I have a thing for spices.
‘A thing’ meaning I cannot stop buying them even if I don’t use them.
I use a lot, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that cardamom pods and Bell’s poultry seasoning aren’t exactly things I use every day. I needed them for a particular recipe and bought them, then they got lost behind the myriad other spice bottles in my closet that undoubtedly fall out onto my head when I’m digging around for something.
I took Thomas grocery shopping with me the other day and he decided he wanted tacos for dinner this week. Which was fine because tacos are in our regular line-up anyway. The weird thing was that he wanted them to be filled with beef.
BEEF. My kid has never ever in 9 years eaten beef and yet now he requests it? We have done black bean or refried (homemade) pinto bean tacos for years but never beef.
Backstory: Fletch and I are always looking for new places when we dine out and I’ll often have leftovers and offer The Boy a taste. My peeky leetle beast will not try anything and will be terribly vocal in his disgust over my food choices. Fine, no problem. What. Ever.
Thomas saw me looking up a few restaurants online recently and said, “Ooh! That place looks nice! Can I go there with you?”
Imagine his surprise when I said no.
After I picked his chin up off my desk I simply replied, “it’s too difficult to dine out with you because you don’t like things that I do not personally make for you and even then you have a problem with most foods. When you are able to find something to eat and hopefully enjoy on a restaurant menu, we will be happy to take you out to eat with us. Otherwise, it’s just a giant waste of money.”
Would you believe that he has been making a HUGE effort to try new things since that very conversation? I’m kinda shocked, and very pleased, even if he doesn’t like most of what he tries, at least he’s making progress. He even said to me this morning – as I checked the school lunch menu – “I’m gonna try the chicken nuggets today. Do you think I can go out to dinner with you guys now?”
Who knew restaurant dining was so important to a little kid?
DIY Taco Seasoning Mix
2 T ancho chile powder
1 T garlic powder
1 T sweet paprika
1 T ground cumin
2 t onion powder
2 t smoked paprika
2 t oregano, dried
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper
1/4 t sugar (optional)
Blend the ingredients together with a spoon – or if your child wants to help, allow them to combine the ingredients with a mortar and pestle rather than the alternative, using it as a drum or a weapon. Store seasoning mix in an airtight jar away from heat and light. Makes about 1/2 cup mix.
To make tacos, cook 1 pound of ground beef (turkey, chicken, gator) in a skillet until no longer pink. Stir 3T (+/- to taste) seasoning mix and about 1/2 cup water into the pan with the meat. Let it simmer a few minutes to thicken then serve in heated/grilled tortillas with your favorite toppings.
The FarmGirl’s Notes:
* Of course, you can always use this mix with beans or tofu or even to sprinkle on veggies for grilling. I think it would be terrific on grilled corn with a spritz of lime juice.
* Jack up the heat by adding cayenne pepper or use chipotle chile powder in addition to or instead of the smoked paprika. Chipotle has a similar smokiness to it.
* My favorite source for spices in the mail-order giant, Penzey’s. If you can find a retail store, please stop. They have most of their spices and dried herbs/blends on display in jars so you can smell them and see what you like!
* If you order from Penzey’s, get the big bag of cream of tartar (great price!) if you plan on making the Cinnamon Sugar Cookies I posted recently. Once you try them you’ll be making them all the time.
* I think spice blends like this make great gifts. Package it up in a pretty jar with an adorable label and add it to a basket of taco paraphernalia (perhaps a few margarita glasses and tequila, salsa, tortillas, avocado for guacamole). I’d be thrilled with this gift!