How we roll in the country #2

Remember when I went on that really cool Young Cattlemen’s Conference trip? It was fantastic. Great people. Great experiences. It was so motivating and inspiring to be among future leaders of the beef industry.

But as great as it was, there was a downside. I left my boys at home and I missed them. At certain times of the year, I travel for work a lot more than I would like. And this trip was 10 days. TEN DAYS! That’s a long time to be away from your family, your own bed and your kitchen.

When I got home, I craved making a home-cooked meal. My little boys wanted sweet treats baked by their mama. So while the cupboards were a little bare because the family grocery shopper had been gone, I knew there was probably enough in there to whip something up in between loads and loads of laundry. So I found a lemon bar mix and pulled out one of my staple recipes that I always have the ingredients for.

But things never really go as planned, do they?

My oldest boy helped mix up the lemon bars. We turned on the oven and waited for it to preheat. At this point, let me tell you – I love my stove. It’s gas and I love having instant heat on the stovetop. What’s not so great? It takes a long, long time for the oven to preheat. That can really be a pain, but I’ve learned to adjust. If I’m baking a casserole when I get home from work, the first thing I do when I get home is turn on the oven.

So when the oven had not beeped to tell me it was completely preheated, I didn’t worry too much. We just put the lemon bar crust in and went on our merry way. (I know my 4-H cooking leader is shaking her head at me. You do NOT put something in to bake until the oven is preheated. I know. But sometimes I break the rules.)

But it was soon apparent that something was wrong. The oven didn’t feel as hot as it should be, but it was warm. We tried anyway. We poured the topping on and stuck it back in. But after an hour of baking this is what we had:

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A runny, stick mess. Not good. Not good at all. The oven was broken.

By this time, I had already started supper. I was making my famous (if by famous I mean my boys ask for seconds) Mexican Casserole.

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It had to be baked. Now I imagine some folks who live a little closer to town, would have wrapped that sucker up, thrown it in the freezer, and said, “Kids – It’s McDonald’s time!” When you live 30 miles from the nearest fast food restaurant, that just doesn’t happen. But this country girl? I did this.

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(Please ignore the mess that is our grill. We need a new one, I know.)

That’s how we roll in the country. We improvise. And it turned out just fine, although the lemon bars went in the trash. And do you know what else is indicative of living in the country? The oven is still not fixed. Not because I didn’t call them for 5 days. . . ok, that may be part of the problem. . . but because it takes THAT long to get a repairman to drive 30 miles to fix your oven. But he called earlier and will be here any minute. That’s the best news I’ve had in a long time.

Mexican Casserole

6 flour tortillas

1 pound ground beef

1 onion, diced

1 16 oz. can tomato sauce

3/4 envelope taco seasoning

1 can black beans

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Brown onion and onions. Add tomato sauce, taco seasoning and black beans. In a cast iron skillet or 9×13-inch baking dish, spread a spoonful of the meat mixture in the bottom to keep the tortillas from sticking to the bottom. Tear tortillas into bite-size pieces. Layer 1/3 of the tortillas, 1/3 of the meat mixture and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat two more times. Bake for 2o minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

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