Saltastrophe: The Saltening

Here’s what it’s like when I make dinner.

Day 1. Plan that shit in advance.

I have a lot of butternut squash. I like tacos. What if I put those things together? Look! Someone already has. I can work with this. I mean, obviously we’re going to change a few things (ahem, refried beans, ahem).

Read the recipe and make a grocery list; basically, plan the hell out of it.

Day 2. Go to the grocery store.

I attempt to buy 20 medium shallots, because pickled shallots. Mariano’s has three in a baggie for three dollars. I do some quick math and refuse to pay $20 for shallots, but buy everything else on the list.

Day 3. Try another store.

The produce market has a small bag of the largest shallots you’ve ever seen. That one there? I suspect it of independent thought. There are only seven or eight shallots in this mesh bag, but there is nothing medium about them.

The Shallot that took down Tokyo.

The shallot that took down Tokyo.

This brings up a lot of tough questions:

  • What is medium?
  • How many medium shallots could fit in one of these Mac Daddy shallots?
  • What’s size, anyway, but an arbitrary concept?
  • Are we all not a medium shallot?
  • Why are we even here?

I reason that one of these giant shallots is at least two medium shallots. Really, seven or eight of these should be plenty, but I buy two bags. To be safe.

Now I have all the ingredients to make dinner, but I don’t make it home until 7:30 and I’m already starving. Pizza naan for dinner.

Day 4. Make the fucking dinner or give up on life.

Step 1. Pickle up some shallots.

Of course, the recipe doesn’t acknowledge this as a separate step. It’s all, Oh hey, you know those pickled shallots that you keep around the place, because who wouldn’t? No? Wow. Okay…you could start making them now. That’s cool, I guess.

Step 1a. Slice all the shallots.

The recipe doesn’t tell me to do this, but who are they kidding? I’m not going to put one of these bad boys all whole onto one of my tacos.

All I can smell is shallots. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t crying over a stinking pile of veg. The world has shrunk to me: the cutting board, my Japanese knife, and these shallots. I’m a shallot-slicing factory. Slice, snip, peel peel, slice slice slice slice slice. Rinse, repeat.


All I have and all I am are these shallots.

I’ve made it through one bag of shallots and that’s quite enough. There’s no way I’m eating all of these, anyway.

Step 1b. Prep the pickling solution (ie, dump shit into a pot and boil.)

I still haven’t technically begun with the first step in the recipe.

Behold, the glory.

Behold, the glory.

Looks like I’ll need a teaspoon of salt. Wait a damn minute! I have a new device just for this. In fact, I have it calibrated to dispense exactly one teaspoon of kosher salt, specifically because it’s such a common measurement.

Ruh-roh. Some of the salt is stuck. The container just needs a shake to loosen it up.

The lid wasn’t so secure, after all. It’s like a volcano of salt erupting over my stove.

Mount St. Sodium.

Salt. Is. Everywhere. It’s covering my stove top, the counter, the floor. It’s stuck to the fossilized grease on the front of the range, in the crook of the handle to the oven door.

I scratch my head. There’s salt in my hair.

I grab a paper towel and attempt to swipe salt off the range; it just embeds further under the burner grates. I wipe down the counter and salt finds the fissure between the stove and the cabinet. Whatever tiny kingdom lives at the bottom of this canyon will never grow anything again.

Looks like it’s a good thing I still haven’t returned my friends’ baby vacuum.

The dog comes in to investigate. I fire up the vacuum, and she breaks a speedy retreat in reverse.

There. I’ve made the salt my bitch. I leave the vacuum on the kitchen floor because, really, I have important things to finish. Bitches gotta bounce.

I still need to add salt.

See? Timesaver.

See? Time-saver.

shallots picklingThe mixture boils. I add the shallots.

They can simmer while I work out the tacos. Speaking of…

Step 2. I’m an hour in at this point, and just reached what the recipe considers Step 1. Fuck  you, Food Network!

Time to reclaim my kitchen cool.

I don’t spend my time peeling a butternut squash and dicing it. I pull out some pre-peeled, pre-cubed squash from my freezer.

Suck on that, squash.

I roll the black beans in the skillet with the browned squash and aromatic spices.

I add the Serrano peppers to mellow the flavor and add a hint of smokiness.


Yep. That’s cast iron. Come at me.

Time to assemble the tacos!

Like a good girl, I’ve mise en place’d the fuck out of this shit. Cilantro plucked from its stems, washed and drained? Check. Chihuahua cheese instead of cream? Check.

Pickled shallots?


Tortillas hot from a dry skillet? Check.

I layer the ingredients in tacos like a boss.

butternut squash tacos

See that blinding light emanating from flour tortillas under the light of my flash? This is how my skin looks in the sun.

I am a genius. And it only took an hour and a half, plus a vacuum.

Nahm nahm, motherfuckers.