Dia de Los Muertos at Home

This post is sponsored by Samsung Home Appliances

Growing up I remember the kitchen being the heart of our home. We lived in a small two bedroom apartment and my sisters and I loved gathering around my mom as she cooked because every dish came with a story of life back in Mexico. My mom loved cooking and telling stories, especially during the holidays. On Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) my moms favorite foods to make were tamales and agua fresca. Tamales are pretty time consuming but we always used that time to listen to her stories, even the ones we had heard dozens of times before. She talked a lot about her parents. I listened especially closely then because her stories were the only way I felt connected to them. They had both passed away before I was born. She always said that her mother had taught her while making tamales that if you bicker with others during the process, the tamales will come out bitter. My mother was a firm believer in this. It was one of the many superstitions passed down to her from our ancestors. We always laughed it off and yet we still made sure not to argue while making them just to be safe.

This is the first time I am away from where I grew up at this time of year. It’s not easy being away from my sisters, mom, and the comfort of her warm kitchen. I have my own family now though, and this is the perfect opportunity to share my traditions with them and make some new ones of our own. It is an exciting time in our family after all. We have a new addition coming in February and Danny is older and more aware of his surroundings. This holiday season he can be an active participant. Dan and I knew we wanted Dannys help in the kitchen this year. Our Samsung family hub refrigerator made having him be a part of the process so much easier. I love that the refrigerator has a touchscreen because I can find so many ways to use it to keep Danny’s attention in the kitchen. We were able to display photos of our loved ones as well as play traditional music, pull up recipes, and even doodle when Danny needed a bit of a distraction.

It may not be easy for him to understand what Dia de Los Muertos is all about yet but he enjoyed looking at pictures of his bisabuela and he definitely enjoyed the food and laughter that came along with our preparations. someday soon he will understand. Dia de Los Muertos is sometimes a misunderstood holiday. Many people think it is simply a Mexican version of Halloween but that’s not at all the case. Dia de los Muertos, although it has the word dead in the name, is not so much about focusing on death as much as it is an opportunity to celebrate the life of those who came before us. It is a tradition thousands of years old with an emphasis on keeping the memories of our loved ones alive. We tell stories, prepare their favorite dishes,display their photos, and bond over the common threads that unite us . It is a beautiful and colorful celebration of life.

Dan and I each picked one recipe we wanted to teach Danny and got to work. The recipe I chose was Agua de Jamaica, a hibiscus flower agua fresca that is very popular in Mexico. Dan chose one of his favorite desserts, arroz con leche. This ended up being Dannys favorite dish of the night despite the many options including tamales, pastel azteca and pan dulce. He actually found a recipe to display on the fridge and tweaked it a bit to include condensed milk and cinnamon. We also simplified this recipe by preparing it in a slow cooker.

What an exciting time indeed. I know I want my children to grow up making memories in a warm kitchen just like I did. I want my kitchen to be the heart of our home. I think this is a good start.

Here are the recipes we used.

Agua de Jamaica

•2 cups dried hibiscus petals. (Make sure they are a little pliable and not too dry or your water will be bitter)

•6 cups water

•1 cup of sugar ( or less depending on how sweet you want it)

1. Add flowers to cold water

2. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to low

3. After 10-15 minutes turn off heat and allow to cool

4. When the flowers start to sink, the mixture is ready to use.

5. Strain flowers and you will be left with a hibiscus concentrate.

6. Add to a pitcher with one party concentrate to 2 parts water

7. Add sugar

8. Chill in the fridge and enjoy!

Slow cooker Arroz con Leche

•2 cups long grain white rice

•6 cups water

•4 sticks of cinnamon

•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

•4 cups milk (we chose almond)

•14 oz can of condensed milk

•ground cinnamon to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except milk and condensed milk.

2. Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours or until rice is cooked.

3. Turn off heat and add milk and condensed milk. Stir.

4. Allow to cool, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and enjoy!

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