IMG_6141I found this colorful hand-embroidered runner at an estate sale.  The handiwork was quite neatly done:IMG_6142I used to love to do needlepoint and crewel, but this is a perfect example of why I don’t do it anymore.  I see TONS of needlepoint, cross-stitch, crochet, and crewel items at estate sales.  They seem to have very little sentimental or other value.  It’s one thing to do it to while away the hours, but I can assure you that anyone that thinks their handiwork will become a treasured heirloom is deluding themselves.

Runners like these, and their cousins doilies, are a thing from days gone by.   I picture this runner gracing a table or dresser in an elderly woman’s home.  Maybe there’s a few small glasses for sherry sitting on it.  There would probably be a little bell nearby, for summoning staff or family  (like Hector Salamanca in Breaking Bad).  Can’t you hear it — that faint little “ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling?”

With “ting-a-ling” on my brain, I was inspired to make Beef Tinga Tacos.  Well, that and the fact that Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner.  As the haters are quick to point out, it is a common misconception that Cinco de Mayo celebrates the day Mexico won its independence from Spain (that day is celebrated on September 16 — mark your calendars).  Cinco de Mayo commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, a relatively small battle that resulted in Mexico’s victory over France in 1862.  In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated outside of Puebla.

So if Mexico doesn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo, why do we?  According to several sources, Cinco de Mayo was first celebrated in the U.S. in 1967, when some students from California State University decided to commemorate the battle as a way to celebrate Mexican culture. Yet another step closer to being Cliff Clavin

So Cinco de Mayo is kind of a made up holiday.  To which I say SO WHAT?  I live in Texas — we don’t need much of an excuse to drink margaritas and eat tacos.  These Beef Tinga Tacos are effortless, which leaves that much more time for drinking margaritas and busting piñatas.  And I promise, you will not have to ring a bell to get your family to come running for these.

Recipe type: Beef, Main Course
  • 2 pounds brisket, trimmed of fat
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 14-ounce can beef broth
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Minced onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Cut brisket into 3 pieces and place in slow cooker. Add onions and garlic. In a medium bowl, mix together cumin, oregano, coriander, broth, tomato sauce, adobo sauce, and honey, and pour over brisket. Cook on high until meat is tender and shreds easily with a fork, 7-8 hours. When cool enough to handle, shred meat using two forks. Transfer shredded meat and cooking liquid to a large stockpot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until liquid is reduced and meat is still moist but not soupy, approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. To serve, spoon filling into flour or corn tortillas, and top with minced onion and chopped fresh cilantro.



 Cut the brisket into three pieces


Add onions and garlic


 Pour the liquids and spices over the brisket


Set on high and go do something else for 7-8 hours 006Tinga-ling!


IMG_5731Back when I first started this blog, I did a post for Divine Lemon Bars that was inspired by a poster made in 1911 by James Lee in Chicago, Illinois, which had the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments on it.  At the same estate sale at which I bought the Lord’s Prayer poster, I also bought this James Lee poster with “The Lord Is My Shepherd” printed on it, from Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul;

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness

for his name’s sake.

Yea, though  I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:

for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Though preparest a table before me

in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anointest  my head with oil;

my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life:

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever

When I was young, I thought I might want to be a shepherd.  It’s easy, I herd.  Turns out I couldn’t get the staff (cue collective groan).  But I did meet a man once dressed as a shepherd, who told me he was a spy.  I asked him why he was dressed as a shepherd, and he told it me it was because . . . wait for it . . . he was a shepherd spy.

I know what you’re thinking right about now, something like “get the flock out of here.” So without further punnery, I bring you this recipe, inspired by the Lord Is My Shepherd poster, for Shepherd’s Pie, a dish the whole family will enjoy.  I think that because it’s made with ground beef it is technically, according to some sources, a cottage pie — the conventional wisdom being that shepherds are concerned with sheep, and therefore, shepherd’s pie is made with lamb.  Other sources say that cottage pie and shepherd’s pie are synonymous terms.  Don’t lose sleep over it.  To prepare the mashed potatoes, I usually add a few garlic cloves to the boiling water, and mash them up right along with the potatoes (a ricer works best for me), and add just enough butter and half and half to make them smooth and creamy (not gummy), then season with salt and pepper.  You, of course, can make them any way you want — even instant mashed potatoes will work fine.

Recipe type: Beef, Main Course
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots*
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 beef bouillon cube**
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups seasoned mashed potatoes (from approximately 3 large potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • *Note: Can substitute 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables for corn and peas and carrots
  • **Note: Can substitute ½ cup beef broth for bouillon and water
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until golden. Add beef and saute until lightly browned, breaking up with a spoon as necessary. Stir in frozen vegetables and mushrooms. Dissolve bouillon cube in water, add to corn starch mixture, then stir into beef along with Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken.
  3. Spoon beef mixture into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish (alternatively, can use 4 individual casserole dishes). Spread potatoes evenly over top. Brush lightly with melted butter. Bake for 25-30 minutes. If desired, broil for 2-3 minutes until potatoes are very lightly browned.

 IMG_5239Preparing the filling


 Mashed potatoes go on top


 Spread them over the filling




You too, can be a shepherd spy