The world that we live in is an amazing place.
It's full of colorful and shapely “bits and pieces” that make up the totality of our existence, just like the pieces of a puzzle make up a complete picture. All one needs to do is look out the window to bare witness to it.
Whether one peers out and sees something natural such as the flowers in all of their brilliance, gloriously adorned in their colors and the various velvety robes that give them their individual shapes; or the green, spiky grass; or the jagged and hard rocks; or the lanky and heaven-reaching trees; or the sea-blue sky and its puffed-cotton clouds with all of the little birds and bugs that fly against it, blazingly lit-up by that golden orb, the sun; or whether one sees something man-made such as the houses across the way with their peaked roofs; or the tall buildings with their rectangular and towering stance; or the cars with their uniquely sculpted figures, or other man-made material “beings”. All that we behold with our eyes and our senses is a part of our very existence, and influences this experience— this “school of life”— that we are in the midst of.
And while all of these either natural or man-made “puzzle pieces” contribute so very greatly to our daily perceptions, none of them ultimately quite compare to the most unique piece of this spectacular puzzle, which is the one that is reflected back to you in the mirror; you. The human being. The epitome of color and shape, and personality.
I'm someone who is fascinated by people and their stories. I love autobiographies and biographies, because I love to know where someone came from, what led them to where they arrived, what ideas make up their views; and most importantly, how has being a participant in “living life” shaped their understanding and brought them to what they believe today.
We human beings have been gifted with perceiving our world through our custom-attuned senses and our souls; we take experiences in through our individual filters, and process them in personal ways. And because of this, we each bring color and flavor to this rich existence—this daily life—and help create a completed puzzle through our own potentially-nourishing individual piece.
See, we humans need these differences we each bring, we need the various spices and elements—our various understandings—to create a masterpiece that we can all behold and ingest.
Just like a scrumptiously colorful dish, one with sweet potatoes, red potatoes, russet potatoes and gold potatoes, plus juicy and popping cherry tomatoes, sweetly caramelized red onions, toothsome black beans and sharply tangy-salty bubbly cheese and grassy-noted herbs, human-kind is a mosaic in which each uniquely shaped piece is necessary for complete enjoyment, and for full and flavorful nourishment.
And so while our amazing world is filled with all kinds of brilliantly colorful and shapely “bits and pieces” that inspire us in one way or another on a daily basis, it's good to remember that we, the beautifully vibrant people, are the most important pieces.
That when we're put together, we join hands to create a bold mosaic that is the human experience, like ingredients combined and blended to create an amazingly rich, comforting and life-sustaining dish.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Cheesy, Southwestern Four-Potato & Veggie Casserole with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce, Black Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Caramelized Red Onions and Fresh Cilantro
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6-8
• 2 large red potatoes, skin on and cubed
• 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, skin on and cubed
• 1 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 1 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
• 1 extra-large red onion, quartered and sliced
• 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey (optional)
• 1 (28 oz) can organic, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained of their juices
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes
• 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 (15 oz) can yellow corn, drained
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teapoon smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon granulated onion
• 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
• 3 cups shredded cheddar and jack cheese blend
• 2 tablespoons green onion
• 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil drizzled with a touch of oil.
-Add all of the cubed potatoes into a large bowl, drizzle with a little oil, and season with a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper; turn them out onto your baking sheet, and roast for 40 minutes, or until tender; then, allow them to cool slightly until they can be handled, and turn the oven temp down to 350°.
-While the potatoes are roasting, place a large non-stick skillet onto medium-high heat, and drizzle in a little oil; add the sliced red onion, along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and allow the onion to caramelize for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden-brown; spoon out onto a plate or bowl, and set aside.
-Into that same pan, add the ground beef or turkey, if using, along with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink; spoon out into a bowl and set aside for a moment.
-Once the potatoes have roasted and are slightly cooled, once again turn them out into a large bowl; add to them the fire-roasted tomatoes along with the rest of the ingredients through the granulated garlic, plus the cooked ground beef or turkey, if adding, and about 1 cup worth of the cheese blend (add a pinch or two of salt and pepper, if needed, as well); carefully toss the ingredients just to combine.
-To assemble the casserole, add your caramelized red onion to the bottom of large, lightly oiled casserole dish, and turn the potato/veggie mixture out over top; finish the casserole off with the rest of the cheese blend, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted; finish with the chopped green onion and the cilantro.