A Recipe for Winter Warmth
enchiladas in audio, essay, and oven
I hope this finds you warm and well and enjoying blessings of the new year. For my family it’s the season of soups and casseroles, and since my youngest daughter has been visiting since Christmas Eve, I’ve been preparing some old family favorites. One of our standbys is enchilada casserole, a recipe that’s now been prepared by three generations.
Last year I submitted a short memoir featuring this casserole along with the recipe to the annual print anthology by Creative Colloquy, a South Sound literary community that celebrates their 10th year this March thanks to the tireless efforts of founder Jackie Casella. The piece was accepted, and I had the opportunity to work with Jenny Bartoy, an amazing freelance editor who volunteers with Creative Colloquy. Her insight and questions helped me expand and deepen the depiction of enchiladas as an instrument of forming identity for the women in my family.
I was invited to read “The Recipe I Never Tried” at Creative Colloquy’s anthology launch in mid-December, but couldn’t make the long drive on a winter’s night (distance, possible storms, old eyes and all that). So, I decided to record it to share with you here.
[You’ll notice one long pause when I made an error and couldn’t decide whether to keep going or start over. I kept going.]
Although my recipe concludes the piece, I did not read it aloud. Here it is. Enjoy!
Cathy’s Endlessly Adaptable Enchilada Casserole
•Corn tortillas, yellow or white, a dozen or more
•Grated cheese: cheddar, pepper jack, Mexican blend, cottage, or a combination 2-4 cups
•Enchilada sauce, canned°, green or red, OR canned diced tomatoes* OR salsa 2-4 cups
Optional Ingredients [some or all]
•Protein: ground beef, shredded chicken, or tofu about 1 pound**
•Beans: 1-2 cans° pinto, refried, black, or kidney, or combination**
•Sauteed onion, 1 large—cooked with protein if desired
•Sauteed garlic 1-3 cloves—cooked with onion and/or protein
•Vegetables, 2-4 cups sautéed or steamed spinach, celery, carrots, zucchini, corn, or combination
•Diced green chiles 1 can, small or large
•Chopped black olives, 1 small can or 1 cup
•Use a 9 X 13-inch or 9 X 9-inch pan, or a 2-quart casserole dish.
•Pour a thin layer of sauce, tomato puree, or salsa in bottom of pan.
•Arrange a single layer of tortillas, tearing as needed to fit corners of pan.
•Mix your choice of optional ingredients together and spoon a layer in pan.
•Pour another thin layer of sauce.
•Top with cheese.
•Repeat layering of tortillas, optional ingredients, sauce, and cheese, until pan is full, or ingredients are gone, ending with sauce and cheese.
•Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly brown.
° No salt added or low sodium canned goods when available.
*Add 1 tbsp chili powder and 1 tbsp cumin [optional] to tomatoes. Puree if desired.
** Add 1 tbsp chili powder and 1 tbsp cumin if desired.
Creative Colloquy’s annual anthologies feature artwork created for each piece, and are always an eclectic compilation of talent from Tacoma and beyond. In addition to my essay, Volume 9 includes a poem by my brother-in-law Sterling. Order a copy and you’ll receive two Warners for the price of one.
Local Folks: I still have a few spaces left in my Journal for Joy workshop on January 27th. Email me if you’d like to sign up.
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I can’t say goodbye without sharing Sunday’s serene sunrise and stunning sunset.