Updated: Aug 30
Okay, it's still pandemic season, and, like you, I've grown tired of the normal ways to pass the time:
My husband and I painted the living room and the dining room and the hallway and the kitchen. We releveled our slate patio. We dug boulders out of our stupidly, rocky ground in an effort to plant hydrangeas and Russian sage. (The bees do love it, though.)
I've had my fill of nature walks. Last month, a cyclist passed my daughter, Cilia, and me on the trail, going the opposite way.
"There's a fox up ahead, right around the bend," he said.
Cilia and I turned right around and booked it straight to the car.
A few weeks earlier, a long, fat snake blocked my path, and two weeks ago, black bear sightings were all over the local news. Forget the pandemic. Nature walks are dangerous.
My weekly screening hours are now in the double digits. Most nights, I lull myself to sleep watching horoscope predictions on my iPhone, and I've binge-watched so many seasons of The Great British Baking Show that I don't even need the subtitles anymore.
Last week, my son, Roman, turned 12. We had a small gathering of about 12 people, socially distanced, outside mostly. For a birthday present, I bought Roman a projector and a big screen to watch movies outside.
"We can have movie night just like at the drive-in," I told him. "And you can connect your Wii or your XBOX and play Super Mario Bros. and Fortnight. Won't that be fun?"
He seemed excited, but by the end of the night, it was only Cilia, my husband, and my husband's cousin watching Happy Gilmore shove Bob Barker down a hill.
Then Cilia streamed a concert of her favorite band, My Chemical Romance. She danced in the yard in front of a 120-inch screen. The members of MCR were so big that you could see Gerard Way's beautiful bat buckle and every smudge of his eyeliner. It felt like they were live and in-person.
Then it dawned on me,
"I'm gonna have Latin night in my backyard."
Before the pandemic, I didn’t go salsa dancing much, but I could go whenever I wanted. I used to complain that there were no live Latin bands, only DJs. But still, there was salsa, drinks at the bar, the pulse of loud music, the hum of conversation, and being with friends. I miss that.
It’s still screen time, but I decided, I'm gonna stream The Buena Vista Social Club
or Poncho Sanchez on the big screen in my backyard. Maybe I’ll feel like I’m at a club or a concert. I’ll pour myself a strong margarita (extra salt) and eat spicy guacamole and chips. I'll turn up the volume and drink and dance my way into next year. (Hopefully, by then, the pandemic and all the scary wildlife, too, will be gone.)
This is my dear friend, Lori Jakiela's, recipe. Lori is an author, writer, teacher, and one fantastic cook. She's a fried chicken aficionado and a brilliant baker of beer bread, but everything Lori makes is crazy, tasty, good. Like her recipe for guacamole. It's spicy, garlic-y, and citrus-y, too. Remember, you can add more or less of any of these seasonings to make this guac your own.
5 avocados, halved. Remove pits, saving two
Juice of 2 limes (about 2 TBSP)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 TBSP)
1 heaping TBSP chopped cilantro
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
Scoop the flesh from the halved avocados into a medium-sized bowl. Discard the skins and all but two pits.
For a chunky guacamole, mash the avocado with a fork. For a smoother guac, use a food processor or a mortar and pestle.
Add the lime and lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, pepper, salt, onion powder, and hot pepper flakes and mix well.
Add the pits to the guacamole. This will prevent the avocados from browning for some time.
Serve with tortilla chips or crudités.