BagelsinAugust

guacamole revisited

Aug
02

I was looking for something simple and quick for the day before my birthday, especially since this day holds much significance for me. When I was younger, this day was the climax of excitement, with presents following and wishes fulfilled (for the most part). As I grew older, the day became a mile marker as the last time I would no longer be able to drive, vote, drink, rent a car by myself… and after each achievement, I would feel closer to being treated as an adult. I was going to conquer the world!

However, I would also be thankful each year that I had not done drugs, or strayed down some wrong (mostly moral) path. It seems silly to even mention, but I was thankful to have stayed true to myself, even when I was not sure who “I” was. This no longer seems to be the foremost thought on my mind when the end of July comes, but I cannot help thinking about what I have accomplished in the previous year. What goals did I finish? Did I make the right choices? Did I grow in all areas of my life and soul? More often than not, I think of everything first in a state of panic (I did not do enough!), then growing calmer and satisfied with where I am in my life. Simplicity is the goal for the next year, I promise no one in particular.

The avocado has limitless opportunities, from eating in shell with some ranch, to spreading on toast, to ice cream. But I love guacamole the most, especially slightly chunky pieces of avocado slathered in lime juice with sea salt. I also happen to be a big fan of salsa fresca, and it can be hard to decide, so I combine them, and find a sense of relief in not having to choose (true to my character). The yellow cherry tomatoes in the garden are quite plump nowadays, so I used a handful to make a guacamole salsa of sorts. Simplicity.

making my version of guacamole

Ingredients (for two very generous servings as an appetizer):
two ripe avocados
one lime
one small red onion, or a quarter of a large one, finely diced
a handful of sun gold (yellow) cherry tomatoes
one medium (red) tomato
4-5 sprigs of cilantro, or italian parsley
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt, or kosher salt
small pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Steps:
1) Cut avocados, gently if you want to avoid cutting into the seed (and you can grow the seed later!). Do not be afraid to scoop out of the shell into a mortar and pestle, or into a blender. Cut the lime in half, and squeeze juice into mortar or blender. Use the leftover rinds again, especially by using the zest (zest now and freeze for later use). Add the diced red onion. Grind or blend slowly to achieve desired consistency. Season with pinch of salt, and leave to rest.
2) Dice large tomato, and cut the cherry tomatoes to desired size (think salsa size for chips). Season with olive oil. Chop cilantro and parsley, and combine with tomatoes.
3) Add the tomatoes to the guacamole, and add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like heat. 

birthday, updates on summer

Aug
08

I signed up to do more than I could handle. I know, I know – I am so bad. As if studying and work and home were not enough, I also took on tasks of reading a rather large list of books, and crafting, and letter writing, and cooking from a professional book. I just piled it on, like I always do. And this left me somewhat unsatisfied in the long run. Sure, I would achieve momentary satisfaction from a snazzy letter, or the compliments of a well baked cookie, but I was (am?) tired and grumpy and felt like an old maid who wanted to interaction with neither sleep or people (did anyone watch the movie with Bette Davis?). I blame TV for most of my slouching, and the hot weather. I blame everything else except me.

Despite all of this, I have managed to actually do some work. My tomato plants have grown from flower to plant now, and I could not be more excited to see them grow each day. I know it is horrible to compare this process to a living animal or worse, baby, but this is the closest I have. I watched them flower, and then slowly drop a tiny tomato, which is now on its way to a full beauty. I feel proud, kind of like a parent, watching them grow. And the rest of the container garden is going well, with herbs sometimes growing out of control. I think I have definetly learned some lessons about bugs and plants and soil. I am ready for my big girl garden now.

I think this may be the best looking orchid I have ever seen.

 

And…surprise! I got another orchid to add to my two. This one has lots of blooms and great (read, even) stature, which means I do not have to wrestle trying to water it. Itcsits on the fireplace next to Aristotle, who was rather lonely, I think. Have I mentioned that I dress up our statues of Aristotle and Homer, for the seasons, of course. I think it’s only proper to keep them looking good.

 

 

And I have been cooking. I shall keep the disasters (albeit, they are few) for another time, but am proud to be making  pizzas and quiches now. I even made a lemon jam stuffed braided bread, which turned out pretty great. Although I do enjoy cooking and baking, it was a pain to get the mixing done by hand…until I got this nifty gadget for my birthday! Mike bought me the Vitamix that I have always wanted/needed/dreamed of/couldn’t afford. It sits next to the KitchenAid, and over the weekend, quenched a large number of thirty, nay parched, throats with pina coladas and daquaris at a party. And today I made a decent gazpacho with some fresh Sun Gold cherry tomatoes from the store. I found them on sale and it was like a lightbulb went off, kind of like in the movies. I knew then and there I was making the Keller gazpacho soup. Now I just hope it tastes good. If only I could have the same epiphany about the okra from the farmers market, and the duck that has been occupying the freezer for quite some time now. Hmmm…

 So these are the adventures of late. No, don’t make me tell you about my dirty spending habit. I have none, I shall not succumb to the pressure….argh! Since Borders is closing (all jokes aside, I was very sad when I heard about it and remember even maybe shedding a tear or two – mostly for the downtown Ann Arbor store), I felt it was only right to go and save the books. Yes, I am a patron saint of books, a title no one can deny. And let me back up and note that it was not as if I did not go to Borders to begin with, just now I have more of a reason. So I went on the first day and bought a rather large, heavy, and very expensive cookbook (no naming). Then went again with Michael, and we came home with some cards and a few books (really! only one or two!). We were doing well, our habit aside, we had housed some great titles. And then last night, we got the kick. I will not say how much, but a rather large amount was spent on books of philosophy, some history, and a lot of Russian literature. I literally printed out my Amazon wish list and went shopping. Now, not all books were present (who reads Berberova anymore, right?) in store, and some were still way more than Amazon (hey! I have to save for school!), but I did my duty and we came home with an arm full. I think I will wait to go again, but I do hope that no one else wants to read quality books and that I will have my pickings when the final days come along. In reality, I wish I could buy all of the books and create my own library. I know that as a child, many people thought of escaping the world and entering the one of their books, but I still dream of that. More on this later, as I could go on.

And most of all, in great news lately, I had my birthday. I was rather sad the week or two beforehand, as I was truly convinced in a Dorian Gray way that I was old, and youth was escaping me, and all the silly things that the book makes you paranoid about. Perhaps not a great idea to read it before your birthday and then have someone note that you are now a part of a century old. Nonetheless, these thoughts about my futile future were soon gone as my family came to town. I was very happy to see them, and realized just how much I miss them. It is rather strange what one gets used to, and how quickly the feeling of nostalgia and homesickness comes back rushing. I rather teary eyed all day when they left. Oh yes, I was saying about my birthday now (very egotistical today, notice?)…I had a great time. The finale was a wonderful surprise party, that Mike had pulled off with my mom. I was surprised, honored, excited, and just in awe the whole evening. In my little girl world, I love surprise parties and flowers, but to see it in real life…let’s say I felt as sick as a small puppy with excitement.
And everyone was so nice, family and friends gave me some great gifts. Each more thoughtful than the next, like these books (love Paris! and cooking!) and the great little black purse. It goes with all of my evening dresses. Love it! Love you! Thank you!!!

 

I must return to work now. I hope to update more often (haven’t you heard this before?). What an odd note to end on.