Friday, May 18, 2012

The Lucky One: Taco Night!

 I still haven't seen the movie.  I haven't had time.  I'll probably wait until it's on DVD, which is what I always do when there's something out I want to see and I never get to the theater to watch it.  These days when we go to the movies it's a family affair, and we see the fast-paced action flicks.  (Most recently it was The Hunger Games.  And I wouldn't be surprised if you find us at Men in Black III in a couple of weeks.)

In my last post, I told you about how Logan has walked from Colorado to North Carolina to find a woman whose photo he found in Iraq.  When he finds Beth, he rents a house near hers and gets a job at her Nana's kennel.  When Nana goes away for a few days, Logan starts spending more of his time with Beth and her son, Ben.  (Good grief, I'm making Logan sound like some creepy stalker, aren't I?  He's really not like that, I promise...)

One evening when Logan is preparing to head home after work (the kennel is conveniently located on Nana's property, and of course Beth lives there) and saying that he really must be going but not really wanting to leave, Beth asks him would you like to stay for dinner and I hope you like tacos, and it's no trouble really, we'd love the extra company.  Well of course, tacos sound much better than what Logan would probably be eating at home, like a turkey sandwich or something boring like that. 

Beth uses pre-packaged taco seasoning, and OF COURSE there's no way I was going to do THAT!  Here's a recipe I like to use, from a blogger who calls herself "Not Rachael Ray."  It's almost as easy as opening up a packet of seasoning:

Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt (more or less to taste)
1 tsp black pepper
1. In small bowl, mix all ingredients and store in airtight container. (Or you can mix it together in the container you are going to store it in–just give it a shake!)

Silly me didn't take any pictures of the beautiful seasoning mix until after I added it to the meat...
 2. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of this mixture plus 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water to one pound of cooked meat (of your choice). Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently until there is very little liquid left in the pan.
3. Serve with your favorite taco topping! I recommend lots of sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole,* lettuce, cheese and tomato.

*I did not make guacamole for these; not this time.  I've grown to love guacamole, and I don't make it as often as I'd like.  Sometime I'll blog about that.

"Okay," she said, pulling another pot from under the stove, "let me whip up the salsa."
She poured in a large can of tomato sauce, then added the onions and peppers and a dash of Tabasco, along with salt and pepper.  She stirred them together and set the heat on medium.
"Your own recipe?"
"Nana's.  Ben doesn't like things too spicy, so this is what she came up with."
The Lucky One, p. 129

Every so often, I find myself talking to Nicholas Sparks while I'm cooking.  "I'm not too sure about this, Nick,"  I'll say skeptically.  "Are you sure this will actually work?  I mean, this is NOT the way I would make this."  I had my doubts about Mike's Creole burgers and Lexie's pasta sauce, and I told Nick as much.  Telepathically, at least.  When I make salsa, I take fresh tomatoes and onions and garlic and hot peppers and cilantro and lime juice and salt and pepper, and throw them all into the food processor.  This one seemed like it would be more like a jarred salsa like what you would buy in the grocery store, and a pretty bland one at that. 

Hmmm...a pretty boring-looking salsa...but how will it taste?
 As always, however, Nick was right and I was wrong.  It turned out great.  (OK, I will admit that I still prefer fresh salsa, but this one was MUCH better than a jar of Old El Paso.)

The toppings, including the leftover peppers and onions.  Not pictured:  sour cream.  Seems I'm always leaving something out of photos like these...
Beth puts the taco shells in the oven for a few minutes before serving them.  I've never done this, but from now on I will.  I've always found pre-packaged taco shells kind of chewy and stale, but heating them up makes them nice and crispy, and makes for a much better taco.

Delicious with some fresh asparagus from the Farmers' Market.
 Oh!  And do you know what else Beth, Logan, and Ben had with their tacos?  Beer for the grown-ups, and fresh-squeezed lemonade for Ben.  Lemonade is a no-brainer and you don't need a recipe; just mix a little lemon juice with about the same amount of sugar, and 3 or 4 times as much water.  You can adjust the amounts of each according to how you like it.  (Usually I use the store-bought lemon juice.  I decided to squeeze my lemons this time, but guess what?  I wanted more lemon juice so I supplemented with a little of the bottled kind.  Big mistake.  Next time I'll just squeeze more lemons.  Using fresh lemons makes a huge difference.)

Gluten free beer or lemonade?  Can't decide.  I'll have both.

I still don't have my camera back.  The camera store had sent it off to the repair center, and they called this week to tell me they had an estimate for the repair job.  An estimate.  After nearly four weeks.  It will probably be at least another two weeks before I finally get it back.  I've got one more project finished, though, and I will share that one with you in my next post:  PASTA PUTTANESCA a la Lemony Snicket!  After that, I'm planning (assuming I get my camera back sometime within the next few weeks) at least one more post from The Lucky One, in which once again I'll need my ice cream maker.  And just in time for summer, too!

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