Monday, February 05, 2007

Both of my parents are from California and because of this, while growing up, mexican dishes were always in regular rotation. For me quesadillas/burritos are a dinner staple as much as pasta. I'll whip one up for lunch quicker than I would a sandwich. Where am I going with this?

Living in a small rural town has taken a lot of adjustment. One of the biggest adjustments (for me) revolves around grocery shopping. I've never been much of a cook, but in Vancouver it didn't matter since Amy's Kitchen was always there to save me. We used to live blocks from a large health food store. Organic fruits and vegetables were always plentiful and when I felt lazy there was always Annie's Mac and Cheese! No more! Imagine my horror when I discovered that I couldn't even buy refried beans locally. Tyler works in Saskatoon where one can easily find a large grocery store but after a ten hour shift with over an hour commute each way the last thing he's doing is grocery shopping. We make do with what's available in Bruno. I knew my days of snacking on Barbara's Jalapeno Cheese Puffs were over, but refried beans I could not live without. When the owner of one of the local grocery stores asked if I needed help finding anything I said I needed refried beans. After asking me what on earth I would use them for he went ahead and ordered some! I purchased my first can the other day.

I have a lot to learn here. The local grocery stores don't have a lot of produce to choose from. At first glance this might seem backwards to the casual observer but the reason behind it and the lack of a farmer's market in a farming community is that everyone in town has their own garden. From what I've heard people here usually have more vegetables than they know what to do with. After canning and/or freezing everyone's set for the winter. Tyler and I have our very own yard for the first time and this summer we'll be able to plant our first garden. Learning the art of canning might be next. I see a deep freeze in our future...

Refried beans - a prairie obscurity. Who knew?


pgib said...

In case some of these ingredients are available, here's my quesadilla recipe for two.


1 can of black beans
1 small can of diced pineapple
1/2 of a yellow onion
Old cheddar cheese (or given Tyler's lactose-intolerance, some sort of soy-based cheese)
Green onion
Whole wheat tortillas (we prefer these, but any tortilla should do)

Optional toppings:

Sour cream
Tabasco Chipotle sauce


1. Take out two plates, and place a tortilla on each plate.

2. Grate a generous amount of cheese onto each tortilla. (Or however much you feel comfortable.)

3. Rinse the black beans, and scatter them on top of the cheese. I will typically use half of a can of black beans per quesadilla because I don't like too see them go to waste, but you may want to use about a third of the can per plate.

4. Cut up the yellow onion very finely, and sprinkle the onion on top of the beans.

5. Cut up some green onion and do the same.

6. Drink the pineapple juice from the can using a straw, and then place the pineapple on each quesadilla such that each piece is about an inch from the next piece. (There will unfortunately still be a lot of pineapple left over, so either plan on having this meal a few nights in a row, or have it for dessert.)

7. Tear a Tyler-size-hand of cilantro from the bunch, wash it, and cut it up. Apply liberally.

8. Grate some more cheese on top of it all.

9. Add some olive or vegetable oil to a frying pan on medium heat, and carefully transfer the quesadilla from the plate to the pan. Depending on the weight of the ingredients and the strength of the tortilla, this can be a delicate operation. Take out another tortilla, and place it on top. Spin the entire quesadilla a bit so that the oil is well-distributed underneath.

10. Cook until medium brown underneath. Slide quesadilla back onto plate. Add some more oil to the pan. Pick up the plate and quesadilla with your thumbs underneath the plate, and all fingers on top. Very quickly, spin the plate 180° and drop the uncooked side of the quesadilla back into the pan. (Note: there may be better techniques to this, but this is how I do it.) Cook until bottom is medium brown. Repeat with other quesadilla, or if you have two large frying pans, you can do both at once.

11. Cut the quesadilla into five pieces. I've lately been cutting them into different shapes like the pieces from a lens shutter just to mix it up a bit.

12. Apply optional toppings like sour cream and chipotle sauce.

13. Have a seat because your mind is about to be blown as to how good this is going to be.

Joanne said...

Ohhhh, I feel for you Serena!

It must be hard adjusting to a completely different lifestyle in a rural town.

Pickles and preserves sound like a lot of work. Hopefully you can ask a neighbour to give you a hand.

I sense a rural Saskatchewan "gourmet line" of pickles and beets and sauerkraut evolving from this.

Serena said...

Thanks for the recipe Patrick! I'm pretty sure I won't find all the ingrediants in town but Tyler and I are making a rare trip to Saskatoon on his day off tomorrow and you can bet we'll be doing some grocery shopping!

Joanne- Yes it's been tricky and I've gone through days of serious withdrawel. I'm not sure if I'm capable of canning, or even gardening for that matter, but I'm willing to give it a shot!

kickpleat said...

wow, that's my worst fear about living in a small town...lack of grocery choices!

and damn, that pineapple bean recipe looks amazing!