‘Angels’ receives help from LELA the Pig

LELA the Pig is flying all the way to Greece during February 2014. Thanks to your generous donations LELA can help out the disabled, abandoned and injured animals that “Angels Animal Shelter” takes in. Here is their story: 

Hand & Paw

Angels”-  Shelter & emergency care for disabled, wounded & abandoned animals

“Angels”: because the village where we live is called ANGELOCHORI, which literally means “Place of the Angels”…

We are just a (single) mom and her daughter doing this voluntary work. We love animals. Unfortunately in Greece there is no (state or municipal) funding available for shelters or organizations that take care of these emergency strays…  So you can imagine that with so many animals all my salary goes into their care.

Our shelter currently hosts 15 dogs and 7 cats, all of whom have either health problems or are too old to be placed out in families. And besides these 22 permanent residents, we also take care of any other animal that is wounded/hurt/abandoned/ etc. etc. and needs temporary healthcare and shelter. Of course we also take in other strays for whom we try to find permanent or foster homes.  We are able to place most of the young(er) dogs that come in either in foster care after they get well or we find them permanent families (“FUR”-ever homes) – mostly abroad. We have treated birds (owls, ravens, pigeons, etc.) but also hedgehogs and turtles. In our (Greek) village they call us the “crazy Dutch”, but whoever of our co-villagers – AND BEYOND our village –  have a problem with an animal – or finds an injured or a stray animal, they call us right away (even if it is in the middle of the night (or they just “dump” them in our garden as they know where we live).

My small car turns into an animal ambulance WAY TOO OFTEN ! And my veterinarian doctor who has become a real good friend over the past 8,5 years is always there to help…

It so happens that our vet also consults us on problems with animals and it has happened that we had to turn our living room into a clinic to tend to an operated dog around the clock because her veterinary clinic couldn’t handle the intensive care that animal would need.  We sometimes have drips hanging from a clothes hanger to the curtain railing in our living room, cleaning wounds, administering shots and providing intensive care to very serious cases.

Of the 15 dogs we take care of right now, 4 are heavily handicapped (2 dogs with 3 legs, 1 dog with paralysis of her hind legs and 1 huge dog who is in need of an operation to redress his severe hip and knee dysplasia on both hind legs…) and 3 have permanent health problems for which they need to take medication for the rest of their lives. That leaves us with 7 dogs with major health issues and 8 dogs that are quite healthy but so old that nobody wants to adopt them anymore. Most of these 8 ‘healthy’ residents were previously abandoned by their previous owners and found on the road (some of them hit by cars, but managed to get better in the meantime).

Of the 7 cats we have 2 cats with serious health problems… 1 female called Sahara (her fur skin has the color of the Sahara desert) because she is spastic and a male called Paul who is almost 13 years old and has diabetes. Leonie gives him 2 shots of insulin a day.  We took Paul in with his “brother” Oscar almost a month ago. They belonged to a colleague at work who died of cancer last  October. Both Oscar and Paul had no place to go (who wants old cats – especially if one needs to get shots twice a day for his diabetes problem?) Greece is a very tough place for animals…. It’s heart breaking what we have to deal with most of the time….

All the animals that we have are under constant veterinary care. And that costs a heap of money.

Now, with the winter in full bloom we need to be able to provide our animals (plus all the extra ones that come and go) with dog beds and blankets to keep them warm. I need to refurbish a place – or if possible build a new shed – for the “intensive care unit” outside my house in the garden with infra-red lamps that give off heat. I need to be able to keep on providing stray animals with anti-rabies vaccinations (rabies has returned to Greece after an absence of almost 100 years)….

There is always SOOOOO MUCH to do, that I can’t begin to even describe it.

Thank you sooooo very much for helping us in February.

Lots of love to all of you !

Eleonore & Leonie

The Dancing Chefs show off their tools!

dancing chef amandaMexico’s most patriotic month of the year has started.  So it’s time to dust off your big ‘Sombrero’, take out the tequila and get ready Mexico’s Independence Day on September 15th.  But before you start gulping down those shots of tequila, you should have at least a solid base of home-made Mexican food in your stomach. You know…. Just in case!

When you walk into a kitchen in Mexico, you will find several cooking tools that might look unfamiliar to you. However to make the best Mexican food, you need the best tools. To help you figure out what to use, here’s an easy guide from the Dancing Chefs:

molcajete

 

Molcajete:

We’re going to start off easy. If you have been at Salsa and Salsa, you have hands-on experience with the Mexican mortar. It’s made from lava stone or clay and it is used to grind spices and ingredients to make Salsa!

comal-tortillas

 

Comal:

You might have seen this utensil in hole-in-the-wall restaurants. It’s a round baking sheet or griddle, made of stoneware or iron. The Comal is heated on the stove top or directly on a fire to bake or reheat tortillas. It’s quite an art to bake tortillas and not burn your fingers when you have to turn them over! If you can’t find a Comal, you can use a dry skillet instead.

cazuela

 

Cazuela:

This traditional earthenware casserole only has been glazed on the inside. The Cazuela is perfect to make Moles and stews, because it heats evenly and stay warm for a long time. When you buy a new Cazuela you have to make it ready for use. To do this, rub the inside with a fresh clove of garlic, fill the cazuela with cold water and leave to boil dry. Repeat this process several times and then rinse with some water and soap.

molinillo

 

Molinillo:

The name of this tool literally means ‘hand mill’. It is a wooden, carved whisk to make hot chocolate. Mexican chocolate is a mixture of ground cocoa, sugar and cinnamon, pressed together into chocolate bars. The loose wooden rings at the top make sure that the hot chocolate become nice and foamy. To use the Molinillo you have to hold it between two hands and twist back and forth to make the whisk movement.

metate y mano

 

 

 

Metate y Mano:

This ancient tool is made of lava stone and has a wide rolling pin, with which you grind corn, chilies, cocoa beans and other ingredients. Indigenous chefs kneel on the ground,

true to tradition and roll the round Mano over the Metate. The ground ingredients are collected on the lower end of the Metate.

Mexican Margaritas from the Dancing Chefs

dancing chef stephanie Margaritas are a very typical drink from Mexico and that of course is because its base is TEQUILA!!!!  As you probably know,  you can make margaritas of any flavor, but the key to a delicious margarita is to use fresh ingredients and high quality alcohol.

As a true Dancing Chef, I love to experiment with new flavors that the bartenders, or “cantineros” as we like to call them, come up with. There are some very strange margarita flavors, like: Avocado, Cucumber-Jalapeño and Banana-Peanut Butter. These flavors are really popular among people that LOVE those vegetables or the particular sweetness of peanut butter.

The most popular margaritas are: Lime, Strawberry, Pineapple, Mango and Tamarind. You are probably wondering what tamarind is. Well, not only is it my favorite flavor of margarita, but it is also a very common pod-like fruit which is used extensively around the world.

tamarindo

In Mexico, it is used in sauces or sold in various snack forms: candied, in sweet soft clusters, or dried and salted. It is also prepared as a fresh beverage called Agua de Tamarindo, or as a cocktail Margarita de Tamarindo. Often in Mexico tamarind is plucked off the tree and eaten raw.

Tamarind has a sour flavor that goes perfect with either chili or sugar. Make sure that on your next trip to Mexico you try tamarind in the different ways it is prepared.

HOME MADE TAMARIND SYRUP

15 fresh tamarinds

1/3 cup of sugar

3 cups of water

Peel the tamarind pods and put them in a small pot with 3 cups of water. Let them boil for about 15 minutes and add the sugar. Mix it up and let it cool down. When it’s room temperature, get ready to squeeze! Wash your hands thoroughly and get them in the pot, squeezing the tamarind so the seeds pop out and remove them. Pour the seedless mix into a blender and blend until is smooth.  You just finished your home-made tamarind syrup!!! This can often be used for Tamarind water or a Tamarind Margarita.

Tamarind syrup

TAMARIND MARGARITA

1 cup of home-made tamarind syrup

4 oz of tequila

4 oz of orange liqueur

2 limes

2 cups of ice

Chili powder or Salt to rim the glasses

Here we are going to make Tamarind Margaritas. Pour 1 cup of your home-made tamarind syrup,  4 oz of tequila, and 4 oz of orange liqueur in the blender , and squeeze in the juice of two limes. Add 2 cups of ice and blend! Your margarita is ready to pour into your glass, but make sure you rim your glass with lime and then with chili powder  (you can subtitute salt for chili powder). Once the glass is ready, pour in the margarita. You can garnish with a slice of lime or jicama if you’d like.

Now you only need to raise your glass and toast in Salsa and Salsa style: Salud, Dinero y mucho mucho Amor!!!

Margarita tamarindo

Salsa sea delicacy: Shrimp Ceviche

barco camaroneroCeviche is a refreshing dish based on fresh fish or shrimp marinated in lime juice. You can find many different styles on the American continent, from Peru to Mexico. This Ceviche recipe is typical from Sinaloa, the shrimp capital of Latin America. The tastiest Ceviche is made with fresh shrimp, but you can make it with frozen shrimps too.

Ingredients

2,20 lbs or 1 kg of peeled shrimp

1 cucumber, peeled

1 or 2 Roma tomatoes

½ red or white onion

1 or 2 Serrano chillies

½ cup lime juice

Cilantro to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

ceviche sinaloensePreparation:

Cut the peeled shrimp in pieces and add to a bowl with the lime juice, salt and pepper. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
In the meanwhile, cut in cubes the cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and the Serrano chillies. Make sure to remove the seeds from the cucumber, tomatoes and chillies. Chop the cilantro finely.

Take the shrimp from the fridge and drain the lime juice. Then add the chopped ingredients and add extra salt and pepper to taste. If you like a very sour Ceviche you can add extra lime juice.
Serve this Ceviche with ‘tostadas’ or salty crackers.

Provecho’ (= Bon Appetit)

* NOTE: if you want to make a fish Ceviche, add the same ingredients and strips of fresh firm fish.

 

“Be a tourist in your city” – Dancing Chef Melissa re-discovers Mazatlan

Each year my love of Mazatlan grows bigger and bigger. This is all for the simple fact that I keep a tourist mentality. I never let myself forget the reasons why so many tourists including nationals and foreigners are attracted to this amazing place I live in. A few ways of keeping a tourist state of mind is to re-visit tourist attractions, attend city events, re-create local dishes at home and lastly, don’t be afraid to join in on touristic activities!

Enjoy the beach in MazatlanI always make sure to keep re-visiting Mazatlan’s historic sites, favorite restaurants, best beaches, close-by small towns, and everything else that makes this city what is it. I love visiting the beautiful Cathedral near the downtown market. It is a beautiful site and I never get tired of admiring the beauty that it holds. I also enjoy visiting the little town of “El Quelite,” where you find the best fresh baked goods and incredible homemade cheeses.

Re-creating local dishes in my home is another great way to appreciate the pride I have in the taste of Mazatlan. “Aguachile”  and “Caldo de camaron” are delicious dishes that I am working on mastering in the comfort of my own home. Aguachile is basically a raw shrimp dish made with lime, cucumber, tomato, onion, chili serrano and salt and pepper- it is a like a ceviche. The caldo de camaron soup is a shrimp broth in which you later add seafood and vegetables.

 

Aguachile and CevicheI never feel embarrassed to join in on the touristic activities. Time and time again I will hear neighbors and friends say “I haven’t been to the beach in ages even though it is right here” or “I am not going there: it is just a lame tourist trap.” It is a privilege to live near the ocean. People dream about visiting the ocean and enjoying the beach. Take advantage of the natural beauties in your city, because you will regret it if you leave. Also I hear the term “tourist trap” many times, however visiting those places give you a different perspective on your city and you may be surprised that you may just enjoy yourself!

 

“SER TURISTA EN TU CIUDAD”

🙂

Dancing Chef Melissa

Dancing Chef Melissa

T- time: All about Mexican culinary vocabulary

Whenever you’re in Mexico or eating Mexican food, doesn’t it strike you how many ingredients and dishes start with the letter T? It seems that this is the most important letter in the food-ABC. But do you know what all these dishes are that start with a T? The Dancing Chefs have been digging deep to find the delicious T’s out there! Olé!

T – Tequila

tequila los osunaIn Mexico we love tequila. We drink it on large and small national holidays, at funerals and anniversaries, at casual lunches and at dinner with friends. Legally tequila is our champagne. All tequila has to come from the state of Jalisco and is protected with a DO (Designation of Origin) by the Consejos Regulador del Tequila (Tequila Regulatory Council). This organization ensures that all tequila sold throughout the world comes from this state in central south Mexico. This arid area with highland soil creates the perfect conditions for the blue agave, the plant from which tequila is distilled, to grow. No tequila made in China (or elsewhere), por favor!

Taste is a key word when it comes to tequila. If you’re interested in discovering its real taste, you should stay away from the image of big testosterone-driven machos gulping shot after shot of tequila and throw away its reputation as a quick intoxicator. Tequila has become more and more sophisticated and today’s is considered a refined drink that rivals an imported single-malt whiskey or a quality cognac, and not only in price but also in its smooth warm taste. Today’s finest tequilas are meant to be enjoyed in a small glass with pleasure, in tiny sips.

T – Tortillas

tortillasTortillas are made from corn dough (masa) and serve in Mexico as bread, plate and spoon at the same time. Every city has many tortillerías (tortilla bakeries) where tortillas are made by hand or with a tortilla machine on a daily basis. Fresh masa is made from specially treated corn that’s ground into dough, but corn flour is also commonly used.  Flour tortillas (tortillas de harina) are staple in the northern regions of Mexico and are less easily broken due to its high gluten content, and can be made larger and thinner without breaking too easily.

T – Tacos

tacos de guisadoThis typical street food can be made of any cooked meat, fish or vegetable wrapped in a tortilla, with a dash of salsa and garnished with onion and cilantro. Soft corn tortillas are used to wrap grilled meats in Tacos al carbon, an array of stews in tacos de guisado or griddle-cooked meats and vegetable in tacos a la plancha. When tacos are filled with chicken, barbacoa, potatoes or cheese and lightly fried they are called tacos dorados. If you are in northern Mexico, chances are you will find tacos with flour tortilla (tortilla de harina) and the fillings will be more meat than vegetarian.

T – Tamales

tamalesMade with masa (corn dough) mixed with lard, stuffed with stewed meat, fish or vegetables, wrapped or steamed. The word comes from the Náhuatl word tamalli and refers to anything wrapped up. Every region in the country has its own special tamal, the most famous being the Oaxacan-style tamales with mole and wrapped in banana leaves, the Mexico City tamales with chicken and green tomatillo sauce wrapped in corn husks and the Yucatecan style made with chicken marinated in achiote (annatto paste) wrapped in banana leaves.

T – Tortas

 

tortasIn every street corner in Mexico you find stands where they sell an abundant amount of sandwiches or Tortas: with beans, chile, cheese, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and avocado and, if that weren’t already enough, also fried egg, meat, turkey or chicken. All these ingredients go into a bread roll, called telera.

There’s one kind of torta from Guadalajara,  that is believed to be the best hang-over cure, a Torta Ahogada (‘drowned sandwich’).  There are three major components to this dish. A birote baguette is filled with tender chunks of roasts pork leg and then smothered with a searing chili sauce (made primarily from a dried chili pepper called ‘de arbol’, vinegar, garlic and oregano). The soggy sandwich is crunchy on the outside and soft in the center, because of the crusty, sour birote bread.

 T – Tostadas

tostadasTostadas are tortillas that have been baked or fried until they get crisp and are then cooled. The idea is that in this state they can hold a variety of toppings. Tostadas de pollo are a beautiful layering of beans, chicken, cream, shredded lettuce, onion, avocado and queso fresco (a fresh cheese). In Mazatlan tostadas are served with a dollop of mayonnaise and crab meat (tostadas de jaiba) or with shrimp or fish ceviche.

Enjoy these tasty dishes at home!

Olé!!

Dancing Chef Maaike

‘Sweets for my sweet…’ – How to spicy up your Valentine’s Day

Isn’t it nice that there is one day a year we can smother our loved ones with gifts, candies, cards or flowers? Valentine’s Day dates back all the way to medieval times where Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about romantic love: “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate“. The Dancing Chefs love to make Valentine’s Day extra special, adding an Salsa touch. Chocolates are too common, so get experimental! Nothing speaks to the heart as well as food and that’s why we couldn’t help but sharing a dessert recipe with you. You can serve this dessert during that romantic dinner or bring it to a Salsa party!

 

rompope gelatin with stawberry

Rompope gelatine with strawberries

4 tbsp water

5 tbsp powdered gelatin

½ cup cream

1 cup Rompope

4 drops vanilla essence

4 egg whites

1 pound or 500 grams strawberries

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp Anise liquor (optional)

 

Preparation:

Place the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin in and leave to rest for 5 minutes untill all the water has been absorbed.

Heat the cream a bit in a small saucepan. Remove from the stove and mix in the gelatin until it’s disolved. Strain the mixture in a bowl, add the Rompope and vanilla, stir well and put aside.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff in a big mixing bowl. Fold into the Rompope mixture, then pour into a lightly greased round mold. Place into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or better the whole night.

Place the strawberries in a glass bowl, add the sugar and anise liquor and leave to rest for 2 hours. Puree, strain and keep aside.

Turn the gelatin into a serving dish and pour the strawberry sauce on top.

Enjoy!!!!!

Salsa and Salsa dancing into the New Year

Welcome 2013Understanding our purpose is not always so easy, running with the world’s pace is even more frustrating. We watch TV and hear stories about the unthinkable or we read the tales about explorers wondering how they achieved their goals.
In order for us to understand our purpose we have to think and make sure we have designed a solid plan for our lives.
resolutionEvery year millions of people make new years resolutions and then begin the first day of January worried and nervous and wondering when and why they are going to fail. Its almost part of the resolution knowing that it really won’t last anyway but – hey what the heck! I think New Years resolutions are quite ridiculous, because I feel that daily resolutions better serve us.
New years resolutions are made to be broken and if you think for one moment about that,  you’ll also see that everyone of us has daily personal challenges that we might spend a life time trying to correct or understand or even care to define. I love Rick Warrens book” The Purpose Driven Life” because through it all I come to understand that the greatest gift on earth is the privilege to understand your purpose and to be able to love.
I work with the most amazing group of woman better known as the Dancing Chefs. To tell you the truth, I wish I was starting out in my twenties working and dancing and wondering and dreaming about my life. Dreaming, no problem, time left on this planet, an issue!
The purpose of our show is to entertain but the back end of our show has a purpose much more important. At every show we collect for a different charity around the world through our Miss Lela (see www.salsalela.com) and each month we give away hundreds of dollars to that charity.
dancing chefs 2012
We all feel and know and think the same about Miss Lela that our show has purpose, even heart and compassion.
Salsa and Salsa has reached over $30k for different charities around the world. We think its our purpose to help animals, sick and impoverished people on this planet, one dollar at a time, one day at a time, we forge ahead to make our purpose known.
This year and the next (just in case) my personal resolution will be to create a foundation for Lela, so that we can continue to Lead, Encourage, Live and Act as our beautiful creator intended.
This year we will all continue to Dance for those who can’t, to cook for the handicapped and continue to discover our purpose driven lives. Moving through the world and through ourselves to ignite the love we share.
Happy New Year from All the Dancing Chefs
And may you achieve your highest goals in the name of love!
dancing chef leonique

Fa la la la la…. Singing Chefs!

It might not come as a surprise that the Dancing Chefs are vibrant women who are active in their communities. But did you know that Dancing Chefs Cherine and Maaike share the same passion: singing! Cherine has recently started as a lead singer with a rock band and Maaike has participated as a choir member in famous opera’s like ‘La Boheme’ and ‘Carmen’, as well as classic works like ‘Requiem’ of Mozart. Here’s their story:

When and why did you start singing?

iona

DC M. – Singing has always been a part of my life. It became a serious hobby until I was in college. The local church was looking for people to sing Celtic music  to record a CD and I decided to join. There’s  something about the harmony of voices that brings people together, even if you don’t know each other.

rock.on

DC C. – I started singing in my high school band (ahem, a few years ago). I decided then and there that when I grew up, I was going to be a famous Rockstar! And guess what? I am a Dancing Chef which in my book… is so much better!

I started at my newest band ‘Tierra Firme’ only a few months ago. My “manager” (good friend of mine) was chatting with his musician buddy, when he told him about how they wanted to expand their bands repertoire and how an english female singer could probably attract different venues and events for them. Next thing I knew, I was auditioning with my “Manager” (friend) and “Bodyguard” (Husband)! I showed up to the audition with my hefty entourage….. everyone (including myself) got a real kick out of that night!

What is your favorite genre?

DC C. – I  like classic 70’s through today’s tune, although I feel that many of these latest tunes and bands lack a certain “je ne sais quoi”.

Singing chef Maaike

DC M. – I love to partipate in operas, because it’s so versatile. You get to sing, act and dress up all at the same time (that must be my inner child!). I’m a member of the Angela Peralta choir from Mazatlan. The interesting thing about the Angela Peralta choir is that its members are all volunteers. Nobody has a degree in music and the choir director teaches everbody from the basics to semi-professional level. Some choir members like Adan Perez have made it big time in e.g. the Metropolitan Opera House. This makes me very proud to be part of this local choir.

What’s your most memorable performance?

DC. M – A few years ago the Angela Peralta choir was invited to sing in Mexico-city. There were a total of 5 choirs plus a full orchestra (over 500 people!)  from different cities around Mexico that had to rehearse and perform ‘ Te Deum’ from Berlioz. We sang this concert in the San Juan Bautista church in Coyoacan. It was exhausting but so worth it!

encuentro de coros

DC. C – That will be in about 2 weeks from now, as I am in full rehearsal mode since joining my band  ‘Tierra Firme’!  I can’t wait to share these photos with all of you!

Olé!!!

Salsa and Salsa Nassau: What happened behind the scenes

After months of planning and anticipation, the Dancing Chefs finally received the OK from the management at Atlantis to do two promo-shows. Between Oct 24th – 31st,  four Dancing Chefs flew from different Salsa locations to Nassau to prepare kitchen and wait staff and to rock the house with 2 groups! Amidst of all this craziness, hurricane Sandy passed over the island and made this an even more memorable experience. Here’s what the Dancing Chefs had to say:

What was your first impression when you knew that you were going to the Bahamas?

DC A. – Nervous and very excited. This is the first time that I’m doing shows outside of my home port. I had a hard time choosing what to wear for such important shows, but luckily DC L. gave me lots of advise.

How did you enjoy working with Bahamian residents?

DC C. –  Bahamians are very colourful people with wonderful smiles and unsurpassed energy. They were a treat to work with, because of their enthusiasm towards our show. We couldn’t have asked for more. They were even the loudest Olé shouters!

If you could have changed one thing about the trip, what would it have been?

DC M. –  I would have loved to see the Bahamas without hurricane Sandy. The grounds of Atlantis are wonderful, but we didn’t get to see much of it due to the bad weather and rains. For the first 3 days the hotel was at lock-down, but luckily there wasn’t any damage.  I guess I will have to come back soon.

Tell us a little more about the show…

DC A. –  I enjoyed a lot to work with other Dancing Chefs that I have never worked with before. It was a learning experience but also entertaining and fun. Now I feel more part of the world-wide Salsa team than before. And I’m excited to meet the new Nassau Dancing Chefs!

How was it to go down the Atlantis 90º waterslide?

DC L. –  Awesome crazy! Only DC A. and I did this ride. The waterslide is so fast, that I closed my eyes and didn’t even get to see the sharks on my way down…. believe me: it was once and never again!

What was the best part of the Dig?

DC L. – We took so many photos of this underwater world that it’s hard to choose. But I guess it would have to be the aquarium where the treasure is guarded by the piranhas!

What was the scariest part of the trip to Nassau?

DC C. – For sure landing in the Bahamas from Miami. I was on the first flight out of Miami after hurricane Sandy passed. It was still extremely windy and rainy. I even doubted to get on the plane. It was a rockiest ride I have EVER been on where the wings where tilting. The best moment was when we landed and everybody clapped.

When you come back, what would you do?

DC M. – Since we couldn’t leave the Atlantis hotel, I would definitely go and try Bahamian food on my next visit.  I’m all about trying new flavors, so I’m excited to try local ingredients like conch and yam!

Hasta pronto, Nassau!!

See you soon, Nassau!

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