Here are a few small tips I've picked up/figured out over the last week or so that didn't really warrant their own post, but will probably factor into recipes I post later on.
On Foodspin's Arrabbiata Sauce post, commenter DrColossus turned me on to the idea of using miso paste instead of anchovies to give tomato sauce a bit of an umami kick. I'm still working on my definitive tomato sauce recipe but this development deserves to be out there before I'm done fiddling because...damn. Also, part of the reason I was able to test this out literally the day after I saw DrColossus' comment was because my wife and I finally found a place that sells good miso paste and started making our own miso soup, and anyone who has an Asian market anywhere near them and can get their hands on the good stuff needs to incorporate miso soup into their repertoire like right meow. The trick to incorporating it evenly is to put the paste into a ladle and dip it into the boiling water while stirring with a mini-whisk or fork, so that it gets incorporated gradually rather than just plopping it all in and hoping for the best. For the tomato sauce, I ended up adding it in quarter-teaspoon bits (I did three of them for one can of stewed tomatoes broken up in a blender and then simmered for about half an hour with just salt, pepper, oregano, and shredded roast chicken) spread out in different areas of the sauce pan and stirring it more than I would regular tomato sauce. We've had a hard time finding seaweed so we've been using daikon and/or baby bok choy instead for our miso soup; and hooooooooly shitballs, I get the feeling that stuff is joining the group of foods I can't order from a restaurant unless I know it's gonna approach the level of quality we can achieve at home.
For the tacos, today was a bit of a big day for me. Keep in mind I'm the whitest white boy to ever try to make food that tastes like things, so a big day for me taco-wise is gonna be ridiculously old hat for a lot of people. Not only did I accidentally find pretty much the exact correct spice mix (I tweaked it a bit to really dial it in, but what I found was 90% there) to get the taste of box kit tacos; I also figured out a better way than the toothpicks for keeping my taco together while also keeping it warm for the whole time I'm eating it. First up: the spice mix. I modified it from a sauce I found in a tofu scramble recipe.
For 1 pound of ground beef, mix 2 teaspoons each of ground sea salt and garlic powder, 4 teaspoons of ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon each of chili powder and turmeric in a bowl, then pour in about 1/3 cup of water and a tablespoon or two of hot sauce (I used Cholula, use whatever sauce in whatever amount you usually like) and stir until it's a thin sauce. Soften a finely chopped onion over low/medium heat in garlic oil until they're translucent, then break up the ground beef into the pan, mix everything together, and brown the beef while breaking it up with a spatula as small as it'll go. Once it's pretty much all browned, pour the sauce in (don't drain the fat like most recipes will tell you, it'll come in handy later) and stir everything around, simmering and stirring occasionally until the water is almost all boiled off, having already served its purpose of helping to distribute the spice mix more evenly. This is one of those things that's actually better reheated the day after because the beef fat will have absorbed a fair amount of the spices but letting it cool off in the fridge overnight will cause it to re-solidify and you can kind of control how much of it goes back into the meat before reheating. After that, prep them however you would your normal tacos, and here's where today's other advancement comes in.
When prepping the taco, instead of putting everything in a line down the middle of the tortilla, put it just off center with some space on the ends so you can fold them over. Fold your ends over, then fold the shorter side of tortilla over the filling and keep rolling the whole thing until it's all shut, making sure that the ends don't open up from being folded over themselves. Once that's done, take a sheet of aluminum foil and roll the taco up in it, then pinch the ends flat and fold them up over the top (in the picture the end flap is folded down but the second time I made one this way some sauce leaked out that end, so ignore that and fold 'em up). When you're ready to go, open up one of the ends and make a tear in the top and along both sides, so you have two smaller flaps on top and one big one on bottom. Roll the bottom flap so it acts as a "foot" to keep the open end of the taco elevated, and fold the other ends back so they're out of the way, and eat it like you would a banana, folding back more and more of the foil as you go. By the time you get to the other end, it'll basically be a little taco shot glass you can down in one gulp.