Empanadas de estilo colombiano

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups precooked yellow cornmeal (masarepa or masa harina) *I feel like I always end up adding another 1/2 cup or more. If you don’t use enough, it’s a wet, sticky mess and will break apart while frying.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons Sazón Goya con azafran
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tube of chorizo (yes, it comes in a tube)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 package of queso fresco
  • Enough vegetable or other frying oil to fill your pot. As with frying anything, the bigger the pot, the more you can fry at a time… but I’ve definitely used a medium-sized saucepan before.

(Pro Tip: Though some grocery stores, like Reasor’s, carry masa harina, I’m not sure if you’ll find the Sazón Goya seasoning outside of a supermercado. But don’t leave it out–you’ll love the flavor. I used it in my tamales too!)

To prepare the dough/”masa”: Place the precooked cornmeal in a large bowl. Add the Sazón Goya seasoning and salt and stir to mix well. Add the water and oil and mix to form dough. Pat the dough into a ball and knead for 2 minutes or until smooth. Cover with plastic and set aside for 20 minutes.

Filling:
Cook the chorizo in a skillet like you would ground beef.  It’s super greasy, so you will want to drain off the excess grease (and possibly use paper towels to dab off even more). I know I’m making the chorizo sound awful, but it’s sooo good!!
Once the chorizo is done, transfer it into a bowl and add black beans and bits of queso fresco to the mix. You can also skip the chorizo and just do queso fresco & black beans. Either way, ¡delicioso!

How to form the empanadas:

First, place a few sheets of plastic wrap directly onto your counter. Next, put about half of the cornmeal dough onto the plastic wrap and cover it with another sheet of plastic wrap. The point is, you don’t want the dough to stick to your counter OR your rolling pin.

Next, roll out the dough until it’s not too thick and not too thin (maybe 1/4 inch? I don’t know – you can figure it out).

Now, watch this video for how to add the filling and cut the empanadas out. It’s in Spanish, but all you need to do is watch and learn. Skip forward to about 2:30 and watch the lady put a spoonful of filling in the middle of the dough circle, use the plastic wrap to fold over the dough, and then use a cup to cut an empanada out. (You can also use a small bowl). After each empanada, roll out the remaining dough before cutting out another one. Continue with the other half of the cornmeal dough.

Frying the empanadas
You’re almost done! All you have to do now is fry the empanadas  until they are golden and slightly crispy.
(Pro tip: You know when oil is hot enough for frying when little bubbles form around a wooden spoon. But don’t let it get so hot that it’s smoking– that could be dangerous!)
My fiancé and I have made the executive decision that ají amarillo, a Peruvian staple, is the perfect dipping sauce for these empanadas. It’s available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Incas-Food-Aji-Amarillo-Paste/dp/B003G52K5E)
I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you run into trouble or if you have recommendations!
(Credit for the masa goes to MyColombianRecipes.com)

Why TYPros might actually be a good fit for you as a TFA CM/Alum

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When I first moved to Tulsa as a Teach For America corps member, I had zero interest in joining Tulsa’s Young Professionals. From what I heard about it, it just wasn’t for me. Now, three years later, I count being a part of TYPros as one of the best decisions I could have made here. After seeing great friends from both TFA and TYPros at the TFA picnic at the Guthrie Green last night, I feel compelled to make the case why you maybe should give TYPros a [second, third?…] chance.

1. You need friends outside of teaching. As tempting as it is to vent about your classroom seven days a week with people that truly understand what you’re going through–which is how I spent two solid years–it will kill you. By no means ditch your awesome teacher friends, but seriously–make it a top priority to spend time with people who have other things to talk about. TYPros is not the only answer to this, but it is the largest organization of young professionals in the country, so it’s not a bad place to start.

2. On a related note, you need to do things outside of teaching. Remember when you had other interests besides education? There’s a lot going on in Tulsa, and your mental health will benefit enormously from you taking time to do other things. I’ve been surprised by the array of events and activities hosted by TYPros. I know the big networking nights were definitely NOT my cup of tea, but I found a small subgroup that likes to nerd out about city planning and was interested in doing a community-building event near my school. Maybe you’d like to go to a DIY workshop on backyard chickens?  Or talk to state legislators about the importance of funding K-12? (Okay this is technically still about education, but it’s much different than lesson planning and it leads me to my third point):

3. The outside world needs you. You’re probably new to Oklahoma and might not have a deep understanding yet of how insane the public policy is that comes down from our government 99% of the time. At the same time, you have extremely valuable insight on public education, poverty, and so many other issues here in Oklahoma…insight that many people in the policy arena just THINK they have. You and your fellow non-TFA teachers need to be part of this conversation if we are really going to see positive change in Oklahoma!* Again, TYPros isn’t the only way, but they make it a lot easier to get in front of the policymakers to make your case, whatever it may be. This spring I was making the case for better meeting the needs of ESL students in public schools to the State House Majority Whip. This summer I found myself chairing a subcommittee tasked with drafting the policy position on K-12 education that the whole Tulsa region will use in the next state legislative session.

*Isn’t this why we joined TFA to begin with?!!??!?

All I’m really trying to say is get engaged. Register to vote (and then vote) in Oklahoma. Find a TYPros crew that interests you. Join a church. Join a reading club. Go to a City Council meeting. Find a yoga group. Whatever floats your boat! Tulsa is too great a city for you to spend two years without ever feeling like you lived here, and you’re too awesome for Tulsa to never realize you were here.

 

I’m angry!

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I’m fortunate enough to have pretty great Facebook friends that skim through the worldwide web for me and pick out some of the day’s gems. This article from the Atlantic, that I stumbled upon this morning, brought up a topic that incensed me back when I was first learning how to be indignant.

To anyone that knows me, it will probably seem unnecessary to point out that I’m a generally peaceful person. If anything, I err on the side of being too diplomatic, too conflict-averse. I have lost count of the people who have claimed they have never seen me angry (ha!). Without a doubt I will always disdain pointless antagonism, be it knowingly irritating other customers at a restaurant or intentionally escalating an argument.

All that said, there is a place and time for anger and resistance. To shrug your shoulders in the face of injustice and corruption is cowardly…we all know that, right? But I think few people are born knowing how to walk the line between antagonistic and conformist. Even if you are trying in earnest, you will probably make some missteps in one or both directions that can leave you with burned bridges or a troubled conscience.

I feel like I could go in a lot of directions right now, but I’ll return to my 9th-grade self–a girl who was starting to question a few things around her:

     1) the war in Iraq 

     2) the Southern Baptist church’s view on women in leadership

     3) a school system that felt increasingly segregated and of shockingly inconsistent quality

Maybe I was always a bit indignant; I have an oddly clear memory of preaching to my 4th-grade friends on the virtues of large glasses. I wasn’t going to be made to feel bad about my less fashionable glasses that reached to my eyebrows! That just meant there was less fuzziness around the rims! (It’s funny writing this through small lenses that put only my computer screen in focus. Oh, life!) But as I began high school, the topics making me angry were getting more serious. 

The lack of socioeconomic diversity in our highest-ranked colleges is ridiculous, and I caught wind of this issue years before I went to college myself. In tenth grade I was just starting to realize how much strategy it required to craft a perfect college application. As the Atlantic article above spells out, universities are looking for “high GPAs in ‘demanding’ high schools and extraordinary character-defining extra-curricular activities.” Many don’t realize that it often takes a certain level of financial security to graduate high school with a Golden Résumé. The number of A’s in high-workload honors courses it requires to be in the top of the rankings of an excellent high school is difficult to accomplish without cheating–arguably impossible to do while working. Of course, some types of work pad a student’s résumé even more, but I challenge you to call your U.S. Senator and ask how much his/her office pays summer interns.  Nothing? And how much is rent in Washington, D.C.?

I was fortunate enough to go to a well-known high school that was already on the Ivy League’s radar. I took tips from others on how to find extra-curricular activities that I enjoyed…but that would also make me look good. Lastly, I didn’t have to work during the school year; I could focus exclusively on making good grades in my 6+ AP classes. Even over the summers, I had help landing office jobs and internships that would stand out. I worked really hard in high school, don’t get me wrong, but I knew early on that the cards were stacked against some of my classmates that were just as intelligent or more, just as driven, but had adult-sized preoccupations that took priority over everything else.

This made me angry when I was 14, and it makes me angry now. God knows writing a blog post about it does not count as taking action, but it will hopefully start a conversation. I’ll now hand the mic over to someone who is much wiser and more eloquent than I:

http://www.uscrossier.org/pullias/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/king.pdf

 

coming full Circle

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After starting this blog a full year ago and doing nothing with it, I’m trying again with a different approach. 

I’ve always found myself wanting to abuse Facebook with restaurant reviews, funny stories, and personal opinions–and nobody wants that. (See http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/07/7-ways-to-be-insufferable-on-facebook.html). Blogs are more opt-in. If you see I’ve written a post about a fabulous new restaurant you’ve been hearing about, great!  Read more, by all means!  On the other hand, if you’re just scrolling through your newsfeed and don’t want half of it taken up by me…you can just stick to the normal-sized tidbit of my life that Facebook specializes in.  

Anyway, here goes:

I recently went to the Circle Cinema here in Tulsa.  It was the long, MLK Day weekend, and all of the other movie theaters were packed.  Sold out packed.  Because I’m fortunate enough to have family and a boyfriend that like indie movies, we happily left the mobs of teenagers behind and rode up Lewis to the Circle.  

And we were the only ones in the theater except one dude who probably worked there. 

Whaaat?  Tulsa!!  I’m scolding you right now!  We have a cool, historical theater that just got recently renovated, and we aren’t going to give them any love and support?!  Of course, I’m guilty, too, of forgetting about the Circle…and going to movies isn’t the cheapest way to spend an evening…but still.  We can do better.  I’m sure they are getting supported somehow, or they wouldn’t have been able to afford the renovations, but that arguably makes it even more crucial that we show our appreciation for that kind of philanthropic initiative.  Our own ticket dollars help, but our attendance encourages even more money to go to those sorts of things.  Was Guthrie Green a good investment?  Duh.  Was the Circle?  Let’s make sure that answer is obvious, too, okay guys??

 

Una introducción

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Blogs are generally self-indulgent, and this is no exception. Es posible que no le interese a nadie, pero con Emerson como inspiración:

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility…”

So here’s to humorously insisting on writing down some of my own thoughts…