The Ballard Center, where I work at my "day job" (and don't worry, I won't quit it), is a child care center, and much much more.
It's very unique, as early education centers go. One of the many things that I love about where I work is that we have a full-time position dedicated to family engagement.
Thanks to the United Way of Douglas County and the Shumaker Family Foundation, we are able to fully fund a person whose sole job is to connect with the families of the children in our care. I say "sole job" as if that is a very singular and simple thing. Ha. I crack myself up.
Paige, our Family Connections Coordinator, plans events for families, visits families at home, helps parents be teachers in their own homes, supports them in times of stress, and basically dons a cape every morning and flies around meeting needs and being super.
This ain't the daycare of your childhood, is it? Pretty neat.
Anyway, one of her top priorities right now is helping families connect with one another. We know that having positive social relationships is key to being personally healthy and to raising healthy kids. Isolation can lead to a lot of bad juju, both for parents and for children.
To this end, she organized a pot-luck dinner on Friday night. Just a little taco bar that parents could, if they wanted to, participate in and have a little fun and fellowship at the end of the work week. She did this with the help of Melissa from Farmers Families and Educators United, who spends a lot of time hanging around Ballard coaxing kids and grown-ups alike to try new things and eat fresh, local foods.
Johnny, my 4-year-old, Lily, my 8-month-old, and I gathered with several families, had tacos, sampled some new offerings (Melissa likes roasted sweet potatoes in her tacos. Who knew!?), and just relaxed and enjoyed one another's company. I love stuff like this. It hearkens back to church basement dinners of my childhood.
The trick was the pot-luck piece. That means, "Hey, if you wanna eat, bring something, OK?"
What could I make that wouldn't require me schlepping across town and back or being otherwise inconvenienced? Because on Friday afternoon, I'm tired. I also wanted to bring something fairly healthful. I'm feeding kids and families, right? And Melissa with all her farm/local/fresh mantra will be there, so the pressure is on to do this right. I want to set a good example. Velveeta queso was right out.
Enter: the avocado. The beautiful, get me going in the morning, eat it on my sandwich for lunch, straight up for a snack, or atop an enchilada for dinner, avocado. I could just bring a handful of simple ingredients and whip up fresh guacamole right before everyone arrived. It's delicious and while, yes, the avocado has fat, it's "good" fat and in moderation is totally fine — even encouraged.
My sister always says, "Do you want to know the secret to perfect guacamole?" And being the consummate chef she is, people always pant and say, "Yes, yes, oh yes, please tell." And she smartly retorts, "Nothing." She's right. The secret to good guacamole is to not overdo it. Let the avocados speak for themselves.
Megan's 'Nothing' Guacamole
4 large (or 6 smaller) avocados, plenty ripe
1 ripe tomato
Hot sauce or chili powder (optional)
Cut your avocados in half. Whack your chef's knife into the pit, grip the back of the avocado half, and pull. The knife will remove the pit for you. You are welcome. Then use a towel in one hand to pull the pit off the knife and discard.
I like to cut up my avocados in the shell. Just hold the shell in one hand and use your knife to slice it into a grid. Then use a large spoon to scoop it all out. Viola, chopped avocado.
Dump all of the chopped avocado into a bowl, dice up your tomato into small pieces, squeeze the lime over the top (I usually only squeeze half the lime if it is fairly juicy), and dust with garlic powder and salt (and a little heat if you are into that sort of thing.
With a fork, mash/stir until you get your desired consistency. I like it to remain fairly lumpy/chunky, but some people prefer smooth. Whatever flips your pancake.
I know this hardly counts as a recipe, but seriously, I see so many people bastardizing my beautiful avocados with lots of ingredients: onions, cilantro, even carrots! I have nothing against those ingredients and truly, I like all guacamole, even the kind with lots of stuff in it, but I just have to take this opportunity to advocate for the avocado, who doesn't need a lot of accessories to be gussied up.