October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Pinto Bean Tacos

While my husband was in photography school in Massachusetts, I worked at a quaint little insurance agency in a small town. You probably think it's odd to describe an insurance agency as quaint, but seriously, have you been to New England?  It was a little three-room brick building with a basement, surrounded by evergreen trees. In the summer, from the bathroom window, you could see sheep grazing behind the building.  The office didn't close for lunch, and all of us ate lunch together in the conference room-slash-my office most days.

I usually brought some sort of leftover from dinner the night before.  At the time we weren't locavores, but I cooked at home almost every night.  The couple who owned the agency (some of the friendliest, funniest, most charming people I've ever met, by the way) usually got take-out from a local restaurant: sandwiches mostly, but sometimes Chinese food, pizza, salad or something else.  There was a 50-something agent there who was really trying to lose weight.  His wife packed his lunch: an apple, an orange, popcorn and peanut butter.  He'd cut up his apple and slather peanut butter on every single piece.  He must have gone through a jar of peanut in less than two weeks.  There was a fifty-something gal there who was also trying to lose weight.  She seemed to like those Campbells soups that you drink from the cup.  She also had a good supply of 100 calorie packs of cookies and light yogurt most days.  Then there was this skinny, fifty-something gardener-type.  She ate more kale salads than I would have thought possible.  Sometimes she stirred up the routine and went with some kind of grain-based salad.  She was very good at what she did and interesting to talk with, but most of her food wasn't tempting to me at all.

Six years later, I look at what I eat (Pumpkin-Pinto Bean Tacos for lunch today) I wonder if everybody thinks I'm a freak.


In my quest to determine whether or not we want to invest in this local, raw milk herdsharing thing, Jason and I took the girls to friend's house to taste the milk.  The verdict:  It tastes like milk.  We're going to go for it.  And, I was mistaken:  the $28 herdshare fee is an annual fee, not a monthly fee, so we're stretching our food budget, but not as far as I thought initially.  For two gallons of milk each week, we'll be paying $76, not $105.  Except that I've also signed up for a share of cream ($10 a pint).  I don't think we'll buy that every week, just once in a while.  We'll see how it goes for a year.  I'd rather invest in supporting local farms than spend that money at the grocery store.  If we determine that it's unaffordable in the future, we'll deal with it then.

While we were there, we also tasted a fresh batch of kombucha. (If you follow that link, be warned:  that really is what it looks like.)  We talked about going to a meeting of the local chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation.  I don't know much about the Weston A Price Foundation, but my impression is that the organization is all about real, local foods, with an emphasis on pastured animals and animal fats (cod liver oil, anyone?).

With all my talk about local foods and raw milk and whatnot, you people probably think we eat pretty healthy at my house.  I mean, even I ask myself, "When did I become the girl who likes plain yogurt with granola for breakfast?"

For the record, these Pumpkin-Pinto Bean Tacos are wicked greasy and they have two kinds of (store-bought) cheese in them.  And, for the record, yesterday I watched my two-year-old happily pour herself a bowl of Frosted Flakes.  The locavore, whole foods side of me was a little bothered, but then I remembered that the day before I had sat her down in front of the TV with a bowl of Frosted Flakes to keep her occupied so that I could take a shower.  My seven-year-old eats Frosted Flakes too.  And school lunches.  And she starts most days with a popsicle, a brightly-colored store-bought popsicle, not a homemade juice pop (though I think I should make those some time, don't you?).  I only allow that because she consistently says she has a sore throat.  And really, is that any worse for her than the cup of coffee most American adults rely on each morning?  Of course, my own personal Ben & Jerry's fetish is no secret.

So just to set the record straight, we're "balanced."


Pumpkin-Pinto Bean Tacos
Because you can put anything in a crispy fried corn tortilla, and call it a taco, right?  
Freshen up the leftovers from Fajita Night (beans, cheese, sauteed peppers, and salsa) with fried tortillas and sweet, earthy roasted pumpkin, or start from scratch:

1.  Prepare pinto beans. Use more oregano, black pepper and salt than you think you need.

2.  Toss half-inch cubes of Cinderella pumpkin flesh with olive oil or coconut oil and plenty of kosher salt.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, turning and stirring once.

3.  Saute sliced onions and sweet peppers in cooking oil.  Set aside.  Fry corn tortillas in your favorite cooking oil until crisp. Sprinkle hot tortillas with salt.

4.  Assembly:  Top each tortilla with beans and pumpkin.  Top with peppers and onions.  Garnish with your favorite cheese.  For some spice add salsa or serve with jalapeno carrots on the side.

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