Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes

14
Aug
11

Where’s the Beak?

The Artful Dodger hipping Oliver to street lingo

“You do know what a beak is, don’t cha?” “It’s a birds mouth, isn’t it?” “For your information, a beak’s a magistrate.” That line from “Oliver”never made sense to me. Where is the connection? Anyone?

The Spanish word for beak is pico. I had a friend in Mexico nick named Pico because he was blessed with a hooter resembling that of Ringo Starr.

Pico de gallo is a popular salsa we like to pour over our tacos and enchiladas. But why is it called “rooster’s beak?” Again, where is the connection?

I consulted the “Food Lover’s Companion”, my first go-to book when I have a culinary connected conundrum. According to that source, “Pico de gallo [PEE-koh day GI-yoh] ….is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients like jicama, oranges, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and cucumbers along with various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak.” Ok, I guess that makes some sense.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo inSpanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho“) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.

However, neither theory can be considered definite, as they assume the use of hot chilis. In many regions of Mexico the term “pico de gallo” refers to any of a variety of salads, condiments or fillings made with sweet fruitstomatoestomatillosavocado or mild chilis — not necessarily with hot chilis, or any chilis at all. Thus, the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce.[2]

The pico de gallo I am used to seeing and eating in California and the Pacific Northwest is more of a salsa or salsa fresca. Tomatoes, onion and garlic are the staple. And it’s chunky yet a bit on the soupy side, so I can’t imagine trying to peck that up with your dedos (that’s Spanish for fingers).

My simple, spicy version of Pico de Gallo

Enough scratching and pecking for the significance of the name of this spicy concoction. Here is my simple version of Pico de Gallo:

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 large jalapeño, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro (optional)

Rough to finely chop the ripe tomatoes

These summer beauties were the perfect ripeness!

chop the onions

make sure they are pretty fine

ditto the jalapenos - keep the seeds if you want the heat or remove for a less heated condiment

Remove the skins from the garlic cloves

The easiest way to remove the skins from garlic is to chop off the hard, woody end and using the flat of your chefs knife, give it a good firm bash with your fist.  Did that make sense?  Place the knife on it’s side over the garlic clove.  Make a fist like you are playing one-potato-two-potato and smash it down on the knife.  One smash is all you need do.

Finely chop all of that beautiful garlic

Place it all in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste,  You can also add chopped cilantro if you like.  I didn’t have any on hand the day I made this, otherwise it would have made it in there too.

Spoon over your favorite Mexican dishes or anything that you like. It's great on it's own with some tortilla chips.

Whether you call it pico de gallo, salsa fresca, tomato relish or Mexican ketchup, it doesn’t get any easier to make.  Team it up with some guacamole and get the party started.  Hmmm….where’s that avocado?

20
May
10

Daylight in the Garden of Good and Tasty

I am so glad I planted early this year!

A couple of months ago, March 30th,  to be exact, I wrote a post about planting our garden.  I likened myself to Martha Stewart, sort of, well, in the fact that we both have gardens on our estates.  I sure wish I had a couple of henchmen though, like Martha, who could help with all of the details of said garden.  Oh, I guess they are called gardeners, not henchmen.  Drat!  I really want a henchman.

Anyway, this short post is an update complete with a few photos of how the garden is progressing.  The top shot is of a Golden Beet plant.  We’re pretty stoked about growing our own beets.  I think I’d like to show some before and current views of the raised beds.  Here goes:

Day one - Lettuce

When I first planted the lettuce, some kinda bug thought it was Hometown Buffet or something.  Small bug teeth sized holes started to appear in the leaves almost immediately.  Katie was concerned as was our friend Emily.  I’m the kind of gardener who plants things and just expects them to grow.  I believed that if I was meant to grow lettuce, it would grow.  My inner being never lets me down.  Here is what the lettuce looked like this morning and, mind you, I added nothing to the soil nor did I put anything on the leaves.  100% natural and organic, baby.

Can you believe it?

Here’s a nice close up shot:

Pretty!

So, let’s take a look at the beets progress.  We are really looking forward to not only eating the beet roots, but also the tasty greens.  This is the ultimate no waste vegetable.

Day one - Beets

The plant front and center in this shot is the same Golden Beet whose picture graced the beginning of this report.  Not bad, eh?  Here’s a shot of the whole group.

Growing like, dare I say it, weeds?

The plants in the background are broccoli.  You may be noticing the yellowing outer leaves here.  I’m leaving  those leaves on, even though the pictures would look better if I manicured the plants a bit.  But I’m thinkin’ maybe if the moocher bugs return, they can gnaw on the crappy leaves a bit, get pissed off and move on.  Ours is not the only garden on the block, ya’ know?

Some new additions

If you recall, the chives, on the right, were the only thing that survived the winter.  Since March, I’ve planted parsley and some Orange Thyme, back in the corner.  I still need to buy some basil and I would also like cilantro.

Yeah, I know I need to weed, but it's been raining cats and dogs here in Portland!

These are shelling peas and in the background you can see leeks.  In the past I have only ever grown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and a few herbs.  This is really fun growing our food.  Speaking of tomatoes, I need to get some planted soon.  I mentioned in my other gardening post that our next door neighbor is a Master Gardener.  She generously shared three tomato plants and a green bell pepper with us.  She has the coolest little greenhouse and always something growing in there.  No, I haven’t noticed any bright lights coming from there at odd hours.   Man, you guys!

Thanks to Miss Snowy, we will have tomatoes

Okay, well that’s my update for now.  Oh, there’s a break in the rain.  I’m outta here.  I have some weeds to pull!




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