Who doesn’t love spicy? Lots of people, including my husband, but we won’t talk about how I married a flavor wuss.
This recipe in Everyday Mexican by Rick Bayless seemed very straight-forward and easy, so I figured it would be no-stress way to start the book. There was even an accompanying tomatillo salsa recipe with like 4 ingredients – how could I screw that up?
I am one of those people for whom cilantro makes everything better. There are people who are genetically pre-disposed to hating the stuff, and I feel very, very sorry for them. NPR Cilantro/Genetics article here. No cilantro was called for, probably because it’s not authentic or whatever. Sorry, I am HUNGRY, not authentic.
Oh yeah, and most importantly, one can of Chipotle peppers, in canning sauce.
The book said to choose a “heavy skillet”, so I grabbed the cast iron one with two hands and didn’t drop it on my bare feet. Already, I thought I was winning. I cooked the onions in oil in this skillet, and didn’t burn them. Life was good.
Then I used a “food processor” (tiny round chopper machine I use only when it’s 9 AM and I don’t know where my salsa is) and I processed the chipotle peppers and their sauce. The mixture looked slimy but delicious. After spreading a “thick patina”, #douchey, on the steak and prepping the pan with oil (nobody said this was healthy), I had leftover chipotle sauce. It looked like salsa. It smelled like Heaven. SO, naturally, I ate a big spoonful.
And almost died.
Now, it is believed that there is a connection to loving spice and loving pain. Wall Street Journal writer John McQuaid visits the masochistic concept here. I pride myself on not being a spice wuss. I also pride myself on having a high tolerance for pain. I had completely natural childbirth with my first. It was stupidly unintentional, but now I crow about it like I’m Wonder Woman, or something.
I’m not into pain any more than anybody else, but I was in paaaaaaaiiiin, after that bite. No, really. I was not ok. Tongue, nose, and throat all cried out in protest. I was blinded, my eyes welled up so fast. Who knew taking a big bite of pure ground peppers would be so hot? DUH, Meg. Just… DUH. After chugging some half & half (milk products fix spicy, not water), I realized that the steaks were going to offend my mild-loving husband and children’s tongues. I scraped most of that “patina” of my skirt steaks, figured it was fine now, and put them in the hot skillet.
And then the smoke bomb went off. When you cook in a cast iron skillet, it apparently smokes a little. Or a lot. It would also seem that I did not remove enough of the chipotle “patina”, or else it has patina’ed its way into the meat already. The cloud of smoke that arose from the pan threatened to melt my eyeballs. My kids in the next room started coughing and complaining. I turned on the whole-house fan, sent kids and dog outside, and wondered if hubby keeps a gas mask under the sink for emergencies.
This was supposed to be a safe, easy meal, damn it.
This dish actually turned out beautifully, and the steak was not too spicy for the family. I cooked it to a medium pinkishness and, after letting it rest, cut some off for the girls and cooked that a little longer. I will teach them to appreciate a medium steak someday. Right now we’re still working on everybody remembering to flush the toilet.
Cilantro makes everything better and the people who think it smells like stink bugs are genetically inferior unfortunate.
Pain and spice receptors are closely linked in your head.
Chipotle peppers are hot.
What we have learned today:
You should remember to make the tomatillo salsa recipe with this, because I forgot, and it sounds wonderful.
If it gets a chance, spice will kill you and everyone you love.
My Mexican Everyday cookbook (by Rick Bayless) came from Amazon today. I haven’t even cracked it yet. It’s a weeknight, we spent 2 after-school hours in the pool, and have I mentioned I suck at cooking? I did mention that, right? Go back and read.
To preface my dinner choice explanation, I would eat Chipotle for one meal a day, every day. Forever. And ever. Amen. So, I decided to celebrate my fancy Mexican cookbook arriving and kick off my adventure in Mexican cooking with… a little fast food. Since public opinion says that taking the lid off a take-out container doesn’t count as cooking, I made an attempt a cook a Chipotle Burrito Bowl. What, like it’s hard?
Hubby schooled me the night before on how NOT to overcook chicken:
I accidentally started the chicken way before the boy (who was doing some wife-approved, after-work, guy-bonding in Philly) was on his way home. No worries! Turns out you can keep chicken warm in the oven on a covered plate in a 170 degree oven. Then you can take the plate of chicken out later, good as new, and burn the ever-lovin’ CRAP out of your hand on a hot plate. Good times.
The rest of my Chipotle assembly line ingredients were as follows:
I only ate the guacamole verde with a fork 4 times during the meal prep. #selfcontrol
Herdez is our favorite salsa, and we’ve noticed that it’s seems to be the favorite of the people in the Hispanic Foods aisle who actually appear to be Hispanic.
Speaking of hearts, cut open a plum tomato long-ways sometime, and tell me if it doesn’t remind you creepily of a human heart. Freaky.
Shredding cheese is dangerous for your fingertips, fyi.
I cooked the Minute Rice as per the package directions, but I don’t usually remember to note the time that foods are on the stove top, so….it may have boiled over twice. This dish also required math and reading a chart on the side of the box, so I would like extra credit now.
I mixed in chopped fresh cilantro, pepper, and butter. (I was careful to put aside some of the unseasoned rice for the girls, because God forbid they should eat something with flavor.) I discovered after some research that Chipotle calls it “cilantro lime” rice, so I should have probably bought limes. And made margaritas, clearly.
When hubby got home, I took his order. I did not greet him at the door wearing the Chipotle crew member apron and hat, sorry. He did not get to choose between “for here” and “to go”, either. (The cherubs were in need of some Daddy time, and I was in need of them not needing me for like 15 minutes, so he was not going anywhere.) He asked for everything except salsa. He is a reformed tomato hater; he didn’t want to over-do it.
What we have learned today:
So maybe the hubby’s insistence in the value of digital thermometers is real. The chicken was so much better than Chipotle’s.
The rice, not as much. Apparently you should actually follow those directions on the side of the box.
You pretty much can’t screw up the rest of these ingredients, in various combinations. This is why “Mexican” food is the best food.
Next time: Meg stops imitating take-out and opens the actual cookbook.
So my hubby was a band director and didn’t remember desiring any other career since the beginning of things.
Except that this career kinda sucked for hubby. He spent 11 years hopping around to five different school districts – doing a good job and trying hard to be happy. But his hobby was always “computer stuff”.
Flashback: He built me my first (second, third) computer out of parts, in college. He was “Doctor Finale”, having mastered that music notation software back then, too. He could have charged classmates for all the help he game them, using that program.
Hubby resigned from his teaching job – after the spring concert – in May. June 1st he started a completely different job. He interviewed for a won an paid internship 50onRed, a tech advertising company. He’s been there 7 days and he’s never been happier, work-wise – and not just because of the endless stream of free food and relaxed atmosphere. He really enjoys the work.
He also just gave up teacher tenure. And summer. And the promise of steady employment. And being home by 4:30 every day. And me being able to schedule any appointment kid-free before 7 PM. And…
We are adjusting pretty well to the later schedule. He doesn’t have to be in at work (in Philadelphia) until 10:00 AM. Still doing the Daddy thing quite nicely, he gets the girls breakfasted and ready, drops them off at school, and heads to the train station. He is home around 7:00-7:30 (3 hours later than before). The girls are getting to stay up late by the old standards; they think this is a party.
However, it was the boy always made dinner in our house. What? He enjoyed making dinner. And he enjoyed that I perched on our bar stool, drank wine, and talked to him while he enjoyed making dinner.It was enjoyable. Now, I have to enjoy making dinner. Oh dear.
Another, “however”: I am going to be home and single-parenting it, without hubby. all. day. all. summer. long.
I am not a good stay-at-home mom. I don’t stay at home well, period. And I am one of those weird wives who actually loves and craves her husband’s company. Or, any adult’s company. I am going to miss him! I will be the only adult in the house with these two little kooks and the deranged puppy. Help! Send reinforcements. Tell them to bring their bathing suits, and wine.
In an effort to not succumb to Netflix & takeout poisoning, I’ve decreed that the following will happen, this summer:
A) We will maintain some kind of a schedule. Mainly so I can point to it and say “It’s not ‘bother Mommy’ time right now, it’s ‘Art Time’, or what have you.
I am also going to make an attempt to do stuff with these kids, and report it here (dare I say daily? Ha). We live in a fabulous area of the country to raise children. There’s a ton to do here, between the city and the shore. I do have some grad work to do (classes until July), but after that, we’re gonna pound the Capri Suns and live it up – grade-schooler style. Woooooo! Call me if you wanna go somewhere or float around a pool.
B) I suck at cooking. I ruin grilled cheese. I have minor anxiety attacks about timing eggs and toast. And we have a healthy, loving relationship with Mexican food. Therefore I very randomly purchased Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless (on my phone, in the car, after hearing him on the radio, because…impulsive). I decided I needed to grow some cojones and cook my way through his book. And his second book. And then I want an order of enchiladas on the side, just because.
So I’ll be able to mix my classic Mommy Blog ‘here’s what we did today’ ramblings with the close-up foodie pics of a cooking blog, and really strive for internet blandness. (Sorry. Stay tuned.)