Richard Connor: I promised recipes. Here they are.

(Photo by Nicolas Gras on Unsplash)

One more week down. Well, sort of. I am including my recipes for a great weekend of casual eating which excludes whatever you normally do for Memorial Day weekend. Let me be clear. They are not “my” recipes. They are from The New York Times and other sources.

This weekend is normally a favorite of mine. I am from Maine but after moving back there for several years I hurried back to Texas, which I realized had become home. You know why.

But, usually I go back to Maine over Memorial Day to open up my cabin, which has remained dark, cold and uninhabited during winter. It’s not insulated and so if left “open,” the pipes freeze, and things just generally go bad. Often when we come back in spring we find it may have been home for some squirrels and mice and who knows what?

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But I spent summers in this cabin as a baby and until I was  about eight, when my father bought a nearby and bigger log cabin. Luckily I was able to purchase our first lake home later on. I feel the togetherness there of my family of origin, when we were all young and innocent – before the inevitable family drama that so often makes life different and raw and sometimes not that happy. Such is life, the ups and the  downs. No one said it would be easy. The little log cabin and the lake are my place of refuge and a reminder that life not only was good then, but also continues to be good there in Maine and here in Texas. I’m grateful for all I have been given.

So this is where I normally go on Memorial Day and then through the summer and fall to try to recall who I was, and am now. It might be called 900 square feet of nostalgia wrapped in the present and the future

We will not be there this Memorial Day. Maine has a 14-day quarantine for all out-of-staters. I am usually joined by my oldest daughter and her family, who have their own place now, next door. It’s the cottage, also a log cabin, where we lived when my father could afford for us “to move up.” But I prefer where I lived as a very young child before the family business got better. Funny, I am now waiting for business to get better.

So, enjoy Memorial Day, remember those who have died for us defending freedom, serving our country in the armed forces, and I would suggest that we should be grateful for all we have, quarantine or shelter in place or whatever. For those out of work we promise to try as a small business to help bring things back.

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I’d cook these recipes this weekend. Do the tacos on Saturday night, the beans on Sunday morning, and then next week combine the leftovers with tacos for breakfast, lunch, or another dinner.

I’d listen to Robert Earl Keen and Gringo Honeymoon or This Old Porch with Lyle Lovett, or maybe the great songwriter Jimmy Webb’s If These Walls Could Speak by virtually anyone (my favorite: Nanci Griffith) because the lyrics are so damn good. And maybe anything by Joni Mitchell, still strong 50 years later.

Want to live in today’s world? Read poetry by this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, Jericho Brown.

Keep on keepin’ on …

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And now the recipes.

Poblano Tacos

This one will probably get me ostracized by professional food writers because it’s a pinch of this and dash of that, but these tacos are incredible.

Here is what you need, one of each unless otherwise noted:

  • Lime
  • Roma Tomato
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Shallot
  • Cilantro
  • Poblano Pepper
  • Sour Cream – 4 TBSP
  • Mexican Spice Blend – Use imagination
  • Ground Pork or Beef –10 oz
  • Chicken Stock – half cup
  • Tomato Paste – 1.5 oz
  • Tortillas – Corn or Flour


Dice tomato, peel and dice Kiwi, slice shallot and mince (about 2 to 4 TBSP and chop cilantro, chop poblano (remove seeds).

Combine sour cream, a squeeze or two of lime juice, and stir in water until you can drizzle this sauce. Then combine tomato, kiwi, minced shallots, and as much cilantro as you wish. Squeeze in some more lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Put aside in dish.

Over medium-high heat in frying pan and with a drizzle of oil cook poblano, sliced shallots, and the hot spices you have combined (cayenne pepper, red Chile flakes, Tabasco, paprika.) Heat for 2 to 3 minutes and add either Pork or Ground Beef. Cook 4 to 6 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock and ¼ cup water and add tomato paste. Cook until sauce is thick – about 2 to 3 minutes.

Heat tacos in microwave 30 seconds. Fill with pork or beef mixture and top with the sour cream sauce.

Black bean bake


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1½ cups grated Cheddar or Manchego cheese (from about a 6-ounce block)


Step 1:

Heat the oven to 475 degrees. In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Fry the garlic until lightly golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, red-pepper flakes and cumin (be careful of splattering), and fry for 30 seconds, reducing the heat as needed to prevent the garlic from burning.

Step 2:

Add the beans, water and generous pinches of salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top then bake until the cheese has melted, 5 to 10 minutes. If the top is not as browned as you’d like, run the skillet under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do – and Happy Memorial Day!

– Richard Connor

Richard Connor