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April 17

Saint of the day:

Nun Juana Inés de la Cruz

Feminist and Icon

The Story of Nun Juana Inés de la Cruz

Nun, poet, writer, musician composer, signed in blood, "I, the worst of all..."


Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz OSH (12 November 1648 – 17 April 1695) was a Mexican writer, philosopher, composer, poet of the Baroque period, and Hieronymite nun. Her outspoken opinions granted her lifelong names such as "The Tenth Muse" and "The Phoenix of Mexico", for she was a flame that rose from the ashes of "religious authoritarianism".

Sor Juana lived during Mexico's colonial period, making her a contributor both to early Spanish literature as well as to the broader literature of the Spanish Golden Age. Beginning her studies at a young age, Sor Juana was fluent in Latin and also wrote in Nahuatl, and became known for her philosophy in her teens. Sor Juana educated herself in her own library, which was mostly inherited from her grandfather. After joining a nunnery in 1667, Sor Juana began writing poetry and prose dealing with such topics as love, feminism, and religion. She turned her nun's quarters into a salon, visited by the city's intellectual elite. Among them was Countess Maria Luisa de Paredes, Vicereine of Mexico. Her criticism of misogyny and the hypocrisy of men led to her condemnation by the Bishop of Puebla, and in 1694 she was forced to sell her collection of books and focus on charity towards the poor. She died the next year, having caught the plague while treating her sisters.

After fading from academic discourse for hundreds of years, Octavio Paz re-established Sor Juana's importance in modern times. Scholars now interpret Sor Juana as a protofeminist, and she is the subject of vibrant discourses about themes such as colonialism, education rights, women's religious authority, and writing as examples of feminist advocacy.





Mexico 200 Pesos, 2014, P-125, UNC, Seri




Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen):
Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above, O Maria!

Hail, Mother of mercy and of love, O Maria!
Triumph all ye angels! Sing with us ye angels!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn! Salve, salve, salve, Regina!


Our life, our sweetness here below, O Maria!
Our hope in sorrow and in woe, O Maria!
Triumph all ye angels! Sing with us ye angels!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn! Salve, salve, salve, Regina!


And when our last breath leaves us, O Maria!
Show us thy son Christ Jesus, O Maria!
Triumph all ye angels! Sing with us ye angels!
Heaven and earth resound the hymn! Salve, salve, salve, Regina!

*Interesting Note: Traditionally Salve Regina prayer is said or sung after night prayers, before going to bed. It is said from the end of Eastertide until the beginning of Advent. The English translation "Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above" first appeared in The Roman Missal in 1884. This prayer might sound familiar because it was in the movie Sister Act.



Mexico City, Mexico



Her Statues:


Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz statue/bust is located in Washington, D.C. on the grounds of the Organization of the House of the Americas.

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz statue (sitting) is located in Madrid, Spain.


Her Words:


Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote Christmas carols, romances, praises, sonnets, redondillas, theatrical comedies, autos sacramentales and argumentative texts, among other genres. She was amazing!


Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th-century Mexican poetess gives chestnuts to a beloved friend.

Lysi, to your beautiful hands I give thorny chestnuts,
because thorns cannot be lacking where roses abound. If you tend to their harshness and with this the taste deceives, forgive the rusticity of those who gave them to you; forgive, because this hedgehog
can only give chestnuts.


Her Amazing Story:

One can perfectly well philosophize while cooking supper. Juana Inés de la Cruz


Red Wine Sangria


  • 1/2 medium apple (cored, skin on, chopped into small pieces)

  • 1/2 medium orange (rind on, sliced into small pieces, large seeds removed, plus more for garnish)

  • 3-4 Tbsp organic brown sugar 

  • 3/4 cup orange juice (plus more to taste)

  • 1/3 cup brandy (plus more to taste)

  • 750 ml bottle dry Spanish red wine*

  • 1 cup Ice to chill



  1. Add apples, oranges, and sugar to a large pitcher and muddle with a muddler or wooden spoon for 45 seconds.

  2. Add orange juice and brandy and muddle again to combine for 30 seconds.

  3. Add red wine and stir to incorporate, then taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a bit more brandy, orange juice and brown sugar. Stir to combine.

  4. Add ice and stir once more to chill. Serve as is, or with a bit more ice. Garnish with orange segments (optional).

  5. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours, though best when fresh.


Capirotada with Mango and Plantains
This recipe is usually made during Ash Wednesday or Easter. This amazing egg free, milk free bread pudding is sweet and amazingly uplifting even during a time of darkness and death. This recipe is a religious experience, meaning: the bread represents the body of Christ, the cinnamon sticks represents the cross, the cloves represent the nails, the sugar syrup represents the blood of Christ, and finally the powder sugar is the shroud of Christ.



  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

  • 5 to 6 bolillos, teleras or Portuguese buns,
    or 1 large baguette cut into 1-inch slices

  • 1 pound piloncillo, grated, or substitute
    for 2 cups packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 stick canela, ceylon or true cinnamon

  • 1 whole star anise

  • 3 whole cloves

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 8 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 3 ripe plantains, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices (about 3 cups)

  • 1 to 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 1 cup finely crumbled or grated queso Cotija (optional)

  • 2/3 cups roasted peanuts (optional)

  • Confectioners’ sugar, for serving



  1. Place racks on upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

  2. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small pan. Brush the surface of two large baking sheets with some of the melted butter and place the bread slices onto the buttered baking sheets in a single layer. Use the remaining butter to brush on top of the bread slices. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on the bottom and remove from the oven.

  3. In a medium saucepan, place the piloncillo, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and raisins, cover with the 8 cups of water, and set over medium-high heat. Once it comes to a simmer, stir occasionally, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Turn off the heat. With a slotted spoon, remove the cinnamon stick, star anise, and, cloves and discard. Set the piloncillo syrup aside.

  4. Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil to a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, cook the plantain slices in a couple batches for about a minute per side, or until golden brown on both sides. Place the browned plantains on a paper towel covered plate and set aside.

  5. Use the remaining tablespoon of butter to grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add a third of the bread to make the first layer covering the bottom of the baking dish. Distribute all around half of the plantains, half of the mango, half of the Cotija, and half of the peanuts. Pour on about a third of the piloncillo syrup. Start another layer, adding a third of the bread and the remaining half of the plantains, mango, Cotija, and peanuts. Pour another third of the syrup, trying to get all of the raisins in. Finally, cover with the remaining third of the bread and pour the rest of the syrup on top. Cover with aluminum foil.

  6. Set oven rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the capirotada for 25 minutes, then remove it from the oven, carefully uncover, and press down with a spatula so it all bakes in the syrup. Cover again with aluminum foil and return to the oven. After another 25 minutes, carefully remove the foil, and bake for about 10 minutes more so the top browns. Cool slightly before serving and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
    *Note: Don’t over soak the bread if you are using a soft porous bread. This recipe is very sweet, so it would not be good to have a soggy sweet mess. I have cubed my toasted buttered bread to fit into a heart shape spring-form pan. If using a spring-form pan cover the outside bottom of the pan with foil to help the syrup not to leak out. Bake on a sheet pan. Remember, make this recipe work for you, have fun and enjoy! If you feel that the traditional way to make this recipe is too sweet add milk and eggs to this recipe like a traditional American bread pudding and omit the syrup, that will cut the sweetness a lot. 4 beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, 3/4 cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon cinnamon...





Chilorio, Sinaloan Braised Pork

This recipe comes together easily, and the ingredients can be found in many
supermarkets, and in all Latin markets. Serve it on tacos, burritos,
sandwiches, sopes, or just alongside some rice.



  • 2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder

  • 1 large white onion, sliced in quarters

  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled

  • 2 to 5 bay leaves

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 4 guajillo chiles

  • 4 pasilla or ancho chiles

  • 4 chipotle chiles

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, or 2 teaspoons ground

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, or 1 teaspoon ground

  • 1 tablespoon oregano, Mexican if possible

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, or more to taste

  • 1/4 cup lime jucie

  • 1/3 cup lard


  1. Cut the pork into large chunks about 3 inches across. Put them into a large, lidded pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and skim any froth off. Lower the heat to a simmer and add 1/4 of the onion, 2 garlic cloves and the bay leaves. Salt to taste and cook until the pork is tender.

  2. Remove the seeds and stems of all the chiles. It's OK if a few seeds get stuck.

  3. Meanwhile, make the salsa. Heat a comal or griddle or heavy frying pan over high heat and char the rest of the onion and the garlic cloves.

  4. While the vegetables are charring, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. While that is heating, quickly toast the chiles on the hot comal -- about 30 seconds total, flipping a couple times. You want the dried chiles to blister a little, but not blacken. When they are toasted and the pot of water hits a boil, put the chiles in the water and turn off the heat.

  5. If you want, toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a hot, dry pan until they smell nice. Put them in a spice grinder or a blender and grind. This step does add a lot of flavor.

  6. When the onions and garlic are nicely charred and the chiles soft, put them in a blender with the oregano and spices, salt, vinegar, lime juice and enough water to make a sauce with the consistency of cream. Puree.

  7. Once the pork is tender, drain the broth and discard it or use in another recipe. Wipe out the pot and add the lard. When it's hot, add the chunks of pork and sear hard on one side -- you want a combination of crispy and soft.

  8. When you have achieved that, pour in the salsa and mix well. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, then serve.


Note: The timing reflects farmed pork or a young wild hog. Older animals might take longer to get tender. 

Keys to Success

  • Pork shoulder is preferred, but really any cut of pork will work. And as I mentioned, you can use chicken thighs, upland game birds, rabbits or even venison if you wanted to. 

  • The chile mix determines the heat level. Skip the chipotles if you want to keep it mild, and for a redder sauce, use only guajillos, or New Mexican red chiles or California chiles, which are dried red Anaheims. 

  • If you hate vinegar, use lots of lime juice. 

  • Hate lard? Use some other oil. 

  • Once made, you can keep this for a week in the fridge, and it freezes well. 

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