Sunday, December 06, 2009

Weekend Review

So, who can guess what I made last night???

Hmmm...avocados, lime, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, red onion...any guesses?


Can we say Guacamole? Oh it's just so Mmmm-Mmmm Good!

Guacamole is one of those foods I always thought of as hard to make. I think it was the avocados that intimidated me. Sure, they can be expensive, but you can catch them on sale (and Aldi has them for quite a reasonable price) and any vegetable that is that creamy and smooth and full of protein is one worth buying, in my book!

*edited to add: Okay, I know the avocado is actually a fruit and not a vegetable, but nevertheless, how many fruits can you name that are that decadently smooth and creamy?

Of course, you have to know how to prepare them. Thanks to America's Test Kitchen I now know to remove the rather large pit (which usually goes to Man-Cub after a quick rinse--he loves to play with them, the little weirdo) very carefully with the blade of my chef's knife, then score the flesh like a grid.

The cubes are then removed from the skin quite easily with just a swipe of a tablespoon. Unless of course the avocado is not quite ripe in which case there is nothing you can do with it except put it in a brown paper bag and think of something else to serve while the avocado ripens for a few days. If you haven't yet cut into the avocado and you know it isn't ripe enough you can poke several holes into it and nuke it for 30 seconds at a time until the skin turns purple and it's soft enough to cut.

But, once you've got nice, soft avocado flesh and you've scored and scooped it, you can simply mash it with a fork as your Guacamole base.

All of the other ingredients (diced garlic, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, some cumin and salt and one avocado the cubes of which you have not mashed but left...cubed) can then be plopped in...

...and with a squeeze or two of lime juice, the whole thing is ready to be stirred up!

Now, all you need is a bag of your favorite tortilla chips (we're partial to Mission brand chips--tasty and economical), a jar of salsa and some sour cream and you've got a taste explosion that serves as snack, lunch, or even dinner.

I made this for Redheaded Snippet's field hockey team's victory party. A few minutes after we had arrived, one of the assistant coaches, who I had never met before, came up to me and asked if I had made the Guacamole. When I said I had she began pumping my hand and gushing about how good it was and how she had to ask around until she found out which player's mother had made it! Apparently, she's a bit of an aficionado and considers mine among the best she's ever had! I couldn't stop blushing and smiling! I have to say I don't think I've ever had a reaction like that to anything I've made before. It totally made my day. Maybe even my month.

That Guac was the perfect prelude to a chili and cornbread dinner put together by Lobelia and me. Our men spent the day hauling wood together in the chill, freezing rain and, eventually, snow. They endured getting the U-haul trailer stuck in an ATM lane at the bank, getting the truck stuck in the mud in Lenny and Lobelia's back yard, having to call AAA to get them out, leaving deep ruts in our yard, Lenny's yard and Lenny's neighbor's yard (Lenny took care of it, it's cool), and getting good and wet and filthy in the process. Lobelia and I knew they'd need something hearty and sustaining so I made The Viking's favorite Cincinnati Chili and Lobelia made our aunt's famous Onion Corn Bread. And, as the Guac happens to be a favorite of everyone's I made some of that for us all to munch on while we heated up dinner. The whole thing was perfect!

Switching gears once more, I did manage to put together what can loosely be defined as an Advent wreath. Okay, it's not a wreath, per se, but it will just have to do.

I am amazed, and a bit disgusted, at the severe lack of Advent materials out there. I've looked everywhere I can think of, even the "religious" store at the mall. They had one wreath and it was metal and gargantuan and weighed about 3 tons and probably could easily brain someone. And the only candles they had weren't even the size that fits it. That made no sense to me whatsoever. And their "Advent" calendars? All either had candy in them or were plastered with images of Santa and reindeer and snowmen and such. I've looked online and have realized I'm going to have to make do this year and order what I really want for next year.

A.C. Moore had votives that were close enough in color to make do for this year. And at $.50 each I decided to go for it. When I got them home I realized I had these little glasses sitting on my hutch that would fill in perfectly as votive cups. The Viking went out in the yard and cut some holly and evergreen branches for me and, as I couldn't figure out how to bend them into a circle and keep them that way, I decided to abandon the wreath idea and go for more of a linear, rectangular kind of thing in keeping with my (very limited) arranging skills.

So, down came my vintage, metal Coca Cola tray off the wall. I laid the holly and evergreen around it (pricking my fingers several times in the process--holly prickles are SHARP!) and arranged the candles carefully so I don't burn the house down as an unforgettable Advent gift for us all! I briefly explained to the children why we light candles for Advent and lit them as we sat down to dinner and The Viking led us in prayer as he usually does, but this time he had us all give our own short prayer of thanksgiving. God has really been speaking to The Viking lately, ever since his back pain started; sometimes God just has to knock us off our donkeys to get our attention.

While it's not what I had envisioned, and I'm still planning on ordering a proper wreath for next year, I'm glad to have finally gotten the Advent decorating started. I left the candles glowing in the dark dining room while we sat in the next room and it made me feel so...festive is the wrong word but it's the closest thing I can think look in and see the light shining in the darkness. Tomorrow, I want to get the electric candles in all the windows. Somehow, they seem more like Advent than Christmas to me. I'd also like to get the nativity out from its box in the basement, but that has to wait until we figure out where we're putting the living room furniture and that won't be settled until later this week.

But that's another whole story...


Leila said...

I like it. Guacamole AND the "wreath".

I think it speaks to our children when we just try, and they are really quite accepting of whatever it is that we do. We can't judge ourselves... there is no way to know what the memory of Mom "making do" will spark, years down the road. The importance is in the love...

Sarah said...

I think your "wreath" turned out beautifully. It's simple yet serves the purpose well. And now you have a whole year to search for what you really want next year =)

God bless!