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Archive for the ‘Food for Fun’ Category

Holy Guacamole!

Ok, so the title is a bit far from original, so forgive my punning.  I decided to start off this recipe writing-thing out with something super easy.  Through this process I’m sure you’ll find out (I’m looking at you, mom) that I am indeed not a chef, and quite possibly am just flat out lucky when things turn out good.  The process for cooking something new in my house tends to follow this pattern.

Step 1: Find new recipe online/on a box/in a book/in a recipe folder.

Step 2: Try out said recipe — this usually has me going back and forth to google trying to figure out how the heck to substitute some fancy ingredient and/or kitchen gadget that’s totally foreign and unavailable to me.

Step 3: Throw it at the kids and the husband.  Pray they don’t reject it.

Step 4: Approval means the kids will eat it and the husband doesn’t give you the, “That..um..I’ll eat this, but I really would prefer to never eat it again,” speech.

Step 5:  If it’s approved?  Save it, adjust it to make it better, continue on.  If rejected?  Quietly remove the recipe from memory and pretend it never happened.

And now you know my process.  Not really anything spectacular.   So, with that knowledge in mind, I give to you…my recipe for guacamole.

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Growing up I was always denied guacamole for one major reason.  Despite my mother’s objection to avocados as being slimy-textured disgusting things, she never would have denied me a food based on her dislike for the taste.  If that were the case, I would have never tasted watermelon in my life.  Not so the case with avocados.  See, my mom is very, very allergic to avocados.  Much to the dismay of many a waiter at Mexican restaurants when she says “No guac”, going without tends to mean we also get to have a nice evening without my mother breaking out in hives and having a near-anaphylactic experience.  So, as you can imagine, this dip was not something I had a chance to enjoy growing up.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I was able to poke around more freely with recipes — especially having two roommates that had a much better grasp on food.  Diana, my first, always had an eye for good comfort home-made food.  Teresa, my second roommate, knew her way around a garden and its’ contents far better than I had ever seen (my mom affectionately calls herself a brown-thumb.  Sadly, I, too, can claim this.).  Top this with my (at the time) boyfriend’s mother (now my mother-in-law) chipping in with ideas, my knack for google-fu, and my best friend Jenn baking alongside me the whole way I started to get a little more comfortable with new things in the kitchen.  I was wary the day Teresa pulled out an avocado, peeled it and began slicing it and eating it whole.  I’d never tried it, and even then I opted out when she offered it to me.  I did, after all, inherit my mother’s seasonal allergies, and after experiencing anaphylactic shock only a few years earlier I wasn’t so keen on testing if I’d inherited that, too.

My introduction to avocados was a slow and painful process.  I hesitantly toed my way in when somebody presented a 7 layer dip at a party.  Nudged a bit further when my mother in law made homemade guac in her food processor.  Finally broke down and tried making it after about a year of get-togethers with my close friends.  First time tried got three thumbs up, so I apparently did something right.

Recipe Source:  A bunch of random websites, picking and choosing what I liked about them.  Also friendly advice on a last minute decision in the produce section helped greatly. (Thank you, Leah!)

Serving Size: That depends entirely on how many people you have with you and how much they love guacamole.  I serve this amount with five adults present and still end up with some leftovers.  Some.

What you need:

  • 4 Avocados.  Biggish, mediumish. Whatever brand you fancy.  It took me a while to figure out how to pick out an avocado, though.  If you’re eating the guac today?  The avocado needs to be ripe–don’t refrigerate it.  It should have a very light squish to it when you touch it, but not so squishy that when you do poke it in the produce section you’re not immediately putting it back and searching your surroundings to make sure nobody saw you accidentally poke a hole in their product.  If it’s going to be a few days, the semi-hard avocados should be fine.  Leave it out of the fridge, in a window, or somewhere you prefer to let it ripen so it’ll be perfect when you go to use them.
  • 1/2 a lime.  Please don’t do what I did once, where I used and entire lime.  This is akin to using too much salt.  You actually do want to taste the avocado guys, so save your taste buds the pain.
  • Cilantro.  No serving size?  Er, no.  I usually go to the store, buy a small bushel, chop off a good chunk of it, and use that much.
  • Salt.  Yes, you do need some salt.  The amount is purely to taste, though, so make sure to taste your guac before you hit it with the seasonings.

Additional Optional Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a red onion.  I suppose if you really, really like red onion you could use a whole one, but needless to say it’d be a bit overpowering.
  • 1/2 a tomato.  This is up to your preference.  Sometimes I throw in tomatoes.  Sometimes I don’t.
  • 1/2 a bell pepper, any color.  I’ve found that, while this is very tasty, it also brings a lot of unnecessary water to the mix.  I’d advise adding it last.

Directions:

Get yourself a decent sized bowl, a cutting board, and a knife.  Put all the ingredients in the bowl.  Mix.  Done.

No, seriously, that’s all there is to it.  If you want it chunky, don’t over mix it.  If you want it super smooth and have the fancy food processor, have a blast.

The way I fumble through it usually has me cutting up the onion and the cilantro first, simply because they make the least mess.  I try to chop the cilantro pretty small (again, a food processor would probably help if you have one), but I always end up with a leaf or two that somehow escape my keen chopping skills. Or lack of skills, you decide.

onioncilantro

I’d like to say here that I believe fancy bowls tend to be rather overrated, especially if all you’re going to do is eat the stuff. For me, my faux-tupperware will do nicely.

From there comes the avocado.  I have seen so many techniques for cutting up an avocado that it sometimes can, and will, make my head spin.  I’ve come to terms that I do not have pristine knife skills, but I can at least rotate the dang avocado around while I poke it with the tip of a very large knife.  Sometimes this ends up with perfectly split avocados.  Sometimes it ends up … not… perfectly split.  Now, I know the ideal way to remove the pit/seed whatever have you is to smack it with the blade of your knife, angle it, and the thing should pop right out.  I can tell you now that I’ve only succeeded in doing this properly once.  Most of the time I end up just shoving my fingers into the avocado and pulling the thing out.  Before you ask, yes…yes I do wash my hands.  Both before and after.

avocados

I’ve almost got this slicing part down. If your avocado is perfectly ripe it should look pretty much like this. No brown spots in sight.

If you feel fancy, you can score your avocado with the tip of the knife before removing the guts from the shell.  There are technical words for this, I know, but basically just draw a nice grid pattern with the tip of your knife through the meat of the avocado.  Don’t cut too deep to cut the skin, but deep enough that you get all the way through it.  Then use a spoon to just spoon it out.  Or, you can be like me, and skip the scoring part and simply scoop it out.  Whatever floats your boat.

chunksofavocado

Scooping instead of scoring. I’m sure my mother is gagging somewhere as she reads this. “Filthy, nasty, slimy little avocados, we hates them!”

So I lack a food processor.  Reason being is partially because I’m too lazy to get one, and also because, quite frankly, I can’t convince myself to spend that much on something that I’ll rarely use.  I do, however, have a potato masher.  While it doesn’t make the guac super creamy, it does do the job a lot better than a fork.  It’s also cheaper.  Lots cheaper.  Pretty sure you can find these under five bucks.  I also lack, sadly, a juicer of any sort.  Even the small circular hand-juicer things that my mother at least used to own.  So when it comes to juicing the lime?  Yeah, I end up squeezing it with my hands over the bowl.  Hold your hand under it to catch any potential seeds.  Lime seeds do not belong in guacamole.

tatosmasher

I love this masher. Note, I should probably use a bigger bowl next time. The masher barely fit into the thing.

Mix n’ mashed however you want it, guacamole ends up pretty good with more than just chips.  Every week we make tacos or burritos or fajitas and a little guac on them goes pretty far.  My kids, when they taste it, often give me a high-pitched “Mmmm!” before declining it on their food.  Apparently eating guac by itself is preferred in their minds, but I guess mixing flavors is something that they’ll learn to appreciate when they’re a bit older.  Refrigerate the guac so the flavors can kinda seep together and about an hour later you can dive into it.

schlorp

I should point out that it’s actually not this brown looking when it’s finished. My kitchen has a distinct incandescent yellow tint to it that I’ve yet to give up for fluorescent lighting.  Not really keen on doing so any time soon.

And that is, predictably, that.  Enjoy!

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There comes a time when you’re a blogger (or me.  Really it’s more likely if you’re anything like me, so let’s go with that analogy) that you end up running dry and sapped of creativity and end up staring blankly for hours when it comes time to write anything.  I have gone near two years with little to no postings, and I do apologize for that (to all five of you reading this, of course).   I need to rectify this.  Especially since coming online and seeing a notification from wordpress saying “Your blog stats are booming!” only to mouse over the stats to see that only 12 page views warranted this alert.

I should do something about that.

The fact is, when I sit down to write about my issues with cancer I tend to mull a bit too much.  How can this be  helpful?  Have I already written about this before?  Why is it so quiet in here?  What are my kids getting into that has them so quiet?  Did they go outside? I don’t remember sending them outside…

And so forth.

It’s not that I have a lack of things to say, but it generally boils down to me wondering, truly, if what I have to say really hasn’t been said before.  While the answer to that is an undeniable yes (as is the case with most creative endeavors), I can at least say that nobody else says it in my words and with my personal experiences.

But my life isn’t all about cancer.  I want to show people that there can and is life beyond a cancer diagnosis, despite what most social implications tell us.  In fact, I can say without blinking that most people I’ve known that have gone through cancer have survived.  This isn’t exactly an educated and highly studied statistic.  It’s my personal experience.  One that I’m happy to talk about.  However it’s not the only thing I want to talk about, and as per some of my previous posts I do have other things that make me unique.  Oddly tall, unabashed lifetime Girl Scout, artist, and, according to my mother, a chef.

I can see you laughing there behind your screen, but don’t worry, the chef part made me laugh, too.

While I don’t consider myself to be on par enough to go compete on shows like Master Chef or The Taste I do think that I do a relatively decent job at keeping my husband and kids happily fed.  My children, also, aren’t nearly as picky as others seem to be.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times that I’ve had employees in the checkout lane marvel at how my kids’ snacks vary from carrots to celery, how they’ll eat broccoli without batting an eye, and absolutely adore the peas my husband serves with his casseroles.  Now, I’m not going to peter off into a spiel about my kids amazingness — that would paint a horribly false picture and probably also get boring.  We all have faults and my kids are no exceptions.  But every mom has to have something to brag about now and then.

My daughter, on that note, went on strike at the tender age of one and a half when it came to eating anything green.  I am, admittedly, a bit warped in my solutions to things.  So when she began pushing her peas away and opting only to eat her cooked carrots and noodles, I decided to take action.  I purchased the colored pasta and only gave her the green stuff.  Rainbow colored goldfish crackers?  She got the green ones.  Mashed potatoes?  Green food coloring.  Do I need to go on?  My daughter was only given the option of green food (except for meat.  I didn’t want to try and figure out how to dye meat and …really.  Green meat.  Ew.)  for nearly six months before she decided that she’d had enough…and began to voluntarily eat her peas once more.

I’ll consider that a small notch on my belt of triumphant mommy moments.

Now that school has started up again (my house is quiet for a good reason.  I’m still not adjusted to this after summer.) I’ve decided to start experimenting around with cooking once more.  There have been frequent times when I’ve been asked for recipes, so here is where I will post them.  Written in a way that hopefully doesn’t bore you to tears.  (I’m looking at you, Betty Crocker.)

Does this mean I’ll be stopping writing about cancer?  Of course not.  My tall tales will still appear more sporadically, too.  I’m just adding in another part of my life to a blog that’s, well, about my life.  Hopefully this will prompt me to start writing once again, as I’ve begun to miss the overly obnoxious clacking of my outdated keyboard.   In any case, I hope you stick around (all five of you.  Or four.  There might be a slim chance of six.  I digress.) and see what I manage to pull out of nowhere just to give you something to read.

Cheers!

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