Sunday, April 15, 2012

The jolly green giant of produce

The human body is a fine piece of work.  Everyone of is built the same, in a way.  We have two arms, two legs, hands, feet, hair, and a head filled with a brain, amongst other things.  Each and every body needs the same nutrition.  Last time I mentioned a few of those essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate).  These are the fuels that power our bodies.  As I discussed, cucumbers contained many of the aforementioned supplements.  Today, I discuss another miracle food that provides you with nearly all of these and then some.

Presenting, the avocado!

One of the most interesting and plentiful fruits in the world, the avocado is part of almost all the world's cuisine.  I'm sure you or someone you know has had an avocado at one point in your life.  Living in Southern California, it is almost impossible to not come across this bizarre specimen.  It has many uses, can be eaten as is, or added to almost an endless array of dishes.  The fleshy interior can be mashed, sliced, diced, scooped and served up hot or cold.  Typically, the skin and seed are discarded, as they are not good eats.

There are many cultivars of avocado, the most common and likely the one you've come across most, is the Hass avocado.  Available year round, this type of avocado, developed by Rudolph Hass, a Cali native, has a deliciously nutty and oily texture.  Most of the markets in my area carry these and I absolutely love to cook with them.  A neat little fact about these avocados, my hometown of Fallbrook, informally known as the Avocado Capital of the World, accounts for most of the crop production in California.  Another neat little fact, Fallbrook holds their annual Avocado Festival every year, drawing nearly 70,000 attendees from around the country!

One of the most famous dishes that avocados are used in is, wait for it... guacamole!  Guacamole is used as a spread, dip, or snack eaten straight.  It can be prepared in an endless amount of ways, and each region has its own unique twist.  You can add bacon, fish, fruit, vegetable, flavored oils, seasonings, and much, much more.  There isn't one definitive way of making guacamole.  Traditionally, guacamole is prepared with a molcajete.  This tool is used to prepare whole spices and other mashable ingredients, like berries, nuts, fruits or veggies.  Of course, not all of us have a molcajete readily available, so, a bowl and a spoon work just fine for making guacamole.  I have a base guacamole that I prepare regularly and would like to share it with you.  I have been told time and time again that this is some of the best guacamole.  Now, I can't say that's true.  It isn't award winning, but maybe I should try my luck sometime.  As always, this is a recipe meant to assist, not follow.  I never ask that you follow my recipes to the T, for the fact that everyone has their own tastes.  Also, as I mentioned, there is no definite way of preparing guacamole.

Guacamole -  Serves 2-4 people, or one hungry Jesse

2 Hass Avocados (ripe, soft and pokeable, not firm)
1 medium Jalepeno (about the size of your avg. index finger), finely minced
1/2 medium red onion(about the size of your avg. fist, diced
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Prepare you avocados, cutting them in half, from tip to base, twisting the two halves to separate.  Using your knife, remove the pit by striking down on to it, giving a slight twist to dislodge, and pop it out.  Discard.  Scoop the flesh in to a bowl.  Add lime juice to stymy oxidation.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix together, mixing more for smooth guacamole, or less for a more chunky texture.  Taste, and season to preference.  Store it in the fridge.  There are tricks out there to keep guacamole from browning.  Most don't work.  This does.  It's science.  What causes oxidation?  Oxygen!  Remove air from the equation and you'll have colorful guacamole for a few days longer.  Take saran wrap and place directly on top of the guacamole, leaving no air in between the wrap and the avocado.  This prevents air from oxidizing the avocado, leaving it a vibrant green for many days so long as it is kept refrigerated.

Enjoy with chips, spread it on your favorite sandwich (delicious on burgers!), eat from the bowl, and share it with your friends and family!

The Fallbrook Avocado Festival is Sunday, April 15, 2012!  That's today!  Go out and enjoy some sun, camaraderie and avocados!  It's fun for the whole family!  See you there.

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