Adventure 16 - Cook a meal in a friend's home.
Show up at the friends house
They are in a crisis!
They don't know what to make for dinner?
Don't worry Teresa to the RESCUE!!!!!
I take over and come up with a plan and start cooking!
I struggle with finding everything I need and have to make a few last minute replacements.
But Voila! Teresa creates a wonderful, delicious meal for the family without any help from them!
Just call me queen of the Kitchen!
Okay, so maybe I watch Kitchen Impossible a few too many times. And the couple of times I have been in different friends kitchens, I was no where near creative enough to come up with a spectacular dinner. As adventurous as I try to be, I am still a safe person for the most part. Trying different types of food, is something I want to do, but rarely get motivated enough to do the work. That is why this adventure list is so good for me. Slowly getting me out of my comfort zone. So since saving the day wasn't possible I decided to alter it a little.
It isn't everyday I get up the nerve to ask someone to let me cook for them in their kitchen. Most people are very concerned about letting others in their space, unoccupied, much less letting them be photographed. One of the things I learned by my trip to Mexico when I was a teenager, was that most of the people there were not concerned with status and how their houses looked. When our group of missionaries came to town and told 4 families that they were going to get new houses on us, they were so gracious that they offered to cook for all 200 of us workers. There was no way they could have afforded to even feed a portion of us, but their generousity was not lost on me. She didn't care what she looked like and how it would happen, she just was so grateful for the help. I wish I had pictures from back then and could show you what the tiny shack she and her 10 children lived in. They literally had to sleep on top of each other to fit in the tiny space. But God did amazing work through us and in us. I was forever changed by that trip and the glorious simplicity of those people.
But of course, living amongst the society and culture here, I easily forget the simplicity that life can be. How it doesn't always have to go how I want it to go, to work. In fact it is better if it doesn't go my way, as long as it goes God's way.
When I realized that our trip to see my brother was going to actually happen, I decided that I was going to cook for them. One of my gifts is cooking and I love to do it, if I am motivated. So when we arrived at Tim and Beth's abode, I asked if they would mind if I accomplished one of my adventures by cooking in their kitchen. Beth, the wonderful adventure lover herself said sure! No hesitation, no concerns, just yes! I have always loved her from the moment my brother introduced her to me, but I gain a new respect for her each time we get together. Her strength and knowledge and deep down understanding of the important things in life. Her amazing ability to love my brother unconditionally, we can all take lessons from. So thank you Beth, for letting me invade your house for awhile and cook for you. It was truly my pleasure!
So the Mission was this:
Gather ingredients from the local stores for a meal I knew how to prepare.
Rely on the staples they had at the house, spices and oils, but buy the rest of the ingredients
I was not allowed to ask where anything is, I had to find and use the utensils they had on hand.
I had to put everything back where it came from and clean the kitchen when I was done.
The menu was Chicken Enchiladas and my famous Guacamole.
My brother took me to two local stores. First one was an Aldi! I was praising for an Aldi, I can find my way around these stores. So I started gathering the staples I needed but was flabbergasted that they had flour tortillas, but not corn tortillas. I asked an associate if they had them and she looked at me like I was from outerspace. She did not know what corn tortillas were. I showed her the corn tortillas they had that were already fried and made into shells and said I need these but not cooked yet. She said are they doughy? I shook my head and gave up. Luckily, Tim said they had a mexican grocery store with fantastic produce, so I knew I could find them there. I will pray for that sweet little girl that someone will come into her life that can introduce her to really good mexican food or at least Tex mex. Poor thing! So next we went to the mexican grocery store and luckily the problem there was not did they have corn tortillas, but which ones of the 20 different brands do we pick? We also got really lucky, because their avacados were perfectly ripe and beautiful on the inside. I didn't have to throw away one of them. We did have a little trouble finding the enchilada sauce, because of language barrier I couldn't convey what I was needing to the spanish speaking attendant. But, after a little searching we found it. Then we were able to head back to the house and I was ready to get cooking.
So I started out looking for the basics. Skillet to cook the chicken in, wooden spoon or spatula to stir with. At my house, because my husband is used to me cooking for hundreds, even though we don't ever have that many show up, we have a multitude of enormus skillets. Most of them bigger than the burners. Here I only found small skillets, so I had to cook in shifts. I wonder if this contributes to my food addiction? Hmm, gonna have to ponder that... later. Okay so once I started the chicken, I went immediately to look for spices.
Cumin is a staple at our house. We are not allowed to run out. But in my brother's house, where indian food and jewish foods are a main place, I was wishing and hoping that I could find it. I got lucky, they had cumin. Cumin is one of the main spices you can taste in my enchiladas. The next spice I looked for was a mexican spice blend. No suck luck there. But I was able to find taco seasoning and that was a suitable substitute. Luckily, my brother is much more adventurous in food than I am, so I was able to find the other spices needed, like garlic powder and onion salt. After generously applying the chicken with seasoning and cooking it all the way through, I had to remove it to a cutting board, which I had to look for for awhile, while I cut it into small pieces. I stored it into a bowl, while I chopped the onion and sauted it. I added the frozen corn, the rotel, one can of cream of chicken and more spices. I usually use diced tomatoes and green chilis seperately, but Rotel worked for this. After heating up the corn mixture I added it to the bowl to let it cool. While it cooled I started dicing the vegetables for my guacamole.
At home I have a tupperware food processer that is portable and uses a hand crank method to chop the vegetables into the perfect size for guacamole. I always leave my veggies chunky, I think it makes the guacamole the perfect way. So it was more difficult to get my veggies that perfect size, but I am no stranger to work. Especially when it comes to food. I think I am like Po in Kung Fu Panda, that way, motivated by food. So I use green pepper, onion, cilantro, jalapeno(seeded) and tomatoes (unripened). After all those veggies are chopped up small but not minced, I roll one lime around, to get the juices flowing and squeeze all the juice into the veggies. I make sure the veggies are coated well, then in a different bowl I deseed and chop up the avacado insides. Then I add season salt, which they had, and use a potato masher to get the avacado good and creamy. I found a potato masher at their house and it still had the tag on it! Lucky me! When you are ready to serve mix the avacados and the veggies together well and add more season salt if needed. For a good size batch I use 4 to 5 avacados. But even this batch was quickly devoured.
After the chicken mixture cooled, I coated two glass baking dishes with red enchilada sauce and started rolling the tortillas. Take the corn tortillas and warm them up in the microwave. If you have a steamer it works better, but I don't even have a steamer at home. Take a warm corn tortilla and add some chicken mixture in the middle and roll it up, placing the seam side down. Make sure to work quickly, because the drier the tortilla the more it will crack. When you have filled the pan with rolled tortillas, apply a generous coating of red enchilada sauce on top and cover with shredded cheese. It takes about 35 minutes in the oven set about 350 to warm the insides and melt the cheese properly. Another easier way to make them is to layer the corn tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish and cover with chicken mixture, sauce and cheese. Then repeat as many times as will fit in the dish.
The enchiladas and guacamole, turned out perfectly. And we stuffed ourselves silly when it was time to eat. I made sure to wash the dishes and clean the counters when I was done. Nobody likes cleaning up after a messy cook. And I am a messy cook. The biggest thing I didn't prepare for was the leftovers. I am so used to us eating these things for days and freezing the leftovers that I didn't take in consideration that they may not have room in their freezer. Oh well, I hope they didn't have to throw away the leftovers, but if they did no harm done. Lessoned learned, look for storing space.
I think the best thing I learned from this adventure is that good cooks are able to adapt to their environment, try a new way or try something new, and able to learn from mistakes and/or failures. So I hope you enjoyed my adventure story and I only have 134 more to go! Whew, I better get busy! My challenge to you, is to see what you can come up with new in the kitchen and see if you can use it to help someone else out! Happy cooking!