Sitting here in the cabin, as I munch on chips, dip and lemonade, I still have images of my April Monterey-Pacific Grove trip back home.
The thunderstorms we experienced the other day in the mountains reminded me of the spring overcast and fog on the coast. And I cannot forget the abundance of fruit and vegetables at the roadside produce stands. California is blessed to be an agricultural paradise, especially as we edge into summertime.
This week I was craving avocado-tomato guacamole dip and chips. I'll blame it on passing by the San Francisco Bay Area. When I used to live in San Carlos there was a superb dive on the corner from my bungalow.
One time when I was waiting to move to Lake Tahoe I went there for an escape, my oasis. The server, a middle-aged man with wit and a heart of gold, was there for me with fresh chips, dip and a fresh-squeezed fruit drink (per my request).
While in waiting mode, we shared our anticipation. His eatery was almost empty and closing; we both were moving to the unknown. The warm, crispy chips, creamy guacamole salsa combo teamed with a cold, sweet and tart lemonade (spiked with chamomile tea) took me to a place I love and helped chase the blues away.
Victims of gentrification, our souls bonded that night. While the restaurant is gone, and I am here, the memory of a connection with appetizers is forever imprinted on my soul.
This week, once again, I find myself waiting and decided instead of chicken soup it is fresh California vegetables and fruit that would be the perfect pick me up to chill and attempt to go with the flow.
California Guacamole-Salsa Dip
1 avocado, ripe, peeled
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons red onion or scallions, diced
1 small chili pepper, diced
¼-1/3 cup salsa (fresh, store bought)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
Ground pepper and sea salt to taste
In a medium size bowl, mash avocado. Add tomatoes and onion, mix well. Fold in salsa, citrus juice and spices. Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, top with cheese. Serves two.
Semi Homemade Chips (fried)
3-4 Flour tortillas (fluffy kind)
Italian seasoning, ground pepper and sea salt to taste
In a skillet, cover the bottom about ¼ inch with oil. Set aside. Cut round tortillas into triangles like a pizza pie. Once the oil sizzles on medium heat, place tortilla triangles into pan. Turn a few times until the chips are light brown on both sides. Remove. Place on paper towels to absorb oil. Sprinkle with seasoning. Serve warm with chilled guacamole. Serves two.
3-4 large lemons
4 cups water (I used bottled)
¼ cup granulated sugar or to taste (a bit of honey can cut the amount of sugar)
Juice lemons. Pour into pitcher. Add water, stir. Sprinkle in sugar. Put in refrigerator until serving. Use glasses, straws and add a slice of lemon on the rim of glass.
*You can substitute half a cup of your favorite tea, cooled, mixed with half a cup of lemonade. Serves four.
Guacamole, chips and lemonade are simple foods. But avocados, tomatoes, onions and lemons are all packed with good for you, anti-stress vitamins. Not only are they healthful (less is more with guacamole because of the fat) these foods are delicious during hot or cold days as well as uncertain times.
So, if you're waiting for summertime to arrive or something else, I promise you, a mix of fun appetizers, like these, will help you chill, and live in the moment (without chewing the ice!) until it (whatever it is) happens.
Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, and Superfoods) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.