Mexico Avocado Ban Continues in US Due to Cartel Threats

The U.S. government suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “until further notice” after a U.S. plant safety inspector–who works for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services in Mexico– received a threatening message according to Mexico’s Agriculture Department.

“US health authorities…made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the department wrote.

🔹Mexico is the largest avocado producer in the world.

🔹80 percent of their supplies are imported by the United States.

🔹The country produces three varieties of avocado, the most traded tropical fruit in the world, with Hass accounting for 97 percent of total production.

🔹While avocados are grown in many Mexican states, only those grown in Michoacán have phytosanitary approvals to export to the US.

🔹Fresh Mexican Hass avocados from Michoacán cross the border duty-free.

🔹The industry is worth almost $3 billion in annual exports.

The U.S. Embassy wrote that “facilitating the export of Mexican avocados to the U.S. and guaranteeing the safety of our agricultural inspection personnel go hand in hand.”

“We are working with the Mexican government to guarantee security conditions that would allow our personnel in Michoacan to resume operations.”

Because the United States also grows avocados, U.S. inspectors work in Mexico to ensure exported avocados don’t carry diseases that could harm U.S. crops.

It was only in 1997 that the U.S. lifted a ban on Mexican avocados that had been in place since 1914 to prevent a range of weevils, scabs and pests from entering U.S. orchards.

There has been repeated violence in Michoacan — where the Jalisco cartel is fighting turf wars against a collection of local gangs known as the United Cartels — that threatens avocados, the state’s most lucrative crop.

After a prior incident in 2019, the USDA had warned about the possible consequences of attacking or threatening U.S. inspectors.

In August 2019, a U.S. Department of Agriculture team of inspectors was “directly threatened” in Ziracuaretiro, a town just west of Uruapan. While the agency didn’t specify what happened, local authorities say a gang robbed the truck the inspectors were traveling in at gunpoint.

The USDA wrote in a letter at the time that, “For future situations that result in a security breach, or demonstrate an imminent physical threat to the well-being of APHIS personnel, we will immediately suspend program activities.”

Many avocado growers in Michoacan say drug gangs threaten them or their family members with kidnapping or death unless they pay protection money, sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars per acre.

On September 30, 2020, a Mexican employee of APHIS was killed near the northern border city of Tijuana.

Mexican prosecutors said Edgar Flores Santos was killed by drug traffickers who may have mistaken him for a policeman and a suspect was arrested. The U.S. State Department said investigations “concluded this unfortunate incident was a case of Mr. Flores being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

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My Favorite Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 2 tablespoons of pico de gallo
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 chopped Jalapeño OR 2 tablespoons of crushed red pepper OR 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 minced jalapeño OR 2 minced serrano chiles OR 2 tablespoon minced of any chile pepper you like (adjust for spiciness)

Procedure

  1. Pit the avocados.
  2. Score avocado without cutting through the skin.
  3. Scoop out one avocado with a large spoon and place in mixing bowl.
  4. Add the lime juice and stir to evenly coat the avocados.
  5. Stir in the Pico de Gallo, garlic, oil, jalapeño, salt, red pepper, and black pepper, mashing and tossing the avocado pieces until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Then scoop out the other avocados and gently mix and toss in the larger pieces.
  7. The guacamole is the right consistency when more large pieces than mashed parts remain.
  8. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.

Small Changes Work Big Time to Help Depression and Fatigue

Small Changes Work

Movement and action are among the best strategies for fighting depression and fatigue, but many of us could benefit from making just small changes in what we eat.

“Food choices can have a substantial benefit on your energy levels and outlook,” says Loralyn Dennis, retired Arizona Registered Nurse and Health writer. “Simply eat some protein with carbohydrates at each meal or snack.”

Studies have shown that our choices of what we eat can cause depression.

Diets high in carbohydrate-rich foods can increase brain concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan. This is converted in our bodies to mood-boosting serotonin.

“This could be a reason why many of us find that comfort foods high in carbs help us ease feelings of depression, fatigue and anxiety,” Dennis observed.

“Some of us can get somewhat grouchy or irritable without our carbs,” Dennis warns. “You don’t have to eat large amounts of protein, just a few ounces or so to help balance and feed your brain.”

One common denominator of many people suffering from the blues is the amount of sugar they consume.

“A bite of chocolate is not going to hurt now and then, but a regular dose of sugar daily is a no-no if you are tired and down,” cautions Dennis.

Cold-water fish, such as tuna, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and is linked to people with lower rates of depression.

“Avoid processed fats and drink plenty of water,” added Dennis.    

The No-Milk-or-Eggs-But-Stuck-in-a-Snow/Ice-Storm-in-Texas Dish

During the February 2021 historic snow and ice freeze down here in Texas, we were ready with a well stocked pantry and could easily survived another couple of monthS of need be. But after a few days there were no milk or eggs available—and I had a hankering for some cornbread.

I looked around the internet and came up with this concoction, a blend of several ideas.

Dodie mentioned when she lived in Phoenix some years ago, her friend Deanne and she went to a cooking class. They wound up being paired off to make something called “polenta.”

Shoot, I thought I’d give it a try so I made us a batch of it. We’re calling it our “No-Milk-or-Eggs-But-Stuck-in-a-Snow/Ice-Storm-in-Texas Dish.” It goes something like this:

Ingredients

About 4 cups of water, with a pinch of salt.

1 package of yellow cornmeal (a bit over a cup worth)

1 can of mixed vegetables

1 can of corn

1 can of green beans

4 oz. salsa (we used H-E-B Restaurant Style Salsa usually found in the chip aisle).

2 oz. diced onion

2 (15oz. each) cans of chili and beans

2 cups of cheddar cheese divided

Cooking spray to coat baking pan. We use olive oil.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. I used our large heavy 3 quart Kitchen Kraft pan to bring the water and salt to a boil.

2. Reduced heat to a kindler, gentler boil to SLOWLY and PATIENTLY whisk in the cornmeal.

3. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon for about 17 minutes and 22 seconds because that was when I noticed this polenta thickening enough that it pulled from the sides of the pan.

The polenta pulled itself from the side.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in about 1/4 cup of the cheese until melted.

Spread the cornbread cheese mix.

5. Coat a 13×9-in baking pan with cooking spray. Spread the polenta layer on the bottom and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

6. While that’s baking, prepare/heat the chili per instructions.

7. Spread vegetables over the polenta. Top it with chili and sprinkle the remaining cheese. Bake about 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted the way you like it. Let it stand about 10 minutes before serving.

There was plenty of leftovers so we froze some of it for some other days.

When I make it again, I’ll include some diced tomatoes and more onion.

Careful. Very hot.

New Discoveries in Nutrition and Wellness

New discoveries in nutrition science and health can help men and women with irritability, lack of energy and mood swings.

A person doesn’t have to be diabetic, they can be very healthy, athletic or thin, and still suffer the consequences of surging blood sugar.

When we eat, the food makes its way through our digestive system and is converted into glucose, the primary fuel for our muscles and brain. The concern with sugary or starchy foods is that we get much more glucose than we need and our blood sugar levels skyrocket.

Our body releases insulin, a hormone (from beta cells in the pancreas) that tells the body to release that blood sugar into cells to use as fuel and store the remaining in our muscles.

Signals are sent to the brain and your body that you are hungry, when you aren’t.

This all leads to weight gain, with serious threats and connections to heart and cancer diseases.

What we eat directly affects the brain. Our moods are closely affected by the hormone levels that deal with the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. New research shows evidence that our brain may be most sensitive to a simple compound: our blood sugar.

Eating the food that keep blood sugar levels the most steady is our best strategy for fighting these mood swings, depression and energy zappers. Some of the foods you should plan to eat more of, (to take the place of high carbs of bread, rice, potatoes, cereals, sugars, etc. you are eliminating) are beans, broccoli, carrots, apples, oranges, pears and oats.

Other powerful approaches include:

  • Exercise reduces the roller coaster-like distresses of blood sugar surges and drops. Just 30 minutes of exercise three or four times a week will reduce insulin levels by 20% and lowering blood sugar levels by 13%.
  • Cutting calories improves insulin sensitivity and reins in the higher levels of circulating insulin in our bodies. Six months with a 25% slash in the amount of calories eaten will result in enormous improvements in insulin levels and sensitivity.
  • Sleeping well counters the problems of hormone balance disturbances attributed to insomnia or lack of good rest. Men who sleep less than six hours a night double their chances of developing diabetes over men who sleep about seven.

Italian Sausage Peppers and Onion

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or Marsala wine)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on both sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain.
  2. Keeping the pan over medium heat,  Add the Italian seasoning, basil, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the Marsala wine, tomatoes, tomato paste and stir, add chili flakes, if using.
  4. Add the peppers, onions, and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  5. Return sausage to skillet with the vegetables. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  6. Serve over mashed potatoes, noodles, polenta, cauliflower rice or, if serving as a sandwich, split the hoagie rolls in half lengthwise. Hollow out the bread from the bottom side of each roll, being careful not to puncture the crust. Fill the bottom half of the roll with sausage mixture.
Nutrition Information

Yield 6, Serving Size 1

Amount Per Serving

Calories 251

Total Fat 16g

Saturated Fat 4g

Trans Fat 0g

Unsaturated Fat 11g

Cholesterol 23mg

Sodium 406mg

Carbohydrates 13g

Fiber 2g

Sugar 5g

Protein 14g

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Avocado Tuna Salad Recipe + Small Steps = Big Results

Movement and action are among the best strategies for fighting depression and fatigue, but many of us could benefit from making just small changes in what we eat.

“Food choices can have a substantial impact on your energy levels and outlook,” says Loralyn Dennis, retired Registered Nurse and Health writer. “Simply eat some protein with carbohydrates at each meal or snack.”

Studies have shown that our choices of what we eat can cause depression.

Diets high in carbohydrate-rich foods can increase brain concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan. This is converted in our bodies to mood-boosting serotonin.

“This could be a reason why many of us find that comfort foods high in carbs help us ease feelings of depression, fatigue and anxiety,” Dennis observed.

“Some of us can get somewhat grouchy or irritable without our carbs,” Dennis warns. “You don’t have to eat large amounts of protein, just a few ounces or so to help balance and feed your brain.”

One common denominator of many people suffering from the blues is the amount of sugar they consume.

“A bite of chocolate is not going to hurt now and then, but a regular dose of sugar daily is a no-no if you are tired and down,” cautions Dennis.

Avocado Tuna Salad

Cold-water fish, such as tuna, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and is linked to people with lower rates of depression.

“Avoid fats and drink plenty of water,” added Dennis.    

Avocado Tuna Salad

Tuna salad made naturally creamy with the addition of avocado. This super easy to make salad is healthy, light and refreshing and is great for a keto or low-carb diet. 

Time:10 minutes 

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 oz) can tuna packed in water or oil drained
  • 1 ripe avocado roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup cucumber chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 1/4 cup minced red or green onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix with a fork or spoon until the avocado is roughly mashed and mixed through.
  • Serve on lettuce wraps, toast, or in a sandwich. To store, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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Powerful Rituals for Happiness and Health

Research shows that people who work under a lot of stress are two times as likely to develop coronary heart disease.

Chronic stress also leads to insomnia, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, arthritis, respiratory disorders and even cancer.

While many people thrive and revel in working under a certain amount of pressure, no one is immune to the ramifications of too much constant pressure. It eventually reaches a plateau.

Despite both physical and mental exhaustion, the danger begins when we drive ourselves beyond our limits. 

Instead of being able to relax during non-working hours when we should be spending our free time relaxing, many engage in continuous internal chatter in our minds about work problems and issues.  This can lead to serious burnout, mental or physical breakdowns or more.

In many cases, we are so wrapped up in the day-to-day issues of work that stress just creeps up on us and we may not even be aware of how harsh it is.

Irritability, impatience, and edginess are early warning signs. If you find yourself being easily offended, lacking concentration, or obsessing over details, do everything in your will to take a time out.

Stress will always win the battle if you want to stay in the ring and fight it. The real solution is to get your life in balance. When the balance is right, you will come out the victor.

Here are some powerful rituals to help disconnect from work and tend to a happier life during free time.

  • Start eating well again. Take your time. Relax. Enjoy your food by chewing it, not almost shoveling it whole. Get off the sugar, salt and processed foods. Eat natural. Plan your menu with the vegetables and fruits (over 50% of your small plate full) first, grains and entrees second.
  • Walk or run it off. This gives you time to yourself to begin debriefing work related matters for the necessary transition into the life you are actually meant to enjoy. By walking in ten minute slots for three times a day, it cuts your risk of heart disease by 40 percent. 
  • Incorporate some other type of movement. Stretch, dance, t’ai chi, yoga, or something else that suits you. Combine both aerobic and weight-bearing activities in your rituals.
  • Soak in a warm bath. During this alone time, include breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation. 
  • Read a book chapter or two to give your mind some escape.
  • Listen to music.
  • Create a restful environment in your bedroom, with a comfortable bed allowing no room for distractions or clutter.

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Top 10 Foods for Feeling, Looking and Doing Better

Are you interested in feeling better, looking better and having more energy?

Here are the top ten foods identified by most nutritionists to reach those goals:

1.         Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats that keep you full and are great for lifting your mood while helping you burn belly fat.

2.         Coconut oil is a better alternative to butter or margarine. The benefits include an increased metabolism, resistance to bacteria (that causes illness), and lower cholesterol. Many people use it as a very effective moisturizer for skin and hair.

3.         Blueberries are only 80 calories a cup and are loaded with four grams of fiber. The bonus: blueberries are considered one of the best anti-aging foods in existence.

4.         Beans fill you up with protein without all the saturated fat of eating meat. About 15-25% of your plate should include protein.

5.         Brown rice has ample amounts of fiber also and is far better for you than white or fried rice. You fill up faster which helps you eat a smaller portion.

6.         Almonds are bursting with healthy fats giving bountiful age, energy and beauty benefits.

7.         Grapefruit has been a definitive diet food for ages because of its citrus packed weight-reducing powers.

8.         Wine has the favored antioxidant called Resveratrol to foil fat stowage. Thanks to the skins of the grapes of course.

9.         Almond milk that is unsweetened has about half of the calories, with twice the calcium as non-fat milk. It’s great for cereal in the morning.

10.       Green tea also has the magical powered antioxidants that are excellent for reducing the belly size.

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The Definitive Secret to Selecting the Best Watermelons

Do you know what the definition of a “truck” was before automobiles and vehicles were ever invented?

Thanks to our Grandpa Jack Dennis, I know a thing or two about that…and watermelons. (I’ll reveal the truck definition below).

Some of my favorite childhood memories are the summer time get togethers at Grandpa and Grandma’s Petaluma Street house on the southside of San Antonio back in the late 1950s and early ’60s.

All the Dennis family, including cousins (and sometimes the Grimmett’s from across the street), would spend the afternoon and evening into the night feasting on perfectly sweet and juicy slices carefully hand sliced by Grandpa and delved out by Grandma.

The melons had rested in a large metal washtub smothered in ice all morning. Grandpa took pride in selecting the biggest, superbly ripened melons that south Texas had to offer.

We’d play hide ‘n seek, tag and other games after lunch and until we were called for the traditional watermelon serving.

Oh my word, most of us were so sloppy and our bellies would get so full that we’d have to go dry off in the sun and then rest under a shade tree after the required water hose sprayoffs.

Night time brought out fireflies and gathering on hay bales or lawn chairs around a campfire. Uncle Sherman Sanders usually brought his guitar. Aunts, uncles and occasionally some of us cousins would take turns singing. Hits from Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Patsy Cline, Ray Price and Kitty Wells were special highlights.

Grandpa knew his fruits and vegetables. Since the 1920s, he worked along side his brothers in potato fields, corn patches and farms in various areas from around Kelly Air Force Base, southwest of the Alamo City, to near Floresville further southeast.

As the Dennis brothers (Jack, Burt and Bill) became more entrepreneurial, they’d hitch up a couple of horses (Dennis’s always had horses) to a large wagon each May for their annual trip to Fredericksburg.

The four or five day clever journey  allowed stopovers along the Old Spanish Trail until they reached the Boerne Stage Road at Leon Springs. There, they’d take the time for swimming and fishing.

“We ate whatever we caught at our campsite each evening,” Grandpa would retell the story many times. “For some reason, Burt could always outfish us, but we didn’t mind. and he helped keep our bellies full. We usually slept in the wagon and looked up at the millions of stars.”

“One year it rained and we had to sleep under the wagon, that night” he laughed.

After their watermelons and peaches were picked and loaded, they’d bring them back to San Antonio for selling to merchants at the Farmer’s Market near downtown and some at the Stock Yards.

They would return in August for strawberries and then southward for watermelons and other seasonal offerings.

When I was 12, Grandpa began picking me up before sunrise and taking me to his “secret watermelon farm,” the place he’d been buying from for many years. About the time the sun appeared, he’d back his pickup into a friend’s property near Dilley, Texas. The watermelons were waiting for us, stacked high on platforms so I could receive them easily within arms reach from the farmer’s workers and place them in the truck bed.

We’d bring them back to my little produce stand on Commercial Avenue in south San Antonio. The profits were split 50/50 between him and me on the melons. I manned that stand until I was 15.

Over the years I saw and heard people’s various tips about how to pick the best watermelon. Some looked for a large amount of brown webbing as a good indicator of a sweet melon, or that elongated “male” watermelons are more watery and bland than rounder “female” fruits. Others insisted on looking for a green, curly tendril or a dry, brown stem. Good luck with that!

Here’s some secrets I learned about watermelons from Grandpa:

Unlike many other types of fruit, watermelon will not ripen any further once it’s harvested. It also doesn’t readily announce its ripeness; the outside doesn’t turn soft like a peach does, and it doesn’t emit a sweet scent like a cantaloupe.

The truth is, according to Grandpa, there are really only two or three things you need to look for to find the best watermelon in the bunch, whether you’re at the grocery store or a farm stand.

1. Looking for darker green watermelons that aren’t too shiny. Be alert to notice the color between the stripes and check for a yellow belly. The creamy yellow patch is the “field spot” where the watermelon rested on the ground. The whiter this ground spot is, the less time the melon had to ripen on the vine before being picked, so a deeper, more buttery shade has a better, sweeter flavor.

2. It should feel heavy for its size. This can be hard to judge if you’re not used to hefting watermelons, but pick up a few of a similar size and see if you can tell that one seems heavier. That’s your best bet. When you’re weighing the merits of your melons, also check the rind; you shouldn’t feel much give since the outside of the fruit stays firm even when ripe. The stem end should have a little bit of flex, but if there are any other soft spots, pick another one, no matter how heavy it feels.

3. Make sure it sounds hollow when you thump it. Always thump it. It takes a bit of practice, but you’ll learn that if you tap or flick the underside of the melon, it should produce a deep, low-pitched, hollow sound, rather than a dull ping. It’s not totally foolproof, but considered with the first tips, improves the chances. 

A special treat was when we had “yellow meat” watermelons. These
yellow-fleshed melons are a natural mutation that look the same as your standard red or pink watermelon from outside, so just pick them the same way. They tender to taste a bit sweeter, almost floral-honey like. 

Now for the term “truck:”

In the 1800s, farms or family gardens that  produced vegetables and fruit, would call the offerings or portions setaside for sale (rather than for the owner’s own personal use).

“What’s in your truck today?” meant “what do you have in your garden, field, box, bag, table, etc. that is available to purchase?”

Prior to the 1800s, it was a term meaning to barter or sell, as in a commodity.

Brady’s Texas Black Bean Salad

When my great-great-Chickasaw-Choctaw grandmother Margaret Delitha Ralph crossed the Red River by covered wagon into@ Texas she was only 14.

Born in Arkansas just five days after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Margaret settled in central Texas near Brady Creek.

She married a cowboy, James Morgan, who spent most of his days on the Western and Chisholm cattle trails between Mexico and Kansas. Often he herded Brady area ranch livestock to markets up north.

The community of about 50 became a township, Brady City, with a new post office and general store when she first arrived.

By the time both of my maternal grandparents, aunt, uncle and mother were born in “The Heart of Texas,” in or near the city, it was shortened to “Brady.”

In honor of our cowboy ancestor and family who lived in the area, my youngest son was named Brady Morgan Dennis.

One of the favorite side dishes during family gatherings and holiday meals was black bean salad. Depending on who made it, the different variations were placed on the table with names such as “Texas Caviar,” “Southwestern Salad,” and even “Gringo Mexican Salad.”

In tribute to Brady Dennis and his family, we call this recipe “Brady Black Bean Salad.”

Ingredients

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained


3 ears fresh cooked corn, kernels cut off the cob

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3/4 cup diced celery

1/2 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 diced red onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 lime zested and then juiced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

2 Hass avocados, chopped

Combine all ingredients except for avocados in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight.

Right before serving, (to prevent from turning dark) add avocados and mix gently, being careful not to mash avocados. Garnish with more chopped cilantro if desired. Serve at room temperature.

DON’T FORGET TO DRAIN AND RINSE THE BEANS

Corky’s Pico de Gallo

If our father were alive during these days of pandemic restrictions, there’s no doubt he would be finding all kinds of ways to stay busy and productive.

Walter “Corky” Dennis retired from a memorable career as police officer and homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department in the 1980s. He immediately began work as a U.S. Marshal and was assigned to the Federal Judge John Woods assassination case.

Walter “Corky” Dennis

Born in 1937, lessons from WWII rationing and post-Great Depression times instilled in him a strong work ethic and frugalness.

Along the way he owned a gas station, used car lot, bail bonds company, electrical repair business, motorcycle mechanic shop and other things to keep him occupied.

He loved tinkering in his workshop, making and repairing things he thought needed to be fixed or created.

As he aged, he tended to stay in the airconditoned house more often and managed to remodel and expand their home several times before his death in 2011.

One of the biggest surprises was seeing his cooking advancements in the kitchen. I suppose our stepmother Lucy had some influence in that because I rarely saw him cook growing up (Heating Chefboyardee spaghetti is not cooking).

My absolute favorite, that he was rightfully proud of, was his Pico de Gallo.

For those who don’t know, it’s a salsa made of fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers, with cilantro, lime juice and plenty of garlic.

Pico de Gallo finely chopped.

Unlike other homemade salsa recipes that require cooking and blending, Dad enjoyed chopping and making this fresh salsa because it’s simply a matter of mixing everything together in a bowl.

In my travels, I’ve heard it called Salsa Fresca, Salsa Mexicana and even Rooster’s Beak. But in San Antonio, we’ve always known it as Pico de Gallo.

Ingredients

5 medium size vine ripe tomatoes, about 3 1/2 cups chopped very small

1/2 medium size red onion diced small

2 green onions very thinly sliced

1 serrano or jalapeno chile very finely minced

1 small handful fresh cilantro with leaves stems mostly removed, about 2 tablespoons full, chopped very small

6 garlic cloves minced

1 lime juiced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Fused and blended.

To begin, finely dice as much of the ingredients as possible. This allows the flavors to really “fuse and blend,” Dad would say. The idea is to not have chunks of tomatoes or onions distract from the flavor and texture.

When the tomatoes, onions and pepper are mixed together in a bowl, add the garlic cloves and the juice of one lime.

Mix everything together then let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving. The flavors of all the ingredients will blend together beautifully while the salsa sits or is kept in refrigerator until ready to serve.