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Thursday, January 7, 2021

My Mindful Guacamole


Chips not included. 

A successfully done guacamole, in my opinion, begins in a molcajete. These are heavy-duty stone mortar-and-pestle situations that are responsible for the sauces (or salsas) of the Latinx/Indigenous peoples of the Central and Southern Americas. I do not have one, so I use my own trusty mortar and pestle, which is made of clay and wood. It's easily my favorite tool in the kitchen that allows me to create pastes, spice rubs, pestos, salsas, and - of course - guacamole. If I had to put it in a category, it definitely would go in the category of "Cannot live without."

Can you make this recipe in a bowl with a spoon or fork? I suppose. But why would you do such a thing when you can use a tool that will serve you for decades to come? The virtues of a good mortar and pestle are many. It's satisfying in a sensory way to hear and feel how spices grind against one another! Mostly, though, I love the mindfulness it allows me to achieve while grinding. You get to stand there, hang out, pound away at any frustrations, and transform an ingredient to your will. I love grinding garlic into coarse salt and pepper, to release the aromas, and to mesh together all the flavors of the ingredients, in a beautiful and sensuous concoction that goes in apart...and ends up together.

Maybe this is a metaphor for coming together during and after hardships to rise stronger than ever? I'd like to go more into mindfulness, but let's just get straight to the recipe for now. 

My Mindful Guacamole

  • 2 medium avocados
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 a small lime
  • 1/2 a jalapeno, chopped 
    • Trust me, it will give you a head start
  • A dollop of sour cream
    • I use the vegan kind, made by Tofutti! If you want to use the dairy-kind, that's just fine
  • As much cilantro as you like (I think I put 1/8 cup in, chopped, but I can't say for sure)
  • Two fat pinches of salt
  • About 10 grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
Add to your mortar and pestle first the salt, pepper, and spices. You're going to want to crush these together first, as it shouldn't take long at all, but it's very important that the salt take on the flavors of all of your dried spices. Next, take your garlic cloves, chopped jalapeno, and half of the cilantro you decided to use. Grind all of this together, slowly at first. You're going to want to grind this against each other for at least 60 seconds before you begin pounding. Don't pound hard unless you have a potholder or towel between the bottom of the tool and your counter, lest you damage it. I pound gently, just enough to get a solid sound, and grind after every other pound, in circular motions. Here's my rhythm:

Pound-pound grind. Pound-pound grind. Pound-pound grind.

I hope that made sense? 

You're going to do this until you get a gorgeous paste, and you'll not proceed until you get that paste. Trust me, it's worth it, as you'll get much more flavor out of that garlic and jalapeno than you imagined with a hand-tool like this! It'll turn a muddy green color when it's right. Don't rush this part, okay? This is your time of meditation, of calm, of honesty with yourself. It takes me 3-5 minutes, and I love it!

When your paste has been achieved, no matter how long it took, add the avocado. When you open the avocado and scoop out the goodies, you are certainly allowed to chop the flesh up a little. Grind this into your paste until things are just barely combined and you can still see some visible chunks, add your lime juice.

Grind the avocado into the sides of the bowl, quite slowly, using downward strokes. I love watching the flesh of the avocado get smashed on the sides...it's so satisfying! And the color stays that beautiful green with the addition of the lime juice and the acidity and heat of the garlic and jalapenos.  You're going to keep grinding and stirring gently until it creates thick and beautiful guacamole. All that's left now is to add in a dollop of sour cream and the rest of the cilantro, and stir in until wholly incorporated! If there's a time to correct the seasoning, it's now.

In defense of the sour cream: Yes, it's absolutely authentic. The Tias y Abuelas of the world will side with me in saying that there are some people in the Latinx community that use sour cream in their guacamole! Like Filipino food, many cocinas are individualistic and they say that only their way is right... Let me tell you, my friend: they're all right so long as they are made with love and intention. I like sour cream because it lightens the guacamole, helps it maintain the bright green color longer, and it makes it more spread-able for when you want to put it on a tortilla or a tamale or a sandwich. I use the Tofutti/vegan sour cream because I'm hella lactose-intolerant, and it's just as good as the dairy sour cream. I've also baked with this product, and it's excellent!

You can transfer your guacamole into a serving dish, but - if the truth is to be told - I often serve it in the bowl of my mortar and pestle. I don't think I need to tell you how to enjoy this, only that if you are to store it, make sure you have the lid of your container touching the surface of the guacamole, or a sheet of clingfilm touching it. You don't want to get a gray skin!

I love guacamole as an ingredient or as a mid-afternoon snack. It's creamy, it's cooling, and it's full of healthy fats. Furthermore, if you are an absolutely crazy-for-crafts DIY kind of person, you can boil avocado skins and pits to get a beautiful pink color for a natural dye. No, really! 

Check out more info here!

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today. I hope you're all staying safe, indulging in some mindfulness and some self-care, and remembering to breathe. Happy cooking and happy eating!

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