You might think that with four kids in the house I’d actually plan what’s for dinner. But more often that not, I have no idea what we’re eating until, toward the end of the day, I turn my attention to cooking it.
I’m a planner in many areas of my life, but cooking isn’t one of them. More often than not, meals bubble out from a pot of variables, such as what we have on hand, what we’ve eaten recently, what the weather’s like, what my mood is, and how much time I have.
My uncomplicated approach keeping my family fed healthfully and economically is this: 1) buy good ingredients and 2) make sure they get consumed.
The foundation of it all is making sure I have good ingredients. I buy food that we like, that looks fresh, that we haven’t eaten in a while. How it gets cooked is a later choice – the same vegetable can be roasted or sauteed, added to soup or pasta or salad. Protein can be stir fried, braised, grilled or stuffed into tacos.
I know if I have fresh, perishable food in the house, my compulsive frugality will ensure it gets consumed. I’m constitutionally unable to let good food go to waste.
So the routines of my week revolve around ingredient sourcing. Sunday mornings I hit the farmers market to buy fruit and vegetables. Tuesdays I pick up a weekly delivery of fresh-caught local fish. Thursdays I pick up our regular CSS fruit box. We get what we get, and we go from there.
Winter is a not a great time for local fruit, even in California, but I continue my subscription year-round to keep our local delivery site viable. The last couple of months I’ve been getting two avocados a week in with my citrus and apples, and after gorging on avocado toast, I finally got around to making guacamole.
For years I never made guacamole, because I had this idea that you had to have limes and fresh chile peppers, neither of which I buy on a regular basis. But I realized this winter that with the lemon and garlic I always have on hand, plus salt, I can make a fresh guacamole that better than any I buy.
You don’t need the waiter with all the condiments to make guacamole tableside with bacon, pepitas and a flourish. This is minimalist guacamole, pure and simple. Avocado and salt, a little citrus – even the garlic is optional.
I’m used to the nubby black Haas avocados, but the smooth green variety here, called Fuerte, is fantastic too. I usually make guacamole one avocado at a time, since the kids won’t eat it once it turns brown.
This is ghetto guacamole not just because of our makeshift ingredients but also because I use a bowl and spoon to mash a little garlic paste to start. Serious cooks would whip up garlic paste with a chef’s knife and a cutting board. But I like to get it done in one little bowl and have less to wash. A pile of salt helps to grab and grind down the garlic.
A ghetto mortar and pestle, but it gets the job done. I left my tiny garlic cloves whole, but for bigger cloves it helps to start with a rough chop.
Smash/smear the garlic until there are no big pieces. Of course you can just use a dab of garlic paste if you have it; or even a little garlic powder instead.
Stir in the lime/lemon juice.
If you quarter the avocado, you can just pop out the pit.
And if you’re lucky you can just pull off the peel.
All that’s left is to mash the avocado with a fork.
I like some chunk in my guacamole. Feels more real that way. Season with pepper and more salt as needed.
I wouldn’t have planned to make guacamole on a regular day for no particular reason. But if avocados are waiting ready on my counter, this can happen. Minimalist guacamole, with minimal effort.
Minimalist guacamole, with minimal effort. Avocado and salt, a little citrus – even the garlic is optional.
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons lime juice (less than 1/2 lime; lemon also works)
- 1 ripe avocado (firm to hold but gives when pressed)
- Black pepper
- Minced jalapeno pepper, to taste (optional)
- Chop garlic and place in a bowl. Pour salt over and use a spoon to smash/smear it into a rough paste. Add lime (or lemon) juice.
- Cut avocado into quarters and remove pit. Peel off skin and add avocado to bowl. Mash with a fork. Season to taste with black pepper, minced jalapeno pepper and/or additional salt.
- Substitute a dab of garlic paste, if you stock it, or even a little garlic powder. Or a bit of chopped onion if you prefer.
- You can easily make a larger batch of guacamole, but the surface will turn brown as it is exposed to air. Store any leftovers covered with plastic wrap pressed tightly to the surface of the guacamole.
Here’s the link to a printable version.
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