Horchata, Anyone?

Horchata…

I originally published this post almost a decade ago (2011) on my culinary stewardship blog. No, it isn’t cold here in Southern Illinois as it was when I originally posted, but it is almost Cinco de Mayo.While most of us are familiar with horchata made with rice in The Americas, other parts of the world have made versions using nuts for centuries. This version uses rice. Perhaps some of you celebrating the Battle of Puebla at home tomorrow would like to do so with a nice glass of homemade horchata

Below is the post from the Maracuya87 blog in January 2011. ¡Disfrutan! ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

It’s really cold here in Southern Illinois right now, and it may be a while before I can get to Costa Rica to visit.  So, I decided to try to make horchata, a Central American rice and milk drink flavored with cinnamon and vanilla. 

After reviewing different recipes, some calling for almond extract and vanilla extract and even crushing the cinnamon sticks, I had to take a look at what I had in stock and go from there…

This is how I made our horchata:

Ingredients:

1 cup long grain rice

1 quart warm water

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 vanilla bean pod (after vanilla has been scraped from the inside)

1/2 cup whole milk

1/3 cup vanilla sugar (or regular sugar–I keep a separate container of sugar that I throw the vanilla bean pods into after I’ve scraped out the insides in other recipes.  That way it flavors the sugar.)

1/2 Tblsp. Tupperware Simple Indugence Cinnamon-Vanilla Seasoning Blend

Ice

Directions:

Place rice and warm water in the blender and blend until the rice breaks up but does not turn to powder.  Pour into a pitcher with a lid and add the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator at least 5 hours (ours stayed in the fridge overnight.) 

Strain the rice water into a blender, discarding rice pieces, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean pod.  Add the milk, sugar, and Cinnamon-Vanilla Blend.  (If you don’t have this, use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.)  Blend until smooth and serve over ice. 

Sunday Drive: Alto Pass and Pomona

Yesterday after church, my daughter, her boyfriend, and I headed to Alto Pass for the first, hopefully annual, Cinco de Mayo Festival.

When we got to the celebration, we were greeted by smiling faces and people enjoying the warm sun. A mix of music, Latin American blended with hit radio songs, filled the air. Bright, beautiful color was everywhere from the piñatas to food and items offered for sale. Two words could describe all of the authentic Mexican food for sale along the blocked off street: ¡Que rico!

There were seasoned mangos on sticks, elote, and agua frescas of tamarind and horchata. People were preparing fresh tacos of bisteq and carnitas and more. So good!

The Union County Sheriff car kicked off the parade. First responders, pageant queens, traditional dancers, and others followed. Horses brought up the end. It may not have been a long parade, but it was nice.

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After leaving the Cinco de Mayo Festival, we headed on to Bald Knob Cross. Thankfully, the road up to the cross is much better these days than when I was a child. It does still twist and wind for a few miles upward. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to get materials to the building site.

A nice visitor’s center sits by the cross with restrooms, information, souvenirs, and an observation deck with a gorgeous view of the Shawnee National Forest.

At the base of the cross, there is a timeline as well as signs to tell you what you might be able to see in that direction if conditions were right. Each side has a name : Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love. There are benches for sitting and picnic tables for eating and enjoying the view.

Leaving the cross, we decided to head to Pomona to see the Natural Bridge. It was a short distance, but part of the drive into the part of the Shawnee National Forest that has the rock formation is still gravel…

There is a small picnic area by the parking lot for the trail to the Natural Bridge. The trail itself does require some mobility as it is fairly natural and not accessible.

We could hear the sounds of running water as we approached the bridge. A faint mint smell was in the air. All of the lush, green foliage was beautiful. It was the perfect way to cap off a wonderful afternoon in Southern Illinois.

Related Links:

Cinco de Mayo Festival at Alto Pass

https://www.facebook.com/events/848378758828955/?ti=cl

Bald Knob Cross of Peace

https://www.baldknobcross.com/

Pomona Natural Bridge

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/shawnee/recarea/?recid=10678

Shawnee National Forest

https://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee