Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Life Changing Chicken Taco Meat

There's so little new under the sun.  So few things that can break through the ennui of the summer day.  Blah-diddy-blah.  But in a passing conversation with DD, I was given the gift of life.  Sort of like Jonas in The Giver meets Jesus meets Rachael Ray.

Here it is:

Chicken Taco Meat

Whole bunch of chicken, fresh, frozen, doesn't matter.  Seriously, this would work with anything from a pound to four pounds (which is what I did)
1/2 to 1 cup salsa (depending on amount of chicken), homemade, Pace, whatever kind, doesn't matter
2 t. chili mix, taco seasoning, spice blend, doesn't matter
2 t. salt - this does matter

Dump it all the crock pot on low all day or on high after noon.  Cooking times will vary depending on how much chicken and if it started out frozen.  I did a mix of breasts and thighs.  Shred with a fork.  Heat some tortillas.  Figure out whatcha got in the fridge.  Done.  Check, please.

I made quite a bit of extra and got what I think is two more meals worth for the whole family.  DD says the leftovers are great for stuffing enchiladas (can you hear the angel choir?)

Now, DD is a gal who has it all going on, and I mean has her shit together, but this elevates her to serious rock star status.

I bow down.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sins Revisited

My kid is learning to drive.  Now, I don't look like I could possibly have a child getting ready to be a licensed driver, what with my perfectly unblemished skin and girlish figure, but I do.  And it's been much easier than I thought it would be.

For me, I mean.  There is nothing better than letting your kid drive you around.  I can text with impunity, eat my breakfast on the way to school, read the newspaper, and (you people who have younger kids might want to sit down for this) drink beer when I'm at friend's house.  Or my mother-in-law's house.  Or really anywhere I damn well please because I HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER.  I keep hearing these parents whine and lament about being sad about having a driver, fearful that they'll be in an accident, bereft at the thought of their babies growing up.

Fuck that.  Here are the keys.  Be careful.  Your car payment is to take your sister anywhere she wants to go.  Your insurance is taking the dogs to the vet.  Your gas money is running any paltry errand I can think of.  Godspeed.  Fly, be free.

I'm not sure that it's been quite as easy for her.  You see, I tend to be just a teeny bit controlling.  I'm sure you can't tell.  And I tend to handle that by yelling "STOP!STOP!STOP!" over and over whether it's an emergency or not.  I'm trying really hard not to, but,  I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling.  And some of my passenger-seat psycho behavior I don't even know I'm doing.  For example, when she first started driving, she claimed that I do a hissing inhale every time she takes a curve too fast (or maybe not even too fast, maybe any curve, who's to say?).  Now, most of the time, I'm not even aware that I'm making this sound.  And up until about three weeks ago, I would have denied that I was doing it.

Until. . . .

Until three weeks ago, when my mom came to town.  Now, I'm 44 years old.  I got a hardship license at 15 and have been driving a car since I was 13.  I haven't had a wreck since I was in my mid-20's and in that one I was a passenger.  I haven't had a ticket since my mid-30's.  I don't reverse well.  I am an excellent parallel parker.  I think speed limits are more guidelines than hard and fast rules, and my neighbor just told me last night that he "knows who stops at the neighborhood four-way stop and who doesn't."  But all in all, I'm a pretty safe driver.

So, my mom and S and I were in the car, headed to pick up G from school.  On our route was a 90-degree left curve in a 50 mph zone.  I took that curve at a relatively judicious 35-40 mph and smoothly entered the curve, accelerating at the apex of the curve, just like my daddy taught me.  And at the moment I was executing this epic driving maneuver, my mom grabbed the "oh shit" handle and made this hissing inhale noise.

Busted.  And the worst part was that G wasn't even in the car at the time, so I could show her that it wasn't my fault.

I can't help it.  It's genetic.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mother May I

It really is one of life's great ironies that Mother's Day falls squarely in the middle of May.   When no mother ON EARTH has time to take a day off to do anything.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I like cards and presents just as much as the next girl, but seriously, any other month would be better.   The week before Christmas would be better.  We hear all the time about how busy the holidays are, how stressful, etc.  That's for everyone involved in the retail business.  Everyone involved in the parent business knows that May is the busiest, most stressful time of the year.

Every special occasion, dance, concert, band clinic, band tryout, tennis clinic, tennis lesson, and any extracurricular activity you can think of falls in May.  Because God forbid we spread it out.  No, no.  We've got to get our testing in.  I feel like we haven't been home in months.  And I'm tired.  So tired.  And doesn't it always just seem like there's one more little hiccup to make May busier?  The in-laws drop in (for a three day stay), a friend has knee surgery (and I love to cook), the college-aged son is back in town (with all of the weird negotiation over limits that that entails), or a beloved mother's home must be sold (in another town).  Each of these are things we each take on with joy and dignity and grace, but isn't it odd how these additional blessings/burdens always seem to come in May? Maybe it's God's way of making summer that much more of a relief.

And this is where it really gets weird.  I was a teacher for so long that I learned to look only toward summer for my freedom and release.  If I can just make it to Spring Break. . .if I can just make it to TAKS. . . if I can just make it to Memorial Day. . . only three days left!!!!  Only now, with a full year of home-working under my belt, it suddenly seems weird that my days are going to get fuller.  As in, there will be more people in them.  And more things to do.  I haven't decided whether that's a good thing or not.

But I'll tell you what is a good thing.  Vegetables.  And canning.  Today's harvest includes:  8 tomatillos, a dozen assorted peppers, and the year's first cucumbers.  Three of them turned out great.  Two of them look like alien heads.  Perhaps for them, relish.  Off to can.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I Cook, Part Un

My Mom

My mom is awesome.  I'm saying that because she is awesome, and also because she is reading this. She loves my blog.  She checks every day to see if I've posted anything.  I told her that there was a way to have it email her when I posted something new.  But she said that would ruin it.  She likes checking because of the possibility that something might be there.  Or at least that's what she said.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that she doesn't know what I'm talking about.

All of this makes me feel really good because my mom is really, really smart.  She is gentle and kind, a good listener, and a great audience.  She reads all the time, has lots of degrees, and has a very low tolerance for bad writing.  So, for her to say she loves my blog means a lot.  She is also my mom.  And moms have to be supportive of their children.  And sometimes they have to not tell them that their shirt makes them look like a hobo.  Wait.

Anyway, the fact that my mom may or may not like my blog about food and gardening and housekeeping is, to be honest, a little, teeny bit surprising.  I've had many people in my life say, "You love to cook so much, your mom must have been a great cook." "Did you learn to cook from your mom?" "You must have eaten really well as a child."

Well, here it is, in a nutshell.  I wish I could claim first dibs on this story, but my brother can claim that prize.  And no, he doesn't read my blog.  But he loves me anyway.

The Coffee Cake

It was 1993.  It was the first Thanksgiving that I had ever spent away from home.  T and I were a couple of months away from getting married, and we went up to Dallas to be with his family.  I should never have gone.  Not because I didn't enjoy myself, but because I missed the most legendary and epic story of our family.  Well, except for the one where my dad ran over me in a motorboat.  He doesn't really like me to tell that one.

Anyway, my brother, J, has always gotten to have a Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake on holidays. I liked the pecan one because it has frosting, but my parents don't love me as much as they love him, so most of the time, they "forgot" to get the pecan one, and J. always, always got to have his Butter Streusel.

Anyway, J and my parents had to muddle through Thanksgiving without me.  I can't even remember what their Thanksgiving plans were, but J. was going to have his Butter Streusel coffee cake regardless.  So, he turned on the oven to preheat it for the coffee cake.  And probably, knowing him, went back to bed.  Afterwhile (yes, that's a word), a discernible smoky smell began to emanate from the kitchen.  J. went to investigate and found, wait for it, the remains of the Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake from the previous Christmas.

My parents hadn't turned on the oven in 11 months.

Right Now

Right now, my mom is giggling and wiping tears from her eyes AND protesting that she fed us really well.  And she did.  She fed us whole grains and lean meats.  We sat at the table most nights and talked.  Like a real family.  We had the dearest housekeeper, Walter Lee, who would cook meals to be reheated.  And my mom had a few special dishes up her sleeves.  How you choose to interpret special is up to you, but for her, they were a sacrifice that she was willing to make for her family.

She tried.  She really did.  But my mom doesn't like cooking and never liked cooking, and that's okay.  Just because you give birth to someone doesn't change what you're good at.  What my mom is good at is back-scratching, laughing, reading, smiling, listening, comforting, singing, praying, drinking coffee and reading the paper, doing dishes, keeping her grandchildren, traveling, spa-ing, and loving.

Those are mighty fine qualities.

I love you, Mom!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

100 Days

When my kids were little, there was always the 100-days celebration at school.  It signified to the kids that their year was 4/7ths over (?), gave them an opportunity to visually conceptualize a number, and gave every parent a FUCKING HEART ATTACK when she failed to read the Friday folder and realized that the 100-day celebration was the next day and the only thing she had 100 of was tampons.  Or wine bottles.  Or whatever.  Thus necessitating either a trip to the Sac-n-Pac to spend $300 on bags of m&ms or to the HEB at the single most crowded time ever.

But today is a 100-day of a different nature.  We have official reached 100 days on the project!  Woo Hoo!  Yay, us!  Meh.  It's funny that just as I sat down to update the QC and the Daily Dish, I thought to myself, if there was ever a day to just order pizza, this is it.

But so far, we have done what we set out to do.  We have eaten out only for special occasions, out of town trips, and reunions with out of town guests.  I have taken exactly three lunches for business (two real estate and one teaching).  So, in short, we're eating like most of the world eats everyday, only without fear of loss, famine, or violence.  Lifestyle change doesn't come easy.  But it comes.

Only 230 or so to go.  I can't bring myself to look up the actual number.  The kids might find out.  It's way better not to know.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, y'all!