The aroma fills the house as garlic and onion sizzle. The spices do their magic as they simmer in juicy tomatoes. We all love “TX Who Hash” night in this family. We love it for so much more though than its heartiness and comfort; it is a meal we prepare for ourselves and our CLT neighbors.
About a year ago, I learned of this dish. Covenant Presbyterian cares about hunger in the city. One way they aim to address it is to serve dinner to over 300 men on fifth Tuesdays at Roof Above (formerly Men’s Shelter of Charlotte). Those who serve the meal rely on donations of approximately 50-60 casseroles to execute the feast. Covenant provides the recipe, which is lovely in taste and simple to prepare. And I adore any recipe where the rice cooks in the liquids without additional work or pots to clean. Plus, fun nutrition fact: as opposed to fresh, canned tomatoes can contain higher amounts of lycopene, one of tomatoes’ superfood powers.
“Well, we can do that,” I thought, sitting in the pew one morning (in the days where we could attend in person). The good news is we can still perform this act of service. We just label, date, and drop off our frozen casserole in the church freezer so they have it ready when needed.
We made a batch last night, so I wanted to share it with you Smarties looking for ways to discuss service with your children on Martin Luther King Jr. Day–and as a way to serve at other times during the year too–especially when it’s so easy to turn inward. If you’re like me, you can find yourself often fixated on your own frustrations and issues right now. And while my challenges and emotions about the pandemic are valid and real, it’s also important to my husband and me that we do not forget the struggles of others around us. And it matters to us as parents that we teach our children this too.
No, it’s not called “Texas Who Hash”; my kids added the “who” in fitting with the Grinch and Who Hash “happy meal” from the book’s ending. It seems fitting in my mind though, so it stuck.
Some tips if you try this:
– We double the rice and garlic since we like it that way.
– The low-sodium Veg-All that contains limas and potatoes is delicious in this. I also go low-sodium with petite diced tomatoes.
– I use a blend of dark and white ground chicken for flavor and leanness. Shout out to my favorite butcher shop: The Butcher’s Market of Charlotte. When they found out what the purchase was for, they threw in some delicious French bread. We may have been in masks and gloves, but good vibes are contagious!
– Let the kids help. I know, I know, but… I handle the meat and chopping onions. They can do pretty much everything else in the recipe under my guidance. Engage them in a brief chat about recycling as they rinse all those cans too.
– Make a batch for your family as well. Discuss where the other is going and what shelters are. When we ask our children what they know and have questions about (ex: poverty, bullying, elections, pollution), it helps them better understand their world. Just keep details at their level.
– Since you need to cover the cooking vessel in the last step, I use my stock pot and skillet with lids. Both do fine and allow me to make the two at once.
– Involve your children in the drop off as an act of service. If your faith organization is not open to using TX Hash as a means to feed a community need, perhaps there is a lonely senior down the street or a friend-in-need whom you could deliver this too instead?
– Explore the concept of the three “Ts”: time, treasure, talents. Think about ways you can tap into your available resources and gifts to make service a regular part of life. For example, I’d love to tutor, but our family is short on time right now; therefore, we choose to cook and share. We also like to donate a portion of our earnings to the Foundation for the Carolinas. The kids now set aside part of their allowance for this each month as well. I hope they continue as adults.
– Serve with a fruit salad from the week’s leftovers for ease and less waste. Dinner done.
I like the saying that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance is not a “day off, but a day on”. This National Day of Service site is excellent for filtering and finding ways to serve in our very own communities (many of them virtual).
Give it a glance and see if there is something your family finds interesting for Monday. The drive through book drive and virtual letter writing opportunities caught my attention.
Let me close with a bit of trivia, courtesy of my 2nd grader (great convo starter by the way):
Q: “Martin” was not Dr. King’s real name. What was it? Why was it changed?
A: You can find the answer here + 9 more things you may not have known about this amazing leader.
Happy “Day On”, Smarties–Would love to read your comments: What did you do to observe the holiday? How did your family make the recipe your own?