Like many of you, during this time at home, I have been trying to get through some organization and general Spring cleaning. It’s really amazing just how much we accumulate through the years. It got me thinking…do we really “need” all these items, or is it just more “stuff”? I wondered if maybe it was time to simplify our lives. I went through closets and closets full of items, opening up suitcase after suitcase filled with a variety of long-forgotten memories. I stumbled upon a suitcase full of old saris and I just couldn’t bear to discard any one of them. It’s because each and every sari has a special story behind it. I am hoping that one of these days I can sit down with my granddaughters and tell them all the stories behind the saris. Who knows maybe they will want to keep some of the saris and wear them? I just hope they do and when they grow up they will remember why the sari was so special to Dadi (grandmother). I know that I still use one of my mother’s shawls to this day, despite the fact that it has some tears and is not in the best condition. It doesn’t matter to me because for me, it is somewhat of a security blanket and something to hold onto as a comforting memory of my mother.
Of course, going through my belongings comes with memories of my childhood, especially memories of my mother. My mother was one of a kind and just filled with wisdom. Her perspective towards life was very positive. She managed this outlook even though her health was not good. When she was resting, I would sit close to her. She would hold my hand and talk. I could feel her warmth as she softly spoke to me. She was gentle, caring, and giving. Oftentimes, I was left puzzled at some of our conversations because they were deep conversations that were hard for me to understand at my young age. However, now when I think back to those conversations, I understand that she was trying to pass on her values in addition to what things I should let go and give importance to.
While she had many health issues, one thing that stood out is that she never complained about feeling unwell. I was the oldest child and often felt I should help her take care of my younger siblings, especially given her health problems. Maybe this was all in my head because, despite her health issues, she was the most positive person and always had a smile on her face. One would never guess she was enduring health issues.
My mother was the type of person to always help someone out. She would see someone feeling unwell and immediately bring them home and take care of them. She did this no matter who the person was. I remember feeling confused as to why she bothered helping people she didn’t even know. When I asked her this question, she would simply calmly ask me to bring that person a glass of water. I knew to not question her further. This was simply my mom’s character.
She was full of life, always laughing and giggling. She felt it was extremely important to be involved with her children’s lives in every way. My friends loved to hang out with her and felt so comfortable around her. In the back of their minds, I knew they all wanted their moms to be like her.
I must have been nine or ten when I decided I would help my mother in cooking and learn the proper way to cook. Her hands had magic. She made simple food but her food always looked and smelled delicious. Even at that time she enjoyed serving food with style and flair. I still remember so many family and friends eagerly await her dinner invitations. When I asked my mother why her food tasted so good, her answer was simple. She smiled and said her first advice was to serve food with a smile. Next, she said always use fresh ingredients and only use spices are to enhance the flavors of the food, and not cover it up.
She also emphasized that cooking with love and care were also important ingredients in a dish because they added to the flavors of the dish. Back then, I didn’t understand her answer. How could cooking with love and care be important in a dish? But now I know exactly what she meant. Even today, sometimes when I am tired, I just want to cook something quickly and get out of the kitchen. But then my mother’s words would ring in my ears. She would always say you should never cook if you are tired, irritated, or simply not in the mood. She used to say it would affect the taste of the food. I did not understand what she meant and used to think her food tasted good because she just had great cooking skills and techniques. However, with age and having fed my family for 50 plus years, I realize there was wisdom in my mother’s words. Now when I feed my friends, family, and loved ones, I can see that my mother’s advice was spot on!
So, during this time, why not make your family feel loved and cook special dishes for them? I know that I have enjoyed doing so! Stay safe and healthy!
I did not like tomatoes as a child. My mom grew tomatoes in our garden and I always turned up my nose at them. What a missed opportunity to enjoy something so delicious! As an adult with my own garden, I was excited to grow a big harvest this summer. Unfortunately, both tomato plants died before they produced any fruit! If you’re lucky enough to have a homegrown bounty of fresh tomatoes still warm from the summer sun, I beg you to make this marinated tomato and avocado salad.
In fact, I beg you to make this marinated tomato and avocado salad even if you don’t have a vegetable garden. That is, unless you’ve discovered this recipe in the dead of winter and all you can find are bland greenhouse tomatoes. In that case, bookmark this page and come back in summer when tomatoes have the absolute best flavor. I used pearl tomatoes on the vine for this recipe because they’re the perfect bite size when sliced into quarters. Feel free to use whatever tomatoes you have on hand!
This marinated tomato and avocado salad is a fantastic summer recipe whether you’re barbecuing at home or headed out for a picnic. The tomatoes can chill in the fridge while you prep the rest of your feast, making this a really simple recipe to prepare if you’re in charge of multiple dishes. Dice and add the avocado just before serving for the best results.
While incredibly fresh and delicious on its own, there are many ways you can bulk up this marinated tomato and avocado salad if you need to feed a crowd. Try adding cooked quinoa, couscous, or farro. Or, turn it into a pasta salad by adding cooked and cooled shells or penne. I have big plans to spread this salad on crusty bread for a bruschetta-inspired appetizer.
1 or 2 ripe avocados, diced (depending on your preference and the size of your avocados)
⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
Quarter the pearl tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Peel the red onion and cut it in half from tip to root. Place the flat part of the onion on your cutting board and carefully slice it into thin half moons. Add the onion to the bowl with the tomatoes.
Combine the chopped garlic, lime juice, olive oil, agave, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. The marinade should be salty, tangy, and just a tad sweet – adjust the ingredients until balanced.
Pour the marinade over the sliced tomatoes and onion and gently toss to coat. Marinate the tomatoes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes. Tip: if you’re serving this salad with cooked quinoa, couscous, or pasta, reserve the marinade for extra dressing. Transfer the marinated tomatoes and onions to a serving platter and add the diced avocado. Top with chopped cilantro and serve fresh.