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.


Libra Lentil Salad

I realized last October that I have a bevy of Libra friends.From late September until late October, it is a birthday bonanza and I only celebrate about half of them. I mean hard as I try, I can only fit so many parties into one month. This year, I decided to honor a whole group of my Libra friends with a Libra Luncheon. I narrowed it down to only women, and only those who live near me. And we still had lots of lovely Libra's in attendance. What is it with me and Libra's? I just love them!

Garden Fig Jam for party favors!

I organized a beach walk party followed by a buffet lunch of salads. Since I have a few vegetarian friends, my first thought when planning was a lentil salad that can be made the night before and served room temperature. I got the idea for combining a spicy sauce with lentils from a dish that my friend Maili made for me a few years ago called Lentils with Tofu and Chimichurri Sauce. I love the spice and parsley with the heartiness of the black lentils. I made it a few times after Maili gave me the recipe and everyone loved it. And then I got lazy. And I threw together some similar things to create my lazy-girl lentil salad.

It's definitely not the same so be sure to try Maili's lentils too because they are truly delicious and honestly also super easy to prepare. But the Libra gals seemed pretty happy with their lentil salad and I promised them the recipe so here goes. This is what I did for the Libra Luncheon.

Please take note that this is a very forgiving dish. You can add more or less of most things. You can leave some things out. (I've made it with just onions, lentils, hot sauce and dry parsley.) You can throw in other things you like. (I've added shrimp.) It is really hard to screw it up. And if you ask me to bring it to your next party, it will likely be different. It is the kind of recipe I love.


“Celebrate true friends. They are a part of you that always sparkles.” ― Amy Leigh Mercree


Libra Lentil Salad

2 T Olive OIl 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion 1 tsp salt 1 package Trader Joe's steamed black lentils (or 2-3 cups cooked lentils) 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 1/4 cup dry parsley if you are really desperate) 1 cup fresh arrugula or spinach, optional 3-5 T Frank's original hot sauce or similar red hot sauce 2 tsp lemon juice, optional 1 tsp agave nectar, optional fresh feta cheese to serve

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and sauté onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, lentils and parsley and combine well. If using packaged lentils, be sure to break up all the clumps to separate the lentils. Stir in arrugula and add 3 T hot sauce.  Taste and add more hot sauce if desired. Stir in lemon juice and agave. Cool, stir well and refrigerate overnight. I like to serve it warm or at room temperature with crumbled feta on top.