Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ollie Ollie Oxen Free!

Our mini Oregon summer is drawing to an end, and I never even got a peelable sunburn - while I know that's good for my health, it's disappointing that it never got hot enough to burn the mildew off the gutters and the back of my calves. I swear our AC unit is pouting...and I never once had to get the kiddy pool I bought my grandson out of the shed to cool off. What a gyp!

Summer was so much fun when we were kids - it meant no school, picking berries for enough money to make myself sick for one day on candy from the Rexall Drug, climbing trees, eating fruit in various stages of dead green to ripe enough to fight the yellow jackets for, playing hide and seek with at least 10 neighbor kids well into the dark, and free swimming lessons at the Wilson High School outdoor pools. We went to the library for the max number of books allowed to check out at one time, then back again every 2 weeks for more, rode our bikes endlessly around the neighborhood and to Multnomah Village and back, made forts out of anything we could find, dropped lit firecrackers down manholes and put them in half rotten apples just before throwing them off the neighbors deck.

We went to the beach to play in the surf and roast weenies and marshmallows over a bonfire, experienced hikes at Multnomah Falls, Kings Mountain, Tillamook Head and Saddle Mountain, went camping at Fort Stevens, Honeyman State Park and Barview near Garibaldi, and played ourselves silly doing anything with anyone who didn't have a care in the world. Why would anyone NOT like summer? It's like a spa for kids - instead of a mud bath, you dug a swimming pool in the back yard and tried to fill it after lining it with a big piece of plastic. (OK, that WAS a mud bath), instead of a massage you leg wrestled with your siblings lying in the grass under the cherry tree, and instead of yoga you practiced crossing your legs and walking on your knees and laughed hysterically at each other when you tried (and actually succeeded) to bite your own toenails. The salt scrub was the trip home from the beach with sand in your undies - I never want a real salt scrub.

Like Peter Pan, I don't wanna grow up, but it's too late - summer is full of jobs to do outside when it's dry and warm, events to attend because that is apparently when everyone wants to marry/party/graduate etc, and take the requisite "vacation" that ends up being far more stressful that just hanging out in the tire swing and throwing pine cones at cars from the roof of the shed until someone complained and your mom yelled at you to get down off there. I miss's just not the same anymore.

My hope is that I can live vicariously through my grandson - if it all works out, he will be here very shortly, and will be as close as he can get - I already told all the geezer nay-sayers that me and Ethan are going tent camping whether they go or not, and I will pretend I am 10 when I'm not busy setting up camp and making sure that he doesn't get so dirty potatoes grow in his ears...we're going to have fun, and he will someday look back and miss it too. I can't wait....

And ooooh baby......there is nothing that screams summer like a bowlful of pico de gallo made with fresh-from-the-garden produce....anything you can get at your local farmstand/farmers market makes it that much better. I prefer to put a twist on my pico, and have developed a heavenly concoction comprised of elements from 3 different recipes, which I personally believe is the best thing I have ever scooped a ridiculous amount of on a chip and stuffed in my chubby little face. Altho pure guac runs a close second, the flavors and textures in this just blow me away. So give it a try, and make sure you have plenty of nice salty tortilla chips on hand - it's just not the same on a stale English muffin.


2-4 ears fresh corn on the cob
2-3 ish lbs. of roma tomatoes*
1/2 onion, preferably a sweet, but yellow or red will work too
1 bunch cilantro - use however much you like
3-100 jalapenos (OK, more like 3-6 depending on size/pref. heat)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed*
2-3 limes, depending on size and your taste
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
2-4 ripe avocados

As you can see, amounts are quite's all based on your preferences and tolerance of any/all of the ingredients. So are you ready? Let's GO!

1. Heat grill, brush or spray corn with olive oil/spray and sprinkle with salt, grill over medium high heat until browned/lightly charred on all sizes, let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut corn off the cob using whatever corn-cutting contraption you have, or just a good sharp knife - lay the corn on the cutting surface, and cut kernels off one side, turn a 1/4, then cut another side etc until you've cut it into a square cob. Then gnaw the rest off it and wipe the corn bits off your cheeks before proceeding.
2. Core and dice tomatoes fairly small - nothing should be much bigger than the beans - and put them all in a colander to drain. Let drain as you continue, watery pico is an ABOMINATION.
3. Dice onion small, throw on top of tomatoes.
4. Seed, core and chop jalapenos finely....if you like it HOT, leave some of the seeds, and if you don't want to spend a couple hours screaming and cursing the day I was born after rubbing your eye, picking your nose, or tending to some other delicate skin on your body even AFTER washing with soap and water therefore transferring hellfire hot chili oil there, use a pair of disposable me. Set aside by itself, segregated from the less lethal ingredients.
5. Wash the whole bunch of cilantro (big bowl of cold water, swish it around vigorously and then dry by snapping it like a whip at the nearest mouth breather waiting for you to open the bag of chips), rip off half and chop the main part of the leafy end in a not too big dice. You can add more if you like....just hold up a sec.
6. Cut lime in half, and get ready with whatever you use to squeeze citrus with.
7. Get a large bowl, dump tomatoes and onion, cilantro, drained black beans, corn and a couple big pinches of kosher salt and some grinds of pepper. Put in as much jalapeno as you dare, then squeeze in at least 2 limes and stir to blend. Give it a taste with a chip and see what you think....too wimpy? Add jalapenos. Can't taste the lime? Squeeze in another half. Want to taste more of the soapy deliciousness of cilantro? Chop a bit more and toss it in. Need salt/pepper? Have at it, but not too much. It should taste so good right now you want to make giant tortilla chips out of whole round tortillas and have a mouth-ectomy so you can fit it all in at once. But there's more.....
8. Dice ripe avocados (to prep it, you cut in half around the pit, smack your sharp knife blade across the pit and twist to remove, then scoop the whole half out with a large spoon you usually only use to dish up Lima beans on your kids plate or eat rocky road ice cream right out of the carton at night when no one else is around. Take half a lime and squeeze a little over the cubes, then GENTLY fold all into the bowl of waiting pico.

! You have just created the perfect food to be eaten immediately....tomatoes lose their flavor in the fridge, and the avocado will turn brown and start to break down, giving the whole bowl and unsavory snot-like consistency and's only recommended to eat right then and there. And if you bring to an event, do the avocado when you unwrap the bowl to serve....and you will NEVER have to worry about leftovers. If they run out of chips, they will dip anything they can scoop with in there - celery, hamburger patties, even Aunt Betty's sugar cookies. And knowing Aunt Betty's baking skills, it can only make them better. I'm going to make this when me and E go camping, and maybe that is ALL we'll have for dinner one night....well that and giant roasted marshmallows, that's a deal-breaker for Gramma.

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