Friday, May 21, 2010

MEAT: It's what's for dinner.

After a mostly vegan/vegetarian week, I broke my streak last night when I met Peef and Lo for dinner at Roots. I was so happy they suggested we go there, since I had never been. It dawned on me as I was eating delicious pork nachos, outdoors mind you, that I effortlessly ate no meat for a week until that mouthful. Pork, sustainably raised and melt in your mouth tender is confirmation enough for me that no matter my food obsession, sometimes puerco is just the best think in the whole wide world.

Burp! also posted yesterday about the freezer meals that they like to have, which is exactly how I cook over here as well. I'm never happier than when I can spend the whole day in the kitchen concocting, but then I'm very happy to have a fully stocked freezer at the ready. I am actually getting better at not cooking for a small army. My Husband is not a leftover eater, unless the leftovers appear months into the future, and that's actually a good arrangement for a cooker like myself. I'm as happy doing daily cooking as I am eating a leftover that prevents me from cooking every day until it expires, but when pressed, I would rather cook something new.

So I felt compelled to dig into my frozen wares for supper tonight, partially because I couldn't be bothered to run out to shop and partially because I do like to use up what is on hand. What fun to shop in my own freezer: a portion of frozen Pork and Chile from my Mom - one of our Christmas Eve traditions, some frozen pintos that were from last month, and a half armful of leftovers fruits and vegetables with some cilantro from the fridge side of things made a nice salsa to boot.

My Mom makes the most wonderful flour tortillas. When I first came to live on my own, I tried to mimic them to no avail. I tried and failed so many times that I just settled on corn tortillas made with Maseca. I can make them in my sleep, which makes me feel strangely like a top chef in my small kitchen, cooking for a whopping 2 patrons. I can multitask with the best of them, especially, when all I have to do is make the tortillas when everything else just simmers up to temperature, a few seasonings required. Someday I do want to make nixtamal corn in my kitchen like Alton Brown, my hero, and make them from scratch, but until then, Maseca is my very dear friend.

Pork and Chile is among the easiest Mexican staples I grew up with, the chile ratio gradually increasing with my and both my brothers' years of age. We all enjoy fairly hot food, for which I am supremely grateful. Like I said to Peef last night over conversation, when my eyelids are sweating, that is a good thing. To make it, sear pork (shoulder or leaner meat if you like, cubed and dredged in salted and peppered flour), in hot oil - just a bit. When it is browned sufficiently, remove it, and then brown an equal amount of russet potato, also cubed. Add back the pork, a couple cloves of garlic, halved, and add a quart or two of homemade canned tomatoes and a few or more home canned jalapenos. My Mom cans them in oil and they are usually HOT. They turn a miraculous shade of soft when canned, and since they are whole, they retain the heat magnificently. This combination of tomato and jalapeno, most certainly at Casa Rcakewalk, from my Parents' garden and labors, does transport me, every bite, back to some of my earliest food memories. Those flour tortillas and pork and chile, mountains of pintos that always tasted better at my Gram's since she used pork fat in hers. It was some of my favorite food then as it is now.

Leftovers salsa: mango, red onion, cherry tomato, avocado, cilantro, salt and aleppo pepper and a bit of chili powder.

I love that I can on occasion, and thanks to my freezer, I can cook fast and furiously, without hardly thinking, all the while alone in my kitchen listening in this evening's instance to James Brown, The Gipsy Kings, Los Lobos and the Frida Soundtrack, with a bit of Johnny Cash, Hank Sr., the Cars and the Smiths for good measure. Sometimes that random songs on the iPod does a pretty awesome job. Meanwhile the boys were playing ball in the living room, something that would have never happened with such gusto indoors in my own childhood home... But I continued on, beaming all the while that my boys were having such fun within my earshot.

Boy-O didn't eat one bite for supper, tortilla, bean or even cereal staple. My Husband and I gobbled a couple of tacos each, sides of hot jalapeno for good measure. Easy dinner doesn't get better than this. When I finally commit to perfection of that elusive flour tortilla, I will be truly in culinary ecstasy.


  1. That's how my plate looked tonight, too!

  2. the tortilla's look amazing. but i'm a bit scared of the sweaty eyeball hotness of the meal - i'm such a baby with spice, i guess its the problem with growing up with a mom who doesn't introduce it slowly into your diet!
    your infrequent but well enjoyed meat eating seems like a perfect balance to me: i strive for eating meat just that often, though sometimes i can't resist having more of it than that!

  3. Oh! I love having sweaty eyelids :) One of these days I'll have to tackle some pork & chiles of my own.

    And you're ahead of me... I've yet to make my own tortillas, though it's been on my list for ages.

  4. Hi Rebecca! I love freezer meals too! There's something so comforting about knowing you can make a whole meal out of freezer leftovers. These tortillas look fabulous! I have tried making some whole wheat tortillas and they never come out well. Maybe I should switch to corn. And don't even get me started on the salsa. Mangoes are my absolute favorite food and I can't believe I have never tried making a mango salsa. I definitely will now.

  5. YUMMMMMMM!!!! Oh yea, and good music choices too! Gotta have some Cash!

  6. That leftover salsa looks right up my alley.


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