Welcome to Growbox Hill

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Taco dinner and taco dinner again.. mmmm

This entry was started on Wednesday, March Sixth...

Usually it's just the two of us, and we don't do tacos... By the time everything is made up, too much for two, kind of no matter what. We usually save it for boys weekends. Everyone always loves taco night :)
Now, over the last year or two, I've hit the point where I'm feeding two boys, my hubby and myself to feeding two growing young men. Just doing up the basic for 4 isn't quite enough- someone always wishes for another scoop of beans, a bit more meat... mmmm.
So, I've started bumping it up recently. Last time we did taco night, I made what I was pretty sure would have leftovers, and yep, all my menfolk left the table stuffed.
A couple days later, needed to use the bits of leftovers and didn't feel like tacos per se, so I made taco soup... MMMM, it was good. Feed us a happy dinner and leftovers for the freezer :)

So we did taco night this weekend past. And this time, I'm remembering to write it all down, lol.

For taco night...
3 lbs ground beef- I found 2 lbs wasn't quite enough leftover meat for the soup.
1 big can (28 oz?) refried beans
1 head lettuce- cut/shredded how you like
3-4 plum tomatoes- diced
1 can black olives, small size- slice in half, helps prevent rolling around too much
2 bundles green onions, sliced and use it all, white and green
2 bags shredded mexican cheese, not the seasoned stuff.
flour tortillas, crispy corn chips, sour cream, salsa...

How I make my meat.
I make my own mexican seasoning mix to cook up my meat, but I've used packaged stuff and I think it works well too.
When I go to brown up my meat, I give the pile a liberal coating of granulated garlic (not garlic powder or salt). How liberal? VERY. I like to coat it till you well can't see the pink anymore, but not quite a lot more than that. Over the whole surface of the meat.
Add in a palmful of dried oregano- mexican works best, but if all you got is italian, use it. Of course, if you are only doing a pound of meat, cut back on the oregano a bit, but still coat your meat well with the garlic.
Now bust up your meat, brown it all up, ect.
I tend to not drain my meat at all. Once it's browned up and the residual liquid from the meat has cooked off, leaving the fat.. Then I add in my mexican seasonings and water, simmer, ect. This does leave a sloppy sludge, so I tend to serve in a metal colander over a deep catch bowl. It drains over dinner, and by the time dinner is done, it's all drained out top to bottom :)
And oh, only do this with a perforated colander, never the wire mesh ones. That's a PITA to really know and make sure it's cleaned right.

The refried beans. I try to get vegetarian or fat free when I can, or get regular if I have to. Why? This way I can better control how much and just what fat goes into the beans. I choose to use about a tablespoon for a 15 oz can, two tablespoons for the big can. And I 100% use bacon grease for this. No other fat is the same IMO. Cept for rarely when someone is here that can't have that and wants in on the beans too, then I will just leave it out.

So, chow down on dinner, and package up the leftovers.

On soup day...
The first time I made this, I used chicken stock and black beans. It was really yummy, froze up and reheated very well.

This time...
I had a choice of concentrated pork, fresh corn, roasted duck, or ham jelly. I decided to go with the concentrated pork, refreshed with a mostly full bottle of Crispin cider I didn't really drink the other evening. And a couple more cups water since I used a concentrated stock, not a regular stock or broth.
It was a choice between kidney beans and garbanzos. I went with the garbanzos. Because I used the big can of refries, was actually a bit of leftovers there, so I wanted to go light white bean instead of dark mealy bean. Don't drain your beans.
Had three golf ball sized onions left over from the last buy and rough diced those up
Had 8 large cloves of garlic left in the teapot- those got nicely peeled and left whole

And oh, if you like your lettuce big or shredded for tacos, take a knife and bust that up a bit smaller. Spoon size it the optimal, no one wants a big hung of or long strand of cooked stuff in their soup.

In a 6 quart stockpot...
Melt up a tablespoon of bacon grease
sweat up your onions, garlic cloves, and a teaspoon of salt over medium heat. Your onions should become foggy and barely singing up around the edges, your garlic should have a bit of color and still be firm, giving off it's wonderful cooking garlic scent.
To this I added
2 cups concentrated pork stock
1 cup Crispin
2 cups water

I covered, brought up the heat to medium high, and let come up to a low boil for about a minute uncovered, till the whew, I put booze in there factor blew off. Added in a generous tablespoon of mexican seasoning. Covered again, turned it down to low, and let the broth "steep" for 10 minutes.
Then I turned the heat back up to medium, let come up to a low boil again. Stirred in the refried beans in a big blob- covered for 5 min, then gave it a goodly stir. And I do mean goodly, you want every bit of bean broken up into the liquid, no blobs.
Stir in your undrained canned beans, cover, and let come up to the low boil again.
Stir in your taco meat, cover, and let come up to the low boil again.
Stir in your lettuce, cover.. DROP YOUR HEAT to low, as in you see burpling, but no bubbles. Let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring a couple times. You want the scent of the lettuce to have almost cooked off before proceeding. It's pretty potent at first. It should look all wilted and such. At this time, it should be a sort of hmmm, background structure.
Check your seasoning before adding anything. Right now it should taste fairly potent, and now you are adding in the cutting down materials to balance the soup.
Now, turn up the heat to medium, and as it heats up... Stir in all of your cheese, putting it in in handfulls and really stirring each one in before the next handful.
Stir in tomatoes
Stir in olives
Stir in onions

Cover, and turn it down as low as the temp goes, barely warm. Let that pot percolate for an hour, stirring a few times to make sure you aren't getting bottom gum up and to really redistribute everything.

It should be a soup, rather thickly populated in a broth with a very rich mouth feel.

Dairy addition. Last time and this time I made it I added in 1 cup of whole milk, stirred in and let sit a bit, then added in the sour cream. Don't mix the stuff, milk is to base enrich, the sour cream is preference from there.. Put in a 3-5 dollops, be they teaspoon or tablespoon sized. Again, preference.
Stir in gently, sort of like you would dumplings. Bring up the heat to med low, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Then stir a bit more, cover, stir... 2-3 times till all the sour cream is really well distributed, and nice faint steam is really lifting off the soup.

Kill heat, and let stand for at least 15 min uncovered, stirring once or twice, before serving. That crap is hot as hades and needs a bit of cool time before serving.

Out of all of that..
Taco night for three menfolk and I...
Leftovers enough to make a 6 quart pot of very hearty soup, which made dinner for two that evening and and 6 more servings for the freezer for later lunches or dinners :)

The leftover tortillas.. Hmmm, I got stuff on the shelf that I want to try out sort of a stacked baked something... But I can pop them into the freezer right now till I decide.

And last nights dinner.. I was a bad bad girl... The asparagus at the store was so beautiful, but expensive. The dried beef was not on sale and not cheap... But oh, I saw those glorious slim spears and knew I had to do up chipped beef for dinner for us. I just couldn't help it. I picked up a nice soft yet firm white bread for the toast so it wouldn't mess with the flavors..
And it was glorious. My love tore the beef into little bits and flaked it up perfect. I lightly blanched and shocked the asparagus, cut into one inch bits... Saving the tips for the last minute of the blanch to help preserve its yummy.
I made a light bechamel for this yummy, with some parsley, garlic, and a bit of dill for a bright herbal tone.. a bit of pepper... Then I folded in the beef, then the asparagus and let all heat well through and the asparagus was just the right eating consistency... Then I killed the heat, added in a few grinds of nutmeg, tasted.. needed a wee bit more pepper, but the salt was spot on from the beef... and yum. Spread over three pieces of white toast for each of us, it was a totally stuffing and decadent dinner.

I must say, I make a mean shit on a shingle as well... But last night's chipped beef was a far cry from that.

I'm trying to up my sauce skills because at christmas, my lovely new folks gave us a wonderful basket of culinary goodies, one of which was a one pound can of crab that promptly went into the deep preservation mode...

We finally got Nova into the vet for his whole meet and greet.. and if I had known it would have taken a month to schedule in neutering, I would have tried to figure out how to do it sooner....and neutering and hes back home again... and yay.

Our vet is really frigging awesome..
We dropped Nova off Monday afternoon. Mostly so they can make sure he does not eat or drink after a particular time before blood draws and surgery. And we picked him up this morning. He ate, adn drank, and slept a lot, lol. For sure not meeping as much and walking a little sore, but that's to be expected.

So, back again... Nova is recovering peacefully so far.  He was pretty meepy this morning and wanted his sink time and wanted to hang out in his usual spots. Sounds like he's been in the little box at least once, maybe more. And his bits look ok.

I have had some serious entertainment out my office window today. Our pond is mostly frozen, with a goodly patch open in the stretch on our side between us and the island. And the little pond by the road is thawed out.
So a couple of geese of been wanting to hang out on the pond, and Mr. McSwanums keeps chasing them off. There's some swimming, and flapping, and flying off... as well as creeping, stalking, running, and sliding all over the ice... Too damn funny!

And now it's the next day again..
HOORAY!!!!! I got my wedding dress fabric today. I'm so relieved to have that taken care of. Man. I was getting into kind of a panic mode about that.
And I picked up all of the artifical flowers for all the little doodas. Since I picked up the fabric and wasn't too thrilled about the flower selection at the fabric place, I went over to the craft place.. And I swear it took me an hour to figure out what to get. Geez. But on the bright side, I happened to walk in when they had half off all the flower stuff, so I picked up some good stuff. Now I get to make a bunch of doodas, hehe.

I so need to take pics of stuff... Got the camera battery on the charger now.

So I got kind of inspired and set up all the initial flower doodas. Trimmed up and clustered blossoms, figured out aglet tips. Now I get to figure out what to do about pinning, hehehe. They look pertty nice so far IMO.

So, what's for dinner tonight? Eggy bits, AKA one of my skillets... Every time it's different, but it always has eggs, cheese, and some sorts of good stuff like veggies and sometimes meat cooked into it. Almost like a skillet quiche with no crust, all baked right in the pan.

And so long as the weather plays nice this weekend, it's time to seriously clean the solarium and get it set up for spring planting. I feel like I'm running late on that, and I need to hop to!

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