Guacamole

Guacamole, or “whack-a-mole” as we often refer to it at home, is probably one of my all-time favourite foods. And it’s was one of the few Mexican foods I can could eat since taking some food-related irritants out of my diet (more on that another time though). I can still eat this, but I have to be more careful about how much and how often I indulge.

One of the things I love about making this dish, is that it’s very versatile. That is, there are a few necessary staples. And everything else can be added according to preference, or what you happen to have on hand (You can even easily divide a single batch into portions to accomodate everyone’s taste preferences).

Me? I add a bit of everything! I love my guacamole with LOTS of tomatoes and garlic. And only a bit of heat. And a good amount of fresh cilantro.

S has similar tastes, but likes fewer tomatoes and more jalapeno. And NO cilantro. Sometimes I sneak in a bit of dried cilantro because the flavour is mild.

I think he might be one of the unfortunate few who taste soap…

Ingredients

  • 5 small Hass avocados
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Flour tortillas to make chips

Optional ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • Fresh cilantro

Substitutions

  • Lime: 1-2 tablespoons of concentrated lime juice
  • Hass avocados: Jamaican avocados (the taste is milder)
  • Fresh cilantro: Dried cilantro has a much milder flavour
  • Vine-ripened tomatoes: Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Flour tortillas: Corn chips or naan bread

Directions

  1. Prepare all of the add-ins: mince the garlic, chop tomatoes, slice an onion, juice a lime. Have everything EXCEPT the avocado ready to go.
  2. If you’re making your own tortillas into chips, slice your tortillas now and toss them in the oven to crisp up. Watch them closely so they don’t burn. If you’re using a bag of chips, open them up and put them in a fancy serving bowl.
  3. Slice and scoop the avocado from the husk.
  4. Mash it! I like to use a potato masher.
  5. This is a good time to divide into portions if you want to make a few different combinations.
  6. Add the fixings (garlic, salt, lime, and anything else you’ve prepared).
  7. If you like the dip chunky, mix it quickly and you’re done! If you like the dip smooth, mash it up some more before serving.
  8. Serve with chips.

Storage tips

  1. Reserve the avocado pit and put it in any leftover guacamole.
  2. Add a bit of extra lime juice on top of the dip, don’t mix it in.
  3. Cover the leftovers with a piece of plastic wrap that is placed directly on top of the dip, smooth it down to push out any air bubbles.
  4. Store it in an opaque container so no light gets in.

Vegas Vacation Day 5: Red Rocks Rendezvous, Get Up and Rock Clinic

On the second day of the Rendezvous, S, L, K in Ohio and I all signed up for the same clinic. I somehow convinced them to participate in a trad-focused clinic called Get Up and Rock. With a name like that, it was bound to be amazing, right?

Get Up and Rock: “Basic trad techniques for ALL ABILITIES. This course addresses basic traditional skills for beginner to advanced level climbers. gear placement, cleaning gear” (Red Rock Rendezvous).

The other half of the group went to an Aid climbing clinic – returning super excited to put what they learned into practice.

The clinic was not what I thought… and exactly what I was looking for all at the same time. It just depended on which of our guides you happened to be hanging out with. (I wish I could remember their names, but I can’t, it’s been well over a year, so I’ll just refer to them as Guide #1 and Guide #2).

Guide #1 trad lead a route and set up a top rope for us. We were given the opportunity to climb the route at a slower than usual pace, taking time to inspect his gear placements. Some of the climbers who signed up for this clinic were very new to climbing and he took the time to make sure they had a good experience. For my climb, I did a mock lead. The guide provided a catch on top rope, and one of the new-to-climbing participants learned how to lead belay.

Guide #2 spent the time teaching us knots that are critical to trad climbing. Figure 8. Now tie it one-handed. Fancy! We tried it, it’s as hard as it looks. Figure 8 on a bite. Prusik. Double fisherman, tying two ropes together. Clove hitch. One handed clove hitch. Way easier than the one-handed figure 8. Guide #2 really knew his stuff and was a natural entertainer. Not only did he teach us the essential knots, he attempted to teach us to tie them quickly and with flair!

While we were on the trip to climb, our group really enjoyed the day “off” to learn new skills. L, K, and I spent some time comparing scrapes and bruises from the past few days. Our badges of honour. Laughing that, somehow, they seemed to almost match. At this point we were bruised, scraped, caked with desert sand and sweat, smelly, in need of a hair wash, and covered in chalk. We’ve never looked so beautiful.

We’d been travelling, hiking some of the most grueling trails we’d experienced to date (at the time), climbing hard, eating too much junk food, stuffing ourselves at all-you-can-eat buffets and sleeping too little. The rest day with a gorgeous view was just what we needed.

Mixed Seafood with Saffron Sauce and Rice

My challenge lately has been to make meals that don’t require a trip to the grocery store (with the exception of a few essentials). And honestly I’m amazed at how much crap — I mean food — is actually in the freezer.

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve done a serious shopping trip. I’m still pulling food out of the freezer! And there’s still more to go.

This meal is a result of using up leftovers. Wine that’s been in the fridge since who knows when. (Oh hey S, I opened your white wine. Hope you don’t mind I turned it into delicious food!) Seafood mix that’s been in the freezer at least 3 months now (I bought it on a whim when I was grocery shopping while hungry). And saffron that I purchased so long ago I don’t care to figure it out (let’s just say I’m pretty sure I was still living with my parents and possibly even in undergrad at the time).

The result? Tons of food to keep as leftovers. Used up a bunch of food that I had purchased without a plan. And created more dishes that usual to clean up later (but that’s ok, because  now I have leftovers).

Mixed Seafood with Saffron Sauce and Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup rice (I used Jasmine rice)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 package of mixed seafood (I think it was about 1kg), thawed
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a sauce pan, heat 1 cup of the white wine, add saffron, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside to let the saffron steep.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add rice. Cook for a minute, stirring, to coat the rice.
  3. Add 1 cup of white wine and two cups of chicken stock. Cook rice until tender.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a large cooking pot. Add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add seafood mixture. Cover. And cook until heated through/cooked (the seafood mix I purchased was pre-cooked).
  5. Put it all together! Combine the steeped saffron, rice, and seafood. Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice.
  6. Beg someone else to help with the dishes.

Dreaming of adventure in 2017

Last fall, we were planning a trip to Algonquin to hike the 35km Highland Backpacking Trail.

I know, I know. Who hikes in Algonquin? That’s THE place to go to canoe/portage. Just take a moment to do a quick Google search of this trail. It’s beautiful. And it comes highly ranked as one of the top hiking trails in Ontario. A must see! I wanted to complete the 35km trail (as opposed to the 19km loop), because what’s the point of going all that way if I’m not going to hike the entire trail? I’m a bit of a completionist.

We had it planned. We booked the days off of work. And as the day approached, I eagerly checked the forecast. It was October, so chances are it would be chilly. But I was determined that if I packed enough and wore enough layers, mittens, socks, sweaters, jackets, moisture wicking clothing… I could do this. It would work.

And slowly, my dreams of a fall hike started to dwindle. 50% chance of rain. 60% chance of rain. 70% chance of rain. 90% chance of rain.

We made the call to stay home. We cancelled our vacation days (to be used another time). We stayed in, listened to the rain, and watched a movie instead. I don’t think I’m prepared to do this as a winter adventure. As much as I’d like to. I don’t have winter camping gear or experience. I get cold easily. And winters in Northern Ontario can be quite harsh. Especially so if you’re under-prepared.

So I’ve resigned to waiting. 2017 is going to be an epic year.

We’ve already begun to plan some adventures (and I’m sure there will be more than what it planned). We will definitely make it to: Algonquin, Tobermory (and finally visit The Grotto), Cape Croker, Bon Echo. Maybe Killarney, Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, Red Rocks.