Murals create a focal point
Murals Your Way's new repositionable murals let you make a statement without making a commitment.
The SmartStick peel-and-stick murals are easy to apply to most surfaces and can be removed and reapplied more than 100 times, the company says. More than 7,000 designs are available in customizable sizes starting from 4 by 6 feet, or you can create a custom mural from a favorite snapshot or image.
Prices start at $171.84 plus shipping. Murals can be ordered at www.muralsyourway.com.
Know your specialty foods
From achiote to tomatillos, here are some of the most common Mexican specialty food items and suggested substitutions in case you can't find them at your market.
Achiote paste: Rust-colored flavorful paste made from the flowering seed of the annatto shrub. It can be found in the ethnic section of the grocery store.
Substitute: Achiote oil may be available. Turmeric powder, just enough to color the dish (1 to 2 tablespoons per recipe), should do. Too much can make the dish bitter.
Queso fresco: Fresh Mexican cheese with a crumbly texture and slightly acidic flavor.
Substitute: Feta cheese.
Dried California/New Mexico chile: Dark burgundy chile with a mild to medium-hot flavor.
Substitute: Ancho chile pepper, a more commonly found dried chile.
Panela cheese: Fresh Mexican cheese made from whole unpasteurized milk curds.
Substitute: Monterey Jack or mozzarella.
Mexican chorizo: Spicy pork sausage.
Substitute: Hot Italian sausage or make your own with ground pork, garlic, cumin and paprika.
Purple bougainvillea: South American edible flower.
Chile de arbol: Small, bright red, fairly hot dried Mexican chile.
Substitute: Chile powder.
Tamarind pods: Tropical fruit both sweet and sour in taste.
Substitute: Lemon juice, lime juice or cider vinegar with a little sugar added.
Maggi sauce: Hydrolyzed vegetable protein-based sauce used as a flavor enhancer in Latin/Asian cuisine. It can be found in the ethnic section of the grocery store.
Substitute: Equal-part mixture of Worcestershire sauce and dark soy sauce.
Dried cornhusk: Dried outer sheath that surrounds an ear of corn.
Substitute: Plastic wrap or foil.
Masa harina: Popular Mexican flour made from treated corn.
Substitute: Finely ground cornmeal.
Tomatillo: Mexican relative to the gooseberry with a tart flavor.
Substitute: Green tomato and lime juice.
-- Standard-Examiner wire services