Chicken (in adobo) Tacos

Matt’s parents were here visiting last week, and I barely cooked at all. What’s more, in the ten days they were here, I only went to the grocery store twice and to Target once. That’s some kind of post-Isaac record for me. So what have I been doing with my extra free time? Writing? Not really. Mostly, I’ve spent it reading. I also got a haircut (and highlights!) and so that day, I spent a lot of time pumping milk and washing the parts to the pump. (Fortunately, I was able to do this sans Teddy’s “help,” which involves him rather invasively and annoyingly holding the two canisters collecting the milk.)

So many of the things I’ve been reading of late have been bleeding together, theme-wise. For example, this book, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates and this article, "The Crooked Ladder" by Malcolm Gladwell.

I’ve also re-read these essays a few times: "Find Your Beach" by Zadie Smith and "We’re not meant to do this alone: American individualism is destroying our families" by Tarja Parssinen. Both aren’t necessarily about this, but nevertheless spoke to me about a question I keep asking myself (in case you haven't noticed?), which is: What happens to one’s personal ambition (outside of the personal ambition of having a family) when one spends their day caring for a small child?

And after all that, I needed some David Sedaris. This piece cracked me up, especially in the places where I could hear him reading it aloud.

When I was getting that haircut, I read this essay and almost cried in my chair. The guy who cuts my hair is young and low-energy to the point of apathy—even about hair. He’s got a kind of non-ironic Zoolander vibe going on. He doesn’t have any kids and whether or not he wants any in the future feels like something he doesn’t spend too much time pondering, but even still, it took everything in me not to look up from the magazine, teary-eyed and ask, “Do you want to have children some day?”

If I had more time, I might write an essay about these essays. In fact, that’s what I’d started to do. But I quickly gave up. Right now, I think it’s more important for me to finish small tasks than begin large ones.

Next week I’m flying with Isaac to Charlotte, North Carolina to give a couple of readings as part of the Sensoria literary festival. I’m really excited—not about flying by myself with a 3-month-old. (How does one pee in one of those tiny restrooms with a baby? I guess I’ll find out!). I’m excited to feel like a person in the world and not just a caregiver. If you live in the area, I would love to see you there!

Now here’s the part in the post when I remember that I have a recipe to share with you. But please don’t take my forgetfulness for lack of enthusiasm. These tacos are perfect. When I have the energy to have friends over for dinner again, I will probably feed them these. Bonus: Teddy loved them too. Watch the video for proof!

p.s. Perhaps this screenshot from a moment in the video is an answer to my question about what happens to one’s personal ambition when one spends their day caring for a small child.
Chicken (in adobo) Tacos adapted from The New York Times

for the first part of the recipe: 
1.5 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 ancho or other mild dried chili, optional
3 peppercorns
½ teaspoon salt

for the second part of the recipe: 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 or 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can
½ cup broth (you can use the broth from simmered chicken)

Serve with:
corn tortillas
Thinly sliced radishes
Sliced avocado
Crumbled queso fresco or mild feta cheese
Sour cream
Cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

Combine the first eight ingredients in a saucepan and add water to cover. Turn heat to high, bring to a boil, and skim any foam that comes to the surface. Partially cover and adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Strain, reserving at least ½ cup of the broth.

Once chicken is cooled, shred it. Set aside.

Put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the diced yellow onion, season with salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chopped chipotle chile and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Add the shredded chicken and stir to coat. Add the chicken broth and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes, until sauce has thickened somewhat. Taste for seasoning.

Heat the tortillas briefly over a gas flame, and then build the tacos. Put a spoonful of the chicken in the center of each tortilla. Top with some radish and avocado slices, a teaspoon of queso fresco and a teaspoon of sour cream. Add a few cilantro sprigs and a few squeezes of the lime.
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Matthew said...

Teddy and I are gonna miss you and Isaac when you're in NC! Maybe we'll make these tacos one of the nights? xoxo

Victoria Reckell said...

your posts are awesome and inspiring. i want to cook these tacos, read these articles and learn how to do other stuff good, too. :)

Jessica said...

I flew multiple times alone with my daughter from when she was 6 weeks old until almost a year and I would either strap her in the carrier and pee while wearing her (not pretty but it did the job) or if there was a flight attendant by the bathroom I'd ask if they would mind holding her and they were always more than happy to. Good luck!

Dani Elis said...

The taco's also look delicious and teddy steals the show at the end as always :) Next time I get radishes in my fruit and veg box I'll be making these for sure!!

I always wonder what mothers do when they are flying and need to pee and it's just them and a baby... balancing act maybe??

Sara said...

I love Teddy's reaction after tasting the taco!

Kara said...

That picture is priceless ❤️

Ronda said...

Another passenger will hold Isaac while you go...they aren't going to go anywhere with him and there are so many witnesses that it'll be some of the best non family care he will ever have. Take your time ;). These tacos!!!

tori said...

These look glorious. I completely empathise with the 'what to do with the ambition' thing. I had a very similar rant just this week. I also found the Gabrielle Hamilton podcast on 'The Moment with Brian Koppelman' exactly the fuel I needed. There's a great spiel she does about 'doing the work' which made me all sorts of fired up (while also pining for free babysitting like nothing else).

Kelsey Arp said...

Read any and all Adrienne Rich. A book that changed my life and still haunts me is Of Woman Born. (I am 29 and don't have kids and it still has an effect that will never leave you - it made a lot of people really mad). She is not afraid to examine and talk about things no one ever talks about, especially regarding gender and motherhood. She's so brave and she sees things earth-shatteringly, almost monstrously clear (I mean that in a good way. I want to be brave like her). She's a reason I get up in the morning.

Amelia Morris said...

Thanks for the advice and recommendations, guys!

@victoria THANK YOU for the kind words!

@tori definitely want to check out that podcast.

@kelsey arp -- thank you! I have been meaning to read her work ever since Alison Bechdel introduced me to her.

Shannon Blair said...

This post... Please read the picture book, Me with You, with your little ones. It is a lovely reminder to us tired parents how important it is to be us with our wee people--and us by ourselves with our aspirations and interests too. Adobo sauce, by the way, makes a mean marinade for pork with lime, onion slices, evoo, and garlic. We are excited to host you for Sensoria, Amelia!

Kirsty said...

Looks delicious. Interesting question re ambition, I wonder about that too! I'm an anaesthetist in training, working full time, crazy hours with two tiny kiddies under 3. Some days I want to just quit and make play-dough and do painting and just nurture them... and then I think, but what will I do when they go to school? (Just make play-dough by myself?) ... but there's no question that as challenging and rewarding and exciting as my job can be, looking after the kids is far more delightful and satisfying than my job (most of the time!)

kmont248 said...

Thanks for these amazing article links ... they've been great lunch-break reading material lately, even though I often return with smeared mascara from laugh-crying or sad-crying.

Angela said...

I know what you mean about the reading themes.

On that question of personal ambitions while caring for small children, another great recent article: http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/04/portrait-motherhood-creativity-c-v-r.html

I also read Dept of Speculation quickly after this piece.

Now making my way back around to Between the World and Me and Citizen by Claudia Rankine. I heard they were good companion reads. I'll have to round it out with Malcolm Gladwell.

Thanks for the recs!

Garima said...