munching2 With the tragedy in Newtown, 2012 could not have ended on a sadder note.  That Friday I returned home  early to wait for friends who were driving from Oklahoma to visit, and when I turned on the TV  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  But nothing prepared me for the email I received shortly thereafter from my friend Farine, saying that her grandson Noah was among the young victims.  I was folded in two,  as if someone had punched me in the stomach.  I know the same feeling hit thousands and thousands of people around the world, but it’s nothing compared to the pain of the families who lost their loved ones.  It was such a senseless and cruel action.

Farine mentioned that in his young life Noah struggled with an important decision: whether to become an astronaut or a taco store manager.  He loved tacos so much.  I’d have probably advised him to first become an astronaut and then set up his taco shop on a beautiful, peaceful planet around some distant star…    ;-)    Today I share a recipe that I’m sure would please Noah.  It’s found in “Just Tacos“, a book by Shelley Wiseman, who works in Newtown and was devastated by the catastrophe.  Shelley not only gave me permission to print her  recipe, she also asked me to dedicate it to Noah and his family.

The tacos are ultra-special, as a result of their corn tortillas tinted with hibiscus flowers.  The pork cooked in tomatillo sauce is simply amazing!


(from Just Tacos,  reprinted with permission from Shelley Wiseman)

1/2 cup hibiscus flowers
2 + 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups masa harina
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring the water to boil, add the hibiscus flowers and sugar, mix and simmer for 5 minutes.  Let it cool until it is just a bit warm.  You will not use all the tea for the dough.

In a large bowl,  mix the masa harina and salt.  Add one and a half cups of the warm hibiscus tea to the flour, incorporate to form a soft, still moist dough.  If necessary, add more tea.   Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, than pinch small portions to make tortillas using a tortilla press.    Cook the tortillas on a hot griddle or cast iron pan.   Keep them warm in a low oven, covered with a damp cloth.

to print the recipe, click here


(from Just Tacos, reprinted with permission from Shelley Wiseman)

1 + 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 Serrano peppers, stemmed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
3 allspice berries
1 whole clove
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt (divided)
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Cover the tomatillos and Serrano chiles with cold water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, until the tomatillos are tender but still intact, about 15 minutes. Reserve the cooking liquid.

Heat the cumin, allspice berries, and clove in a small, dry skillet, shaking the pan until the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Put the spices in a blender along with 1 cup of the tomatillo cooking water and blend until the spices are ground. Using a slotted spoon, lift the tomatillos and chiles out of the remaining cooking water and put them in the blender along with the garlic, cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend until fully smooth. Reserve.

Pat the pork dry and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt.  Heat the oil  in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and brown the pork in batches, without crowding, until brown on all sides.  Return all the meat to the pan and add the tomatillo sauce.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat. Simmer the pork, covered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thickened, one and a half to two hours.  Shred the meat with two forks, return to the sauce and make tacos with the accompaniments of your choice.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  This dinner could very well be a special on Noah’s Taco House! The pork in tomatillo sauce was probably one of the tastiest fillings for tacos I ever had!  You can adjust the level of heat by leaving some of the Serrano chile out of the sauce, but for our taste the full amount had a nice kick.  It is a perfect make-ahead dinner, as the flavors of the pork sauce intensify while sitting in the fridge.

Just Tacos is a must-have cookbook, by the way.  Many variations of corn tortillas are included in the book, as well as countless versions for taco fillings.  In fact, the book cover says it all: 100 Delicious Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. I give you a few tasty examples: Duck Legs Braised in Chipotle-Tomatillo Sauce, Tacos with Grilled Shrimp in Adobo, Creamy Poblano Chile and Corn Tacos, Swiss Chard and Potato Tacos, Yucatecan Pulled Pork Tacos...

I close this post with a picture that I imagine would bring a huge smile to Noah. One of our dogs, Buck, always lays by Phil’s chair at the  dining table and is usually  very well-behaved.  Somehow the smell of this dinner got to him, and every minute or so he would make his presence a little more obvious, standing up and touching Phil’s arm as delicately as possible with his paws.

  “Hello, Daddy, here I am!  Got a piece of meat to spare?”

ONE  YEAR AGO:  Maui New Year!

TWO YEARS AGO: Natural Beauty

THREE YEARS AGO: Sunflower Seed Rye

44 thoughts on “A TACO FOR NOAH

  1. It’s hard to comment on this post.

    I cannot even begin to find words to express my sympathy to those affected.

    I can find lots of words to express my outrage that this country has the second highest rate of gun deaths among industrialized nations. I’ll stop there as I do not want to start a political fight on your blog (and feel free to edit or delete this post if you think it might, I will not be offended).

    Now, as to the food, I am still looking for my favorite carnitas recipe – perhaps this is it. I will definitely give it a try soon.


    • Would never think of deleting or editing your post, it is exactly how I feel and I can only hope something WILL change in this country. Who needs those types of automatic weapons anyway? Are they expecting the planet to be invaded by powerful aliens? How can anyone justify owning those weapons? It sickens me.


  2. Thank you, Sally! Your support means a lot to me and your tacos look amazing! As it happens we are having tacos for Noah tonight too, not as fancy though. For once in my life, I don’t feel much like cooking but I am delighted my friends keep it up! Big hugs from all of us, MC


    • Human beings are capable of so much good, that it is shocking to admit that the “other side” can be so powerful. It is almost as if there’s more than one species of H.sapiens hanging around. Unfortunately, that’s not the explanation. It’s a lot more complex than that. Demented minds indeed.


    • You would melt on the spot if you saw Buck standing up like that… it’s just too cute for words (or images!) 🙂
      He is a completely silent dog, though – never ever barks, never emits a sound, which is a result (I think) of all the abuse he was subjected to. But he makes sure we know he is right there…


  3. I think I’m in love with Buck.. and of course your story. What a touching reminder of cherishing each other and of following our dreams. Noah must be smiling from heaven when he sees Buck gently reminding you he needs a taste of that taco. The colors in the taco and the filling are so pretty together.. and if you say it’s one of the best you’ve made.. I believe it! I wish I had one of those taco presses.. might have to go on a birthday list this year! Sally, I just wanted to wish you a wonderful 2013.. your recipes and joyful spirit here always inspires me and makes my day! xxx


  4. Sally, what a wonderful tribute to little Noah. I cried so much in the final weeks of December, could not stop looking at the faces of those kids all over the news and cry. Of course, the adults who lost their lives, is equally tragic, but there’s something about a young kid losing life like that, it’s as others put it – unspeakable.

    thank you for composing this post. All over the blogosphere all I see is Happy New Year posts, and diet recipes and resolutions or things like that. And of course, it is normal, life goes on, but it was touching to come here and see your post.


  5. A taco for Noah = ‘Noah’s taco’. We’ll all make it and call it thus and remember a sick happening involving an innocent young boy and his friends. . .One cannot have a better memorial . . . [love the photo of Buck in silent hope also . . .:) !]


  6. This is such a touching tribute Sally.
    I keep thinking about those little one’s fear at those final moments and there is nothing that seems to ease the heart ache, I can’t possibly imagine what their families are going through.
    I hope this will be the last anyone will ever hear of these horrible crimes.
    I am sure Noah would have been thrilled to have these tacos


    • They are extremely strong and holding on together, but of course there are moments of increbibly sharp pain hitting them. It’s beyond description, beyond comprehension. No one should have to go through this type of loss and tragedy. A sickness, illness, those things we can more or less “cope with” and “accept”, but what happened in Newtown goes beyond what a person can rationally handle.


  7. This horrible incident will always bring me to tears and to actually personally know someone touched by this brings it even closer to home. This is a beautiful post Sally, sad but also brought a smile to my face as I thought of this little boy.
    I’ve never made my own shells, especially flavored as thesen they must be so amazing.


  8. I cry again, Sally, but Tacos for Noah is a beautiful post for a beautiful boy, gone too soon. Beautiful food, too. A dear friend of mine is the best friend of Ben Wheeler’s mother. So many hearts broken. There are no words, but there can and must be food.


    • Thanks, Kristy, I think this tragedy affected the whole world, not only for the cruelty, but because it’s clear we will never understand WHY that young man did it. As if there could BE a motive for it, but still. It is mind blowing.


  9. Oh Sally, what a beautiful tribute. My heart broke again as I read this. Thank you for taking the time to share, to remember and to write. I hope you are having a good start to 2013.


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