It might be a bad sign if one opens the door and sees his dog walking from the kitchen with a tortilla hanging from its mouth.
That might especially be true if that same person had just finished preparing a tasty chicken enchilada casserole that involved tortillas.
And that was indeed the case when I entered the house from the garage after folding clothes earlier this week. I always knew that folding laundry was a perilous endeavor, but never before did I imagine that it could cause problems in the kitchen.
We have a chicken enchilada recipe that we love. It uses chicken breast meat, tomatoes with chilis, a small can of green chilis, chicken broth, an onion, cream of chicken soup, grated cheese and a few spices. Oh, and it has flour tortillas.
I am not a bad cook, as I feel that much of cooking is merely following directions. So I carefully followed the cookbook instructions. Cook the chicken and break it into small pieces. Mix the other ingredients together, except for the cheese. Wrap the chicken, onion and cheese into a tortilla, rolling it up. Place the tortilla wrap into a dish. When all that is done, the next step is to cover the tortillas with the tomato-chilis-soup-chicken broth mixture, add some cheese and bake in the oven.
All that preparations had been made to the point of placing the tortillas wrapped around the chicken into two glass dishes.
They were on the counter next to the bowl containing the liquid ingredients.
They would be spooned over the tortillas just before the dishes went into the oven.
With a cooking time of about 30 minutes, that part of the preparation is not time consuming.
I figured I would put the dishes in the oven shortly before my wife arrived home from work. That way a piping hot dish would be ready almost as soon as she walked through the door.
Since there was time to work on folding the laundry before oven time arrived, I left the almost fully prepared dishes on the counter and put on my laundry hat. After 10 minutes or so to complete that task, I walked back into the house.
That is when I saw Piper, our rat terrier-Lab mix coming out of the kitchen with an unrolled tortilla hanging out of her mouth. Since all the tortillas had been used for the recipe, I had no doubt where the one in Piper’s mouth had come from.
Snatching the treat from her mouth and scolding her, I went into the kitchen and saw that a bit had been taken out of one tortilla, and the contents of the one that had previously been in her mouth had fallen out into the Pyrex dish.
Fortunately those were the only ones that had been bothered, and it was not a problem to discard those two and save the remaining eight, which did turn out to be quite tasty.
I sometimes forget that just because a dog is close to the floor when on all fours, that doesn’t mean it can’t reach higher places.
When standing on her hind legs, Piper stretches to close to four feet. That is plenty of height to reach what sits on a kitchen counter.
Now I am more careful to push things back on the counter or to put it in the refrigerator.
I don’t think Piper has yet found a way to get into the fridge. But I will keep my eye on her.
And I plan to be more wary of time spent folding clothes. I really think that was the heart of the problem.
Jeff Wallace is the retired editor of the Aiken Standard, an occasional cook, a sometime laundry folder and a not-so-good dog watcher.