Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taco Night: A Meal in Pictures

My husband bought this:
I know.

Anyway, it's been sitting around here 
for ages.  I think he bought it during one of his infrequent trips to Whole Foods in the vain and desperate hope I'd buy a pork loin someday and maybe grill or roast it up.  I don't know what it is about pork, but I always seem to forget about it when I'm at the store, even though everyone in my family seems to like it when I do cook it.  In any case, this pork seasoning had been sitting in my cabinet for so long, it had become invisible to me.  Even if I'd had some pork to grill or roast up, I'd never have remembered I'd had this.

So, last night Em requested Tacos --  a good idea because I, miraculously, had Taco shells in the cabinet, and I had tomatoes and lettuce and green beans (yep - greens beens) along with a good sized block of cheese and all that sour cream from that pineapple thing  from last week and some hamburger meat in the freezer.  Plus  it was hot and I'd been to the pool and had recently injured my back cleaning my other daughter's room out of books she no longer wants to read  and I didn't really feel much like cooking.  Tacos are one of those kitchen sink meals: you just toss a bunch of things in bowls and let everyone make their own.  And you can put anything in them -- anything at all that sounds good to you, or that you have to eat before it goes off in the fridge.  I got stuff together:  

Except: No Taco Seasoning.  Now, I could have made my own, but there's that back injury thing, and I still smelled like chlorine, and I still had to brown the meat, and to be honest here, I just couldn't face one more step.  Back to the cabinet, thinking I might at least have some chili powder when I saw 
A quick check of ingredients:    brown sugar, kosher salt, coriander, cumin, pepper, paprika, ancho, cayenne : Perfect!

My trusty souschef

     and I browned the meat, 


got the table ready: 

And called everyone to dinner.  It was all a huge success.

If I WERE Going to Make Taco Seasoning, This is How:

1 TBLS chili powder
1 TBLS brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (use more, or less, depends on you)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Whisk it all together.  You can leave out the red pepper and the cayenne if you want to -- chili powder has them both -- but I like the added kick.  Adjust the seasonings to your own taste. 

Next time I make this I'm going to put some coriander in it too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We interrupt this regularly scheduled food blog for a word about Michael Vic

I don't know what to do with this Michael Vic thing.   Have you seen the National Geographic documentary about the dogs they rescued from there?  It horrific.  The fact that he's going to play for the Eagles has got me, and in particular my youngest daughter really worked up.  My Mad is the biggest, most intense, dog advocate I know and I was so worried about how she would  react to the news that Vic will be here, in Philadelphia,  I didn't tell her for most of the day.  

I didn't tell her until right before dinner, and then the four of us had a big long discussion about the whole thing while we ate, and it was really interesting because we talked about whether Vic should be able to play,  about how he did something terrible, something wrong, he was caught, he was punished and he apologized.  Even if we can't forgive him because what he did to those dogs was disgusting, shouldn't we let him get on with his life?  

Because its not like we haven't done bad things (ok, not that bad, obviously), but when we do something bad, and we do the time and we apologize and try to make amends shouldn't others respect that and let us get on?  So if the Eagles are doing that, maybe it's good. At some point, there has to be an end to the punishment -- because most punishment is a finite thing.  I say that to the girls all the time:  you're sister has apologized for [wearing your favorite shirt/breaking your whatever/reading your emails] and she will [get the stain out/ spend her own money on a new one/ give her computer time up to you] and she will have some sort of consequence,  so now it's time to stop haranguing her for it. 

Except, does Michael Vic need to be paid 1.5 million dollars?  Couldn't the Eagles just have signed him for some more reasonable fee instead? And are they teaching the hundreds of kids who are super fans of the Eagles something about forgiveness, or are they saying that if you do something really bad, I mean really really bad, you still get to be famous and make tons of money and have people laud you if you happen to pay football well enough to win? Are we saying that winning is the most important thing here?  

And maybe the real reason we are all up in arms about it because it's hard to believe that someone who is capable of that level of cruelty can really completely change no matter what he's been through in those 18 months of prison.  However, I want to give Michael Vic the benefit of the doubt -- I want to see what he does now -- not on the field but in the world.  And this is what I ask of my children each time they do something wrong, or I do something wrong in their view: that we start anew, with a clean slate.  

It was a really good dinner time discussion, the kind where everyone has a good point to make and we all left the table still thinking about it.

Anyway,  it all boils down to this: Mads won't watch the Eagles this year, I don't know if I will be able to stomach watching them either, even though, intellectually, I know the man's paid for his crime.  It's an emotional thing, its a visceral reaction,  and it's such a bummer, because there is nothing better on a cold November Sunday than cracking a beer, making a plate of nacho's and watching the home team play.  

Friday, August 14, 2009

Just Dessert: Weird but Good

I loved my grandmother a lot.  She was very funny, she thought I was great even when I was a snarky teen and she gave me my "first" gin & tonic before I was even 18.   The one thing she couldn't really do was cook.  I mean she was ok -- nothing she ever plated up was burned, spoiled or inedible, but she didn't really care for cooking, it wasn't fun for her and so her food was just that, food, for dinner.  

Except this one time, we were at my grandparents for dinner and we'd just had Salisbury Steak, or some such thing, with an iceberg lettuce salad (which my grandfather loved), and it was time for dessert.  My sisters and I, expecting the usual orange sherbert, were stunned when she brought out something different.  Something, well, weird, in our book.  We weren't sure.  My mom had to execute a few well placed underthetable kicks before we'd try it, but to be polite, (and the four of us were nothing if not polite away from home) we did.  And it was great.  And it is one of my favorite simple desserts and today, even my picky kids love it.  
It is:

Pineapple chunks with brown sugar and sour cream.

Yep.  That's it.  That's all there is to it.  And it's weird.  I know it is -- but it is incredibly yummy and you should try it for dessert tonight.  Seriously.  Get yourself some pineapple, chunk it into a bowl, sprinkle a couple pinches of brown sugar over it, drop a spoonful of sour cream on top.  If you're feeling bold you can sprinkle a little more brown sugar over the whole thing.  Eat it up, yum.

The other day I was reading a recipe for grilled watermelon salad by another Philly cooking blog --  Figtree Appetizers -- and suddenly I thought: Grill the Pineapple!  So I did, and this is what it looked like all warm from the grill with the sour cream and brown sugar all melting together:

It was really really good.  Better, actually, because the pineapple got all carmelized on the grill and the brown sugar got all melty and I just loved it.  Soak some wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes, thread your pineapple onto them and grill over a medium heat for about 5 minutes per side.  Then slide them off, and add the brown sugar and the sour cream.

I put the pineapple into my other grandmother's tea cups and I think it all just looks so pretty -- and it makes me miss them both.  In fact, since it is "five o'clock somewhere" (as they both used to say when a cocktail was needed somewhat early) and My Husband just got home, I think I'll have a small gin&tonic right now, in their honor.