Hell froze over, and multiple Team Taco™ members don't have power in Texas because the planet is broken. The Democrats were cowards and somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again. The Republican party cemented themselves as fascists. What a week.
Y'all wanna talk about the kitchen I grew up in instead?
Where I Learned to Love Food
I loved our house growing up. My parents bought a fixer-upper and slowly but surely made a great home for us. My favorite room in the house was the kitchen. It felt like the center of our home – our little world revolved around it. That kitchen is where my first food memories were formed.
We had a pile of comic books — mostly Calvin & Hobbes and Foxtrot — on the floor next to the counter and breakfast bar. That counter is where I learned to love food, where I learned to cook. I'd sit down, pull a comic book from the pile, and pretend to read while I watched my mom make us dinner at night. I'd wait on Saturday mornings for my dad to give me a taste of the lasagna filling that he was finishing up before church. I'd eat chips and salsa while family friends were throwing together the last bits of potluck. Sitting at the countertop gave you a perfect spot to learn everything you wanted about cooking just by watching.
Over a decade ago, my parents moved from Idaho to Texas. During that move (a long story short and familiar for most at that time) Bank of America effectively stole my childhood home and sold it for nothing.
It was a traumatic way to lose your home. It's not like it was a thing we knew was coming. The house was up for sale, but with how quickly we had to move and how bad the housing market was back then, there was no final resolution. Couldn't sell it. We packed up over a week or two. Processed saying goodbye to the house. But we didn't get meet the family that would be moving into it. We didn't get to explain the idiosyncrasies of the home that had housed us for nearly 20 years. And then Bank of America did what Bank of America does and that was that.
I honestly was most distraught about not being able to show off all the things we did to the kitchen to make it wonderful. I wanted to explain to whomever was moving in how we had set up the room and optimized it. Let the kids know that the countertop was the best seat in the house. Hang on, I bet I can find a photo of the kitchen on Zillow.
What in the actual fuck did these people do to my childhood kitchen? I'm looking at the listing for the house I grew up in and I'm at a loss. Literal psychopaths appear to have bought it from the bank and ruined it.
Why would you put that countertop with those awful cabinets? What is that light fixture — who wants spotlights for cooking? How is it possible that the cabinets are so light but the kitchen feels like a black hole? What is rotted in the white bowl on the counter? Why are there seven butternut squashes on the fridge?
Oh god, they put in a COFFEE nook. Why do boomers insist on putting signage above the very clearly identifiable thing? Like, yup, that's a coffee machine. I don't need a sign. Do you think they store weed in the TEA box? Should the box read MEDICAL MARIJUANA? Why are the cabinets stained a completely different color in the nook than the rest of the kitchen? Wait — they're just completely different cabinets. Ugh, I just realized the countertop is different too.
Just because your husband came home drunk and pissed on the walls one night doesn't mean you need to paint the walls that color.
Why is the trash can so far away from the counters where you'd be doing food prep and cooking? Why are the paper towels in the coffee nook? That's like eight steps away from the action!
Why is there a 1.5 person love seat in the dining room? Why does the love seat read LO VE? Why is there a fake dead animal on it? Why didn't they just push it against the wall instead of angling it to be in front of 20% of the storage in the cabinet? Hey — at least they kept the same dimmer switch that my dad installed in 1993.
Wait — if the dining room doesn't have a table in it, then where is it? Oh no. No no. Not the living room.
How many finishes of wood does this goddamn family need? In the last three photos, I've counted 15. Fifteen.
What is that little boat on the shelf? Oh god, it's sixteen wood finishes. Because there's just a piece of wood in the left corner of the living room. Does wicker count as wood? Now we're rolling in at 18. The wood finishes in these three photos can vote. Why are there so many baskets? Who needs a dozen baskets? Carpet in the dining room! Maybe the basement won't be so bad.
Why is the wood paneling on the side of the stairs different than the one where the closest used to be? Wait — why did they take out the entryway closet? Why is the floor a different type of hardwood in the entry way than the stairs going down? 900 coat hooks instead of a single closet. Got it.
WELCOME to hell. It's the basement.
Our wood finish count now stands at 28. They stole the chairs from the library at the local university. They're on a rug that's centered on a coffee table (where they put their COFFEE) that's not centered on the TV that's NOT CENTERED ON THE WALL. Oh, you wanted your shelves to match the dining room upstairs? Too bad — they're a different length. Are they at least equally distributed between the TV? Nope. Honestly shocked the shelving doesn't have a TELEVISION sign on it. Guess they couldn't fit it in with the baskets. Need to go to the bathroom? Well, mind the whitewashed clock and jump over a beanbag.
Another type of wood cabinetry in there? Check. An extra piece of wood along the bottom of the mirror that doesn't match the any of the other wood in the house? You've got it, boss. 30 wood finishes. Why can't the wood decide which direction it's going in in this house? At least the shelving unit uses the same brackets, I guess?
Oh, they refinished the fireplace, that looks okay. Just ignore the lopsided shelf that's randomly longer on one end, the weird table with a 2x4 sticking out of it, and the built-in stone shelves that are unused. I wonder how they'll screw this up.
Oh. By adding the 31st wood finish in the form of BARN DOORS to close off the fireplace nook into its own room. Great job. Let's make the wood floors go in a different direction in there, too. Neat. To the bedrooms!
A different type of hardwood. 32nd and 33rd wood finish. Not sure what I was expecting by this point. Maybe the flooring will at least match the flooring in the next bedroom?
Okay. Well. At least the next bedroom will be carpeted too.
More baskets and a different wood finish! That pushes the count to 33. Oh, look through the window. More different types of wood. Dare we check outside?
Who purposefully haunts a house? What cursed individuals bring this on themselves?
Ugh, what a disaster that was. I recommend making this month's salsa to get the taste out of your mouth.
A Simple Salsa, From Me to You
This salsa is my two-minute salsa. It was the first salsa I learned to make. I made it countless times in my childhood kitchen, pre-haunting. It takes, you guessed it, about two minutes to make.
Learning to make this salsa was one of the first times that cooking clicked for me. It was the first recipe that was simple enough that I could adjust things to taste how I wanted them to taste. For the longest time I blended it into a smooth salsa since I wasn't wild about chunks in my salsa. Whatever — I was 12. You can't judge me for not liking chunks in my salsa. Kids are dumb.
If I wanted the salsa spicier? Another jalapeño or two goes in the blender. A friend coming over that has the bummer of a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap? Leave it out.
It's a salsa you can make anywhere. No specialty ingredients. I've enjoyed this salsa all over America. I've made it in Amsterdam. Berlin. On the beach in the south of France and in the alps of Austria. Everything you need is almost certainly in any grocery store nearby.
This salsa is the perfect salsa for learning — anyone can make it. Those of you who didn't have the patience or skill level to go through all the steps for last month's salsa? This one's for you. It'll take you less than two minutes. You just put it all in a blender and pulse. Ba-da-bing-ba-da-boom, you made salsa.
- A 15oz can of whole or crushed tomatoes
- A quarter of a softball-sized white onion
- A jalapeño (or three)
- A clove of garlic
- Half a bunch of cilantro
- Juice of one lime
- Salt to taste
- A sprinkle of sugar or a little drop of honey or agave nectar
Two-Minute Salsa Recipe
Take everything. Put it in a blender. Pulse the blender a few times. Pour salsa into a bowl. Consume with chips.
No, really. That's it. It's not a complicated salsa. Salsa isn't hard to make, y'all. It's all just a fruit, an allium, a chili, an herb, acid, salt, sweet. That's it. Every salsa we make this year is going to be that. This is just the simplest version of that.
Buy the best canned tomatoes you can find. Do not, under any circumstances, buy diced tomatoes. The chemicals they use to make a diced tomato hold it's shape will ruin whatever salsa you're making, your childhood home will become haunted, and your loved ones will leave you. They will be right to do so. So. Avoid that and use nice tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes work great. The little bit of sugar or honey or agave will help bring the tomatoes, and their flavor, back to life after being in a can.
In my old age, I've started to enjoy a chunk or two in my salsa. A nice little vegetable crunch? Don't mind if I do. If you'd like to experience them in this salsa, add the tomatoes to your blender alone and give them a quick pulse on their own. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until your desired consistentcy. Yeah, the tip here really is just, "Pay attention to what is happening in the blender and blend it less."
Want to spice up your life? Use a jalapeño and a serrano chili. Use three. Add every chili available to you from your grocery store. You deserve to find what makes you happy. Order a couple of BDSM toys from a sex shop. Hell, maybe use a can of fire-roasted tomatoes? Look at you. Going wild and spicing things up.
Having a party — remember parties? — and need more salsa? Just double the recipe. It'll still fit in your blender all at once. Two-minute salsa with twice the fun!
Staying on an Airbnb on a remote Canadian island and don't have access to a blender? Buy crushed tomatoes and just cut everything else by hand! Your Two-Minute salsa is now a Twenty-Minute salsa, but you're on vacation and what else were you going to do with the afternoon? Smoke more weed?
The salsa goes bad after four or five days, but it'll never make it that long. Brush your teeth before you go to bed because you'll have salsa breath when you wake up if you don't.
You deserve all the love in the world. I hope this two-minute salsa is a blessing for you.
TACO TOTAL — 303/2021
This Week's Taco Total — 45
February Taco Total — 106
I didn't have a taco yesterday. I missed it. I've eaten 303 tacos this year — 456 if you count December from last year — and I literally missed eating tacos yesterday.
Tested out something new for Team Taco™ over the weekend and it worked great. I'm excited to get it out to y'all soon. Probably another two weeks. Started a new collaboration you'll see soon enough too. Patience is a virtue, and everything's coming up Team Taco™.