We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Black Salt

I don't know why I have a thing for all things margarita lately. I know I'm supposed to be talking about avocados. But we all know that margaritas go hand in hand with guacamole and chips so it's all right, isn't it? Yesterday I said I'd find out if there's such a thing as black salt, in case you wanted to rim one of those leopard skin goblets in a new and sexy way. And lo and behold, yes, there is a black salt. In fact, I found several. Here's the one that looks the blackest:

Then I found this on youtube.com - you won't believe this one:

An actual gadget called a drink rimmer!! Wonder how many of those they're going to sell.What's so hard about dipping your moistened goblet into a saucer of salt? Well, perhaps you'll save a lot of money using the gadget because you won't be wasting salt. But the last time I checked, a carton of salt cost about fifty cents. Maybe if you're going to use that fancy black salt you might want to invest in the drink rimmer.

Remember in my post from two days ago I showed you the margarita machine that Beth brought to our book club. Well, when I was wandering through youtube I found that this is an actual trend - people building the most unusual margarita machines they can think of. This was my favorite:

And then there was this one made using a weed eater!!

And this one. I kept waiting for the motorcycle to take off and spill the whole bucket of margaritas.

I'll have to stop here. I could go on and on with these examples of great American inventiveness. I did actually find one where the guy was shirtless, but I'll spare you that one.

However you make your margaritas this weekend, I hope you'll have a happy and restful one. On Monday, it's back to the grove and hopefully a post about avocados.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Great Margarita Machine

When you think of patio dining and eating guacamole, what else do you think of? Margaritas, of course. So that got me to thinking about the latest ads on TV offering margarita machines. Don't you think a mere blender would do the trick? Nooooooo. Now you have to spend $200 to $500 to have a special machine that crushes ice, puts the salt on the rim and blends the perfect margarita.

But Beth, a member of our book club was way ahead in inventing her own margarita machine. Well actually one of her friends put it together from a walker and a motorcycle. What a marvelous contraption! This is the second time Beth has gone to considerable trouble to bring it and the second time it didn't work. The margarita maker is run on some kind of fuel and when she tried to get it going, it spewed all kinds of smoke and noxious fumes, but didn't blend one margarita. She says the only time it doesn't work is at the book club.  They use it all the time for neighborhood block parties when electricity isn't close at hand. Poor Beth had to make the margaritas the old fashioned way by plugging the blender into electricity.

You might not want to go to all the trouble of making a similar invention. And you don't have to. Here are the ones you can easily purchase, if you want to spend that kind of money and if you have room on your counter for one more appliance. Especially the super duper DM3000 that makes 3 drinks at once.
Wow - that looks really heavy duty.

On my May 5th blog I posted a recipe for an avocado margarita. But here's another one from the California Avocado Commission.


What do you get when you combine California Avocados with frosty margaritas? An Avorita, of course!


  • Cocktail salt
  • 2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 4 oz. tequila
  • 4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups crushed ice
  1. Moisten rims of margarita glasses and dip in cocktail salt.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a blender and pulsate on high speed for 30 seconds. Blend for an additional 30 seconds until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour into salt-rimmed margarita glasses.
Serving Suggestions:
Garnish with lime wedges if desired.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Avocado Pesto - But Beware of the Bitters

My daughter was raving about an avocado pesto recipe. It sounds absolutely delicious. I haven't tried it yet and I'll have to change one of the ingredients (which I'll tell you about later), but it seems easy enough and would be a delicious summertime entree. Here's the california avocado commission recipe:

Avocado Pesto©


  • 1 ½ cups diced California avocados
  • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts (finely chopped)
  • cup pure virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 4 cups basil leaves
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped sundried tomatos softend in hot water
  • 1 lb. bowtie pasta (or pasta of choice)


  1. Boil water and prepare pasta as directed
  2. Chop sundried tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces and place in hot water.
  3. Dice pine nuts and garlic separately, set aside.
  4. Take stems off basil leaves and place in blender or food processor.
  5. Place pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese in blender/food processor.
  6. Blend until a thick paste is achieved.
  7. Add avocados. Blend until smooth.
  8. Drain sundried tomatoes.
  9. Mix avocado/pesto mix into cooked pasta and mix in sundried tomatoes. Serve hot or cold. 
O.K. What's the ingredient I would leave out? It's the pine nuts. I would substitute walnuts. Why? Well, first of all, I really don't like pine nuts. And second has to do with a weird food incident my sister, Barbara, had recently where everything she ate tasted bitter, literally everything. It went on for 2 or 3 weeks. So in desperation she consulted google and typed in "bitter taste in mouth" thinking there might be some help for her condition. Well, lo and behold, there were hundreds of posts on google for "bitter taste in mouth" and this one claims that the culprit is pine nuts:


So, not only do I not like pine nuts, but I have a good reason not to eat them. I'll use walnuts instead. I'll let you decide what to do. But however you make this recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Case of the Missing Digit Part II or Be Careful When You Whack That Pit

So, now you've learned how to cut a bagel because of all of the BRI (Bagel Related Incidents), but did you know that there are also ARI (Avocado Related Incidents)? Helen, my trusty researcher found this article from the blog Eat Drink and be Merry about an avocado injury.

So yes, that's proof. You can really injure yourself pitting an avocado. Here's a sample of instructional videos on how to cut and pit an avocado. Then check out the doctor's comment below. Interesting.

I can't figure out why men film themselves shirtless. What's the deal. And shouldn't he have cleaned up his kitchen a little?

I like this one because it's a good example of what not to do.

Did you see how the pit jumped right into the other half avocado. Ha. She really whacks that pit!! Looks very dangerous. Here's what a doctor commented:

THIS IS A DANGEROUS VIDEO AND SHOULD NOT BE FOLLOWED! I have had to surgically repair several tendons and nerves from cuts caused by avocado cutting and pitting. The knife handling shown is dangerous and should not be duplicated. 1. NEVER hold a piece of fruit or a vegetable in the palm of your hand while cutting. Use a cutting board or towel on the counter. 2. Use a spoon to remove the pit. It may not sound cool, but you don't look cool after surgery for an avocado injury!

Here's a little bit different technique. Looks a lot safer.

But to be really safe try this:

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Case of the Missing Digit or Be Careful When You Slice That Bagel

For all of you who would like to make an avocado sandwich on a bagel, you might want to read this post first.

Our friend and fellow blogger, Helen (Guacamole Gulch), told us an amusing story at lunch one day about the time she almost cut off her finger while slicing a bagel. She was rushed to the emergency room, hand all wrapped, dripping blood only to have to wait and wait to be seen by a doctor. Why? Because the patient waiting in front of her, also dripping with blood, had a 10" French knife sticking out of his arm. 

This story led me to think about kitchen accidents (I assume the French knife man had been stabbed by an irate wife while she was slicing a bagel and got in an argument that led to the knifing). Anyway, I found that bagel slicing accidents are extremely common - thousands of them a year. In fact there was a whole article about this very subject in the Wall Street Journal, of all places (To Keep the Finger Out of Finger Food).  Helen and the French knife guy can comfort themselves to know that they are part of the "ever expanding ranks of BRI victims". A BRI is a bagel-related injury. To the medical community bagel injuries are called  "an epidemiological scourge."

And there were many more posts on Google about bagel related injuries. Just how do you slice a bagel? Well, Youtube had so many instruction videos that it was difficult to choose the best one. Here's my favorite (although the production quality is not good, it's very entertaining:

Just kidding. Here's another one:

I like this kid. He's so darn serious. But be sure to watch to the very end and check out his feet:

If you've decided not to try slicing another bagel using a knife, there are tons and tons of inventive bagel slicers. Everyone seems to like the "Bagel Guillotine". I'm not sure this is the best name for a bagel slicer. It sounds pretty ominous and threatening to me. But most people (with a few exceptions) seem to think it works well.

Tune in next week for The Case of the Missing Digit Part II when I discuss how to whack that avocado pit out of an avocado. Is an injury associated with removing avocado pits considered an ARI by the medical community? Is there a tool for removing pits? I'll let you know.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

How to Stay Neat While Making Guacamole

So you're mashing, mixing and stirring up a batch of guacamole which can be a messy proposition. You're puzzled about what to do to keep yourself neat and tidy. Then you have this fuzzy memory of your mother in the kitchen wearing something over her clothes. What was that odd fashion statement she was making? Wait, that wasn't fashion - it was an apron - that utilitarian icon of the kitchen from years past. Sometimes the apron would venture out from the kitchen and make an appearance at a bridge or cocktail party or as a halloween costume - the ever popular French maid.

So I started to do some research on aprons. Here's a book that looks really interesting:

And if you'd like to become a collector or just have your very own apron like your mom or grandma used to wear, check out these that I found on Etsy:

I really can't imagine wearing a crocheted apron. But you just can't imagine how many of them are listed on Etsy - there were hundreds! I have a feeling that it was one of those kinds of things that crocheters made when they had already made too many doilies, toilet paper covers, baby blankets and afghans. Now what else can I make that would be totally impractical? How about an apron? This one is from Everything Paula:

I really like this one. It's so cheery and colorful. See it at: Find Me a Memory.

This design was stripped right off of the bed and made into an apron. "Quick, honey, the dinner guests have arrived! Put this on and go open the door." Don't you just love it? It's from  Hartwell Designs:

Now who would be caught dead wearing this apron at their next barbecue? I guess if you want to advertise the Electric Portable Kitchen, you might. This very hilarious apron is from Save the Vintage.

This apron is called the Naughty Housewife. Ha! It's from Katadrian. Check out all four photos:

And here's the apron (from Lace and Luxuries) to wear after a hard day at the office anticipating a hard day at home:

This is the one to wear at your next cocktail party. Suesue Gonzalas suggests you wear it with your red stilettos:

I hope you've been inspired to wear an apron the next time you're in the kitchen. I've only chosen a tiny fraction of those available on Etsy. There are literally hundreds listed and it's really fun to see all of the different varieties. Just go to "Vintage" and type in "aprons". You'll be amazed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Awesome Avocado

Some friends of mine came up with this avocado cookbook a few years ago. They had a shop in Fallbrook that sold all things avocado. When visitors come to Fallbrook, they want to take something home that reminds them of this quaint village and since fresh avocados don't last too long, they want something more durable. At the shop they could purchase avocado ripening bags, kitchen towels with avocados embroidered along the border, avocado hand cream. You name it, if it had an avocado on it or in it, they stocked it. And they also sold this cook book.

One of the recipes from the book caught my eye - Deviled Eggs with Avocado. Mmmmmm. Doesn't that sound delicious. I love deviled eggs, but have never tried them with avocado. Here's the recipe.

Deviled Eggs with Avocado

6 eggs, hard boiled
1 large avocado, mashed
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chives, chopped
1 to 2 tbs chopped capers or
pepperoncini peppers

Slice the eggs lengthwise in half and remove the yolks. The yolks may be discarded or used mixed in with the mashed avocado.

Combine all the ingredients (except the chives) and stir them together until well mixed. Fill each egg with the avocado mixture. Sprinkle with chives.

(photo courtesy California Avocado Commission avocado.org)

Jodi Snyder who was the author of this cookbook (along with Patsy Needham and Irene Christian) is a talented cook.  She was previously the owner of The Lace Apron, a fantastic restaurant/bakery in Fallbrook. Just thinking about her lemon squares and pecan squares makes me so hungry. But alas, she sold the Lace Apron several years ago and it has since gone the way of other great eateries.

When we were asked (Banar Designs, that is) to work on a cookbook project called Great American Home Baking, the first person we called was Jodi. Along with her and several other talented cooks and testers, we worked on that cooking project for a year. It's from International Masters Publishers IMP. Here's the link: Great American Home Baking. It was quite a project and we were so proud of  ourselves when it was over that we had a wrap party at Jodi's and invited everyone that had participated. Here's Jodi (on the right) and I in her fabulous kitchen mixing up a salad for the party.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Avocados and the National Spelling Bee??

Hmmm. Let's see. How can I justify writing about the National Spelling Bee on this blog about avocados? How about this - "Spell Avocado"   Can I have the definition please? Can you put that word in a sentence? Country of origin?  Avocado A-V-O-C-A-D-O Avocado.

O.K. Does that justify my whining and complaining about the ABC coverage of the National Spelling Bee? What a mistake to move the spelling bee from ESPN to ABC.  ABC absolutely sucked the heart and soul out of the bee. What has always been a wonderful contest of smart, cute and let's face it - nerdy kids, became a reality show with no charm whatsoever. With the two hosts talking loudly over the actual contest, the blond bimbo interviewer who had no idea how to talk to kids, the slick, filmed bios of the contestants that made them try to be entertaining when they're really bookworms and not rock stars - it was a total mess. The timing was all off, with commercials (even the winner commented on the too many commercials), the jumping from parents, to contest, to commentators and all at the wrong time. It was a mess. Please someone, bring the spelling bee finals back to ESPN where it belongs.

Youtube wouldn't let me use the video of the winner - Anamika Veeramani because of copyright issues so I'm using this video instead. Enjoy.


In the Grove

Last Thursday and Friday our grove was a hubbub of activity. The pickers were here, finally. We've been waiting and waiting for our crop to be picked. Helen, our friend who also has a grove put it best in her comment, "I love it when the crew comes with the tall ladders clattering from tree to tree, the music is playing and there's generally a festive feeling." The real festive feeling though, is when the check arrives!! Here are the bins full of beautiful green gold.

 This is how they load the bins onto the truck to take our precious avocados to the packing house:

Goodbye 2010 crop. Actually, that's not all the crop. There's still lots of fruit on the trees. They'll be back to pick more later. In the meantime, I'll keep picking avos that I can use to whip up more recipes. Hopefully, they'll be successful and I can share them with you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Put Another Slice on the Barbie

The weekend's coming up, the weather is warm (at least it is here in Southern California) and it's time to start thinking about grilling. I found this recipe here: california avocado commission. Those slices and half shells look absolutely delicious.

Grilled Avocados


  • 2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  •  Seasoned salt to taste
  • ½ cup fresh salsa, optional for half shell version

  1. For Grilled Slices:
    Cut avocado in half, seed, peel, and slice. Drizzle with fresh lime or lemon juice and brush lightly with olive oil. Gently place slices on grill over hot coals for 2 minutes on each side. Season with salt to taste.
  2. For Grilled Half Shells:
    Cut avocado in half and remove seed. Drizzle with fresh lime or lemon juice and brush lightly with olive oil. Gently place cut side down on grill over hot coals for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Optional: fill with fresh salsa or your favorite fresh ingredients.
Serving Suggestions:
Makes a great accompaniment to grilled meats or fish.

 Grove News

Our grove service is here today and they're picking our avocados, finally. They're usually picked in Jan. or Feb. So this is really late in the year. Not sure why. It probably has something to do with the price. They wait until the price is right before they pick. Avocados are one of the few fruits that can stay on the tree for long periods of time without spoiling. Hope they pick lots and lots and fill up these bins:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Show off your Avocado Plant in One of These

Yesterday's post was all about planting an avocado seed and waiting for it to sprout. Once you have the plant going, you're going to want to transplant it in a beautiful pot to show off your green thumb abilities and your patience.  No plain terracotta pot will do. Check out these planters that I found on Etsy. These are the one's that should display your leafy, green plant.

If you like birds, this is the planter for you. It's from green rose designs.

Here's a handsome pot, classic with a gorgeous glaze and wonderful texture. It would go perfectly with a big leafy plant that could stand right in your foyer (if you have a foyer, I don't). It's from New Georgia Claywork.

I love the playfulness of this pot. It's actually covered with fabric but has been treated so that it's water proof. Isn't it cute? Check out this shop Sass Watch Dot Com

I love whimsical pots. And here's one that's a real winner. It would make such a conversation piece. It's from Clay Flower22.

Talk about conversation pieces! Talk about whimsey! Check out these from Jmn Pottery:

That's all from Etsy today. Hope you've enjoyed the selections. Which one would you choose?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to Grow an Avocado Plant from a Seed

I've had several requests for information on how to grow an avocado plant from a seed. You should see how many Youtube posts there are on this subject! Inquiring minds want to know.

Basically what I've found is that if you try to grow a plant from a seed, it will take 7 to 10 years before you get fruit. That's a long time to wait. But, if you want to hurry things along, you need to graft a fruiting branch onto your plant (which has been grown from the seed) and you'll have fruit in 2 - 3 years. Or if you just want the plant as some greenery in your house, then starting it from a seed is an ideal solution.

None of the Youtube posts were great. Some were too long, some weren't too informative. This is the best of the bunch:

Here's some more info:

!. Water should cover about half an inch of pit.
2. Add lukewarm water as needed, maintaining the same level.
3. Keep glass in a warm spot out of direct sunlight.
4. When the pit starts to crack, it's ready to sprout roots (2 - 3 weeks)
5. If seed doesn't sprout after 2 months, give up. It was probably an immature pit.
6. When the main stem reaches 6 - 7 inches, cut it back midway between the pit and tip to prevent the plant from producing a straight, spindly stalk.
7. When the roots are thick and the steam has leafed out, it's time to transfer the plant to a 7 - 9" pot with a saucer underneath.
8. Fill pot with about 4" of hummus-type soil. Transfer the plant from the glass to dirt. Distribute soil around the plant, leaving half the pit exposed at the top.
9. Don't pack the dirt down. Pour lukewarm water over the soil and let the water settle in.
10. Place the plant where it will get several hours of sunlight or artificial light a day. Keep the soil moist.

This will give you a pretty plant (if you're lucky), but no avocados. I'll let you know in a future post, how to graft your plant in case you want a real crop.

In the meantime, stab your pit and dunk it in some water and see what happens.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Avocado as Muse

Now that I've become an Avocado blogger, friends and family and even strangers give me things that pertain to avocados. My friend Jean, gave me this wonderful little cookbook that was lovingly put together by the Fallbrook Woman's Club, probably as a fundraiser. It's not a slick cookbook like other fundraising efforts that we've all seen. It's definitely hand done, down to the little green ribbon bow glued to the front:

And on the inside of this little booklet is an ode to avocados which I'd love to share with you:

Life Saga of "Avie" The Fallbrook Avocado

My name is Avie, I'm here on the scene
I live in Fallbrook where all is serene
I hang around in the freshest of air
And commune with friends with never a care.

Then along come these people who want to change me
To take away my freedom and rearrange me.
They slice me, or dice me, or mash me flat!
If it happened to you, would you like that?

As if that abuse were not enough
They throw food on me and stir me up
Like gobs of mayonnaise and squeezes of lime,
Chunks of tomatoes and onions diced fine.

They fry me or bake me or chill me till cool
And all this abuse is down right cruel!
I was so happy just hanging out free
Swinging aloft in my Fallbrook tree

Now all has changed and against my wishes
I have become their favorite dishes.
by Joyce Brazel

Wow, after reading this, I think I'll start a chapter of SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Avocados). Will I ever want to dice or chop one again? Will you?

This is one of the more unusual recipes from the book (which actually has lots of tasty sounding selections):

The thing I love about this card is that it features a bright red beet for the illustration. Did the graphic designer misread this card and think it said "Beet Battered Fried Avocado Wedges"? Or did she just like the image? It will forever puzzle me. Anyway, this sounds like a very interesting way to eat avocados. Would love to try it sometime.