Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fajita Vacation Salad

The house was ablaze with clattering dishes, thumping suitcases, and scattered goodbyes. Now I sit overlooking the lake, sheltered from the cold morning air yet listening to the dull whir of the fan which had been neglectfully left on in the excitement of last nights dinner and this mornings departure. The horizon is pregnant with the morning sun, which has only begun its journey into the day and will soon be crawling across the lake to sit upon my lap. I will wait for it.

My family, which was once a playground of rides, cliques, and cash dispensers, is now filled with people. Beautiful and complex, each one a complete book of memories, that I have only just picked up to read. I want to bring each one to a quiet corner, and read them through from beginning to end, and see our world through their eyes.

"Isn't it funny" I said, while bringing a giant, colorful, vegetable stuffed fajita up to my face, "that we all grew up in the same house, yet have such different taste in food?" I looked over to my left and my right. I was wedged between my two older brothers, one of whom ate a slim packed white tortilla with chicken pieces and the other held a similar skinny white wrap with steak pieces hanging out of the sides. For them, the color in this particular meal would come in the form of little candy coated chocolate pieces that they would have for desert while the rest of us slurped down some homemade blueberry strawberry buckle. My older brother Jim slowly lowered his chicken fajita and looked at me over the rim of his glasses. "That's because we didn't grow up in the same house. By the time you and Andy came around, Tom and I were out of the house and mom and dad were gone. Nobody told you that you couldn't eat m&m's, which is probably why you don't want them."

It isn't entirely true that my parents were gone, but it is true that Andy and I didn't have any food rules as far as junk food is concerned. Perhaps this is why m&m's don't give me the same sort of satisfaction of forbidden pleasure that they seem to give others.

In my family, nobody eats the same way. Dietary restrictions, political choices, and past food fears line the trails of our individual journey. They are planted like sign posts dictating what is food and what is not. Fajitas are a good way to offer options to everyone without cooking individually for each person.

Chicken fajita salad (feeds 8-10)
Marinade the chicken in
1/4 cup lime juice
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp honey
After the chicken marinated for about 6 hours I turned it over to my father to grill. He is a fantastic grill chef.

Bean and corn salsa
In a saucepan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add 1/4 yellow onion (diced small). Add 2 cloves minced garlic. Mix in 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook for about 4 min, then remove from heat and add the juice from 1/2 lemon. Let cool.

Dice and mix together
2 red tomatoes
2 yellow tomatoes
1 red pepper
1 bunch green onions
corn from 2 corn cobs, raw and cut off the cob
salt to taste
2 tsp pepper, or more
juice from a lime
chili powder (optional)

Fajita peppers
slice and cut in half
1 yellow pepper and 2 red peppers
Chop 1 red onion into large pieces
toss in olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic
season with a pinch of salt and allow the mixture sit for about 30 min.
Heat a frying pan until it is very hot. Add a little olive oil and watch it slide around, then immediately add pepper mixture. You want the outside to char a bit, but the inside to retain some crunch. Cook for about 3 min, then remove from the heat.

Enjoy fajitas with all your favorite fixings with your family. The next day, you can build a fajita salad with the leftovers by mixing the peppers, salsa, and chicken with some nice lettuce from the garden. The salad needs no dressing, but if you want you can squeeze some extra lemon or lime juice over the top.

Christina's vote: "This salad was too far away"

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