There could be snow on the ground, or heavy rain and winds of 50 mph and Dad would have a grill out, lashed to something, making hamburgers. If you haven't had a barbecue that's a combination of Maverick and The Deadliest Catch, you haven't lived.
Dad would present us each a burger with a ceremonial flourish of the spatula that was the childhood equivalent of being knighted and we'd then go into the kitchen and head down the line of goodies making our burgers just the way we wanted. I thought of that as I packed Mom's relish tray, brought home with me from my recent trip to visit Dad.
But for tonight, after a couple difficult work days, in memory of two and four-legged friends who have left us, a little less calorie laden dinner that will bring back memories by the family deck, meals prepared with love.
Ashley - the fire truck dog.
My Dad's companion until she left for the Bridge at age 13
Turkey Soft Tacos with roasted corn salsa. For the meat, use your favorite ground meat. Ground pork tenderloin or chicken breast makes a nice light accompaniment to the salsa but use any ground meat or veggie meat substitute you like (I use the Gardein veggie "meats" products several times a week).
First, prepare the corn salsa so it has a few hours to blend flavors. If you like the corn salsa at Chipotle, you will LOVE this.
1 small red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
2-3 Tbsp. of onion finely chopped
pinch of garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder
Juice of one lime (not less than 2 Tbsp)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vineger
1 and 1/2 teaspoon wild honey
pinch or two of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce (the ones pictured were a 30th birthday gift from my best friends to my husband who shared them for the photo. The Scoville Brothers Heavy Metal Heat is a favorite in my fridge).
Mix vegetables in one bowl and set it aside. In another bowl, mix all other ingredients except the olive oil. In a thin stream, slowly pour in the olive oil whisking briskly until it emulsifies. Drizzle over vegetables and toss.
Fry up the meat. If using lean cuts, you won't need to drain, otherwise, cook about 3/4 of the way through, drain, then add your spices, you want just enough fat left on the meat for flavor and to help the spices adhere. I don't use the commercial taco seasoning which is often loaded with salt and chemicals. For each pound of meat use:
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
and a pinch of salt, pepper and sugar
When the meat is cooked through, add a couple tablespoons of water, cover and turn heat off so the flavors blend as you set the table, stirring occasional.
Mom! Throw one like a Frisbee!
Once the tortillas are heated, transfer them to a tortilla warmer to keep them nice and hot (Disclaimer: any resemblance to the top of this tortilla warmer and the "authentic UFO!" photo taken from the deck that night we all had a few beers is purely coincidence). If you don't have a warmer, put them on a plate under a warm, slightly damp dish towel.
Place meat, salsa, shredded cheese (I went for a low fat version and left the cheese off the one pictured), chopped tomatoes and crisp romaine, rice, chopped jalapenos, cilantro and additional hot sauce and low fat sour cream or ranch dressing in bowls and line up! Each burrito will be as individual as you are. He's too far away to join us but even Dad would approve.