When I lived in Mexico, I longed for certain foods from home. Don’t get me wrong…I was crazy for gorditas, quesadillas, tortas, and tacos, but I missed things like broccoli cheese soup and lasagna. The problem was not that I didn’t know how to make these things, but rather I could not find the simple but necessary ingredients like cheddar cheese or good ricotta. I tried to make variations of these classics, and they came out okay, but they never really tasted quite like they do at home. (Btw…for those living in Mexico City, I eventually found cheddar cheese at the Sam’s Club near metro Zapata.)
What I love about salsa is that there are so many types, each with its own unique character. Some use red tomatoes, some use green, some use both, and some don’t use any at all. Then, there is an endless variety of chile peppers to add, both fresh and dry, in order to enhance the flavor. And after, you have to consider how the salsa will be prepared. Will the ingredients be roasted or fresh? Will you blend everything using a molcajete (Mexican mortar and pestle) or a blender? My head is just spinning with all of the possibilities that are out there.
My dad is a wonderful gardener. Each year, he starts his seeds around March. He plants them in little pots down in the basement, puts them under a grow light, carefully waters them, and tends to them as they sprout and grow. When the plants are big enough and the weather begins to warm up, he puts them outside in his homemade greenhouse just in case of frost. When Old Man Winter is no longer lurking, Dad carefully plants them in the ground. He has grown zucchini, many varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, green peppers, banana hot peppers, lettuce, green beans, watermelon, and corn.
I honestly did not know that caramel could taste so good until I made my very own cajeta. Cajeta is a luxurious caramel sauce that is made by boiling down sweetened goat’s or cow’s milk. Aficionados will tell you that it should only be made with goat’s milk, but in some parts of Mexico they are adopting a combination of both goat’s and cow’s milk to make it. Otherwise, a mixture of sweetened cow’s milk should properly be named dulce de leche.
There is something about this salad that speaks of summer. Maybe it is the zesty bite in the lime dressing or maybe it is those sweet corn kernels. Whatever it may be, this salad makes a great side to take to any picnic or gathering.
The other day when I was at the grocery store, I had a mini conversation with a lady about buying avocados. The poor woman had no idea how to pick one, and even worse she thought she should store the rock hard avocado in the refrigerator to get it to ripen. In an attempt to avoid avocado troubles, I gave her a quick lesson about the fruit. As I was walking away, I realized that we have access to so many different kinds of fruits and vegetables these days that sometimes it’s hard to know how to pick each one. So, with that being said, let’s talk about avocados.