Cooking with a Pinch of History: Pozole

by Brittany Avila

Last month I had the honor of partaking at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation’s  annual “Presidio Pastimes by Candlelight” event, where the birthplace of Santa Barbara is brought to life solely by candlelight for an evening full of historical demonstrations of Presidio life. I had the honor of running La Cocina, naturally, where SBTHP Receptionist Brittany Sundberg and I prepared pozole by candlelight. This was not an easy feat, but the hearty and warm recipe from California Rancho Cooking was a welcome treat at the end of the cold night. The next time you’ve got a little chill, this is the perfect dish to warm your body and soul.

Ingredients:

2 cups canned hominy

2 lbs of pork (butt end of the loin, chopped)

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups onion (chopped)

1 tbsp. oregano

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. garlic (minced)

2 cups red chile sauce

2 bay leaves

1 cup water

4 poblano chiles (charred, peeled and chopped)

1 tsp black pepper

Inside la cocina at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Inside la cocina at El Presidio SHP. Photo by Brittany Avila.

To begin, I thought I would give you a glimpse of our lighting conditions in La Cocina when Brittany S. and I prepared the pozole. As you can see, this picture showcases our “stovetop” which is a counter of ladrillo with a small cut-out for a fire, and copper pot on top. Settlers of El Presidio de Santa Barbara would have been in the same conditions if not worse to prepare their night time meals–based on first hand experience, it’s a challenge!

Preparing the pork. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Preparing the pork. Photo by Brittany Avila.

Begin by chopping  the pork loin into bite-size chunks. As you can see by my chopped pork pieces, I like my stew “chunky.” Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large pot and add pork.

Different types of meat can be used in pozole, leaving hominy as the signature ingredient in the recipe. Hominy comes from maize, which was originally grown by the Aztecs in chinampas, or raised gardens.

Pic 3 (800x697)
Hominy. Photo by Brittany Avila.

This is our pile of hominy for the stew straight from the can. Settlers in Early California wouldn’t have simply had to open a can to get this ingredient, but instead would’ve have to soak maize kernels in mineral lime to get them to the nixtamal or hominy texture.

Allow pork to simmer for one and one half hours. Meanwhile, begin preparing the poblano peppers and other chopped ingredients.

Roasting poblanos on the comal. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Roasting poblanos on the comal. Photo by Brittany Avila.

Chili peppers are native to the New World, and were commonly used as spices by Native Americans.

Cook the poblano peppers on skillet until charred. Then, peel the charred skin off of the pepper.  We used a comal, or iron skillet over a fire on our ladrillo stove top to char the peppers. This took about 5-10 minutes on each side.

Photo by Brittany Avila.
Photo by Brittany Avila.

Of course, Santa Ines Mission Mills olive oil (my favorite!) was used to grease the comal.

Chili peppers have five different forms, with the three most popular being bell pepper, jalapeno, and cayenne.

Brittany Sundberg prepares the vegetables. Photo by Brittany Avila.
Brittany Sundberg prepares the vegetables. Photo by Brittany Avila.

Chop the pepper, onion, and garlic into fine pieces. My sous chef ever so carefully chopped ingredients as close to a candle as she can get in our dim lighting! Add hominy and all other ingredients, and stir continuously for 30 minutes or until the broth has thickened.

When Europeans first settled in Mexico, maize was considered to be any grain grown in a particular region, including other grains such as wheat and barley. Later, it was exclusively referred to as the corn we now consider maize today, which is soaked in an alkali treatment of lime mineral to create what we today call hominy, or formerly nixtamal. It was this treatment of maize that prevented the spread of pellagra, a disease of the skin caused by maize consumption, because it brought more nutrients within maize to the surface.

The finished pozole. Photo by Brittany Avila.
The finished pozole. Photo by Brittany Avila.

Here is the final product, which received rave reviews from our cold and hungry volunteers at the end of the evening. It was perfectly described as hearty with a kick! And just like that, you have a hearty, traditional stew! Serve hot, and prepare for some spice!

The Brittanys, seen here in traditional Early California dress, had a blast setting off smoke alarms and creating delicious aromas in La Cocina.

Brittany Sundberg and Brittany Avila. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Brittany Sundberg and Brittany Avila. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Works Cited

Foster, Nelson, and Linda S. Cordell. Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World. Tucson: U of Arizona, 1992. 3-4+.

Johnson, Sylvia A. Tomatoes, Potatoes, Corn, and Beans: How the Foods of the Americas Changed Eating around the World. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 1997.

McMahan, Jacqueline Higuera. California Rancho Cooking: Mexican and Califorian Recipes. Seattle: Sasquatch, 2001.

Brittany Avila is Volunteer Maestra de Cocina for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Cate School Volunteer Day at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park

 By Michael H. Imwalle

Eduardo mixing whitewash with busy brushes in background. photo by Mike Imwalle.
Eduardo mixing whitewash with busy brushes in background. photo by Mike Imwalle.

On Wednesday January 28th, 2015 Cate School teachers Marnie Woehr and Oscar Urizar  arrived at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park with eighteen students to volunteer for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Archaeologist Michael Imwalle and Associate Director for Historical Resources Anne Petersen provided the group with a brief introduction to the history of the Presidio and adobe construction. Students Henry Dawson, Elizabeth Douglas, Elli Park, Zac Towbes, Diara Pouye, Elliot Rosenthal, Andre Pincot, Katherine Scott, Valeria Ghersi, Darling Garcia, Gabby Teodoro, Isaac Lee, Yori Haller, Julia McCaw, Yvette, Vega, Cordelia Pryor, Summer Matthews, and Kiyomi Ran Dylan went to the Northwest Corner to meet with Maintenance Supervisor Eduardo Garcia.

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After we had a brief safety meeting Eduardo gave them an introduction to “Whitewashing 101.” By the end of the day the teachers and students finished whitewashing the interior of the reconstructed western outer defense wall at the Presidio Northwest Corner. A second set of students helped Eduardo whitewash some patched areas of the defense wall at the Northeast Corner. A third group of volunteers helped knock down weeds behind the comandancia, tilled the soil beneath the trees in the Cañedo orchard, and fertilized all the roses around the site.

Cate School 2015 volunteer group. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Cate School 2015 volunteer group. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Thanks for your hard work and we look forward to working with you again next year! Mike Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Cooking with a Pinch of History: Spanish Chocolate Cake

by Brittany Avila

Happy New Year! What better way to start off 2015 than baking up a delicious recipe from our Hispanic California predecessors.  And hopefully you haven’t started your 2015 resolutions of eating healthier, because this one is another sweet treat!

I have adapted this recipe from California Mission Cookery by Mark Preston and David DeWitt. It is a more savory twist on your average chocolate cake. And if you’re used to cake box mixes, don’t be intimidated by baking from scratch. Like past recipes, this one is just as simple as it is delightful.

Ingredients:

Cake Batter

2 cakes Ybarra or Abuelita chocolate (this can be found at Hispanic supermarkets)

½ Cup butter

1 Cup piloncillo sugar (Brown or cane sugar could be a substitute if you have difficulty finding piloncillo)

4 eggs

1 Cup milk

3 Cups flour (as always, I used whole wheat flour to remain as similar as possible to flour used in Early CA)

2 Tablespoons baking powder

1 Teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing

1 Cake Ybarra or  Abuelita chocolate

¾ Cup butter

½ Cup piloncillo

Begin by preheating your oven to 300 degrees.  Start preparing the cake batter by melting the two chocolate cakes in a saucepan over the stovetop for no more than 5 minutes. Do not try melting in the microwave, they will burn and/or could start a fire.

The Spanish did not even recognize chocolate as a food until the 17th century, nearly a hundred years after they founded New Spain. But once they pronounced it edible, it made waves in Europe and become Spain’s largest export from their new-found territory.

Next, add the butter and piloncillo to the chocolate.  While the butter melts in with the chocolate, beat the eggs together. Mix your stovetop concoction in a bowl with the eggs. Then gradually add flour, baking powder and vanilla.

Spanish royalty were known to add a variety of unique ingredients to their new favorite import. They would consume chocolate with anything from vanilla, anise, chili peppers, hazelnut, and even powdered white roses mixed in.

Before adding the dry ingredients, your stove top mixture should be grainy and viscous. photo by Brittany Avila.
Before adding the dry ingredients, your stove top mixture should be grainy and viscous. photo by Brittany Avila.

Once this is well mixed, place in a 15” baking dish that is lined either with butter, PAM, or some form of non-stick spray. If you want your cake a little bit thicker, you can place it in a smaller baking dish, but you will have to cook it for a bit longer at a lower temperature.

During California’s rancho period, sweet cakes would have been baked for “la merienda,” or the meal eaten following the afternoon siesta. This “light luncheon” usually consisted of pastries, cakes, sweet cured cheese, olives and wafers. Doesn’t sound that light to me!

The final cake batter consistency should be similar to a mousse. This leads to a fluffy, yet still moist cake. Photo by Brittany Avila.
The final cake batter consistency should be similar to a mousse. This leads to a fluffy, yet still moist cake. Photo by Brittany Avila.

Place the baking dish in the oven and allow it to bake for 35-40 minutes. To be sure your cake is cooked all the way through, use the “toothpick method” by sticking a toothpick in the middle of the cake. If there is no cake batter on the toothpick when you pull it out, it’s ready. If there is, then allow it bake longer and check on it every 3-5 minutes.

This cake is amazing by itself, but why not add a little bit more sugar to it with some icing? After all, it’s a dessert! Photo by Brittany Avila.
This cake is amazing by itself, but why not add a little bit more sugar to it with some icing? After all, it’s a dessert! Photo by Brittany Avila.

While your cake is baking, you can begin working on the icing. Simply melt the appropriate amount of chocolate, butter and piloncillo for the icing together over the stove for no more than 5 minutes over low heat. Mix this with a spoon the entire time. Allow this to cool. Once cool, you can ice your cake. You can also use this mixture as a filling for your cake if you want to make multiple layers.

Piloncillo was a type of sugar formed into a cone shape also imported to El Presidio de Santa Barbara and other establishments in Early California. Even the Spanish settlers maintained their sweet tooth!

The consistency of the icing should be similar to the stovetop mixture for the cake batter. If you use real cane sugar the consistency will be grainier than using brown sugar.  Photo by Brittany Avila.
The consistency of the icing should be similar to the stovetop mixture for the cake batter. If you use real cane sugar the consistency will be grainier than using brown sugar. Photo by Brittany Avila.

I brought this cake to my coworkers in the midst of other delectable Christmas treats and this was not overshadowed by any means! Definitely worth breaking your healthy eating resolutions just once for this!

Works Cited

Foster, Nelson, and Linda S. Cordell. Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World. Tucson: University of Arizona, 1992. 3-4

Packman, Ana Bégué. Early California Hospitality; the Cookery Customs of Spanish California, with Authentic Recipes and Menus of the Period. Glendale, CA: Arthur H. Clark, 1938. 30. Print.

Preston, Mark, and Dave DeWitt. California Mission Cookery: A Vanished Cuisine, Rediscovered. Albuquerque, New Mexico: Border, 1994. 194.

Olio Nuovo is Here!

By Susan Zamudio-Gurrola

Olio Nuovo winter 2014-2015 (800x600)The latest, freshest batch of Santa Inés Mission Mills Olive Oil arrived at La Tiendita, SBTHP’s gift shop, just in time for the holiday season. The olives were harvested during the last few days of October at our Santa Inés Mission Mills property by dedicated staff members and volunteers – some of them making the trek to the valley to toil away on a Sunday. Nearly 300 pounds of olives were harvested, which in turn yielded a precious five gallons of Olio Nuovo. This was a considerable reduction from previous years’ harvests. However, when Wayne Sherman, our steward for the Mission Mills site, delivered the harvest to the miller he learned that we had the second largest crop in the area due to Southern California’s recent troubles with weather and water.

SBTHP Executive Director Jerry Jackman picking olives at the Santa Ines Mission Mills.
SBTHP Executive Director Jerry Jackman picking olives at the Santa Ines Mission Mills.

We were excited to receive this limited supply, which we refer to as “Olio Nuovo,” or new oil. This first press of the season will actually be the only oil we bottle this season. So buy local! Stop by La Tiendita today to pick up a bottle. Enjoy its flavorful intensity, knowing that the oil’s freshness contributes to its health benefits. Our olive oil has not traveled long distances to be stored in warehouses, waiting to be moved to grocery store shelves. You will also be supporting SBTHP’s ongoing preservation efforts of the historic Santa Inés Mission Mills site.

Special thanks to Shawn Addison of Figueroa Farms for milling the olives at a discounted rate for this non-profit organization. Another big thank you goes out to Olivos Del Mar for their assistance bottling the oil. A special mention must also be made regarding the beautiful artwork on the label, which was developed from an oil painting done by Ron Guthrie during a “Pick and Paint Day” hosted at the Mission Mills site during the Fall of 2013.

Susan Zamudio-Gurrola is the shop manager and education assistant at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

Making Wine at El Presidio SHP: The First Vintage

by Michael Imwalle, with assistance from Gabe Smith

Tasting duties. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.
Tasting duties. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

In May of 2013 former Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation weekend interpreter Gabe Smith and I embarked on an experiment to make wine from the California Mission wine grapes growing at El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP in the Presidio Heritage Garden. SBTHP staff and volunteers harvested and crushed the grapes at Oreana Winery in October 2013 (see more here). The Presidio heritage grapevines are grown from cuttings taken from a Spanish Colonial period vine at San Gabriel Mission, so they are truly heritage fruits.  Historically, the California Mission wine grape made inferior quality drinking wine. Often wine for consumption at mass was ordered from Mexico or Spain while grain alcohol was added to locally produced wine to make a fortified wine called angelica. In April 2014 we began the painstaking process of testing and tasting the wine as we decided whether would be able to drink it or start our first batch of “Heritage Balsamic Vinegar.”

After storing the wine in our wine cave beneath the Alhecama Theatre, this October Gabe decided to blend some of the wine to make it more “palatable.”  We began blending and tasting the blends of mission grapes with varying concentrations of Pinot Noir and Viognier. With a limited number of tasters, the favorite wines were 100 percent Mission Grape, a 50/50 blend of Mission Grape and Pinot Noir, and a 75/25 blend of Mission Grape and Viognier.

On November 26th of this year, Gabe and I bottled seven cases of Presidio Mission Wine including at least two cases of each variety described above.

Again Oreana winery was generous enough to let us use their facility to bottle our wine. Thank you to Oreana winemaker Danny Miles for his help through the entire process right down to adding the foil caps to the bottles. We look forward to trying this again next year and watch for taste of the 2014 El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP Heritage Wine at the next Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation event you attend.

Blended wine. Photo by Michael H. imwalle.
Blended wine. Photo by Michael H. imwalle.

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

What’s new in the Presidio Heritage Garden?

by Sam Richardson, Timmy Johnson, Elise Goodell, Lottie Johnston, and Francis Brand

Hello! We’re back, with two new members of the Presidio Heritage Garden Intern team from Anacapa School: Timmy and Francis! Welcome, Timmy and Francis. If you see those rowdy boys around, say hi and give them a smile!

Outstanding in their field Sam, Timmy, Elise, Lottie, and Francis.
Outstanding in their field Sam, Timmy, Elise, Lottie, and Francis.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve done oodles! On October 13th, we built a trellis for Kentucky Wonder green beans. We’ve planted fava beans over at El Cuartel, started pots of garlic, and planted cotton seeds (which we harvested from last year’s cotton).

One of our recent “projects” was planting clippings from the pomegranate and fig trees. First we cut small branches off the tree and peeled a strip of bark from the base of each branch to expose the cambium. Then, we wiped the blade of the pruning shears with alcohol so it’s clean, then again cut the branch bases at a diagonal angle. Finally, we rolled each branch in root hormone powder and potted them individually.

On November 5th, we re-labeled all the plants at the Presidio garden. It may have taken us the whole class time to do it, but Sam and Timmy got to learn how to spell Mediterranean and banana along the way. At last! Starting on the 21st, we denuded/pruned Arbor grapes, which we continued to do until December 10th. It’s a grape big job!

More recently we re-planted the cotton into bigger pots and thinned out our carrots. Some small trees needed to be moved (during which, Silly Sam broke a shovel), and Lottie cut down a large tree branch that was growing in the wrong direction. Go Lottie! Watering hasn’t been a necessity lately, thanks to the much-needed rain these past few weeks.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation these past few months, and will be sad to go after our last few weeks in January, following the Christmas break. Thank you to all the employees and visitors who’ve said hello to us while we’ve been here, and a big thanks to Mike Imwalle. Happy Holidays!

We at SBTHP will miss seeing this group of energetic interns moving en masse around the park with big smiles and arms full of tools.  Their work is evident in every garden space.  Have you stopped by recently to check it out?

Las Posadas Program Takes an Early California Christmas Tradition to the Streets!

2014 las Posadas Suzi bellman-002The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation welcomed over 100 community members to the Presidio Chapel on Friday December 12 to begin the annual procession of Las Posadas (The Inns), a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem.   The dedicated choir, led by Luis Moreno, energized passerbys on State Street and proceeded to Casa de la Guerra, where the group was welcomed by Presidio family descendants Mike Perry and Christine Herrera playing Jose and Maria de la Guerra.  The evening finished with a tamale feast and pinata for the children.  For more photos from this beautiful night, visit our Flickr page here.

We look forward to seeing everyone again next year for this free public program, one of our most cherished traditions.

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