This is a molcajete from Mexico

When I was around 12 years old, the Mennonite church we were attending started a small church in a neighboring town. My parents were 'sent' from our church to be 'missionaries' to this church and help get it started. It was the first Spanish Mennonite Church in that town. There were a lot of spanish speaking people in that town, so of course the services were in Spanish. My mom took night classes and learned to speak spanish fluently. Some of the Sunday School classes were in english, but for the mjost part it was all spanish, which left my dad and us kids totally in the dark.

The people were so loving and kind. We made many wonderful friends attending there. The best part of those days was the lunch that we had after each service. It was a tradition to have a pot luck after the Sunday service. The ladies would bring all kinds of wonderful, AUTHENTIC, mexican dishes. Some of our favorites were chicken en mole, arroz con pollo, and fresh tortillas! It was a smorgasbord of spicy delights!

One dish my mom learned to make was called 'calavasa'. Years later I found out that that is actually the spanish word for 'squash'. I still make this dish today, and it's actually one of my favorite meals. Mom mom made it often during the summer months when zucchini was fresh. My dad was an avid gardener so we always had a lot of squash to use.

These mexican friends of ours brought back from Mexico, two molcajete (pronounced: mocha-hettaye) for my mom to use in her cooking. When my parents closed down their house, I inherited the small one. I love this little kitchen wonder! I'm not sure what mine is made of. It might be stone, but the original ones were made from lava, I believe! I use it to grind my cumin seed into powder to add to the dish. It is really the only way to get that 'authentic' taste to the dish. I've posted a picture of mine with the cumin seeds being ground to powder. I've used it to grind garlic, also.

The dish is served over white rice. While I normally cook brown rice, this is one dish that is just not the same if it's not served over white rice. I always use jasmine rice for white rice. It has a lovely aroma and flavor! The ingredients for calavasa are: ground beef, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, whole tomatoes, chili powder, paprika, and zucchini. I sometimes add some hot peppers if they are in season in the garden. Today I used half of a banana pepper and it was just the right amount of heat.

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