mex-spiration

I’ve never been an “Oh, I had Chinese for lunch” person, you know, like if someone suggests a dinner idea and it’s too similar to what you’ve eaten recently. I can eat pizza until the proverbial cows come home. And Mexican (or Tex-Mex or Ore-Mex or Michele-Mex) is what this week’s turning into. This week marked a little something new for me, too: the tamale. I know my mom used to eat them when I was little, and they were hard to find. Those little frozen yellow tubes that I found absolutely disgusting…I’ve never attempted them before, but with my continued push to try new stuff, here I am, eatin’ tamales.

tamale and rice 
You didn’t actually expect a photo of myself eating a tamale, did you, you darling idiot? Here’s a photo of our Mexifeast: a tamale with more homemade pico, tarted-up black beans, grilled zucchini (Thanks, George Foreman), and Mexican rice. So let’s break this down:

I found the tamales in the freezer at Whole Foods. They’re Buenatural Vegetarian Tamales (Red Chili Vegetable), and the package even says “For Vegan Diets.” The filling is a very thin layer of zucchini, corn, and red chiles. Very simple. I don’t know how this compares with any sort of traditional tamale, but I liked it. They just take 20 minutes or so of steaming and they’re good to go.

The beans I keep in the freezer, like my chickpeas. I buy bulk dried beans, prepare them, then freeze them. This keeps me from buying gross canned beans. They’re too squishy and weird-tasting for me. I’d rather put in the work of rinsing, soaking, and cooking once every few months than deal with sub-par food. To reheat these, I put them in a pot with just a little water, cumin, salt, onion powder, and cayenne. Five minutes for a zazzy little handful of protein.

And the rice. I found a recipe on VegWeb for Mexican rice, but it looked like it had too much liquid, so I changed it up before even attempting it. Here’s what I came up with and it turned out pretty darn good:

•1 cup rice
•1 T olive oil
•1½ cup water
•2-3 cloves garlic (2 big/3 med)
•1/4 c diced onion
•½ c salsa (if it’s really watery, drain a bit of the water into your measuring cup—why waste the taste?) or a smaller tomato & a pepper of your choice
•¼ c tomato sauce
•1 t cumin
•½ t ground coriander
•1 T veg bullion powder
•1 t salt

Brown the rice and onion in the olive oil. When it just starts to brown, add the garlic. When it’s all good and browned, add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and simmer on low heat like any other rice, about 20 minutes or so. About halfway through, check your liquid level, since everyone’s vegetables are going to have varying water content. That’s that. It’s really not spicy, so if you’d like (and I probably will next time) add a few shakes of cayenne or red pepper flakes.

coffee & triominos
And here’s a shot of how we spent last night, since it was hotter than the hula hoop. It’s my blendy coffee drink and Triominos. Tom kicked my ass. That green glass is one of my favorites. I managed to find six of them spread all over my local Goodwill. Not only were they cheap (so I don’t cry when Tom breaks one) but they’re sturdy (so it’s harder for Tom to break one) and a thumbs-up to the environment because they’re already made, not just shipped in from the other side of the planet.

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