(Becky, the Mama.)
Yesterday I heard a loud thump followed by a yell outside my kitchen window. I rushed out to see my husband Greg lying on the patio, telling me he twisted his ankle. “Don’t move!” I said, “I’m coming down there to help you.”
I really did mean to scoot down and cradle his head in my lap. I really did not mean to kick him hard in the temple with my knee in the process. Thankfully, Greg wasn’t so wounded that he lost his sense of humor: he pretended I knocked him unconscious. He was able to walk on the ankle in just a few minutes, but I still wonder if it was just a heroic attempt to save himself from my further attempts to help him.
My record for doing good, and no harm, in a medical emergency is a little bit uneven. When my son Zeke was about thirteen, he cut his leg badly while we were in a shopping center parking lot. I started throwing everything I could find in the car on his leg to stop the bleeding and then drove him to the emergency room. As the nurse took off layer after layer: a towel, napkins from fast food restaurants, a clean diaper, and some grass clippings… she looked up at me quizzically and asked, “Becky, were you trying to smother the wound?”
On the other hand, I once expertly performed the Heimlich maneuver on a woman who was choking in the women’s restroom. Just as calm as you please, I walked into her stall where she had been coughing and banging on the door, and was now turning blue.I told her not to worry, that I was going to do the Heimlich (that I’d heretofore only seen done on TV). Somehow I did, and out popped a piece of pineapple from her mouth. As soon as she could breathe normally again,she announced to everyone around that I had saved her life.
Maybe I’m better in life-threatening situations than I am in more minor emergencies. A nurturing person at heart, I wonder sometimes if I could have made a good nurse. My husband says, “You would have been a wonderful nurse, Becky. Your patients would have loved you and you would have kept them laughing and smiling…. right before you accidentally killed them.” It is true. I can’t keep up with my own cell phone or purse on a daily basis, so keeping track of med dosing schedules for patients would have certainly been a crap shoot.
I’ve probably made better and safer use of my nurturing nature by caring for ailing folks through gifts of home cooking. I woke up from a nap the other day with the idea for this dish dancing in my head. It was even better than I imagined it would be. It uses simple ingredients that most of us have on hand, but arranges them in a way that looks like big, colorful Mexican flower in a pie pan. It would be a wonderful dish to take to a friend who has twisted their ankle, cut their leg or been kneed in the head by a clumsy do-gooder.
Fiesta Tortilla Flower Pie
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
1 t. olive oil
4 medium sized flour tortillas, cut 3 of them in half, leaving one whole
1 lb lean ground beef or buffalo meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. can pinto beans drained (I had leftover home-cooked one) but not rinsed
½ cup thick salsa (I used “On the Border” brand)
¼ cup thick bbq sauce (I used “Sweet Baby Ray’s”)
1 t. grill or steak seasoning (or ½ t. salt and ½ t pepper)
½ t.Cajun seasoning (I like Tony’s brand. Or use red pepper flakes or chili powder instead.)
3 quick dashes Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 t. brown sugar
Additional Layers (Before Cooking)
¾ c. Greek yogurt (I prefer 2%) or sour cream (light is fine)
¾ c. bottled salsa
¾ c. grated cheese, any kind you like
½ c crushed corn chips (we like Fritos) or tortilla chips
Jalapeno slices – as many as you like for garnish
Fresh Salsa Topping for After Cooking
1/2 c. chopped tomato
½ c. diced avocado
½ c. drained corn or corn cut off a cob
Squeeze of fresh lime, dash salt, dash sugar
Lightly oil a skillet or griddle and brown a whole one round tortilla and five halved tortillas in batches, until they are light golden brown in spots on both sides. Line a deep dish pie pan with as shown in the photo below, slightly overlapping the “petals” of the tortilla flower.
In a large skillet brown the beef with the garlic. Then add the next seven ingredients, stir and heat through until simmered and thickened.Pour meat and bean mixture into “tortilla flower.”
Gently spread the sour cream or Greek Yogurt over the beef mixture. Next spread on the salsa.
Then sprinkle the grated cheese over all, followed by an even sprinkling of crushed corn chips. Finally decorate with a few jalapeno slices.Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes while you make a quick fresh salsa topping. In a bowl, combine tomato, avocado and corn. Give this mixture a quick squeeze of fresh lime, a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar. Toss. Pile in the middle of the tortilla pie.
Use a very sharp serrated knife to cut pie shaped wedges. It may be a little messy if the pie is still hot, so feel free to serve in a bowls if you prefer.
Vegetarian Version: Replace beef with 1 cup lentils or other beans (in addition to the ones in the recipe), 1/2 cup grain such as quinoa or rice, 1/4 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts, and 1 cup chopped mushrooms.
Vegan Version: Follow Vegetarian Version above for meat replacement. Skip sour cream and cheese layers and cover the pie with fresh guacamole once comes out of the oven and has cooled for 5 minutes. Use just the tomatoes and corn for salsa topping.