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I cooked dinner for my wife

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” – Julia Child

My wife worked second shift late into the night last night and had to turn around and go back to work early this morning. She had asked a few days ago for me to make her dinner tonight, so I was more than happy to oblige. I made some beef enchiladas.

I started with 85% ground beef. I thought about mixing it with some ground turkey, for healthy reasons, but I was afraid that it would change the flavor. I browned the beef and drained the excess fat. I then added some Old El Paso enchilada sauce. I don’t know how to make my own, but I think I’ll try making my own next time. Fresh ingredients and non-canned stuff always tastes better. Along with the sauce, I added some cheddar cheese. I used prepared flour tortillas for the next step, but I would much rather have used my Tía Mary’s flour tortillas. They’re the best I’ve ever had, short of my grandmother’s, which use the same recipe.

I put the beef, sauce and cheese mix into the tortillas and rolled them into burritos. I then placed the burritos in a baking pan. I then drenched the burritos (now enchiladas) with the rest of the sauce and put them in the oven at 375°F. The rice and beans came out of a bag and a can, respectively. The beans were refried black beans, also from Old El Paso. The rice was Uncle Ben’s Spanish Rice.

One day I’ll cook it all from scratch, like my grandmothers used to do. And now, some pictures of the adventure:

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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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6 replies

  1. I have to agree with Julia, a what the hell attitude is necessary in cooking. In the worst case, it might not taste as good as one wishes, in the best case, a culinary delight for all occurs.
    Over the course of our near 32 year marriage, I’ve frequently cooked for my family. I’ve invented recipes when the fancy struck me and I’ve only had two disasters in all of that time.
    One of those disasters remains a family joke, for even the dog didn’t like that dish.
    Two days ago, I made pasta sauce, as in our Sicilian-American home, pasta is a frequent dish. 13 quarts of pasta sauce, each in its own Mason jar, which then were placed in the pressure cooker to can the sauce. That should last a month or so. The recipe is my own, as I never really cared for my mother’s recipe-too acidic for my liking. The spicing isn’t empirical, it’s to taste and mood, more garlic, less garlic, want it sweeter? More onion. Generous with the sweet basil and chilli pepper to taste. Plenty of pork hocks and pork necks, I’ve also used goat meat in the sauce (barely got any of that, my father didn’t know what the meat was, but grabbed most of it), oxtails, whatever meat the mood strikes me that day (or what was on sale). Cook the sauce until the meat falls off of the bone and there is no foam on the surface of the sauce.

    Well, time to check the brussel sprouts. They were taking too long to cook, so I pulled out the small pressure cooker. 🙂


  2. Mouth is watering on the west coast! I want to try this recipe using vegetarian options… Also LOVE the Julia Child quote! Wishing you both a lovely evening!


  3. Yay! That is wonderful. You did not have to learn like my dear hubby. He copied the recipes of his favorites that his mother made. Then the first time I cooked one, he said “My mom makes it better.” To which I responded that he gets to make that recipe the next time. And he has been making those barbecue meatballs for over thirty years, and has added a few more things to his repertoire.

    I have in my possession a copy of Seasoned with Sun, Recipes from the Southwest by the Junior League of El Paso from 1979. My parents were friends with an Army officer who lived there, and gave them as gifts one Christmas. Some of the recipes are interesting, and fairly Americanized. But the orange almond flan is wonderful (not too rich).


  4. My sister introduced me to Mexican food when I visited her in California 50 years ago…and I returned home with a love of certain Mexican dishes. Tonight I made a taco salad (minus the large deep fried taco shell). Easy, and I have grated cheddar cheese and half the sauteed 85 % lean seasoned ground beef left over for tomorrow night. Manana, I just wash up some iceberg lettuce, get out the salsa (best…from Costco), sour cream and we are good to go.

    Good for you Ren, you have the makings of a fine cook.


    1. I’ll stick with my 65% lean beef and drain off the fat.
      The chef’s dirty secret is that fat adds flavor.
      The healthy secret is limiting such pleasures to healthy levels, hence sacrificing fat an entire day and next morning for that pleasure.

      Had a great pleasure tonight. I found, whilst looking in the deep freezer downstairs, an extra bag of Swai. Pulled a couple up for my own pleasure, as one will be breakfast, the other will probably be Thursday’s breakfast, along with a potato patty.
      As I typically skip lunch when not having that job thing, I need the carbs.

      As for Mexican dishes, I’m addicted to “Spanish rice” and refried beans, they *must* be together.
      The rest of the meal will be enjoyed with varying notice/pleasure, as long as it’s largely vegetable. Don’t *need* meat with the beans here. 🙂

      Some day, I honestly wish to spend a year in Mexico, Central America and South America, each. Just to learn their culinary joys.
      I’d then go to China and India, but that would take up the remainder of my life…


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