Walking Tacos | May 17, 2023

My friend, Lori, is in treatment for breast cancer; and her close girlfriends hosted a fundraiser to help offset her expenses and surround her with love.  As I’ve noted before, North Dakotans aren’t big on overt displays of affection, and so events like fundraisers are popular around here because, as my mother says, “North Dakotans would rather starve than spend $10 on eggs for themselves, but will drop $50 on six cupcakes to show someone they care.”

This particular fundraiser took the (cup)cake because the organizing ladies managed to solicit a bonkers number (that’s the official count) of silent auction and raffle items from area businesses.  In addition to the auction and raffle, Lori’s friends sold 50/50 tickets, made available Miss North Dakota to take pictures with attendees in exchange for free-will donations, and offered up an extensive table filled with food, also available for a non-specific monetary amount.  If you’ve ever been to North Dakota I don’t need to tell you that the most popular item was the Walking Tacos; the ladies had to stop an hour into the event and stuff Lori’s son’s backpack with Walking Taco $20 bills to make room for more.

For those of you who have never had the delicious fortune of consuming a Walking Taco – otherwise known as Taco in a Bag – allow me to give you a small taste of its majesty.

A Walking Taco starts with an individual bag of chips.  When I was younger, those chips were Fritos; now that we have developed as a society and invented things like THE INTERNET and BUMPITS, Walking Tacos can also be made with Doritos.

“What about tortilla chips?”  You may be thinking.  Walking Tacos are never made with tortilla chips for reasons I don’t have time to explain.

Each individual bag of Doritos/Fritos/Not Tortillas is smushed by hand until the chips are crunched but not crumbled; then the bag is turned on its side, sliced the long way, and opened into a little pouch.  That pouch is filled with taco meat (always ground beef), shredded cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and, if you’re feeling spicy, sliced jalapenos.  The ingredients are then mixed together – held in place by the handy-dandy walls of the chip bag – and eaten with a fork.

It’s called a Walking Taco because, unlike a regular taco, it comes with a wrap-like object to allow a person to enjoy it on the go. 

Everyone loves Walking Tacos.  Everyone.  What’s not to like?  Salt?  Portability?  Walking Tacos are so universally beloved that they are served around here as a school lunch.  Even my EIGHT-year-old (birthday was Monday!), a self-proclaimed “vegetarian” who only consumes chicken nuggets, will eat Walking Tacos.

The best thing about Walking Tacos is that you can customize its ingredients to your fancy and no one will know you have a disgusting palate.  I, for example, like to cover my Walking Tacos in ranch dressing, just as one would at a taqueria in Oaxaca.  Eight picks out the chips and then pretends to be full until someone produces a dish of ice cream.  My husband eschews the chips entirely and encases his Walking Taco in fry bread, which is called an Uffda Taco around here and a Fry Bread Taco in Saskatchewan and isn’t technically a Taco in a Bag but whatever.

For his part, my Eleven-year-old is a Walking Taco purist and wants only chips, taco meat, and cheese.  Chips.  Taco Meat.  Cheese.  He once had a Walking Taco where a single whisper of lettuce had inadvertently drifted into the bag from lettuce fields unknown and IT RUINED HIS WHOLE DAY.  It should be noted that he will eat lettuce if served on a plate.

For Eleven’s eighth birthday, I decided to become the most popular mom in the world and serve Walking Tacos.  I bought a box of individual bags of Doritos, filled two giant bowls with shredded cheddar cheese, and then cooked taco meat according to my tried-and-true taco recipe, which I had made one hundred times prior for one hundred taco dinners that had been devoured by Eleven (then Seven/Eight) all one hundred times.  However, none of those one hundred taco dinners included the word “Walking” since we were sitting at a dinner table.

It turns out the word “Walking” is pretty important to the Walking Taco process because only one kid ate my Walking Tacos and that kid wasn’t my own.  I had made a few back-up cheese pizzas and those went like they were covered in literal and dairy-based gold.  When I asked Eleven/Eight why he didn’t have a Walking Taco, he said it was the wrong taco meat.  It’s now almost four years later and I still don’t know what that means but I certainly learned a lesson that day.

At Lori’s fundraiser, Eleven got himself a Walking Taco.

“Do you want a bite?”  Eleven asked, holding out his fork.

“Does it have ranch on it?”  I joked/not joked.

“No,” he said.  “But guess what?  I put taco sauce on it.”  He nodded knowingly.  I peeked in the bag.  A one-quarter teaspoon taco sauce was drizzled over a single chunk of taco meat.

“Wow,” I said.

“Yep,” he said, proudly.  “I guess I’m growing up.”

“I guess so,” I said.  “Next up, lettuce.”

He shook his head.  “No, lettuce is for old people.”

“Sage words,” I said, as Kyle walked up with a fistful of 50/50 tickets in one hand and a plate of egg rolls in another.

The photo above is of me. Completely unrelated (minus the fact that this is about my own child), I have to tell you something Eight said after school one day.

Eight: [Kid in my class] said he has ADHD, but I don’t believe him because he’s never gone to war.

Me: …

Kyle: …

Eight: …

Kyle: …you’re thinking of PTSD. PTSD is what you get when you go to war. ADHD is different.

Eight: Oh, okay. Then I guess he has ADHD.

Kyle: Sounds good.

Five high school seniors – Jaylen Anderson, McKenna Barnick, Kaylee Kemp, Casia Steinhaus, and Piper Suhr – will graduate from both high school and Lake Region State College in May. (Grand Forks Herald)

Speaking of young graduates, six Bismarck State students are set to graduate from college before graduating high school in a few weeks. (KFYR TV)

Have some extra seeds laying around this spring?  Minot’s Amee Mitchell is looking to propagate a community seed library. (KX Net)

Anamoose students got a taste of a Farm to Table lunch made with area beef and the school’s garden via a farm-to-table program – and fun fact from the article: North Dakota has more cows than people. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of tables, Elgin’s Kirby and JoAnn Schatz have taken to hosting “farmboy breakfasts” for their agrarian neighbors. (Fargo Forum)

Hatton’s Carl Ben Eielson will soon be memorialized in film. (Fargo Forum)

The headline of this article says it all: Williston’s Band Day Parade marches on. (KFYR TV)

Linton’s Dan Carr is serving up his last year of caramel rolls and coffee to graduating seniors. (KFYR TV)

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What I was doing when the Vikings had the largest comeback in NFL history | December 21, 2022

If you live in North Dakota or Minnesota, you are legally required to be a fan of the Minnesota Vikings (or the Green Bay Packers, but only if every other football team in the world quits).  There’s a lot to like about the Vikings – the Skol chant, the horn helmet, the Gjallarhorn, the color purple – but also, being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings means you need to adopt the attitude of “Isn’t is great that today is a football game, and all of these guys are playing football, and we are watching them play today, on football game day,” because if you also think, “Hey, maybe there’s a chance the Vikings will win the Super Bowl!” then you are giving yourself unnecessary hope and heartburn because as sure as hotdish is topped with tatertots, if there is a football season, the Vikings will find a way to screw it up.

On December 17, 2022, the Vikings pulled off the biggest comeback in NFL history, beating the Indianapolis Colts 39-36 in overtime to clinch the NFC North Title.  Related, this date also marked the biggest crowd of in-person and at-home Vikings fans collectively “Holy Crap”-ping themselves in surprise.

It was a normal Saturday, in that the boys had hockey at 8:15 am and 9:15 am and all the hockey moms agreed that while we had “a million things to do, we really should take a nap” (note: Kyle got the 8:15 kid up, fed, and to the rink while I “rested my eyes” in bed).  I managed to check five of those million things off the list by lunchtime, and so I sat down on the couch with a turkey sandwich while Kyle turned on the Vikings game.

By the end of the first quarter (and my turkey sandwich), the Colts were, predictably, up 17-0 and the Vikings had, predictably, just missed a 4th-and-1 from their own 31-yard line.  So, unpredictably, I did what I had been saying I was going to do for, oh, seven years and instead of folding laundry or grocery shopping or wrapping presents or sitting there and watching the Vikings as per usual, I told Kyle I was heading upstairs to take a nap.

Here’s the thing: I’m not a great napper (unless falling asleep on the couch at 10:30 pm and then dragging myself to bed an hour later is napping).  The only way I was able to nap before I had children was to put on a TV show I didn’t want to see and then tell myself I absolutely had to watch it.  After my kids were born, my ability to relax deeply enough for nighttime sleep – let alone daytime snoozes – went out the window the first time a piece of dust slowly drifted down from the heavens and gently landed on my sleeping baby and I decided I was the worst mother in the world for not knowing it had happened.

The main reason why I felt compelled to nap this particular Saturday was that I was really, really, really tired.  I was coming off of a cold that had awakened me at least three times a night for the past week, and my youngest had played musical beds the evening before.  Being really, really, really tired historically hadn’t been a good enough reason for me to nap (I don’t want to brag but I own a coffee maker), but I’ve recently become really, really, really aware of how OLLDDD I look – a fact I was talking about with my dermatologist who said, “You know, Amanda, the best thing you can do for your skin is get good sleep.”   And since I’m vain and will do anything for my face, I decided to attempt a nap.

Because I’m OLLDDD, I have a good bed – and so I got snuggled up on my good bed with my good comforter and my good pillows.  I took off my socks because I hate socks, and I left the curtains open because I hate curtains (kidding, it felt like the right thing to do).  Then I closed my eyes and said, “Amanda, go to sleep.”

I did not sleep.

I rolled on my side and looked at the clock.  Fifteen minutes had passed.  I rolled onto my other side and said, “Amanda, go to sleep.”

I did not sleep.

Either another fifteen minutes or 300 hours later, the door opened.  Kyle came in and got under the covers.

“The Vikings are down 33-0 at the half,” he said.  “I’m going to take a nap.”

“Of course they are,” I said, but Kyle didn’t hear it because he was already snoring away.

“Amanda,” I said, “Go to sleep.”  This time my brain answered back, “But where are the kids?”

I nudged Kyle.  “Where are the kids?”  I asked.

“Neighbor’s and basement,” he said, and went back to snoozing.

I lay there for another thirty minutes or 300 hours, intermittently staring at the ceiling or the clock.  Finally, with mere seconds left in my predetermined nap time, I decided to get up.  I rolled over to be annoyed by Kyle and his sleep-ability, and realized he had disappeared into thin air.

I put back on my socks – if I was going to have to go on a nationwide Kyle hunt I had to be dressed for speed – folded back up the comforter, and went downstairs.  On the TV, Vikings fans were celebrating something.  I glanced at the score: 36-36 at the end of the 4th quarter.

“Holy crap,” I said to no one.  I picked up my phone and called Kyle.  He answered from our garage.

“The Vikings tied the game,” I said to him, and then, “How did you get into the garage?”

“Holy crap,” Kyle said, and then, “I walked.  How do YOU get into the garage?”

 “Why didn’t I hear you get up?”

“Because you were asleep,” Kyle said.

“Holy crap,” I said.

I walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror.  Still old, but less tired.  I walked back out as the Vikings were gearing up for overtime.  Not wanting to sit there and see them lose when they had come from so far back, and renewed by my unexpected restedness, I decided to go outside and surprise Kyle by shoveling snow off the rink – another one of the million things on my list, although one I had zero intention of ever doing.  Needing a witness to my AWESOME WIFENESS, I got my son out of the basement and made him come out and help.

There were only a few small drifts left when Kyle came outside.

“The Vikings won in overtime,” he said.

“You’re kidding,” I said.  “Did the Colts forfeit or something?”

“Nope,” he said.

“Holy crap!” I said.

“Are you shoveling the rink?”  Kyle asked.

“Yep,” I said, sweeping my arms out like I had just made a game-tying touchdown.

“Holy crap!” he said.

The photo above was taken by Kyle as proof that I had shoveled the rink (or at least that I was outside in my snowpants).

I had to read this story twice because 1) it’s really cute, and 2) I love that it’s a news item.  Here’s what it’s about: a group of little old ladies got together to talk about fishing. (Grand Forks Herald)

It’s official: this year’s snowplows are Plowabunga, Scoop Dogg, Big Leplowski, Plow Force One, Austin Plowers, CtrlSaltDelete, Sleetwood Mac, and Blizzard Buster. (Valley News Live)

Grand Forks’ Rydell dealership gave away 12 vehicles to Community Violence Intervention Center (CVIC) clients. (Grand Forks Herald)

Speaking of Grand Forks, principal David Nowatzki and teacher Justin Johnson hung out on the roof after students raised $6,000 to help families in need. (Grand Forks Herald)

Two of Argentina’s finest – Tiziana Huici and Iara Navarro, both student-athletes at Lake Region State College – have created a team of brand-new World Cup fans. (Grand Forks Herald)

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Nice news of the day – January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!  May 2020 be filled with even more happiness than you can imagine.

And speaking of happiness, check out today’s news – which is all about great kids in Lake Region, Langdon, and Mercier.  Read on.

Mercier’s Jana Carlson is 11 years old, and spent the past year making and selling lefse with her grandma in order to buy a horse named ShadowFax. (KFYR TV)

Look at these cuties. (Devils Lake Journal)

The ol’ egg drop contest has gotten significantly more sophisticated in Langdon. (Cavalier County Extra)