Fresh Guacamole!!

Fresh avocados are one benefit of living in southern California.  Now I haven’t had the best history with avocados.  When I married my husband, I was thrown into a different culture.  I was dutch, he was dutch, but since his father grew up in Mexico as a missionary’s son, there was a lot of Mexican influence.  One area largely influenced was the food. Everything was tacos.  Everyone is gathering for Easter? Lets have tacos! Christmas? Tacos! And, of course, this is not American tacos.  No cheese.  Corn tortilla, meat, black beans, and salsa or guacamole.  So my adventure making guacamole began.  It seemed pretty easy to make, and I followed the recipe my mother-in-law gave me.  But it was a disaster.  I went to the store to buy avocados.  They all look the same, so I bought the needed amount.  I made the guacamole, but wondered: are avocados supposed to be hard? No, they are not.  But my wonderful husband ate it anyway.  Okay, so I need to have soft avocados.  So, attempt number two commenced.  I went back to the store and checked for soft avocados this time.  I opened up the first avocado – it was brown inside.  Uh oh. *Sigh*  So apparently they have to be only a little soft, not a lot soft.  It’s been a couple years and I have improved my skills of choosing avocados.

I generally don’t buy them because they are expensive, but now that my in-laws have roughly 2 acres of avocado trees, I get plenty of practice choosing ripe avocados.  Avocados are never ripe off the tree.  They need to sit for 1 or 2 weeks until they are ripe.

Nummy!

Nummy!

As you can see from this picture, these avocados aren’t perfect.  There is a little browning on the one end which has a slightly different taste. I just don’t use that part, although I don’t think I would even notice it if I did use it.  I just have so many at my disposal that it doesn’t guilt me to throw part of it away.  Avocados themselves cause guacamole to be a little tricky to make.  You see, avocados are much like bananas.  After the air hits them for a while, they brown.  So to keep this from happening after I have scooped the flesh out, I chop it and I douse it with lime juice.  Or lemon juice if I don’t have lime on hand.  I use the juice from one lime for every two avocados.  But the better coated with lime juice, the better it keeps!

So here is the line-up:

DSCN0489Fresh garden tomatoes too. 🙂

Guacamole:

2 avocados
1 lime
1/2 bunch of cilantro,
1 serrano pepper,
1/2 white onion,
1 small tomato (such as a roma tomato)

Cut up the flesh of the avocado, put lime juice on as soon as possible, sprinkle some salt on.  Add the rest of the ingredients chopped as fine as you can.  The smaller the chop, the better it tastes in my opinion.  With the serrano pepper, I take out the seeds as those are the source of the heat.  The pepper itself is still hot because the seeds have touched it, but I prefer not to have those bites in which my mouth feels like it is suddenly burning. And it’s safer for my young kids to eat too.  Your fingers will also have that heat after you chop the pepper so don’t make the mistake of itching your eye or nose afterwards, it’ll burn! (Trust me.) After everything is mixed taste it, if it needs something, add either more onion or salt.

Delicious!

Delicious!

And the last tricky part of guacamole is storing it.  If I would just put a lid on the container, the next day all the avocados will still have turned brown.  I use plastic wrap and push it right on top of the guacamole, getting out as much of the air as possible.

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I hope this helps you succeed in making your guacamole a success.  It’s taken me a couple of years to get it down!

~Mindy~

Back to School Shopping

I can’t say I really enjoy back to school shopping.  There are several things that make the trip less fun:

  • the price tag keeps getting bigger
  • I always feel like I’m telling one of the girls we can’t get the really fancy kind, either because the school has specifics or because it’s too expensive
  • I can’t find the specific thing that’s on the school list
  • It takes multiple trips to multiple stores

However, this year, I was finally able to do something a little “fun” with the back-to-school shopping.  My oldest daughter is going into 7th grade, and she needed “heavy-duty” binders in different colors for each grade.  (There were specific colors listed for each grade.)  Well, it’s hard to find green, purple, & yellow heavy-duty binders.  The sheet indicated if we couldn’t find them, we could always insert colored paper to change the color of a white binder, for example,

So, after shopping, I went downstairs to play around with changing white or black binders into the various needed colors.  I thought Ally might like to have “fun” papers inserted, so I sat down at my craft table, and went to work.  (As Ally is a pretty picky kid, I did go to her a few times to get her opinion on the papers.)

I started by changing a black binder into green, white into yellow, and white into purple.  Ally liked them so much, she asked me to “pretty up” the rest.  Here’s how they turned out:

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Here is what the back looked like:

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I couldn’t exactly stop there, though.  🙂  I pulled out my Cricut and typed up the subjects, used my sticker maker, and put them on more of the patterned paper.  Here is a picture of the results:

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It was totally worth all the time when I saw the smile on Ally’s face.  It should hopefully add a little bit of fun to school.  I think we’re ready.  School starts in 1 week already, and I will officially have a 7th grader and Kindergartner.  I took off the day to take my baby to Kindergarten and Ally to Junior High, and I’m going to try to make the best of it!

~D~

Ants and their farming behavior

I have never minded ants really.  Okay, so when they are invading my house  I don’t like them so much.  But I didn’t treat them as I do spiders, which my thoughts are, “die spider, die!”  But not anymore.  Now I see ants and my thoughts turn towards squashing every single one of them.  My story begins a year ago.  I have a little lime tree. (Sorry, my pictures aren’t the best.  I have to work on my photography skills.)

Dwarf lime tree

Dwarf lime tree

I was so excited to see all the little blossoms turning into itty bitty limes.  As I monitored the growth of my little limes I saw some ants on the tree, but ants don’t eat trees so it didn’t bother me.  But as the days went by, I noticed there were some little black scab-type things starting to develop on the branches.  Not on the leaves, but the actual branches.  Again, sorry about the poor picture, I couldn’t get my camera to focus. But you can see all the little scabs.  The whole tree looks like this. DSCN0359 I was slightly concerned at this point, and then I helplessly watched as my little itty bitty limes disappeared.   So after my husband did some wonderful research for me, I spread diatomaceous earth around the base of my tree.

The white stuff is the diatomaceous earth

The white stuff is the diatomaceous earth

It kills the ants by soaking up their essential oils, drying them out.  And since ants have an exoskeleton, they need that oil,. The only problem is that if it gets wet it no longer does the job.  And the ants start digging a little tunnel through it and that somehow it is not as effective as if they have to climb on it.  You can see the tunnel they built to the left side of the tree trunk in the above picture. And the little line of ants going down into it. So anyway, a year goes by and my ant problem is still there.  After more research,  I came across a article that stated that the scab-type thing is actually a encapsulated aphid.  I thought, really? I have had aphid problems on my rose bushes and other plants, but an encapsulated one? And the article said they would be on the leaves, not the stems and trunks.  So obviously it couldn’t be that, right?  Wrong.  I took a pointy stick and could actually flick off the little encapsulated aphids.  Hmm.  Now what to do.

A side note: I watched A Bugs Life.  Not long into the movie, the queen ant is talking and is holding an aphid.  I used to think it was funny – the ant has a pet aphid, like we have pet dogs and cats.  This time, I was horrified.  Those rotten ants are killing my lime tree with their farming of aphids.  The ants are really like little dairy farmers.  The aphids are their little milk cows.  The aphids secrete honeydew (sweet substance) that the ants like.  So the ants “milk” the aphids. And my lime tree is the aphid food. I have no good solution either.   I can’t really attack the aphids externally since they are encapsulated, other then flicking them off one by one (which would take hours.) Or I can give the tree a systemic pesticide which would kill the aphids as they eat the pesticide along with their lunch (my tree.)  The only problem is, then I can’t eat my limes either.  But I am determined and persistent.  I keep spreading the diatomaceous earth and flicking off a couple aphids every day.  I will succeed eventually! I hope.

Last week when I watered one of my succulent plants and witnessed the swarm of ants carrying little white aphids, I reacted with speed.  I tried to drown every last one of them.  Not sure how my little plant liked it, but I was saving its life.  And then the very next day, as I was putting clean water in a bird bath, another stampede of ant-bearing aphids swarmed a beam on the aviary I was in.  Ahh!!  I have a beautiful rose bush that is growing in the aviary.  And since the finches in the cage enjoy eating the rose bush, this would create an even larger problem then my little lime tree.  Systemic pesticide would be out of the question, and I don’t know if the diatomaceous earth would be safe for the birds either.  Thus, it would probably result in the removal of the entire rose bush.  Did I mention this rose bush is about 9-10 feet tall?  It will be a sad day when I have to take it out.  But thankfully I have not seen any signs of the ants getting closer to my rose bush.   But now I have eyes like a hawk, looking for any sign of ants on or near any plant in my yard.  Ants have become the bane of my existence.  But I will prevail. 🙂

Suggestions anyone?

~Mindy~