When my mom told my sister we were having Mexican tonight she said “But it’s not my birthday.” My sister makes a good point, we usually only have Mexican on her birthday, which is near Labor Day. This is totally silly of us because we all love it so very much.

On the menu was Drew’s* grilled steak, salmon and shrimp. A variety of tortillas (corn is my personal fave). Ronni’s guacamole, and Wayne’s salsa made with 4 kinds of peppers. (Both were so delicious you could eat them on their own.) My mom made coleslaw using Chinese cabbage, mayo, lime juice & cilantro — yum! I made beans, the version I usually make when we have Black Bean & Goat Cheese Quesadillas. The recipe is below.

On the drink front, Jenya made frozen margaritas (oh to be not-pregnant in summer). And the table was strewn with bottles of Dos Equis.

For dessert the kids (a slew of them including Drew & Cathy’s girls), made the tiniest little animal-shaped crepes filled with chocolate sauce. They were utterly precious.

Dinner was followed by the coloring of my mom’s hair with various shades of blue hair chalk, and a brief but impressive fireworks display.

*Learn more about who all these people are on the Family page.

• Favorite Black Beans •
vegetable oil
1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned well and finely chopped OR 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin (more if desired)
salt and pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup water (more if needed)
salt to taste

Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, leek or onion, cumin, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in beans and mash them with a large fork or potato masher. Add water and cook, stirring until most of water is absorbed, about 2 to 3 minutes. You can add more water if the beans seem too dry. Remove from heat and serve, or keep covered, over very low heat, stirring occasionally until ready to serve.