the Lord’s chips

So you have the refried beans and guacamole all set to go and you discover that your last bag of tortilla chips is down to the crumbles.  But wait, there is  a package of  partly dried out corn tortillas that has been living in the way back of the fridge.

Do you also have a quart – more or less – of good canola oil?  And a nice heavy cast iron dutch oven?  And salt?

If you do, problem solved.

  • Cut each TORTILLA into four triangles.  Toss these into a big bowl.
  • Pour about two cups of OIL into that very heavy and deep cooking pot.

I have a great Dutch Oven that I rescued from my mother in law’s basement about a hundred years ago but if you are not so blessed, any decently heavy, deep cooking vessel will suffice.

  • Line a cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels and set it aside away from the heat.

Heat the oil until it is very hot.  I don’t use a thermometer so I can’t say exactly how hot.  If, when you put the palm of your hand over the heating up oil, it feels the heat, and I mean it feels the heat, then the oil is probably hot enough.

I guess the safer way to do this is to drop one of the tortilla triangles in and if it begins to bubble and fry immediately then the oil is ready. If it just sits there looking flabby take it out and wait a bit longer.

Depending on the size of your pot, put oh, eight or twelve triangles in at a time. They shouldn’t be too crowded.  Use tongs of some sort to do this and then use the tongs to kind of poke the chips around as they fry.

When the chips are deeply golden remove them to the cookie sheet with the paper towels on it, which has been placed away from the heat, right? Please no flaming paper towels tonight.

  • Now for the SALT. As little or as much as you like but definitely sprinkle it on when the chips are still warm. I don’t think any studies have been done but I am pretty sure that salt sticks better to warm chips.

You might have caught on that this is not fast food. While I am captive to the process of making my own tortilla chips, I have plenty of time to let my mind wander. Which I advocate. Mind wandering. I think we need more of it in this fast paced world of ours.

I’ve been around long enough to remember when Doritos was the only packaged corn chip on the shelves – at least where I grew up. And Cool Ranch wasn’t even invented yet.

We could buy taco kits at the Soo Co-op and they were pretty much the same as now but we could also get tortillas in a can with a Mexican dude on the label telling us to ‘enjoy a real Mexican dinner at home’.

We have plenty of choices now so why would anyone make their own chips? Why not just run out to CVS or wherever?

But if someone (and by someone I mean my hubby, Tom) had gone to the store we wouldn’t have both been in the kitchen laughing together remembering Nacho Libre’s famous remark about the Lord’s chips.  That movie is a collective memory for our family. One by one as people wandered into the kitchen the mood automatically got lighter as we would  laugh and say “These are the Lord’s chips”.

And not only did folks wander in but they lingered, waiting to snag a hot salted corn chip. And that, my friends, is the essence of enjoying a real Mexican dinner at home.

Blessings from my home to yours








chocolate quinoa cake

Of course, it’s gluten free and it’s pronounced ‘keen wah’ which, if you grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, you know rhymes with ‘Holy Wah’.

Today I am making this for Theresa’s 25th birthday. Not to take away from her special day or anything but the fact that she is 25 makes me, well, really old.

Happy day, First Little Girl!

chocolate quinoa cake

  • 2 cups cooked and cooled QUINOA
  • 1/3 cup FLAX MILK  (any milk, dairy or milk substitute will do)
  • 4 whole EGGS 
  • 1 teaspoon VANILLA extract
  • 3/4 cup COCONUT OIL  melted and cooled (or butter)
  • 1 cup white SUGAR
  • 1 cup unsweetened COCOA POWDER
  • 1/2 teaspoon BAKING SODA
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
  • 1/2 teaspoon SALT

Before we get started just let me say two things.

First, if it were my  cake I would totally do the butter. But it isn’t my cake, it is the Birthday Girl’s cake.

Second, why isn’t cocoa pronounced ‘co kwah’?  Just something I noticed -maybe you did too.  Or, maybe not.


how to

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • line two round 8″ cake pans with parchment paper

Don’t skip this and don’t use wax paper, it will get all soggy. If you have never used parchment paper before, you should get some.  I don’t know what I would do without it.

  • using a food processor or blender, combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla; blend for ten seconds to combine.
  • add the cooked and cooled quinoa

A word about the quinoa here.  I suppose I’d better tell you how to cook it just in case you never have.

You will need to rinse it first.  Get a fine meshed strainer.  Put one cup of dry quinoa into it.  Rinse it under cold water for a couple of minutes. Dump the rinsed quinoa into a smallish, mediumish sauce pan.  Add 1 and 3/4 cup of water.  Stir it.  Bring it to a boil. Turn it to simmer. Time it for 20 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it sit for a long time. Until it is cooled, in fact.

You might be wondering why I am so emphatic about taking it off the heat. It will most likely scorch if you leave it on a hot burner.

Not done explaining about the quinoa yet…. this amount of dry grain will make more than two cups of cooked grain.  Please only use two cups cooked in the recipe.  Eat the rest. With butter.  It’s ‘springy’ and tasty.

  • add the melted and cooled coconut oil (butter!)
  • blend until completely cooled ( I said cooled didn’t I?  I meant SMOOTH, blend until completely SMOOTH)
  • sift together the cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt (use a big bowl for this)
  • pour the SMOOTHLY blended wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and combine well.

The batter should be rather stiff. I can understand that you might be tempted to add some liquid but don’t.

  • divide the batter between the two pans which are hopefully lined with parchment paper. Wet the backside of a big spoon and use this to spread the batter around.
  • bake for 30 minutes  ( a cake tester should come out clean).
  • cool on a cooling rack
  • turn the cakes out of their pans and peel off the parchment paper

Now, frost this amazing gluten free, dairy free birthday cake with…

chocolate buttercream frosting

  • 2  1/2 cups POWDERED SUGAR
  • 1/2 cup COCOA powder
  • 1 cup softened SMART BALANCE brand spread (butter!)
  • 1 teaspoon VANILLA
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of MILK SUBSTITUTE (or cream)


how to

  • put the spread  (butter) and sugar into a big bowl
  • use a hand held mixer to blend these until light and fluffy
  • add the cocoa and mix well
  • add the vanilla and continue to mix for a minute or so, adding the milk substitute (cream) only if necessary  until desired consistency for spreading.

I think you can work out what to do next!

Blessings from my home to yours,