Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Add Water

I was vaguely dismayed to discover, on conversing with M lately - while en route to one of our fancy Friday night dinners, that her favourite foods are (in this order): hot dogs, pizza, tacos and guacamole. Oh, and somewhere around number 8 or 9 is a litany of baked goods with chocolate.

My point: not a rabbit stew or mushroom feuillete to be had.

When I broke it down, it occurred that we do go to this excellent Neapolitan place that serves a terrific thin crust, Scott does Dad-and-kid night at the El Salvadoran hole-in-the-wall that makes the best tacos in the city (IMO) and only a crazy child doesn't like hot dogs. But I still feel like I'm failing, somewhat, as a "sophisticated urban mom". (Feel free to vomit now.) I mean, the child hangs at some of the best restaurants in the city - what? we can't afford dinner and a babysitter. And she eats the shrimp and the foie gras (admittedly we call it goose butter) and the veal shank. What up with the pedestrian faves?

On Sunday she was watching TVO Kids food porn (Tastebuds), drooling over this slop mess of saucy pasta with veggies. It came to me that we should cook a meal together - a "kid" meal - so I suggested tacos. Who knew how hard it would be to find taco stuff in the grocery store, now under renovation? (Metro, I'm kind of hating you.) Who knew it would somehow cost $30.00?

I tell you, my husband won't let me shop for food.

But fret not. Even though I couldn't find any of the salient ingredients, I managed to come up with this awesome version of Mexican you can make in 10 minutes. Add a pinot noir and subtract the children and you've got yourself a reasonably balanced, yummy, relaxed kind of dinner on the fly.

  • Yves Ground Round (Original flavour pls. Don't judge it cuz it's vegan. Acutal cooking not required.)
  • Old El Paso Burrito seasoning mix (Yes, it's crap, but it tastes good and makes the vegan shit all goopy in the right way.)
  • Romaine hearts (Get the organic stuff in the box and you don't have to wash it, though you probably should.)
  • Sharp cheddar (Lord help you if it isn't orange.)
  • Some kind of salsa (I don't actually like this stuff and even I have three opened jars in the fridge. Mind you, I still bought more.)
  • Tortilla chips (We couldn't find shells so we bought organic, flax tortillas = Virtuous!)
The genius of this "quick meal" is that you don't really have to cook anything. You put the fake meat in a skillet (not too hot or it's all over cuz that stuff has no fat), warm it, add water and the mix, boil it down for 4 minutes on med high while you shred some cheese, lettuce and open a bag of chips.

Now's a good time to uncork the wine.

Then, a la stoner plate lite, you artfully arrange the tortillas around the edge of the plate, throw some saucy "meat" in the middle with some well-placed lettuce (go crazy and add lots), some cheddar sprinked on the side and some salsa wherever you like. If you're nuts, add some kalamata olives and sliced avocado.

I'm telling you, it's pretty and it's tasty! And, unless you eat the whole thing in one go, it isn't bad for the waistline.

M and her little friend ate like they hadn't seen food in weeks. Admittedly, they've both recently overcome the most hideous of stomach flues.

For dessert we had vanilla bean gelato with a homemade oatmeal chip cookie (for scooping, natch).

I was one popular mom. Albeit one out of 1977.


  1. I'm still thinking dog tacos.

  2. We use the roast chickens that you can buy at the grocery store, frozen corn tortillas (can you get them in toronto?) that come in 50 and 100 packs, salsa (home made or canned) and guac.

    Another option is little mexican pseudo-perogies with (my homemade) sauerkraut on corn tortillas with a little grating of habeñero-jack cheese.

  3. Mmmm. I cook all sorts of Mexican stuff - it's the only cuisine I don't eff up - but rarely tackle tacos. Maybe this weekend we'll try your recipe!

  4. those tacos sound delicious. personally im a burrito addict. put anything in a burrito wrap and i'll eat.

    i like simple simple food, comfort food. this whole time i thought foie gras was those green grass looking things that you see at jamba juice. see i dress nice to compensate for my complete lack of class.

  5. We have burritos once a week at our house - home-cooked with fresh ingredients, obviously. :P Is a nice easy dinner to have with a beer on the days you can't be bothered cooking. Am having it tonight, in fact. I tackle the waistline issue by keeping the cheese and meat to a minimum and stuffing it with home-made salsa, avos and lots and lots of salad. Yum!

    Can you tell I haven't had breakfast yet?

  6. I do taco (fake meat) night here at home for 12 and Mr.OM and they like—groaaaaaaan—CRUNCHY taco shells. They didn't "get" the wheat flour tortillas I kept serving them. Finally, 12 spoke up and asked for the crunchy shells.

    My heart sank. I felt it was a comedown. I got them for her and she was in heaven.

    I never ate stuff like that when I was a kid. My mother was a superb cook, and I ate sophisticated food every night of my life. But that doesn't mean I can get 12 to understand or even like "old" food the way I like it.

    Oh well. I concede to KidKuizeen.

  7. Sad day...but I almost feel like kids choose basic fare when they're accustomed to more gourmet things. I know I always traded pieces from my home-baked lunches for french fries and fruit roll ups in elementary school!

  8. I usually throw some chicken into a crockpot (talk about 1977!), sprinkle a liberal amount of chili powder and leave the house. When I get home eight hours later, the chicken is falling apart and I just shred it with a couple of forks. Add tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Plus lots of hot sauce chez Scoffs.

  9. I hope you were wearing a poly pants suit while you whipped up that gourmet delight...and orange cheese, i don't think I've ever seen such thing.

  10. I've concluded that parents have very little influence over what foods their kids prefer. There must be some genetic marker accounting for taste I think. I've got one kid that loves sushi, mussels, escargots and anything Indian, and one who would eat nothing but hot dogs and mac + cheese if I let him.
    I've never eaten a hot dog in my life, but I end up making them twice a week. Go figure!

  11. WendyB: That's over the line. Even for a 9 year old! :-)

    D.: mmmm. Sounds good. I don't know about those tortillas. I have to look for them. Never thought they might be stored in freezer.

    Sal: Let me know how it goes!

    ~h: You are hilarious!

    Andrea: I had no idea everyone was doing it! :-)

    E: Is KidKuizeen real? Please tell me you just made that up! OK, I don't like soft tortillas - there, I've admitted it. I don't like bready tasting things. Only chip like things. So I'm with 12! But, secretly, I don't even like to eat the stuff with taco shells. I like to eat it like chili.

    Rebecca: That's so true. My mother sent me to school with pudding cups so I could trade them with my friend whose mother made her homemade yogurt. I loved that yogurt! It was kind of evil of my mother :-)

    Tessa: That sounds awesome. I want to come over.

    Matt: I'm so doing lounge wear the next time. I'll try to take a photo.

    Janet: It's so true... On another note, how is it that you've never even tried a hot dog? I didn't know that was possible!

  12. Sounds like M, like most kids, likes food that she can hold in her hands. It's that whole hand-mouth fixation that goes back to when they were in the womb. She'll grow out of it. They are also universal. Everyone in the school yard know hot dogs, pizza and tacos. I don't think you need to worry, you're not failing as cool city mom. But I think it's so funny that you worry!

  13. K-A: Like I told you today, this interpretation is so smart! You should comment more often :-)

  14. What a quick but EXPENSIVE pick up on the fly... tacos and all, K this sounds really yummy but me finding anything vegan or meatless here in Japan is like finding a needle or not finding one in a haystack... But give me some corn and I'll pound the hell out of them... shit than that would not be a 10 minute meal..

    I love your take on it!

  15. GJ: I honestly don't know how I spent that much cash. And I'm surprised you can't find vegan in Japan. I would have though it would be everywhere.