Photo: Heather Ryan
That, to my adult ears, sounds absolutely sacrilegious now, especially since I no longer live in Southern California where avocados are abundant. Every spring and summer, though, I buy as many as I can manage, and work them into our daily meals, as much as a way to remember life in California and my grandparents, as for their succulent, pale green flesh.
This past week, I decided to make real guacamole, and not the cheater kind I usually make (imagine a frantic mother spooning store-bought salsa into mashed avocados at the table while reminding her children to wash their hands before dinner). Curtis Stone's recipe was dead easy, as most guacamole recipes are. The key is using fresh, high quality ingredients. I picked up avocados a few days earlier, and they were perfectly ripe by the time the kids and I were ready to use them. I bought four even though the recipe called for three, just in case one wasn't ripe in time, or wasn't good (I swear the only thing more fickle than an avocado is a celebrity's love life). I also bought fresh cilantro, and a jalapeno and lime, since I had most of the other ingredients on hand.
My youngest daughter Giselle and I begin making the guacamole by peeling and pitting the avocados. Giselle loves dicing the perfect halves with a butter knife while I chop the tomatoes, the garlic, and the red onion. We pile everything into a mixing bowl while listening to The Beatles (a kitchen favorite at our house). I carefully seed the jalapeno and finely chop half of it, then throw it in the mix. Giselle shakes a cloud of cumin over the mixture, and I squeeze each half of the lime over everything for good measure. I gently mix the ingredients and it's ready in under 10 minutes (Curtis' recipe says it takes 15 minutes, so maybe Giselle and I are overachievers). I wonder, though, why I ever resorted to the cheater version in the first place. Guacamole looks like it would be difficult, but it's shockingly simple. And tastier than anything you can buy in the store.
The kids and spoon the dip into our burritos that night, and it's so good, we don't even noticing that I have inadvertently left out the cilantro. The jalapeno provides a kick that is a bit much for Giselle, so I in the future, I decide to go easy on the pepper. If you're also cooking for kid palates, it's a good policy to adopt (also be cautious when handling any pepper, and use gloves if you have them on hand).
Curtis' recipe, though, was simple, quick and delicious. And while it can't bring back my long-ago days in my grandparents' backyard, it is a perfect addition to burrito night for a busy single mother. Which is good enough.