Note to the mother at the table across the room from us tonight at dinner, if you haven't taught your children how to behave when dining out the time to give pointers is not in the middle of the occasion, especially if you are unable to speak in a voice that cannot be heard by the entire dining room. Also, if you are so big on appropriate behavior, perhaps acquiring an "inside voice" all your own might be a good place to start. I'm actually quite a fan of having high expectations for children's behavior, and my children know how to behave in restaurants, use the appropriate silverware, and make polite conversation during dinner. These kids were also doing a pretty good job overall in my opinion. Their minor faux pas were certainly not as distracting as their mother's loud corrections as well as her loud questioning of the waiter about the specials, her loud description of her recent cruise, and her loud discussion about her plans for Christmas Eve. You get the point.
On to more pleasant topics....last night we had a wonderful time visiting with my colleagues and our visiting teachers from China. The visiting teachers leave here on the 29th to do some travelling in the western U. S. before returning to China January 8th. We have been so fortunate to know them and will miss them and their influence on our school. Their parting was a bit less sad, though, when one of them reminded me that we would be seeing one another again next year when I travel to their hometown. In previous years when we've had to say goodbye to the teachers we've hosted, I have not known whether or not I would have the chance to see them again. With the rules about travel in China, it is unlikely that these teachers will be approved to visit the U. S. again, so our travelling there is the only chance for a reunion.
For dinner last night I made a recipe from my hometown. It's called "Glorious Mess," and essentially it's a taco salad. It's great for a crowd and particularly good in cold weather.
4 lbs. ground beef
3 to 4 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 small onions, chopped
1 16oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3 15 oz. can beans (chili, pinto, or brown)
Fritos or Tostados
Brown meat in large, heavy pot. Add celery, onion, tomatoes, and seasonings to taste. Cook slowly for 1 hour. Add soup and beans and cook until heated. Serve over fritoes or tostados.
Garnish with any of the following: Grated cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped jalapenos, chopped olives, chili con queso, or guacamole.
This recipe came from one of the more oh, let's say witchy, women in town. My brother-in-law is a chef who also does a lot of catering, and he asked her for details about the spices since there are no measurements for them. She told him that if she had wanted everyone to know exactly how she made it she would have printed the measurements in the cookbook in the first place. She also judged his version as "close" to her own. For my part, I use 1 tablespoon of each of the spices and 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and garlic. I also put out bowls of the individual toppings and let people customize their meal. If you can find the little "taco boats" those are nice to use for holding the beef mixture. Otherwise, go with the tosatos or fritos as suggested. Enjoy!