Long time no habla.
I supposed it could be seen as some sort of pattern if you have to start nearly every blog by apologizing for how long it has been since your last post, but you know what, I'm not going to analyze it and I would suggest/beg that you don't either. Besides, I have a good excuse for my lack of blog! I've been out of town doing extremely glamorous things in Las Vegas. Like unloading pallets of these:
It was Catersource 2010 - the conference & tradeshow Mintáhoe's sister company, Catersource, hosts each year. This year it was big, busy and successful—and most importantly capped with fun events at night featuring amazing food and signature cocktails. After a loooong week the reward came when my friends Kathryn and Jane and I rented a car and headed westward out to Death Valley's own Tecopa, CA and its famous hot springs.
China Ranch Date Farm'* we brought an exquisite picnic lunch featuring triple creme brie, Irish cheddar, artisan breads, artichoke spread, Peruvian cucumbers, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and of course - dates. When we busted that spread out we were instantly the envy of every senior citizen that had debarked from their tour bus and were now sucking down date shakes. We smugly enjoyed our fancy fare as they boarded their buses and hopefully prepared for the gastrointestinal adventures those date shakes would be leading them on in but a few hours.
We also had the delightful opportunity to eat at Bistro in Tecopa. Bistro is actually its name, so don't think that I've just started referring to places of business as their actual description. That would be ridiculous and if I started doing that it would likely be the result of a few too many at local Bar. Bistro is run by a burnt-out Las Vegas chef who traded the lights of Sin City for the starry skies of Tecopa. I for one am thrilled about his Vegas exodus since it meant three spectacular meals for the three of us.
Regardless, I drove down to their beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright craftsman-style home (I like to provide visual descriptors, plus their place is PIMP - although ironically the one non-craftsman room in their home is the one in the photo...) for a Saturday night visit and convinced them that rather than eating at one of Osage's fine dining establishments we should make something. Specifically, a hotdish for my blog. I'm selfish.
Larissa obliged and welcomed me into her kitchen which as you can see, unlike MY kitchen, has square footing and counter space. Also unlike my kitchen, a toddler.
There are a loads reasons why I adore Larissa and enjoy being her friend. One of the many is her undying love for Mexican food. One of the greatest milestones in our friendship occurred the summer we met as fellow Communications department interns at the Iowa State Fair. As "valued members of the team" we were invited to attend the State Fair Superintendent's pre-fair dinner party at his house, located ON the fairgrounds. (I know, weird) When the day came we were called into our bosses office mid-afternoon and told our presence there would be strange as we were merely "Interns" and thus, we were promptly uninvited. At this point we'd developed shockingly thick (yet still dewy and youthful) skins and chose to simply make plans to visit the fairgrounds Margarita Shack after work, located conveniently down the street from the Superintendent's house. We sat outside in the glorious sunshine sucking down margaritas and waving at the party-bound Fair employees as they drove on by. Suckers.
Since I was late to arrive thanks to judging the final round of a high school speech tournament (yes you read that correctly) Larissa went to the effort of not only finding a hotdish recipe but also buying the ingredients for it and beginning the prep work. Not only am I selfish, I am also a slacker. Here's the beautiful Mexican melange I arrived to...
All I had to do was stir, pour into a dish and top with cheese. Friends, if that was all that it required of me to make a hotdish I would have a hell of a lot more blog entries. Plus, when you don't have to all the pre-hotdish labor, you can even make the stirring look fun!
George of course did his part. He bought chives. He also texted my Mom continuing their relationship of texting slightly inappropriate/unintelligible things and then my Mom, because she doesn't have George's name saved in her phone, wonders who the heck is texting her wanting to know what she's wearing or if she likes hamburgers. Then she finds out it's George and laughs for half an hour. I can't say for sure, but I think after this last bout she may have saved his name. Side note, things got a bit heated during this last round of texts when it was revealed that while receiving texts, the Ma & Pa Klaassen were on weekend #2 of their 'Wisconsin Breweries Tour 2010.' And they didn't even invite us. WHAT GIVES. Interesting that the people who taught me to be inclusive of everyone wouldn't invite three of the people they know that love beer the most... VERY interesting. That being said, these are the same folks who raised me and I've already had to openly admit that I'm selfish and sometimes lazy.
I DIGRESS. I realize that this blog has been light on the hotdish coverage and heavy on the blather. So I'll cut to the chase and say that Larissa found a darn good hotdish. It was a Mexican Vegetarian bake that was the perfect complement to her amazing carnitas that she had been slow-cooking all day. Another noteworthy item that Larissa slow-cooked is her son Isaac, who at 18 months is the cutest closest-thing-to-a-nephew I've ever met. He didn't seem as interested in the hotdish as we were (it's kinda obvious on film, Isaac.) It seemed his main interest was robot dancing to Lady Gaga, which I can understand, I mean, she's great.
If you want to make the hotdish, follow the recipe found HERE. If you want to watch Isaac get down with his bad self, go visit the Webers. They're marvelous hosts. You'll have a splendid time.
*Interestingly enough, actor Matthew Modine is the descendant of the ancestors of China Ranch Date Farm. I guess you really do learn new things when you travel.