The almond trees are in full bloom, and their sweet aroma fills the air here in my corner of California. We should be making plans to attend the Almond Blossom Festival just up the road. It’s really more a carnival than festival, with a midway of games and rickety rides.
We never dreamed when attending last year’s Almond Blossom Festival that it would be one of the last for a while. In March we were at the Celtic Faire, and that was it – life as we knew it came to an abrupt end. California is still reeling from the way Covid was handled. Businesses are gone, never to return. The festivals and fairs of spring have either been canceled or postponed until MAYBE sometime this summer. Or next year. Or never. And that’s sad.
People began to flee from California to states that were willing to open up. Those that are left have taken matters into their own hands. While officially still “closed” to indoor activities such as dining, most places that haven’t moved out of state or failed under the crush of restrictions are no longer following the rules. The push back began in the small towns, and spread to the bigger cities and communities. While I cannot speak for Southern California or San Francisco, up here in the central valley, we’ve been open for a while, thumbing our noses at the Governor’s silliness. It’s not a form of protest so much as it is a desperate move to survive.
The rules simply don’t make sense. Things like have outdoor dining (finally) but not allow televisions to be on. Have televisions on, but not allow cheering or shouting or singing. Singing has been banned in California for months. When Churches were finally allowed to hold services outside, it was with the understanding that there would be no singing or chanting or unison prayers. Excuse me, but have you been to church lately? Especially a Catholic Mass. We are all about singing and unison prayer.
It sure would be nice if the Governor and the powers that be spent even a fraction of this same energy to restrict the liberties of people on the real problems facing our state such as homelessness, hunger and unequal education, just think what they could accomplish.
The harsh reality of life for many here stands in stark contrast to the beauty of California. One is created by God, the other by the indifference of man.
Yet we aren’t here to bash California’s politics but rather to embrace and celebrate the good in each state. For me, California has always been and will always be a place of small town values, physical work and simple rewards of family life. While the capital of California was just up the road, we were sheltered in our little outlying communities with strong values, a sense of duty to family, to community and to God.
Welcome to my California where life is all about extended families and neighbor helping neighbor.
Beef Taquito Rice Casserole
1-1/2 cups White Rice
1-1/2 cups Water
Kosher Salt to taste
1 tablespoons Butter
1 can Corn
1 (15 oz) can Black Beans
3 small Jalapeno Peppers
1/4 cup sliced Green Onion
2 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
10 oz Enchilada Sauce
2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese
2-1/2 tablespoons Taco Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 (20 oz) box frozen Beef Taquitos
Guacamole as desired
Sour Cream as desired
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13-inch by 9-inch glass casserole dish with cooking spray, set aside.
Rinse rice until the water runs clear. Place in the insert of your Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker. Add water, salt and butter. Select Rice Setting, White Rice. Set timer for 13 minutes. Press start.
While the rice cooks, drain corn and set aside. Rinse and drain black beans, set aside. Mince Jalapenos, set aside. Snip green onions and chop tomatoes for garnish, set aside.
Once the rice has cooked, let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then open release valve.
Add corn, black beans and jalapeno peppers to the rice. Stir in enchilada sauce, 1-1/2 cups of cheese. Season mixture with taco seasoning and cayenne pepper. Spread rice mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Top mixture with frozen taquitos.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, top casserole with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted and taquitos are heated through.
When ready to serve, garnish casserole with green onions and tomatoes. Serve with plenty of guacamole and sour cream to top as desired.
Today is National Margarita Day
So whatever you do,
Don’t forget the Margaritas!
4 Margarita Glasses
Margarita or Coarse Salt as needed
8 oz Tequila (2 oz per glass)
4 oz Triple Sec (1 oz per glass)
4 oz Lime Juice (1 oz per glass)
Float of Grand Marnier (1 float per glass)
Cut 1 lime into wedges. Set wedges aside. Cut remaining lime into round wheels, set aside. Cut orange into round wheels; set aside.
Rub the rim of 4 margarita glasses with the lime wedges. Dip glasses into the salt to coat the rim. Set aside.
In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces of Tequila with 1 ounce of Triple Sec and 1 ounce of lime juice. Fill shaker with ice. Shake well.
Add ice to one margarita glass. Strain mixed cocktail into the glass. Add a float of Grand Marnier. Garnish with a lime and an orange wheel.