Sunday, January 08, 2006

Blog Spotlight: Trina, newest member of the community to start their own site

Trina's the newest member of the community to start their own site. Her site's called Trina's Kitchen and we've got an interview with her as well as her particpation during the book discussion. So patience, entries are going up this morning. Make a point to check out Trina's site.

Vegetarian Enchiladas in the kitchen
My name is Trina and you are in my online kitchen. I'm a member of The Common Ills community and the mother of Mike who has a website called Mikey Likes It!

I am a mother many times over but I'll note my children here only with their permission. Mike's youngest sister doesn't enjoy being mentioned at his site so I'll assume she'll prefer not to be named here either. I haven't checked with Mike for permission to name him but I doubt that will be a problem.

There are a number of excellent websites in the community and this won't be one of them. It won't be a daily weblog. I would like to post at least once a week. I think a number of topics are already covered quite well by the websites in the community. What I hope to do is to write something about cooking and politics. I'd like to share a recipe that stood out to me and, in the process, weigh in with a statement or two about the state of our nation.

I am on the left and far more left than leadership in the Democratic Party. I am opposed to the continued occupation of Iraq and was opposed to the invasion. I'm nervous as I type this so, in case anyone is thinking of starting a website and they are nervous, I'll let you know next time if I lived through it.

Tonight I want to note a recipe for Vegetarian Enchiladas:

Warning: The sauce for this is very hot. You may want to reduce the amount of hot sauce and chili powder.

Olive oil for sauteing
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 cups canned tomatoes
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper
10 drops hot sauce
1/2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/4 pound black olives, pitted and sliced (reserve some for garnish)
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (1/2 cup uncooked), mashed or ground
8 soft corn tortillas
1/4 pound Monterey Jack or other cheese, grated
Salt to taste

Heat oil and saute two-thirds of the onions until translucent. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, half the garlic, the cayenne pepper, hot sauce, 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, honey, salt, and cumin seed and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil and saute remaining onions and garlic and black olives until onions are translucent. Add remaining 1 teaspoon chili powder, taste for salt, and add beans (and some sauce if mix seems too sticky). Stir well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Fill each tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons filling and 1 tablespoon grated cheese. Roll up and put in a shallow baking pan. Cover with sauce, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and garnish with reserved olives. Bake until bubbling hot, about 30 minutes.
Complementary protein: beans + corn.

That recipe is from page 317 of Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet. I've gone through multiple copies of this book because it's a staple in my kitchen as much as eggs or butter. Complementary protein was the author's way of explaining to people that you could eat a nutritional meal without meat which, hard to believe today, was a big question once upon a time.

Ensuring that we all had a nutritional dinner was important. So was doing that on a budget. These days, I'm amazed that I can buy, for instance, brand name crackers. When all the children were living at home, brand names was something reserved for special occassions. We didn't suffer as a result but anyone on a tight budget will understand what I'm talking about.
If you're on a budget, you're also keenly aware of the price of meat. We had fish every Friday and another meat, usually chicken, for one other night a week. By the way, if Mike remembers this differently, he's not remembering wrong. He's the second to youngest of the children. If you spoke to one of my oldest, they would remember these days very well.

The price of meat effected what was on our table. Diet for a Small Planet was the book that taught me how to cook a great meal without meat. For the first five years I fixed this dish, my husband refused to believe that I wasn't sneaking meat into it in some form. He's only recently accepted that there isn't even a meat based broth in it.

If you're on a budget this is a recipe you can master and carry to potlucks but don't expect to carry home any leftovers. People do not touch at this dish, they devour it.

In my home, it was so popular that it became a Wednesday staple.

These days, shredded cheese is readily available but I still remember my panic when I decided to start this recipe and realized that my rolling pin was missing. One of the children, not Mike, had adopted it for a project I won't bore you with. But if you're on a budget and you don't have a rolling pin, you can mash the beans with a potato masher. If you don't have one, you can consider using a spoon but I'd recommend a glass. With a spoon, even a large one, you'll need a lot of extra time. With a glass, plastic or glass, you can cover an area quickly. I like to mash on a cutting board because it's easy to drain some of the excess juice produced by mashing the pinto benas. You could also use a pan or skillet. Dried beans are inexpensive and my first choice but if you're pressed for time, you can also use canned. If you use canned beans, you can use canned pinto beans or canned refried beans depending upon how pressed you are for time.

When I first started playing with this recipe, I often sat the tortillas down flat, put filling as a layer, then followed that with more tortillas because I had the worst time keeping the tortillas rolled while they were cooking in the oven. Often, they would unwrap before I could get the dish into the oven. What I stumbled upon was using toothpicks to keep them wrapped and removing the toothpicks when I removed the dish from the oven.

This remains the most popular recipe in our home. As the older children have moved out, I've noticed that Wednesday nights is a popular time to drop by and they've all asked me to show them how to make it. For that reason, and because the book is full of other wonderful recipes, I wanted to start by noting Diet for a Small Planet. Along with the recipes, you'll find serious discussions about food and the impact our eating habits have on the planet. This is a wonderful book and I hope someone will check out the book as a result of this recipe. Even if you do not check out the book, hopefully, you'll attempt this recipe and realize how easy it is to make, how inexpensive and how great it tastes.

When I got married, I thought I'd learn a few recipes each year. That wasn't happening. Most cook books used terms that I would intend to look up but then a diaper needed changing, a fight needed settling, someone needed a ride to practice . . . This book is user friendly.

With each entry, I hope to note a different recipe from a different book or one that was passed on to me my friend or family member. My oldest son recently got engaged and suddenly the disposable income is no longer as disposable. You tell them that will happen but it's hard for them to see that happening until it does. So what I'm hoping for is to provide the community with some recipes that are nutritous and affordable in a Bully Boy economy. Some will be meat based, some won't be.

Besides being nervous, I'm typing faster than I have in my life. That's because C.I.'s been kind enough to stay on the phone with me during this and will be talking me through how to do links right after this entry posts. I'll link to all the community websites tonight and will add some more links in the future to voices that speak to me. Thank you to anyone who visited the site.

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