Tuesday, October 7, 2008
A Miracle in the Kitchen
Cooking has not come naturally to me. I know that some people are blessed to be able to whip up a delicious, tasty meal in the kitchen without pots boiling over or other trouble brewing. Clearly, I do not have that ability. As a single girl, I subsisted on nightly meals of omelets (or, more accurately, scrambled eggs with stuff tossed in) or cereal. My grandmother, clearly worried about my (lack of) cooking skills and the fate of her future great-grandchildren, gave me a subscription to “Quick Cooking” magazine for Christmas one year. Now that I’m married (since Husband politely overlooked my culinary challenges and agreed to marry me anyway), I make a predictable rotation of meals, mostly including: spaghetti, grilled cheese, and tacos. Poor Husband eats it all and never complains, even when it’s a streak of Hamburger Helper. The past few weeks I’ve gone on a quest to find new recipes that might broaden our meal options and break our usual routine. I cooked up some new dishes: a few mediocre casseroles, a pasta dish that tasted like cardboard despite a number of expensive ingredients, and a terrible dish called “Chinese Hamburger” (which marked a rare cultinary feat of looking and tasting equally awful) that will haunt my cooking nightmares for years to come. My neighbor, without even knowing it, intervened. She invited me over for dinner the other night when Husband was out of town. She served a delicious, hearty soup that I fell in love with. She said the recipe was easy (hooray!) and she’d give it to me (double hooray!). I made it when Husband got home, and it really was easy to make. Best of all, we both liked it and we happily ate the leftovers. The recipe is called “Chicken Tortilla Soup.” (I call it “The Recipe that Saved Me From Selling Our Stove.”) 1 can (15 oz) black beans 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans 1 can (8.75 oz) corn 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce 2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth 1 jar (16 oz) chunky salsa 3 cups of cooked chicken (bite-sized pieces) 1 medium zucchini, chopped 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin garlic, to taste Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes. I also added some chopped onion, and I’m sure you could add other veggies to the recipe as well. We topped our bowls of soup with shredded cheddar cheese, a bit of sour cream, and crumbled tortilla chips. Husband called it delicious. I call it a miracle.