• Michelle Barrett

Accidentally vegan.



I have lived on my own since I was 19, and one of the things I learned from my parents that I took with me as an adult providing for themselves, was the importance of home cooking. Until the kids were later in our teen years, we ate a from-scratch supper every night, at the table, together. Occasionally, on a Friday we got take out and noshed in front of the TV. Young Michelle always correlated junk food = tube time; quality food = nourishing family time. Which brings me to another point. Feeding yourself can mean many things. It can mean what you put in your body, how you spend your days, and what kind of people you surround yourself with. Some personalities are the equivalent of sugar cereal for our souls. Some are more like chewing on wheat grass straight from the container. Sitting for hours on end isn't great for anyone. Neither is running a marathon every single day. Whatever your approach to wellness and nourishment, moderation and consistency is key. At least, that's been my experience.


Onward.


I've never really been a big meat eater, and as the years go by, I can feel my body asking for more plant food. It seems obvious - plants are more nutrient dense, more alive, and closer to the earth than any processed food or food product could ever be, and I want to fill myself up with things that are vibrant, and frankly - I have a lot riding on my energy levels, so listening to my body and giving it what it needs is important! It's taken me a bit of time to find ways to feed myself well under the weight of all my priorities and obligations, and things would certainly be easier if somehow I thrived on pizza delivery and frozen ice cream novelties, but alas - that's not my lot in life. I crave whole, nutrient dense, lovingly homemade food. Fresh and colorful and delicious.


I also really love tacos.


Tacos at their core are not junk food. It takes little more than whole grains and fresh veg pulled together with something saucy to make a really delightful meal. Often we go overboard with rich meats, extra cheese, sour cream, deep fry the shell and - while that is very tasty - it's the kind of thing you need to lie down after eating too much of.


Fresh corn tortillas made from scratch are really special. Soft, full of flavor, with just the slightest crisp on the outside from a quick sear in an oiled skillet - they are perfectly delicious with exactly nothing on them. Kind of a textural cross between the packaged flour and corn tortillas at the grocery store, and the best of both worlds but with WAY better flavor. And, you can add even MORE flavor by doctoring them up with ingredients that add a layer of color and wow factor. Not that they need it.


One of the reasons you've likely never had a fresh tortilla, is because they are elusive like french fries in that their ideal consumption window is short, best when hot, and can not be revived with reheating. My advice is prep your dough, roll out the rounds, and make your fillings first. Then keep the fillings warm while you cook the tortillas, and place them into a warm cast iron pan (or equivalent), covered in clean kitchen towels to make sure they never lose their heat. Once everything is ready, assemble and eat immediately. Do not stop to 'gram (unless it's to send me a quick pic!); do not queue up your GoT marathon; do not attempt to soothe your crying child. Sit down, focus on your plate, and eat your supper.


Lately, my favorite combo for tacos is deeply roasted cauliflower, a smear of cashew-based queso, cilantro, scallions, and lime juice. I trust you can roast cauliflower on your own, but THIS is the brand of "cheese" I love, and for this particular dish, is worth seeking out.


Now, onto the tacos.


I love cilantro, and I consider myself blessed not to be one of the poor fools who's sad sad palette-brain continuum plays tricks on them to make it taste like soap. If that's you, I sincerely hope someone finds a cure for your affliction because:


CILANTRO TORTILLAS


2 cups masa harina

1/2 cup cilantro puree

1 cup boiling water

1/2 tsp coarse salt


puree a handful of cilantro (leaves + stems) in 1/2 cup water

add to masa flour in a big bowl, mix

slowly add 1 cup boiling water, and form into a soft dough.

cover with a kitchen towel and lest rest 45-60 minutes


The texture of the mixed dough should be *just* firm enough where it's not sticky. If it's too dry it's not a big deal, your finished tortillas will just be a little firmer but still 1000% better than the packaged kind.






Divide the dough into even, slightly-smaller-than-a-golf-ball sized orbs, and using the bottom of a skillet, smoosh the balls BETWEEN two sheets of parchment. If you happen to have a tortilla press lying around, use that, but it's totally unnecessary. Stack the prepped raw disks on a plate near the stove so you can work efficiently. To a hot skillet over med-high heat add a few drops of oil (I like to use a pastry brush for this to avoid accidentally shallow frying them. That way, you can brush the pan and the top of the tortilla as the bottom is cooking. Cook until both sides are golden brown, transfer to a covered, warmed dish (in the oven at 200?).


That's it. Fill them, fold them, and eat!



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