Blue Litmus


The kids are all home sick today.  Finn has missed all week,  Anya two days, and Connor toughed it out until this morning when he gave in to his body’s demand for rest.  I am not feeling so hot myself, though considerably better than the kids.  Today’s bento box was supposed to include my kids’ favorite homemade enchilada recipe and being the optimist that I am, I was in the process of attempting homemade tortillas without a press when Connor decided to stay home.  After seeing to Connor’s  needs, I quickly changed gears and turned my bentos menu into an enchilada casserole that my husband could take to work.  The addition of homemade corn tortillas should be a nice touch. (Yes, it is possible without a press, though my X-Mas list hasn’t changed) We have gotten in the habit of serving a paleo version of this recipe because Connor prefers it though we certainly won’t be taking a family vote on the matter today with everyone feeling so sick. (I can’t believe they stuck it out with Mexican lunches for as long as they did!)  My poor husband has suffered through cheese rats and cookies shaped like skulls, as I include leftovers from the kids’ menus in his lunch, so at least today he gets to eat something faceless.   Maybe his enchiladas will impress him as much as the flautas did and he will benefit from this bento-box experiment as much as the rest of the family.  So, about “base”…


I was a chemistry major in college and DIY kitchen science experiments have always had a place in our family.  The year the boys started kindergarten, we were organized enough to have a specific time of day set aside where we would do an experiment and talk about the reaction chemistry behind it. (my poor kids)  Our home lab was well stocked with chemistry basics as my father-in-law’s brother had left him all of his rocket making materials when he died and in a massive spring cleaning event, the lab equipment had all been passed down to us.  We had beakers and test tubes, blown glassware and more as well as all of his unused, but perhaps outdated chemical reagents.  To this, we added chemistry sets from the church garage sale, etc and ended up with some pretty amazing potential for scientific discovery.  Alas, over time,  our enthusiasm waned and hours seemed better spent on sports and music.  We held on to our makeshift lab, however, with everything packed up and put away for future use.

I realized that Anya was doing her own science experiments, when I came across beakers with colorful liquids in her room.  Not one to stave off innovation, I cleaned her glassware properly and returned it to the closet where our science kit was kept.  I’m sure I stood staring for awhile.  Everything was out and open.  Dried substances of varying shades of purple covered most surfaces.  Looking about the rest of the playroom, I noted that these unendorsed trials were progressing via different modes under the piano, by the bookshelves, on the dollhouse, behind the puppet theater etc.  Shocked, but kind of proud, I started carrying glassware into the bathroom for cleaning.  My chemistry years long behind me, I began emptying contents down the drain without thought.  The changing patina of the chrome signaling the water’s descent to the sewer stopped me.  Whoops!  What was I dumping and what had they been playing with?  Had we ever taken a thorough inventory of the contents of this chemistry set?  What if the kids had mixed an acid and a base?  Would my husband find this amusing or was I truly unfit to raise children?

Needless to say, we cleaned the rest of the glassware outside and tossed those no longer able to perform their function into the recycling.  I rounded up the remaining chemicals, some downstairs, some in Anya’s room, and some discovered later in the backyard and boxed them up to be stashed in our storage room until time allowed for proper disposal.  Sounds reasonable I’m sure, but 5 years have passed and that time still hasn’t come.  Worse yet, the kids have discovered candy I have hidden in the storage room, so it isn’t a good hiding place.  Still, 5 years is a long time and my kids have matured.  Their schedules are so busy, they don’t have time to look for trouble.  And, I believe if they came upon such a discovery at this age, they would bring it to my attention.  Actually, that may be the only way I can discover the exact location of the box.  So many things have been moved around in there that it could be under anything.  Maybe I need to pay them to find it for me?

Tortilla Casserole

8 chicken thighs cooked and shredded (I made double when I made Flautas)

1 1/2 cups Costco Green Chili Salsa ( or other tomatillo base-this has kick and some color)

2 c heavy shipping cream

2 c shredded Mexican cheese (at least)

corn tortilla dough (see “Amazing, Homemade Flautas…” yesterday’s post)

olive oil spritz

Roll tortilla dough out, as in previous recipe, on well-oiled surface, and spritz oil on dough itself.  Cut into circle using a bowl the size of small tortillas (around 5-6″).  Using spatula, lift tortilla and move to pan spritzed with olive oil.  Cook, gently turning over until lightly browned (small brown bubbles) on both sides.  Repeat eight times, creating eight corn tortillas.  Pour 1 cup of cream into bowl and dip four tortillas until coated and place in the bottom of a 13 x 9″ casserole.  In large bowl, combine chicken and salsa.  Mix well and spoon on top of tortillas.  Dip remaining tortillas in cream and place on top of chicken.  Pour all remaining cream over casserole.  Top with cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes, until cheese begins to brown.  Allow to sit before serving.


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