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Crabby Quarantine

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

We are now on Day 11 of our quarantine. On day 14 my two daughters and their respective significant others will be huggable. Meanwhile, we have dinners together beside the pool, seated at shouting distance from each other.  

I am cooking because they, being recent travelers from separate hot spots, can’t provide food for my husband  or me, nor can the couples cook for each other. So, as I’m  the only certified safe chef in the family,  I’m chalking up 3000 paces a day in the kitchen. 

As y’all who know me know, one of my noms de plume is The Crabby Cook. There is a reason for that.  Now cooking for six, I’m trying to keep things simple so as not to further my kitchen bitch reputation. To that end, I’m revisiting The Crabby Cook Cookbook, which I wrote for irritable people like me who must deliver regular meals to loved ones even when they’d rather be doing something enlightening like watching  Season 3 of  West Wing.  The book’s   recipes are unglamorous and designed for picky people, so, for everyone.

Last night I made Abby’s Casserole (on page 70.)  It’s like Mexican lasagna: layers of corn tortillas, a spicy meat and bean mixture, and cheese. One of those “ugly, delicious” things. It’s a little labor intensive for low-patience types, but you can make it in advance and then pour a martini and  watch West Wing until people gather poolside.

P.S. I ordered the ground beef from Belcampo Meat Company. It’s really good. They also have a great roaster chicken. 

Plus lots of other meaty sstuff…  

Abby’s Casserole

2 Tbls. Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin, oregano and paprika

1 tsp.  kosher salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ cups tomato sauce

1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

6 corn tortillas, 8-inch size

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or Monterey jack , or a mix)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and saute until onion istranslucent, about ten minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute.    

Add the beef to the skillet, turn the heat up to medium and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until the beef has just lost its pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the spices and salt and pepper and cook two more minutes. Add the tomato sauce, turn down the heat some and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the beans and the corn, mix well, and set aside.

Place a tortilla on the bottom of a 10-inch, high sided casserole dish. Spread about 2/3 cup of meat mixture on top. Sprinkle about 1/3 cup of cheese on top of that. Repeat these layers about five times, ending with the cheese.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove the cover and continue to bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the casserole is bubbly. Serve hot.

Pandemic adjustments: 

If your tortillas are small, just cut them to fit eh size of your baking dish. (I did this.)

If you don’t have black beans, use another kind. (I did this, too.)

If you don’t have a jalapeno pepper, omit it. (I also did this.)

If you are cooking for six big eaters, double the recipe. (I did this and used two casserole dishes. One version was cheeseless for dairy-haters.)

Also you can: Add more spices if you like, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes if you want more heat. 


Cranberry Salsa

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

CranberrySalsa_4130This salsa was brought to my attention by my friend Michelle Latiolais who, having been to my house for dinner a few times, is well aware of my attitude towards complex recipes. Read More


PTSD (Peas Trigger Scott’s Distemper)

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Birdseye2A few weeks ago I got an email from my bother-in-law Scott who was in a highly agitated state. He told me he had been the victim of fraud perpetrated by the Bird’s Eye Company. Read More


How to Throw A Party That Lasts For Eight Hours

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

LynnBarMy friend Lynn is a party animal. By this I mean she does a bash like nobody else I know. Case in point: her daughter suggested having a pajama party for her 26th birthday last week and here’s what happened. Read More



Friday, July 19th, 2013

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The Bee and Thistle Inn

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I’m making a lot of trips to Connecticut these days, to visit elderly parents. In so doing I’ve discovered a quaint corner of coziness  called The Bee and Thistle Inn, a B&B and  a comfort zone in Old Lyme that is my new favorite home away from home. Read More


Sam Cooks!

Friday, February 8th, 2013

In a stunning development,, my brother Sam is learning to cook. It’s stunning because, in all the years we spent growing up in our large, traditional Midwestern family, the only male contribution to the evening meal was the belching. Read More


Gazpacho For Picky People

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012


My husband loves tomatoes. Raw tomatoes, that is: he will not eat them cooked. (He has the same peculiar picky streak with regard to carrots: loves ’em raw, hates ’em cooked.) His sister Julie, on the other hand, does not only dislike raw tomatoes, she finds them repulsive. She will not eat anything with seeds, including olives. A pomegranate would give her a nervous breakdown. Tom’s other sister, Ellen, won’t eat spaghetti sauce, hamburgers, meat loaf, cheese of any kind, jelly (hello?), peas or lima beans. Like her father and Tom, she also dislikes onions and garlic, and, a la Julie, ix-nay the tomatoes and olives.

It’s just another example of how kids are genetically designed to drive their parental menu-planners crazy. Read More


The Crabby Cook Store!

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Holiday shopping is in full swing, except for people (like my husband) who only start to swing at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Read More


The Crabby Community: Lazy Ass Husbands In Baltimore

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

It began at a cocktail party in Baltimore, at which three couples had a lively discussion about which of the husbands present was the laziest when it came to domestic work. None of the men cook, only two can handle a screwdriver, all are chore-phobic. After a few martinis, the guys offered to make up for years of slothfulness by preparing an elegant dinner for their long-suffering wives. Read More

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