Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spinach Enchiladas. Serve with "WATER"

My niece is visiting us.  She is quite talented.  One of the things she can do is name all the types of trees we have in our neighborhood.  She can also give our Oldest Daughter practice at having a roommate, and practice at how to drive while being distracted by another teenager in the car.

Since the household is now overrun with females, it was a good time for my son to go to the Scout Jamboree.  We dropped him off at the local rendez-vous point on Sunday evening.  The drop-off was executed with military precision – his luggage was unloaded from the car and put onto the truck in less than 30 seconds.  All the luggage looks the same, though, so I have to wonder if he will ever be reunited with it.  The contingent from our area numbers 323 people, and there supposedly will be a total of 43,000 people (most of them male) converging on Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.  Talk about yer tent cities.  There might be some photos here:  Boy Scout Jamboree

At least now that he’s there we will stop getting e-mails instructing us to make our son drink water.  Here is what the Scout Master wrote:
I have told your parents; starting July 1, 2010 that you are stop drinking  POP, sugared drinks and start drinking "WATER"!!!!! We need to TRAIN  our bodies for the "ADVENTURE".
Is “water” different from water?

Oldest Niece claimed that she didn’t know how to cook anything, so I bestowed on her the title of Cooking Assistant.  Today we made spinach cheese enchiladas, which is a vegetarian recipe and, oddly enough, loved or at least tolerated by everyone in the Common Household.

When I was pregnant with Oldest Daughter, we went to visit my brother.  He made spinach enchiladas, and we loved them.  My husband raved about them.  A week later, we asked my brother for the recipe, but he had thrown it out.  Alas and alack! Seventeen long years went by, with my husband occasionally mentioning the Tragedy of the Lost Spinach Enchilada Recipe.

This year I realized that – glory be! now we have the internet! –  and with it thousands of unproven and possibly mistyped recipes.  I googlized and revised a recipe I found, and came up with one that even Youngest Daughter will eat without thinking about all the spinach she is consuming.  I put a LOT of shredded cheese on top.   The really good news is that my husband can stop referring to his tragic life without spinach enchiladas.

I make a fairly mild version, but wouldn’t mind adding some extra chili peppers.  I guess that will have to wait until Youngest Daughter goes away to college.  So here is how gringos make Spinach Cheese Enchiladas.  Don’t forget to drink your “WATER.”


Preparation time: 30 minutes.  Makes 8 servings.
Baking time: Bake enchiladas at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
If you want it spicier, you can add extra chilies if you like.

8 corn or flour tortillas
1 (10 oz.) can mild enchilada sauce
1 c. cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
2 egg whites (or 2 whole eggs)
1/2 tsp. salt
Additional shredded Cheddar cheese; chopped chives, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in medium size skillet over medium heat. Add onion, saute 3 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add spinach and spices, and cook, stirring, until mixture is dry. Set aside.

Warm tortillas for 10-20 seconds in microwave. (Or wrap tortillas in aluminum foil. Place packet on oven shelf. Bake 5 minutes at 450 deg to warm tortillas.) Pour half of enchilada sauce into 11 x 7  inch baking dish. Set aside.

Combine cottage cheese, Cheddar, egg white and salt in medium bowl. Stir in spinach mixture.

One at a time, remove warm tortillas from foil packet. Spread 1/4 cup cottage cheese mixture in center. Roll tortilla up and place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese mixture. Cover enchiladas with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle additional shredded cheese and chives on top, if desired.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake enchiladas at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Train up a child in the way he should go

There are many things a mother wants to teach her children before sending them out into the wide world to seek their own fortune.  One of these things is how to maintain a suitable dinner-table conversation.  Let’s take a peek at the Common Household dinner table and see how the lessons are going....

One evening at dinner, out of the blue, the Youngest Daughter said, “Horses are not able to regurgitate.”

* * * *

Usually these statements come near the end of the meal, when everyone else except yours truly has finished eating.  Some other time we will address the question of why they finish before I do.  Nevertheless, while I am still eating I enjoy topics such as this:

Youngest Daughter:  "Brain surgeons can poke around in your brain without you feeling it!"

Her cousin:  "You know, there’s a way to do that through your nose!"

* * * *

Sometimes the statements made at the dinner table are just so completely unexpected that the Proper Person is unable to reply.  Please notice who is making the unexpected statements here.

Husband:  “I went to the casino today and I played tic-tac-toe against a live chicken.” 

Me:  “!”

Youngest Daughter:  “But what if you were actually playing against a dead chicken?”

Husband:  “Then I would be very suspicious.  [Wait for it...]  I would suspect fowl play.”

* * * *

Oldest Daughter: “Did you know that people look to the nose first, when they look at someone’s face?  In order to see if they recognize them.”

Youngest Daughter:  “I find myself noticing noses lately.”

Husband:  “What about the killer whale?  Does anyone recognize the killer whale by his nose?”

* * * *

Husband:  “Does anyone know how long it takes to cook an oat?  I have to know for the dinner I’m cooking on Sunday.”

Me:  “You’re serving us one oat?    Kids, it’s going to be a meager dinner on Sunday.”

* * * *

And then occasionally the dinner-table conversation takes a sinister turn.

Dad:  “Just remember that revenge is a dish best served cold.”

After I explained the meaning of this aphorism to my daughter, she protested, “But that’s totally against the rules of revenge!”

Dad:  “There are no rules of revenge.”

Youngest Daughter:  “Yes there are!  I’ll show them to you after dinner.”

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pass the Anti-Aging Cream, Please

“Inside, we still feel the same as we did when we were 25 years old,” we explained to the 17-year-old.  The rest of the group were all past the age of 35.  “But we feel as if our bodies are betraying us every day.”

When I received the latest National Geographic, with this cover, I really felt I could relate to this woman.

I have a pretty easy life, but I still feel that my body is deteriorating with time.  Doesn’t this woman just look tired, as if she didn’t sleep well, but got up early to take the kids somewhere, worked at her part-time job a few hours, picked up kids, did some weed-whacking, put in a load of laundry, and just when she got a chance to sit down for a few minutes, she realized she had to think of something to make for dinner, and then make it? That sad look in her eyes is because she knows that after dinner she has to sew badges onto three Scout uniforms.

I showed the magazine cover to my son, who said, “She probably tries to tell everybody she’s 29 years old.” 

Later this summer I will turn 49 years old, which is pretty cool because it is a square number, and appropriate because my shape is getting more square every day.  I truly have a wonderful life with a fantastic family and super friends, but dang it, today I’m tired.  Here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep, and feeling 29 again tomorrow morning.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

Today in the Common Household we celebrate our country’s independence.  Thank you, Founding Fathers, for, among other things, separation of state from religion.  And for freedom of religious practice.  In practice these two ideals sometimes conflict with each other, but I think they are some of the best stuff those Founding Guys thought up.  

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ...

First we celebrated our independence in a particularly suburban way:  by painting toxic substances on our deck.

It had been three years, and was high time.  Thank you, Mr. Wolman.  I put in one hour of painting on the ladder in exchange for a lesson on how to use the weed whacker.

I am happy to report that I have gained my weed whacking independence.  I now know where to find the weed whacker, how to set it up, and how to rethread the little blue plastic thread that serves to whack the weeds.

Here are a few helpful tips for all you Moms out there who have a penchant for whacking weeds.

1)  Wear protective gear.  Let me shout that again.  Wear protective eye gear, or you won’t be driving your kids to piano lesson ever again.   Wear long thick pants and strong ugly work shoes or you will have thousands of stings all over your legs from flying weeds.  Work gloves and a long sleeve shirt would also be a good idea.

2) Unplug the thing when you have to pull out the little blue sticky-outy thread, or you won’t be playing the piano ever again.

3)  That little blue plastic thread may look wimpy, but never was a little sticky-outy thing so powerful.  Keep fingers and toes away, Moms.

Happy Independence Day, Happy Weed Whacking, and Happy 100th Post on This Blog.