The Way My Mother Did It


I have an emotionally challenging week coming up and with all the stress of the big things, I seem to need to pile on petty, little, peevish, inconsequential irritants.  Like rice in burritos. I think by focusing on the “rice factor” I am, in truth, avoiding the fear of Monday morning and thereby relieving, for a time, my overwhelming stress.  So that’s why 🙂

Tangential Jessie picture.


When I was a child, we had Mexican food at least once a week and sometimes twice or thrice. My Mom charred fresh green chillies, scraped off the skin, stuffed them with raw onions and cheese and fried them; chillie rellenos old school.  She made chili (no beans), chili beans(no meat), menudo, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, tamales, refried beans and guacamole.  I was her “coupe oignons” and helped with stuffing, rolling, etc.


This was during the time when using good quality canned foods, instead of fresh, was fairly new, time saving, modern and almost exotic.  This was before canned foods went the way of Wolf Brand Chili.  I believe my Mom liked Rosarita canned products for her Mexican dishes.  I see Rosarita brand is now owned by ConAgra Foods, also owner of Orville Reddenbacher, Chef Boyardee, Pam and, wait for it, Healthy Choice.  Today I used Rosarita brand refried beans, Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chillies, La Preferida (what?) green chillies and Pace Hot Picante Sauce because that’s what was in the commissary.  I think you can do a lot better by either making everything from scratch or searching out better canned Mexican products.  Anyway.


Deep, deep, deep in the freezer I found a package of ground veal that I browned with a few spices and herbs, added a can of diced tomatoes with green chillies, a can of refried beans and simmered until thickened.  The look was there.  Of course you can use just plain ground beef. I’m just emptying the freezer.


My Mom was heavily into raw onions in her Mexican roll ups.  We kids liked them or maybe we just ate them because the alternative was starvation.  Schooled in the certainty of being parentally back-handed from the table, we never, ever considered picking them out.  This was before Ritalin and my Mom had to raise her children the natural way, without chemical aids.  She didn’t believe in allergies, delicate stomachs or children’s food preferences.  I’m glad she was a good cook.  That made things happier and easier for us 😀


My Mom always bought a chunk of sharp cheddar to grate for most of her Mexican dishes.  Did you know that Kraft’s Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese has absolutely no carbs in it?  Don’t you think that’s odd?  I do.  Odd and scary.


After rolling up the burritos, my mother always baked them for 15-20 minutes to crisp the ends of the tortillas and heat the fillings.  No choice.  No microwave.  You could probably microwave these but the tortilla ends wouldn’t be crisp.

Real Mexican Burritos

1 lb ground beef

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin seed

1-2 tbsp chili powder

1 can diced tomatoes with green chillies

1 can refried beans

8 flour tortillas

1 can whole green chillies, sliced into strips

1 small onion, chopped

Cheddar cheese, grated

Lettuce, shredded

Tomatoes, diced

Picante sauce or salsa

Start the meat frying with the oil in a skillet.  Add the salt, pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder, then cook for about 3 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes with green chillies and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add the beans and simmer, stirring until thickened.

For each burrito, spread on some of the beef and bean mixture, top with strips of green chilli, onion and cheese.  Roll up and place in a lightly greased baking pan.  Bake in a 350 F oven for 15-20 minutes

Scatter some lettuce and tomatoes on each plate, place the burrito on top and pass the sauce or salsa.





About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
This entry was posted in Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Mexican, Recipes, Sandwich and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to The Way My Mother Did It

  1. kathysimmons says:

    DROOL. At least all that packing out stress is worth THIS recipe for us and all your readership. I know the drill…it’s crap. AND it finshes. MORE MORE MORE drools please (between boxes) and Tx Rose. With a huge bisous to Jessie (absolutely adorable)

  2. cheergerm says:

    Great, love the food memory of your mum.

  3. Conor Bofin says:

    It looks like you learned well Rosemary.

  4. Beautiful food – your mother did it well, it would seem!

  5. Mad Dog says:

    I remember that up to and including in the 1960’s (UK), that canned goods were the convenience food before people had freezers (in the 70’s). These days frozen is out of fashion and supermarkets sell chilled ready to heat meals.
    As jars of salsa go, I remember Pace tasting quite good, though I haven’t had it since I lived in Atalanta. Funnily enough, I have a bag of masa harina on my kitchen table and I was debating making home made tortilla chips and salsa 😉

  6. Our mom’s could have been in the same kitchen together. I remember this type of burrito well. I love Jessie. 🙂

  7. cecilia says:

    I was lazily trying to think of what to make for dinner and there you are.. your Mum came to the rescue.. hope all goes well with the extra stresses. Good idea to have a good feed first! Morning Rose.. c

  8. Great memoreis and I love it when you empty your freezer 🙂 Hope all goes well for you…

  9. Noice. My mum always had raw onion with her mexi cook ups and I love the stuff now. Raw onion for PM!

  10. Trish says:

    that looks delicious! How lovely to have great memories of your mother’s cooking. My mom’s parents owned a restaurant and she just never learned to cook. She was a great mom anyway, but i really envy people who have fond memories of their mom’s cooking!

  11. Serena says:

    It’s amazing how strongly food can bring back memories and can express love… Lovely post! Thank you

  12. Tessa says:

    Great looking burritos! And what an adorable terrier!

  13. Thanks for the recipe, Rosemary – I adore Mexican food!!

  14. Mary Frances says:

    This definitely looks like food for stress relief!

  15. laurasmess says:

    These look amazing! Ah, you are so blessed to have grown up with real Mexican food. I hadn’t tried ‘real’ (as opposed to tex mex from a packet) Mexican food until I was in my early twenties… and I was amazed at how delicious it was! So different to the stuff that masquerades as Mexican from the supermarket. I will try this recipe for sure. Gorgeous photos!

    • Thank you Laura. I am so surprised at what is called Mexican food today. Too bad this great cuisine seems to be morphing into bland, characterless, bloating, institutional fare. It’s just a bummer.

  16. I love these memories of your mom! My parents didn’t believe in food allergies or children’s meals either. I think a child’s meal was just a smaller portion of what the adults were eating. Like you, I had to either eat it or starve.

    I also believe that if you put beans in chili, you don’t know beans about chili 🙂

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