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Oaxacan Tacos

Y'all know I have become a home-body. Basically sealed-up inside the house while a crew of workers re-side our poor old house. I occasionally escape to make my "circuit": pedicure place, needlepoint shop and to the best grocer in the entire country - New Seasons Market

I get a ridiculous amount of joy walking through the aisles of New Seasons Market. It's like a field trip to heaven for me. Fresh organic produce piled high. Smiling people anxious to help and answer my questions. Many employees (especially the wine staff!) know us by name. Cheeses from Oregon and from around the world. A world-class bakery, a little restaurant and a well-stocked deli counter. The market pride themselves by offering fresh local meats and last Friday they had their cattle ranchers situated in several of the stores... like a meet & greet... or would that be a meat & greet?

My particular rancher was actually wearing a plaid shirt, cowboy hat and cowboy boots! (His wife was dressed a little more for City Life, as they ranch in the very top right corner of Oregon and had to drive over 6 hours to reach the Portland area... and I bet she was going to a mall. Any mall.) We discussed their ranching practices, GMO-free feeds, grass-feeding regimens and all sorts of topics. We talked about our grandchildren and I told them about Leo's farm-themed birthday party. After I left the store - with a pound of his ground beef - I wondered if farm families have city-themed birthday parties for their kids? Do they bring in a Starbucks coffee cart? Hire a taxi for rides? Pay a graffiti artist to face paint?

I probably shouldn't wonder.

Anyway, I have been experimenting with adding cacao to my usual Mexican spices and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try my blend with grass-fed non-GMO Oregon beef. I hope you will try this (kinda exotic) spice blend the next time you want a taco.

Oaxaca (wah-haw-ka) is a state in southern Mexico, known for ancient ruins, the indigenous Zapotec people and seven fabulous mole sauces. The sauces (pronouncedMO-lay) are simmered for hours to develop the flavor combination of spices, chiles and, often, chocolate. Yep. Chocolate. Oaxaca grows cacao.

This quick RV-friendly recipe is not authentic in any way. It is not simmered for hours. It only requires a few Oaxaca-inspired herbs and spices to be blended together and tossed with sauteed ground beef, lamb or even goat... and while I think about it... cooked cubed potatoes for a vegan/vegetarian version.

The flavor is savory and deep, so don't mess it up with a lot of toppings on your tacos - cilantro and onion solo, por favor.

1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 or 2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons unsweetened (baking) cocoa powder
pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Olive or vegetable oil
One pound ground beef (5 or 10% fat)
2 cloves garlic, minced*
Juice of one lime

warm tortillas
fresh cilantro leaves
chopped red onion

Mix the salt, paprika, chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, cocoa powder, cinnamon and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir to blend. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over a medium flame. Coat bottom lightly with oil, then saute the ground meat with the garlic until just cooked through. (Drain to remove excess fat, if desired.) Sprinkle spice mixture over all, stir well to completely coat the meat with the spices, about one minute. Sprinkle lime juice over all. Remove from heat. Serve immediately in warm tortillas and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and red onion. Serves 4.

Oaxacan Tacos are nice served with fresh fruit or a tomato and avocado salad.

*NOTES: If you don't have garlic, add a teaspoon of garlic powder to the spice mix. If your family doesn't like hot spice, use only one teaspoon ground chipotle powder. (I use two.)

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DT is going to have to hold-down the fort now. I am flying to Los Angeles Monday on a one-way ticket. I am on Official Bubbe Duty beginning Monday evening as Baby Girl should be making her appearance any day now. I will be helping with Leo (and Reese) and probably preparing meals. Laundry. Grocery shopping. Errands. Etc. Bubba will fly down when Lisa goes to the hospital and hopefully we will fly home together a week or so after the birth.

But who knows? Thus, the one-way ticket.

Until my next update, I remain, your anxious correspondent.