Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I Get Weak - Beef Empanadas, Part 1

Happy Monday! Day 4 of my banishment approved sick leave.  I can't get out of bed.  My back is on fire, my legs hurt,  I feel weak.  Oh heck, it's been a while since I tossed you an ear worm; let's start this week right:

When I'm with you
I shake inside

My heart's all tangled up
My tongue is tied it's crazy

Can't walk, can't talk, can't eat, can't sleep
Oh, I'm in love, oh I'm in deep 'cuz baby

With a kiss you can strip me defenseless
With a touch I completely lose control

'Til all that's left of my strength is a memory,

Whoa oh oh oh oh whoa, 

I ... I ... I get weak ...

I must look like hell ... all five of my furry children are not only on the bed with me, but tucked up against me.  Always a bad sign.  Well, I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and haul my tuchis out of bed.  Owwwww!  

I made some more appointments for the upcoming week - one with my dentist, the other with Decent Nails.  I love the name; after all who would go to a place called Indecent Nails?  The staff all speak Vietnamese and 95% of the clientele speak Spanish.  I speak absolutely no Vietnamese, unless you count "pho" and "banh mie", and my knowledge of Spanish got stuck in eighth grade.  (El cielo esta nublado.  Estoy cansada.  Hace frio, or calor.  I use those a lot, as I am hypersensitive to changes in temperature.)  But I've been going to Decent Nails for years, and I very much like the lady who takes care of me, so it all works out.

Today, though ... today it hurts to stand for very long.  My mind is doing its skitter routine, which is not helped by the fact that I just received another packet of papers from the Department, to be filled out regarding this leave I am taking.  Because my thoughts are mildly scrambled, it is difficult for me to read and fully understand the fifty pages of important information, as well as to fill out the forms before passing them on to the right person.

That will have to wait a little longer ... in the meantime, the sun coming in from my kitchen window is warm and lovely, making it an awesome time to do dishes.  I love having a kitchen window over my sink, and this one faces south, so it is always bright and warm.  I also have a great view of Clyde Street, which can be very entertaining.  All those motorcycles coming from the Frankenstein house ... beautiful hundred-year old houses with stately trees just as old if not older ... the lights from the railroad crossing at what has to be the craziest, most dangerous corner in the state of Florida.  That intersection of Clyde, Clay (completely unpaved), Lakeview, and the railroad tracks is as twisted as Kim Jong-un's brain, and just as deadly. 

But first, I am going to make the filling for the Beef Empanada, or die trying.  I'm not foolish enough to commit to filling and frying the pastry discs today, but damn it, I can at least stand long enough to chop and fry an onion!

This is my adaptation of the Goya recipe found online.  I made several substantial changes, which I think work very well.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef chuck
2 packets Goya Sazon con Culantro y Achiote (Coriander and Annatto) 
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 cup Goya Sofrito (Tomato Cooking Base)
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
12 Manzanilla olives stuffed with minced pimento, sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins

Optional re-seasoning:2 tablespoons Goya Sofrito
1 teaspoon ground cuminKosher salt
Black pepper
Granulated garlic

In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high.  Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic.  Stir and cook about 5 minutes.  Break up the beef before adding it to the skillet.  Once added, continue to break it up with a wooden spoon (or as I do, using a pastry scraper).  Lower the heat to medium.  While the beef is cooking, sprinkle it with the sazon, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and stir to distribute the seasonings.  Stir in the sofrito, and then the tomato sauce.  Lower the heat to medium-low and let this simmer for about 15 minutes.  Take the skillet off the heat.  Once the mixture has cooled, turn it into a colander set in the sink, and let the extra fat drain off. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels, and return the mixture to the pan.  Taste and re-season, if desired.

At this point, I am going to cover up the filling and refrigerate it until I'm ready (and able) to finish the empanadas by stuffing the pastry discs and frying them.  That's Part 2.  That's tomorrow, or maybe the day after. When pain is the name of the game, you never know if you'll feel up to playing.

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