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Blizzards and Brunch

Yes, Hurricanes apparently DO come to West Virginia. We are blessed that we did not lose power for more than short bursts, and our damage appears limited to some trees that we lost. For those who wonder what it would be like to have a hurricane combine with a blizzard.....this would be it...

This is the tree that once stood in my neighbors front yard. It looks as though someone split it right down the center! For more on the damage in our neighborhood, please click here to see my CNN iReport. On to more pleasant subjects...

Since we were house-bound, and we got a later start in the day than we were out assessing damage, and seeing if any neighbors needed help, around ten am we needed something to fuel us through what was clearly going to be a nasty day. I scoured the Pixie-Pantry and refrigerator, and found I had the ingredients for one of our favorite brunch dishes....Huevos Rancheros....a simple poached egg on refried beans and a tortilla. This post is for best friend Shelley E. Shelley, you have always been there for me, lent a shoulder, a hand, and fed us like kings! This one's for you!

Here are most of the ingredients...

Clockwise from bottom left; cilantro, a can of pinto beans (with liquid), a can of diced green mild chilis, salsa, (I ended up making a small batch from scratch vs. canned), vinegar, flour tortillas, eggs, spices (cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper), shredded pepper Jack cheese, and a little red onion slice.

First, I don't know about you, but whenever I have tried canned refried beans, I have found them to be dry, flavorless, and more like the consistency of something I'd open for Fido....woof! Ahem, so here's the remedy. Place the beans with their liquid into a small saucepan. Add the onion, spices and the can of mild green chilis.

Stir this all together and bring to a simmer. Here are mine approximately 5 minutes into the simmering time.

Keep these at a nice low simmer while you prepare the rest of the dish. The flavor and texture was so much better than canned, I don't think I can go back! Now, wrap however many tortillas you need in foil, and place in a 200 degree oven to warm.

After about ten minutes of simmering, when the onions have gotten tender, take ye a potato masher and mash all of those lovely flavors together in the saucepan. Turn it to low, and keep an eye on it..if it begins to look like it is losing too much liquid, cover it.

This is what it should look like when combined, and keeping warm on a low heat. Remember chefs out there in Pixie-land...TASTE it! Mine needed a wee bit more salt, for instance.

While the beans kept warm, I chopped some veggies into a quick pico de gallo (otherwise known as salsa, to us gringos...hahaha). Season with red wine vinegar (or lime juice) olive oil, cumin, mustard seeds, cilantro, salt, pepper, and cayenne..

And yes, it was all I could do to keep from running for the tortilla chips....Now, we poach the egg. Hey! Wait a minute! Stop running away right now! It's easy, I promise! Break an egg into a little ramekin, or measuring cup, or whatever you've got. Have a slotted spoon or spatula at the ready....

Heat a shallow sauce pan over medium heat with a Tablespoon of vinegar. This helps the egg whites to set. Pretend you are making the whirlpool in the bathtub (OK, well I did as a child......what?) Take the egg and gently pour it into the middle of the whirlpool. The edges of the egg will become rounded from the motion of the water. It should look like this...

Adjust the heat if necessary, to keep the water at a low simmer. Take a tablespoon, and spoon some of the water over the yolk from time to time, to get that nice, opaque top...about three minutes in, it should look like this...

Now, we finish! See! That was not hard! Place your warmed tortilla on a plate..

Spoon on your lovely home-made refried beans...

Now, take your slotted spoon or spatula, lift out your poached egg, and let some of the poaching water drain off for a few seconds. Place the egg on top of the beans, and decorate with some green onion and chopped cilantro.

Add your shredded pepper-jack cheese, and your salsa on top. Garnish with more cilantro as desired. My results? Wait a minute! Yes, there is one....OLE'! I have totally spoiled myself, as I will never buy canned refried beans again! It was fabulous, and of course, I liberally sprinkled mine with all kinds of hot sauce. Dear husband liked his so much, I had to get poaching another egg...he wanted seconds!

I went to check with the Kitchen Angels (as you know I value their opinions, of course), and they were in total denial that we could have hurricane-force winds combine with a blizzard! I told them to go see for themselves....and...lo and behold....they did.

Note to self: listen when Pixie tells you tends to be true. They said the experience was (and I quote) "chilling". Very funny. To all those who are experiencing actual hardships and devastation, may you get all the help you need, stay warm and dry, and as always, eat well, my friends.

Love and kindness to all,


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