Cinco de Mayo with MRASP LFH Blog
What is Cinco de Mayo? The Spanish words translate to “The 5th of May”. This day commemorates the victory of the outnumbered army of Mexicans who defeated French soldiers in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken as Mexico Independence Day, which is actually on September 16th- this holiday is a special day all on its own! Overall, a day to appreciate Mexican culture: we will be looking at Frida Kahlo a famous Mexican artist, trying our hand at crafting Papel Picado, and whipping up a delicious Tres Leches Flan recipe.
Frida Kahlo: (1907-19534) was a Mexican artist best known for her self-portraits. Her paintings are strongly influenced by Mexican folk culture, and use lots of bright colors and dramatic symbolism.
Frida Kahlo grew up in a house called La Casa Azul in Mexico with her parents and six sisters. At age 6, she caught a disease called polio which damaged her right leg. During her childhood, Frida loved to draw; although, she would have no idea until she was an adult how art can heal.
Why did she become a painter?
Initially studying medicine, Kahlo changed her career path following an accident. As part of her recovery, Kahlo underwent operations being bed bound. Her mother had a special easel made for her so she could paint in bed, and her father lent her his box of oil paints along with some brushes.
Frida was proud of her Mexican heritage. She was inspired by traditional Mexican art which is wonderfully colorful, symbolic art. It is full of feathers, flowers, dancing, music, and texture. She often featured animals in her self-portraits, such as monkeys and parrots. The ‘Self Portrait with Monkey’ (1938) shows Frida standing in front of trees wearing a traditional Mexican blouse and necklace, along with an elaborate hairstyle that also reflects her heritage.
Influence and Legacy
Frida’s work has inspired artists to reveal their emotions, struggles, fantasies, and view-points. She was a strong woman who overcame her predicament despite hardship. Today, people visit La Casa Azul to see where her great art was created, and to appreciate what a single person can accomplish against all the odds.
The link below is a troop of Mariachi players who visited Juno the Beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. Please enjoy the traditional tunes while exploring this blog post.
Papel Picado “Paper Banners”
Papel Picado is a type of Mexican folk art made by cutting elaborate designs into colorful tissue paper. It is similar to cutting snowflakes for Christmas- where as you fold the paper differently to create shapes. Banners with bright colors are hung up around the house for celebration. Traditionally these were made by stacking many sheets of paper and using a chisel to cut out the designs!
Brightly colored tissue paper
Glue or Modgepodge
1. Fold a piece of tissue paper (lengthwise) in half and then in half again. Make sure one side consist only of folds.
2.Fold the long folded sheet in half.
Mark a dot in the corner that is made up of folds.
This helps the children recognize where not to cut.
3.Just like cutting a snowflake, cut shapes along all four sides avoiding the area with the dot.
4.To cut a shape from the middle of the rectangle, fold the paper in half again, and cut a shape into the fold.
5.Unfold carefully and tape tissue paper to a long string of yarn.
To make multiple panels from one cut, layer 2-3 sheets of tissue paper together add tape (carefully) while cutting.
6. Hang up banner, and enjoy!
Tres Leches Flan recipe
Tres Leches, means “three milks” in Spanish. This flan is made using three milks – condensed milk, evaporated milk, and regular milk. Mexican flan is slightly denser than the typical Spanish Flan. Prep time: 30 mins, cooking time:10mins. Serving size: 6
1 cup of granulated sugar
Drop of lemon juice
1 (12 ounce) can of evaporated milk
1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
Zest of one Orange
2 cups whole milk
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Heavy-bottom, high-sided saucepan
8 1/2- inch rectangular loaf pan
Large high-sided pan to set the loaf pan in (ex: lasagna pan, roasting pan)
Prepare Caramel - Caramelized Sugar:
In a heavy-bottom, high-sided saucepan over low to medium-low heat, combine 1 cup sugar and a drop of lemon juice (the lemon juice keeps the mixture from hardening).
NOTE: I find that maintaining a low heat, I have more control over the caramelizing process, as it is really easy to burn.
Cook, stirring constantly, with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until sugar dissolves and mixture just begins to simmer. Sugar melts at about 320 degrees F. and will turn to a clear liquid at that temperature.
Continue stirring and cooking, approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until you get a nice golden brown caramel. Make sure not to overcook as the caramel can burn.
NOTE: Boiling times will vary according to different stove tops and other factors.
Pour the caramel into the loaf pan, making sure that the caramel completely covers the bottom surface of the pan. Set aside and let the caramel cool while making the flan mixture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. or 180 degrees C. Adjust oven rack to center position.
In a blender, combine evaporated milk, condensed milk, orange zest, whole or 2% milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt; process until smooth. Let the flan mixture sit approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
After resting, remove any top foam that formed when blending the ingredients and discard. Stir the flan mixture just before pouring in your loaf baking pan.
Pour the prepared flan mixture into the loaf pan. Place the filled loaf pan into an ovenproof roasting or baking pan.
If cooking custards in a metal pan, cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of newspaper to ensure an even temperature on the bottom.
Bring the water for the water bath to a light simmer on top of the stove; carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come half-way up the sides of the loaf pan.
For ease of carrying, first place the larger pan (containing the filled loaf pan) on the oven rack, then pour the boiling water into the large baking pan. It is so much easier than moving the pans with water in them.
Bake 60 to 70 minutes (depending on depth of your pan) or until set around the edges but still loose in the center. When the center of custard is just set, it will jiggle a little when shaken, that's when you can remove it from the oven (the flans will continue to set as they cool). If using a digital instant-read thermometer, inserted in the centers, it should register 180 degrees F. Begin checking temperature about 10 minutes before recommended times.
Remove from oven and remove the flan pan from the water bath. Place on your counter and let cool approximately 60 minutes.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
To Unmold and Serve:
When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator at least 1 hour before unmolding.
Using a thin knife, separate the edge of the flan from the pan to make sure that the flan edges are not sticking to the sides of the pan.
Choose a rimmed serving dish that has a flat bottom just slightly wider in diameter than the inside diameter of the cake pan. Place your serving dish upside down on top of the flan pan, and holding both together tightly, flip quickly so the serving dish is right side up and the flan pan is upside down. Do not remove the flan pan immediately. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes while the caramel drips from the pan all over the top and sides of the flan.
Thanks for joining us on the MRASP LFH Blog! I hope you enjoyed this special blog post and look forward to sharing more special days, fun activities, and projects with you this week!