The weather, the weather, what can one make of it?
Two weeks ago it was central heat, turtlenecks and sweaters. Last week…., central air conditioning, shorts and flip-flops. And today, today, like some sort of déjà voodoo, I find myself living in a text-book springtime sort of day, seventies and sunshine, like Alice in Wonderland herself. Or maybe her companion, the Mad Hatter.
How often I’ve wished I could “read” the bursts of spring-time weather as signs of summer-weather-to-come, like some fortune-teller that “reads” tea leaves to predict the future. Could that “colder-than-normal” spring day mean a “cooler-than-usual” summer? Might last week’s “hotter-than-normal” spring heat flash mean a “hotter-than-Hades” summer? Who knows… except that I’m thankful our extremist spring spells of weather cannot spell out their summertime forecasts into words. Why just think about it… if springtime weather could talk, wouldn’t their rhetoric resemble the extremes offered by hard right-wing and far left-wing talking heads after some big political event? One shouting “HOT” with the other yelling “COLD.” One shouting “GLOBAL WARMING”, the other yelling “BAH, HUMBUG!”
I suppose flip-flopping weather — winter-like lows mixed with occasional summer-like highs… is what the passage of spring is all about… the way it gracefully and, too oft with a hard jerk, transitions us from one extreme season to the next. All the while, offering us the gifts of the season, in new life. Flowers, and flushes of new soft green leaves on shrubs and trees. New surprise seedlings to share, to pass along to friends and family. Weeds to pull and toss away. And in a way I cannot begin to explain, offering a new lease on life to me, too… from hope and joy too dense to weigh.
Who cares if books in my reading stacks gather dust on their dust jackets? Or that home-cooking is practically nonexistent when there are gardening chores to do? Springtime, more than any other season, requires easy eats, which too often translates to eating out or thawing something quick from the freezer. What a wonder of wonders, then, that I recently stumbled upon the best sort of déjà vu, a recipe for beef tacos that reminds me of those once prepared by my former father-in-law.
I’m not sure whether Jack’s taco recipe was ever written, though I watched him prepare tacos (from afar) more than once. Small mountains of chopped onions. Ground Beef and spices. Tomato sauce and beer. All made from a secret recipe he received from a Hispanic neighbor — shared with one small stipulation — that Jack, on his honor, would never pass the recipe on to others. As far as I know, Jack never did. He died keeping his word, even though many of us longed to have that recipe.
Well… who knows why but that one day, during the dregs of last winter, I began thinking of Jack’s beef tacos. Which led me to wondering whether I could find something close to Jack’s tacos with the help of my favorite Internet search engine. I sit down in front of my computer. Carefully spelled out the three-word phrase, “beer beef tacos.” Tapped the return key. And up came many, many pages of possibilities to weed through before hitting something close to “paydirt.” The result shared below may not be an exact reincarnation of Jack’s tacos, even after my few changes. But it’s close enough to my memory to conjure up the best sort of déjà vu on my tongue.
Why not double the recipe and freeze “just-right” serving portions in small batches… to thaw and heat up for supper on those days when you don’t want to come inside and cook? In or outside of springtime. In or out the garden. Or whatever your own particular lost in time or space or wonderland looks like for you. Enjoy. And pass along.
Drunken Beef Tacos
In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, sauté over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes, or until translucent:1/4 cup olive oil One large onion, chopped Add 2 minced cloves garlic during final minute of cooking time.
Add following ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes without covering with a lid:1 finely-chopped fresh jalapeno (more or less to taste) 1 15 oz. can of petite chopped tomatoes 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce 1 tsp salt (or less — add gradually to taste) 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper 3 oz. beer
Add remaining ingredients in two stages:1 1/2 lbs of extra-lean ground beef, broken up with your hands or with a spoon or spatula 4 tsp chili powder 4 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp oregano 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Cook for a 2-3 minutes, continuing to break apart beef, before adding:3 oz. more of beer 1/4 cup water
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until liquid is almost gone.
Serve in your favorite shells or tortillas topped with chopped lettuce, onion, tomato and cheese.
I loved your weather dialogue. I confess I’m fed up with the meteorological hysteria. There they are, the experts – telling us what doom and gloom will arrive in a hundred years, or 500 days, or whatever. In the meantime, they can’t get Tuesday’s rainfall percentage right. Spare me.
Computer models say only what they’re capable of saying, given the data they’re fed. Try and track a hurricane and see what happens. I still remember standing atop the Kemah Seabrook bridge, watching the northern edge of Humberto spin over Galveston. We all said to one another, “That storm’s going to turn into a Cat 1.” At the time, the weather dudes on tv were saying, “Oh,it’s going to spin itself out.” Talk to the blue tarp people in Chambers County about that.
Well! I got that off my chest. And I got what looks to be a good taco recipe, too. I’m not much of a taco eater, but keeping meal-sized portions in the freezer would be a good idea, especially since we’re moving into the season of really late suppers.
My big gardening success right now is bringing Godette back to life. She got really top-heavy, fell over and broke. When I got her she wasn’t healthy, so she had a bottom portion, about 4″ tall, that narrowed to only an inch diameter. Once she was happy and started to grow, her top portion was nearly a foot tall and 3″ in diameter. Kerplunk. I sat her on a shelf for about two months, until the broken place had completely dried and sealed off. Then, I stuck her back in a pot, well down into the dirt. She isn’t growing, of course, but the buds she had when she broke finally are blooming. One has come and gone. Now I have a pair, and another half dozen buds. I figure if those buds are growing and blooming, she must be rooting at the other end. Happy times again on the balcony! Too bad Godot just died. But he had a good run.
Nice to see your post – I surely did rattle on, huh?
Your story, Linda, about that hurricane prediction reminded me of my grandmother’s predictions of an early and/or hard winter. Heavier crops of nuts, say. An earlier than usual nut gathering by squirrels or heavier than normal fur on farm animals … all meant we were “in” for a hard or early winter. I use to like to hear her talk of these things…. so much more interesting than what those hosting the T.V. weather spot had to say.
Which reminds me that we’re in the thick of tornado season and that the beginning of hurricane season is just around the corner. Working outdoors on and near the water… I bet you watch the sky a lot. And that, perhaps, you’ve developed your own internal radar for weather forecasting incoming storms. I watch the sky a lot when out of doors, especially in spring.
Coming upon the one-anniversary of May 20th and last year’s Moore storm, It’s been an unusually quiet year, thus far, for central Oklahoma… tornado-wise, that is. As a way to remember where we were a year ago, Channel Nine News has expressed interest in interviewing my son-in-law this week — to hear his story of survival, riding out the storm in the middle of Moore’s medical center. There are many, many more storm shelters in homes than a year ago… though no where near enough. As a Christmas gift to ourselves, we took the plunge ourselves, last December.
Sorry to hear of your cactus-growing trials. The death of one…. and injury to another. With you, I hope all those blooms are a good sign.
Beth Bates said:
YUM! I love this, and your blog, and I’m beyond honored that you would link me as a literary resource. Gosh. xo
I’m trying to remember how I stumbled upon your blog, Beth… if I remember correctly, I landed on your remodeling blog because I, too, have been in the midst of planning a bathroom remodel for our fifties ranch… and that blog led me to Lit Salad.
I was touched by the piece you wrote on the recent loss of a friend.. I think you had published that post a few days before my visit…
Kind of you to stop by and leave a note.
Beth Bates said: