Remember Me with Enchiladas

Martha Stewart wrote a short article in her Martha Stewart Living Magazine this month.It was moving. It was real. It was heartbreaking. It reminded me of my brother Dave.

Martha's sister had died unexpected at age 59 and Martha wasn't prepared. She said she had much more to say to her sister. I recognized that feeling. There are so many days when I talk to my brother out the window, hoping he can hear me. I have had the benefit of years to heal from my loss so my conversations only happen now and then, when he enters my heart for one reason or another. Martha's loss is so recent and raw that I imagine her conversations with her sister are daily.  I feel for her.

There was a poem printed with her article called "Remember Me". It was the poem Martha read at her sister's memorial service. The poem puts into words exactly why I celebrate my brother's December 27th birthday each year with his favorite enchiladas. I first wrote about Reme's Enchiladas a year ago, on the third anniversary of Dave's Enchilada Night so that all of our family and friend's could continue the tradition to celebrate and remember Dave, even if we aren't all together. Remembering is important.

Remember Me To the living, I am gone. To the sorrowful, I will never return. To the angry, I was cheated. But to the happy, I am at peace. And to the faithful, I have never left. I cannot be seen, but I can be heard. So as you stand upon a shore, gazing at a beautiful sea -- remember me. As you look in awe at a mighty forest and its grand majesty -- remember me. As you look upon a flower and admire its simplicity -- remember me. Remember me in your heart, your thoughts, your memories of the times we loved, The times we cried, the times we fought, the times we laughed. For if you always think of me, I will never be gone. -Anonymous

Happy Birthday Dave!


David Alan Flick 1957-2011 *****

Reme’s Enchiladas Makes 20 enchiladas

Salsa: 20 fresh tomatillos 2-4 jalapeno chiles (depends on how spicy you want it) 1/4 medium yellow onion 1 clove garlic 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed 2 tsp salt

Take outer dry skin off tomatillos and put into a pan of water to cover. Add the whole jalapenos and bring to a boil. Boil about 3 minutes and drain. Take the tops of the jalapenos and put all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Filling: 3 lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts 1 T. chicken bouillion (caldo de pollo)

Put the chicken and boullon in a large pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil 15 minutes. Take off heat and let rest, covered, for 30 minutes or more. Remove cover and leave in liquid to cool. When cool enough to handle with your fingers, drain chicken and hand-shred into very small pieces. Put in a bowl and set aside.

Assemble other ingredients for preparation: 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into thin slices (shredded) 6 fresh radishes, sliced very thin 16 oz. Mexican Crema Acida (high fat sour cream) 8 oz Queso Cotija, (dry, hard, Mexican cheese) grated to very fine crumbles 30 fresh corn tortillas 2 T. vegetable oil

Preparation: Heat oil on medium heat in large flat pan. Pour salsa into the pan until about 1/2” deep. Fry for 30 seconds then stir until incorporated. Turn heat to low. Using tongs, lay a tortilla into the pan covering it in sauce. After about 15 seconds, flip it over, leave for another 15 seconds, then lift over the pan to drain. Lay at one end of a serving dish, fill with shredded chicken and roll up. Repeat, stacking rolls up against each other until you reach the other end of the serving dish. Spread crema generously over the top of the tortilla rolls. Cover rolls liberally with shredded lettuce, spoon queso cotija down the center, and sprinkle with radishes. Serve immediately with remaining green salsa in a jar to spoon on top. For a spicier topping, re-blend a portion of the salsa with extra chopped chilis.

Note: While best if they are served immediately, these are also quite delicious when heated up the next day. If you know you will have a lot leftover, it is best to leave off the lettuce, cheese and radishes and add after reheating.


Hamballs are not Paleo

I tried.I really did. But Hamballs are just not paleo.

Hamball night is approaching and Hubby is so strict in his paleo diet that I decided I needed to start testing. I tried making them with almond flour. I tried leaving out the breadcrumbs. I even tried using gluten-free breadcrumbs to make them "kind of paleo." Finally, in a last effort to make them "less gluten-filled", I tried using half the amount of Saltines. None of it worked. None of them had the midwest magic of Grandma Grace's Hamballs. There just doesn't seem to be a way around the Saltines.

Now I am all for paleo and while I am not as strict as Hubby, I rarely stray too far from whole foods. But what I have learned over the past year of doing paleo experiments is that the best dishes are made by taking an the idea of something I love and creating something new and delicious instead of trying to replicate a non-paleo dish with paleo ingredients. As in the case of Hamballs, replicating is just not quite the same.  And you can't go back once you've had Grandma Grace's Hamballs so nothing short of the real thing is acceptable.

So here is what I've decided. Each Hamball has about one Saltine cracker in it. My body can handle one Saltine with no adverse effects. I will make the Hamballs as they should be and those of us avoiding gluten can enjoy one spectacular Hamball and fill up the rest of our plates with salads and vegetables. I would rather have one delicious Hamball than a plateful of imitations. And that is how it will be.


“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” -Oscar Wilde


Grandma Grace’s Hamballs

1 lb of ground meat (1/3 ham and 2/3 ground chuck) 1 cup crushed Saltine crackers 1 egg, beaten small amount of milk (2 tsp) 1/4 to 1/2 cup of brown sugar (packed) 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup vinegar (may mix light and dark) (I use cider or wine vinegar) 1/4 tsp mustard (not dry) (I use Dijon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the meat, crackers, egg and water together well. Roll into balls the size of a golf ball and place in a pan. 1 pound should make 10-15 balls. Mix together sugar, water, vinegar and mustard for basting sauce and pour over meatballs in pan. Bake for up to two hours, basting every twenty to thirty minutes until brown and caramelized.


Shari's Seinfeld Soup

Vegan.  Just the word makes me lose my appetite.I think bland, dull, fibrous and flavorless. But vegan has been infiltrating my world since 2012 so it is time to adjust.

This infiltration of dietary restrictions was brought to my attention by a friend from book club who wrote an email to the group stating that she was pondering what to serve for the next dinner.  She wanted to be sure to accommodate everyone.  The email jokingly commented that we were a very easy crowd to please;  she only had to consider vegan, vegan-ish, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, lactose-intolerant, low-carbohydrate, low-fiber and paleo.  The amazing thing is that her email joke was not far from the truth!  My turn to host book club was on the horizon so I started testing vegan soups in a bit of a culinary panic.  After a couple of unsuccessful trials that Hubby refused to eat, I gave up and hosted book club at a local vegan restaurant.  But I was still contemplating a vegan soup.

Whenever I think of soup, I am reminded of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes, The Soup Nazi.  Based on an actual soup kitchen in New York City, Seinfeld and his friends are obsessed with soup from a local take-out place, but the method of ordering is very strict and the cook, alias Soup Nazi, kicks people out and refuses them soup if he doesn’t like the way someone orders. "No soup for you!" screams the proprietor.

The episode spurred much activity at the New York soup kitchen that was the inspiration for the show, and over the years Seinfeld fans developed recipes for the infamous Mulligatawny soup and passed them around amongst friends and fellow Seinfeld fans.  One day when I was whining about needing to find something vegan to cook, my sister-in-law Shari told me about Seinfeld soup and passed along the recipe.  With only a few minor changes like using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, I made it vegan. ( It can also be made Paleo by eliminating the corn and using cauliflower instead of potatoes.) This one passes the Hubby taste test and its' hearty, healthy ingredients should suit almost everyone.  Hopefully you will find, like I did, that vegan CAN be delicious!  It takes a bit of time to make this soup, but it is much more forgiving than ordering from The Soup Nazi.


"You can't eat this soup standing up, your knees buckle." -Jerry in The Soup Nazi


Shari’s Seinfeld Soup (with Vegan option)

16 cups water 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegan) 2 large potatoes, peeled cut into 1-inch cubes 2 large carrots, peeled and diced 2 stalks celery, diced 1 medium onion, diced 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes 1 cup corn, frozen or fresh-cut from cob 2/3 cup roasted red peppers, diced, fresh or from jar 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1/2 cup shelled pistachios 1/2 cup roasted cashews 1/2 cup fresh italian parsley, finely chopped 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 2 T butter (or olive oil for vegan) 3 T sugar 1 tsp curry powder 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp dried thyme 1 bay leaf 1/8 tsp dried marjoram 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg salt to taste

 Combine all ingredients in a VERY large pot over medium-high heat.  If your pot isn’t large enough, start with 1/2 the liquid and bring all the ingredients to a boil, then simmer until liquid reduces enough to add the rest of the liquid.

Total simmering time is about 3.5 hours.  Stir about every 30 minutes.  The soup will reduce and become thick, dark, chunky and delicious. Add salt at the end if you think it needs it.

NOTE: I don't think it needs the added sugar in any version. To make it Paleo I leave out the sugar and corn and substitute cauliflower or sweet potato for the potatoes.