On nights when I just want to disconnect from it all—whether it's a stressful day at work or family banter via text—I find that cooking really grounds me. The jazz goes on, the wine gets poured, the cutting board gets put on the counter and BAM! I'm in my happy place.
Cooking from scratch brings Charlie and I such joy. We live in such a fast-paced, technology-driven world. The art of making, using your hands, feeling the textures of food—these are the things that ground us. It's a reminder of who we are and where we are.
So let's talk Mexican Tortilla's, guys.
Gluten Free? Yes.
Are they difficult to make? No.
Seriously. Make tonight "taco night".
If you have corn flour and water—surprise!—you can make tortillas. It's a 2/2 ratio: 2 cups of corn flour (masa harina) to 2 cups of hot water. (I also added 1 tsp salt.)
1. Knead mixture into a ball
2. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes
3. Mold smaller balls from the rested dough
4. Press to form your tortilla (this part helps relieve office stress)
5. Toast on a skillet
The fact that these are so easy will make you never want to buy store bought again. Ever. And think of the economics: That one bag of masa makes a LOT of tortillas.
My farmers market (shoutout to DC's FreshFarm Markets) has some really great vendors. The stand where I like to buy most of produce from (Garner's Farms) has the coolest stuff. And organic, too! Plus they are just super nice people—always willing to answer questions that one might have. Last week, they had this basket of gorgeous squashes. People, we are talking magazine-cover type stuff. In the bag went two types: Kabocha (Charlie's favorite) and a Red Kuri (the color blew my mind—I had to have it).
If you have not cooked with either of these before, I highly recommend that you do. Acorn and Butternut are popular for a reason, but there are so many more types of squash to sample. The Red Kuri, in particular, had a very chestnut-like flavor. Who could say "no" to that? Move over, Butternut.
My taco filling was a mixture of feta cheese with the above squashes roasted. (You could easily replace this with avocado to keep it all vegan.)
Now let's talk Salsa Verde, guys. In fact, let's talk hot peppers. Scared? I know, me too. I was chicken to touch it and used a sandwich bag in lieu of gloves. Did it work? Yes—so you should try it too. What a difference from canned. They were fresh, smoky, and vibrant. I used half a Serrano, no seeds or ribs. (I told you I was chicken.) That amount provided just enough heat.
A friend of mine has recently been using cashews in what she cooks. I was inspired. Having cooked for my lactose-intolerant cousin, I have been educated on the power of cashews, and nuts in general. Using soaked cashews, I pureed this along with leeks and chard to make my Salsa. That's right: Chard. Chard is great and everything, but aren't you all tired of the tried-and-true sauté with garlic and oil? I know I am. This was a super cool way to use the vegetable, keep it raw, and not know that you're eating leafy greens. Trust me. You're vegetable-phobic friends will never know.
Salsa Verde: Puree 1/2 bunch of de-ribbed Swiss Chard with 2 Tbs leeks (washed and chopped), 1-2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp oregano, and 1/2 cup of cashews (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes). It's delicious and it's vegan. Again, you're friends will never know.
And that's how I spent my glamorous evening off in the city: cooking. Sometimes pressing out a batch of tortillas (along with some tunes and wine) is all you need to wind down from the day's stresses.