Saturday, March 27, 2010

A love-post to the avocado

I am devoting this post to a delicious fruit, the avocado. Yes, the avocado is a fruit (technically, a huge berry). Though the avocado has been one of my favorite foods for a long time, it hadn't occurred to me to actually eat it on a relatively frequent basis. But after a brilliant recommendation from a friend, I now buy a few avocados whenever they're on sale. They are delicious, healthy, and fairly easy to eat. Here is a badly-researched bit about this food that I might end up using for my next science/tech article in the paper:

Avocados originate from Mexico. Archeological evidence shows that humans have been consuming them for about 12,000 years! The Aztecs referred to it as the “fertility fruit” (no idea why), and in some Spanish-speaking countries it is called “manzana del invierno,” or “winter apple.”

It is hypothesized that avocados developed through coevolution with now-extinct large mammals (this is referred to as an evolutionary anachronism). Some plants disperse their seeds through endozoochory—basically, animals that eat their fruits then spread the seeds in their feces. Fruits such as avocados or mangos don’t seem to fit this rule—unless you think of a gigantic sloth or humongous elephant, both of which could pass a large seed without a problem. Call me immature, but I find this evolutionary anachronism funny.

The average avocado has:

  • 240 calories, about 75% of which are from fat
  • Sixty-percent more potassium than the average banana
  • 3g of protein
  • 1 g of sugar
  • 13g cholesterol
  • Vitamins A and C
  • Folate
  • Magnesium
  • Monounsaturated fat

(Unfortunately, I don’t have numbers on all of these—I’m just banking on the truth value of the Wikipedia entry :-) )

Avocados have been shown to decrease blood serum cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels, and increase HDL levels. They may also promote skin and hair health (but I wasn’t able to find scientific evidence for this). Some people even use it as a facial mask, which I don’t understand—just eat it! Fresh fruits are way too expensive to waste by smearing on the skin, unless you eat them afterwards (which somehow seems extremely unappealing). It is also sometimes used as a houseplant (!!!).

Hass avocados are the most commonly grown and consumed avocados in the United States (90% of the avocados grown in Southern California, the sort-of avocado capital, are of the Hass variety). They were named for and patented by the man who owned the very first official tree, Rudolph Hass. There are several over varieties, including Gwen, Pinkerton, Reed, Bacon, and others that I won’t go into because the Hass avocado is the only one I know and like.

I hope this was informative...if not, at least spend ~30 seconds looking at pictures of the Gomphothere--I mean, come on, his name is just fun to say!

(Barely reputable) Sources:

Monday, March 15, 2010


Happy (?) Ides of March! Yesterday was pi day, and now a reminder of the ultimate backstabber...

Today (well, last night) I decided to make cheeseburger soup. I've had this one on my "recipes to make" list for quite some time, so I decided to make room in my freezer and go ahead and make this.

  • Ground beef (browned in the rice cooker)
  • 2 white potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley
  • ~12 oz chicken broth
  • ~1 spoonful butter or ghee
  • Shredded cheese (it's supposed to be cheddar or American, but I went with usual)
  • Crumbled GF bread

I stuck all but the last two ingredients in Gretel overnight (~6 hours), then added the cheese and bread this morning.

Verdict: yummy! I have enough ground beef to feed me for at least two days, and this stuff is FILLING. I added a bit too much chicken broth, so it's waterier than I'd like, but that's okay. So now my room smells like meat and my stomach is full!

Cuban proverb of the day: "Barriga llena, corazon contento." ("Full stomach, happy heart"--so true)

Short post today, but I really wanted to put up something on the Ides of March, since I missed pi day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Make Your Own Wine?

I just found this site that provides instructions for making your own wine. No way! I had no idea this kind of thing could be done; then again, it makes sense--why shouldn't you be able to make cheap alcohol with a few ingredients from the grocery store?

The basic gist of it is this:

  1. Get some cans of grape juice from concentrate (that does not contain dyes, preservatives, etc), sugar, water, champagne yeast, container(s), bleach (for sterilizing equipment before use), and balloons.
  2. Mix the ingredients and pour them into the containers (the guy on the site used gallon-sized water jugs).
  3. Place balloons over the openings of the jugs (to catch the CO2) and let sit for ~2 weeks.

And voila! Large quantities of extremely crappy wine! I'm sure it tastes awful, but this seems like a fun project. I might try it sometime, when I have plenty of space, and grape juice from concentrate is on sale (otherwise a few $2 wine bottles would be cheaper).

Here's the site:

I wonder if it could ever be as gross as boxed wine... :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Better than Air Freshener

Wow, I'm a terrible blogger--nearly 2 weeks since my last post! But that's okay. Midterms may have temporarily stopped me, but I'm going to get going again. Huzzah! I haven't made anything particularly cool recently, so I won't be sharing a recipe, just something neat I learned from my awesome parents.

A little while ago, my room was smelling really weird. I think something went bad in the fridge (I just threw out a bunch of stuff in the hopes that one of them was the culprit), but I'm not sure. I really hated that my room smelled funky, so I decided to remedy this situation--without using an air freshener. All I did was throw some water, cinnamon, clove, a bay leaf, and some orange peel into my rice cooker (which I haven't named yet! I can't seem to settle on something that'll stick), and set it to cook. Whenever it came close to boiling over, I just set it to "Keep Warm" for a little while.

My room ended up smelling really nice in a relatively brief amount of time! Yay! The cool thing is that a rice cooker is definitely not necessary--a hot pot would work just as well. All you need is to have the spices available and keep an eye on whatever appliance is being used. It probably would have worked better to use a cinnamon stick instead of ground cinnamon, and some vanilla extract for extra goodness, but I have little use for these, so I haven't purchased them.

Anyway, I'm having a lovely time taking a break from cooking for myself in a cramped dorm room! I love spring break.

(P.S. Even though I sound like one of those super cool crazy partiers who LOVE being social and NEVER spend their weekend nights doing laundry and having Big Bang Theory marathons, I'm not actually partying like these people this spring break.)