tacos

Tortillas

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I have over a hundred cookbooks, but there’s something so enticing about a recipe in a magazine. It’s beautifully photographed. It’s alone — not buried in a book full of other recipes — and yet often accompanied by recipes to make a whole meal. And did I mention the beautiful photography?

I tear recipes out of magazines all the time. I don’t even (currently) subscribe to any food magazines, but they come in the New York Times magazine section and other less likely sources. They accumulate on a particular spot on the kitchen counter until I gather them up and rest them above the cookbooks on the kitchen shelf (I don’t put them into my binder of torn-and-saved recipes until I have tested them.) When I grab a cookbook off the shelf, the loose recipes often tumble off the shelf, floating down to the floor like so many onion skins. Periodically, I sort through them and wonder what seemed so special about pasta with walnut-parsley pesto, anyway? (Probably the photograph).

But recently I went from tearing to testing very quickly, and have now made Mark Bittman’s easy tortilla recipe so many times, I know it by heart. We keep a lump of dough in the breadbox, and Eli smooshes some out every morning and makes himself a fresh tortilla for breakfast.

It’s not revolutionary, eating tortillas, but making them by hand is, for us. It turns an everyday element of our weekly dinner routine into something a little more special. It makes us plan ahead a bit (the tortilla dough takes all of five minutes to bring together, but is best if it rests half an hour or so before cooking), and makes us slow down a bit as we roll (or smoosh) and cook. It gets the kids in the kitchen and gives the adults time for a leisurely cocktail before dinner. Win, win, win.

My favorite way to eat them is as I’ve shown above, with some sautéed chard and roasted sweet potatoes, a dollop of guacamole, and a drizzle of salsa.

Now excuse me while I go sort through my recipes and find something to make for dinner…

Tacos

Lisa’s post recently about calzone pizza tacos got me thinking about tacos, of course, but also about how even though our kids are growing older and somewhat less picky, the slightest change can sometimes mean the difference between a happy meal and a table fraught with conflict.

Her kids ate the calzones, though not without a lot of discussion. I had a different experience recently when I laid out a dinner with crispy taco shells instead of our regular tortillas. I didn’t think much of it, really. Same ingredients, same shape, different texture. If I had stopped to think about it, I probably would have braced myself because most of the time around here change is Not Good.

But I got lucky. My kids were thrilled. They were in raptures. I was the Best. Mom. Ever. (Even though Tony did the cooking; sorry, Tony). And Eli ate four of them, stuffed with brown rice, pinto beans, guacamole and shredded jack cheese — the same ingredients with which he fills his quesadillas — suddenly transformed by their crispy new jacket. For one night, change was good, and I relished the feeling.