The Struggle Against Inertia

I think about why I’m on this trip and then…. I make Navajo Tacos.

She looked across the silent fields to the West. She was conscious of an unbroken sweep of land to the Rockies, to Alaska; a dominion which will rise to unexampled greatness when other empires have grown senile. Before that time, she knew, a hundred generations of Carols will aspire and go down in tragedy devoid of palls and solemn chanting, the humdrum inevitable tragedy of the struggle against inertia. – Sinclair Lewis, Main Street.

Maybe this is why we went out on the road. Maybe somewhere deep down inside we were fed up with life as usual. Maybe we realized that our time was limited but that the forces of inertia are not. Maybe we realized that even though it was going to be a struggle from time to time that we needed to do …Something!

*****

Here we are “stuck” in Flagstaff, AZ because the living room slide-out on our trailer is broken. I say “stuck” because Flagstaff is not a bad place to be right now. The weather is beautiful and the Grand Canyon is close by. We’ll probably go there in a day or two and while there we will linger like we have never been able to do before. What do they say? If life gives you lemons…

The broken slide presents a cascade of other problems. Because we can’t go down the road with a slide stuck in the out position we can’t empty our gray and black water tanks and we can’t get fresh water refill. To deal with this requires some sacrifice and ingenuity. From now on we will use the camp restrooms even though they are not even close. I’m sorry but I’m not trudging out to the far-away restroom in the middle of the night so we have a bucket that will get emptied as soon as possible in the morning. The camp host is going to allow us to dump gray water right where we are and as needed. Marty has devised a way to get a large water container to refill the fresh water a little bit at a time.

So, I’m not stressing. It is what it is.

Living full time in an RV is a whole different kettle of fish. Especially if you move around and don’t stay in one spot and don’t have full hook ups. We are not willing to make the sacrifice of staying in what we call “RV Park(ing Lots)” where, for the privilege of having water, sewer and electric hookups, you have to live cheek by jowl with other RVers. Not my idea of a good time in This Time of Covid or any other time for that matter.

The sky is blue. The air is clean. The breeze is mild.

We have food on the table. We have each other. Life is good.

And so, in celebration of being in Arizona which is home to the Navajo Nation I offer my recipe for Navajo Tacos which was taught to me by 2 lovely Navajo women we met recently at this campground.

Authentic Navajo Tacos

Native Americans substitute fry bread for the tortilla and create something uniquely their own and delicious

Eat fry bread when it’s hot right out of the pan. This dish is good vegetarian, vegan or carnivorian. Whatever you like and however you wish to make it.

6-8 servings

Make the dough first.

Fry Bread

About 2 cups flour

About 4 teaspoons baking powder

¼ to 1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 – 1 cup lukewarm water

1. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add warm water to the flour mixture, and working with your hands, make a smooth dough. Don’t overwork it or it will become tough. It will be a little bit sticky – not too dry, not too sticky is the key.

3. Cover the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes.

While the fry bread dough is resting make the toppings.

Make a simple chili with:

4 cups pinto beans

1 lb. ground beef, browned

Season to taste with chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 large tomato, chopped small

1 head shredded iceberg lettuce

1/2 pound cheddar or Mexican style cheese, shredded

8 ounces sour cream

Green or red salsa or pico de gallo for garnish

About pound of lard or Crisco for frying

Once the dough has rested and you have the toppings ready it’s time to fry the bread. I’ve found that fry bread is best hot right out of the pan. This is why it’s important to have all the toppings ready before you start the bread. The simple chili can sit on the warming burner. Everything else is cold.

1. Heat 2 inches of lard or Crisco, in a heavy pan at a medium-high heat. If using a thermometer go for 350 degrees. Fat must be hot enough. Pinch off a little bit of dough and put it in the hot fat to see if it fries.

2. Once the fat is hot enough we’re ready to fry. Pinch off dough balls about the size of a lemon. Roll between your hands into balls. Pat balls into round flat shape and stretch further until they’re about a ¼ inch thick. Immediately and gently lay dough in hot fat.

3. Fry the dough quickly, one circle at a time, until golden on both sides, turning once with a fork or tongs. Watch so they don’t burn. Drain on paper towels.

Putting the tacos together

Put a fry bread on a plate. Add the toppings in this order: a layer of chili, some lettuce, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and chopped tomatoes. If you like add a dollop of sour cream and any kind of salsa.

In truth you can put anything you like on a fry bread taco but traditional ingredients always have some kind of beans and meat.

2 thoughts on “The Struggle Against Inertia”

  1. Ahhh, fry bread. We had our first fry bread @ the annual Mesquaki (?) Fall Festival in Tama years ago. I think Susan made some on occasion while we lived in Marshalltown. Cool idea for tacos. Your outlook is so commendable; looks at what you have–that’s all you need. We all grew up like so many others adhering to ‘patience being a virtue’, but none of us really followed it. As we get older and maybe a bit wiser, what really is the hurry?! Keep the good stuff coming. Take care; stay safe. Enjoy living in the moment –Tom

    1. My mom loved the Mesquaki people in Tama. She even brought them to the Fisher Center for dance demonstrations. I never had fry bread until I got to California. It’s probably a good thing or I would have had a few extra pounds to deal with!

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