Iowa Writes

Gallina Pinta

     The dish should have the texture of soup. My father and mother like it with onions, like a pozole. This dish is especially good in winter. We get corn from Local Foods Connection and we can make hominy from it, although we also buy canned hominy. Sometimes the local farmers don't have much sweet corn because the raccoons eat it.
     In Mexico, we make a special treat from corn on the cob. We boil the ear of corn, rub butter on it, then mayonnaise, and then shake grated parmesan cheese on it.
     When I was young, my father died and my mother went to work. My sisters and I had to cook for ourselves. We made simple meals, such as eggs and beans. I learned how to make hot dogs, hamburgers, eggs over easy, and other simple dishes.
     Since I had a family of my own, I have been slowly learning how to cook. I cook twice a day. I don't know how to prepare real meals or formal foods. I am so-so, okay. Compared to a chef, I know nothing. My mom, who lives with me, helps prepare meals. She mother taught me about steaming vegetables instead of boiling them. She told me that olive oil is healthier than lard or corn oil. I need to cook healthful food for my special-needs son. No more restaurants.

10 lbs meat on the bone
1 (16 oz) can of pinto beans
30 oz can hominy
8 oz can of crushed tomatoes

Onion, optional
Sugar, salt, pepper
Medium-sized pot of water for boiling

•  Bring a pot of water to boil. Drain liquid from a can of beans; rinse, if desired.
•  Add the beans to the boiling water. The water should cover the ingredients by several inches. Cook for 45 minutes.
•  Add meat and cook for 2-3 more hours.
•  Add the hominy, tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Boil for at least 15 minutes more.
•  Serve with tortillas or chips.

Note: Hominy is usually made from field corn. The corn is removed from the cob, dried, and boiled with lye. The corn is soaked, boiled, ground, or cooked to make soups and stews, bread, chili, grits, casseroles, fried dishes, and tamale and tortilla dough.
When preparing this recipe, you have to be open-minded and not worry about exact measurements. For cooking times, you need to consider if the meat is frozen or fresh and if the beans are dry or soft. Tasting the dish while cooking will help you determine quantities. Be sure to leave the meat on the bone because it adds flavor.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting


Isabel's story and recipe were included in Food Roots, a cookbook published in 2010 by Local Foods Connection (LFC) in collaboration with an Art and Ecology class at the University of Iowa. Clients and farmers interviewed for this book come from Illinois, Iowa, California, Mexico, Guatemala, Republic of the Sudan, The Togolese Republic, El Salvador, and Thailand.

Local Foods Connection ( enrolls low-income families and the agencies that serve them in CSA programs. CSAs provide a season's worth of fresh produce to consumers while paying local earth-friendly farmers fair prices for the food they grow, raise, and produce. Clients have the opportunity to visit a farm, as well as to learn healthy cooking methods. These opportunities are part of LFC's larger educational program, which covers nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues.

This page was first displayed
on June 27, 2011

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