(drops the mic)
I never tasted an avocado until I moved out of Middle Tennessee and went to college in Florida. They just weren’t something we ate growing up. Mexican or Tex Mex food consisted mainly of the taco kits bought at Kroger. Yep.
Guacamole was a revelation in flavor to me. Salty, sour, bitter, smooth, earthy – all rolled into one and on a chip! With a margarita!
I first started making a version of guacamole dip when I was in college. Your basic guacamole cut with sour cream. It was usually the hit of the party and the first thing to go.
Now, I am must more of a traditionalist. I ride the cilantro lovers train. Table side preparation at restaurants is fun, if a bit hokey. But my favorite guac is from Chipotle. Yes, Chipotle. As that chain has lead the new trendy wave in fresh, fast casual dining, their guacamole is made fresh and is just simply delicious. I wish they gave you more with an order. That little bitty cup is not enough.
It is enjoyable to make guacamole at home. Fresh is always best. Buy your avocados days early so they can ripen and be perfect when you are ready to make it.
Here is my recipe:
3 very ripe Haas avocados
1 small Roma tomato, seeded and diced
Half of a small red onion, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
4 TBs of chopped fresh cilantro
The juice of a lime or lemon
1 strong pinch of cumin (I like the smoky background note!)
Salt and pepper to taste
Yes, I know this strays a little from the traditional, but hey, it is how I like it. I usually mash it all together with a potato masher or fork. Chunky works for me! It really doesn’t need to be too smooth. Am not ambitious enough to fry my own chips yet, but maybe someday.
Love it! Eat it!
“I believe that you’re great, that there’s something magnificent about you. Regardless of what has happened to you in your life, regardless of how young or how old you think you might be, the moment you begin to think properly, this something that is within you, this power within you that’s greater than the world, it will begin to emerge. It will take over your life. It will feed you, it will clothe you, it will guide you, protect you, direct you, sustain your very existence. If you let it! Now that is what I know, for sure”
– Michael Beckwith
Yesterday, I began the discussion about this next Thanksgiving, (Yes, I know it’s only April, but when your family has lost many members over the past few years, you look for new avenues to create new traditions. My family is spread out and older. We must start thinking about the holidays a lot earlier than we have in the past.)
As we were discussing what the menu would be for Turkey Day, the topic of dressing came up. You know what dressing is if you are from the South. Southerners only tolerate stuffing. Stuffing is mostly cooked inside the bird. Dressing is always cooked outside of the bird. And in a much more plentiful way. And it is just better. Period.
Recipes are tradition. They are a way to pass down family stories from generation to generation. I make dressing like my mother, who made it like her mother, who learned to make it from her African American maid, Lou. Lou taught my grandmother how to cook. I grew up on some of the best soul food in the South. Those recipes are a large part of my culinary efforts today.
I began to find a love for cooking at a very young age. Cooking dressing was always in my arsenal, but years ago my mother taught me the secret to her dressing. You have to have enough moisture and let it cook for a long, long time. The crusty bits around the edges are the best part.
The seasonings, the aroma and the flavor of my family’s dressing are as much a part of my heritage as the wonderful stories that I learned of my relatives as a youth.
It is never too early to think about dressing!
Thursday night I was privileged to be invited to the fifth anniversary of the Shuler Hensley Awards (Georgia’s High School Musical Theatre Awards) at the beautiful and spacious Cobb Energy Center for the Performing Arts. (Thanks, John!)
In a week that gave us so much tragedy in the news, it was nice to laugh and celebrate with all of the young people, their parents, the judges and patrons. Each year, the kids treat the awards evening like a prom decked out in their finest attire. The energy and excitement from the pre-show red carpet event could light up the building.
The evening is always spectacularly produced and filmed by Atlanta’s own ABC affiliate, WSB-TV. Kudos to Brian Frey for a great job as announcer!
Each of the 47 participating schools sends two young performers to be part of the Schuler Ensemble singers. They learn an opening and closing to the show with one of Atlanta’s best music directors, Michael Fauss. The opening was augmented this year with members from the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Jere Flint.
Shuler Hensley is always on hand to provide the evening’s comic relief and didn’t disappoint. As the kids opened the show with a song from Wicked, his first entrance high above the stage in a magic bubble provided huge laughs. Comic timing is everything and he certainly has it, but a six foot bubble 30 feet above the stage is an entrance for a comic legend!
It doesn’t hurt either that he invites several of his celebrity friends to send taped messages for the show. This year, several of the students got to ask his buddy, Hugh Jackman a career question. Hugh graciously gave each one an amazing and inspiring answer. What a treat!
The lead actress and lead actor nominees each performed a medley from the shows from whence came their nominations. The ladies shined this year! Lead Actress winner McKenzie Kurtz from Milton High School has a long career ahead of her. But first, she and Lead Actor winner, Austin Crute from Greater Atlanta Christian School, will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to NYC to perform in the National High School Musical Theatre Awards. Last year’s awards Jimmy Awards and the exhausting week of rehearsals to prepare were captured and presented as a documentary on PBS.
How I wish we had had an awards ceremony and organization like this in Tennessee when I was growing up. The joy expressed in each of these children’s faces was immeasurable. The whole evening was fun and it celebrated how important the arts are in our educational system. THE ARTS ARE IMPORTANT EVERYWHERE!!!