Home again

Central Park

Originally published July 25, 2005

I’m back from a fabulous road trip, and although I was sad to leave family and friends behind, I am grateful to be back at home with my family here in Texas.

New York was a different experience for me this time around. On my previous visits to NYC,  I was just a kid, in awe of everything, gaping at the tall buildings and massive crowds of humans. But this time, as a “mature adult” I found myself sizing up the city and the people living in it, wondering to myself, “Could I make it in this city?”

I had the chance to enjoy many of the sights and sounds of the city, but the days we had designated to go out and explore, well, it was HOT. This is coming from a person who has experienced Texas heat all of her life.

In closing, some lyrics from a U2 song, appropriately titled “New York.”

In New York summers get hot, well into the hundreds
You can’t walk around the block without a change of clothing
Hot as a hairdryer in your face
Hot as a handbag and a can of mace
In New York, I just got a place in New York
New York, New York


Fotos y recuerdos

Originally posted on April 19 2005

I have a ton of deadlines this week, blogging will be sparse (as usual). To spare you guys from having to read about my fast food experiences for the next week, I am going to revisit a photo I posted when I first started this blog. I took it during the aftermath of Hurricane Claudette which blew through my town back in July of 2003.

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Don’t try this at home.
After a storm, stay inside, don’t go driving around sight-seeing!

It was officially registered as a Category 1 hurricane, but near our home wind speeds were recorded at 115 mph, that is before the anemometers broke.

Reports had indicated that the storm only had 80 to 85 mph sustained winds while making landfall. However, Claudette seemed to be strengthening rapidly as it approached the coast. Wind gusts reached well over 90 mph, and in some cases over 100 mph. According to the July 2003 Monthly Summary by the National Hurricane Center, winds were sustained at 90 mph, which leaves it a few miles per hour short of a Category Two Hurricane according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

In order for a hurricane to reach Category Two intensity, it must have winds of at least 96 mph. So, in many ways, Claudette was much more than your average minimal hurricane. It also was a vast system that affected a large portion of the Texas coast. Waves were felt for hundreds of miles prior to the storm’s landfall. Tropical storm force winds extended nearly 150 miles from the storm’s center, and its reach could be felt in 15 Texas counties, which is a lot of real estate.

Even after the storm had moved far inland, and dissipated to a tropical low, its circulation held up quite well as it continued to churn to the West into Mexico and Southern Arizona. That was made possible by the ridge of high pressure spinning in the Four Corners area of the United States that was also responsible for hot and dry conditions in the Western United States. These hot and dry conditions created another season of devastating brush fires.

Even though it wasn’t a major hurricane, it was something scary to experience. I have yet to go through a tornado, but I can only imagine what that is like.

Culture, Food, Texas

Spotlight on Food: Fajitas

This is one meal even I am pretty good at making. When I was a kid I remember sitting outside watching my dad make fajitas on the barbecue pit, the intoxicating aroma of mesquite, meat marinade and grilled onions wafting about.

The smell of fajitas on the grill today brings back memories of when all was right in the world, where my only worries were which cartoons to watch on Saturday morning and how to convince my parents to get me that Cabbage Patch doll I so desperately needed in my life. fajitas

Photo credit: Flickr user, joshbousel

Now a staple on restaurant menus and in our homes, the fajita had humble beginnings. Hispanic ranch workers originated fajitas in south Texas in the late 1930s.

Fajita comes from the Spanish word “fajita,” meaning belt or girdle. The skirt is the heavily used diaphragm muscle from beef. Often beef skirts, and other less desirable cuts, were given to ranch workers as partial payment for their services in trading or slaughtering cattle. The workers tenderized the meat by pounding it and marinating it in lime juice. The meat was then cooked over an open fire using wood from the mesquite tree, a hardwood which grows readily in the Texas open range. After grilling, the meat slices were wrapped in Mexican bread (tortillas) and called tacos de fajitas. – Source: Iowa Beef Industry Council

The word “fajita” did not appear in print until 1975.

In 1984 Homero Recio, a lecturer on animal science at Texas A & M University, obtained a fellowship to study the origins of the item, coming to the conclusion two years later that, ironically, it was his grandfather, a butcher from Premont, Texas, who may have been the first to use the term “fajita” to describe the pieces of skirt steak cooked directly on mesqutie coals for family dinners as far back as the 1930s. Recio also hypothesized that the first restaurant to serve fajitas–though under the name “botanzas” (appetizers)–was the Roundup in McAllen, Texas. But Sonny “Fajita King” Falcon claimed to have opened the first “fajita stand” in Kyle, Texas, and in 1978 a “Fajita King” stand in Austin. – Source:

And of course, you must not forget the guacamole, an essential part of the fajita experience.

Guacamole: Required eating