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Fare for Summer

You know it is summer in the Pacific Northwest when I break out the guacamole. Why? First, because only in summer does the rain stop long enough that you can eat corn chips without them turning soggy twixt the bag and your mouth. Second only to that: the guac is all about the avocado and summer brings them in spades (usually from places in the same hemisphere as you). You want avocados that aren’t too soft. They should have a little give when you exert gentle pressure on the skin. The longer an avocado spent on a tree to get to that point and not in the back of a truck means more flavor. Third: Tomatoes. Guacamole that will make your eyes roll back in your head in pleasure relies on truly ripe tomatoes rich with flavor. Roma tomatoes are my fall back tomato position because even when they aren’t at their best, they have more flavor packed into their small packages than any other tomato that isn’t fresh off the vine.

Guacamole on the Dock

2 firm, ripe avocados, seeded, flesh scooped and dumped in bowl

1 ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, chopped (to peel a tomato, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, run cold water over it. Cut, and the skin should slide right off.) Add chopped tomato to bowl – try to leave most of the seeds and juice on your cutting board or your guac will be soupy.

1/4 – 1/2 white onion, minced. Add to bowl

juice of 1/2 lime. Add to bowl

sprinkle of garlic salt to taste sprinkled over all

Mash. Eat. If you like cilantro, add that. My family hates it so we leave it out. Want some kick in your guac? Seed, mince and add part of a jalapeno. The lovely thing about guacamole is that it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. But the biggest point of it? Sitting outside in the sun with friends shoveling chunky green goo (it’s a technical term. Trust me.) into your mouths with corn chips. And look. You still have half of a lime for the beer you’d drink…

Mexican Eggrolls for the Holidays? You bet!

Sexy athleteThere is absolutely nothing holiday-ish about this photo. Still, when I saw him, I knew my fellow MANhandlers would appreciate his…ball. It’s clearly the focus of the photo, yes? I’m suddenly nostalgic for my days in the soccer keep. I was quite good, you know–recruited for the Miss Budweiser Ladies’ Traveling Team. But that’s another tale for another time. Ogle away while I get the recipe you need for the holidays.

So, every year we have this tradition that we do a predictable holiday meal for Christmas, but for New Year’s Eve, we do a huge Mexican food feast. It was easier to pull this off when we lived in New Mexico (the South simply doesn’t understand tamales or green chili that is not a bell pepper). We are a diligent and resourceful lot, though, and we make it work. The recipe below is ridonkulously simple, clearly unhealthy and guaranteed to taste good. We lean on the latter and ignore the middle altogether for this one night every year.

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Mexican Eggrolls

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 clove of garlic, minced (more if you’re fending off the undead)
1 white onion, chopped (less if you intend to kiss your sweetheart)
1 can chopped green chilies (use two if you’re a chili addict and don’t forget to pick out the skins)
1 large bag sharp cheddar (large means the BIG bag)
2 packages eggroll wrappers
1 bag frozen potatoes OPTIONAL  (like O’Brien potatoes but without the peppers–trust me on this)
Salsa
Small bowl of water
Oil for frying

Heat the oil.

Brown ground beef with garlic, onion and green chilies in a deep pan. (I add the green chilies when the meat’s almost done and use the spoon to spread it around and pick out the skins.) Drain grease off meat and put back in the pan.

Fry potatoes. Drain them well and pat excess grease off with paper towels. (Seems pointless, but trust me. Too much grease is just too much grease.) Keep grease hot.

Add the bag of cheese to the meat and turn the heat on low. Stir it in and make sure it melts well. The meat should stick together really well.

Add the potatoes and mix in.

With on corner of the eggroll wrapper facing you, add a small spoonful of the meat mix. Dip your fingers in the water and trace the edges of the wrapper. Fold the nearest point over the meat, fold the outside corners in and roll. (It’s very important to make sure you get the seams sealed, but don’t mash them. Eggroll wrappers are temperamental and tend to tear out of spite. It’s true. I swear.) Set aside. Repeat the process until you’re out of wrappers, meat or alcohol.

Fry your eggrolls until they’re golden brown. (Usually takes a minute or so.) Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Suggestion: Have someone fry while you roll. It makes things much, much easier because the eggroll wrappers tend to stick to the counter as you set them aside.

Serve with salsa and enjoy! (Really, though? They don’t need it.)
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There you have it, my faithful readers — a Tompkins tradition since 1948. Okay, that’s a lie. We started this around 1995. But traditions sound better if they’re older. You’re going to thank me. Your hips will curse my name, but the belleh will be happeh.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, happy holiday season and prosperous New Year full of wonderful new reads. And Mexican Eggrolls.

Reclaiming the Batter: Vegan blueberry spice muffins

muffinOne of the things I miss most from growing up, when we didn’t have to examine in every morsel we put in our mouth in excruciating detail,  was licking the batter after making some yummy baked goodies.  With the whole raw eggs and salmonella threat a high squeaky scream that cannot be ignored, batter has been off limits.  Until I whipped up (purely by accident using the ingredients in the house), blueberry spice muffins with apple sauce instead of egg.  Not only did we sit around the batter tasting bites in epicurean bliss, my daughter and I polished off a dozen muffins by noon. And they are so easy to make (an added bonus in my busy lifestyle).

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached flour

2 tsps cinnamon

2 tsp baking power

1/2 cup plus 1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/3 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup soy milk (you can use regular milk but soy keeps the whole recipe vegan)

1/3 cup cooking oil (canola, coconut)

1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine the flours,  baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, 1/2 cup sugar and one tsp of cinnamon in ahannukah medium bowl.

In smaller bowl, mix the applesauce, cooking oil, and milk, then add to flour mixture and stir until combined. It should remain lumpy.  Add the blueberries, then put mixture in greased or lined (muffin cups) muffin tin.

Mix 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of cinnamon and sprinkle on muffins. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.  The recipe makes 10-12 muffins.

Last, but not least, revel in the remaining batter, alone or with friends and family. Its so nice to have the batter back, and a perfect breakfast to spice up your holiday mornings.

And for those celebrating Hannukah, I did a post on latkes on my personal blog. Come visit and chat.


Sabrina Garie is on a journey to create the most kick-ass heroine in romance fiction. You can meet the first heroine in Fires of Justice at Elloras Cave, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

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