We have a new low tech kitchen gadget at our unplugged kitchen here on the urban homestead – a Mexican mortar & pestle or ‘Molcajete y Tejolote’
[mohl-kah-HEH-teh ee teh-hoh-LOH-teh]
The Mexican term for “MORTAR AND PESTLE” — molcajete being the mortar, tejolote the pestle. The black, rough texture of both pieces is a result of the fact that they’re made of basalt (volcanic rock). They are used in the traditional manner for grinding spices and herbs and other mixtures. . (Definition by epicurious.com)
According to an article by by Diego Delgado, “The word molcajete (mortar) derives from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs: “molli” (seasoning or sauce) and “caxitl” (bowl). The word tejolote (pestle) also derives from Nahuatl: “tetl” (stone) and “xolotl” (doll).”
Foods traditionally prepared in the molcajete include salsas and moles (mohl-LAY), as well as guacamole. It is also used for grinding chilies, garlic or other herbs and spices for food preparation.
…The grinding process releases the oils, and flavor essence of the substance. When done carefully you will produce a product that is more flavorful than a product prepared in a food processor. Depending on the food you are preparing the process can be quite laborious. If you enjoy cooking, using a mortar and pestle will simply be part of your “craft” of food preparation. If you just need to “get the job done”, reach for the food processor.
We kids, whose genetic make up is 1/4 Spanish, 1/4 French & 1/2 Belgian, like sweet AND spicy foods – the hotter the better!
Bring on the avocados, chilies and pass the chips, please.
What’s an ‘Unplugged Kitchen?’
I get that question a lot and tell folks that our kitchen has only one plug in appliance and that is our energy efficient refrigerator. No microwave or toaster. What blender, food processor we do have are all hand powered/cranked. (Check out our Urban Homestead Supply store for human powered appliances)
If you think about what your Grandma’s kitchen looked like and compare it with what modern kitchens look like today, ask yourself : “Do I really need all these gadgets?” Granted, some are useful, but others are not.
For me, I lean towards the latter. Sure, that choice has changed the way I cook/bake. It challenges me to think, when reading a recipe that calls for some gadget that I don’t have, and to ask myself “how did they do this in the old days?”
I believe, with all the electric gadgets that are in the kitchen these days, that we’ve lost our connection with the food. The rhythmic kneading of the bread can be done by machine now. Or chopping vegetables– just pop them into a food processor and press the button.
The homey, traditional kitchen sounds have been replaced by high pitched motors.
I actually like a quiet kitchen and get annoyed with anything motorized. Sure, it may take me a bit longer than a machine, but I have connected and touched the food. It was planted with human hand and prepared by human hands.
We have to re-humanize our food system and here on the urban homestead we’ve taken steps backwards to make progress.
Here’s a challenge for you: go through all your kitchen drawers, cabinets and get your hand tools out. Use a knife instead of a food processor or a rotary beater instead of an electric mixer. Try to make one meal a week without using electric gadgets. A pie crust or bread without mixing the dough in a food processor – feel the dough!
Get your senses back into the cooking/baking!
Note: you might have noticed at the right hand bar that we’ve added two affiliates: Mountain Rose Herbs and iHerb (use referral code JUL 275 to redeem $5.00 off your order) If you need to stock up on herbs for your homestead consider these two sources, thank you.