Tonight was a night I thought to cook something, but when the moment came, all cooking desire evaporated.
We met a student of mine earlier for lunch at a French restaurant, her treat, and I’d spent the whole morning getting to and waiting in line at Tongren Hospital, so I wanted to spend the grey November afternoon and evening at home. It was an apt first November day, though the fog might have been more pollution than water-based. The yellowing leaves of the sycamore and gingko trees lining the dusty courtyard of our apartment were tossing in the wind, and it was just cold enough for Brett to urge me away from the neighborhood produce stand, seduced as I was by apples–”No! We can get those later! Let’s go inside!”
I slept for a few hours in the cavelike gloom, then woke and found myself standing in the kitchen, the grogginess washed off with a shower. Did I want to cook–pour myself a glass of wine, bring in the computer for music, patch together a soup or some hummus with pantry bits?
No. What I really wanted was to pour salsa into a small bowl and dunk in yellow corn chips and crunch in rapid succession. As I crunched, I thought, hmmm, yes, I’m gonna keep going down this road, and make a nacho dinner of it. But, instead of the standard plate of chips with cheese, chucked in the microwave (though I do this with care, too–the cheese is carefully distributed and if I’m making a big plate, I do layers so the bottom layer isn’t naked, and is properly cloaked in cheese, and I microwave them a good few minutes until the cheese is bubbling, nearly burning in parts, so I’ll peel them off later and eat the lovely crispy cheesy bits…)
I digress. I decided a plate of nachos for dinner would be nice, but even better if jazzed a bit. So I chopped up purple onion, pickled hot peppers, and this is where it gets a little Tex-Mex trash, but stick with me–a chopped canned tamale. Last night Brett grabbed a can of Hormel hot-n-spicy tamales, after asking, “Canned tamales? Are these good? Really?” And I was all, “Yeah, dog, they’re really good,” channelling fond memories of canned goods homeschool lunches scrounged from the pantry.
I scattered this trio over the plate of chips, and blanketed all in cheese. And it was delicious. Creamy, meaty, corn husky bites, sharp onion, vinegary peppers, held in place with melty cheddar and dunked in salsa. I made us up some rum, Cointreau, and lime-spiked cocktails with a tropical juice medley, served in the new martini glasses from Ileana.
Do you have those moments? Moments when, despite a gloomy fall evening providing the perfect backdrop for some simmering and dicing and sauteing, and wine sipping, what you really want is instant gratification in the form of vaguely dorm-room-ish fare? Not that I’m knocking nachos. No way. But the chopped tamale was taking things a little too far down the Mexican junk food road, though not exactly to Taco Bell levels (oh Taco Bell, I miss you so…). But it was oh-so-satisfying. I’m already looking ahead to new jazzy nacho combinations on the horizon. Perhaps diced chicken and onions, sauteed on the stove with a little cumin and spice, and tossed on the chips with pickled jalapenos and black olives? We’re really getting into taco salad territory, almost, but as long as everything is sprinkled over a bed of chips and microwaved so the cheese melts, and there isn’t any chopped iceberg, it’s still nachos.
Though I’m breaking with the Mexican theme for dessert (I guess I’d have to do churros or sopapillas for that), I’m continuing in the spirit of submitting to cravings later on and making more peanut butter cookies. Specifically, Molly Wizenberg’s recipe for peanut butter cookies with milk chocolate chunks. Divinely indulgent with a glass of milk, or, my favorite, a glass of Smitten Kitchen’s slushy whiskey-spiked milk punch.