After years of shopping in army quantities, now I need almost nothing.
I used to laugh and laugh at what I called movie shopping: a character carrying a grocery bag containing lemons, carrots with the tops still on and always, always, always, like some movie rule, a baguette. Now I understand that this isn’t movie shopping, this is just how people can shop when they don’t have to feed children you own as well as ones you don’t.
At the cottage recently, a bunch of the kids had been up well ahead of me. I let them know I’d be arriving late one evening, a week into their stay.
Christopher, 25, grabbed the phone.
“Will you be making nachos?”
“I’m not sure how late it will be. I’ll be tired,” I said.
“It’s OK. We’ll wait.”
The kids love going to the cottage on their own, except for the having to cook part. I’m noted for providing decent dinners and most excellent platters — their late night feeding. I’m not much of a cook, and stick to things I know work.
When you’re faced with palates that are more drunk than discerning, it’s not hard to hit a lot of home runs. Quantity is key. It was after 10 that night when we rolled in to find a living room full of revellers, all looking at me expectantly. I had promised them nachos.
An hour later, I plunked two loaded trays in front of them. I will admit to missing the love and affection — real or imagined — that comes from feeding grateful kids who have been on the lake all day. Christer’s friend Cort said he’d actually chosen which weekend to come up based on when I’d be there. It’s not for my sparkling personality, it’s for the nachos.
An invite to a friend’s cottage last week sent me into army shopping mode. As I offered to handle dinner one night and asked about numbers, I was told maybe 15 people. Most of them were teenagers, and there would probably be more as friends dropped by.
I knew that even though I was working alongside a couple of terrific women who knew these kids like I know mine, cranking out a full dinner was going to take time.
Sure enough, starving teenagers started wandering in and out of the cottage long before food was going to hit plates. It made me miss my kids, but I went to my usual default. I grabbed a big pan and started rooting around in a strange kitchen for cookie sheets.
The first lad who tried them looked up at me.
“These are the best nachos I’ve ever had,” he said around a mouthful.
Years and years of testing, gone in a few minutes.
I’ll happily take that as a sign of success.
Motherlode of Nachos
1 package (450 grams) ground chicken or turkey
1 large jar of hot salsa, chunky (Don’t worry; the hot cooks off.)
1 bundle of green onions (Two bundles, if they’re wimpy. Chop them up.)
1 large package of sturdy tortilla chips
1 package of shredded TexMex cheese (the bag that’s about 5 bucks), or grate a cup or two of Monterey jack
Brown the ground chicken in a frying pan. Make sure it’s well broken up.
Preheat oven to 350 F, middle rack. When meat is cooked, dump in salsa. Let it cook down until most of the liquid is evaporated.
While that’s happening, put foil over a large cookie sheet. Spread all the chips around. Spoon the meat and salsa evenly over the chips. Put the green onions on top. Put the cheese on top of that.
Bung it in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and chips start to brown. It’s easy to make a separate one with no meat: heat up the salsa.
Recipe doubles easily; I suggest you double it.