Naturalized Texan - Sweet & Savory Blog at - 308428

Sweet & Savory

Naturalized Texan 
Aug. 11, 2013 6:24 am 
Updated: Sep. 8, 2013 9:16 am
Some of you may remember the financial downturn of the nineties that rattled the savings and loan institutions.  Those shock waves shook my husband out of his job and rattled my world.  For six months he tried to find another job, and things were looking grim.  Then one day, he answered an ad in a trade magazine for a job in San Antonio, Texas, and in a few short weeks, my little middle-class, ordinary life in Kentucky was blown to bits!  Like it or not, we were moving to Texas.

I accompanied hubby on his second interview, to get to know San Antonio.  When we fly, I like the window seat in an airplane so I can enjoy the passing view.  I watched the terrain change below me from lush green trees and patchwork farms to a kind of brown background with gray-green shrubs.  Here and there, the land was dotted with odd-looking little square ponds (called "tanks", I learned).  Those shrubs I saw from the air turned out to be trees--probably mesquite trees, or maybe live oaks nearer water--very different from the trees I knew.  My first visit was in July, and I remember being blasted by the hot air outside, just like the opening of an oven door!  Hubby got the job, and I picked out a house for us in one weekend, sold our home in Kentucky in 5 days, had a moving sale, packed up the rest of our belongings, the kids and the dog, and we moved to Texas.  Not quite the Clampetts, but pretty close!

There was an advertising slogan running when we moved here that said "Texas:  It's a Whole 'Nother Country!"  I'm here to tell you, that is true.  Everything was different.  The pride, the climate, the soil, the attitude towards women, the concrete slab houses, the privacy fences, the local news blazing with violence, these were all different.  Every place has its negative qualities, but I have to say I found some positive qualities:  the mild, brief winter, the color, the symphony, the quality of the schools, and may I say the FOOD--these were all different, too.  I grew up on traditional, rural southern fare.  Dad was a prolific gardener, so we always had a bounty of homegrown vegetables, picked fresh in the summer and preserved for the winter.  Mom was a great "scratch" cook, knowing exactly how much this or that to throw in, or how to add it if it just wasn't quite right.  I never used a recipe, except for baking.  I could just pick up the phone and say, "Mom, how do I make......." or, "Mom, how long do you cook this?"  However, when we moved to San Antonio, and I began to be acquainted with Tex-Mex, I knew I had to learn how to prepare this wonderful food.

I still don't think food should be painfully hot, but I've gotten accustomed to having a little heat, more in the nature of complexity of flavors, rich with spices and herbs.  I was completely unaware of cilantro, though, until I moved here.  I must confess, I love it now, and usually always have some in the refrigerator.  I have some favorite recipes with a southwestern flair, and my repertoire is growing, so once or twice a week is fine, but not every night.  You can take the girl out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the girl, as far as food is concerned!  As you may imagine, the grocery stores here look different, too.  There is still some produce that I would prefer to let someone else have, and there are lots of items on store shelves that I have not investigated.  As I ventured more and more into this new (to me) way of cooking, I found there were lots of options in the grocery stores.  Just like standard American food brands, there are brands from other places here.  For example, Goya is a line of food products that is readily available, but I didn't purchase anything from that line until recently, when AR charged the brand ambassadors to take a look at some of the recipes on the site that use Goya brand food products.  I made three of the recipes, and you may click on the links from the pictures.  I think our favorite was the fajita recipe, because everyone can create exactly the one they want!  If you don't like onions, don't add them.  If you want sour cream, scoop away!

So, though I wasn't born in Texas, I got here as fast as I could.  I love to visit Kentucky in the seasons I miss the most:  spring, for the glorious riot of green grass, daffodils, forsythia and lilac--oh, how I miss lilac; fall, for the beautiful mosaic of brightly colored leaves and gorgeous chrysanthemums; winter for the quiet wonder of fresh-fallen snow; and summer, with night skies full of stars and mimosa fragrance, and fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes.  But I'm only visiting, I wouldn't trade my life here.  I'm not a native Texan, but I'm a naturalized one!

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position),

and I'm not compensated for my work with  Products

were provided by Goya and were only used

for my participation in this project.  The reviews, and opinions

expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of

Bibi, in her Sweet & Savory blog.
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Aug. 11, 2013 6:43 am
Muse away any time, Bibi....this was a great read! After living in Delaware for 49 years, we retired to the Outer Banks of NC and stayed there 6 years until I couldn't stand not being with family, especially my son and three grandsons. So happy to be back in Delaware!
Aug. 11, 2013 7:04 am
great blog!!- love tex-mex- can't wait to try some of the new goya products- we have goya here and it is very popular-judy
Aug. 11, 2013 7:19 am
Bibi, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It speaks to me about not fearing change (not just food related) even when it's thrust upon us...but rather embracing Grandmother use to say..."try might like it"...seems like a simple thing to say but I always saw her deeper meaning....
Aug. 11, 2013 7:20 am
Great blog Bibi. I don't know how I would take a move like that. I'm not opposed to going somewhere else, but I have so much here. Those steak fajitas make me resemble Pavlov's dog. Unfortunately, so many of the spices and ingredients that you would find essential for TexMex, I can't even find here.
Aug. 11, 2013 7:37 am
Wonderful read Bibi, truly enjoyed it.
Aug. 11, 2013 8:03 am
Oh my dearest friend, you forgot one minor detail about Texas : there is one silly Mai..... Thanks for coming to Texas and being my friend. Always love about your expert tast on spices, flavors and vareities of diffferent of foods. Love your blog.
Aug. 11, 2013 8:05 am
Bibi, I have family in Dallas, and we visit every year, always the week before Christmas, and Texas has a lot to offer. I just won't ever go again during the summer, it's too dang hot! We've made many long distance moves in our life, and although I miss things about each area, I know what you mean about totally settling into an area. We've done that with Florida. And I can't say enough about those Goya products, they're good!
Aug. 11, 2013 8:49 am
Hello Bibi! Nice blog. In Southern Colorado there is plenty of Mexican food. I find it interesting that from New Mexico to Texas there are so many variations of Mexican food. I haven't tried any of the Goya products probably because my family would make beans from scratch and spices would come from the local farmers market. Even in the local restaurants you won't usually find black beans of the menu. The beans will be pinto beans. I will have to go to the store and investigate the Goya products.
Aug. 11, 2013 9:15 am
Bibi, what a wonderful story and an awesome read. thanks for sharing :)
Aug. 11, 2013 9:44 am
Yes, Judy, even the light has a different quality, here. It's a different story for us, with DS and DGD on the West Coast, one son with us here, and all the brothers and sisters still in Kentucky. I think we're here for the long haul, not too bad, except in the summer. Thanks for your comments!
Aug. 11, 2013 9:45 am
Hi, nanny! I've watched Goya have more and more shelf space at my grocer, so I'm glad for the chance to investigate. Thanks for stopping by!
Aug. 11, 2013 9:47 am
Hey, duboo, you'd fit right in, with your love of grilling! Even if you can't find Goya products, you might be able to figure out how to sub. AR peeps are quite notorious for tweaking recipes, lol! Thanks for sharing some time with me!
Aug. 11, 2013 9:49 am
ellie, aren't grandmothers fabulous? Somehow, all those "old wives" knew what they were talking about, right? Good to "see" you here!
Aug. 11, 2013 9:50 am
Hi, manella! So glad you stopped in for a moment. Thanks for your comment!
Aug. 11, 2013 9:51 am
Mai, my experiences in Texas wouldn't be the same without you! I have learned many things from you. Thanks for your sweet comments!
Aug. 11, 2013 9:56 am
lutzflcat, I won't say it has been easy to be a transplant. The ground is hard, there is not much water, and there is no season for dormancy. But this is where I am planted, so I have tried my best to bloom. Congratulations on finding a place to call home in Florida!
Aug. 11, 2013 10:01 am
Lela, I know what you mean about variations and about beans. My mother always made pintos and Great Northerns from scratch, and I do, too. I've even learned to make some MEAN borracho beans! I don't use many processed foods, but the canned beans have found a place in my pantry for "desperation dinners", when I failed to plan ahead. Did black beans kind of "migrate" in from the Caribbean?
Aug. 11, 2013 10:02 am
Hey, weeble! It's good to see you around the blog more, these days. Thanks for your comment, and for coming over here, too!
Deb C 
Aug. 11, 2013 4:24 pm
I sincerely appreciate the uncertainty and heartache of job loss that so many people have been experiencing. It’s been a tough time for many with jobs sent overseas and/or the financial industry sabotaging our economy for their greed. Your courageousness and positive mindset to tackle this unfortunate incident is inspiring. Every area has its pluses and minuses, and I love that you embraced the best and jump into a culinary adventure. My only complaint is you didn’t come north. I need your help decorating! :)
Aug. 11, 2013 4:55 pm
Aww, Deb, that's so sweet! I'll admit, I'm kind of jealous of other AR peeps that live in little clusters. Rae was the closest active member to me, and she's moving to another state! Houston is 4 hours away, and D/FW is about 6 hours away, boo! When we first moved here, I was amazed and quite dumbfounded at people who had never ventured outside the Texas borders, but now I understand. If you can't get there in an hour or two, you just don't go!
Aug. 12, 2013 1:38 am
Transplant originally from Calif. But lived several years in Montana, which I loved. Now reside in Oregon for the past 17 years. I am curious, do you ever cook those large flat cactus leaves and if so how do you prepare them and what do you make from them? I see them in the stores but have no idea what to do with them.
Aug. 12, 2013 3:34 am
Hi, MamaMouse! Those are called "nopalitos", and no, I have not learned to use them. I think there are only 3 recipes on this site for that ingredient. I could probably save some money if I did learn, because those things grow everywhere! Thanks for taking a minute to share with me!
Aug. 12, 2013 3:41 am
Oh, the nopales-a friend's mother used to make salsa out of them--I really loved it, but she passed before I could learn how to make it.
Aug. 12, 2013 3:43 am
I'm in AZ now, & they are growing all over. I would really like to use them. I should research about cooking them....
Aug. 12, 2013 3:55 am
Bibi: You've done really well adopting the Tex-Mex flare with your cooking. We have plenty of Goya products available in my area, but I'm always hesitant to try them because of my "gringo" tastebuds. Maybe I will venture down that road if one of the Ambassadors reports that a particular product is extra mild. As always, I enjoyed your beautiful photos. I love the opportunity to learn a little more about an AR Friend. Thanks for sharing!
Aug. 12, 2013 5:38 am
Good Morning, goodeats! Glad you stopped by! Yes, I see those cactus everywhere. I think they are pickled, too, maybe. My dear mother-in-law used to say, "If you like everything, you'll always have something good to eat!" That's kind of my problem--I can always find something good to eat, so I don't always investigate things that are unfamiliar!
Aug. 12, 2013 5:41 am
Hi, bikerfamily! Be careful when venturing into Tex-Mex, because it's addicting, lol! When we travel to visit family, the first thing we do when we get back to San Antonio is to quickly find something to wrap in a tortilla. ;)
Aug. 12, 2013 5:43 am
Goya products are the best but don't always fit in my budget. Glad to see you've made yourself at home here in my sweet TX. I love San Antonio and have family there. I live about 5 hours northeast of SA, the deep piney woods of East Texas. I have lived around the world and back as an army brat and have been here for over 30 years. I am not apposed to change due to my upbringing. But I love to cook tex-mex and mexican (my husband is Hispanic) and never fails to amuse me at how many people don't know anything about Fajitas or Brisket...Both great for Grills and I do it well. Glad to get to another transplanted Texas on AR.
Aug. 12, 2013 5:45 am
*Glad to get to know another ..... sorry also, I lived in Austin for almost 10 years back in the 90s.
Aug. 12, 2013 5:48 am
BTW, my husband loves Nopalitos but I've never eaten them. I can only see cactus not food. Oh well maybe someday. "Wrapped in a tortilla" LOL Yep that's about right
Aug. 12, 2013 6:00 am
Wow, agadoelleon, from the map it looks like I can't hardly get to Lufkin from here, lol! Yes, I see cactus and don't think, "Aha, food!" Even though rosemary is used for landscaping around here, I can still see it as an herb, lol!
Aug. 12, 2013 6:05 am
Bibi, such wonderful looking food you plated up. I found your blog quite interesting and glad you're adapting to your life in Texas. I've been to both states a few times, even lived in El Paso as kid for a few years. I admire how well you've made this new life work out, it is hard to up root and leave the place you call home, I know I've had to do it so many times. I'm glad your husband found a good job, and really that is all that counts. Retirement may take you both back to Kentucky one day, sure is beautiful there in the spring...thank goodness for airplanes and vacations!
Aug. 12, 2013 6:56 am
Yes, Sherri, thank goodness for airplanes--they bring me and my family together, AND AR peeps, too! I'm bummed that I can't go to the Mini-MI gathering or the Maui round-up, due to time commitments. I highly recommend round-ups. No strangers there! Thanks for reading and sharing with me!
Aug. 12, 2013 10:12 am
Missouri may not be like Kentucky but it sure isn't like Texas. My BIL's daughter made the move down to Texas and just hates it but then she is a fitness freak and isn't much into food. Your photos look great and I'm with you, complex flavors with a little heat is perfect!
Aug. 12, 2013 10:25 am
Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. When I think back to the food I was raised eating and compare it to what I cook today I am amazed. My husband was in the service when we were young so I was transplanted a few times and it is a surprise how different things are as you travel around this great country. Lovely blog!
Aug. 12, 2013 10:29 am
Cat Hill, I certainly understand why your relative is unhappy here, but like I said in one of the comments above, I've tried my best to bloom, even though the conditions are not perfect. Sometimes you just have to clench your jaw and move forward! Thanks for your comment!
Aug. 12, 2013 10:33 am
Bigshotsmom, you are right. Every part of this country has a lot to offer, if you want to embrace it! If you keep an open mind, you can find good food and good people everywhere, right?
Aug. 13, 2013 9:54 am
Bibi, I won't claim the girl as a relative. Your photos show you have bloomed for sure :)
Aug. 13, 2013 12:32 pm
I loved this story, Bibi. I've moved a couple of times over the years where the local cuisine was much different than what I was used to. Glad to hear you've adapted so well. Your plating and photos are sensational! I look forward to trying the fiesta chicken with rice. Sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing!
Aug. 13, 2013 2:51 pm
Thanks for the read, that was a midnight move to say the least. I love to read about the different parts of the States, like Canada, every area has it's unique differences. People often love their home state, it's great to get a perspective on a move.
Aug. 13, 2013 8:11 pm
Thanks, Cat Hill. We WILL have a face-to-face, someday!
Aug. 13, 2013 8:15 pm
Cookin'Cyn, we haven't moved around very much, so I admit I was kind of a baby about it. We've had some great times here, and opportunities we would never have had if we hadn't moved. It's mostly been good, especially the cilantro, lol!
Aug. 13, 2013 8:19 pm
Exactly, redneck gramma, perspective is the key. I'm grateful for everything I've learned about my new home. And I'm sure you've heard the song that goes, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." I also learned to appreciate things I took for granted, like family and dad's garden! Thanks for taking a look at my blog!
Aug. 14, 2013 7:15 am
Well done! Hope to see you in December.
Aug. 14, 2013 7:23 am
Great blog Bibi.... For some reason, I thought you were BORN a Texan. My dear Mama was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Our oldest daughter and family lives in the Houston area so we've been to Texas many times. I've been to San Antonio (love the River Walk) and Fredericksburg. My nephew got married there. And, middle daughter Christine NICU-RN worked in Dallas when she was a traveling nurse. Texas is vast and multi-culturaled and really quite beautiful in a very different way than Oregon where I live. And,'s almost like visiting another country! A most unique, interesting and wonderous place. One day when I come to Texas, we will most certainly need to hook-up!
Aug. 14, 2013 1:46 pm
Hey, bd! Thanks! Counting the days...
Aug. 14, 2013 1:48 pm
Yes, Candice, I know Louisville well, and may actually be going to the St. James Court Street Fair this year, if all works out. If I find out that you've been to San Antonio again without telling me, I might cry, lol!
Sep. 8, 2013 9:16 am
That's what I say! I'm from California, but I got here as fast as I could. I do love the Midwest and the North in Autumn. The leaves are magnificent in fall. We miss that in Texas. But come January, when I watch the news and see blizzard footage, I'm really happy to wear my jeans, light jacket and sandals. Glad you're in San Antonio. You're my neighbor!
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Home Town
Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA
Living In
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Member Since
Dec. 2009

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Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Mediterranean, Low Carb, Healthy, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

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About Me
My cooking experiences began in the 4th grade Conservation Club. Cooking and Sewing were classes for girls, and my mom agreed to teach them for me and a couple of friends. We began with a blond brownie sort of dessert. After I made it a few times, I began to experiment with the recipe. Mom was a no-recipe cook, and I do that, too, but I usually follow a new recipe the first time. Most of the time, I can tell by looking if we will like it. I have a husband, 2 sons, 1 granddaughter, and one ex-daughter-in-law. I was chosen to be an AllRecipes Allstar Ambassador in 2012, and I am so excited! I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on my blog, "Sweet & Savory". The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of me, Bibi.
My favorite things to cook
My favorite thing to cook is dressing (I'm a Southern Gal) for holiday turkey. I never work from a recipe, but I just start sauteing and mixing, sampling as I go. By the time I think it's right for the oven, I've eaten a full serving of the raw mix!
My favorite family cooking traditions
I have some heirloom recipes from both my grandmothers, my mother, and other family members. When I prepare them, I am remembering time in their kitchens.
My cooking triumphs
One year, we hosted my husband's office Christmas party in our home. I did the whole dinner for 24, and it was a huge success.
My cooking tragedies
My first try at making croissants was kind of embarrassing. The croissants were a success, but the house was a disaster, and of course, the guests were already there! The recipe said to bake them in a jelly roll pan, but I used a cookie sheet. As the butter in the croissants melted, it ran off the sheet and into the hot oven, smoking up the whole house! Was my face red ...
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