Thursday, July 26, 2012

Salsa Verde

The first thing, here, is don't get too fussy about exact amounts of this or that.  My recipes are more like guidelines, anyway.

What you need:

--10-15 Tomatillos.  Cut into halves or thick slices (if they're big ones) and remove the stem cores.
--2 Jalepeno peppers, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise.  Don't remove the seeds and membranes.
--2 Ancho peppers, stemmed and cut in strips lengthwise, so all outside surfaces can be exposed to heat (see step 1A below).  Don't remove the seeds and membranes.*
--2 Large Anaheim peppers, prepared the same way.
--1/2 white or yellow onion, cut into 1" thick slices.  (A handful of green onions would also work.  A purple one might look cooler.  Let me know how it goes.)
--2-4 cloves of garlic
--A handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped.
--Juice of 1 fresh lime.  You can use the bottled stuff if it's all you can get.

*This will give you a good "medium" to "medium hot" salsa.  For a hotter salsa, substitute 2-3 serranos.  For milder salsa, remove the seeds and membranes and/or substitute an extra ancho pepper.

Step 1:  Cook.
Fire up your oven to low broil.**  You'll be using the top rack.

A.  Place the peppers on your broiler pan.  Broil on low until the skin of the peppers is getting brown and blistered.  Remove from pan; set aside to cool.

B.  Place the sliced tomatillos, onion, and whole cloves of garlic on your broiler pan.  Broil on low until the tomatillos are beginning to get brown, blistery spots on them.  Keep an eye on the garlic:  Remove it as soon as it starts to turn brown.

C.  Peel the cooled peppers.  The peels should come off quite easily.  If there are any spots that the heat missed (you'll know because the peels won't come off), you can microwave for 30 seconds and try again. If the missed spots are small, though, I would just proceed to step 2 and not worry about it.

D.  If your house is smelling rather wonderful at this point, you are most likely doing it right.

**I haven't had the nerve to try this over charcoal yet, but I'm sure the smoke flavor would make this even more amazing.  If you try it, I would advise using a grilling basket or two, go easy on the charcoal, and keeping an eye on things very carefully, because all these ingredients burn quite easily.  And let me know how it goes.

Step 2:  Chop, Blend, Mince, Mangle, and otherwise Pulverize
A.  Put all ingredients in your food processor or blender (don't forget the lime juice and cilantro!).  Let 'em have it.

Step 3:  Chill. 
Put the salsa in a covered bowl.  Chill in the fridge for several hours.  This salsa tastes best to me cold.  You might disagree.  It's all good.

Step 4:  Eat it.
Try it with tortilla chips.  Enchiladas.  Tacos.  Dump it on an omelette.  Spoon it straight from the bowl.  I love this stuff.  I am drooling as I type this.  Honestly.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

National Ice Cream Day

Now, HERE is an exercise of federal power I can get behind.

"I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities."

Get out there and do your patriotic duty, everyone.  The United States is counting on you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Mom

My mom is pretty much the most amazing person I know.

As many of you will know, she has been very sick.  A few weeks ago, her kidneys shut down, bam, unexpectedly.  She spent almost a month in the Casper hospital, undergoing dialysis to keep her body going while the docs try to figure out what on earth happened.  They have mostly ruled out cancer.  Other than that, they are still scratching their heads.  My mom gets that from doctors all the time.

What many of you might not know is that today was her birthday.  She is spending it in a nursing home.  For my mom, thank God, this is a temporary arrangement.  Despite my initial gut feeling, I believe she is going to pull through this (silly gut feelings).  The home is, for her, just a less-expensive place where she can have nursing and rehab care until she is strong enough to go home.

Still, nursing homes are difficult.  As annoying as a hospital can be, with the constant activity, noise, lack of privacy, absurd scheduling, and interruptions, it is those very things that make it a hopeful place:  This is a place where things are happening.  This is a place where change is constant.  This is a place where people come to get better.

Nursing homes are not like that.  They are permeated with an air of exaggerated calm.  Everything seems to happen on a schedule, daily, weekly, monthly.  Interruptions and activity are alarmingly uncommon.  The residents, those that are out of bed, are mostly dozing in chairs, ignoring the muted TV.  The care, loving though it is, is geared toward comfort, quiet, and predictability, not toward recovery.  Because when you come right down to it, no one recovers from old age.  With a few exceptions, this is not a place people come to get better.

Into this environment comes my mom, very sick but feeling very much like there is a great deal of living ahead of her.  It is a hard move.  The lady with whom she shares a room is, the nurse tells us, seldom awake, and mostly unresponsive when she is awake.  I mean this lady no disrespect, but the first time I saw her, I thought she was dead, and during my visits nothing happened to convince me otherwise.  This is not the kind of environment that fosters hope, joy, or optimism, all so important for healing.

So, it was a hard move, for my mom and dad both.  But my mom just adapts to things, and before long she was praying for God to give her a reason for being there.  And late that first night, she found one.  Mom's roommate came out of her sleep, unable to talk, crying, confused, afraid.  Mom started praying, and the song "Edelweiss" came into her mind.  Not having any better ideas, mom started singing.  Her roommate immediately stopped crying, and within minutes was sleeping peacefully.  But she soon woke again.

And so my amazing mom, sick and desperately in need of rest, spent the night singing, off and on, for this poor, frightened lady whose name she didn't even know.  Happily giving up her own rest to help someone else find it, like the child of God that she is.

Because my mom, you see, is pretty much the most amazing person I know.