Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking Sometimes Trumps Knitting

Since my family lives in California, Mexican food is a big part of our culinary lives. Few of the recipes we prepare are very "authentic," but the individual ingredients often are: jalapeno, chipotle, and ancho chiles, queso fresco, and avocados, to name a few. I don't know if langostino are authentically Mexican, but if  Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill puts langostino in their burritos and calls them lobster, that's good enough for me. Here's my recipe. The picture doesn't look that appetizing, but the consensus was that they were good!

Lobster Enchiladas

1 pkg langostino (about a pound)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 cups prepared brown rice (I use Trader Joe's Frozen brown rice that can be microwaved in 3 min.)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small can sliced olives
1 small can chopped mild green chiles
1/4 cup chopped chilantro
1 cup  shredded Queso Fresco (I actually used Hanford Jalapeno Jack, which is a locally made Monterey Jack)
1 large can green enchilada sauce.
1 pkg whole wheat burrito-size tortillas

After running langostino under cool water to thaw, place in medium-size bowl and add lime juice. Saute red onion until just translucent. Add to langostino mixture, along with olives, green chiles, cilantro, and 3/4 cup cheese.

Pour about 1/4 cup of enchiladas sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan. Tear 3 of the tortillas into 3 strips, and line bottom of the pan with them. Add 1/2 of the langostino mixture. Add another layer of tortillas, using 3 more tortillas. Add another layer of langostino mixture, and top with tortillas again. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over tortillas, and top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

If Albertson's had had decent looking avocados, we'd have slices a couple of them to put on top when the enchiladas were done, but they didn't, so we had to persevere without avocados.

When I graduated from college, I wrote Sunset Magazine a letter and basically told them that I was ready to go work for them. I didn't exactly sit back and wait for them to offer me a lucrative position, but I was a little surprised by the magnitude of their indifference, not even a form rejection letter. I tried a couple of other magazines before deciding that maybe I should renege on the resolution that I made while sitting on a train in Wales  my senior year of college, the resolution NOT to be a teacher. I hadn't much cared for student teaching, but it offered a predictable income and security, and I really didn't know what else to do.Twenty some odd years later, I've ended up kind of liking teaching. Don't worry parents, I'm pretty dedicated to it even though it hasn't been my life dream.

This is a long, drawn-out way of saying that I still want to be a writer. While I was working on my Master's thesis, I was teaching full-time, and most of the time also teaching evening courses at our local community college. It was exhausting, but I loved writing my thesis, especially the research part. I still love my Master's thesis. I'll sometimes get it out and skim through one of the chapters, particularly if I have a boatload of papers to grade. Some of my long-time blogging friends know that my subject was on the use of food in ethnic literature. I chose the subject just before food lit. books became so popular. I focused on five different ethnic books, but I could have used ten or fifteen. I  have next to no interest in pursuing a PhD, but I have dreamed about expanding my research into a book. I did have one of my chapters featuring the book Pears on a Willow Tree published in Polish American Studies Journal, which was really exciting. Of course, the first question people would ask is if I got paid, which I didn't since it's an academic journal. I've thought about sending in some of my other chapters to scholarly journals, but what I'd really like to do  is  to write something that a more general audience would appreciate.

There's a great line in The Great Gatsby that I've appreciated as I've gotten older. Nick, the narrator, who has reintroduced himself to books and learning several years after leaving college, says that he has become again "that most limited of all specialists, the “well-rounded man.”  I like that line because I think it's an affirmation to those of us who haven't ended up doing exactly what we thought we'd do. I've had a lot of fun being "well-rounded."  I would have missed out on a lot of things I wanted to do if I'd spent the time and energy necessary I'd have needed to to write for a living, like spending Saturdays at swim meets (I can't believe I just said that since I also hated giving up Saturday to go to those) and summers traveling and relaxing.

I don't want to be Julia Child. I want to write about "Julia Child" or even better someone's "Abuela" or "Oma," or "Bedstemor" and the dishes that they fixed. The main reason that I don't want to be Julia Child is that I'm not always the best cook. I bat about 500. Yesterday's lobster enchiladas were a success, but tomorrow, I probably won't be so lucky.


TheBlackSheep said...

Looks good to me!

Tracy said...

Must try these... this looks sooo good! Thank you for the great recipe. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Wool Winder said...

You can't go wrong with that combination of ingredients. Yum!

Thimbleanna said...

I think they look great! And I love what you had to say about being well-rounded -- I need your perspecitve since I didn't exactly end up doing what I really wanted to do either and I tend to look at my "career" more as a "wasted life". ;-(

Rani said...

...and what is stopping you? What if you set a timer for 30 minutes a day and brainstormed - wrote. Just do it for a month or so . . . maybe something will develop - maybe it will get your writing wheels 'cookin' again. ha ha. DO IT! Don't worry about finishing - enjoy the journey. It sounds like the process of cooking is what inspires you. Write about it!

Rani said...

ps. At Open Salon ( they will be posting articles/blog posts which will include food reviews, recipes or posts about food or wine . . . just a thought...

marit said...

mmm, looks delicious!

Mari said...

Yum! Sounds and looks really good. :)

JayJay said...

Frozen brown rice! Genius! Those sound really yummy.

Beate said...

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm jumm

ImplausibleYarn said...

Oh that sure looks really great! I'm going to have to try that soon! I completely agree that sometimes cooking trumps knitting.

Melanchthon said...

Wonderful! How did you get the falling snow on your blog? Nice touch!