Peachy guacamole

Peachy guacamole

Peachy guacamole

Malcolm graduated from elementary school yesterday. Honestly, up until a couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have thought this was such a momentous occasion. A minor transition, maybe. But right now it feels like a huge big deal. I’ve gotten all emotional about it. Last night at graduation they had a slide show with pictures of all the kids, from kindergarten till now. My god, they change so much between five and twelve! It all went so fast! They’ll change so much between twelve and eighteen, and that will fly by, too. My head is spinning! The whole world is in a whirl! Even the yearbook makes me weepy. They ask all the sixth graders a set of questions about what they like and what they hope for their future, and, of course, I love Malcolm’s answers. His favorite place to be is “anywhere.” How wonderful is that? Anywhere is his favorite place to be! I’m going to put that on a t-shirt and I’m going to remember it next time I’m cranky about being somewhere I don’t want to be. And what does he want to be when he grows up? A famous adventurer!! I think that’s the best answer an eleven year old could give. I want him to be a famous adventurer! I worry sometimes that I’ll pass on all of my worries to the boys. My fears of this and of that. I want to be a famous adventurer, too, I really, do, but I’m Moley at heart. I like to write and read and go for walks and eventually make dinner and drink some wine and then go for another walk. I like to be with my family in my house in my town. I like to travel, too, and we will when we have the means, but I’m an easily contented person. And it’s not just settling, these things make me truly, actively happy. But Malcolm could do anything! He could go anywhere! And whatever he does he could do as an adventurer. He could be an adventurer architect or fireman or astronaut or mechanic. He could be an adventurer dad or artist or musician or accountant. I suppose he could even be an adventure who likes to write and read and go for walks and eventually drink some wine and make dinner! Whatever he does, wherever he goes, I hope he goes there adventurously, and happily, and I hope anywhere is always his favorite place to be.

Peachy guacamole

Peachy guacamole

Another avocado recipe?!?! That’s right. I’m avocado obsessed at the moment, and my oven is broken so I can’t tell you about the cakes or bread or pies that I’m making because I’m not making them!! This was really nice, I thought. Sweet, tart, spicy, full of fresh chives and cilantro from our garden. We just ate it with chips, but it would be nice to add to bean tacos or with croquettes.

Here’s Owl City with When Can I See You Again, which Malcolm’s class sang at graduation. I swear there’s nothing like these pop songs they play at dances and choir concerts to get you all choked up when you’re feeling stupidly emotional.
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chickpea guacosalsa or salsamole

Chickpea saslamole

Chickpea saslamole

This afternoon Clio and I walked to school to pick up the boys, as we always do. I looked down at her, and she seemed very serious, head down, ears bobbing as earnestly as ears can bob. Yes, she has a light elegant gait and shiny white socks, but at this moment her pace was very businesslike. She had somewhere to be, and she was determined to get there. Dogged, I thought, Clio is demonstrating the definition of dogged.
Clio

Clio


I know that Clio considers walking the boys to and from school her job. She knows by some mysterious internal clock when it’s time to get them, and if I make any move around that time, she follows me frantically, worried that she’ll be left behind. What a wonderful work ethic she has! She knows where she’s going and she heads there at a relatively steady pace. If you were, oh, I don’t know, writing a novel, say, this would be the equivalent of writing a little bit every day, forcing yourself to write a few pages so that you will get where you’re going in a timely manner. We don’t take the same route every time, but we always arrive in the same place. She’s happy to let the walk take her where it will as long as we’re headed towards the school, but if I try to turn in the wrong direction she stops. She looks at me with serious, wondering eyes, she won’t move. She’s goal-oriented, but she’s willing to explore different options in achieving that goal. She’s willing to let herself get distracted by important things, like squirrels or sparrows, she’ll gladly stop to greet a friend, but she always has one paw back on the path, ready to continue the journey. Most of all, Clio’s work is full of the weighty buoyant responsibility of love. She enjoys the walk, sure, and she doesn’t mind the wait at the other end, as long as she has a few sticks to chew on. But the real reward is leaping happily on the boys when they finally emerge from the school. Her love for them has brought her out, in every kind of weather, when the sidewalks were slick with rain or treacherous with slush and ice. She’s joyfully, bouncingly dogged. She’s a true amateur.

Chickpea salsamole

Chickpea salsamole

This is so easy, so delicious, and so versatile. It’s a little like guacamole, a little like salsa, and a little like a cool chickpea salad. You could add anything you want to this! Garlic, raw or roasted, onions or chives, jalapeños, olives, capers, hot sauce, cheese…anything! I used cilantro from our garden and beautiful golden oregano from the CSA that we belong to. I like this to stuff inside a pita or tortilla with some croquettes or beans and rice.

Here’s Uncle Tupelo with I Want to be your Dog. I LOVE this cover!
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Corn, avocado, french feta and cherry tomato salad

corn-and-avocado-saladWe’re just coming out of summer…floating up through the thick moist august air into the cool days of autumn, and I feel as though I’ve got the bends! I’m forgetful and moody and I’m having a hell of a time concentrating on anything. The boys are back in school, and my list of things I’ll get to it as soon as the boys are back in school is languishing in some pile of other things I’ve misplaced and forgotten all about. As the mornings and evenings draw in dark and chilly, I feel as though I’ve started casting out my silky and yet freakishly strong threads, and I’m winding them around everyone I love, pulling them home, where I’ll feed them warm food and keep them safe. I feel a bit like Clio, actually! Walking Isaac to school and meeting the boys at the end of the day are the highlights of my life at the moment, and everything in between is a confused blur. I’ll get back into a pattern, eventually, there’s so much I want to do. But for now, I’ll enjoy walking Isaac to school as a sort of meditation, a facet of my training as a student of Isaacstentialism. In my dazey half-awake state, I’ll put my hand out without looking, and know that his will be right there to take it in less than a moment. I’ll half listen as he talks and talks and says the sweetest things, and I’ll think about them for the rest of the day. Today he said that when he grows up he’s going to have a big field in his back yard, with grass in it that’s taller than his children, and they’ll play hide and seek in the grass, and Malcolm’s children will come over too, so all four of them (?!?!) will be there. And there will be a sort of maze in the grass, but a path through it, too, so they can all find their way home safely. And Isaac will have a porch above the grass so that he can see where his children are running, and he and Malcolm will sit on the porch and talk while their children play in the long green reeds below. Yeah. Next week everything will be clear and organized and I’ll get to work. This week, I’ll imagine myself like a child, running through long grass taller than me, all the world a beautiful shifting confusion of green, with a path to carry me safely home. “When a body catch a body coming through the rye…”

Leftover corn-on-the-cob is fun! Who knew!! This time I combined it with avocado, cherry tomatoes, french feta (but you could use regular feta or any crumbly cheese you like), fresh basil, fresh cilantro, pine nuts and lime juice. Fresh, sweet, salty, tart. Very nice indeed. I didn’t add any oil as a dressing, because I think the avocado serves that purpose. And the cherry tomatoes from the farm have been sweet as candy, so between those and the corn, I didn’t feel I needed to balance the lime juice with any extra sweetness, but you could always add a drizzle of honey. You could also add roasted garlic, hot sauce, or any other thing you like.

Here’s Whispering Grass by The Ink Spots.

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Thin crispy roasted potatoes piled with chipotle black beans, spinach, smoked gouda, jalapenoes, and guacamole

Thin crispy potatoes with black beans and guacamole

Thin crispy potatoes with black beans and guacamole

“Why is it okay to be scruffy when you’re real?” This is a question Isaac had to answer for class, and in solidarity with the lad, I’m going to try to answer it myself, here. I should start by saying that I haven’t read the book, so if it seems like I’m desperately flailing to sound relevant (to anything), that’s because I am. I would posit, however, that this is the nature of all communication after first grade, and thereby acceptable for the matter at hand. So. “Why is it okay to be scruffy when you’re real?” I believe that not only is it “okay” to be scruffy when you’re real, but that scruffiness is an indicator of reality. And not just an indicator of realness as opposed to imaginariness, but also of realness in contrast to fakeness. Real meaning “actual” as well as real meaning “genuine.” Anything that is too perfect or symmetrical seems plastic and artificial. Something may be perfect in your dreams or your imagination, but when you’re awake and viewing the real thing, you notice flaws and oddities. And these are the aspects that make you know that the object is yours, and these are the things that make the object beautiful in your eyes. Any slight imperfection makes an individual more interesting and appealing, makes it stand out from all others, makes it, in fact, individual. It is hard to love something that is exactly like every other such something in the world. It is hard to even recognize that it is yours. If every car in the world was the same, you might identify yours because of a scrape on the fender or a dent in the bumper. This scruffiness helps you to recognize that the car is yours, and the very state of being yours makes it more appealing than every more perfect car in the world. If every child in the world was identical in mind and body, you might feel a vague affection for all of them. But it’s the child you’ve nursed when they were ill, whose snotty nose you’ve wiped, whose strange thoughts you’ve listened to, that you love with a fierce passion. It’s the child whose dirty face and muddy fingernails you love, because it means they’ve had a good day playing in the yard or climbing trees. Because another definition of “real” is alive, animate, as in “a real boy.” And when you’re alive you’re subject to messiness, illness, and aging. But these things, as manifestations of life and liveliness, become poignant and beautiful. Scruffiness is a sign of change. It’s a sign of growing and living, of adventures and mishaps, of stories to tell. These are the things that make a creature interesting and alive. Mint-condition perfection can only be achieved through stasis and isolation, and few things in life are actually better for being static and alone. Scruffiness is okay when you’re real, because it is both symptom and source of a real love, such as can only be experienced by real people in real time. Scruffiness is vulnerability, it is showing yourself to another when your guard is down and your mask is off, and this rawness and openness is the only possible path to intimacy. Scruffiness is banal and day-to-day. It is tedious and unspecial, but when you share this ordinariness with someone, you become more real, your relationship becomes real. You delight in the habits that you share, and you slowly grow and change together, becoming more real and alive and wrinkled and eccentric and lovely with each passing year. By heaven, you’ll think your love more rare and real than any based on false illusions of perfection. And this is why it is more than okay to be scruffy when you’re real.
Thin crispy potatoes with chipotle black beans and guacamole

Thin crispy potatoes with chipotle black beans and guacamole

This was a yummy dinner!! I roasted some thinly sliced potatoes with sage and olive oil. Then I piled them high with roasted mushrooms, black beans, corn and spinach sauteed with chipotle puree, smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, pickled jalapenos and fresh, chunky guacamole made of avocado, tomato, cilantro and lime juice. Smoky, earthy, fresh, satisfying. It was fun to eat this! We ate it like nachos. The boys stuffed the black bean mixture in some soft tortillas.

Here’s Linton Kwesi Johnson with Reality Poem.

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Avocado, olive & basil salad

Avacado & olive salad

[I apologize for posting a couple of times today. We’re going away for the weekend, and I don’t want to fall too far behind!]

My boys have a book called Mixed-up Animals. Each page has a picture of an animal and is broken into three sections. You can turn a part of the page to line up another animal with the first. In this way, you can make a creature with platypus feet, an armadillo body, and a caribou head. A platadillibou. They’ve also always loved the game exquisite corpse, in which each person draws part of a creature without seeing what the others have drawn. Isaac still gets very excited when the paper is unfolded to reveal a mis-matched monster! This salad reminds me a little of that. It’s part tapenade (olives & capers) part guacamole (avocado & tomato), part pesto (nuts & basil), and part caprese (mozzarella, tomato, basil). I had a just-ripe avocado, and a small bowl of nicoise olives. These got the rusty little wheels turning in my brain, and the rest just sort of fell into place!! So you end up with guacenade. Or tapamole. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious! We had it with some crusty bread, but you could make it into crostini, or serve it with big chips. Or just throw it onto a pile of mixed lettuces and call it a mixed salad!

She’s Strange – she’s got two double heads, two left legs, and her nose looks like the knees of a nanny goat, but Screamin Jay Hawkins loves her!!
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Chick(pea) patties and guacamole

Chick patties

This time I’m going to listen to my own advice, and just post the damn recipe. Except that it’s two recipes. Sigh, nothing’s simple. We ate them together, and they go very nicely together, but they’re good on their own, too!

The first is “chick patties.” Part of an ongoing series, here at The Ordinary, in which I attempt to make homemade meat substitutes. Fake meat from the store – fakin bacon, veggie burgers, soy sausage – although frequently very tasty, is also very expensive and full of questionable ingredients. (Questionable to me, anyway, because I don’t know what they are, and my old eyes are getting so bad I can’t read the small print!) So, here in the test kitchens of The Ordinary, we have a whole division devoted to coming up with simple, economical versions you can make at home. Our motto is, “It’s all in the seasonings!” So we’ve made flakin bacon, veggie burgers, “meatballs,” and sausages. Well, we thought it was time to tackle every child’s favorite – the chicken nugget. I love the texture and flavor of roasted chickpeas, so we started there. I’ve been obsessing lately over the combination of lemon, sage and rosemary, so we continued in that direction. And I have fond memories of making lemon pepper chicken when I was very very young, so we added a big dose of black pepper. (Might be the first meal I remember being proud to share with people!) We fried them lightly in olive oil, and then ate them with oven roasted french fries and guacamole. The youngsters dipped them in barbeque sauce.

Guacamole

I’m very proud of my guacamole! It’s simple, yet flavorful. I add cilantro, lime, cumin, cayenne, tomatoes and a bit of honey. A lovely balance of sweet, hot, tart and creamy. Just in time for cinco de mayo!!

Here’s Organized Konfusion with Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken. I love this song so much. And the video, too. Food and memory. Beautiful!!

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Guacamole soup

guacamole soup

Coriander is an interesting herb, isn’t it? It shows up in so many different cuisines throughout the world. You can use every part of the plant, and the leaves and fruits taste quite different from each other. I’ve never encountered the root, but I’ll keep an eye out for it, because it sounds intriguing. Apparently, coriander was cultivated by ancient Egyptians and Greeks. They’ve found traces it at various archeological sites. It’s hard to get my mind around that, in so many ways! Coriander is also fascinating, I think, because the leaves taste so different to different people. To some they have a lovely herby, slightly citrus-y flavor. To others they taste like soap or stink bugs. (I love stink bugs, I really do, I think they’re adorable, but I wouldn’t want to eat them. I’m a vegetarian for heaven’s sake!) It’s such distinct proof that humans experience the world differently.

This soup came about because I bought a job lot (as Thompson and Thomson would say) of avocados. Avocadoes? Avocadi? They were at that moment of perfect ripeness. The first night we had one on a salad, but I continue to be bitterly disappointed by lettuce and tomatoes this time of year. So the next day, whilst whiling away the hours at work, I had the idea to use them in a soup (the avocados, not the whiled-away hours. I wonder how whiled-away-hour soup would taste?). When I considered the various flavor combinations I could use, I kept returning to the seasonings I use for quacamole (I make a mean guacamole). Viz: Cilantro, cumin, chile, lime and honey. So that’s how we did it. I added cauliflower, because I seem to be incapable of making soup without cauliflower lately, and because I thought the puréed cauliflower would save the soup from a certain slimy texture that puréed avocados sometimes attain. (I’m sorry, avocado, but it’s true) Well, the soup came out very nice. A little of the warmth of summery flavors combined with the warmth of a wintery soup.

Here’s MF DOOM’s Coriander.
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