My first white Halloween came with strange and eerie consequences. Heavy snow settled on leaf-filled branches, the weight of which caused many downed limbs and uprooted trees. People lost power and still haven’t gotten it back even six days later. For the lucky few (like my family) who lost power for a mere 13 hours, our homes have become makeshift support centers where friends and neighbors can eat a good meal, take a shower, do laundry and let their kids spend a night with the luxury of heat and a TV show. It’s a bizarre reality that is affecting people’s moods during an otherwise glorious fall season.
When my power first when out, I was terrified that I would lose the food I’d been cooking and freezing for several upcoming events. (I even began questioning the purpose of cooking and freezing food at all!) I immediately had to find a house with a generator to transfer the 18 quarts of turkey chili Liz and I had made for the upcoming Election Day bake sale and the dozens of pumpkin and banana breads I baked for an impending healthy breakfast at school. Once I had successfully found a freezer for my donated food, I worked on saving my own family’s food by transferring wontons, dumplings, and tomato sauce from my freezer to Christina’s down the street.
Cooking With Friends soon came to the rescue as I fed my powerless hungry neighbors. Banana muffins and breads became a quick breakfast and pesto was a delicious vegetarian dinner. And the big beef burritos stashed in my freezer (that I had made with Suzy) came in handy as a quick meal for my friend CJ, a fireman who had no time between emergencies to eat. For many days and still continuing, friends and neighbors are coming and going, using my house as theirs. My friend Kathe settled in on Halloween with her family, helping me make huge batches of meatballs, sauce, corn bread and chili to feed neighbors after trick-or-treating. Thankful to have a kitchen to cook in, Kathe even made a delicious apple crisp for dessert.
My friends keep saying they “owe” me for my hospitality, which is kind but completely ridiculous. Here on the bright side of the street looking over at my neighbors’ dark homes I feel bad and want to help in any way I can. I am thankful to have power and can’t think of a better way to use it than to help my friends. The only thing my friends owe me is continued friendship. And when the power goes out on my side of the street I’m sure there will be a place for my family!
Big Beef Burrito
Makes 8 Big Burritos
Kids and adults all love the Big Beef Burrito. And it’s Homemade Take-out at its easiest. The burritos are simple to make in large batches and take only minutes to warm up for lunches, snacks, or dinners. This is definitely a dish to experiment with-try pulled chicken, ground beef, all veggie, or rice and bean. The recipe below is our favorite Big Burrito basic. Make sure you offer a toppings bar of sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, and include your own guacamole and salsa.
1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and minced
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked rice
8 Flour Tortillas (10” large size)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend)
½ cup cilantro, chopped
In a large saucepan, begin to brown the beef for a few minutes while seasoning with chili powder, salt, cumin, onion powder and chili powder. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeno peppers and cook for 7 minutes. Add black beans and heat through. Add rice and mix well.
Warm the tortillas slightly so that they do not break apart when folding. (The microwave works well. Simply place the tortillas on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel and heat for one minute.) Keeping the tortillas covered so that they don’t dry out, remove one at a time and begin filling. Spoon about ¾ cup of filling into each tortilla and follow with ¼ cup of cheese on top of each, followed by a sprinkling of cilantro.
Fold in two edges and roll burritos carefully making sure to enclose all filling. To freeze, wrap each individually in plastic wrap after you fold each one so they don’t dry out. Then, place in freezer bags and lay flat in the freezer. To reheat the burritos, unwrap, place burrito on a plate and microwave on high for 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side, checking to make sure edges do not become hardened.