My journey from burning agua to being a great cook!
burning water

Let Me Introduce Myself

Hello, everyone, my name is Yolanda Ortega, and this is my Burning Agua blog.   This is basically a journey of how I am going to go from burning water, quemando agua or Burning Agua to becoming a great cook.  I’m at the beginning of my journey now and let me tell you how it starts.

I was very determined as a young woman to be a career woman.  I completely dismissed many of the traditional roles that many women play in their lives.  Although, I’m a mother I was very focused on career, and I am ashamed to admit my son and I mostly ate at restaurants through most of his childhood.

It wasn’t until last summer that I hit rock bottom financially.  I ended up at the food bank. Normally I would eat out for a couple of meals a day and have no trouble finding great restaurants to visit every day.  But there I was at the food bank in financially difficult times.  I managed to pay the utility bills and the rent and for the first time in my life, I had to cook because financially I had no other choice.

At first, it was difficult.  I had little money for good ingredients and the condition of my kitchen was that I had barely any tools; pots, pans, dishes, silverware, or knives.  I was at square one going to the second-hand store trying to find some supplies I need to cook with.  But, I took what I had and started cooking with the food that I got at the food bank.   It was in this moment that I decided that despite being very poor I was going to eat well because I was going to cook for myself and my son.

Don’t worry financially things improved over the course of a couple of months and it started being able to buy better and better products such as good groceries, fresh ingredients, spices.  My next step is to slowly build a kitchen with supplies that would make the best cooks in my life envious.  I can do it step by step.

In the most trying time of my life, I discovered cooking could be a way to release negative energy.  It is also a way to get the glory!  My son always compliments me on my cooking no matter what it tastes like.  After all, I was a beginner, and he was my guinea pig.

At first, my dishes were very simple the simple foods of Mexico that I sort of remembered learning to cook when I was a child.  But, the memories came back and I ventured down a road to try better and more complex recipes.  I am still on this journey, and I hope that you can join me and figure out how to become a great cook after only knowing how to Burn Agua.

I want to share with you a complete adventure buying my supplies, ingredients asking for advice from relatives, Google research and YouTube diving to try to figure out how to do things.    This is how we will move forward on this journey. Although the blog starts with Mexican food, I hope that we can expand to foods from all over the world.  I am in the city of Chicago, and this is an international City with ingredients available from every continent on Earth.  The journey ahead is wonderful and exciting!

I hope that I can venture out and cook Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Ethiopian, French, Vietnamese, Greek, American, Southern, New Orleans style cooking and any other suggestions you may have for recipes for me to try.

I will use as mentors Rick Bayless, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart and much more chefs waiting to be discovered.   As you know this is the beginning of my journey so I don’t even know who the best chefs are great to follow.  I don’t even know where to start there’s so much information, I’m overwhelmed, but I’ll get through it with your help.

My blog will have three important features: first I will try a new recipe every week.  I will either follow it verbatim or improvise depending on what ingredients I have in the house and what I have a taste for that day.  My next feature will include my family, Tuesdays with Tias.   I look forward to that feature most of all because it allows me to spend time with my family and not lose the tradition of cooking that I took for granted for many years.   The last feature will be product reviews; as I build out my kitchen from the meager second-hand pots and pans and tools to brand new tools.  I will discover new accruements, tools, and gadgets and will only recommend things I really really love!

I will go from making sauces, salsas, and soups to healthy dishes with fruits, vegetables, and beans.  I hope to master both the cooking of meat and fish but also not fear the new vegetarian options.  But most of all I will use my artistic ability, my sensitivity to taste, and the most important ingredient for cooking love.  Let’s start this journey together!

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