How (not) to make a burrito, by Mark

Tonight when I asked Mark what he wanted for dinner, he replied, “nothing,” and proceeded to help himself to a large pile of saltines. “You are not eating saltines for dinner,” I informed him. “Why not?” “Because you need nutrients. I’m making burritos, will you eat one?”

We went back and forth about the burritos, with Mark being rather picky about what he would accept in his burrito (including, oddly, cucumbers), until I finally said, “why don’t you make your own damn burrito?”

So he did. And he suggested that I share the wonder of his burrito making “skill” with you. So I did.

First you need to gather the ingredients. These include canned pinto beans, Ro-Tel tomatoes, chopped onions, hot sauce, salt, and (oddly) a cucumber.

Oh, and tortillas.

Open the cans using a can opener.

Mark is unsure about canned goods. He thinks they all smell bad. This is because he’s in charge of feeding Brachtune her tuna and that really does smell bad.

Get over your disgust and plow on through with the burrito-making process.

Pour the beans into a strainer …

… and rinse.

Look how Mark balanced the strainer on the sink! How talented he is in the kitchen!

What step is next, I wonder?

Oh yes, the chopping!

First, murder your wife.

Then go to business on that cucumber.

(This is about when I told Mark he was finished with the cucumber.)

Remove a tortilla from the package.

Tortillas can serve many purposes. For one, they help prevent the spread of swine flu.

They can also be large yarmulkes.

If, instead, you’d like to eat the tortilla, place it on a work surface. Arrange your chopped cucumbers in the middle.

Add some of the beans. No need to cook them!

Instead, just smash them down.

Choose only the finest tomatoes from the tin. The only way to know which are best is to taste them.

Put them on the tortilla as well and smash.

Get some onions. The onions are a very important part of the burrito.

Add them to the pile on the tortilla.

Generously sprinkle some hot sauce over the tortilla.

Your tortilla should now look like this:

But we’ve forgotten the most important ingredient!

Now fold the tortilla up:

Your meal-in-a-hand is done!



Wait a minute …

… this is a little disgusting.

And also messy.

The final product:

And that was Mark’s dinner tonight.

Warning: Mark’s burritos may cause insanity.

As delicious as Mark’s burrito looked, I chose not to follow his recipe. I made my own burrito, which consisted of pinto beans that I cooked, with vegan nacho cheese, tomatoes, onions, taco sauce, vegan sour cream, and a distinct lack of cucumbers.

Not too pretty, but very tasty and very satisfying!

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Mollymook Tacos, or how to eat in a small beach town

Still at Mollymook Beach and enjoying the ability to make meals at my leisure and an oven that works, after the frantic pace of seeing Sydney and an inoperational oven at Smuck’s. Luke had been talking up his specialty dish, Mexican Chicken, which to Smuck’s delight he was planning to make during our stay here – apparently Mexican food is fairly rare in Australia and good Mexican is practically nonexistent – and since I would obviously not be partaking in that endeavor, I thought it would be sporting to have a Mexican meal myself. In the tiny grocery in Mollymook, I was amazed to find several different kinds of vegan canned “meat” and quickly decided that along with a taco kit and some chopped veggies, I’d have myself a nearly instant Mexican meal I could make quickly without getting in Luke’s way or fighting for use of kitchen appliances.

Ironically, although I found the canned meat I needed, Luke did not! Turns out Luke’s recipe calls for tortilla chips, Ro-tel tomatoes, Velveeta, and some product called “canned chicken”. Luke had already come to the conclusion he was going to have to buy a fresh jalepeno to add to his tomatoes because Ro-Tel does not exist here, and I guess he was planning to use real cheese instead of that Velveeta crap, but what tripped him up was the non-existence of canned chicken in Australia. Talking about the recipe in the car with Smucky’s mum, she said no such thing existed in Australia and had no idea what he was talking about. I also had no idea what he was talking about. I had no idea they put chickens in cans. Faced with the fact that he was able to procure just about none of the ingredients of his much-hyped dish, Luke gave up. He ended up – and I’m sorry to have to report this – grilling kangaroo meat instead. He and Smucky both liked the kangaroo meat (Smuck hadn’t had it in ages; it’s really not very popular here); I found it quite disgusting (though I obviously didn’t eat it). I still made my tacos though. It’s rare I make dinner in all of 10 minutes, but I did and it was not bad!

Mollymook Tacos

1 taco kit containing taco shells, taco seasonings, and taco sauce
1 can vegan “minced meat”
2 leaves lettuce, torn or shredded
1 small tomato, diced

Remove the “minced meat” from the can and place in a microwave-safe bowl.

Add the taco seasoning and stir well. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes or until warmed through.

For easier application of taco sauce to tacos, remove from foil pouch and transfer to another vessel. I found this little plastic shot glass, or as Luke assessed it, “old-fashioned eye wash cup”.

Heat the taco shells in the oven for 5 minutes or until warmed and crisped. I think the box said to use a 190 degree Celsius oven – I have no idea what that is in Fahrenheit and as I’m typing this up at the beach without internet, I can’t check – but I just stuck it in the already-warm oven at whatever temperature Luke had just baked frozen chips (fries to you Americans).

To assemble the tacos, fill first with the “taco meat”, then top with the lettuce and tomatoes and finally the sauce.

This isn’t something I’d make at home very often, if at all. I usually avoid “kits” of any sort in preference of making my own seasonings and sauces. It’s also not something I’d ordinarily risk insulting your intelligence in regards to by posting as a “recipe”. The point of this post has really been to demonstrate that it’s possible to make a easy, cheap, convenient vegan meal in a tiny beachside town in Australia.

In regards to the “minced meat”, I’m pleased to announce it was actually pretty good. In fact, both Luke and Smucky tasted it and gave it their approval, Smucky’s enjoyment of it coming as a total surprise as he is quite scared of fake meat and vegan food in general. Luke said he would be willing to purchase and consume this product, and coming from a man who’d just eaten kangaroo for dinner, that’s saying quite a bit. I’m a bit skeptical of canned vegan “meats”, myself, but I’d buy it again, although at home I’m more apt to make something myself using whole foods.

I leave you with images of something I’ve never before witnessed. Smucky doing dishes!

He was so very intent on it! I found it hilarious!

I spent the day after making these tacos swimming in the ocean and lazing on a sunny beach while Mark was at home shovelling what he described as “a foot” (but what I believe was a few inches) of snow from our driveway at home. I felt a little bad about that…but not so bad that I didn’t think it was great! The water is so clear here that standing in it chest-deep you can see your feet. I can’t see my feet in inch-deep water at home!

After enjoying some time on the beach, I went for a walk around the neighborhood and took these pictures:

I wanted to swim in this pool, located at a hotel called Bannister.

There is, of all things, a small rain forest that overlooks the beach just down the road from our beach house. Halfway through there is a park bench situated on a clearing overlooking the beach. Pig enjoyed the view.

Mollymook Beach.

I don’t know what this is.

On the return home, about 20 rainbow lorrikeets flew out of this bush (which I happen to be obsessed with). I wasn’t quick enough to capture their flight and they refused to come back.

Just outside the house, I found another native animal:

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Soy Chorizo, Beans, and Rice

Hello? Have you missed me? Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. First it was my birthday, then Mark’s birthday, a visit to Mark’s family in Charleston…I’ve been very busy! And next up is our wedding anniversary! October is full of wonderful events, but they’ve all been keeping me out of the kitchen. Tonight I finally got to cook something decent.

I had purchased soy chorizo at Trader Joe’s before we went to Charleston and I decided that would be the basis of tonight’s meal. Basing meals around fake meat confounds me, though. Because I was vegetarian before I learned how to cook, I never had a repertoire of meat dishes I used to make or even that I miss, so when I, as I do every year or so, buy a bunch of fake meat from May Wah, for example, I’m at an absolute loss for what the heck to do with it. I found myself in a similar situation when confronted with the soy chorizo; in fact, it was exacerbated by the fact that I’ve never had real chorizo. I bought it because it seemed like something that would be right up Mark’s alley and would probably be the center of a pretty easy meal. But I have no idea what one does with chorizo. In the end I decided that you can’t go wrong adding it to beans and rice. And you certainly can’t go wrong wrapping the whole thing in a tortilla. So that’s what I did. Is it authentic? Who knows. Probably not. Is it good? Yes. So here you go:

Soy Chorizo, Beans, and Rice

1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 anaheim chile, diced
1 dried pasilla oaxaca chile, rehydrated and chopped
2 links soy chorizo (remove casing if necessary)
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 can pinto beans, rinsed
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 small can salsa verde
hot sauce to taste
4 cups cooked rice

First get the rice cooking (unless you are using leftover rice). I used to be able to make perfect rice back when I had a glorious gas stove, but when we moved into our current, otherwise wonderful, house, I was forced to use an electric stove and suddenly lost the ability to make rice. Enter my new best friend:

While the rice is cooking, prepare the veggies, etc. Rehydrate the pasilla oaxaca in boiling water. I had to stick a tiny saucer on top of the chile to keep it from floating.

If you don’t have a pasilla oaxacaca, substitute another smoky chile, such as chipoltes in adobo sauce, or maybe some smoked paprika. Or just omit entirely. If using, chop it up when it’s soft:

Dice the onions, …

… the green pepper, …

and the anaheim chile.

Mince or press the garlic.

Soy chorizo (as, I suppose, real chorizo) usually comes in an inedible casing:

Remove it from this casing:

Rinse the beans. Instead of using half a can of each kind, you can use an entire can of one or the other. I couldn’t decide which I wanted, but now I’m stuck having to find another use for the leftovers!

You can start cooking about 10 minutes before the rice is ready; my rice cooker starts counting down at 10 minutes. Add some olive oil to a large, hot cast iron pan and add the onions when the oil is hot:

Saute for 3 minutes, then add the green peppers, garlic, and pasilla oxacaca:

Saute for another 3 minutes, then add the chorizo:

Saute for another 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and water:

Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the beans, salsa verde, and hot sauce:

Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the rice and heat through.

While the chorizo, beans, and rice mixture is cooking, whip up some optional guacamole. Since I was planning to shove it into a burrito, I didn’t make anything fancy: basically I just wanted to smush up the avocado. In a molcajete, I smashed about a tablespoon of minced onions and a clove of garlic:

Then I added the avocado:

Finally I added the juice of half a lime and some cilantro.

You can eat the soy chorizo, beans, and rice as is, but I’m a fan of carbalicious tortillas, so I decided to serve it in burrito form. I placed about 1/2 cup of the chorizo mixture in a neat line on a tortilla and topped it with some guac:

Then I rolled them up …

… which makes for an anti-climatic photo, but which was pretty darn tasty.

Brachtune watched me eat from her station on Mark’s laptop bag …

… until Tigger decided he wanted to sit there.

So then Brachtune went into her “Victorian lady” pose. I think it looks like she has a big bustle when she sits like this:

Then Tigger got in my face.

And I finished my burritos. The end.

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Jackfruit Tacos

I started hearing about the use of young green jackfruit as a meat substitute a few months ago, mostly in reference to veggie-friendly Mexican restaurants on the West Coast, I believe, and when The Urban Housewife posted a recipe for Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos back in February, I took note and started looking for jackfruit at my local Asian markets. Either I was too blind to see it during umpteen previous trips, or Super H JUST starting carrying it, but I finally scored some last week, and while I didn’t brag about it last night, in addition to making minestrone and seasoning my wok, I also prepared the taco ingredients for easy insertion into the crockpot this morning. Not because I have a fixed time I have to be into work that necessitates me rushing around in the mornings, but because I don’t always function well enough in the mornings to handle questions and decisions, even questions as seemingly innocuous as just how much smoked paprika is a good idea?

So this post is even less innovative than the last since I’m not using my own recipe or even putting my own spin on things. But I have been really curious about jackfruit, so I figured I’d share my first taste of it with you. Plus I’m getting better about remembering to take pictures! Maybe I’ll even get better at taking pictures!

Melisser’s recipe is great because it’s extraordinarily simple and can really be done in five minutes before you leave for work. Only someone as completely dysfunctional as I am in the morning needs to worry about this the night before. And I wouldn’t even have bothered if I hadn’t been so tired I was worried I was going to sleep so late I’d be late for my 11:30 conference call. (Yes, I realize how pathetic that is.)

So last night, I lined up the ingredients:

Eep! I put the Turkish oregano used in the minestrone in the photo instead of the Mexican oregano that went with the carnitas! Faux pas!

Then I removed the jackfruit from its can and rinsed it off:

So THAT’s what jackfruit looks like!

I tasted a tiny bit. It was pretty tasteless. Then I cut up an onion, pressed a bunch of cloves of garlic, and measured out the spices, all of which I threw in a container and stuck in the refrigerator.

When I got up this morning, Tigger was still enjoying his box.

He has a little mohawk because his head gets wet when he showers with us. He’s weird.

I put the jackfruit in the crockpot as directed by Melisser.

Yes, my crockpot is blue and ancient. I prefer “retro”, thank you. I then added the spices. My pre-planning had not been perfect because I’d just dumped the spices onto the onions last night, so I sort of scooped out the top layer of onions and just stirred everything together. I wasn’t up for massaging fruit at this stage – it sounds like a task I can’t handle until at least noon – so I didn’t rub each piece individually.

Then I added the remainder of the onions.

And the salsa.

Meanwhile, Tigger fell asleep in the box.

I wished I could curl up on some wadded-up paper in a box and take a nap, but instead I went to work and got on that conference call, my favorite thing. Eight hours later, I arrived home and anxiously checked the crockpot. The jackfruit, sort of pinkish, reminded me of ham.

Tigger got back in the box.

Then I messaged Mark and baffled him by announcing dinner was ready and he should come home. I’m sure his thought process was, “Huh? What? Dinner? At 7 p.m.? How is this possible?” I mean, it’s not unusual for me to spend two to three hours making dinner and we routinely eat at 10 p.m. or later. BUT NOT TONIGHT! So he came home and I set up a few dishes of toppings for the tacos. Then we ate them.

Here’s the bowl of jackfruit “carnitas”:

Here is Mark enjoying a taco:

Here is Brachtune thinking maybe she’d enjoy a taco (she didn’t):

Here is my taco:

And here is Brachtune being pretty while we ate:

As for the jackfruit as a meat substitute, it was pretty good. Mark said it tasted a bit like potatoes, but I didn’t think it had much of a taste of its own at all, rather that it absorbs the flavors its cooked in, like tofu. I like how healthy it is, particularly in comparison to most meat substitutes. It had a nice texture, sort of like very tender meat, I guess. I barely remember meat, if you want to know the truth, but it is sort of like what I imagine very tender meat is like. I have another can of it that I intend to be more creative with. Not that Melisser’s recipe wasn’t good, because it was quite good, and so, so easy, but I’d like to come up with something of my own.

As for Tigger, he’s STILL in the box:

How long can I drag out this Tigger-in-the-box thing? I don’t know; I really did intend this to be a food blog, not a Tigger blog, and certainly not a Tigger-in-a-box blog. Those cats, though. They have any number of specially-bought, comfy cat beds, a cat tree taller than I am, an antique velvet scratching post – no, wait, that WAS an antique velvet SOFA and was NOT intended for the cats, a fact with which neither one of them has come to terms – and a million toys, but all they really want is a free box.

Well, Tigger’s other favorite napping spot wasn’t free.

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