Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In Search of Lost Soup

If you lived in Houston in 2000-2013, you knew Taco Milagro on the corner of Kirby and Westheimer. It wasn't a restaurant known for its food; it was one of the city's "see and be seen" meet markets for single people. It had a huge patio, salsa dancing, good margaritas, and was completely packed in the evenings.  

Ancho chili
I was at Taco Milagro when someone told me her theory about deciding if men were datable depending on their shoes. Gucci tasseled-loafers were particularly favorable. I can't remember why. "Never date guys with cheap shoes" was what it boiled down to.   I've never followed this advice, because it seemed like one of the dumber ways of selecting a mate, but I'm still single, so what do I know?
white corn tortillas
Anyway, Taco Milagro served the usual tacos, burritos, chips, salsa and guacamole, which were passable, but my favorite was the tortilla soup, which was not a brothy chicken soup, but a thick and spicy tomato based soup (with chicken). I loved that soup. It had depth to it. I would go there just for the soup.
But Taco Milagro closed in 2013, cutting off my supply. So I've been noodling around the interwebs looking for a recipe that might work. This is my first attempt. It's good but a little thin. The search continues. . .

Spicy Tortilla Soup 1
  • 2 ancho chilis
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 corn tortillas (torn into pieces)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken

  • salt
  • cilantro
  • queso fresco 
  • lime juice
  • avocado

Seed the ancho chilies and soak them in hot water for about an hour.

Puree the chilies with the onion, the tomatoes and the garlic.

Heat up your soup pot and put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in it.  Fry the pureed vegetables for about 5 minutes, until aromatic.

Add 6 cups chicken broth, the tortillas, the cilantro and the chicken and simmer until the tortillas have dissolved and thickened the soup.

Salt to taste. (I used about a teaspoon.)

Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado, lime juice, and tortilla strips. You won't see any tortilla strips on mine because I'm a chicken about frying things. (Hot oil in large amounts scares me.)

My soup, you can tell my avocado was bit bruised, but it still tasted okay.

Monday, January 25, 2016

End of January Update

As you can tell, I'm not quite back into the rhythm of regular blogging. Part of it is that there really hasn't been anything to say. January has been busy, but not very interesting.

For example: the high point of my weekend was fixing the toilet. The flapper had warped, causing the toilet to run every 10 to 15 minutes, all day long. So, not just noisy, but a massive waste of water.

It was a fairly simple job, but one I hadn't attempted before. I always like to learn something new, even if it is just fixing a toilet. Last night was the first night in 3-4 months that the toilet hadn't run. It was so quiet it woke me up. Isn't it odd what you get used to?

The flapper that failed. Silicone flappers are the name of the game, don't get rubber!
Mostly, I've been cleaning things out, getting rid of detritus and planning for future projects. So I'm hoping to have more interesting things to report soon. But as of today, all I can say is that the toilet works.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Field of Light

If you're looking for something neat to look at over the holidays, Discovery Green is hosting the Field of Light this year. I volunteered to help install it.

This is what it looked like when I got there. A lot of clear plastic poles linked with a spaghetti-like tangle of fiber-optic cables.

My job was to put glass bulbs on each plastic pole. For three and a half hours.  But the results are worth it, don't you think?
I've spent hours since then trying to remember what sci-fi show or movie it reminds me of, but I can't put my finger on it. (Space 1999?) They also remind me of enoki mushrooms.
I don't have any photos of it all lit up, because I haven't managed to get there yet. I know, I know, I spent all this time putting it together, but haven't seen the finished product. I hear it's beautiful, but with the holidays and all, I haven't managed to get to Discovery Green when it's dark. Maybe if it doesn't rain this weekend...
Fortunately, the Field of Light will be here until February 21st, so there's still time.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Things I gave myself for 2016

I've spent a fair amount of money these past two weeks. Not on presents, but on preparations for 2016. I've been stocking up (hand lotion, saline solution), replacing the worn out (mascara) and the most expensive category: supplies for new activities. The following items are ways I’m trying to improve and grow in the coming year.

How do you plan on improving your life in 2016?

A drawing journal

I was in the bookstore, looking at the journals when memories of all my previous half-finished and abandoned diaries filled my head. So I thought I’d try something different. Maybe I'll even get better at sketching. So far, I've drawn a clock face and my own feet.

The Holy Qur’an
This is supposed to be the definitive English translation.

There is so much debate about Islam these days, that I thought it might not be a bad idea to see what the book itself says. It's also been awhile since I've tackled serious literature. This should be mind-expanding in many ways.

A mini-bonsai kit

I like plants. George, my cat, likes plants. The problem is that I see plants as decoration/air purifiers while George sees them as salad. This is small enough that I can protect it from marauding felines.

A clean house

Not that I live in squalor, but I rarely shampoo the carpets and wash every single window pane. So I borrowed a rug shampooer, got out my rubber gloves and went to work.  I also went through my linen closet and threw out/donated everything I could. As a bonus, I had the car detailed. This is, literally, a clean start.

A skin care system
I’ve always been a Cetaphil and water girl.  But given my age, I'm beginning to think I should get a little more serious. Here's hoping.


I have strong reclusive tendencies, so I’m always trying to find ways to get myself out of the house. I've committed myself to going to two operas and three plays between now and June. And I just found out that the Alley Theater is performing one of my favorite comedies on my birthday. Score!