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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Black (10/15/09)

TITLE: One Step from Coolness
By Anita van der Elst


The RA called the residential hall meeting to order. Stewart, a tall long-legged freshman coming in late, slivered his way into a spot on a couch.

“Sorry,” he apologized. “I was just sending my mom an email.” He stopped abruptly as though realizing how un-cool that sounded. Rolling his eyes, he mumbled, “You know how moms are. Can’t wait to hear from their kids once they’ve moved away.” After deciding it wouldn’t improve his coolness level if he mentioned he’d moved less than thirty miles from his parents’ home, he entered a self-imposed cone of silence.

The meeting went on as most meetings do, then closed with sign-ups for the first end-of-the-month potluck meal.

Here’s where I can chalk up coolness points, Stewart mused with pen poised over the sheet. Confidently he wrote out ‘Texas Burritos’ in the main dish section.

The blond girl behind him glanced at his entry. “What’re ‘Texas Burritos’?” she asked.

Stewart burst out from his cone of silence in order to interact with the lovely miss. “Well, they’re…burritos…” He paused, frowned. “My mom makes ‘em. They’re fantastic. Not sure what’s in ‘em. Some kind of beans, I think? But they’re awesome.” How completely lame did I sound? Stewart groaned inwardly.

“So is your mommy bringing them to the potluck?” The sassy blond smirked at him.

He knew he’d just lost ten points on the cool-o-meter and was about to lose ten more. But he couldn’t help himself. In his best big-brother-to-annoying-little-sister voice, he said, “No, my mother’s not coming. I’ll make ‘em myself.”

Stewart hurried to his room and logged onto his email.

From: Stewart Dobbins
To: Louisa Dobbins
Subject: Burritos
hi mom,
I know I said in my previous email that I didn’t want you to contact me for the first few weeks that I’m here. As I said it’s not that I don’t love you. I just want to experience life on my own as much as possible. But would you mind sending me your recipe for ‘Texas Burritos’?

From: Louisa Dobbins
To: Stewart Dobbins
Subject: re: Burritos
Hi Stewie,
No problem on all accounts. I do understand where you’re coming from and I love you too. Here’s the recipe:

8-12 flour tortillas
1 16 oz. Pkg. Black-eyed Peas
1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar (you can use more cheese if you like)
4 oz. mild green chilies, minced & seeded (I just use canned)
1-2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
½ tsp. or to taste bottled hot pepper sauce
Arrange tortillas flat. In med. bowl place black-eyed peas; mash w/fork. Add rest of ingred. Toss to mix well. Spoon about 1/3 cup of mixture onto each tortilla. Fold in short sides of tortilla, roll up from long side. Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Cover w/foil. Heat in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until heated thru. Serve hot w/optional: salsa, sour cream, guacamole, shredded cheese, sliced green onions, olives.

Have fun cooking.

On the day of the potluck Stewart took command of the residential hall’s small kitchen. He assembled a glass mixing bowl, a cookie sheet and a few other implements that Mom had given him out of her own kitchen when he left. Unpacking his eco-friendly cloth grocery bag, he set out the items he had bought at Trader Joe’s. He quickly read through the recipe instructions that he’d printed out from Mom’s email and began the process of reaching the epitome of coolness.

An hour later Stewart frantically hit speed dial on his cell phone.

“Hello, Stewie! What a nice surprise!”

“Mom! Help!”

“What is it, honey?”

“Why are my ‘Texas Burritos’ so crunchy? Yours never were.”

“Hmm, it’s a little difficult for me to figure that out since we’re at such a distance from each other.”


“Ok, why don’t you run through what you did and we’ll see if we can solve the mystery.”

A few minutes later Stewart penciled in an adjustment on his copy of the recipe: Prior to mashing, cook Black-eyed Peas according to package directions. Fleetingly he wondered if Mom had left out that part on purpose or if her “oops” had been genuine. Mom wouldn’t do that, would she? Nah. He dismissed it from his mind and glancing at the clock, figured he had just enough time to run to Trader Joe’s again and get his cooking done. Coolness might still be attained.

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This article has been read 543 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke10/22/09
Oh poor Stewie was in quite a stew! Having been in the position of trying to impress others with my culinary skills-- or lack there of-- I could totally identify with your MC.
Good writing-- and thanks for the recipe mom!
Jan Ackerson 10/26/09
Very clever!

I thought the entire recipe bogged down the middle a bit. But it sounds delicious!
Catrina Bradley 10/30/09
LOL! Great story, and a bonus recipe! Your character seems so real. I had fun reading this, and I can't wait to make Texas Burritos (with COOKED peas). :D