Dip Into Summer With Guacamole

Ah, summer – the season of barbecues, outdoor dining, backyard picnics and all around good times. No doubt you’ll be engaging in a cookout or two in June, July or August, so you may as well be prepared with a killer recipe that doesn’t involve firing up the grill or pre-heating the oven. Enter the guacamole.

Why guacamole? Well, there are a number of reasons. First and foremost, it’s healthy for almost everyone in the family. (More on that in a second.) People used to be wary of this tropical fruit because of its high fat content, but science has shown that the fat in avocado is the healthy, monounsaturated kind. Avocados are also packed with an impressive list of vitamins and minerals that do a body good. There’s even some evidence that eating avocados can help reduce blood cholesterol levels, and that’s no bad thing.

Now, remember how I said that avocados are good for almost everyone in the family? Well, that’s because you should NOT, under any circumstances, feed guacamole or avocados to your pets – it’s toxic (sometimes lethally so) to dogs, cats, birds, goats, rabbits, cattle and horses. If you plan on having guests over, save yourself a lot of trouble and advise them not to give your animals any samples of guacamole or other avocado-based foods.

Let’s Get Cooking

I’ve run into more than a few people who buy pre-made guacamole because they think it’s too hard to make at home. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth – stripped to its most basic form, guacamole is nothing more than an avocado that’s been scooped out of its skin, mashed with a fork and served in a stylish bowl like the one we’re currently selling. Perhaps the confusion stems from the sheer amount of guacamole recipes out there – type “guacamole recipe” into Google if you don’t believe me. Each of them is different, and each one claims to be the best. I think it’s a matter of personal preference and the amount of time you’re willing to put into it. But hey – you’re busy, I’m busy. Let’s keep things things simple, shall we?

Tasty and healthy – what more could you want?
Tasty and healthy – what more could you want?

Super Easy Guacamole

Ingredients:
Avocados – The amount varies depending on how much guac you want to make; just remember that the avocado’s pit takes up about half of the room inside. The avocados you choose should have greenish black skin and should give with gentle pressure.

Lime or Lemon Juice – Lime is traditional and does add a brighter note to the overall flavor. That said, don’t panic if you don’t have a lime to spare – lemon juice works just as well. You’re mostly using it to keep your guacamole from going brown right away.

Garlic powder – A lot or a little, depending on your personal preference.

Salt – Again, this is a matter of taste.

Preparation: Wash the outside of your avocado, then cut it in half around the pit. Grab a spoon and ease out the pit. (If you’re like me, you’ll send it flying across the kitchen, but that’s ok.) Once the pit is free, gently scrape the avocado flesh out of the skin and into a bowl. From there, use a fork to mash the flesh until it’s mixed together and creamy.

Next, add a bit of your lime or lemon juice and stir. For me, this is a visual exercise more than a matter of precise measurements. I use just enough juice to loosen the guacamole up a bit. Once it starts to stir a bit more easily, I know I’m there.

Sprinkle in some garlic powder and salt, then give your guacamole a taste. If it needs more flavor, go for it. If you think it’s ready for prime time, then put it in a serving bowl and prepare for a shower of compliments.

Now Make It Your Own

So, is that really all it takes to make guacamole? Technically yes, but there are plenty of other things that you can do to spice things up, as it were. Lots of people dice up Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes and gently stir them in. Red or yellow onions are also commonly added, though I’ve found it isn’t absolutely necessary. Cilantro is often mentioned in recipes, but some people hate the way the herb tastes and leave it out entirely. For a really exotic twist, you could consider adding pomegranate seeds to the mix – trust me, it’s amazing.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that there is no guacamole standard. Have fun, experiment and let us know what you come up with – we’re always up for new takes on old favorites.

 

Ask an Irishman – Part One

If you had asked me to make a list of all the things I knew about Irish culture a few years ago, it probably would have looked a lot like this:

1) St. Patrick’s Day is a really, really big deal, especially in New York, Boston, Cleveland and Chicago.

2) Irish people are really into Riverdancing, like these guys.

3) Everything, including rivers and beer, turns green on March 17th.

Oliver is ready for the big day. Are you?
Oliver is ready for the big day. Are you?

The list wouldn’t have been totally inaccurate – last year, Cleveland’s St. Patrick’s Day parade attracted over 500,000 people – but it was rather lacking in a couple of areas, such as subtlety and cultural perspective. Fortunately, I’ve gained new insight about Ireland and its culture thanks to one very special person – my fiance, Conor.

Conor is Irish – not Irish-American, mind you, but Irish, born and raised. He’s taught me a lot over the years and patiently fielded questions from family and friends about his country. (He’s also answered verbal queries from waitresses, store clerks, strangers on the subway, etc.) With the St. Patrick’s Day holiday upon us and our OrangeOnions.com St. Patrick’s Day sale in full swing, I thought it might be fun for him to answer some of your questions about the Emerald Isle. Fortunately, he thought it might be fun too.

So here’s the deal – if you have questions about Ireland, Irish culture or Irish customs, write it up and leave it in the comment section. We’ll choose a few of them for Conor to answer and publish his responses on March 15. If you’ve ever wondered what the deal is with shamrocks and leprechauns, why people wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or if they dye their beer green too, now’s your chance to find out!

When OrangeOnions Met the Mayor

When was the last time you were called away from your desk to meet an elected official? That’s what happened to us on February 11 when North Randall mayor David Smith and building commissioner Charles Horvath took a tour of the OrangeOnions.com offices, met with our staff and then got a look at our warehouse. He seemed impressed by our operation and the machines in our warehouse, and he also mentioned that he enjoyed reading the “About Us” section on our website. It was pretty exciting, and it means a lot to know that Mayor Smith considers us an important part of the community.

Mayor David Smith and building commissioner Charles Horvath of North Randall, Ohio, meet with the OrangeOnions.com crew.
Mayor David Smith and building commissioner Charles Horvath of North Randall, Ohio, meet with the OrangeOnions.com crew.

North Randall is a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, with about 1,000 residents. The village is home to Thistledown Racino, the only thoroughbred track in Cuyahoga County, and the PowerSport Institute, a 207,000-square-foot technical college dedicated to motorcycle mechanic training.

Selling on a Schedule? Not Here.

When most people hear “shopping season,” they usually think of the 30 days of madness that begin on Black Friday and end on Christmas Eve. It’s easy to assume that this is the only shopping season that really matters – the media coverage makes it seem like the only time retailers sell anything, period – but the good people at LifeHacker have taught me that there’s actually a rhythm at work here. What’s more, they’ve managed to decode it.

LifeHacker’s “Best Time To Buy Anything” guide comes out each year in January.
LifeHacker’s “Best Time To Buy Anything” guide comes out each year in January.

Each year, LifeHacker comes out with a chart detailing the best time of the year to buy anything – computers, Broadway tickets, lawnmowers, whatever. It’s a fascinating look at how retailers time their sales. (Who would have thought that April was the month to buy cruise tickets and sneakers?) It’s a nice reference to have when you’re planning on making a big purchase. That said, I’m a little bummed that I’ll apparently have to wait until July to get a good deal on a computer.

“But wait!” I can hear you saying. “Do you guys follow this chart too? Should I wait until June to look for those dishes I need? Do I really need to hold off until October to check for good deals on patio furniture?”

Nope. See, we’re retail rebels. We don’t think you should have to wait to get a good deal on the things you need. Stop by anytime – we’ve got the best prices all year long.

Let It Snow…Anytime You Want!

As this past Christmas season was approaching, I needed to get some extra outdoor decorations & of course I saw something here at OrangeOnions that caught my eye.

When we got the Chelsea Home Imports Light Flurries Projector here in the office, I was somewhat skeptical. We’ve all seen the more cheesy versions, a simple projector that puts a ‘clip-art’ looking snowflake or Santa’s face on your house. This, however, is much different, and a lot cooler. It’s basically a disco ball that rotates sideways, creating an effect of falling snow over the entire area it’s pointed at.

To say that set up is easy is an understatement.
Open the box, set the unit in your yard, attach the LED light, plug it in. Voila! It’s a white Christmas! You can adjust the speed of the disco ball to have snow fall gently or create a blizzard. You can also move the light closer or further away from the unit to make the flakes larger or smaller. It took me about 15-20 minutes to get it ‘just right’ for my tastes, but

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