Time to have fun in San Antonio

As seems to be usual, my week has been busy. With two things on Monday, back-to-back, and Auxiliary things on Tuesday, I thought Wednesday was going to be pretty quiet, but I worked at the gift shop another afternoon, and Thursday, well, the morning was quiet, but our library was having their annual book sale and I was scheduled to work from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m, and after that, a friend and fellow member of another of the organizations I belong to needed help serving food at bingo! Of course I agreed to work as she is always a lady who is super easy to work with. The food will be prepared and we will just have to wait on the customers as they come up for snacks while they are playing bingo. Friday, it will be back to our weekly sale of raffle tickets for the Auxiliary fundraiser. We have a couple of really great prizes and take turns working in front of our local Beall’s selling the tickets and this went very well.
This morning, the 19th, one of the main things on TV was that Fiesta in San Antonio has started with a bang! Their guest of honor was King Antonio, telling about some of the things going on and telling about the types of charities that are supported. On the 23rd the River Parade was on TV and it was very nice. Not quite as pretty as it would have been, seeing it in person, but also, I didn’t have to fight any crowds! This parade has always fascinated me; the barges are decorated much as the floats in the two parades are, with dignitaries on board. There were a couple of times that several of us were able to watch it from an office where a friend worked and thereby had really great seats. The two main parades will be Friday afternoon and the wonderful Fiesta Flambeau parade on Saturday night. This parade, with all the floats and bands being lit up one way or another is truly a sight to see. Sometimes, I miss not being part of all the hoopla and other times, I know how lucky I am to not be!
There are some entertainment sites that are no longer in being; most notable of them was one of my favorites, Hermann’s Happiness, which was on the grounds of the Hermann Son’s main building on St. Mary’s St. It was always a great experience to attend and was a very safe place for individuals or families.
Times have really changed! When I was young, you could stake out a spot on Houston Street, or out on Broadway near the newspaper office, (the San Antonio Express News was located there), or over on Commerce St., and watch the parade all afternoon. Now, you have to have a ticket to watch it, as they have bleachers set up here, there and yonder. In those by-gone days, the bleachers were down by the Alamo and that was it. The Fiesta Flambeau was the same way. Back then, the feeling was that it was for everyone, now it seems that you have to have a certain amount of affluence to afford to attend, as the seats seem to be on the pricey side! I have watched it on TV most of the time during the last twenty plus years, but there was a time when the ones of us who worked and played together did not miss seeing the Flambeau. We either watched it on Broadway, down by Neisner’s (a very popular store, with inexpensive clothing, shoes and a wonderful candy counter, where you could, during the Christmas season, buy the candied fruit and other ingredients for your fruit cake by the pound or ounce), or near the downtown post office, or maybe on Houston Street by Frost’s, a major San Antonio, upscale, department store. One year, my sister, my children and a cousin or two watched it in front of the Majestic Theater. That year, I had to have a little bit of a discussion with a young individual who was determined on setting up tall baskets for seats to sell places to folks wanting to watch the parade, we sat on the curb and had a great time. You always had a pretty good place to stand and watch, even if some places were more crowded than others, but if you got there early enough, you could sit on the curb and see everything.
When my children were small, my sister and I, and sometimes a couple of friends would get together and take them. They were completely unnerved by the sound of the blanks fired by the various drill teams as they did the maneuvers. The kids did not particularly like this part of the parade. As a rule, I “people watched” as much as I parade watched. There was always something interesting going on.
My mother, brother, an uncle (who was on his first leave home after leaving for overseas for much of the duration of WWII), and I went to the first parade held after the war. It was absolutely beautiful! To see the trains of the gorgeous dresses hanging over the back of the floats with all their glitz and glitter was wonderful. It was such a change from the dull and drab colors of the war years, during which time it was cancelled.
Night in Old San Antonio has been a staple of Fiesta for many years. They have food from many countries and cultures. One of the all time favorites at NIOSA is Anticuchos, a dish that originated in Peru. It is so much a favorite, that they sell 20,000 or more, of these steak-on-a-stick treats every year. I was able to find the recipe for NIOSA Anticuchos on the Internet several years ago. There are actually two recipes. The main difference is that one uses wine vinegar and the other uses tarragon vinegar. Several years ago, we brought a small barbecue pit down to the office and tried out the NIOSA recipe for Anticuchos. Everyone liked them. It was our main dish that day. It is a little spicy, but is still very good.
Night in Old San Antonio Anticuchos
1 cup red wine vinegar
3 cups water
2 to 3 serrano chili peppers
salt and black peppercorns (whole black pepper)
½ to 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 to 3 cloves of garlic
pinch each of oregano and cumin
1 to 2 pounds of beef round or sirloin, cut in half-inch cubes
Combine vinegar, water and serranos, salt and pepper, garlic, oregano and cumin in a blender; process well. Pour over meat cubes and marinate at least overnight (can be left up to three days.) String meat on wooden or metal skewers. (Wooden skewers should be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes before use.) Grill Anticuchos over a hot charcoal fire, basting frequently with leftover marinade to which bacon drippings can be added for extra flavor. Turn frequently. Cooking time should be no longer than 8 to 10 minutes.
If these are served for a main dish, they go well with the following onion salad and perhaps macaroni or potato salad for a side dish, and maybe some flour tortillas.
Onion Salad
3 large onions (1015 sweets, if possible)
3 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup green onion tops
¼ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Slice onions into ¼ inch slices, separate into rings. Toss with remaining ingredients. Allow to stand in refrigerator, several hours or overnight before serving. This also is very good with 2 or 3 medium cucumbers sliced into it.
Tomatillo Guacamole
7 tomatillos, husks removed
3 or 4 unpeeled cloves garlic
3 lg. jalapeño peppers, halved, seeded
2 T. finely chopped red onion
½ tsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 large avocados
Remove the outer husks from the tomatillos and throw away. Rinse the tomatillos before using.
Preheat your broiler. Place tomatillos, garlic, and jalapeños (skin side up) on a foil lined cookie sheet and roast for 7 minutes. Remove the garlic and jalapeño and turn the tomatillos over and roast until charred, about 5 minutes more. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool and then chop. Remove skins from garlic and mash with a fork in a bowl. Chop the jalapeños and add to the garlic. In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix the vinegar and onion, allow to stand 5 minutes and drain. Add the onion to the jalapeños and garlic, stir in the chopped tomatillos and then add the cilantro, salt and pepper and mix well. Peel and pit the avocados and add to mixture. Mash with potato masher until well mixed. Taste for seasonings, and serve at room temperature with corn or tortilla chips.
Jalapeños Stuffed w/Chicken Fajitas/Bacon & Cheese
10 to 12 large jalapeño peppers, halved and seeded (leave stems on)
4-oz cream cheese at room temperature (1/2 of 8-oz block)
2 Tbs. shredded Parmesan cheese (not the green canister)
¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (sharp cheddar tastes best for this)
1 cup diced fully cooked chicken fajitas
4 strips bacon, crisply fried and drained well
Halve the jalapeño peppers, and using a small spoon (I use a ½ tsp. measuring spoon) and scoop out the seeds. Rinse the peppers and place cut side down on a paper towel to drain.
Gently beat cream cheese until smooth, add Parmesan and cheddar and mix well. Stir in the chicken fajitas and bacon and mix together. Spoon this mixture into the prepared jalapeños and place on preheated, uncovered grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. If you want to do this in the oven, bake at 400ºF for about 15 minutes and then place under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly browned.
The ones I served at my house, at a family get together were in the 400º oven for about 20 minutes and browned without using the broiler!
RIP to our former First Lady, Barbara Bush, she came across as a truly great, Christian person.