My First Recipe: Nachos with Green Olives (hey, I was only 8 years old, so give me a break!)

Green Chile Chicken Wings with Poblano-Cheddar Nachos

We had another awesome time on Sunday meeting and making new fans and customers at Albuquerque’s Rail Yards Market — if you’re in the area or are just visiting, it’s an awesome place to find locally-sourced herbs, vegetables, spices, and meat, as well as jewelry, clothing, art, and all kinds of other cool stuff, so be sure to stop by!

So anyway, for some reason I had a memory last night of the first time I ever read and followed a recipe.  It was on the back of a bag of tortilla chips, and it explained how to make homemade nachos. I was in third grade, so I was probably around eight years old.

Being a military brat who until that point had lived in New England, Bermuda, and the Midwest, I had never actually eaten a nacho before: homemade, restaurant made, or otherwise.  And now we were at my Dad’s next assignment in Dover, Delaware, which was not exactly a hot spot for authentic Mexican cuisine.

Wait a minute–are nachos even real Mexican food?  Probably not, but I digress . . .

I remember coming home from school, and for some reason nobody else was home that afternoon. I was hungry, so I grabbed the bag of tortilla chips and started munching.

As I always did (and still do) with cereal boxes and other packages, I read every single word on the bag as I munched down my chips, washing them down with a glass of cherry Kool-Aid.

And that’s when I discovered the recipe.

It seemed simple enough: spread the chips on a pan, put some cheese on top, then top each chip with an olive.  An olive?  Yes, you must be thinking I meant “jalapeno slice” instead, but no, the recipe on the bag actually said to use olives.

Thankfully, there was a bottle of olives in the refrigerator door, so I was in luck.  The only cheese in the fridge was a package of Kraft Pasteurized Cheese Food Product (whatever that means) Slices.  Well, the recipe said cheese, so that was as close as I was going to get in our modern early 70’s apartment in a fourplex in Dover Air Force base’s enlisted housing area.

So I proceeded to cook (well, assemble) my gourmet snack.  I turned the oven on to 400 degrees, laid out the chips on a cookie sheet, then cut the cheese slices into smaller pieces so they would fit on the chips.  I then plopped an olive on each chip and put them in the oven.

Well, the first thing that happened is I tilted the pan slightly and almost all the olives rolled off the chips!

“Crap,” I said to myself.  Now what?

Then I got the idea of cutting each olive in half so they could lie flat and not roll off.  It worked!  And I had only a small nick on my middle finger, so after a trip to the bathroom for a Band-aid I was back in action.

Ok, so I finished up cutting the olives and put the tray back in the oven.

After a few minutes, the cheese melted and they smelled delicious, so I sat down in front of the TV, turned on Julia Child on PBS (yes, I know, I wasn’t a normal 8-year old, but I’m not a “normal” 55-year old, either!) and munched on my nachos while I watched Julia poach a salmon fillet in white wine.

Well, the directions forgot to mention to let the nachos cool for a few minutes before eating, so of course I burned the roof of my mouth, but other than that, I was pretty proud of myself for making and baking myself something tasty. (Let’s just enjoy the moment and not think about all the chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, etc. that were probably in those store-bought tortilla chips, the Kool-Aid, and the “cheese food product.”)

The good news is that I learned that fire makes just about everything taste better, and that by combining different foods, such as a corn chip, a slice of cheese, and an olive, you can come up with something totally new.

Since that time I’ve created thousands of meals with thousands of different ingredients, many of them very rare and/or expensive.  Now I even have a couple of my own spice blends, Go-Go Green Chile and Go-Go Red Chile, that I sprinkle on top of my nachos for some extra “oomph.” But thinking back on that salty, crunchy taste, along with the tanginess of those pimento-stuffed green olives, brings a smile to my face and a fond memory to my mind.

Here’s a pic of some Cheddar-Poblano Nachos I made recently (accompanied by some chicken wings I made with my Go-Go Green Chile Spice Blend, which you can order here).

Green Chile Chicken Wings with Poblano-Cheddar Nachos

Green Chile Chicken Wings with Poblano-Cheddar Nachos

If you have kids, these nachos are a great way to introduce them to cooking.  What’s the first recipe you ever tried to follow?  How did it turn out?  Send me a note and let me know!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my little story, and hope to see you again soon.  In the meantime, remember to Live Well, Eat Well, and Be Happy!

Lawrence J. Clark: The Mountain Man Gourmet!


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