Thursday, March 10, 2011

"i'm working, i sweat but it's all good"

the song: "I'm Good I'm Gone" Lykke Li
the food: Migas

It's nice to feel inspired.

I'm happy to say that I'm feeling quite inspired this week. I've recently discovered the library (sounds silly, but it has been a revelation!) and am reading more than I have since college. The weather is absolutely perfect- cool, fire pit worthy evenings and bright afternoons perfect for outdoor beer sippin'. My job is going great and spring break is so close I can taste it. Of course, spring break means SXSW. And south by means I have days and days of sunshine, good friends, and hot tunes to look forward to.

Life is good.

As if all that wasn't enough, this weekend I made migas. I've made migas before in various forms, but these were different. I set out to make restaurant worthy migas, and I came pretty darn close. There are a few things to which I owe credit.

First, the homemade tortilla strips.

Gah, I hate frying. Not because it is unhealthy, but because I'm so bad at it. So naturally, I set off the fire alarm while frying these tortilla strips. I also splashed oil up on myself and yelped and cursed more than once during the process. But you know what? It was totally worth it. Because at the end of all of that, I had this to show for it.

Truth be told, I had about double that amount to show for it. But then I sprinkled them with a little salt and ate them. It's amazing I left any tortilla strips for the migas, really. Way to show self restraint, Emily.

Speaking of self restraint, my second tip for good migas is to not skimp on cheese.

I mean really...why would you? It is the easiest way to ensure delicious migas (or anything for that matter). Don't be shy about it. Cheese is your friend. I used plain ol' cheddar, shredded it myself, and piled it on in layers as I was cooking the eggs. If you were having migas in a restaurant, I assure you they would be have more salt and fat. So don't feel bad. If you need to, call me and I'll talk you through it. I can justify cheese all day.

For my final suggestion, I have an actual cooking tip. You see, I had an advantage before I even dreamed up these migas because my parents taught me long ago the proper way to cook eggs. It's simple. Cook 'em sloooow. Treat them gently. Scrambled eggs are an easy thing to rush through. I've been guilty more than once of letting my hunger get the best of me, cranking up the heat and hurrying along the egg scrambling. But not this time. So friends, when you make this recipe, please don't spend all that time sauteing peppers and shredding cheese just to rush through cooking the eggs. Your migas deserve better.

adapted from Homesick Texan

5 eggs
splash of milk (about 1 tablespoon)
vegetable oil for frying tortillas
3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced peppers (I used red and green bell and homemade/grown pickled jalapenos)
1/2 - 1 cup shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Add enough vegetable oil to a large skillet to coat the bottom. Place skillet on medium-high heat and add tortilla strips to skillet. Cook for about three minutes, turning once. Remove the tortilla strips and place on a plate covered with a paper towel. Keep remaining oil in skillet.

Add onions and peppers to the skillet and cook until peppers are just soft and onions are slightly browned. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Turn the heat on the skillet down to low. Add egg mixture, making sure peppers are evenly distributed. Do not stir! Allow to cook for at least a minute or two. When the sides of the pan are beginning to look a little firm, gently lift up the cooked sides of the egg, allowing the uncooked portion to reach the pan. Repeat until eggs are mostly cooked along the sides but not quite cooked on top. Add a layer of tortilla chips and cheese and gently fold eggs in on themselves. Repeat until the eggs are just cooked. The whole process should take about 7-10 minutes. 

Top the migas with more cheese and tortilla strips. Serve immediately with flour tortillas, salsa, and refried beans. In our house, this serves 2.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"tame our ways if we start to devise something more"

the song: "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" Sufjan Stevens *

Seems like Wednesday is as good a day as any to get personal. 

I've told you before about the two sides of Emily. First, there is the "I-care-about-food" "I-plan-ahead" "every-meal-must-include-more-than-one-vegetable" Emily. She writes this blog 95% of the time. She also writes the weekly meal plan on a dry erase board on the refrigerator. 

The other side of me wins free rounds for my girlfriends by correctly identifying mystery beer presented by an overconfident bartender, debates a life well lived in the rain at 2 am, karaokes in random bars in Longview, and dances as often and as late into the night as possible. In her wildest moments, she throws caution to the wind and eats a bowl of cereal for dinner.

I'm going to take a minute and let you think about which Emily you like better. Whose blog would you rather read? Honestly, the verdict is still out for me.

Lately, I've been (too?) easily convinced to abandon our meal plan for the above mentioned bowl of cereal or extended happy hour snacks with friends. Deep down, I know that's ok. Life is a series of ebbs and flows and just because right now I'm not cooking as much doesn't mean it will never come back. Right now, I enjoy our full and busy life. But I can't help but feel guilty when I have to send the husband to work without leftovers from last night's dinner.

As traditional as it sounds, it is my job to manage our house** and what to eat requires the majority of the planning. So this month, I'm trying a new approach. Rather than a meal plan, I stocked the house with easily prepared, healthy staples during this week's grocery trip. It's not the easiest switch. Last night I found myself scrambling and worrying that our meal would not be substantial enough. But I need to get into this habit, because things aren't going to change anytime soon. SXSW is only 2 weeks away.***

Part of having a healthy relationship with food is being able to roll with the punches. When we get too attached to a certain way of thinking...whether that's rigid meal planning, or a huge list of 'I won't eat this' or 'I only like that' takes the fun out of eating. I doubt my food challenges are over for the month (um- we're only one dinner in), but I do hope it will allow me to fit more home cooked meals into our life. As always, you can keep track of our progress here. And just maybe over one of those dinners, the two Emily's can come to an agreement.


* Sufjan, this album still makes me swoon like the first day I heard it.
** Because I only work part-time and because I love food. Not because I'm the girl.
*** The music part of my South By starts at this party with some of my favorite people ever. Won't you join me?