SKC Page 4: Avocado Dip

Next up: Avocado Dip, which is not guacamole, but could play it on tv.

We had a friend over for dinner recently, and therefore our first outside-taste-tester in the Small Kitchen Cookbook cook-down.

This is also one of the first times in the book  that the reader/home cook is presented with what seems to my late-Gen-X eyes to be a strange either/or combination. As we wrap this recipe, the instructions ask us to finish things off with the (ever-popular) parsley, or instead paprika.

Not for nothing, as my mid-western friends say, but those are some radically different flavors. That said, there are much more drastic choices to come in this book, so maybe reserve your judgement for then.

We start with halved avocados, and Mortellito counsels us that we can hold on to the pits if we are interested in growing new avocado trees. Points for early ecology — however, I live in the Northeast and don’t think I’m in an avocado-friendly environment. So we move on to mashing and adding ingredients. White pepper, another popular ingredient in this book, makes an appearance along with mayo, lemon, and onion salt.

The consistency at first is a bit gritty, but I made the dip the night before serving — at which time it was much smoother. We went with parsley as garnish, because we still have a field’s worth in our home herb garden. Plus, paprika reminds me of Deviled Eggs, and I hate those.

We figured tortilla chips counted as ‘corn or potato chips,’ so as directed,  we “arranged” them in a chip and dip bowl from Homegoods.

I’ll probably make this again; it was gone at the end of the night and it didn’t brown overnight, like guac often does. It was a little bit weird at first in the taste department though, because the tongue is expecting guacamole and, as we addressed, this isn’t that. But like green tea ice cream, it has an acquired taste.

I give this recipe three and a half bunches of jaunty cherries. Let me know if you make it with paprika, and if it was worth it.

The Small Kitchen Cookbook: Page Eight

My first foray into The Small Kitchen Cookbook was the super-straightforward Cucumber Dip.

Let’s break it down.

The cucumber part wasn’t hard, because we had a bumper crop in our home garden this year. In fact, other than potatoes and parsley, it was the only bumper crop we had. Did anyone else have this problem this year?

Starting with one large cucumber — per instructions — I peeled, sliced, and minced. The draining (of “ALL the liquid,” mind you) proved to be trickier. I placed them in a colander at first, but resorted to blotting the pieces with paper towels when that proved less-than-effective in making the cukes any less juicy. If I make this recipe again, I might roast the veggies first.

Next it was on to combining sour cream, sugar, dill (from the garden again), salt, and white pepper — one of the more popular ingredients in the entire book, I’ve found. Second only to parsley.

After mixing in the cucumbers it’s suggested, if the dip is too watery, to add two tablespoons of cream cheese. Don’t ponder this suggestion; just add it right in to the recipe. The dip is going to be watery (seriously, what is the trick to de-liquifying cucumber?) and the cream cheese is just the right antidote.

We chowed this dip with Wheat Thins ( it said to serve with favorite crackers, so), and since we were also charged with presenting it in a “small serving bowl,” we went with one of our beloved Paul Anthony stoneware pieces.

Herein, I debut our Recipe Rating System for The Small Kitchen Cookbook. I give this recipe three out of five jaunty bunches of cherries.

HVAC Trading Cards? Sure, Why Not?

HVAC doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic to write about, but it’s actually pretty interesting.

The industry has long been a leader in energy efficiency, for instance. New technologies are always being applied to the development of products, and in the U.S., the “Made in USA” logo truly means something — creating not just exemplary products but jobs and expanding opportunities for those of us who live here.

It’s also an industry that has welcomed new forms of communication as social- and public relations continue to bloom. Part of the reason why is that there’s always new information to share in the HVAC biz, and even better, we have myriad places through which to share that content.

These guiding principles were behind a recent writing assignment I took on in tandem with Winstanley Partners for the KN Series of hydronic, cast-iron boilers. Starting with the idea of a technical brochure that would extol the benefits of the product to its key audiences, we took the assignment a step further, creating pieces of ‘mini-content’ that were even more targeted to core audiences.

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We didn’t negate that first idea of a one-sheet technical brochure, but rather created it to include components that could stand alone, and therefore speak directly to engineers, architects, builders, managers, and others.

As the copy and design started to coalesce, we soon noticed that the end-result was not unlike a set of trading cards.

HVAC trading cards? Well sure, why not? They’re shareable, printable, scale-able, and (yes) trade-able. That’s what we want when it comes to sharing information about a decidedly niche product. Plus, there are plenty of uses for such a thing – from social media content to trade-show giveaways.

These one-hit wonders were designed by Victoria Fiorini — copy by moi.

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Writing on the Flip

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Writers have come a long way in terms of where their words can be seen. Once relegated to the printed page, now we’re writing for virtual places all the time.

That’s what made a recent — and very tactile — writing assignment so unusual and fun. I was charged with writing a few highlights regarding the Berkshire town of Lenox, which were then placed on the literal flip side of some photo placards.

The placards are just one part of the newly redesigned Lenox Visitors Center, meant to offer information and inspiration to residents, tourists, and business people alike.

A handful of writers contributed to the project; below are a few of the snippets I was able to sneak through.

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Placard Photos by Ed Acker.