Monthly Cultural Corner - May 2024

May 1, 2024

Cultural Spotlight- Graciela Canela (Graciela's Recipes)

When thinking of the month of May many people think Cinco de Mayo.  Cinco de Mayo is an annual event to celebrate Mexico’s victory over the Second French Empire at the battle of Puebla in 1862, which was led by General Ignacio Zaragoza.  Over the years, Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican American culture.  Today we celebrate with parades, music, dancing, battle reenactments and delicious Mexican food.  In honor of Cinco de Mayo, we would like to share a very special Cultural Spotlight.  This month we shine the light on Graciela Canela, her Mexican heritage and the foods that bring her joy, are a reminder of tradition and coming together of family and friends. -Judy Grant, Penny Lane Centers

Hello my name is Graciela Canela. I am currently lead House Keeper at Penny Lane North Hills Family Center. I have been with Penny Lane for 18 years.

I was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico. My parents were from Sayula, Jalisco and Tequila Jalisco.

When I was 21 years old, I got married in Guadalajara and soon after my husband decided to migrate to Sylmar CA for a better future. One year later my husband and I made the decision that our son and I should also migrate to California to reunite.

My journey to the United States started in 1989 and three years later our family expanded with a baby girl. Coming to the U.S. was a culture shock but slowly I began adapting to my new life. In the process of adapting, I found joy in cooking and baking, sharing my culture through food with my family miles away from home.

One of my favorite dishes to make is Carnes en su Jugo (meat in its juice), a traditional dish from Guadalajara. It is said this dish was created to reduce the drunkenness or hangover of rowdy individuals roaming the streets of Guadalajara.

Carne en su Jugo

  • 1/2 lb of Tomatillo
  • 5 Serrano Chiles
  • 1/3 Onion
  • 2 garlic heads
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 2 lbs beef steak
  • 6 cups of water (total)
  • 1/4 lb bacon
  • 12 green onion
  • 1 1/2 chicken bouillon
  • 1 lb  beans (pot beans)


Cut the bacon in to small pieces and cook. Remove from pan and use the bacon grease to cook the meat (cut meat in bite size pieces prior to cooking). Blend 1 cup of water with cilantro, garlic, Tomatillo, and onion.  To a big pot add 5 cups of water with the chicken bouillon. Once the water comes to a boil add the meat, bacon, and blended ingredients (onion, garlic, tomatillo, and onion).  Let cook for 30 min. To serve add spoon full of pot beans and top with cilantro and onion.

Aside from cooking I love baking desserts. One of my favorites is Jericalla. It is one of Guadalajara’s favorite desserts and is a product of culinary fusion between Europe and Mexico. The slightly burnt top layer is my favorite combined with the creamy vanilla flavor.


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla extract

In a pot add milk, cinnamon stick and vanilla and bring it to a boil. Remove from stove top and let chill. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and add to the milk mixture. Once mixed, pour into small oven safe cups and then bake in water bath for 1 hr. at 350 F. Water bath- place a deep pan with hot water and in that pan place your small oven safe cups. Make sure you don’t over fill the water pan.

If you ever can try any of these dishes don’t skip the opportunity! Thank you Penny Lane for allowing me to share a little of my story and culture.

-Graciela Canela, Penny Lane Centers