Chronicles of Whistling Duck Cottage
Week Nine — New Neighbors and Not Real Enchiladas
Week Thirty-Four of 52-Week Writing Challenge
All Photos by Dennett
Seven very new neighbors greeted me on my Thursday morning walk. I watched mama duck and her babies venture out into the lake, hoping our neighborhood fox would not discover them. Fortunately, the fox frequents the lake I live on which is across the street from the lake that is home to this new family. Still, I worry. I know, circle of life and all that, but my heart would break if I count one less duckling each morning until there are none.
We live less than a mile from a public elementary school. The new school year started on the 14th and since then my 7 AM walks have been considerably less solitary. Now there is a long line of traffic on the main boulevard waiting to turn on the street to the school. Rather than crossing the street wherever I please, I now go obediently to the designated crosswalk and wait for a school crossing guard to wave me across. A little further down the boulevard, high schoolers wait for their bus, often sleeping on the sidewalk causing me to step over their prone bodies or veer into the grass. The first few days, the sullen teenagers ignored my good-morning salutations but, as I remained relentlessly cheerful, they finally started to greet me in return, not as perky as me but increasingly more pleasant with each day, and fewer are sleeping. Perhaps I am annoying them into wakefulness!
After a Thursday evening rainstorm, I was greeted with Friday morning fog that made my walk seem secret and mysterious despite the bumper-to-bumper school traffic.
Walking Friday morning was not a good idea. No, not because of the fog, but because of my back. I have a long history of back problems dating back to a childhood horseback-riding accident. Fortunately, my husband is a talented, although unlicensed, masseuse — just for me. He has a talent for finding the source of pain and slowly eliminating it with massage and gentle pressure. My back was cantankerous the previous weekend causing me to lay low, but it was doing well during the week. Friday I woke up with an unpleasant soreness in my lower back but no actual pain and no pain radiating into my legs. I chose to believe I was simply experiencing post-sleep soreness. I was wrong. The pain increased until I was forced to cut my walk short. I limped home. My husband did what he could to help before I left for work, but the pain increased greatly as the day progressed causing me to leave work two hours early.
On Saturday, our grandchildren came for their weekly visit. Although I was feeling somewhat better, I was far from well. My husband gave me a long massage before preparing buñuelos for breakfast (recipe for buñuelos was in an earlier post).
After eating, the kids and I visited the community pool for an hour, showered, and ran some errands, visiting the mall to look for shoes for my granddaughter. Walking the mall is not easy when experiencing back pain. We found no suitable shoes for her, and I went home with increased pain.
Another lengthy massage, then my husband and I entertained the children with Back to the Future, a movie one year older than their mother. They were delighted and christened it one of their favorite movies — ever. As the final credits rolled, it was time to consider dinner.
My husband made ribs for himself and our grandson and mashed potatoes for everyone. His mashed potatoes are a typical mix of potatoes, milk, butter, salt and pepper with his secret ingredient of cream cheese. The cream cheese transforms them from mundane mashed potatoes to heavenly mashed potatoes.
Since my back was still giving me fits, I chose to make an easy, healthy type of enchilada. Rather than using typical corn-based tortillas, I used these:
My recipe is far from authentic but quick and easy. To make three large tortillas, I mixed 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of green onions, 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese, and 1/4 cup of Newman’s Own Spicy Salsa. This is the ricotta cheese I used:
This is how the cheese mixture looked before I combined it thoroughly.
I then put a generous portion of the cheese mixture in each of three tortilla wraps, arranging the cheese mixture down the middle of each.
Meanwhile, I opened a can of:
Of course, homemade enchilada sauce is acceptable if not preferable, but my back was forcing me to limit my kitchen time.
I covered the bottom of a baking dish with the sauce, leaving the rest for later.
I then rolled up each tortilla wrap and laid them in the sauce with their open sides down.
I poured the rest of the sauce on top of the tortillas and sprinkled more cheese on top.
Then I baked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
The resulting dish is a ooey-gooey cheesy mess that doesn’t look as appetizing as it is! If I were making this dish for only myself, I would add jalapenos to the cheese mixture but my granddaughter is sensitive to spicy foods. Even the canned enchilada sauce was a little too piquant for her tastes so I served her enchiladas with a dollop of sour cream to lessen the almost-nonexistent heat. And, if I had a little more time, I would have added cooked, chopped spinach, which also helps to decrease the spiciness. Although, honestly folks, this is not a spicy dish!
Before my back pain started Friday, I was planning to make this pico de gallo recipe by Sarah Charles that I found on Medium:
Unfortunately, I was not up to tackling it this week, but it’s on my menu for next week! Maybe I will make the same enchiladas but use spinach with the cheese. Although my grandson munched on a rib, he also tried half an enchilada and said he would definitely like to have one as his entree another day.
After dinner, we all watched the horror unfolding in Texas as Hurricane Harvey continued its relentless attack on the Texas coast. I am a weather junkie. Any kind of unusual weather leaves me glued to The Weather Channel. I use those moments to teach my grandchildren about all types of weather cycles, global warming (Yes, it is real, Mr. Trump!), and what we can do to lessen the devastation caused by storms and other disastrous weather occurrences. There are teachable moments everywhere if you simply pay attention.