Taco Tuesday ushers in Yom Kippur

Taco Tuesday is a sometimes observed tradition in the Ritchart household. It's really code for any type of Tex-Mex meal — fajitas, nachos, quesadillas or of course, tacos.

And we don't have tacos every Tuesday, just many Tuesdays.

Cooking has been adjustment since our second child left for college in August. We have gone from a family of five healthy eaters, down to cooking for four when our son moved to college two years ago, and now to cooking for three — two dieters and a 7 year old.

I've had to re-portion some of the recipes and we've been trying new things.

My latest focus is guacamole. I've been experimenting with quick and easy ways to mix up guacamole — and figuring out ways to eat it while simultaneously avoiding my usual serving bowl of tortilla chips, which are definitely nonstarters on this diet.

I don't know why, but in the past I have only ordered guacamole when eating out — I don't usually make it at home. So after consulting my dear friend Maria, a masterful cook, and my dear friend Melissa, who is a recipe expert, I added it to our Taco Tuesday dinner menu.

My youngest, and I went out for fresh ingredients this morning — most importantly avocados. I showed Mei how to identify which ones were likely ripe enough to cook with right away, based on color and softness. (If you've never bought an avocado, check out the Hass site for tips on selecting avocados that are ready to eat when you want to eat them: https://www.avocadocentral.com/how-to/how-to-pick-how-to-buy-avocados.)

We also picked up some ground chuck, fajitas and tortilla chips (for my husband).

I decided to go for quick and easy guacamole, rather than 100 percent home made. We used jarred salsa instead of chopping the tomatoes, garlic, peppers and lime. My dear, and wise, friend Melissa also recommends using a fresh salsa from a supermarket deli, such as Publix deli salsa, as a shortcut that also maintains fresh produce.

My creation, a semi homemade version that used fresh avocados and jarred garlic-lime salsa, was delish. I also crisped up some cheese chips to use instead of tortilla chips. (My cheese chips were awesome but could have used a few more minutes in the oven in order to achieve better crunch.)

It was a perfect way to spend Taco Tuesday because... Yom Kippur fast begins at sundown.

Check out the quick guacamole recipe below, and let me know if you have a favorite of your own — I'd love to try something new in this new year 5777.

— Amy

Quick Guacamole

3 ripe avocados

1/4 cup garlic-lime salsa (You can use any favorite salsa, but add lime if your salsa doesn't.)

pinch of salt (to taste)

Cut, remove pit, and scoop avocado pulp into a mixing bowl.

Add 1/4-cup (or more to taste) of salsa.

Add pinch of salt.

Mash with potato masher.

Refrigerate at least one hour.


This is not the place I've been before

Independence Day fireworks, Okaloosa Island, June 29, 2016.

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.
— Anaïs Nin

It's difficult to get to a new year and not know where you are going.

I am fortunate to have made it to 5777. I want to feel celebratory. It is the world's birthday, after all.

I want to appreciate those around me and spread love and light — and a little laughter. I am part of a wonderful family and have many treasured friends — and I love my family and friends with all my soul.

I appreciate the many blessings in my life. My sister and I just spoke about our love for going to the grocery store. We cherish that we have the money and the access to buy fresh fruit. One of my favorite things to do is get coffee and go to the grocery store because that always reminds me of how fortunate I am.

But still, this new year, I'm feeling like the center of a stormy cloud (or fog generator, as one of my dear friends would say).

I try to focus on all that is good rather than rehash the bad.

I try to practice teshuvah.

I know it is not easy. It's much easier to wonder how you've come to the same place you've been, as if your journey is a hampster wheel rather than your own human voyage, than it is to cast away your sins in Tashlich and practice teshuvah with intention.

I find it most difficult to let go of feeling wronged — to refuse to feel responsible for others' incorrigible actions and instead focus on the choices I can make.

Breaking patterns is hard, but I don't want to spend my life jaded, empty days slipping by, wasted.

What can I do right now to change that? What changes can I make in the immediate — that can become part of the longterm?

I turn to one of my favorite quotes, referencing one of my favorite parshot, Chayei Sarah:

There are some who push through life just trying to get from one day to the next. There are others who say that every moment is to be savored, not just endured. Abraham’s attitude surpassed both of these. He saw every moment as something to be put to use. Even the smallest unit of time is a distinct creation never to be replicated again. Today’s work is not tomorrow’s. The call of the hour is not that of the next.
— Rabbi Ben A.

And so, though it seems I've come to the place I have been, it can not be so.

Shanah tovah,