There's truly a lot more flavor to be found in those little moments in life along the way to the bigger ones than we may realize; it's the amazing flavor that's packed into each bite of these little Beef Street Tacos that may just remind us of that.
For me, a birthday has this amazing way of urging me to meditate on my life, and to examine how I've evolved during the year that's passed.
And you know what I've been contemplating lately?
The idea of extracting as much nuance, color, and flavor out of any given moment, however fleeting or seeming insignificant, as I possibly can.
In my younger (and more naive) years, I think that I thought that the joy in life would be found in life's accomplishments, or in where one's journey finally led them; that if I had set out to achieve this, that, and the other, and indeed reached those goals, then there would be peace to be had and this sense of being able to look around, exhale, and see that all is good.
And certainly, there is much joy and a sense of “good” pride that can be found in those moments of achievement or of accomplishing something that one has worked hard for, but there sure seems to be a lot during the journey that one could potentially miss finding the joy in, if the sight is only fixed on the end.
As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I'm finding myself sort of mellowing into an acceptance of where life places me each and every moment, and wanting to extract all of the flavor from even the little moments of reflection, of contemplation, and of connection.
These days, sitting on a bench with my husband in a quiet little courtyard, watching the golden summer sun go down in the late evening over everything that surrounds us, is heaven.
Belly-laughing, loudly and in public, at the absurdity of our selves and what we sometimes say and do, is utter joy.
Realizing that each member of our little family is the exact, perfect fit for one another in order for each of us to learn lessons and to grow, is delicious.
And seeing that wherever we find ourselves in this very moment is exactly where we should be, and that nothing is arbitrary, is to taste perfection.
Here's what's interesting to me these days: that I'm finding the most pleasure in the moments in my life that, for all intents and purposes, are quite unassuming, or seemingly inconsequential.
Those little moments in between the bigger ones.
That pure bliss, pure joy, profound meaning, is found in a revelation about myself; in connecting the dots about something; in getting in touch with how I genuinely feel about an experience; in the gratitude that overwhelms my heart over the fact that I have a husband, a partner, in life that I truly can share everything with; that I have a son that has brought out the nurturing and selfless qualities in me, and has allowed me to tap into that aspect of myself; that I understand more today about what it is to be a human being, than I understood yesterday.
I appreciate the means to the end now, more so than the end, itself.
Take these little beef street tacos, for instance, as they sort of remind me a little of what I'm talking about.
Though each little taco may disappear within a few bites, it packs so much flavor and nuance because each bite contains an element of amazing flavor and pleasure that awakens the palette and lingers on the tongue.
It makes an impact, and makes for an exquisitely delicious experience that satisfies beyond what it seems like it should.
And so it is with the little moments of our journey along the way to our reaching our goals or achievements, or to that end.
There's much to be extracted from the subtleties and the simple moments, for their totality is truly what makes up our whole.
So with the blessing of another birthday, my hope is to further deepen my aptitude for receiving joy and sustenance from each little moment of my journey, and to learn to truly pack as much flavor as possible into just a few bites.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Beef Street Tacos with Chipotle-Lime Sauce and Pickled Red Onion
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes about 8-10 small tacos
• 1 ½ pounds very thinly sliced beef sirloin
• 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 tablespoon lime juice
• ½ teaspoon lime zest
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon ground coriander
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• ¼ cup (heaping) cornstarch
• Canola oil, for shallow frying
• Corn tortillas, warmed
• Chipotle-Lime Sauce (recipe below)
• Pickled Red Onions (recipe below)
• Cilantro leaves, for garnish
• Cotija cheese, crumbled for garnish
-Place the beef into a large bowl, and add in the garlic, plus all of the ingredients up to and including the black pepper, and toss to coat the meat; allow the meat to marinate for at least 1-2 hours, or even overnight, preferably.
-Once you're ready to cook the meat, allow it to come to room temp for a few minutes (especially if you've marinated overnight), and then sprinkle over the cornstarch and toss the meat to coat it.
-Add enough oil to the bottom of a cast iron skillet or large pan to cover the bottom generously, and then once the oil is very hot, add about half or a third of the meat in; allow the meat to sear/crisp in the oil for a few moments, undisturbed, then stir to crisp the other sides for a few more moments (take care not to over-cook the sirloin, you only need about 4-5 minutes of searing total); remove the batch with a slotted spoon, and repeat until all meat is seared/crisped.
-Season the meat while it's still warm with an additional sprinkle or two of salt and black pepper, if needed, plus a touch more ground cumin and a little extra lime zest, if desired.
-To build your tacos, spoon some of the meat into the warmed corn tortillas, then drizzle with some of the Chipotle-Lime Sauce, add a few thin rings of the pickled red onion, and sprinkle over a few cilantro leaves and Cotija cheese.
Chipotle-Lime Sauce Ingredients:
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1 chipotle pepper (from a can with adobo sauce)
• 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
• 1 teaspoon lime zest
• 1 teaspoon lime juice
• 1 clove garlic, smashed
• ¼ teaspoon salt
-Place all ingredients into a food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy; keep in a covered container or squeeze bottle in fridge until ready to use, and for storage of any leftovers.
Pickled Red Onion Ingredients:
• ½ cup red wine vinegar
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 medium red onion, skin peeled, and sliced into very thin rings/circles.
-Into a mason-style jar with a top (or a glass container), add the red wine vinegar, the sugar, and the salt, and stir the mixture to dissolve; add in the red onion slices, and press them down to submerge them in the vinegar mixture; cover and allow the onion slices to pickle in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, or overnight; will keep in fridge for a couple of weeks.