In my neck of the woods, the mountains seem to tower over you and the city in a way that makes both feel small. Driving towards them I often wonder what it was like to be a pioneer, venturing across the plains in a covered wagon and then (then!) laying eyes on the towering Rockies ahead. What a mixture of thoughts they must've had: awestruck by the peaks, worried about the journey ahead. And just imagine how many sunsets they watched, day after day moving no more than 15 or 20 miles ahead of where they started. What a life that was.
You would never know it from my participation in history classes, but one of my favorite things to ponder is what happened "way back when". When I consider why I am so intrigued by history, two things stick out at me.
First, I think of the afternoons my mom and I used to spend hopping from antique store to antique store. How proud I was when I bought my first antique! In proper Caitlin-fashion, it was a kitchen supply: a silver tray with matching silver glasses, meant for serving aperitifs (though in grade school I'm sure I just thought they kid sized glasses).
But I also get hung up on something, and this is reason number two: I don't know my heritage. On my mom's side, there are guesses but nothing is fact. On my dad's side, everything has been over simplified. I want to know the details! As a teen I spent an absurd amount of time looking up surnames and piecing together random tidbits of information. What I think I know is that most of my ancestors are Native American--something I quite enjoy thinking about. The original tenders of this very land I stand on now. But of course, this is just what I think I know.
What doesn't escape my wandering thoughts is the history of food: What did my ancestors eat? (As hunters and gathers, when did they first eat traditional crops, like corn?) What did ancient corn taste like? (Certainly not like the corn used in this dish) Did people like jalapeños when they first tasted them? How did they ever figure out how to ferment cacao pods and create xocoatl?
Oh how I could ponder for hours on hours! Have you ever seeked answers like these? Have you taken any DNA test to learn more? Which one? What did you think? I have been debating taking one, just to satisfy my curiosity.
Serves: 4 | Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 pound chicken, diced to bite-sized pieces
- 1 summer squash, diced
- 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves or garlic, minced
- 3 cobs of corn, with the kernels sliced off and the cobs discarded
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- Dash salt & pepper
- Dash cumin
- Dash paprika
- 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2 cups baby arugula (or chopped kale, or both)
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
- 1/4 cup queso fresco or feta, crumbled
- Heat coconut oil over medium heat until the oil glistens. Add the chicken, searing on one side. When the chicken pieces are browned on the bottom, flip and cook them on the other side until browned. Use a slotted spoon to move the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add diced summer squash, onion, minced garlic, corn, and red bell pepper to the pan. Sauté until the summer squash is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken back to the pan, and stir to combine. Stir in the salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and cilantro.
- To serve: lay the arugula on a serving dish in an even layer. Top with the chicken corn mixture. Then, arrange diced avocado and sliced jalapeño on top. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.