website, we thought it would be best to station our story here at home on 1241 Cedar.  Speaking of which, my fiance is ridiculously supportive and encouraging of my desire to write and photograph, and even wants to be involved, so you will be seeing more of us, more often!

Read on for all the details!


 

Stephanie & Yossiho

stephyosssleep

About the Bride

Bride’s name: Stephanie Nichole LeVeque
Age: 32
Hometown: Munising, Michigan
Current Residence: Sugarhouse, Salt Lake City, Utah

About the Groom

Groom’s name: Yossiho Peralta Morga
Age: 34
Hometown: Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico
Current Residence: Kearns, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Dates

We Met: May 22, 2015
First Date: May 24, 2015
“Official” Couple: June 4, 2015
Engaged: July 4, 2015
Michigan Open House (Reception): October 3, 2015 – 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., + evening bonfire
Wedding (Temple Sealing): October 22, 2015 – 4:00 p.m.
Utah Wedding Reception: October 23, 2015 – 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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Our Registry

Stephanie & Yossiho’s Wedding Registry on Amazon.com

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Mexican by Marriage

A Musical Mafia Proposal

Congratulations Yossiho and Stephanie!!!!!

Posted by Tiffany Halstead on Sunday, July 5, 2015

The day has come – I’m eating my words.

I always made fun of people for getting engaged so quickly, and it just happened to me.

Yossiho and I met six weeks ago on May 22nd, and he proposed on my favorite holiday – July 4th!

We never talked about marriage and I had zero idea he was going to propose.  He was pretty gutsy to buy a [very blingy] ring and propose without any idea how I’d respond!

He wrote a song and sang.  Click the video to watch our memory with us. 🙂