When we chose to move to our mountain home, one of our priorities was to minimize the culture shock for our teenager. The nearest small city with several national chain restaurants to choose from is about an hour and a half away. Sorting through the situation with the teen we realized her longing was for access to certain specific meals and not the overall dining out experience.
This made sense because our teen is gluten intolerant which severely restricts what she can eat both home and away. When she eventually finds a tasty restaurant meal she can actually eat and enjoy, it stands to reason she would want to return again for more. As a result we have been trying to recreate (often in a healthier way) the same gluten free meals she is no longer able to purchase on a regular basis.
In the beginning it was Chinese food she longed for. When a friend, a home canner her entire life, bestowed a Bourbon Chicken recipe upon us (one I successfully converted to gluten free) I did the victory dance. Alas, a penalty was called for premature celebration since our daughter’s fancy had turned to a dish from Chipotle called Barbacoa, a spicy and sour meat served atop beans and tangy cilantro/lime rice, all topped off with salsa and sour cream. Our work was cut out for us.
Last weekend we dined on our first Barbacoa creation thanks to the modern marvels of Google. Once again I partook in the happy dance as the child unit ate a huge plate with a big grin on her face. Each time I looked over at her she continued to smile and nod her head, indicating yes, this works. The recipe and procedure can be found below.
I have discovered most restaurant recipes can be found online without too much effort, so I searched out and recorded all our restaurant favorites for future reference. Often it is the sauces I am most interested in. The honey mustard dressing from Chili’s and the awesome blossom sauce from Outback are just a few of many examples. Perhaps Cog is onto something when he teases me that I treat food as simply a delivery vehicle for any given sauce.
Lemon trees and lemonade
Over the last few weeks Cog has humored me in my search for the correct lemon to harvest its seeds so I may propagate my own lemon trees. As explained in the thread here lemon trees can be grown from seed to produce lemons year round in about three years. The trees are small and can thrive in a sunny window, so it makes them a wonderful addition even if your growing space is limited and the climate is cold. My seeds have germinated and I will update the lemon tree thread on TIF as the experiment progresses.
As I extracted the seeds from various organic lemons we had collected I used the pulp to make lemonade while setting aside the rinds. After cutting the rinds into thin strips I left them out to air dry for 5 or 6 days. Once dried, I will use a food processor or coffee bean grinder to grind the rinds into powder. One teaspoon per day of this powder can be added to any drink for a whopping organic dose of daily vitamin C. The same can be accomplished with orange or grapefruit rinds.
A (re) purposeful life
While Cog was busy installing the equipment and wiring for the photovoltaic solar panel system a few weeks back, I was able to obtain his distracted permission to raid his clothes closet. Within hangs a treasure trove of dress shirts, no longer needed by Cog to suit up for high finance. My mission was to ‘repurpose’ a gray button-down into a kitchen apron.
My sewing expertise has thus far been limited to simple quilts and tote bags, so I had my work cut out for me. Suffice to say, an apron was produced in time to slop Chipotle fixin’s down the front, making it a rip roaring success. The apron can be viewed on Mrs. Cog’s Pinterest.
If a tree falls in the forest...
We continue to cut firewood as often as possible. Cog is clearing some land for a neighbor in exchange for keeping the firewood from the trees. This is no easy task on several levels. We live high on a mountain and are often subject to high winds, sometimes sustained for several days in a row. As such we watch the weather forecast for wind speed so we can plan our cutting days. Sometimes Cog will take down several trees on calm days so we go back to buck and split the larger logs and haul it all back to the house later in the week regardless of wind or weather.
But in addition to the felling of trees there is a considerable amount of sumac, saplings, brush, brambles and thorns to clear as well. This limits how many trees Cog can take down at one time because it all gets tangled up into a nearly impenetrable mess. Since this is all taking place on the side of a hill Cog is limited in the direction he can drop the trees, complicating matters immensely. There is nothing quite like the workout one receives from dragging branches and swaths of debris out of the woods to create large brush piles. In the warmer weather of early spring we will carefully burn each pile one at a time.
*As a reminder, especially if you have stocked up on a favorite item, it is a good time of year to sort through your freezer for forgotten goodies. I was thrilled to find several bags of flavored coffee we could no longer find in stores. Also buried in a neglected freezer bin were bags of fresh frozen blackberries begging to be eaten.
Our Chipotle Creation:
We used two crockpots, although either or both could be slow cooked on the stovetop.
- In the first crockpot we filled half full with water. We added about ¾ pound of dried pinto beans which we had first soaked overnight to remove excess starches. This stewed for six hours and was stirred occasionally.
- In the second crockpot we combined:
- 3 pounds of beef roast cubes cut into approx. 2 inch cubes
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 chipotles chopped (add more or less for hotness preference)
- 1 medium onion chopped well
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. oregano
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ¾ cup water
Stir periodically. Cook for 6 hours or more until meat is falling apart.
- Prepare a fresh salsa for topping. We use a jalapeno dried spice mix, diced onions, diced tomatoes, diced green peppers, cilantro and olive oil. Mix well and let chill until served.
- Cook approx. one pound rice of choice. We use brown rice. When cooked to desired texture, drain. Add one cup fresh cilantro finely chopped and ½ cup lime juice.
- For other toppings we prepared shredded lettuce and had sour cream available.
To serve (similar to the “Barbacoa Bowl” experience the child unit described in detail) we scooped pinto beans (now cooked and drained) onto a plate. Next we layered the cilantro rice, then a generous portion of shredded spiced meat. This was topped with shredded lettuce and fresh salsa. The final touch was a dollop of sour cream on top. Add a fork and napkin and… nirvana.