Tag Archives: sarah a. chavez

CookBook Recipes: Grandma Chavez’s Mexican Arroz, by Sarah A. Chavez

head shot 2After I had been living outside California and far from family for about five years, I started to try to make my Abuela’s recipes. My whole life, we had eaten her rice, beans, tamales, chorizo con huevos, and enchiladas during regular monthly and holiday/birthday visits. These were beloved foods, expected foods. Not once do I remember a childhood visit that did not feature her 32-quart dented, silver-colored pot half full of rice. There was always enough for my father, the person he was dating, my two uncles (the women they were dating), me, my sister, my grandpa, and a possible neighbor or unexpected friend. And then there were the leftovers. Almost as special as eating the fluffy pink rice in her warm cozy kitchen with the gauzy white half curtains that waved in the breeze of the ceiling fan was the Ziploc bag of rice you got to take home. If you were really lucky, it also came with a Ziploc bag of frijoles, some foil-wrapped tortillas, and a plastic grocery bag full of oranges or nectarines from their backyard. No one in the history of visits has ever left my Abuela’s house hungry or empty-handed.

It was summer when I asked to learn her rice recipe during one of my longer visits in from the Midwest where I was attending graduate school. This was years before the stroke that blocked a significant portion of the English she worked so hard to learn during her sixty years in the U.S., before the subdural hematoma which left a scar the circumference of a baseball stretching from the left ear back, the stitching eerily similar. And so typical for her, when the hair grew back, it was all thick salt with an edge of pepper, soon cut in the most stylish fashion. Even in the kitchen so many hours of the day, her nails were done, slacks pressed, a bright-colored blouse under her red apron. I did not inherit her sense of fashion or interest in the domestic, but I wanted to eat that rice whenever the spirit moved me.

What I didn’t know was that there was no recipe, no measurements in the way that I understood them. She didn’t use measuring cups or teaspoons.

“Sure, Mija,” she said when I asked to watch her. “You just go like this.” This became a blur of coffee mugs and eye-balled ingredients. I had a notebook with me, writing down what I thought the standard measurements might be. But two weeks later, back across the plains, my rice was somehow both oily and dry. I called her, “Grandma, how much? You know, how many teaspoons of salt?” I asked. She seemed confused by the question.

“No teaspoons,” her voice echoed from the phone speaker on the counter while I stood in the middle of the kitchen staring at my new cast iron skillet, vegetarian bullion, and long-grain rice. “Just do like I showed you.”

 

Grandma Chavez’s Mexican Arroz

Serves: ~ 8

 

Ingredients:

1 coffee mug full of rice (the inexpensive white one)

3 coffee mugs full of water

Enough oil

Half of a white onion cut into 4 wedges

2 regular spoonfuls of tomato paste (almost half of a tiny can)

Really heaping soup spoonful of caldo con sabor de pollo (the green packaging)

A cupped palm of salt

 

Directions:

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium open flame heat. Pour oil into the pan until the bottom is covered and it looks like a little too much. Rinse the mugful of rice two or three times under cold tap water, check that there are no bad grains—if you find bad ones, take out the bad ones.

Brown rice in oil until they are tanned like your brown hand (but not burned). Add spoonfuls of tomato paste and one mug of water, stir around. Add spoonful of powder pollo and another mug of water. Push the rice around in the pan with an old wooden spatula until pollo powder is dissolved. Pour the other mugful of water, maybe add a little more tomato paste, dump in the salt. Push everything around (without spilling the water) until it looks about right. Place onion wedges cut side down in the pan with the rice. Lower heat to medium-low, cover with whichever pot lid isn’t too small. Pot lids can be substituted with corning ware lids or old cookie sheets with an oversized can of something placed on top to weigh it down.

Check the rice in 20 mins. Smell it, then push around to mix, and take out a small spoonful to taste. Maybe add more water, or don’t. Put the lid back on for another 10 – 15 mins.

When rice is pink and on the verge of mushy, take pan off the heat and leave it on the stove for people to take bites of while they walk through the kitchen before transferring it to a corning dish and placing on the table for dinner.

 


Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the poetry collections, Hands That Break & Scar (Sundress Publications, 2017) and All Day, Talking (dancing girl press, 2014), selections of which were awarded the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in the anthologies Xicanx: Mexican American Writers of the 21st Century and Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzalduan Borderlands as well as the journals Brevity, North American ReviewPretty Owl Poetry, Atticus Review, and The Fourth River Tributaries Series, among others. She recently joined the faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma where she teaches creative writing and Latinx/Chicanx-focused courses. She serves as the poetry coordinator for the Best of the Net Anthology, is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, and is a ravenous consumer of all manner of carbohydrate.

Sarah Chavez’s Hands that Break and Scar

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Sarah A. Chavez’s Hands that Break and Scar Now Available for Sale

Sundress Publications is pleased to announce that Sarah A. Chavez’s debut full-length collection, Hands that Break and Scar, is now available for preorder at at the Sundress store.

The author of Blood Sugar, ire’ne lara silva, had this to say about Hands that Break and Scar:

“In language that is both achingly honest and meticulously poetic, Chavez chronicles the passage from childhood to young womanhood in California’s Central Valley, negotiating culture, language, identity, sexuality, love, and meaning. It is not that these poems reveal the secret profound nature of things—in Chavez’ world, the lines blur between violence and love, joy and struggle, memory and transcendence, the sacred and the mundane. One thing flows into another and back again. Hands That Break & Scar will leave an indelible mark on your heart, reminding you that poetry, beauty, and life are everywhere—within and without.”

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking (dancing girl press, 2014), a selection of which won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship. Her work appears in such publications as Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands, BrevityNorth American Review, Fourth River, Acentos Review, and VIDA Exclusive, among others. She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Along with teaching at Marshall University, she serves as coordinator of the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series.

Other advance readers include Corinne Clegg Hales, author of To Make it Right, who said:

“The poems in Hands That Break and Scar work as a sort of mosaic, vividly portraying a bi-cultural, working class—and often precarious—childhood in the rough world of California’s hot Central Valley.  This community is as stressed as it is vital—and children become vigilant and self-sufficient at an early age. […] Chavez celebrates the moments of true joy and grace to be found in simple physical acts and otherwise ordinary situations. “I climbed the ladder,” she says, “reached out my arm / placed my fingers on the fruit’s smooth skin, / twisted it away from the stem / and handed it down to my grandmother / whose hair danced lightly in the breeze.” This is a stunning first book, filled with brilliant images, hard truths, and honest hope.”

Order your copy today!

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Sundress Academy for the Arts’ Podcast Announces Episode Featuring Poet Sarah A. Chavez

The SAFTAcast, a part of the Sundress Academy for the Arts, has released its 36th Episode featuring poet Sarah A. Chavez. The new episode and all previous episodes and promos are available on iTunes or for free download. They can also be found on the podcast’s blog at SAFTAcast.com.

SAFTAcast prides itself on being a writer’s podcast that is not about writing; in fact the subject of writing is immediately ruled out as a possible conversation topic. These programs are more focused on learning about the creators as opposed to the creation. This often inspires candid and no-pressure conversations about whatever may be on their minds. Host Scott C Fynboe brings an electric charge to the program with witty insights that spur guests on and eccentric promos for each upcoming episode. Scott C is a former radio disc jockey from upstate New York. He received a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi and currently lives and teaches on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Guests on the SAFTAcast range from Sundress Publications authors to widely published poets and writers from around the country. Join Scott C. as he and Sarah talk desserts, overdosing on Halloween, and macabre films. They’ll also reflect on their common coffee drinking habits.

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Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking (Dancing Girl Press, 2014), which was featured on Sundress Publications’ book spotlight, The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed. She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in North Dakota Quarterly, Accentos Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Luna Luna Magazine, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sarah A. Chavez’s “All Day, Talking”

sarah-a-chavez

Dear Carole, For hours, it’s been burning

a hole in my gut, the shame
of never saying thank you
twelve years ago for that fucking pizza
you bought with SSI back pay.
It tasted so good: the grease,
the sweet of the tomato sauce,
the salt from the olives prickling
my tongue – I could actually taste it.
They don’t say on those Cymbalta commercials
depression takes away taste.
Sleep, yeah, sex drive, focus, but not taste.
I never told you
how for those months, alone
in my one-bedroom apartment I tried
to eat just about anything,
but it was all so thick and waxen . . .
one night, ravenous and wretched
I tried to eat an entire loaf of bread.
Cross-legged on the kitchen floor
the light from the street lamp cast ghastly
shadows against the apartment blinds
while I took slice after slice
of Wonder Bread from the Hostess overstock
warehouse on Weldon Street and bit
into each one wanting desperately
for the next to taste
like summer,
like 1998,
like the smell of patchouli
in your room, like rain water,
like mud-stained carpet, like midnights
on the front porch,
like lying to our mothers and never getting caught.
Slice after slice – mutilated, the impression
of my teeth embossed on each one’s cottony
flesh – lay scattered
on the linoleum. I couldn’t bring myself
to swallow even the smallest
bite. Just kept spitting
slobbery hunks onto my naked lap,
into my tangled hair, until
I laid down, the floor clammy and smooth
like the palms of your hands.

 

This selection comes from Sarah Chavez’s chapbook All Day, Talking, available from Dancing Girl press. Purchase your copy here!

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014).  She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sarah A. Chavez’s “All Day, Talking”

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Dear Carole, Yesterday it cracked

right down the middle, my red
and black swirl stone ring.
I know what you’re thinking,
but I didn’t do it on purpose.
I love that ring.

 

This selection comes from Sarah Chavez’s chapbook All Day, Talking, available from Dancing Girl press. Purchase your copy here!

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014).  She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sarah A. Chavez’s “All Day, Talking”

sarah-a-chavez

Dear Carole, There are bugs everywhere

Mobs of tight black bodies,
their imperceptible wings
flapping through the screens
of the south-facing windows.
It’s disgusting how the live
and dead bug bodies mingle
together on the sill, the floor,
moving and multiplying no
matter how often I take the
broom and Dustbuster to them.
I know what you would tell me:
Close the goddamn windows
already. But the sun is shining
in that friendly, far-flung
way that only happens in fall.
There’s a breeze that flits
through those wings. I guess
that was always the difference
between us – what we were
willing to sacrifice for comfort.

 

This selection comes from Sarah Chavez’s chapbook All Day, Talking, available from Dancing Girl press. Purchase your copy here!

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014).  She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sarah A. Chavez’s “All Day, Talking”

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Dear Carole, The dentist is about to pull

my wisdom teeth and I stayed up all night
drinking to dumb my brain enough
to drag my happy-ass across town at 8 a.m.
and into this frightening chair next to the gizmos
and loud whirly drills, the smell of latex
pressed against my nose, the latex dust
getting caught in the back of my throat.
I can already feel the dentist’s sadistic hands
pushing farther and farther into my mouth,
and there’s so much pressure and he’s so far in
I think he’s going to stand up with my tongue torn off
in his rubber-laden hand like an anthropologist,
like fucking Indiana Jones finding some third world
country’s indigenous treasure.

I want to yell at him: Don’t you know better
than to take from people who have nothing
but these relics, these baubles?

But he’s got my still slab of a tongue in his hand
and the noise that comes from the back
of my throat is just choking, as if a person
could even choke on absence.

 

This selection comes from Sarah Chavez’s chapbook All Day, Talking, available from Dancing Girl press. Purchase your copy here!

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014).  She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sarah A. Chavez’s “All Day, Talking”

sarah-a-chavez

Dear Carole, It’s Dia de los Muertos

I propped
your picture
next to a package
of Hostess mini
chocolate donuts
from the 7-11
off of Dakota
and Marks,
(the one
where they never
carded us)
and lit a black candle.
If your ghost
doesn’t eat
those little sugar bombs
by the time I get home
from the late shift
tonight, they’re mine.

 

This selection comes from Sarah Chavez’s chapbook All Day, Talking, available from Dancing Girl press. Purchase your copy here!

Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014).  She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Luna Luna Magazine, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.

Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of the chapbooks When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, The Emerson Review, Harpur Palate, Moon City Review, Stirring, and Whiskey Island, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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