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Monday, April 19, 2010

Guacamole: A Love Letter

One great thing about moving south is that we get more spring and summer—an extra couple of months, in fact. This means more gardening, more lawn mowing, more canine swimming expeditions . . . and more guacamole.

For health reasons, we've been trying to dial back our cheese consumption, and guacamole helps us do it: rich, creamy, indulgent, requiring just enough effort to set it apart from everyday snacks like bottled salsa. Although high in fat and calories, it's loaded with nutrients and cholesterol-free. And it's easy to make.

First, find a Hass avocado or two. The rough-skinned, dark Hass variety has the creamiest flesh; although in a pinch you can use the smoother, rounder, lighter-green varieties, they tend to be watery and fibrous. Some stores charge as much as two dollars a Hass, so it's worth looking around for deals. (Costco and Trader Joe's are both good sources.)

If you can, choose an avocado that isn't rock-hard, but avoid any that are squishy and dented with the telltale thumbprints of the shoppers who preceded you. If you can only find hard ones, take them home and wait for a couple of days, when they will be ripe.

Once the fruit is ready, slice it, spoon out the pit, scoop the flesh into a bowl, and mash it with a fork. Add a teaspoon or so of lemon juice and salt to taste. Although some people like the pure flavor of unadulterated avocado, we prefer a little more complexity, so we add a tablespoon of bottled salsa per avocado, and a quarter-teaspoon of chili powder.

Guacamole turns a horrific color once it's been exposed to air, so it's best to make it in small quantities.

Serve with homemade chips or sliced vegetables. If possible, eat it on a warm screen porch or patio, surrounded by fresh-cut grass, sun-warm flowers, and tired dogs.

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