Tuesday, April 15, 2014


A year ago, the bombs at the Boston Marathon went off. 

Since then and now, a couple of bombs have gone off in my life, too. My dad's in a nursing home. My mom has had two stent procedures, a lung cancer surgery, and is still waiting to have a cancerous kidney removed. My husband's godmother is watching her husband, a man who has been a fixture in my husband's life for thirty years, die from pancreatic cancer; he was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago and his decline is swift and terrible. 

My husband and his mom used to own a camper in the Poconos. Someone they knew, an old Irish New York guy, died, and David still remembers a bunch of veterans at the wake saying, in heavy New York accents, "My brothers, we are gathered here by the Angel o'Death." 

I think about that New York-inflected Angel of Death a lot these days. 

Every time I see footage from last year's Marathon, and see the familiar route in Wellesley-- where I was raised-- or Brookline-- near Brighton, where I lived in an apartment so small my bedroom was a closet-- and Boylston St-- near my very first apartment on my own, a couple of blocks away on Garrison Street in the Back Bay-- my eyes well up. All those places seem so close I could reach out and feel the pavement under my feet, the sounds of the Green Line running down the middle of the street, or the sight of runners going by the CVS in Wellesley where my brother worked in high school (he was an ACE at that job, by the way. In another life he could have been a manager of CVSes.) . And these places seem impossibly far away at the same time. So much has changed.

When I was a kid, I worried about everything because I was afraid of everything. The farther away I was from my house, the more nervous I got. I didn't get my license until I was 23 because I was terrified of driving. So when I worked summers at a bookstore or the library, I got there by my bike or my mom dropped me off. I would feel weirdly exhilirated as I got off my bike, the relief of getting to my destination in one piece washing over me. 

As a single woman in my 20s, I was still worrying, but this time about whether I'd ever find a job I liked, or ever find someone to love. I was happy that I'd overcome some of my anxieties enough to be able to take the subway with impunity and drive on the Mass Pike, but I still was restless. I ended up going home most weekends; when I didn't, especially the first years when I had my own apartment, I'd walk restlessly all over the neighborhood, spending too much money at Whole Foods near Symphony Hall, looking at the fountains at the Mother Church of the Christian Science Center as I walked back, put my stuff away, and thought, Now what? I logged a lot of time at Avenue Victor Hugo, a used bookstore. It's gone now. 

I'm forty. I did those things I worried about. I got married, had a kid, moved away. But every day I remember that weird adrenaline, of being independent and living in the city. It was a time when I was brave and very lonely. And I guess the Boston Marathon explosions showed me the cracks in those memories. I think one of the bombs went off near the Boston Public Library, where I used to wait for the #39 bus. I thought, hey, that's MY city-- there's blood on MY sidewalk. But it was never really mine; it was a part of me, sure, but it was something I borrowed and then left behind. 

My childhood was anxious, but I always remember my home as being a place of love and security. It was a sanctuary from being bullied and worrying about what other kids thought of me. And of course, that vision, like the notion of Boston belonging to me, had holes and cracks in it, too. No one is perfect, and in a house of high-strung people prone to melancholy, there's going to be dark days. 

Now that the Angel of Death has hovered over me, I see that my sadness about the marathon is a sadness about a past that was probably never there to begin with, but is no less precious. 

I watched on television and on the web with horror as smoke and blood and screams filled the street I walked on every single day, whether it was to the bus stop when I lived in Jamaica Plain, or home when I lived in the Back Bay.  I yelled at my mom for driving to Watertown when the whole area was under lockdown. Her reasoning was, "I was going to buy fish. Terrorists don't eat fish." I wept throughout a memorial service as I watched online, one of my dearest friends singing in the chorus, thinking of my high school friend who couldn't finish the race because the bombs went off before she got to the last mile. 

I spent a week of sleepless nights, waiting for the results of my mom's PET scan, knowing with dread certainty that cancer would have riddled her body. Little malevolent gray masses, springing out of nowhere and evil simply because they could grow so easily and so fast. I imagined, in the dark, the sound  of my mother's voice, deadened with shock, telling me, "Emma, it's everywhere." I wondered about where she wanted to be buried, who would tell my dad. 

But you know what? It's spring.  

Tens of thousands of people are running the Marathon this year, beating back the fear and the sadness of that day in 2013 because they refuse to let this terrible event poison their lives. They will be happy and proud because there are beautiful people and things in this world, as terrible as it can be. 

And the PET scan didn't show additional cancer; it actually showed less than we thought. My mom's cancer surgery in her lung went as well as can be-- the surgeon said it was early-stage, with no lymph node involvement, and they got it. Of course, my mom then promptly caught C. diff. in the hospital and was laid out for almost two weeks at Mass General, but the day she got out, she visited my dad, bought flowers, and took a giant bubble bath.  Damn right she did.  

There is nothing redeeming to be found in someone dying quickly and terribly from pancreatic cancer. All I can think is, if he were able to think about it and speak, that our family friend wouldn't regret a thing about the way he lived his life. He had good times, that one, cooking, listening to music, fishing, and watching really awful bootlegged martial arts movies. The pain and senselessness of his death should not, cannot suck the goodness out of the life he lived. Even with that fucking Angel of Death hovering over us, ready to drop down at any time, life is still there to be lived. 

Every time sorrow watches over me, when I think I can hear the beating of the wings of that cursed Angel, I see my son, who cannot go anywhere, not even to the bathroom, without skipping and humming tunelessly. In a world where even walking to brush your teeth is so great that you have to hum to celebrate, how can I give way to despair? 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dear Father

People on my dad's side of the family don't get senile-- they get mean. Or so the family lore goes. My mom's side is a different story. She had a great-great uncle who used to bicycle around Crystal Lake in Illinois singing Methodist hymns at top volume, until the family took him to the asylum in Elgin and he got a lobotomy. He died when he fell out of an apple tree- apparently, people were picking apples in a local orchard, he got startled, and he fell. 

That's the way to go, I think, sometimes. 

My father is going into a nursing home. My father, a man of huge brain, passionate interests, and an outsize personality, left us a long time ago. A geriatric psychiatrist by trade, my mom recalls waiting to pick him up at Leonard Morse Hospital in Natick, and hearing him bellow at his patients, "WHADDAYA MEAN YOU DON'T CARE? WHAT THE HELL KIND OF ANSWER IS THAT?" He worked at the Veterans Administration in Boston and had at least one mercenary as a patient. He worked for the Archdiocese of Boston and used to come home with tons of edibles from the North End.  He worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield, which he loathed-- one time, a patient drove through the plate glass window of a restaurant, and Blue Cross didn't want to pay for hospitalization; that summed up that job. 

Secretaries and nurses loved my dad. Other doctors and administrators wanted to kill him, because my dad was smart and he knew it. He did things his own way. When he had finished his work for the day, he left, regardless of what time it was. He took long, rambling lunches. He would take three hour walks and my mother would try not to worry. 

My father was brave. He married outside of the faith and my grandfather, who never left the Bronx, showed up in his apartment and told him that if he married my Methodist mother, Grandfather would wear a sandwich board that said, "My Son Has Shamed Me." My dad was not impressed, and he and my mom got hitched at the Harvard Club, where they ate tuna sandwiches and drank champagne, and only ten people attended. 

My father instilled in me a love of classical music, Woody Allen, good food, and above all, reading. He gave me a biography of Sigmund Freud when I was ten, and I read it. He also taught me the value of a grand gesture. One summer, when we rented a house in Chatham, he gave my brother and me a garbage bag each, filled to breaking with toys and books, just because it was summertime and he loved us. 

My father accidentally packed two left shoes for my graduation and had to wear Birkenstocks instead. Good thing I went to Wesleyan. 

When I had a genteel nervous breakdown junior year in Ireland and came home, my father told me, "Home is where your head is."

Now he is silent-- a man defined by talk-- now just sits. He doesn't look miserable. He smiles slightly. He moves his hands, but the nails are long, the fingers are beginning to look fleshless. His dark eyebrows jut over his face in a vaguely James Mason-ish way-- he's lost his round Yeshiva boy face. He still gives me huge hugs, and my mother tells me that he reads this blog and it makes him laugh, which is amazing because as far as I can tell, he doesn't really read any more. That makes my heart break, because above all else, my childhood was filled with bizarre books my father would leave around the house. A history of philosophy, a Georges Simenon mystery, the Michelin guides, the poetry of Kenneth Koch-- you name it, it was somewhere in our house.

And the cookbooks! My mom is a dynamite cook, but my dad was a dynamite reader of cookbooks. Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Indian Cookery Simple Cooking. Noshing is Sacred. From My Mother's Kitchen

He keeps on falling.  Years ago, he suddenly couldn't walk without falling, and despite batteries of tests at various snooty Harvard hospitals, no one could determine why, and has gotten worse with each passing year. He also, somewhere along the way, stopped talking. My mother has to carry him from place to place, essentially, and cannot lift him herself-- she is a tough broad, with a huge amount of patience, but she also has pins in one of her legs and it cannot be easy to lug an inert person to any sort of upright position. She cannot keep on calling the fire department every time he falls and my brother isn't home-- yesterday he fell three times, and after years of this, she realizes that he needs to be safe, and she can't guarantee his safety any more. My brother asks my father, "Well, Dr. Merowitz, what do you think?" "I should go," he says, in a rare sentence. 

They are in Massachusetts, and I am here, in New Jersey, alternately feeling nothing and then feeling crashing waves of sorrow. Not sadness- I feel like sorrow is a deeper word, something that tugs at your roots with an inexorable pull until you cannot breathe, until, mercifully, it recedes. 

For the past year, there has not been a single hour where I do not think of my father or see his face. But if you ask me how I feel about it, I don't know. Or maybe I do know, but the effort of articulating it is something I don't want to think about. There is a feeling that once those gates open, they cannot be closed, and I will be swept in the wake of giant, messy, unresolvable tears. 

 But I am grateful for the long time I had when my dad was, well, dad. Did I want to kill him sometimes? Hell yes. Was he unfair and nuts about stuff? Oh my GOD YES. But he was a good dad, and I love him. I wish that he had not experienced this strange, glacial descent into the madness of old age. Are you gone, Dad? Because if you aren't, you need to know, you did so good by me, I can't even tell you. Thank you for being. 

Dear Father- Colin Hay

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Guest Post-- Of Soup and Storms

Stacy’s “Souper Sundays” are legendary. That all changed when Superstorm Sandy came to town. With her home destroyed and her family packed into her dad’s house, she had a lot of time to think about the connections between food, family, and home. She will have her first Souper Sunday since the storm next month.

Regardless of my mood or mental state, I can say with certainty that I truly love my family, not just the crazy blood relatives, but my extended family of neighbors and friends that prove time after time they are the stuff that holds my head on my shoulders. There was no truer test of this than the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. While my husband and I shifted through the rubble that was now our life, trying to pick up the pieces and make things normal again, my entire family was knee deep in the literal muck with us, clearing out our house and holding our lives together. As the new normal set in, it became important to me to re-establish old traditions, making whatever house we landed in a home. Being from a huge Italian family, those traditions all include food. Massive amounts of food.

When I have a gathering, it is never small. I mean, who do you cut out? The simple solution is to invite them all. And, when you are not a gazillionaire and you want to actually socialize with your guests, what the heck do you serve that doesn’t have you glued to a stove or grill? Well, for me, the answer became soup. And, so began a few years ago Souper Sunday. I make several different kinds of soup, cut up some bread, throw some bowls on the counter and we have a no frills hell of a time. And, I am pretty damn good at it, If I do say so myself. My soups are YUMMY.

Nearly a year after the storm, I unpacked a nice big green soup pot a friend gave to me and decided it was time to soup again. As a small thank you for the tremendous show of love, support, gift cards, baked goods, holiday ornaments and shoulders to cry on, I had some of the office ladies over to my house last weekend for our first Souper Sunday of 2014. Sometimes there is nothing better than having an all female crowd pack the house and this was no exception. I gotta say, I truly love these women. Regardless of career path, home town, fashion sense or marital status, we just gel. Souper Sunday was a prime example. And, while we bitched and drank and laughed and yelled, we ate soup. A LOT of soup.

I am going to try my best to spell out for you my favorite recipe of the day, maybe even give it a name. You see, I am not one for the order and precision required for baking and complicated meals. Cooking for me is a giant experiment that can always be fixed with the right amount of seasoning. Here is the way I made this particular soup it most recently, cannot say it was the same the time before. Be daring, throw away the measuring cups and check this out:

Super awesome chicken soup with coconut milk:

·         2 cups-ish of cooked chicken (I cannot stand looking at raw meat)
·         veggie broth (or chicken broth) – one of those giant cans should do it
·         1 can of coconut milk – whatever the standard size is they come in, similar to a can of veggies
·         2 sweet potatos  - I don’t peel any vegetables but you may want to
·         Normal size onion – white or yellow, never tried red
·         A big can of diced tomatoes – I used fire roasted this time
·         A bag of frozen corn
·         Some little grape/cherry tomatoes. I prefer the yellow ones and I like the number 12 so that is how many I halved and threw it
·         Curry power
·         Cumin
·         Fresh Cilantro
·         Lime
·         Olive Oil

I don’t measure so first step, get a decent size soup pot and coat bottom with olive oil. Dump in about a teaspoon of curry or chili powder and the same amount of dried cumin and let it simmer for a few minutes. Then add the veggies all diced – onions, tomatoes and sweet potatoes and let them cook for a few minutes. Shred chicken and throw it in with the corn, diced tomatoes and broth and let it simmer/boil under fresh veggies are edibly soft. Lower heat and add coconut milk. Do not let boil. If you are a messy cook like me, you should probably just do this before you are ready to serve.  Ladle into bowls and top with some cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Yeah I said squeeze. Isn’t that “Souper?”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Some Things Not to Cook and One Bitchin' Cake

On Sunday, while my husband went to a weirdly elaborate party for a one-year old with our son, I cooked. And regrettably, two of the three things I cooked SUCKED. So, gentle reader, take my advice: the Food Network's recipe for Mushroom Barley Risotto smells and tastes like a foot. Maybe it's the vegetable broth. Maybe it's the barley. Either way, the smell reminded me of Grandmother Merowitz's apartment in the Bronx, which smelled like extremely terrible Jewish cooking. I do not have good luck with slow cooker recipes. My husband, who simply uses the recipe on the back of a  McCormick's Pulled Pork Seasoning packet, makes a great pulled pork, but otherwise, I feel I could use our slow cooker as a decorative planter and my life would not be greatly impacted. 

I also made-- and this is probably going to distress people-- the Marcella Hazan tomato sauce recipe that has been floating around in the wake of her death. My mom used to cook from her cookbooks all the time, and the stuff was GOOD. Also, I liked the simplicity of the recipe. I like butter. I like onions. I like tomatoes. Maybe it was because I used canned tomatoes (although I did use the fancy San Marzano tomatoes all you young people seem to like), but it tasted like-- dare I say it?--Campbell's cream of tomato soup. I just discussed this with my mom on the phone, and she informs me that Marcella's recipes are hit or miss, so I feel less bad. Unless of course, she's lying to me because I am her fragile lil dumplin'. 

That said, I will say the one recipe that came out well was a roaring success. It's from this month's issue of Bon Appetit and it is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Gateau Breton Aux Pommes (ie Breton apple cake for all you peasants) is not particularly hard to make, although it takes a while-- and the salted caramel sauce is SERIOUS, people. It calls for creme fraiche, but since this is not 1980 (my childhood seems full of stuff cooked from The Silver Palate Cookbook that always involved creme fraiche) I used whipped cream. From a freaking can. Although it was Extra Creamy, so maybe that makes it classier.  Anyhow. It's only Wednesday and with solely my husband and I eating this thing, there's less than half of it left. I want to eat it all the time. In fact, at work, I contemplate telling people I am going to the bathroom and then actually quietly driving to my house, getting a piece, hiding it on my person, and then eating it in my office with the blinds down and the door closed, because I am not going to share, not even a little bit. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Oh yeah. Who doesn't like stew? Well, since I rhetorically asked, I don't. I wish I did. I feel that if I liked stew I would also be a person who enjoys family get togethers, playing board games, a sensible diet, and other wholesome things. My husband loves stew, which makes sense. He is the type of person that makes me think of Snow White in the woods- small children and picturesque animals gravitate towards him because he's so good. I, on the other hand, am way more like the witch-queen. In fact, my gay Great Uncle Fred (I always think of him in that one phrase, because it sounds weirdly melodious) insisted that our family (the non Jew side, clearly) descended from a Salem witch. 

Wait. Where was I? I lost consciousness for a minute there. 

Oh. right. Stew. So. I find stew depressing and damp, the eating equivalent of a mildewed towel. That said, I like my beef bourgignon because it's doused in an entire bottle of red wine and a packet of onion soup mix. II got it from a now defunct magazine  called Fresh Home. It had really annoying decorating tips, but it did have some good recipes. Also, since my mother tended to cook with wine a lot, I love the smell of wine cooking. I also am white trash and love dip made with onion soup mix, so really this recipe had me at hello. Hello, gorgeous. Well, hello gorgeous taste. It looks, as with most stew-type concoctions, like someone threw up, or as we in the industry call it, Throw Up Meat.  Oh stop it, you know I speak truth to power here. 

And yes, I referred to a Phil Collins song in my title. My friend Jessica Smock had a dog named Sussudio once. Then again, she also grew up with a hippie kid whose parents named him Concrete. She informs me she called him Connie for short, though. 

Beef Bourgignooooonnnnnnn 
(I refuse to include a photo because it looks like a scene from a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie so just paint a picture in your brain)

Serves 6, maybe, but really 4. 

  • 2 pounds cubed stewing beef at room temperature (no idea why, but I do know Gabrielle Hamilton says stuff tastes better at room temperature, and I am afraid of her, so I do it)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (I ignore this and just dribble olive oil in the pot)
  • 1 bottle dry full-bodied red wine (no clue what constitutes dry full-bodied red wine. I used Primal Roots Red because it tastes okay and I think you should only cook with wine you'd actually drink, when possible)
  • I package onion soup mix (the recipe calls for low-sodium mix but I have never seen this)
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 peeled carrots, cut into bite-size pieces (I usually add more)
  • 2 or more garlic cloves, minced 
  • I teaspoon thyme, cut up so there aren't tons of stems
  • 1 bay leaf
  • mushrooms- optional (I think they made it taste soggy, but if you want to be a jerk and ignore me, it calls for one cup of sliced mushrooms)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place stewing beef in a big ass ziploc with the flour (although I totes don't measure it, I just use a handful because I am a wild stallion), zip that sucker up, and then shake the hell out of it. 
  2. Put  butter and olive oil at medium heat in a big dutch oven. I am lucky because my mother-in-law gave us a giant Le Creuset which is probably worth more than one of my internal organs. Let it get mildly sizzly (the recipe actually says "until shimmering," which really aggravates me. Is this a recipe or an episode of She-Ra?) 
  3. Take half the meat and attempt to pat it dry-- this helps it brown better. Apparently. Brown half of the meat, nice and slow, maybe for ten minutes. Then do the other half. Then lie down. I kid! Not really.
  4. Once that's done and you've gotten up from fetal position on the floor of the kitchen, throw all the meat into the pot and cover it with the red wine. Totally pleasing, right? Add the onion soup mix and bring to a boil for three minutes. Then cover it, let it simmer, and go cook the vegetables.
  5. In a frying pan, heat a generous splash of oil to medium- if you throw water on it and it goes insane, that's a little too high. Not that I am judging you. Add the onions and carrots and cook for about ten minutes, until they are transparent. If they start to brown, you've cooked it too long, but I wouldn't freak out about it. 
  6. Add the vegetables, the garlic, the thyme, and the bay leaf to the meat. Cover that sucker and put it in the oven.
  7. It should cook for three hours, but check it every hour. My last batch took two and a half, and I did the last hour at 300 degrees because I didn't want to dry it out. Toss in those mushrooms ALTHOUGH I WISH YOU WOULDN'T in the last hour, and when you check it, give it a stir. 
  8. Take out the bay leaf, if you can find it, and then serve this sucker over nice buttered egg noodles.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mark Bittman, you Complete Me.

Like a lot of people, I suck when it comes to grocery shopping. I have grandiose plans of well-balanced, easily prepared dinners filled with vegetables and protein and deliciousness, and they never materialize.  I cannot tell you how many nights my husband and I have peered hopelessly into our fridge, hoping for...what? Delicious Orchards in there? Instead, what we find in the freezer are egg-free waffles for our son, sweet potato fries aforementioned son CLAIMS he will eat but in fact will not, and multiple half-empty pints of ice cream. The fridge seems to have a lot of cheese and a plethora of Capri Sun juice pouches, and that's it. And yes, I have seen the story about mold in juice boxes and I say that a little mold bolsters the immune system. Maybe. 

I mean, we have stuff to cook, but it all requires effort and patience. At the end of the day nobody got time for that. So we eat something with cheese melted on it and call it a day...and then feel both fat and guilty, which is a good time. As for lunch? Please. The lunches I bring to work take 3209924 years to make because I can't figure out what to bring, and then they still suck. 

So when I read Mark Bittman's column about making lunch in last week's Food Section of the New York Times  I was interested. Now, I should admit, I have Mark Bittman's cookbook and did not particularly enjoy it. It's very serious and sensible. There's no fun food essays, there's no pretty pictures, and it makes me feel like I have ADD. That said, I made two of the three recipes in the article and they were Dyn-O-Mite. 

Now, to be fair, they were not "easy" because Mr. Bittman assumes I am not a pig and have leftover vegetables and cooked chicken at my disposal, and I don't. I mean, I AM a pig. I have cheddar cheese and Schweppes Ginger Ale and possibly some Lake Champlain caramels. And three billion vats of the melted plasticine that are Danimals. 

So I bought two chickens and a ton of veggies, which completely defeats the purpose of using leftovers, but be quiet. I roasted the chickens using the old Joy of Cooking recipe-- basically, heat up the oven to 425 degrees or so, coat chickens in olive oil, salt and pepper and then stick something inside (I did a halved lemon and mashed garlic) and then throw them in, lowering the heat to 350. Cook 20 minutes per pound and use a damn meat thermometer to make sure you don't kill your loved ones (165 degrees). Baste every twenty minutes or never, or all the time, if you have OCD. 

Now, see, I had one chicken for a nice dinner, and one to make the damn lunch thing. Chicken 1 was dinner Labor Day night. I served it with steamed green beans and asparagus tossed in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper, and then some sauteed yellow squash and onions (they don't taste good unless they're burned. Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Snootbasket, I meant CARAMELIZED). 

The leftover veggies, plus the meat from Chicken 2, went into Mr. Bittman's Escabeche Salad:

True, it reeks of garlic, but it is really good-- the vinaigrette is not too overwhelming and goes well with the vegetables. Plus, it's a way for me to eat vegetables and actually enjoy them because they are coated in something tangy. NO YOU ARE. 

So fresh from that triumph, I embarked on the Cold Sesame Noodles.

One note. I bought a can of cheapo tahini that had one of those metal ring pulls, which promptly flew across the kitchen. I then had to figure out how the hell to get the goddam tahini out of the can, because my can opener was totally ineffective. Like an ape, I was. It didn't help that I decided to make this ten minutes before I had to go to work-- my husband had to work, my son had no school, and I was tag-teaming with my husband to race out the door once he got home. My poor kid kept on saying plaintively, "Mama? You said you'd draw Darth Maul for me." 

Eventually, with much cursing and sweating, I managed to get this all tupped up and run out the door only looking a little like a Hobo. Go me. Plus, I began the infinitely wearisome job of drawing Darth Maul's head. Do you know how many black squiggles and horns that man has? My God. 

The noodles were great. Spicy, a little peanut-y, a little whatever tahini tastes like-y, and filled with very crunchy vegetables. I used very quickly steamed snow peas, red pepper, and these grim shredded carrots we buy because they are the only vegetables my son will eat. We ate them for dinner instead of lunch, just because I am spiteful that way. 

So I guess there's something to be said for sensible recipes, huh?  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Enchiladas without Subtext.

So now I am just going to give you a damn recipe instead of musing about life because sometimes life makes me tired, and this is one of those times. 

My husband mocks me because I believe that certain foods are hot weather foods while others are cold weather foods. But he's a dummy, because I am totally right. Who on earth wants to eat a stew in 100 degree weather? Not this broad, I tell you what. That said, spicy foods are good in the summer. I don't know why, but they just are and I am pretty sure my Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook series told me so.

Oh, and if you have not read any of those Foods of the World books, you are missing out. For one thing, the photos are awesome, because they are from the 1960s and everyone has absurd hair and terrible glasses. They are also exceptionally well-written, and they were ahead of their time, exposing Americans to ethnic cuisines from all over the world. I have maybe ten of them, but I yearn for more. YEARN. See? You can hear me yearning for them. It's like a low buzz  emanating from the Jersey Shore. 

Anyway. Where was I? Shut up. 

Wegmans Delightful Black Bean Enchizladas

I stole this recipe from Wegmans because that's how I roll. The only way I tweaked it was to use sharp cheddar instead of wussy shredded Mexican cheese that's not even authentic, and also, I refuse to spend $5087 on Wegman's Caribbean Black Bean Soup. I used a can of freaking Amy's Black Bean Soup and it came out just fine. 

This is spicy but not too spicy because I know you are all very fragile. And because I want to die young, I smother it in sour cream. I embrace my American right to become morbidly obese. 

1/4 cup of Olive Oil
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of flour
3 Tbsp Mexican-Style Chili Pow der
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chicken broth
1 quart water (four cups of H20)
1 can (15 oz) plain, canned, nasty tomato sauce
2 cans (15.5 oz each) of Black Beans, rinsed and drained, divided
15 oz can of Amy's Black Bean Soup 
1 pkg (16 oz) + 1 pkg (8 oz)  Shredded Mexican Cheese (or, if you are cool like me, Sharp Cheddar)
2 pkgs (10 oz each)  White Corn Tortillas  
1 bunch green onions, trimmed, sliced thinly
You'll Need: Stockpot, two 9 x 13 casserole dishes, potato masher

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Go lie down. No, kidding! Get your ass up and make this stuff. Stop it. 

1. Make sauce: Add oil to stockpot on MEDIUM; add garlic. Cook, stirring,
1-2 min. Add flour, chili pow der, and cumin; stir to combine. Cook,
stirring, 1-2 min. Add bouillon, w ater, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil
on MEDIUM-HIGH, stirring continuously. Cook 1-2 min, until sauce is
slightly thickened. Set aside. Note: I don't like that Wegmans capitalizes MEDIUM and MEDIUM-HIGH. it seems hostile. 

2. Make filling: Mash 1 can beans in mixing bow l. Add second can of
beans, soup, and 16 oz cheese. Mix to combine. Set aside.

3 .Spread about 1/4 cup of sauce on bottomof each casserole
dish. Spread 1/4 cup filling dow n each tortilla center. Roll one long
edge towards middle to enclose filling; keep rolling into cigar shape. (By the way, it depresses me that you need a recipe to tell you this.) Set

4. Arrange enchiladas in 2 row s of 6 in each casserole dish.Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle half of remaining 8 oz pkg cheese over each; top  with green onion.

5. Bake uncovered 25-30 min, until sauce is bubbling.  Rest 5-10 min before serving.

This makes about 500,000 enchiladas so be forewarned. But it's so, so, good.