It seems almost silly to celebrate Mother’s Day. We put so much pressure and emphasis on this one day in particular. Just one day out of the year to praise and pamper the women who gave birth to us. One day dedicated, especially, to the ladies who raised us and put (perhaps still do) our needs in front of theirs, each and every day. One day isn’t enough to show the amount of love and gratitude we have for these women. How could we possibly fit it all into 24 measly little hours? Everyday should be Mother’s Day. After all, they were parents to us every day, not just one day in May when they felt like it. No, they were there holding our hands when we were scared. Feeding us soup when we were sick. Making us laugh when we were sad. Singing us Happy Birthday when everyone else forgot or were to busy to care. These were normal occurrences that happened on the daily and without so much as a thought or hesitation. They were super heroes when we needed them to be because who else would or could be? We know all this and yet we somehow forget that they deserve so much more than just one day out of the 365.
So let’s celebrate their love and dedication everyday. Let’s thank them for being there for us and for all that they did, and still do, more than just once a year. Let’s throw this May day out the window and create our own rules. From now on Mother’s Day is everyday—or subsequently Father’s Day as well—because we owe it to them. Because they deserve it. Because we wouldn’t be here without them.
I could go on record to say that my mother is the best mother any son or daughter could ask for. I could go on and on about the woman who carried me for all those months (as she likes to point out in moments of guilt but I have to remind her that I did her a favor; she only carried me for 7 months). I could reminisce and share stories as to why my mother is the greatest, numero uno, A#1, mother in all the world. Sure, I could do all those things but I’m positive I’m not the only one who feels that way towards their mamma. Also I’m not sure I would even know how or where to begin. So this is dedicated to the woman who taught me everything I know. Dedicated to the days you’d drop me off at school and pick me up. Dedicated to the mornings you’d sing and dance for me to wake up. Dedicated to the moments when you were right (which was like always). To all the answers you had. To the special psychic abilities that freaked me out, the ones only a mother possessed. The jokes you told. The games we played. The meals you cooked. The strength you had. The hardships you survived. Devoted to the days you’d tell me to stop jumping on the bed because I’d get hurt—a handful of stitches above my left eye later—I finally understood you had indescribable super powers to look into the future. Above all this is to the love and commitment you have for your three children. We wouldn’t even be a quarter of the people we are today if it wasn’t for you. Now three grown adults who owe it all to you. With all the love in the world, I thank you.
When I was a child I didn’t really care for fish and chips. Okay if we’re being honest, I hated the dish. Well just the fish, the chips I loved. What kid doesn’t like fries dipped in copious amounts of ketchup? Whenever we’d go on family trips to the beach, on the way back, we’d stop by the local seafood restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway. My mom and older sister would order fish and chips or shrimp and chips or fish tacos. My middle sister and I would end up getting a burger—because um hello burgers are delicious—but it was because we were those bratty kids that threw tantrums and yelled out at the top of our lungs, “Seafood is yucky! I DON’T want smelly fish! I HATE FISH AND CHIPS!!” Then we’d start crying and running around the restaurant throwing things off the tables and knocking people’s trays from their hands. Food would fly everywhere. Everyone would stare at my sister and I running amok and shake their heads and cover their mouths in shock. Okay I really wasn’t like that as a child. It was all my sister! I’d just stand back in horror and astonishment and pretend I wasn’t related to her. I’d join in with the crowd and ask “Who is that crazy animal? Who does she belong to?” Okay that really didn’t happen either. But the burgers, those totally happened, sans tantrums or crazy antics.
As I grew up and realized that seafood wasn’t the enemy, I began to love fish and chips, and not just for the chips. I fell in love with the battered and fried fish as well. Who would have thought? And so began a love affair with seafood. All seafood. Everyday seafood! (But not really because of the high levels of mercury). These days I can’t get enough of seafood and I deny ever getting a burger on those family excursions, while my family ate fish. “What burger? Nick ate the burger, I loved fish and chips. It was my favorite dish!” Thankfully nothing was filmed and they have no proof. Seafood and I were best friends when I was a child. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Now I know that spring is in full effect and we should be eating lighter, healthier, fresher meals. But really, who doesn’t have a soft spot for deep fried beer battered fish? Oh wait, and chips? This guy certainly has the biggest soft spot for it. And hey, at least I didn’t deep fry my chips. They’re oven roasted my friends, so completely healthy right? I’m doing my part for spring. Now go make some fish and chips and invite me over, I promise I won’t throw a tantrum.
I think that sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to planning and making dinner day after day. We stress out way too much over something that shouldn’t be stressful at all. When it all boils down to it (pun intended) cooking shouldn’t be complicated. In fact, it should be fun and enjoyable. That can be easily accomplished by simply turning on some music and drinking a glass (maybe two or three) of wine while you cook. That would totally make any task more enjoyable, to be quite honest. Mowing the lawn with a glass of wine. Vacuuming the house with a glass of wine. Reading a book with a glass of wine. Dancing on the kitchen counters with a glass of wine. Oh, if you’re completing all those tasks while drinking, you’ll definitely end up dancing on those kitchen counters. But we’re talking about dinner here. So let’s talk about dinner. Week after week we wrack our brains so as to come up with something new and exciting to make for ourselves, our family and our friends. We’d like nothing more than to make something different. Something we’ve never cooked before, but above all, something that is easy to whip up and doesn’t take long before we get to devour the end result. More and more we find ourselves in a cooking rut and are so desperately trying to get out of it. We face the inevitable question, mostly asked to us, “What is for dinner tonight?”
We peruse the grocery store aisles looking for inspiration. What calls out to us? No doubt the same boring recipes we always make, week after week. The similar humdrum dishes that have no pizzazz (yes I just said pizzazz. I’m bringing it back. Tell all your friends). More often than not, I end up making everyday a Taco Tuesday. It’s my go-to dinner idea. In my defense, you can wrap anything in a tortilla and top it with cheese and guacamole and you’d have yourself a prey-ty fantastic dinner. But when the awful day comes when you’re tired of tacos (gasp!!), hamburgers (what?!), and pizza (never!!) and they just don’t call out to you anymore like they used to, then the time has come to step out of your comfort zone to make something deliciously simple. But what is this delectably effortless dish I speak of? Well, roasted shrimp-stuffed poblanos of course. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you incorporate shrimp and cheese into any dish, you’ll have a winning recipe, hands down. Without a doubt. Not to mention a satisfied crowd. But if you’re cooking for just yourself, well then, you my friend are the luckiest of us all because you don’t have to share your stuffed peppers with anyone. We envy you because you have more for yourself to enjoy. After all, my days are spent contemplating how I can eat all the food without sharing. I’ve yet to come up with a good solution for that one. One day though, one day (insert evil laugh here).
I know what you’re thinking, “Nachos aren’t an Irish dish Jonathan. This isn’t something traditionally served in Ireland.” And you’re right. Nachos are a Mexican/Tex-Mex treat. But when it all boils down to it, nachos are freaking delicious no matter where they are served or what they are called. I’m referring to these, as “Irish” nachos because of some of the ingredients I decided to use. I’m recipe re-mixing this bad boy. Throwing out the old and boring—not really I still love regular nachos—and bringing in the new and exciting. We now get to enjoy this classic snack and appetizer with a delicious twist. We should be dancing for joy. Screaming from the top of our lungs. Let’s rejoice and declare it a national holiday. Okay, I think I’ve made my point.
So what makes these nachos so special? What sets them apart from all the rest? What transforms them into “Irish” nachos? It’s not because I think I’m so fancy and I felt the need for an elaborate name, no that’s not it. Okay, maybe only part of the reason. I’m not Irish and I’ve never been to Ireland, so I’m not an expert, although I wish I were. The biggest switch up is that I ditched the tortilla chips. Gone. No more. Get out of here, thank you for coming. Instead this delicious snack starts with potatoes. Doesn’t get any more Irish than that, folks. And if it does, lie to me. Play along and let’s pretend that I’m right or that I’m making sense…for once. But I don’t stop there, no. I also used an Irish cheddar cheese. What?! This is madness! I know! (If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out. I demand that you stop everything you are doing now and go to the cheese section of your local specialty store and find it. But really, finish reading this first and then go get it). I also decided to use sausage instead of beef because I figure perhaps in Ireland people prefer sausage over steak or chicken or something. I know I do.
So I ask you my friends, what can be better than a large skillet of potatoes drenched in a cheese sauce, topped with browned sausage, sprinkled with tomatoes and scallions and jalapeños, dabbled with guacamole, drizzled with sour cream and garnished with cilantro? If you said “Nothing! Nothing!!” then you are right. You deserve a prize. Hey! How about Irish nachos for everyone?! In case I haven’t convinced you yet, well, let’s just take another gander at these images. We don’t even need to go any further into this post, we can stop right here. This is where the party is at. Whip out a fork. Let’s dig in.
Now that I’ve tormented you with that up there, how about we get started on our Irish nachos? What do we need, what do we need? Well let me show you. It’s a rather simple dish. It doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or special equipment, aside from that Irish cheddar which incidentally if you can’t find don’t fret. Normal everyday cheddar will be just fine. Food like this should be easy to whip up so that you can make it multiple times a week and gorge on it because it tastes so amazing. You’ll thank me for this later, believe me.
Good things come in twos is what I always say. Wait, that’s not right. I’m getting my sayings mixed up. I think it’s, “two is better than one” and “good things come in threes,” is what I always say. Yup, that’s it. That sounds about right. Two is definitely waaaaay better than one. And just in case you don’t believe me, I’ll give you some examples. Prime examples of course. For instance, why settle for one doughnut when you can have two? Why only drink one beer when you can have another? And why stare at just one pretty face when you can gawk at two? (I’m totally kidding on that last one…only one of us has a pretty face). With that being said, this weekend I had the pleasure to collaborate with the beautiful and mega-talented Joy Wilson (she’s the one with the pretty face in case you were wondering) from Joy the Baker dot com. I’ve gotten so used to cooking and working and shooting and cleaning alone in my own kitchen that I often forget how nice it is to cook and work and shoot and clean alongside someone else in their kitchen. You get that chance to feed off each other’s ideas and to see what their work process entails. You learn something new through the entire operation and I can happily say I most certainly did. What makes the whole experience even more worthwhile is that I normally wouldn’t have learned all these things if I hadn’t cooked with my friend. If I had just made these things on my own, I wouldn’t have learned much, really. There’d be no insight into another person’s train of thought. The benefits of getting in the kitchen with friends and family is far too grand to not give it a try every now and then, take my word for it folks.
Although we were “working” it didn’t feel like that at all. We were just two friends enjoying each other’s company having a good time, eating and drinking and laughing. And in the end isn’t that what cooking is all about? To me, cooking is so much more than just a chore getting into the kitchen and making something to eat because you have to in order to survive so you won’t starve to death. It’s really a hobby. An entertaining activity. Something I love to do and am truly passionate about. So of course it was exciting to collaborate with someone who has the same passion for food with the same penchant for capturing and sharing it.
Friends, insanely delicious food, and refreshing cocktails; Let me tell you, life doesn’t get any better than this.