Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stay at Home Dads: Changing the World Pt. 1

Throughout history, men have used their passions to do great things.  They have built bridges, cured diseases, taken long journeys into foreign lands, erected skyscrapers that are taller than anyone ever imagined they could be, climbed mountains, explored the depths of the oceans and ruined the most powerful economy in the world (uh... yes, ours.). They even made Thriller out of LEGOs man!  Geez!

Now, there is a new generation of men.  These men have committed to boldly go where few men have gone before.  They stay at home.  Yes... with the kids.  These men have chosen, willingly or otherwise, to take on the noblest profession - domestic engineering.  And while we are at home, we use our creative energy to do great things.  Yes, we make time for the children, but our minds are free to ponder life's great mysteries.  We see challenges around the house and think of ways to accomplish more while doing less.  We attempt great feats of strength like never bending over for anything because kids love hanging upside down.  We create games like "baby in a laundry basket" and "I'll race you to see who can clean up faster!"  Sure, moms have been doing things like this for centuries, but that was before they could use the Internet to tout their fame.  For the sake of my audience, we'll just pretend like dad's really came up with those things and we will take all of the credit.  Do wives even read our blogs anyway?

This series will cover topics that were discussed with my wife and resulted in me saying the following phrase to her:

"This is the kind of stuff you have time to think about when you're a stay at home dad."

Perfect Taco Construction

This article will not attempt to re-create the taco.  Nor will it try to teach you how to cook or where to buy the perfect taco.  Most men have already been trying that for years.  What I will attempt to do in this article is deconstruct everything you thought you knew about building the perfect taco.  You can change your ingredients, but I wouldn't recommend it.  This discovery was made after many, many taco dinners (picture Edison's junk pile... only made of tacos... and in my belly).  

For the purpose of this discussion, we will be talking HARD SHELL tacos because men are not meant to be soft and neither are tacos.  Soft shell tacos you say?  I say wimpy burrito.  Anyhoodles, I will address the three main problems with tacos and give you the necessary strategy for overcoming each of these problems.

Problem #1 - Soggy Bottom - A traditional taco uses a meat or meat/rice mixture as the base of the taco.  This is a terrible idea as this is the wettest ingredient.  How can you build a strong taco with a soggy foundation?  The soggy bottom often falls away from the taco leading to shirt stains that are impossible to remove.  My methods will solve soggy bottom.  

Problem #2 - Uneven Flavor Distribution - Anyone looking at this picture knows that is is impossible to take a bite of a taco that includes ALL of the flavors you have decorated with.  Your mouth would have to be enormous.  The traditional "layering" method is on the right track, but I have an adaptation that will blow your mind and solve this taste dilema!

Problem #3 - Topping Fallout - Traditional tacos are very meat heavy, and while I love a meaty taco, the other toppings are meant to be enjoyed as well.  Using a traditional taco, one must gingerly lift the taco without changing rotation lest the eater wants to be doused with the cheese and lettuce he could barely fit on top of all that meat.  Simple changes to the way a taco is built will eliminate this problem altogether.


Prior to building your taco, you will need the following utensils: fork.
Prior to building your taco, you will need the following ingredients: taco shells, refried beans, meat or meat/rice mixture, shredded cheese, lettuce/tomato/cilantro/green onions mixture, sour cream.

Step #1 - Taco Position
In traditional taco construction, you would hold your taco as it is positioned in the picture above and dump the ingredients into the chasm.  Not anymore.  Identify the taller side of the taco shell.  If your shell heights are exactly even, then don't worry, but usually one is taller than the other.  Lay the taller side flat on the palm of your non-dominant hand as to position the shell in a sideways fashion.  Positioning the shell this way will correct the problem of uneven flavor distribution as the layers of flavor will now cover the entire shell.  This guarantees that every bite is delicious!  

Step #2 - The Foundation
Take your fork and spread a thin layer of refried beans over the entire inside surface of the side of the shell that is against your palm.  This magical layer of beans will hold the bottom of your taco together.  Even if the shell breaks, it will only crack, and there will be no mess on your shirt!

Step #3 - The Cheese
When you put cheese on a traditional taco, it is usually on top with the lettuce.  This is a terrible place to put the cheese because anyone who knows the properties of cheese knows that it does not melt on cold lettuce.  Sprinkle some cheese over the beans you just spread out and use that fork to press the cheese into the beans.  Placing the beans in the middle of the taco means less topping fallout.  

Step #4 - The Meat
Use your fork to place a layer of meat (we use a meat and Spanish rice combo) on top of the cheese.  This hot meat will melt the cheese like Mother Nature intended.  Make sure to leave enough room for the remaining layers.  Placing the meat in the middle cures soggy bottom and reduces topping fallout.

Step #5 - The Glue
Use your fork to spread a thin layer of sour cream over the meat mixture.  This layer is critical because it is the glue that holds the greens together and eliminates topping fallout.  

Step #6 - The Greens
In the remaining space, toss in a mixture of lettuce, tomato, green onion or whatever else you prefer.  We use a chopped mesclun with fresh cilantro from our garden.  We also use green onions from the garden as well.  Some people squeeze a lime wedge over the top of the taco too.  Whatever you want to do with this last layer to make it unique is up to you.

Step #7 - The Payoff
Take a bite.  Mmmm... then take another.  It will taste as delicious as the first.  Your shirt will not get stained as a result of soggy bottom, and you won't be picking up hard little pieces of shredded cheese for weeks because all of your toppings will stay put.  Tell me your life isn't better now!

So that's it!  We've solved the three main problems of taco construction, and it's all just because "This is the kind of stuff you have time to think about when you're a stay at home dad."  You're welcome.


  1. Excellent and very useful post. I appreciate it when I can come away with something learned after reading a post. It is very true that as a stay at home dad I also ponder many things I wouldn't have otherwise. So, thank you I will attempt the perfect taco construction following your steps.

  2. I never knew there was a correct way to "construct" a taco. Indeed one learns something new each and every day I'll have to try this the next time I eat tacos.

  3. geez how big are the shells you buy.... I could never fit all that in there... big clumsy hands...and what is all this fork stuff?

    Good tips, but when I am going into Taco bliss I have no time to carefully construct. I am all about business and handling that Mexican Masa, filling it and scarfing it down!

  4. then you will be forever cursed with soggy bottom



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