Tag Archives: No Cook

Southwest Tomato Gazpacho

For the past five years or so, my very best friend and I have diligently gone to Tomatomania each April when it comes to town.  We may have missed a year somewhere in that time, but still buy tomato plants elsewhere so we can make like suburban farmers and enjoy our own home grown, warmed by the sun orbs of summer lusciousness.  I have to fess up and say my friend’s plot is quite huge so she can let her tomato plants grow wildly over the sunny terraced hillside behind her house, whereas I am only a poser who keeps two large pots near the side of my house.  And if those tomato plants are lucky, they’ll get most of the sun they’re supposed to have.  I’ve had good years, and then I’ve had not so good years — like this year.

My plants are tall and scraggly, have been producing lots of blossoms, but very few tomatoes.  Yes, they’ve been appropriately watered and fertilized.  I even remembered to plant them making sure the first sprout of leaves was buried.  I tried egg shells around the stems this year, too, and ironically, this is the first year I’ve had stems rot.  I’m about ready to rip them out of their pots to plant something else.  However, my friend is having a bumper crop.

After paying $6 for a gorgeous heirloom tomato at one of our fabulous farmer’s markets last Sunday, she called to say she wanted to drop off some tomatoes, then the very next day sent me home with more.  What does one do with so many tomatoes outside of occasionally enjoying one sliced and lightly salted?

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Pink Slaw

Pink Slaw

I’ve gotten to the point in my life that I’ve begun to notice my tastes have changed.  It’s not so much that I prefer some tastes over others, but more that I crave things I never have before, and look less forward to other tastes I’ve always loved.

Let’s talk cabbage, shall we?

My mother makes a mean cole slaw:  chopped green cabbage, mayonnaise, a few other ingredients I’m not too sure of, and pickle juice.  There always seemed to be cole slaw at picnics and parties in the summer and I never understood completely why people enjoyed it.  It was nearly colorless and somewhat soupy.  But the pickle juice saved it for me, so if I happened upon a cole slaw that didn’t have pickle juice, then forget about it.  None of that cloyingly sweet stuff for me.  Definitely nothing with Miracle Whip.  Goodness.  No, it was the slight tartness I was attracted to.

Now?  Well, I’m all about that tartness.  I love raw cabbage.  I love the crunch.  I love the not sweet, but slightly briney quality of a very good slaw — one you’d want to heap onto a plate of ribs, or a knockwurst.

Serve me up.

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Spicy Tuna and Avocado Dip

 

Try not to shovel it into your mouth...

Halloween officially launches the party season as far as I’m concerned.  It’s not like we have a calendar full of swanky events scheduled…I’m counting zero right now…, but having any excuse to get together constitutes a party.  Why not?  Football, the holidays, and…..Election Night!  Whether it’s a raucous group of good friends, or a more tame cocktail get together, the occasion is always better if the food is excellent.

And speaking of excellent, what could be better than a dish that can be a dip or a salad?  It’s elegant, it’s healthy, and oh my goodness, it’s delicious.

The first time I made this, my brother dug in with a tortilla chip and popped it in his mouth, asking between chews and mmmming, “What is this?”

“Raw fish,” I responded.  “Good, huh?”

And he thought he didn’t like avocados or fish — let alone raw fish.

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NON-Cowboy Caviar: Beat the Heat

When the weather is warmer or more humid than I like, or when I don’t want something packed with calories disguised as butter, or cream, or bacon, I crave food that has a bite, some salt, and involves work.

No, the work isn’t about the preparation — it’s about chewing.  Chewing, crunching, and savoring the most amazing combination of flavors, that is.

Oh, and little or no heat.  That would be heat from a stove or a grill, because I can’t imagine life without the heat that comes from a nice jalapeno.  And since Grace of A Southern Grace is having a little “Beat the Heat” shindig over at her place, I thought this just might be perfect.

The first time I made this salsa it was the early ’90s and I was desperate for food packed with nutrients, and absolutely no fat.  I’d had my youngest son a year earlier, thought I was looking just fine, and then saw a photo of myself at a wedding that rudely informed me otherwise. Where, oh where did that second chin come from?   So, I was hell bent for leather to lose weight and get fit.  No-fat diets were all the rage back then, and I went a bit crazy eating things like fresh strawberries dipped in Cool Whip, and smearing apple butter on my dry toast.  Eating lots and lots of pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil.  And, wonder of all wondrous things, learning how to stomach non-fat milk.  Unbelievable.  For exercise, I took a swimming test, then promptly learned how to row.  You know.  Those long skinny boats that lots of people sit in with the slidey seats?  They all stroke at the same time when that person at the end yells at them?  Yes, those.  I know.  I was 36 years old.  What in hell was I doing?  Well, the other women were my age and older, so that made it easy (such a liar…)  But they were buff, and I was, um…pudgy.

Where was I?

Salsa. About that time, I started making this salsa. Wait.  Salad.  So, maybe it’s a salsa salad.  I think that’s the closest name for it, although in years since, I have seen it called Cowboy Caviar, which some people think morphed from Texas Caviar.  Now, I learned what I know about cowboys from old movies, and I’m not, nor ever will be from Texas. And most importantly, I have lived in San Diego for most of my life, so there’s no way I’d call my chunky bowl of low carb, low fat flavor either of those names.

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