Watermelon and aloe vera juice

In Mexico, as well as other countries in Latin America, aloe gel (also sometimes referred to as aloe crystal) is used externally for a variety of skin ailments as well as consumed for its curative health benefits, especially for stomach and digestive ailments. Aloe gel or crystal comes from the meat of the leaf, and is easy and inexpensive to extract yourself at home. In Spanish, aloe vera is called “sábila” or ”áloe,” and is sometimes misspelled as “sávila.” In Mexico, it’s most commonly referred to as “sábila.”

Aloe vera juice is said to help maintain healthy digestion, and can also help regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, reduce acne eruptions, as well as many other health benefits, and is a good addition for those who are conscious of an alkaline diet.

Watermelon aloe vera juice recipe from theothersideofthetortilla.com (jugo de sandía y sábila)

My Tío Eduardo swears by homemade aloe vera juice for digestive ailments. Homemade aloe juice is both easy and inexpensive to make—a single large aloe vera leaf in the produce section of most grocery stores in the U.S. should cost between 99 cents and $2 or $3. If a single leaf is $3 or more, it should be very large and heavy, otherwise check another store for a better price. Most Mexican or Latin American markets will carry them. Aloe leaves available in grocery stores are typically about 4-4.5 inches wide at the base, 22-24 inches long and about 1 inch thick.

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We’re busy polishing the silver…

As you may have noticed if you’ve visited theothersideofthetortilla.com over the last few days, things look a little different – and not quite right just yet! Please pardon the digital dust while I polish the site. We’ve switched to new hosting and we’re implementing some great new features for more fun here in the Tortilla Test Kitchen, including a new design and layout and a better commenting system.

In the meantime, if you’d like to view old posts and photos the way they used to look, you can do so by visiting the old site. All of that content has been moved over here but some posts need a little cleaning since they got tarnished in the move. You can still comment here if you like. Any comments left on the old site this week will be ported over to the new site so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon, and we’ll be more brillante than ever before!

    A new, improved Tortilla coming soon!

    It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted and I wanted to write you all a little note about why. Soon, The Other Side of The Tortilla will relaunch with a better, more interactive design! I’m moving hosting in an effort to better serve all of you and to provide some cool new features that I cannot integrate on my current platform. I promise it will keep the same, clean style that so many of you have written me saying you love so much.

    I’ve been working on a redesign since the beginning of April, and it should be ready to be implemented sometime in the next few weeks. Thanks so much for all your patience and support – I can’t wait to show you the new site! I hope you’ll keep checking back. In the meantime, you can still access all my old posts here. Once the redesign takes effect, all the old posts will be imported to the new site so you’ll still be able to search and find some of your favorite recipes and stories already posted here.

    Hasta pronto,
    Maura

    Ya tenemos 6 meses!

    I can’t believe last week I passed the six month mark since I began The Other Side of The Tortilla. It feels like only a short time ago that I started contemplating how to share my quest for Mexican culinary and cultural nirvana in the kitchen. Thank you so much to those of you who have become big fans along the way; I appreciate your loyal support, feedback and passing my site on to friends and family via word of mouth (or email…or tweet…or Facebook).

    My goal with the site is not just a personal one to chronicle all I’ve learned from family, friends and cherished cookbooks about traditional Mexican cooking in order to someday pass the wisdom down to my own children; I also want to help educate others about Mexican cuisine and culture. I’m always open to suggestions for improvement or new elements you’d like to see, so please hit me up via the comments or by emailing me by clicking on the contact section to the right if you’d like. I frequently get comments via email in both languages, which I think is so cool. Thanks to all you wonderful readers, I’ve already gotten some great suggestions on how to enhance your experience here on The Other Side of The Tortilla. You can expect to start seeing a little bit of video here and there very soon. One note: I do moderate the comments only for purposes of keeping my site free of spam, but I make a conscious effort to approve legitimate comments as soon as possible so we can have a lively discussion.

    To commemorate this little 6-month milestone anniversary, I created a graphic using words that have commonly appeared in my posts since I started back in August 2009. The more frequently a word appears in posts from the last six months, the larger the font size. I hope you have as much fun looking at it as I have!

    When it’s quiet around here, it can only mean one of two things: I’m either busy in the kitchen or writing and revising new recipes. Lately, I’ve been busy with a bit of both. If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know that I often post photos taken on the fly in the kitchen; if you didn’t, you do now, so head over and follow me there if you’d like some sneak peeks every now and then. Most commonly, people have been telling me I’m making them hungry, so I must be doing my job well, right?

    Here’s what I’m currently working on in the Tortilla Test Kitchen that you can expect to see coming up soon (in no particular order–to keep some element of surprise!):

    • champurrado
    • salsas rojas
    • sopas
    • carnes
    • flan
    • guisados

    Also, I’ve recently been asked to write a guest post about why native foods are such an important element of cultural bonding (both in adult-to-adult and adult-to-kid relationships) at SpanglishBaby.com, a parenting site for raising bilingual kids. I’m very excited to be able to contribute over there and will cross-post my article here on the Tortilla later this month. They found me thanks to someone passing on the word about the blog. I’m also honored to have been mentioned on The Tiki Tiki Blog in their weekly El Buzz section as a blog to watch a few months back and hope to contribute a thing or two over there in the coming months.

    So again, thanks for reading. I hope you will continue to enjoy my adventures in the kitchen and will share the site with a friend or two.

    If you like the wordle image above, you can make your own by going to wordle.net. The custom color palette was created with colors from photographs that appear or are scheduled to appear here on The Tortilla.

    New features coming soon…

    I’ve recently been working on a special project for The Other Side of The Tortilla that I haven’t told you about yet–some video! I’ve been working on adding in some more cultural elements (which will have a fun new category name that I can’t wait to reveal), and while composing some stories and editing photos I started thinking about how I could teach others about Mexican customs and traditions that go beyond just food. The cuisine ties into a bigger cultural picture, so really, these new cultural elements will complement the regular cooking content of what you already see here.

    Christmas brunch at Tía Annette's (left), café con Rompope (right)

    It started out over the holidays in December while I was visiting Mexico City (which is, in part, why you haven’t seen a December in Mexico City Part II just yet). One of our tías throws a big Christmas brunch for our whole family every year, and this year she moved it up a week so I could attend since I wasn’t in town for very long.
    As with most of my trips, I brought my DSLR camera and a Flip Video along for the ride. I got some great home video style footage of how our family celebrates Christmas with posadas and began thinking how I could share this bit of our culture in a fun and educational way.

    posada navideña 2009

    "Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el tino..."

    And, like many Mexican families, our Christmas gathering wouldn’t be complete without a piñata

    I’ve got video footage of both young and old taking their turn trying to break it open! (Here’s a little sneak peek of some of the kids’ action to the right.)

    I’ve been working hard putting something together, editing, including video cuts, still photos and am now recording voice overs and adding a background soundtrack. Right now, I’m in the process of looking for a mariachi band with recorded materials that might be interested in providing some of the soundtrack (so if you know somebody, send them my way).

    Recently, a few people have asked me if I’d ever do cooking video segments. That wasn’t the way I originally envisioned The Other Side of The Tortilla, but as with all ideas, it’s beginning to evolve. I’d appreciate your feedback in the poll below to let me know how you feel about the possibility of seeing some cooking videos here in the future. I’ll close the poll on Sunday, February 28th, so hurry up and vote–there’s a little over a week to get your opinions in. Feel free to also leave any comments below with your thoughts about why you would be interested in seeing some video (…or why not).

    Let me know what you think. As always, thanks for reading. I hope to be able to add new features from time to time to improve your reading and cultural experience here on The Other Side of the Tortilla.

    ¡Adelante!

    Do you want to see cooking video segments from time to time here on The Other Side of The Tortilla? Click here to let me know by voting via TwtPoll.

    December in Mexico City

    If you hadn’t already heard, The Tortilla is turning into a traveling food blog for the month of December (and part of January)! I arrived here in Mexico City late Tuesday night, narrowly escaping blizzard-like conditions that hit Chicago shortly after my plane took off in the early afternoon. As I claimed my luggage, I began to feel a little trickle of sweat down the back of my neck. It’s been warm here, with highs in the upper 70s during the day (or around 25 degrees C if you use the metric system) and about 50 degrees F at night (10 degrees C). I’m not used to such warm temperatures in Mexico City in December because I usually don’t get here until Christmas Eve when it’s already chilly. Last year on Christmas Eve I remember wearing a winter coat.

    Obviously, the first stop after leaving the airport was at a taquería for tacos al pastor. Knowing I had 10 more days ahead of me, most of which would end up taco-filled, I held back a bit and didn’t overindulge like I normally would. Last time I failed to pace myself with the tacos, I ended up with a case of killer indigestion that only a box of Onotón and some Melox could subdue.

    Wednesday was my birthday, and if you’ve been a reader long enough you’ve probably already guessed I went to one of my favorite places for sopa de tortilla, La Guadiana in San Ángel. I also was treated to some delicious taquitos de chicharrón prensado and Sábana Azteca, a very thin piece of steak over a bean sauce, covered with cheese and topped with rajas con crema. I was in heaven.

    While here, I’ve been dreaming up what recipes to share with you in the coming months. I’m working on learning a few holiday recipes from my suegra–including one of my favorites, ponche Navideño. It’s a Christmas fruit punch, served warm. The recipe comes from José’s abuelita.

    For lunch yesterday, we made empanadas with a picadillo de carne molida (ground beef) that had jitomate (red tomato), cebolla (onion) and chile. Thought we cheated and used pre-made dough, they tasted just like they were made from scratch. I’m in the process of obtaining and translating the recipe, which I hope to share here very soon. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of what they look like:

    empanadas

    I’ll be posting more soon from Mexico once I’ve got more photos and stories to share. ¡Hasta luego!

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