My (now) annual retreat up to Rhinelander Wisconsin was where the idea began last summer – to cook most everything from scratch for the duration of a year – and to learn a little more about food (and coincidentally about my relationship with food). Ironic how that idea fits today with my rules of inconvenient food during vacation, which is to cook if I can and eat as local as I can when I can’t cook – but to not worry about doing it all from scratch. After all, it’s a vacation.
With that in mind the sojourn started out pretty well. I packed up some homemade granola, bread, and crackers along with a cooler full of supplies from Outpost. Dinner the first evening was BBQ chicken on the grill served with roasted fingerling potatoes and fresh local snap peas. The next day we went into town to our favorite antique shop, which meant we’d have to get something to eat while we were out. No sweat – we made a stop at my favorite up-north place to eat – Joe’s Pasty Shop. For any of you who may not know, the pasty has its history with miners, who while working underground all day took along a food that could be eaten in the dirty conditions of the mine. Apparently they only ate the inside of the pasty and threw away the delicious pastry. A total waste. Joes Pasty Shop (http://www.ilovepasties.com) is a justifiable treat as they use make everything from scratch (unlike me in this instance) using only natural ingredients, many if not most of the food from local sources. My Greek Pasty was to die for! Dinner that evening was chicken fajitas on the grill. Following my rules I made them totally from scratch, including the marinade. The cheating began with the inclusion of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa – both of which were not locally sourced whatsoever.
And so, we went downhill from there. You see that evening was a heavy rainstorm, and the basement of the cabin (where our bedroom was) flooded. We spent a good part of the next day soaking up the water with a rented rug-cleaning machine. When returning the machine back in town I hadn’t done much planning for meals that day. Tired and defeated, we stopped at the grocery store, where my affair with the hot dog began. You see it was a quick, easy, and very satisfying meal solution I was justifying to myself. I found a pack of local hotdogs (compromise begins in the heart), hotdog buns I didn’t have to make, a bag of Lays Potato Chips, and a can of vegetarian baked beans. Yes my friends, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in the ten weeks of inconvenient cooking… or so it seemed so that very moment in time.
The affair was not meant to be. Just one quick satisfying meal that is now somewhat forgotten. I paid for my sins by cooking this meal of fish tacos completely from scratch. Because I made up the recipe for the fresh salsa I’m going to share the entire meal here on my blog. Hoping you’ll all forgive me, until next time!
Whole Wheat Tortillas (adapted from Recipezarr.com)
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
Begin by heating up a cast iron pan on the stove over medium high heat. You will use this shortly. Cast iron is the best because it can take the heat without adding anything to the pan. Make sure the pan is at least 8-10 inches in diameter.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir in the oil and water all at once, mixing by hand until the dough comes together in a mass. Turn this out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Divide the dough into eight equal portions. Using as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking, roll one portion into a ball and flatten into a disk. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough on the floured surface until it is about a 6-8 inch circle, turning it over a few times to keep the dough pliable. Place the tortilla onto the heated cast iron pan, cooking for 30-40 seconds on one side. Flip with a large spatula. The cooked side should be pale in color yet covered with brown spots where it was cooking. Repeat with the other side, and the rest of your dough. Congratulations, you have just mastered tortillas.
Pam’s Fish Taco Salsa (makes 4 tacos)
1 ear of fresh corn, cooked and cooled, and taken off the cob
1 large fresh tomato, seeded and diced
1 green onion, chopped (the bulb and the greens)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (regular is fine, I love the flavor of ancho chilis)
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper (to your taste)
Combine the corn, tomato, green onion and cilantro in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the next seven ingredients to form a dressing. You can taste it at this point and add more chili powder to your liking, or more lime juice if you want it a little zestier. Mix the dressing with the vegetables and refrigerate for a few hours until the vegetables have picked up the flavors of the dressing. When serving on top of the fish tacos, use a slotted spoon as the dressing will be too moist for the tortilla. I also like topping my fish with shredded Napa cabbage and sliced avocado. Enjoy!