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Recipe · · Tucson

Baked Coconut Rice Pudding with Owl Sounds

If you are like me, you have been in bed all day listening to the rain and wondering if the owl that was out in the carport last night will come back tonight. Hoo! Hoo! 

I do hope he or she will return to chant his or her woodsy mantra behind curtains of midtown rain again tonight. The sound of the rain and the sound of an owl together is oddly delicous. I know this now. I describe it as odd only perhaps because I had never thought of the two together. But I cannot be the only one to have not thought of it, right? I am sure many others have not either. The makers of the white noise app on my phone, for example. It offers over thirty different kinds of rain sounds. There is even a shih-tzu snoring option, but no owl in the rain. I am certain if any of the developers involved in that project knew how wonderful that is to listen to, it would be an in-app purchase.

It is not.

If the owl does not come back this evening, I think I will want to put on an oversized sweater and listen to something with woodwinds because there is comfort in that also.

Anyhow, if some chilly weekends you find yourself snowbound or just preferring to stay inside. Where I live it snows at most a couple hours each year. That is hardly enough to snowbind anyone. One way to break the monotony and warm the house up a bit is to cook something.

Why, you could make a big pot of rice right now.

You probably will not eat it, but did you know you can work up quite an appetite doing nothing all day long? It is true. So go ahead and eat it if you like. If you do not that is fine also because for all you know next weekend it may be raining even more and you will be back in bed hoping for another owl and thinking about how hungry you feel.

If that happens, you will probably be thinking: Well I cannot make another pot of rice.

What if you had some baking to do? Why not make a baked rice pudding with all that rice you did not eat all week? Here, I will help.

Baked Coconut Rice Pudding with Owl Sounds

  • 1-2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Mix together eggs, evaporated milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla.
Coat a 9-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
Cover the bottom of the baking dish with one cup of the rice. Pour in the milk and egg mixture. The mixture should just cover the rice. If there's room and there's a lot of liquid, add more rice until the two are even. Distribute the coconut evenly over the top.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Bake for 90 minutes.

After that amount of time has passed, test your pudding for readiness by poking it with something pointy, such as a toothpick. If that comes out clean, you are good to go. If you think you will enjoy it more if you wait until the coconut on top toasts a bit more, leave it in a while longer because as with so many things in life you will definiteley enjoy it more with a toasty coconut top.

Recipe · · Tucson

Alphabet Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup alphabet pasta
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • dash of pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bullion cubes, chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup mixed frozen vegetables

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame and add the pasta, stirring until golden brown. Add basil and pepper. Keep stirring. Add the water, the bullion and the vegetables. Stop stirring already. Bring it all to a boil and then lower it all to a simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. Prepare bath. Serves twelve.

Recipe · · Tucson

Ceviche

Watson and the Shark, John Singleton Copley

Watson and the Shark, John Singleton Copley

  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh shark fillets sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced habanero pepper
  • salt

Combine lime juice, ginger and olive oil in a non-reactive bowl. Add the shark meat and toss so that it is thoroughly coated with the juice. If no shark meat is available, stop your whimpering and get back in the water.

Cover and marinate 2-8 hours in the refrigerator.

Toss with cilantro, onion and habanero. Salt to taste.

Serve on tostada shells with ice cold Tecate.

Recipe · · Tucson

Enchilatas: Diplomacy for Dinner

My Little Pony felt right at home in Xochimilco. Located 28 kilometers south of the heart of Mexico City, the district’s network of canals lined with colorful floating markets and gardens would have made any big haired animal with a pink plastic coat feel right in its element. And although the people appeared friendly, My Little Pony suspected they didn’t fully understand.

“Hello small effeminate horsey!” One of the many vendors shouted at My Little Pony. “Hello, hello, My Little Pony!” many others joined in and said.

“I am not a pony!” answered My Little Pony.

A shopkeeper tried to make peace: “I am sorry, My Hairy Burrito. It was an honest mistake…”

“AND I AM CERTAINLY NOT A BURRO.” responded the little pony. Just then, a large black town car pulled up. One of the back doors opened and the minister of finance for a country My Little Pony had recently visited, invited My Little Pony to ride. He seemed like a wise and kind man, so My Little Pony hopped in. The door closed and the car drove away. “Hello, My Little Pony. My, what beautiful hair you have,” said the man as he stroked My Little Pony’s healthy mane. “Welcome to Xochimilco!”

“Thank you Minister of Finance. You are very kind. I like your beard. But I think you should know that I am not a pony.”
Valgame dios then, what are you, querida criatura?”

My Little Pony thought for a moment and answered, “I am a churro. I am a delicious fried pastry, often enjoyed with a rich cup of hot chocolate. I am Spanish. And I want to be your friend!”

A tiny voice from the other side of the finance minister joined in saying, “And I’m a can of soup.” My Little Pony hopped into the Finance Minister’s lap to get a clearer view. Ha, ha! It really was a can of soup. In fact, it was a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup.

“Well, you actually are a can of soup.”
“Of course. Who said anything different?”

My Little Pony looked up at the finance minister. The finance minister looked at the pink animal there in his lap and asked, “Would you join us for dinner, My Little Pony?”

“I would be delighted, but I am not a pony, I am a…”
“Yes, yes, I know. Shhh…” answered the finance minister, putting a finger to his lips as he stroked and calmed his little friend, his Churro.

Once at the home of the finance minister, the can of soup excused itself. “Gotta go get ready for dinner.”

“What’s for dinner?” asked My Little Pony
“Enchilatas.”
“Enchilatas? What’s that?”

The finance minister interrupted, “Goodbye Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup. See you at dinner.” After the soup had left, the finance minister opened his briefcase and handed My Little Pony an official, red diplomatic index card. On it was written the following:

Chicken Enchilatas

  • 12 oz cooked, shredded chicken
  • 6 oz roasted and diced green chiles
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese
  • cooking oil

And the final ingredient?

  • 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup

My Little Pony looked up at the finance minister in disbelief. The finance minister tilted his head and said, “I think it’s safe to say we are both in a new place, exploring new and different things. I’d like for you to keep an open mind. Read on, please.”

Mix chicken, chiles, sour cream and soup. Heat cooking oil in a skillet. Dip a tortilla in the oil until warm and soft. Remove. Fill with about two tablespoons of the chicken mixture. Roll and place seam side down in an oiled cooking dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Cover with cheese. Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is crispy. Serves six.

“Oh my!” said My Little Pony. “Who will be joining us?” After the dinner, when My Little Pony and the finance minister were alone again, My Little Pony said, “That was yummy. I was surprised. I never would have thought of mixing Campbell’s soup and traditional Mexican cuisine.”
“Uh-huh. And have you learned anything today?”
“What do you mean?” My Little Pony was confused.

“Well let me put it this way, though you may not know it, the Campbell’s family of soups has been a part of Mexican cooking since 1963. Why, some would even argue that Campbell’s soup is as much a part of traditional Mexican cooking today as, well, pineapple on pizza. I think you know what point I’m tryng to make.”

“Yeah, I suppose you really don’t have to pretend to be something you aren’t just to impress people or fit in. You can be a part of something really good and just be yourself too.”

The two smiled at each other and the finance minister rubbed My Little Pony’s neck and said, “Now, how about that hot chocolate?”

Recipe · · Tucson

The Art of Espresso

Someone very near and dear to me bought an espresso machine this week. Since he doesn’t even drink coffee(!), he asked me to help him out and tell what I know about making those fancy coffee drinks. In addition to drinking the stuff, I once even considered buying one of the lovely gadgets; they really are beautiful counter space wasters. Well, I tried to convince him to take the machine back, telling him I thought it’s a waste of money since the real joy of espresso isn’t making it with some expensive machine and, indeed, doesn’t even have that much to do with drinking it. My arguments failed—“I’m keeping it.” so, I went ahead and shared:

ESPRESSO:

Grind espresso beans and load into the cup on the machine and push the button to brew the espresso. Serve in a demitasse cup. If you like it sweet, scoop in a teaspoon of sugar and some cream. Enjoy with the Sunday paper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and all cleaned up. Lock up the house and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

CAPUCCINO (espresso with milk foam on top):

  1. Brew an espresso.
  2. While the espresso is brewing steam the milk. You’ll want to steam it such that you make lots of foam. If this is your first couple of times making foam for a capuccino, have gallons and gallons of whole milk handy because it’s a pain in the ass and takes forever to learn to do right even on the best restaurant quality machines.
  3. Pour the espresso into a teacup. Scoop the foam off the top of the steamed milk and gently place on top of the espresso. If you like, sprinkle with cinnamon and/or chocolate. Enjoy with a good book, a magazine, newspaper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and cleaned up. Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

LATTE (espresso with steamed milk):

Same as capuccino, except served in a tall glass with the steamed milk INSTEAD of the foam. Enjoy with a good book, a magazine, newspaper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and cleaned up. Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

CAFFE MOCHA:

Same as LATTE but with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup (or you can use chocolate milk instead of regular milk).

Enjoy your latte with a good book, a magazine, newspaper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and cleaned up. Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

CAFFE AMERICAINE

Look at your shiny clean espresso machine. Make a mental note to pay your credit card bill. Chuckle. You really are living the good life! Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, order a coffee. Add sugar and milk to taste. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

WORKDAY VARIATION:

The first day after you buy your machine, you’ll want to enjoy a homemade espresso drink before you start your busy urban professional workday. When you’ve just about finished the beverage, notice you’re going to be late if you don’t get a move on it. Hurry! You can clean the machine when you get home. Once at work, first chance you get, go get your morning mocha or latte anyway. Go back to your desk. Sip slowly. Feel bloated, gassy and jittery. The next day you’ll want to follow the recipe for Caffe Americane, but don’t sit around at the cafe. Get a to go cup. And hurry or you’ll miss your train.