May 5, 2014

Damn, I’ve been riding this train longer than I thought.


A lot of living has happened in the past five years; I guess you could say that of any five years, but a bunch sure has been packed into this particular five.  I went from being 26 to 31, from being in my second year of teaching to my seventh, from teaching sixth grade to eighth grade, and soon, onto eleventh and twelfth.  I became a parent. I wrote a book.

So much witnessing of these big events has taken place here—Jill’s cancer especially comes to mind—and it’s hard for me to remember what I did before I had this space to document and share.  This blog has afforded me countless opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, gifting me a whole host of new people to be connected with and teaching me: about myself, my tendencies, my voice, yes, but also about discipline, about the kindness of strangers (which, it turns out, you actually can depend on), about community and about storytelling.

I had the pleasure of being part of a panel on food writing this past weekend, and in answer to the question “Why food writing?” one of my fellow panelists, David, said it best—food is a lens through which we can examine nearly every aspect of the human experience.  Whether at the global or the individual level, we track our evolution through food, we create containers for our memories, we comfort, we cajole, we delight, we explore, we seduce.

We celebrate.


In honor of my blog’s little birthday, what the hell, let’s do a little giveaway.  I’m so not on the ball—I realized yesterday that my blogaversary was today, oops!—but I’d really like to say “thank you” for being out there and reading and witnessing.  It still feels like a miracle to me that there are people actually reading this who are not, say, my mom.  (Hi mom!  You’re the best!)  So let’s say this giveaway is open until Friday at midnight, then Shiv & I will head to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning, pick up some of our favorite local products, and mail ‘em out next week, along with a signed copy of my book.  I might even bake you some cookies, you never know.

One of my favorite things ever in the whole world is when someone tells me that they’ve made one of the recipes from my blog, so to enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment letting me know which recipe(s) from this blog you’ve enjoyed in the last five years.  If you haven’t made one of the recipes from the blog, but plan to, you can say that as well.  Or if you’re really just here for the writing and not the recipes, let me know which past post sticks in your mind.  Or you can just say hello.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Jennifer!  I hope you enjoy the little box of treats I sent your way.  Thanks to all of your for your lovely notes; they really mean so much to me.

random nmber


recipe barely adapted from Roberto Santibañez, as shared by Food 52 (side note: if you’re not familiar with the “Genius Recipes” feature on Food 52, I can’t recommend it highly enough – the recipes are always winners)

This recipe has become the new standard-bear in our house.  For years and years, I made it the exact same way—the subject of my very first blog post, in fact—but ever since trying this recipe, the Carroll/Mehra clan has sworn allegiance to this garlic-free (!) version.  I think it really allows the lushness of the avocado to come through, without overpowering it.

As the original recipe notes, texture is key, so don’t skip the two-part avocado treatment.  To get perfectly ripe avocados, I’ve taken to buying them unripe, in bags, usually at Costco or Trader Joe’s, and letting them ripen on the counter near the bananas, then stashing them in the fridge once they give just a little and reveal green when you pull away the stem.  Given the sheer amount of guacamole Shiv can eat by himself, when I make a batch now, I have to use AT LEAST four medium-sized avocados to feed the three of us, because he basically eats two avocados worth of guac himself.  Sheesh.

classic guacamole | Blue Jean Gourmet


½ small white onion, chopped

½ Serrano chile, minced fine (I remove most but not all of the seeds; if you want more heat, leave the seeds in, if you want less, take all seeds out or use a jalapeño instead.)

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

juice of ½ a lime

½ tsp. Kosher salt or coarse sea salt

4 medium-sized Haas avocados

Transfer half of the chopped onion to a large bowl.  Add the flesh from two of the avocados and mash with the back of a fork, just breaking up the avocado pieces but leaving plenty of structure.  Cube the remaining avocado flesh and add it to the bowl.  Set aside.

Place the other half of the chopped onion, all of the chile, half of the cilantro, lime juice, salt into a mortar and pestle, mashing all ingredients into a wet paste.  Add this to the avocado mixture and very gentle fold everything together, leaving the cubes of avocado intact.  (At this point, the original recipe says to think about properly dressing a salad in a vinaigrette, a comparison I find very helpful.)

Top guacamole with the remaining cilantro, then test for salt, and adjust if needed.

Blog birthdays, previously: #1, #2, & #4.  I somehow managed to skip #3.



  1. Your chai is my delicious replacement for coffee any morning I can be home to enjoy it, usually on my patio alone no matter what the weather is doing. I’ve made other recipes also, but the chai is a regular. I like your writing as much as the recipes. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what the recipe is, just that I get to spend a few minutes reading some very poetic prose. Thank you.

    Comment by Lisa — May 6, 2014 @ 12:20 am

  2. I came for the writing. What an amazing voice you have!

    Comment by Kessika Johnson — May 6, 2014 @ 6:07 am

  3. I love the writing and get excited about the recipes. Not cooking much lately, but I’ve made the granola quite a few times and love it. Comes out great every time. Thanks!

    Comment by Gika Rector — May 6, 2014 @ 7:32 am

  4. Congratulations on five years! No need for a giveaway but know that I am a regular reader and am addicted to your shakshuka.

    Comment by Harriet — May 6, 2014 @ 7:49 am

  5. The Big Boost Salad (with quinoa and sweet potatoes) is made at my home at least once a month. I adapt it with different ingredients (pine nuts, almonds, dried cranberries, etc). I usually make it on a Sunday and eat it throughout the week. It is a staple!

    Comment by Cara — May 6, 2014 @ 8:14 am

  6. I make your Make-Your-Own-Hummus weekly. My husband and I are both seriously addicted. We also love the Polenta with Lamb Bolognese. Super yummy!

    Comment by Stacy — May 6, 2014 @ 9:02 am

  7. Congrats on your blogaversary – love the honesty in your writing and truly enjoyed reading your book. I enjoy making your (I guess it was Jill’s if I’m remembering correctly) deviled eggs – love the addition of pickled okra.

    Comment by Jennifer — May 6, 2014 @ 11:02 am

  8. Love reading your blog, and we’re not related 😀
    I like the stories behind the food, and I like that many recipes are “do-able” for the non-experts like me. I’ve had great success with the candied ginger and candied lemon peel. A bonus – I use the liquid from the candied ginger as a sauce over vanilla ice cream!

    Comment by Lynne — May 6, 2014 @ 11:30 am

  9. Cheese Grits, Grandma Nettie’s Dinner Rolls, Home made Cranberry Sauce, Muffins and energy bars, Saffron cardamon yogurt, Quinoa black bean patties, Big boost salad – My favs are the grits, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce (unfortunately my family likes the canned stuff – go figure – so I’m the only who eats yours), muffins, yogurt, and the salad. Congrats on your anniversary. The first post I ever read was the one you wrote about growing up in Memphis, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Comment by Deborah Melanson — May 6, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  10. Hi, Nishta. My favorite goes back to the early days – lamb burgers! They are the best. They also started me cooking. I even made the tzatzki sauce. Checking your recipe list, I saw lamb stuffed eggplant. That’s next, as our daughter brought us several handsome eggplants. Thanks for five years of fun, food, saffron and Shiv (well, only 22 months for Shiv).

    Comment by carolyn truedell — May 6, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

  11. Love the recipes and your writing. What gave me a sense of fellowship, other than your son, was your and Jill’s (follow her on FB) writings about her cancer. We have been in a similar situation for about seven years. The account of the pets comforting Jill were identical to what we have experienced. Please count us out of the drawing. You and Jill have,without knowing, sustained me quite enough. Thank you.

    Comment by Shannon — May 7, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

  12. Your posts about feeding Shiv have been really helpful to me.

    Comment by Molly — May 8, 2014 @ 9:33 am

  13. We have enjoyed your blog since its early days. One recipe we’ve made regularly is the Potato-Kale Sabji. We are now living in another state but still keep up.

    Comment by Tory — May 9, 2014 @ 8:48 pm

  14. Lisa–I’m so happy to hear you’ve enjoyed the chai! And I truly appreciate your kind words about my writing. It’s wonderful to have you as a reader. Thanks for being here!

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — May 13, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

  15. Kessika–thank you so much! what a lovely thing to say.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — May 13, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

  16. hi Gika–I’m so happy to know that you get excited about the recipes, even though I haven’t been posting many lately! I hope to up the ante this summer.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — May 13, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

  17. Harriet – I love having you as a reader. The shakshuka is one of my favorite recipes as well!

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — May 13, 2014 @ 3:37 pm

  18. Cara – I’m so happy to know that one is a staple. It’s been too long since I’ve made it myself, so thank you for reminding me of it! I think I’ll make some this weekend to help me get through the last week of classes next week 🙂

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — May 13, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

  19. Stacy–I’m so happy to know that y’all love that hummus! And I love that bolognese, too–any chance/excuse I get to eat lamb, I will take it.

    Comment by Blue Jean Gourmet — May 13, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

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