Chop & Pop

tomatoes, avocado, scrunchions, secret cukes and lemon mint dressing.

I rummaged to the bottom of the vegetable bin. There were some of those cute Persian cucumbers. I don’t know why a recipe calls for English versus Persian cukes. They taste the same. They’re cucumbers. Especially from the grocery store.

There are six of seven left in the package. They are pretty skinny. I toss the one that is mushy and discolored in the center. I take three, trim the ends and quarter them before I run the knife up to the top, chopping into fairly even pieces. Kelly Clarkson is singing Since U Been Gone.

I stir the bastardized ropa vieja that I have on the stove.

Next up are the green onions. The recipe wanted red onions. I have them, but the scallions are more fragile, and anyway I like the crunch of the green parts. Same trim drill, but the tops of the onions are different lengths. It would barely waste anything if I cut them straight along the top, but I am in no hurry. I nip the bits of brown at the top. Before I chop, Pharrell and Daft Punk challenge me to Get Lucky. Dance steps ensue.

I’m interrupted by a friend who needs to go out. He really had to go so there was little time elapsed. I came back into the kitchen to a roaring Dave Grohl. He supposedly said Prince’s cover of Best of You at the SuperBowl was better than their original. I can’t help but think of Prince singing in the rain with that head scarf protecting his mane. I readjust my clip to keep my bangs out of my eyes.

The water comes out of the faucet fast. I am not sure why it sometimes comes out in an single stream and other times like a shower head. It’s shower head today. I soap up my hands to get back to my knife and wooden board. This playlist skips all the cursing in Gold Digger. I sing those words anyway.

I piled the onions next to the cucumbers in the white bowl. As I grab the plastic clamshell with the little tomatoes Shakira totally distracts me. I salsa back and forth through my kitchen galley, telling only lies with my hips. I wouldn’t even care if the neighbors saw, but they moved last week, so they can’t.

The first grape tomato gets sliced in half. They are very small, but I think that they look better if they are closer to the size of the other vegetables so I slice the rest in thirds. I pop one in my mouth. I pull out small handfuls, slice them and place them in the bowl. I keep going until it fills the space with enough red to break up the green. I eat two more and then slice two more.

I pulled out the large half-avocado. It was in better shape than I thought it would be. Sexy Back comes on. I cut around the pit. Someone said that it keeps better if you leave the pit in. It may have. I had a small whole-avocado, too. I didn’t think it was necessary.

My knife slid through the fruit. It was like a hot knife in butter yet still produced distinct squares that I piled between the tomatoes and the onions. The bowl was filled as Teenage Dream played. What a dumb song. I know it seems unfair to pick on this song versus the rest, but I don’t get Katy Perry. And, I get less why that cut allowed explicit lyrics. I woulda let Kanye finish.

There is a silly technique where you take a big pinch of kosher salt between your fingers and from a foot above the food “rain” it down. Somehow this distributes it better. I end up stirring the food anyway so it’s really unnecessary. I do it because it’s dramatic, and I feel like a celebrity chef. So I rained some salt and twisted some pepper.

I opened the cabinet literally above my head. I have to stand on the tips of my toes and really stretch to reach the mini-stainless bowl that sits on the top shelf. This prep bowl is well used, but in an inconvenient place because I don’t have anywhere else to put it in this barely functional kitchen. Taylor is whining about how We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. I’m unconvinced. This was on her last country album, even though most of it was pop.

I take the EVOO–it always cracks me up when I see that on a menu. I want to find the pretentious menu author and punch them in their pretentious author neck.

I pour the exact amount, in that it’s exactly the amount I poured, if only measured by my squinted right eye. I don’t have fresh lemon but a fairly fresh bottle of lemon juice. I squeeze about the right proportion to join the oil. I pick up my super cute baby-whisk. I ordered this whisk from either Crate and Barrel or Sur la Table. They came in a pair, which is good because I wore one of them out. Speaking of worn out, that Lumineers joint comes on. Hey! Ho!

The recipe, that I am not really following in any meaningful manner, wanted me to add fresh cilantro. I don’t have that or the dill they suggested to swap. I go through the spice jars twice. I even go to the way back of the cupboard where I have the extra bottles of valencia orange peel and smoked paprika that I bought by mistake. Nope. No dill anywhere. So I go for some dried mint. Seems like a fresh substitute. After I added it I remembered that I have some actually fresh mint on the back porch. Went too fast there.

Here’s my favorite part. The whisking. I get oddly excited by how quickly that little whisk emulsifies the oil and lemon juice. It seemed exceptionally fast tonight–like only three or four turns and it was like melted caramel.

I’m not ready to dress the salad yet, but worry that the avocado will discolor before The Spouse gets home. I shake a few drops of lemon juice over the concoction. I take the cookie sheet lined with discs of polenta out of the oven and flip them. Whoa, that oven is a little hot.

Lil Jon comes on. Seriously. Right then. Turn Down for What? In this case, turnt down to keep dinner from burning.

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