Cooking with Kids

I love to cook.  I love to cook for my family, my friends, and myself.  For me, cooking for you is how I show you that I care–so if you’ve been the recipient of my baked goods, that is why!  (If you haven’t, it’s probably because you don’t live near me…)

When my nieces and nephews were younger, I used to love getting them to help me with child-friendly foods.

Ale used to help me all the time too!  This was mainly because she was always underfoot–I could put her up on the counter, and she would happily play with spoons, measuring cups, and rice.  Sometimes, she would be TOO happy, and I quickly learned to be careful what was within her reach.  I

March 2015 Ale making biscuits and gravy with Mami.

When Ale was around a year and a half/ two years old, I bought her a cheap kitchen from the local store.  We put it in the kitchen with me, and she would “cook” while I cooked.  To be honest, Ale still plays with her kitchen!  She makes baby food for her dolls and pretend food for us.

This week I planned our menu before grocery shopping.  We are eating around the world: Sushi, Pizza, Tacos, Beans and Cornbread.  Last night was a pizza night, and Ale asked to help me.  Pizza is easy, right?  It’s the perfect recipe to cook with a kid!

But Kid#2 also decided to help.  She’s really selfish with Mama right now, and wants to do everything Big Sis does.

So, there I was: One kid in one chair, another kid in another chair, me in the middle and all of our pizza goodies on the table in front of us.  Ale is super careful now when she helps me, and I take that for granted.  But Jojo had holes in the dough, hands in the sauce, and stole the package of pepperoni after we put some on her pizza.

I gathered up all the ingredients and stored them as quickly as I could in the kitchen.

Not quick enough.

“Mama! Josie’s making a mess!” I heard from the other room.  Jojo had the flour, and had poured about a cup of it out onto the table.  She saw me, grinned, then began smearing her hand through it with the finesse of a window washer.

It was that moment that I realized I had two options: 1) Holler and try in vain to stop the disaster that was my table and floor OR 2) Let her have fun with the flour.

October 2017 Jojo making a mess…

I chose fun.

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Thanksgiving #3 in Mexico

My first year in Mexico I flew home for Thanksgiving.  Since Ale was born, I’ve stayed in town and prepared a Thanksgiving meal for my family and the other extranjeros, or foreigners.  This year, my party grew, and so did our turkey!

I’ve become less intimidated about cooking turkey.  I think it is over emphasized, and this year I appreciated an article that helped me to feel better about my bird: 17 Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes Everyone Makes  I bought my bird too late.  I thawed him outside of the fridge overnight.  He weighed 11.75 kilos (about 25 pounds).  I just slapped some butter on his breast, used salt and pepper to season him, and cooked him upside down for 4 and 1/2 hours before flipping him over for the last 30 minutes.

He was perfect.

Better yet, he continues to be perfect.  Victor’s been snacking on turkey for two days, today we had turkey sandwiches for lunch, and I’ve made SO much broth from the bones and little bits of meat!  Next up is a turkey pot pie with some leftover pie dough.  Yummo!  This turkey will feed us for weeks!!!

I also managed to make a most delicious dressing that tastes pretty much like my Mamaw’s.  This is how I accomplished that:

Mamaw’s Cornbread Dressing

1 skillet of cornbread crumbled
10-12 biscuits crumbled
1/4 cup of fresh sage, minced (About 15-20 leaves)
6-8 stalks of celery, minced
1 whole white onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
left over chicken and chicken parts, minced (optional)
Broth from chicken or turkey
Salt/Pepper to taste

In a pot, boil all those goodies you take out of your turkey (neck, lungs, etc.) Save this broth for your dressing. Crumble and chop all ingredients listed above into a large bowl. Add broth until everything is moistened. Add salt and pepper to flavor the dressing. (You can taste it here–all the ingredients are cooked, so no worries of getting sick!) Throw this into a casserole dish, and pop in the oven and bake until the top is crispy. Enjoy!

The best part of this Thanksgiving was the preparation: two of Ale’s aunties came over to help us get ready and prep the food/ house for company.  Having them here as I busied about the kitchen was really special.  It made my family holiday seem more like a family holiday!

What I didn’t count on was the major exhaustion from being on my feet for 14 hours cooking and entertaining!  I didn’t count on being eight months pregnant while preparing turkey, dressing, and homemade rolls for 20 people wearing me out–but it sure did!  That night I went to bed with an achy body, contractions and cramping, and fell asleep singing to Ale.  Victor said I kept trying to sing to her after I was asleep.

Whew!  Who knew that hosting Thanksgiving took so much work!  Wow!

Breaking the Silence with Muffins

When a blogger goes AWOL, it is hard to figure out how to return from nearly 50 days of silence.   What better way to start blogging again than to share my favorite muffin recipe!

Today is my oldest niece’s 16th birthday.  We were so excited when we found out that she would join us, and I still remember how proud I was before she was even born.  I told everyone who would listen that she was the cutest thing to grace this planet.  She still is!  

She is also a lover of peaches, and today I decided to forgo the normal Blakley breakfast (Mama’s light-as-air buttermilk biscuits and gravy) for something a bit easier.   Enter the best muffin recipe.

The best thing about this recipe is that the ingredient list is simple!  It is the kind of recipe that you can play with depending on your available fruits.  I’ve used blueberries, strawberries, and apples.  ‘Tis the season for peaches, so today I chopped about two peaches or a little over one cup.  The chunks of peaches cooked into delicious gooey bites–similar to a cobbler!  I added 1tsp of pumpkin pie spice, because for an unknown reason, Mama is lacking cinnamon.

This recipe is also delicious using whole wheat flour instead of white flour!  In fact, my favorite version of this muffin replaces the white flour with whole wheat flour.  In this banana nut creation, I use 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, about 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of mashed banana, 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, no oil, and 3/4 cup of milk.

Here are my favorite muffin secrets:  

  • Have a super hot oven.  400 degrees is perfect!
  • Use a little extra flour if the batter is too moist (that’s for you, Rachel…)
  • Everything tastes better with a little butter.  When the muffins are hot, add a little to the top or a sliver inside.
  • Make enough to share!  Everyone loves muffins!  (If they don’t, you should rethink your friends…)

The first two tips are important for creating cute muffin tops.  And let’s be honest, the world could use more cute muffin tops… 
Best Ever Muffin Recipe
Ingredients

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk and oil. Pour all at once into the well in the flour mixture. Mix quickly and lightly with a fork until moistened, but do not beat. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter into paper lined muffin pan cups.  Original recipe makes 1 dozen

Variations: Blueberry Muffins: Add 1 cup fresh blueberries. Raisin Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped raisins. Date Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped dates. Cheese Muffins: Fold in 1 cup grated sharp yellow cheese. Bacon Muffins: Fold 1/4 cup crisp cooked bacon, broken into bits.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.

Food is My Love Language

I have a friend who always tags her foodie pictures with #foodismylovelanguage.  And I get it!  Because there are a few of us who show others how much we love them by feeding them every opportunity that arises.

I love preparing special meals for our visitors–surprising whomever I can with a meal from their homeland.  I had a game night for Minnesotan friends from work where I made Tatertot Hot-dish.  Ick.  They loved it.  I didn’t.  When our visiting worker from the Dominican Republic vetoed Italian food, I cooked an all day affair which turned out to be Sancocho.  Sometimes I like to ask if anyone wants something special–and I have whipped up everything from chocolate chip cookies to cornbread and beans.

I don’t just cook foods from other places for other people though–often I will think of someone, then cook a food that reminds me of them.  For example, I have been really homesick for Chiapas lately.  I normally visit there during the summer months, but we are skipping our trip this summer.  What came out of my kitchen as a result was black beans and salsa–which we ate with tortillas and fresh cheese.  I roasted the onions and peppers on the stovetop before adding the blacked parts to my tomato pulp (procured by “shredding” the tomato flesh on the cheese grater).  The more time consuming the project is, the more time I have to think on them!

This morning I made homemade cinnamon rolls–too many!  I still have a pan of cinnamon rolls sitting in the kitchen!  There’s a gallon of iced tea on the counter-top, and buttermilk just waiting for some biscuits to be made tomorrow.  Our basil plant needed to be cut back, so I made a friend’s pesto recipe a couple days ago (and shared the frozen pesto leftover with another friend who stopped by to visit).

I may not be able to be all the places that I am thinking of today: Virginia, Tennessee, Chiapas, etc.  But each memory inspires something new to happen in my kitchen.  Memories of those places are taking over my mind–and dancing across my plate.  Oh, yes! I do believe that food is my love language too!

No More Shortcuts in the Kitchen

I remember when I moved to Mexico, I had the hardest time the first two weeks.  I didn’t know what to eat–and resorted to a daily diet of beans, tortillas, fresh cheese, and Valentina hot sauce.  It didn’t take long for me to adjust, and now I miss fresh cheese, tamales on demand, and more fresh cheese.

I’ve become a little spoiled here in the north.  I can buy most items I would buy in the States.  What I can’t buy I have learned to live without, or I make it the long way!  This has actually been something I revel in, and I have a list I have been compiling of what I will not go back on.

  1. Popcorn:  It has taken me 30 years of my life to finally make real popcorn.  We have lived microwave-less for two years, and that also meant popcorn-less.  Until now.  Now I am unstoppable.  I am a popcorn making machine!  I love the flavor, and I am afraid I may never return to bags of popcorn with questionable ingredients.  I also love anything that I get to choose my own oil–olive oil popcorn tastes just as delicious!
  2. Salad Dressing:  The other day, I had to share my recipe for honey mustard dressing with the ladies at school.  I was almost embarrassed.  I mean, they were RAVING about how amazing it was, and I was over there saying, “Three ingredients.  That’s it.  Mayo, Spicy Brown Mustard, Honey.”
  3. Pancakes:  This was new for me, because I am not a big pancake person.  These were the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted in my life. Recipe  Simple ingredients.  Easy to make.  Fresh taste.  Now, if only real maple syrup didn’t cost an arm and a leg…
  4. Taco Seasoning:  I remember making tacos with my family.  We scrambled meat and added this package of taco seasoning.  Without it, tacos just weren’t tacos.  Well, it should come as no surprise that Mexicans don’t actually season meat with packages of powder.  My suegra mother-in-law and my husband make the tastiest meat you’ve ever tasted.  They do it with onion, garlic, salt, and tomato.  That’s it.  I, however, do find myself occasionally wishing for the tacos of my youth.  And when I do, in goes a little garlic (powder), fresh ground pepper, cayenne pepper, chile pepper, fresh sea salt, and pepper flakes.  Yah.  That’s it.  Just go easy on the pepper if you are sensitive to spice.
  5. Mixed Salad:  This is embarrassing.  My grandmother would die if she saw the money you spend on bags of salad.  Basically, I could make a “fresh spring mix” for a fraction of the cost for the bag of salad.  The other thing is the flavor.  I think I may be more sensitive to flavors now–because the taste of lettuce in a bag is strange.  It also smells strange.  Now I buy a couple different kinds of lettuce, wash it in cold water (in my case soak it in disinfectant), then I put it between pieces of paper towel or regular towels and roll it up.  I store it in a plastic bag in the fridge, and it stays nice and crispy!  Making a mix of lettuces, cabbage, fresh veggies–no big deal.  Salad in minutes.
  6. Granola Bars:  Do you know what is in granola?  Basically the most basic ingredients in the world–then a bunch of stuff I can’t identify to preserve it.  I love making granola.  I can put whatever I want in there, and I don’t feel guilty about sharing it with my baby.  I love making granola with oats, honey, olive oil, dried cranberries, pecans, almonds, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and chia seeds.  Yummo!  Here are two good sites:  Inspired Taste and Running With Spoons
  7. Muffins, Rolls, Other Breads:  Bread used to be my unicorn.  It was some mystical being that I hadn’t personally been introduced to.  Victor and I occasionally buy bread, but we usually stick with corn tortillas.  Once upon a time, we bought a bag of bread, then we went on summer vacation.  I am not kidding: it didn’t mold.  I know we live in the desert and that there isn’t much moisture, but bread that doesn’t change in appearance after a month is a little scary.  I love making bread.  It feels like I am really giving my all to my family and guest when I feed them a warm out-of-the-oven roll.  It isn’t that hard, but I have found that, yes, you can leave bread to rise for too long.
  8. Cake:  Don’t buy cake in a box.  Yuck.  It tastes bad.  Enough said.
  9. Chicken Broth:  It is so simple to boil a chicken in water.  Yes, you can add some veggies to add flavor, but just chicken in water does the trick too.  Especially if you leave the skin on that guy.  You can make your broth skim by cooling it afterwards and removing the fats from the top.  But the fat gives flavor, so I suggest you leave it.  I mean, it is mostly water, after all…
  10. Flavored Oatmeal:  We used to fight over the Strawberries and Cream oatmeal packets when we were young.  This is before Quaker got smart and started selling boxes of ONLY Strawberries and Cream.  Then, when I was expecting, I read this article that suggesting making your own fruit and oats to avoid extra sugar.   Oh my.  Oh my!  I cook the strawberries first with sugar.  Then I add water, milk, and oats.  Sometimes I slice apple and cook it with cinnamon and sugar.  This is so good.  And so much better than a packet of dehydrated fruit, flavored powder and sugar, and quick oats.  I use real oats, people.  It starts my day off with a bang!

I think it is clear that I have a love affair with food.  This isn’t even about preservatives, all organic, non-gluten mumbo-jumbo.  This is about flavor.  It tastes better if you do it right.  The fact that it is healthier is a side-benefit!  Provecho!  

Sleep is for the Week(end)

When I was younger, I could sleep forever.  No, seriously.  Actually, Victor and I were just talking about how my sleep is very important, so I don’t know if that has changed.  Since the baby has come along, there have definitely been nights where I’ve had to say, “Victor, I am sorry, but you have to take care of her tonight–I’ve got to get to sleep!”  Or even in those early days, I would get up and pump, then he would get up and feed Ale later when she cried.  (A friend just told me the other day that I had a diamond…so true!)

When Ale was young, she slept a lot! I didn’t complain like other new mommies about sleep deprivation all the time (Seriously, people, that can mostly be avoided if your baby sleeps near or with you…)  Now she’s learned that she can fight the sleep–unless we time it just right.  (Most of the time, she just cuddles up next to me and breastfeeds–which makes Bedtime Mommy a lot friendlier.)  In the evening, she will hang out with us, playing and reading, then when she’s tired–she doesn’t fuss–she just attacks me.

When I came to Mexico, I thought I had learned to put work in its proper place.  It didn’t follow me home.  It didn’t sneak into my dreams.  And my weekends were work-free.  Then I got offered a promotion for next year.  I will be the literacy coach for the teachers at our school–and I am oh-so-very-excited.  I am also determined to prove myself.  Here is where the trouble lies.

The monstruo that is inside the heart of every working mom has reared his ugly head.  I have started feeling guilty and resentful for the time I spend at work.  I know it is good time for Ale and Papi, but doesn’t a girl need her mama?  My work can’t help but follow me home.  And when I get home, I really don’t mind cooking.  It actually makes me feel like a better wife and mama–because I know my family is eating healthier than if we go out to eat.  Ale crawls around my feet, and I avoid stepping on her by letting her play in the cabinets.  Then we leave the dirty dishes (most of the time), and we play.  But we play with the conscious effort on my part to put the overflowing in-box of work that is always in my head to the side for later.

This brings us to the present–where I sit typing this blog while drinking coffee at 5:30 in the morning.  This is when I do my work.  It is when Ale and Victor sleep.  This time is productive (usually)–and waking up at 4:00 isn’t nearly as outrageous as it once would have been.  Waking up at four is just what I do to keep Work Mommy and At-Home Mommy from becoming Guilty Mommy.

Sleep?  As my mamaw used to say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

How To Beat The Homesick Blues

“I’ll be home for Christmas…” has been running through my head on a repeat-cycle.  Of course, I won’t be “home” for Christmas.  Actually, to be honest, I don’t even really know where I consider home to be anymore.

  • Option One:  It could be my Tennessee house.  That’s where I go now when I get vacation time.  It’s the same home that I spent the majority of my childhood in–so it has good memories.  It’s where the family meets, where my things are stored, etc.
  • Option Two:  It could be Northern Virginia.  I was there for three years–the longest I’ve ever lived and worked in one place after graduation.  That’s where many of my friends are–as well as part of my family.  I equally feel the need to go there on vacation.
  • Option Three:  Or maybe it’s true that “home is where the heart is.”  If that’s the case, then Mexico is my home.  I miss it when I leave.  I can’t imagine living back in the States running the rat race.  I tell people that I must have a Mexican heart–because I sure do love the life and the people here.

In any case, today home is with my family.  I love my sweet family here–but between Skyping with my sisters and seeing pictures of my Mama with my nephews, I’ve come down with a bad case of the Homesick Blues.  The homesick blues are what happens when you start yearning for things that you can’t have.  I’m not one to stay blue too long, and between Ale and Victor that’s hard to do anyway.

This is today’s cure-all recipe for all that ails you (if what ails you is the Homesick Blues):

  • 1 pot of Chicken and Dumplings
  • 1 pitcher of Sweet Tea
  • something Chocolate

It works, I tell ya!

I remember watching Mamaw make Chicken and Dumplings.  She would use the whole chicken–complete with bones for better flavor.  Sometimes all the bones didn’t get removed, and that made eating a chore.  This is how I made Chicken and Dumplings today:

  1. Boil chicken in a big pot of water with a generous amount of ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
  2. After the chicken is cooked, pull it apart with a fork to shredded pieces.  Allow this to keep cooking in the water.
  3. While Chicken is boiling, make biscuits:  2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter or shortening, 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Mix dry ingredients.  Add butter and cut it with a fork until it is in pea-size pieces.  Add milk and mix–but not too much!  Turn out onto floured surface.  Pat down until your husband walks by and asks if you’re making pizza.
  4.  Give him a lesson on how to properly say dumplin’.  “Dump-lynn.  No, Dump… now lynn.”  Give up on that–but don’t give up on those biscuits!  (The secret is to not mess with them too much…)
  5. Slice the dumplings into strips and drop them into the boiling water.  They will sink–then start floating!
  6. Allow this to cook on medium heat until the dumplings are cooked.  You will end up with a nice gravy broth from the flour in the biscuits.
  7. Add mixed veggies like peas, carrots, corn, etc.  (Mamaw didn’t do this–but it makes me feel better about eating biscuit soup…)
  8. Feed your family hearty bowls of chicken and dumplings–but puree some until it looks disgusting for your baby.  (It just looks that way–it’s actually still delicious!)
  9. Serve with a tall glass of ice tea…sweet, of course!

That’s it!  That’s all you have to do to feel better–and less blue!  Well, it doesn’t cure it completely, but at least you won’t be hungry and blue!

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

20131019-091340.jpgMy baby playing while I work at Starbucks.

Last year I was so excited for the arrival of October. Yes, I live in the desert. Yes, it looks the same all year long. But there was one little thing I couldn’t wait to get my hands on… Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks!

I tried Every. Starbucks. In. Town. Finally I accepted the fact that Mexico, while plentiful in the salsa category, was sorely lacking in the sweet-treats-of-fall category. Sigh. I feel like I should write a sonnet for my fall friends. After all, a love like this is a special thing. When I bought squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes the other day, I felt so at home! I hurried back to my kitchen to make Mama Bell’s “Pumpkin” Soup. Yummy! (And Victor was excited to find out that you could do something with squash other than adding sugar.)

Well, my love affair has blossomed with my little Sweet Pea. I like to add sweet potatoes or pumpkin to her food. I feel like she needs to grow an affection for those too. There are many autumn goodies in her future.

This year I was thrilled to hear that Starbucks finally got the message. Of course this came after I learned to make my own pumpkin spice lattes. And guess what? I like them better! I wake up in the morning, and put this on the stovetop: 2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of pumpkin purée, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spices, and sugar to taste. I cook that and add 2 cups of coffee. Oh. My. Word. It’s like a party in my pink coffee mug! I drink that deliciousness down slowly–and I savor every drop.

If only we could ship the trees, and the leaves, and the crisp morning air, and the smell of campfires, and…

My Mama’s Daughter: A Tale of Cookies

When I was young, my Mama would make cookies. If you’re imagining chocolate chip cookies, stop right there. My entire childhood, Mama NEVER made chocolate chip cookies… Mama’s favorite cookie is a chocolate oatmeal cookie-you know, the no-bake kind? She usually made two batches: one with raisins and one without. Yummo!

It was always a very exciting time. It went something like this:

First, in a bowl, she mixed oatmeal, peanut butter, and vanilla. My friend and I affectionately dubbed that “Kitty Litter.”

On the stove top, she added milk, butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. The trick is to bring it to a boil and allow it to do so for one minute. Once it has boiled, with the timer blaring in the background, Mama began hollering.

“Girls!” she yelled, “Help!” Put down more wax paper! Move out of the way! Careful, this is hot! Now, git! Stop messing!” We would look on as she spooned out cookies with gusto. Careful to not get in her way, we eyed each splatter with glee. After all, those were free. We could eat around each cookie while we waited for them to cool.

Fast forward twenty years to my kitchen here in Torreon. Without all the proper ingredients, but close enough to make it work, I began cookies the other night. I’ve made these cookies almost as many times as I watch my Mama make them, so I know the drill. I am, however, my mother’s daughter…

“Victor!” I said, quietly (but urgently) as to not wake the baby. Here I was, elbows deep in chocolate and oatmeal, stirring furiously at my bowl. I wasn’t too pleased when he strolled through the kitchen a few minutes later. He obviously has not learned the drill. Cookies can’t be made without hollering for help.

“I needed more paper!” I immediately blamed him. “I yelled for you, where were you!?” I continued accusingly. Oblivious, I had to made it work without him, and I laughed to myself. But my immediate thought, Gosh! He is just like Daddy! was followed with a more honest reflection: Could I be more like Mama?

Oh, sweet cookies. I am doomed.

Yummo! Smoothie Time!

I bought smoothie goodies several months ago.  Actually, I thought I was buying a gallon of Pineapple-Coconut Frozen Yogurt.  Because why would they sell regular yogurt in a gallon ice cream container?  No, really… why?  Because I now have a gallon of yogurt.  Frozen yogurt.  Sigh.

I came home from Sam’s that day so excited.  I couldn’t wake to make some yummy fruity drinks!  Then we tried to use the blender.  And what we ended up with was a mess.  Turns out the glass part was a bit worn out.

So I borrowed a friend’s blender a couple weeks ago–and I am hoping she doesn’t ask for it back!  I am a smoothie/frappachino/any-frozen-concoction making fool!

This is what we just enjoyed:

frozen mango, a banana, and papaya blended with milk and pineapple juice.  SOOO good.  Actually, I’ve been trying to like the flavor of papaya after I heard of all the health benefits.  Turns out papaya can cure anything that ails you from inflammation to cuts and burns!  Too bad it tastes like trash.  It’s becoming more tolerable the more I try it.  I think we might be on the right road here!

ice, milk, instant coffee, a spoon of cocoa powder, and two spoons of sugar.  Okay, so I know this has sugar in it.  But really, so does my coffee.  So why not blend my coffee into a frozen frappachino?  It tastes better than the Sainted Starbucks (I really do love these guys…) due to the fact that I can drink it in my pajamas while I am harvesting my baby’s bottle AND poking around on Facebook.  Sigh. I really did read that multitasking isn’t so great for your brain… I should stop that.

freshly squeezed lemon juice, half of a lemon, a bunch of sugar, ice, and water.  Frozen lemonada, anyone?  This is really amazing.  I love lemonade–and the fact that we can make it even more refreshing as we continue to live in the desert is a treat.  The actual lime (skin and all) adds a different flavor (my husband says).  Ideally you would strain this out before adding ice.  Ideally.  Or you drink around it.

Sigh.  I love Mexico.  I love fresh fruit.  I love that I can buy drinks like these when I am out and about.  Yummmm.  I am now wanting to blend everything I drink first.  Frozen sweet tea, anyone?