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Furniture Free

No, not “free furniture”. Well, not yet, anyway. But keep your eyes open, because we may just give away our sofas in the near future! Until then, I want to share with you a very exciting new blog discovery. It’s called http://www.katysays.com, and the blogger is a biomechanist and mom who writes about healthy bodies, alignment, and a whole bunch of other amazing, fascinating things. And she lives (mostly) furniture-free with her family. As soon as I read this article, I made sure it was all set up nice for Fireman to read, and then not-so-subtly put it right in front of his face.

And waited. With bated breath.

HE LOVED IT! Ah, I love this man who happily joins me on my hippie endeavours. Of course, neither of us are jumping on Craigslist to give away our furniture (yet) but the ideas are percolating. Most of the world’s population lives without sofas, tables, and chairs – why can’t we? Imagine how much SPACE we would have! Imagine how fun and adventurous it would be! So we started by pushing our kitchen table against the wall, leaving a huge space in the kitchen (great for mini-stick hockey, says B!) and allowing us to spread out a blanket and eat on the floor for meals. Just like they do in Afghanistan! (And many other countries, but I just finished a great book about a girl in Afghanistan).

Here is a video tour of Katy Bowman’s house: http://www.katysays.com/furniture-free-ahs13/

Tonight, dinner was our first picnic. And dinner was DELISH. I made Smoked Salmon Asparagus Pasta and it was healthy, easy, and quite delicious if I do say so myself. In fact, everyone gobbled it up. Including K, who is our fussiest eater. I’ll share the recipe and I encourage you to spread out a blanket and eat it on the floor🙂

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Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 package of pasta (organic brown rice pasta is my favourite, but any pasta will do!)
  • 2-3 TBSP butter
  • 2 large or 3 smaller green onions, finely chopped (makes approx. 1/2 cup)
  • half a bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • zest of one lemon (optional)
  • 1-2 cups of whole milk or cream
  • approx 1/4 cup cream cheese (organic if possible. Island farms is a good non-organic option. Or make your own by straining yogurt through a cheesecloth overnight, and adding some salt!)
  • a chunk of smoked salmon (often called BBQ Salmon Tips) about 200g-400g
  • a few handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
  2. Wash your asparagus and trim the ends. Put in the boiling water and could for 1-4 minutes, depending on the thickness. You want them bright green.
  3. Once they’re cooked, remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and if they’re absolutely perfect, run them under cold water to avoid overcooking. Or you can take them out a little early, put them on a plate, and allow them to continue cooking a little as they cool.
  4. Return the water to a boil and cook the pasta as directed.
  5. Meanwhile, finely chop your green onions and parsley. Heat your butter in a pan on medium heat.
  6. Chop your asparagus into 1-2 inch pieces and throw in the pan, tossing to coat with the butter.
  7. Add the onions and parsley and lemon rind (if you’re using it) and cook for a minute or two.
  8. Check your pasta. Once it’s cooked, drain, but don’t rinse it. You need it to have a little extra starch to thicken the sauce.
  9. Add 1 cup of milk/cream to the pan, as well as the cream cheese. Don’t bother measuring the cream cheese, just put four tablespoon-sized glops, then stir to melt and incorporate with the milk/cream.
  10. If the pasta is done, add that to your pan and mix.
  11. Break or chop the smoked salmon into bite-sized pieces and add that too.
  12. If you want to increase the veggies, chop some spinach and add that too, ensuring everything is heated and that the spinach wilts a little. If it isn’t saucy enough, add more milk.
  13. Season with salt and pepper. If your kids don’t like pepper, make sure you have it at the table for adults, because it’s a must in my opinion!

Lettuce Wraps

My friends. The recipe that follows is a recipe that will change your life. You will never want to eat anything else again. If you were on a deserted island, THIS is the meal you would choose, and you would not regret it.

I love combining multiples textures and flavours to create a party in my mouth. This meal has it all. Crunchy, chewy, crispy, velvety, sweet, salty, tangy…the list goes on.

Now, this is a throw-together easy-going one-pot sorta meal, so don’t worry about quantities, okay? It’s a little mix ‘n’ match, and that’s what’s fun.

You may want to plan to double or triple this recipe, because tomorrow at breakfast you’ll wish you were eating it. And at lunch. And dinner. Plus, the filling freezes really well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • soy sauce
  • fish sauce (it’s an Asian condiment that is absolutely worth having in your fridge if you like chinese food. Add a bit to fried rice and it’ll taste exactly like takeout!)
  • toasted sesame oil (you can certainly make this recipe without this ingredient, but it adds a great flavour if you have some on hand!)
  • a good-sized package of coleslaw or some finely sliced cabbage…but I’m not sure how much cabbage, because I did the pre-sliced bag. So, chop maybe half the cabbage? Or maybe the whole one…basically, once it’s chopped, take the sliced cabbage in your hands, and it would be about the size of your child’s head.
  • 1 can of sliced water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped.
  • 1-2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed, or a tsp. of garlic powder
  • a chunk of fresh ginger about the same size as the garlic (finely chopped or crushed in your garlic press) or 1/2 a tsp of ground ginger
  • leftover brown rice if you’ve got it. Two cups is great.

Garnishes:

  • little handful of cilantro
  • 2-3 large carrots, grated
  • hoisin sauce
  • peanut butter or other nut/seed butter
  • a package of ramen noodles.
  • don’t forget lettuce

Easy version: fry up the ingredients. Serve in lettuce. Top with garnishes. Eat.

Detailed version:

  1. Get a nice big cast iron frying pan (any frying pan or even a dutch oven will do, but I have a massive cast iron frying pan that I love deeply, so I’m gonna recommend you use something like that!)
  2. Throw your chicken in and cook it up. Add some oil if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, open and drain the water chestnuts and chop finely. Push them to the side of the cutting board and peel/chop your ginger. Or just peel, quarter, and stick it in your garlic press to save time.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, add the chopped cabbage, water chestnuts, ginger, and garlic, and cook until the cabbage is translucent.
  5. Say “translucent” out loud and enjoy how it rolls of your tongue. It’s a fun word.
  6. Add some fish sauce (like ten good shakes?) and some soy sauce (more than you did the fish sauce, but not so much that everything tastes really soy-sauce-y), and a little bit of sesame oil.
  7. Chop your green onion finely and add it to the pan.
  8. Add cooked brown rice if you’ve got it. This is a great way to extend the meal if you have a big family or just like to be a little frugal. Also makes it a little more filling!
  9. Mix everything around and adjust seasonings to suit your tastes.
  10. Turn the frying pan down to low while you get everything else ready.
  11. Wash the lettuce. Romaine works wonderfully because you just fill the leaves like ‘boats’. Iceberg is more traditional for lettuce wraps and is crunchier. I’ve also heard butter lettuce can be good. My kids prefer lettuce wrap bowls, (they’re much less messy) so I chop up the lettuce for them and serve the filling on top, like taco salad, but not Mexican.
  12. If you like cilantro, chop that up to serve as a garnish.
  13. Wash, peel, and grate your carrots with a large-size grater. Like, the kind you’d use for cheese. This gives you some good crunch. Put it in a bowl. It’ll go on top of the filling in your wrap.
  14. Mix hoisin sauce and peanut butter together. Roughly half and half, or maybe 2/3 hoisin to 1/3 peanut butter. Add some soy sauce to thin it out, and even a little water to make it thin enough to pour. Depends a lot on your brand of hoisin.
  15. Crunch up your ramen noodles. You know, like, Mr. Noodles? Or Ichiban. Anyone remember the old Ichiban commercials? So good.
  16. Put everything on the table and make sure you have good-sized plates to catch the mess! To make a lettuce wrap, grab a piece of lettuce, fill with the meat/cabbage mixture, top with grated carrot and cilantro (if desired – it’s really good either way), add crushed uncooked ramen noodles, and drizzle with the hoisin peanut sauce (or you can use the sauce to dip).

I’m so glad I just ate that meal. It was so good. So, so good. Everyone in the family loved it.

A side note about rice: I started making big batches of rice and freezing it so I can have rice on hand in an instant. I soak 2.5 cups of brown rice in filtered water with a little bit of yogurt or whey overnight. In the morning, I rinse the rice and put in my 8-cup rice cooker with 5 cups of water. This is the maximum amount I can fit. If you have a bigger rice cooker, go bigger! Once the rice is cooked, I scoop it onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop (a 1/2 cup or 1-cup measure also works). Then I pop it in the freezer, making ‘rice pucks’ which I then transfer to a freezer bag. Then I have soaked, cooked brown rice on hand for a quick lunch (my son likes it with melted cheese and salsa, my daughter likes it with butter and salt) or to add to soups or these lovely lettuce wraps!

Breakfast Bake

Oh. My. Word.

Woke up this morning and decided to exercise some breakfast creativity. While I was sick, Fireman seemed to have gone on a cold cereal binge. There are boxes of flakes, oats, puffs…even granola.

I love cold cereal. But I firmly believe it does not belong on a breakfast menu. It’s generally full of sugar and weird unknown ingredients, possesses very little protein, and aside from the odd sweetened dried berry it has zero fruits or vegetables.

It’s delicious, but it’s dessert. Maybe an afternoon pick-me-up or a good little snack before bed.

Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and regardless of whether it’s the most important, it’s a meal. And cold cereal is not a meal!

At some point in the last hundred years, I think North Americans decided to let Santa’s Elves dictate what was appropriate breakfast fare. Flat little cakes with syrup? Or wait, let’s put big dents in them to hold more syrup, or top them with whipped cream! Bread dipped in egg, fried, and THEN doused in syrup? Doughnuts? Muffins? Scones? Pop tarts!? Cereal with little dried marshmallows?? Or how ’bout cereal BARS? Sugary cake stuffed with sugary jam! Or how ’bout chocolately protein shake mixes so we can drink milkshakes for breakfast!

It’s almost ingrained in us that breakfast should be sweet. Meanwhile, people in China are eating fried rice for breakfast. And people in India are eating curries.

Fried rice is one of my favourite breakfasts. Or any leftover dinner, really.

But I haven’t totally gotten my family on board with the dinner-for-breakfast idea. And sometimes oatmeal is a great way to start the day…even if it is topped with sugar. Or berries. Mmmm, or cinnamon. A little butter and salt add a great dimension to plain ol’ oatmeal.

OR…I could get back to the original point of this post, and tell you about the amazing oatmeal berry cake I made for breakfast! Low sugar, eggs for protein, and lots of berries and oats. It was a win-win-win-win. My family got cake for breakfast, and I got to serve them a fairly balanced meal.

Here’s the recipe:

http://apple-of-my-eye.com/2014/05/02/baked-honey-berry-oatmeal/

I used unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk. Actually, I made it ‘buttermilk-y’ by doing about 1.5 cups of almond milk and half a cup of plain yogurt. Mixed that together just to add some extra moisture and deliciousness. Not necessary, though. I just particularly love buttermilk in any sort of cake or muffin. I also used coconut oil instead of butter, and coconut sugar. I was extremely generous with my cinnamon and vanilla, because I don’t think you can ever add too much! I skipped the nuts because we didn’t have any. And I used three eggs, but next time I think I might even try 4. That’s my favourite part about this breakfast – good protein to start the day! Also, the first time I made it, I found her timing way too short. It took almost 45 minutes for the cake to be solid. Then I realized maybe it was a bit dry and it doesn’t need to be entirely solid. So the next time, I baked for maybe half an hour? My requirement was that the eggy moisture on top was gone. It doesn’t have to be solid in the middle, though. Make sure the edges have a decent solid-ness to them, though. OH, and grease the pan generously with butter. It makes the edges a little crispy and super yummy!

Then, the part that added a whole other delicious dimension of perfection? A garnish, of course! I love sauces and toppings. So I served the cake with plain yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup on top. It was amazing. I could eat this all day!

UPDATE: A friend of mine asked about soaking the oats. Of course! I’m a big fan of soaking/sprouting grains before consuming, and I highly recommend the book, Nourishing Traditions. So, I think what I’ll do next time, is add 1/2 cup of yogurt to the oats, more if necessary, and let it soak for a little while (or overnight). Then I’ll do 1.5 cups of almond milk. This recipe isn’t super fussy, so if you add a little more or less moisture, you’ll be okay. By the way, I used 4 eggs last time I made it, and it was good, but a tad eggy. Still really good, so I think I’ll stick with four, but if you’re making it for the first time, or for company, maybe just go with 3.

Enchilada Soup

Made this soup tonight. It was amazing!

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/slow-cooker-chicken-enchilada-soup-recipe/%20http://

I’ve tried a few recipes for enchilada sauce, and her recipe is my favourite:

http://www.gimmesomeoven.com/red-enchilada-sauce/

I did a quadruple batch and froze the extras so next time I really can just throw everything in the crock-pot.

For recipe changes, I used thighs instead of breasts. I had two packages, which came to three pounds, but for the rest of the soup I just doubled it the recipe. Perfect for my meat-loving man. I didn’t have enough beans to double them, so I just used half the beans but a bit more corn and it was great. Oh, and I sauteed the onions first. I once made a slow-cooker soup where the onions were not fully cooked, so I made sure they were soft before adding them. I’d love to know if I could skip that step, but I really don’t want to make a whole pot of soup with raw onions floating on top! So I’ve resigned myself to sauteing them even though it’s against my Crock-pot Beliefs. (Which are: if the crock-pot makes things so easy, why do half the recipes out there require searing, sauteing, or pre-cooking the ingredients!? I will not use a slow-cooker recipe that does not actually make my life easier. I need to be able to dump, turn on, and go. Except for sauteing onions for soups.)

Anyway, this is a recipe that really doesn’t need any significant changes for me to love it and make it. The aspect that keeps you coming back for more, is the garnish. Definitely definitely have fresh cilantro on hand, as well as sour cream (or yogurt). Torilla chips and grated cheese are also really good, and make this dish especially kid-friendly. But the sour cream and cilantro are a must!

Apple Pie

When I imagine my ideal, dream life, it usually looks something like Little House on the Prairie. Living in a handmade log home, heated by a fire, lit by lanterns, surrounded by trees and grass. No computers. No cars. No TV. No noise. No buzzing lights or fridges. No hum from the furnace. Just quiet. The sound of birds, rain, light breezes, wood crackling in the fire, and my manly man chopping wood out back. No stinky smog or the sickly smell of phthlalate-laden laundry detergent wafting out of the dryer vents of every house on the block. Instead, I’m surrounded by the smell of cedar and pine, of wood smoke, of freshly baked bread. The smell of cows and horses and straw. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century. Or at least the wrong decade.

One thing I imagine about my Little House on the Prairie self, is that I’d be able to whip up a pie like nobody’s business. Like, an afterthought. I’d look outside, note the angle of the shadows, and realize it would be a wee bit longer until Pa was in from the fields. Just enough time to whip up a pie for dessert. “Easy as pie” would actually mean that something was easy.

I don’t really do pies. I’ve done them before, and they were pretty good, but pastry makes me nervous and pies generally feel like a LOT of work. And I don’t really love pie. Mostly because when I eat it, it has been purchased from a store and is laden with un-pronounceable (impronounceable? non-pronouceable? I don’t know, you get the idea) ingredients. The filling is sickly sweet and the crust is dry and bland. So…I don’t really eat pie. Or make it. We’re kind of a pie-free house.

Or we WERE.

Enter: tortilla pie! Yay! Still with a few un-pronouceable ingredients, but largely home-made, using real butter, and very little sugar. I got the recipe here, but found it a little sweet and a little too…tortilla-esque. It just didn’t taste pie-ish. So this time I used sweeter apples (gala and ambrosia) and didn’t bother peeling them (the peel gets soft and cooks with the apples so might as well keep it on – just wash them well!), I reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup coconut sugar, and… AND (here is the clincher) I brushed each tortilla with melted butter inside, before adding the filling. Then I rolled ’em up, stuffed them into the pan, brushed with butter on the outside, sprinkled with sugar, and stacked more rolls on top. I generously greased the pan with butter so the bottoms of the tortilla rolls got sort of crispy. We ate them warm with vanilla ice cream. They were so. very. good. A perfect combination of buttery and sweet. The outsides of the tortillas were a little bit crispy, the insides soft and chewy. The apples were sweet and the ice cream was…creamy. It’s an amazing blend of textures and flavours, and it really IS as easy as pie!

Quick Herby Prawn Pasta

Fireman came home after work today (he works Saturdays but has Mondays off) to zero dinner. I just couldn’t wrap my head around another meal. Saturday, which is the end of the week for us, tends to be that way for me. I’m done. Order a pizza or miraculously produce some sort of delicious, healthy dinner, just don’t make me cook.

Well, Fireman didn’t catch on to the pizza vibe I was telepathically sending him. Which is good, because I really didn’t want to order pizza, I just didn’t want to cook. Instead, he came home, grabbed some pasta, and asked me what he could make with it. Together we (by ‘we’ I mean I verbalized ideas and he did all the work) created an awesome pasta dish that he will hopefully re-create EVERY Saturday night!

Ingredients:

  • prawns
  • broccoli
  • pasta (after trying spaghetti, we decided fusili/rotini is best)
  • butter
  • parsley
  • green onions
  • fresh spinach
  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • white pepper
  • salt
  • ‘Better Than Bullion’
  • maybe some fresh spinach and garlic to saute with the butter and herbs.
  1. Grab frozen cooked prawns from freezer and run under water to defrost.
  2. Put a pasta-sized pot of water on the stove to boil. And a small pot with a steamer.
  3. Wash and chop some broccoli and steam it when the water is ready. Remove the steamer, but leave the broccoli water in the pot. You want to have about a cup or two.
  4. Cook pasta. Organic brown rice rotini is my favourite with this dish, but any pasta will work.
  5. Put a frying pan on the stove and turn the heat to med/high. Throw the prawns in with the intention of evaporating some of the excess water in them.
  6. When the prawns are sizzling a bit, add a good lump or two of butter and stir it around.
  7. Finely chop a big handful of parsley and at least three green onions. And two big handfuls of spinach.
  8. Throw herbs into the pan and mix. Add lots of salt. Add the chopped spinach.
  9.  Add a scoop of ‘Better Than Bullion’ to your hot broccoli water. Put it on high. If you’ve got 2 cups of water, you’ll want about a tablespoon of bullion. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder and about 3/4 of a teaspoon of white pepper. (More if your kids don’t despise a little kick!)
  10. When the pasta is all cooked, reserve a cup or so of the starchy water. Drain the pasta but don’t rinse it. Now add it in with the buttery herbed prawns. Mix mix mix.
  11. Add the broccoli to the pan as well.
  12. Now pour the bullion water over the pasta and mix some more. If it’s too runny, add some starchy water until it’s to your liking. Make sure you didn’t forget anything. Add some more spinach if it’s not green enough for ya.

Nom nom nom. This was sooooo good. Definitely gonna be part of our regular meal rotation. Which probably means I’ll make it every week (or more) and then we’ll all get sick of it because we’re eating it too often. And then I’ll be out of dinner ideas once again and scouring Pinterest for something yummy, healthy, and easy. Tough combination. Yummy and healthy usually isn’t easy. Yummy and easy usually isn’t healthy! And healthy and easy tends to be not very yummy. Sigh.

First world problems…

Fish Tacos

I love fish tacos. I used to think the idea was kind of gross. Fish? In a taco? Give me good ol’ ground beef any day.

Until someone explained that “fish tacos” are not tacos. They’re a whole different species altogether. They are not fish in a taco. Tacos are spicy, cheesy, sour-creamy, and they have lettuce in them. Fish tacos are light, fresh, limey, and they have cabbage in them. And they are best with a magical cilantro cream sauce.

The first time I had a fish taco, I was on a mission to try them. We were walking along the ‘strip’ of a beach town nearby and stopping at every restaurant to check their menu for fish tacos. Most of the restaurants served fish and chips or fancy food. The ones with fish tacos seemed to have a special twist on their tacos and I was looking for something I had seen Adam Sandler eat in a movie once. It was an obscure movie where he’s depressed and goes around town on a Segway. And at some point, he eats a fish taco and it looks delicious. It was small, and I thought it was crunchy looking, so I was looking for a hard shell and that threw me off. Anyway we eventually settled on a restaurant and the waiter set me straight regarding the shell (it’s soft and small) and even recommended his personal twist of requesting deepfried fish instead of grilled. It was heavenly fish taco perfection. It had magic green cilantro cream sauce. It had thin crunchy cabbage and deep-fried fish and it might have had avocado too. No fish taco I’ve tried since has ever compared.

A fish taco is a delicate matter. It can be done wrong. Fish + cabbage + tortilla does not automatically equal deliciousness. The first time I made them at home, they were terrible. The recipe called for “slaw” made with cabbage and lime juice. And nothing else. That is not slaw. That’s sour cabbage. And the cilantro cream sauce was sour cream, chopped cilantro, and more lime. That makes sour green yogurt! So, if you think you dislike fish tacos, I urge you to keep trying. The good ones are out there, and they are GOOD.

Anyway, back to the present. I’m pregnant. I was sick and eating nothing but toast. Now I’m better. And I’m HUNGRY. I haven’t eaten normal food in almost three months! And I’m craving seafood like nobody’s business! Prawns, grilled salmon, fish & chips – you name it. If it swam in the ocean, I want to eat it. So I decided to try making fish tacos again. This time I headed to Pinterest, knowing what to avoid (lime slaw and lime yogurt) but not entirely sure what I was looking for. Eventually I combined a few recipes and found something that I’m pretty happy with. I definitely didn’t make the  perfect, heavenly fish taco, but what I did create was a flavour/texture extravaganza that was pretty great.

1. Fish. Make lots. There won’t be leftovers. I did pre-packaged beer-battered fish fillets the first night. Not very natural. Not healthy. Not cheap. But they tasted great and my kids were all over them. A few nights later, this darn baby wanted MORE fish tacos, so I tried again. This time, I used plain old cod. I beat a couple of farm-fresh, free-range eggs, dipped the cod in the egg, and then dredged it in a mixture of flour, cornmeal, and taco seasoning. Then I fried it in a pan with avocado oil. I couldn’t be bothered to make it look pretty, so eventually I just threw all the pieces of cod in the pan and broke them up to make a slightly battered, fried, pan full of cod bits. It was perfect!

2. Tortillas. This is not a time to go whole-grain, my friends. And don’t do authentic corn, either. You need some small, round, WHITE tortillas. Organic is great, but just do what you need to do. I don’t recommend reading the ingredients. Just buy them and enjoy. If you can’t find small, the large ones will do, but next time plan ahead because the small ones lend themselves to a better fish taco experience. With big ones it’s more of a fish burrito and it’s just not the same. When everything is ready to go, you want to throw these bad boys in the oven at 350 for 20-30 seconds. Just enough for them to get big air bubbles, but not go crispy. Well, a little crisp is okay, but mostly soft.

3. Mango salsa. I used frozen mango from Costco. Thaw a few handfuls then chop really fine. Add some chopped bell peppers if you like, maybe a bit of red onion, even some tomatoes if you love them. And then chop some cilantro and mix it all together. Oh, and add lime juice! Two tablespoons if you want a measurement. Or two squirts if you have a bottle and can’t be bothered to find the tablespoon. This is probably one of the things you want to do first so the flavours have time to marinate. So, change this to #1.

4. Cabbage slaw. Buy a bag of coleslaw. Or buy a cabbage and slice it all thin and lovely if you enjoy being in the kitchen more than I do. Or if you’re more fiscally responsible. And if you’re not OCD about thinly sliced cabbage. Or perhaps you’re even more OCD than I am and can’t handle the odd chunk in the bagged stuff! Either way, get some nice, thin, sliced cabbage. Now take a medium-sized bowl, glop about 1 cup of yogurt and a 1/3 cup of mayo, and add in a teaspoon or two of taco seasoning (or a mix of cumin, coriander, chili powder, and garlic salt). I prefer to eyeball quantities to avoid dishes. My primary goal in the kitchen is “get out fast”. So the less preparing, chopping, and cleaning I have to do, the better. Mix up the sauce and dump in some cabbage. Mix. Dump more cabbage until it’s as saucy as you were hoping it would be. Then dump a little more, because as it marinates, it’ll get saucier. This is also a step that should be done early. Move this to #1 and the mango stuff to #2. I should probably do that. This was actually a ridiculously easy meal but I’m making it all complicated by writing it out like this, aren’t I? I’m sorry.

5. Throw it all on the table with big plates to catch all the messy goodness that might leak out of your taco. My little guy used to cry when his meals got messy, so we explained that the tastiest meals are the messiest and we relish the mess. And when you’re all sad that you’ve eaten the whole taco, you can enjoy the leftovers that have fallen to your plate! Surprise!

6. To assemble, put a warm tortilla on your plate. Put some slaw in the middle. Lots. Then some fish. And some mango salsa. And add a bit more cilantro if you love it. Or if you have a love-hate relationship with it like I do, but find it heavenly in Mexican food. Now, you have a good taco. BUT if you want an extra dimension of flavour, add some regular ol’ salsa. The idea of white fish and tomatoes isn’t really an appealing combination to me, so salsa just seemed wrong. But I added it anyway, and my taco went from good to great. If you got large tortillas, roll it up burrito-style and enjoy. If you got the little ones, just fold them in half as if you’re eating a hard taco shell. While you’re holding it, you might want to add more mango salsa because it’s really good. Oh, and some avocado if you like!

So that’s my first fish taco success. You may have noticed that I didn’t make any magical green cilantro sauce. It’s true. I just couldn’t find a recipe that sounded…magical. It all sounded a bit limey and dull. I found a recipe for ‘baja sauce’ which is sour cream, mayo, and taco seasoning, so I used that instead. One the first night we drizzled it on top, but mixing it into the cabbage was even better.

I’ll probably keep hunting for a recipe that rivals my first fish taco, but maybe it’s like crack – you’re always looking for that illusive first high. Maybe fish tacos are never the same the second time. Such a sad thought. But I won’t let it get me down. Somewhere in internet land, there is a recipe for a cilantro cream sauce that will blow my mind. And I will find it.