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Mondongo (Sunday Delight)

Mondongo (Sunday Delight)

Contributed by
Josie Cardona

Sunday was the fun day when we all gathered in my mom’s house to spend time together. I was the youngest and the only one left at home so my brothers and sisters would gather their families and come on over.

My mom would make mondongo (sort of like sancocho) and the whole house would be filled with the inviting aroma.  She would get up early in the morning to chop the mondongo and boil the pig feetl. Because my mom would have the mondongo going since early morning, my family would come in and comment about the wonderful smell and get busy preparing side dishes, desserts and beverages to go along with the mondongo. The minute they came in, the house would go from quiet stillness to loud commotion and chaos; everyone getting into each other’s way, laughing, chopping, mixing.  We couldn’t wait for the meal to be ready.  We lived in a 2-bedroom apartment with no dining area. There were not enough chairs for everyone so we would eat standing up, leaning against the walls or sitting on the kitchen floor; everyone talking over one another, trying to be heard over everyone else.  Those were the best family days anyone could ever have.

Mondongo is a soup made from diced tripe (the stomach of a cow or pig), slow-cooked with sofrito and vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, root vegetables, and pig feet. Pig feet is added to improve the taste, and is actually the ingredient that gives the mondongo its authentic flavor (and extra high caloric content.) Pig feet are preserved in salt so they have to be washed several times before boiling to get rid of most of the salt. This dish is generally prepared in Latin America and the Caribbean.  ¡Puerto Rico!  It goes very well with white rice.

¡Buen provecho!

What was your special delight when you were a kid? Share with us!

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The Best Pizza Ever!

The Best Pizza Ever!

Contributed by
Veronica Avila

Home Made Pizza

The best of the best!

One of my favorite home-made foods that I looked forward to was pizza. My mom’s pizza was the best of the best, in the opinion of me and my siblings. The thick crusted pizza was made with marinara, Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, and was topped with diced lettuce and tomato and a sprinkle (more like a double topping) of crushed Doritos and “South Chicago” hot sauce. My mom would only make a batch of pizza about 2-3 times a year (we made about 8 pizzas at a time – ’cause that’s how we rolled being a family of 7!) Now that I look back, I realize even though I loved the tasty pizza, the most important part was the family bond we shared as we all cooked them. My mom would get up early in the morning to prepare the dough. Once the dough was ready (it would lift out of the container) we were ready to make pizza!

She had “charolas” – cookie sheets that were designated for the pizza, since we never were cookie fans. We would all rotate stations: dough rolling, spreading marinara sauce, toppings, and cheese. Then we’d pop them in the oven and 30 minutes later, voila! We had our very own pizzas. Our pizzas varied since we all had different likes, but all in all we would make Italian sausage pizza, Hawaiian pizza, pepperoni pizza, and of course the jalapeño pizza for my dad. Then we would gather around the table with our favorite pizza and would top it with lettuce and tomato (I took the tomatoes out every time! lol) crushed Doritos and hot sauce, or more “chile jalapeños” for my dad.

Those were good times. We really enjoyed our time together. It makes me nostalgic, but it also makes me want to pass on the tradition to my kids and my nephews and nieces. I may just rally the family to get together and make pizzas this weekend!

What was your fave food growing up? Share with us!

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Hot Dog Con To’ (with everything)

Hot Dog Con To’ (with everything)

Contributed by
Joana Meléndez

I grew up in Aguadilla Puerto Rico. Honestly, I was a very picky girl when it came to what I ate.  And one of my favorite foods was hot dogs.

I can remember getting up early in the morning and going shopping with my mom in the pueblo.  By 8 am people were at the pueblo running errands, strolling along in the plaza or chatting with friends they hadn’t seen in a while.

When it came close to lunch time, the plaza came alive as folks made their way to the different fondas (small restaurants serving all kinds of homemade dishes) along the perimeter of the plaza.  There were so many inviting smells that it was hard for these hungry people that had been up since before dawn to make a choice.   And in the plaza, there were many carts displaying different yummy things to eat.  Some vendors were peeling the fresh oranges,  other vendors were selling their piraguas, others had helados (shaved ice with flavored syrups and soft coconut ices).

In one of the busiest corners there was a hot dog stand.   I couldn’t resist stopping for lunch to eat a yummy “Puerto Rican” hot dog paired with a very cold malta india beverage.

A hot dog Puerto Rican style consists of adding ground beef, cooked or grilled onions and shoestring potatoes along with the regular toppings such as mustard, ketchup, relish, etc.

¡Buen provecho!

Special shout out to our beautiful people in Puerto Rico who will soon have their delicious Hot Dog Con To’ on the menu.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

That Bizarre Thing: Carrot Cake

That Bizarre Thing: Carrot Cake

Contributed by
Barb Linek

When I was a little girl, it was a rare treat to see my cousins in Michigan. When I was in fourth grade, we planned a summer trip to visit them on their big farm in the “thumb” of Michigan. (Michigan looks like a mitten and they live in the east side of the state near Lake Huron, which looks like the thumb of a mitten.)

The first night we were there I heard someone mention that they were bringing “carrot cake” for our big family get-together the next day. Carrot cake?!?  I’d never heard of such a bizarre thing! Who would put vegetables in a cake?!? That’s crazy! (You must remember this is long before carrot cake appeared on every dessert menu.) Imagine my surprise the next day when I tasted this aforementioned “carrot cake.” It was delicious! Moist and a little spicy with that marvelous, rich cream cheese icing we all know and love!

Some years later when I was in college, making carrot cake became a community-building affair. I lived with three girls, all French majors, from three different cultures – one was Polish, one Italian and one Bahamian. But we all agreed on one thing – we loved carrot cake! So it became a house ritual to join together in the kitchen, pull out three peelers and start peeling the carrots for carrot cake. We didn’t have food processors back then so we had to use the peelers to shred all those carrots too. And when the cake was iced and ready to eat, a bunch of guys would magically appear to help us enjoy the finished product.

Did you ever eat anything bizarre that ended up being delicious? Share your experience with us!

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.