Those in the know are telling me I have to blog. This I will tell you, my blogs will for the most part be short and sporadic. First let me introduce myself. I am a woman of a certain age…hmm. I’m married and have perfect children and grandchildren and one slightly neurotic dog. Sometimes this blog will be about food, decorating, writing, and things that interest me in general. I owned a home furnishings and decorating store for a number of years and was also an interior decorator for many years.
I spend my days writing fiction, making up cozy worlds for my characters to live in. I try to create havoc and mysteries—murders—for the characters, who live in these cozy towns, to solve. Characters, who once I have laid them down on the page, do anything they darn well please. There’s no controlling them. I know that may seem strange to a person who doesn’t write fiction, but it happens. Many writers say they write to find out what happens next. This is true. If authors don’t let their characters lead, their stories are usually pretty dull.
A fellow writer friend of mine, Nancy, suggested I blog about food. I’ve never considered myself an outstanding cook. Although, I believe some folks think I am because I write about food in my mystery books. (We’ll pause for a moment to shamelessly plug my books—Kathleen Joyce, First of September & Second Week in November. Both Clare Harrigan books are available on Amazon. Now we will resume our regularly scheduled blog.) I have some dishes I’ve perfected over the years, but creative—not so much. My dear friend, Kate O’Connell, once told me, if you can read, you can cook. Well, I can read, but being an imaginative and excellent cook like Kate was…no. The last meal she made for me was a spinach and cheese soufflé. It was light as air and delicious. You may have guessed Kate has passed away—I miss her. I do have her poetry to remember her by, that and all the funny, crazy stories she would tell of things she had done. You see, Kate was one of those people who are funny without knowing they’re funny. She was rare breed and a woman of substance who nudged me along on my writing career.
So back to my cooking saga. After a person has been to dinner at my house several times, I begin to repeat my perfected dishes. I usually start off by saying, when you were here at such and such a time you so enjoyed my chicken casserole, I thought I’d make it for you again. Hence, one of my meals redux!
Well, no chicken casserole today, sports fans. It’s tortilla soup—easy and delicious. This recipe will be in my new book, Birdie, when it comes out later this year. I’ve been working on this new cozy mystery series about shop owner, Birdie Chadwick. She owns a home furnishings and accessories shop that’s also loaded with lots of antiques and repurposed items. She rides around town on a yellow Vespa or in an ancient yellow pick-up truck. I hope you enjoy Birdie’s soup. It’s a quick and easy go-to meal.
This soup chocked full of veggies and super good. I hope you try it!
Two shallots (minced)
Two cloves of minced garlic
Two tablespoons of olive oil
Two cans of black beans (drained and rinsed)
Two cans of diced tomatoes (not drained)
Two cups of frozen corn
Two cups of chicken stock
One can of mild green chilies (optional)
One avocado (sliced)
Salt, pepper, and a pinch of cumin to taste
Cilantro (optional) I know some folks don’t like it. I do!
Corn or flour tortillas cut into half-inch strips and fried crispy in veggie oil, then salted while still warm. I personally like the flour tortillas. You can use store-bought chips too. I like to warm these in the oven before serving.
I sauté the shallots and garlic in olive oil. Then add the beans, tomatoes, corn, stock, and chilies. Simmer. Salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. I top each bowl with slices of avocados and tortilla strips. Makes four hearty servings. You can add a dollop of sour cream to the center of the bowl.
When I opened my avocado to slice it and place on top, the darn thing was not in the best of shape. No avocado on this bowl. Always remember, presentation is an important element of any meal.