Electric Barbacoa!

It was about 7 years ago exactly during a holiday party when a good friend brought this and It was gone in 15 min flat.  I asked her how she made it and she then told me that her Father published and entire book of his family recipes to his daughters.  He entitled it “A Daughters Guide To The Kitchen by Dimitri Criona”.  Wow, how utterly amazing is that for a legacy to leave to your children!?

It was his inspiration along with a few others that led me to start this blog.  I wanted to leave a legacy of not only our families recipes, but our memories as my Aunt did for her daughter. Anyway, back to the Barbacoa… this is a TO DIE FOR dish.  It can be used in so many ways, Tacos, Burritos, enchiladas, machaka. I usually just make tacos. It’s what my family likes but I have made this for all the big Pot-Luck get-togethers around the holidays and people BEG me for the recipe.  I really wish I could take the credit, but I can’t.  Today I made it for a neighbor that just had a new baby.  I get so much enjoyment out of nurturing people through food and hopefully they enjoy it. Of course I made a double batch so my family could enjoy, too!

Here is the EXACT excerpt from his cookbook, again what an amazing Dad!  Please keep in mind that it took me a good 5-10 times making this before I perfected it.  So much of it is to taste and I usually just use a large 15-25 quart sauce pan (do not use non-stick otherwise you’ll never get the roast browned properly) instead of the electric fry pan (’cause I don’t have one).

Here’s How Dimitri Does it:

Many of the Latin American cultures have shredded beef. There are several reasons. The most important of which is that tender corn feed beef is a modern invention. Most of the beef that the peasants ate was tough. I mean tough! Therefore in this dish you want to use a nasty stringy cut of cheap beef. A chuck roast or 7 bone roast will do nicely. In the past, whenever the chuck or 7 bone roasts went on sale, I would buy 2 or 3 and put them in the freezer. That’s another story.

Take an electric fry pan with a high dome lid and put about 1 cup of shortening or vegetable oil in the bottom. Turn up the heat to 350. When the oil begins to smoke, throw in a large 3 to 4 pound 7 bone or chuck roast. Let it brown. While the first side is frying, rough cut 2 medium onions, 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, and several fresh green chili pods, or reconstitute 4 dried medium hot to mild chilis in hot water. Turn the roast over and brown on the second side.

When the second side is browned, add several cloves of garlic, the onions, the chilis and a largecan of Mexican red chili or enchilada sauce. Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer, cover, close the vent in the lid and cook for at least 2 hours until somewhat tender. Occasionally you will have to add more liquid. Oops, don’t forget the salt and pepper! After about an hour or so, the roast will begin to naturally separate into sections. It’s OK to help this process along with a sharp knife by cutting the roast into sections. When the meat is somewhat tender remove the meat and put it onto a cutting board leaving the liquid and vegetables to reduce in the fry pan. Either cut the roast into sections or wide slices with a sharp knife. Take 2 forks and begin shredding the meat into uneven sections. If the meat is too tough to shred it needs more cooking. At this point if the four extra people around the house want to stay for dinner because of the smell from the kitchen, quickly sauté 4 medium diced onions and 2 more chilis and throw them into the liquid.

As you finish shredding the beef, put it back into the fry pan and continue to cook. You may want to throw away the fat from the beef, that’s OK but the original recipe doesn’t. Taste the liquid and adjust the salt and pepper and the hot by adding add either cayenne pepper, Tabasco or fresh diced jalapeno’s, and some Mexican (Italian) oregano, a bay leaf and some cumin. If you do not have the above you can substitute some dry chili powder, it is also very rich in cumin. Continue to cook at a high heat with the lid removed until most or all of the liquid has evaporated and the meat begins to fry and crisp slightly. That’s it! Get the tortillas, salsa, cheese, guacamole and sour cream and you’re ready for a Mexican feast of enchiladas, burritos, tacos or tostadas. Use the same method with a pork roast to make carnitas.

Happy Birthday Mom!

I love you so much, I appreciate you more than you know.  For everything you do. Tirelessly  showing up at a million soccer games, Christmas shows, grandparents day, the list goes on and on.

But most of all, thank you for loving me and always being there for me. Here’s to turning 29, again.

You are the Accidental Grandma, who knew you’d be so amazing at it.  Here you are, doing one of your favorite things.

Mom - December 11, 2010 - 7:55 pm


I need a good slap in the face. I mean, some sound advice on homeschooling.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to volunteer in Lucas’  class.  WOW is all I can say.  THE KINDER CLASS HAS 34 KIDS.

I am really not sure how much learning is going on in there and it seems to me like the bright kids are only getting as much as the lowest performing kid in the class.  Don’t get me wrong I understand the need for individualized attention and that is EXACTLY why I am concerned.

I was in charge of what they call “centers”.  Totally foreign to me, but I am sure all of you educators understand.  Well, in my center I had 12 kids at a time for about 20 min, times three (minus 1 or 3).  I was in the Reading and Phonics center, I had exactly 2.5 seconds to instruct the children on what the lesson was then it was me jumping from one kid to the other and back again trying to spread around and cover everyone.  Of course the bright kids suffered the most because they got it.  I spent my time with the ones that didn’t get it because that is where my heart goes and they NEEDED it. The kids that got it started helping out their friends, trying to do their work for them.  When I said that they could only suggest help to their friends and not do their work for them, the smarties left the tables and worked with puzzles on the floor (why aren’t they given more challenging worksheets?)

It was very rushed.  Very chaotic and that was with two parent volunteers!  Most days the teacher has no volunteers and no aid. I asked her how she can possibly instruct, and have them learn with a class size of 32. She said “well we just get into a big group and try to learn”.  After being there for only 3 hours, It’s apparent that the learning she’s talking about is totally impossible. I asked if it was always that rushed and how much one to one learning they got to accomplish on a weekly basis.  The teacher responded to me about how happy she was to have two parent volunteers because she had time to do assessments and catch up with all the individual schooling she had to do.  That is sad and I was extremely disheartened.  Our school is supposed to be the best in our district.

If I could just pull the kids and put them back in Calvary I would, but it’s not really an option right now.  So, am I totally crazy to think I can do a better job if I just home schooled my kids.  SLAP ME  NOW!

For now all I can do is be in his class weekly.  Thank God for my Mom who is coming up on Wednesdays to hang with Ruby.

All of you products of homeschooling or all you homeschooling Mommas, what are your words of wisdom?  I am trying to listen to the quiet whispers of God, but only getting very foggy and static-y messages!

Jessica B. - December 11, 2010 - 3:45 pm

I feel for you … I feel what I did with Cameron really made the difference for him. He went to a Montessori school his first 4 years, did Kindergarten then repeated Kindergarten in Irvine Public. And at that point, Irvine Public School Foundation made it possible for us to have reduced-class sizes K-3 (only 18 kids). Move to Irvine! Maybe my decision to live in a shoebox and stay here wasn’t so bad. Hang in there…and look into home schooling – you have the smarts and organization skills to pull it off. Now to find your Chicken Posole recipe, my mom is sick and I’m gonna make it for her :)

The tree is finally done.

Well after 1.5 weeks of craziness and putting up a few ornaments a day, we finally finished it tonight.  For the first time ever, I didn’t rearrange, guide or otherwise influence my kids on where the ornaments should go on a tree.  I simply told them to have fun, be careful and look for the holes.

The be careful came in because I have over 40 angels on my tree.  I have been given an angel (cause that’s what my name means) a year by my Grandmother (and yes for 4 years my great grandma also gave me angels), I have some very special ornaments.  It’s the first gift I open every year, and since my boys were born, the tradition has been handed down to them.  Tommy gets snowmen, Lucas gets Tin soldiers and Elias gets gingerbread men and I can’t seem to remember what they started Ruby on, I am thinking it’s angels, too.

The tree is not perfect, there are ornaments bunched up all over it, the spacing is all wrong the beaded garland is crooked and I have homemade decorations all over my tree. Very not the me I used to be, but I am kinda ok with it.

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anji - December 8, 2010 - 3:59 pm

Ruby get’s stars. I remember now.

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