While I am in general grateful for Mexican food, it would be pretentious to claim that’s what I make. I’m grateful for the hodgepodge meals I make that are inspired by Mexican cuisine. I’m grateful to finally be getting the hang of homemade tortillas. They’re a quick and easy base for almost any kind of toppings. Yesterday I had a hankering for something like huevos rancheros to try my homemade salsa verde on, but no tortillas; so I whipped up a batch with masa and warm water. But first I had to cook something like refried beans, so I mixed up an onion, garlic cloves and spices, a dried paprika pepper, and the last of the garden tomatoes with two cans of black beans, and cooked the mush down while I made corn tortillas.
Though I only had a supermarket egg and broke the yellow yolk trying the trendy method of cracking it flat on the counter instead of on the side of the pan, I approximated a semblance of classic huevos rancheros that satisfied my craving. The meal could have been improved only with a ripe avocado.
Philip delivered avocados, more sour cream, and a couple of other groceries this afternoon, and I enjoyed bean tacos for lunch. So simple, so delicious! I’m grateful today for Philip’s kindness, the luxury of simple, hearty food, the treasure of avocados in winter, and homemade corn tortillas.
I’m grateful for every single breath, whether or not I’m aware of it, and I try to be aware of my breath many times during the day. Sometimes just a single breath, sometimes a few, sometimes for five minutes, or twenty-five, I focus on the sensation of the breath.
My friend Kim and I try to meditate spontaneously together once a day. One of us will text an invitation, and usually within a few minutes we’ve both settled somewhere quiet with a guided meditation, or just a silent timer set for five or ten minutes. “The joy of each breath” comes from a meditation we did this evening, led by Peter Harper, The Drunken Monk, on Insight Timer. The joy of each breath. It really is a joy when you can breathe fully, and take a moment to pause, notice, and really feel a single inhalation-exhalation cycle. Or give yourself ten minutes to truly allow yourself to relax, release, let go. Relaxation is a skill not well known nor practiced in this predominant culture. It’s so much more than kicking back on the couch with a beer watching TV, or sitting on the deck with a martini savoring sunset, or having a great time pursuing any kind of sensory stimulation. It’s letting go of all that, resting in the stillness of nowhere to go, nothing to do. Each breath really is a miracle.
Because several people asked for the Cheesos recipe, here are the sources of inspiration for both Cheesos and the Shells. I’m not entirely digital – I still love actual cookbooks, and have a few reliable go-tos besides my own 3×5 card file, a folder of printed recipes, my mother’s lifetime recipe notebook, and two staples that forged my appetite: mom relied on The Joy of Cooking, and the Colonel swore by Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School bible. I’m also grateful for cookbooks!
Sometimes during the day, after I notice something like these cookbooks, and pay attention, and take stock of the luxuries in my life, I take a deep breath – a big sigh – and am suddenly aware of this breath – and then this breath – and I recognize the astonishing chain of events that led to my being here, in this moment, holding this cookbook that is older than I am. Each breath is a miracle. Oxygen is the real drug; breathing, the ultimate high.