Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Love Affair with Newsprint
What's cooking? Spicy Avocado-Cucumber Soup

In the early days of my career, when I was a Wall Street researcher, there was a lot of talk among the analysts about the coming of the paperless office.  How no one would keep files in file cabinets, and everyone’s desk would be clean, clean, because there’d be no need for paper. So maybe I’m still stuck in the dark ages, but even with much of my work now in digital files and on the cloud (where God knows I hope it’s more organized than on earth), I still find myself surrounded by file cabinets and paper.

I also still read magazines on paper, as well as our local Austin newspaper and my all-time fave, The New York Times. And as much as I enjoy the ability to find past articles on the digital versions of these publications, I hope I hope I hope the physical versions hang around at least until I’m too ancient to read or care.

There’s something wonderful about spreading the newspaper out on my kitchen island, where the Sunday edition of The Times often remains for days, until I’ve perused the sections I most enjoy. And as newspapers now qualify more as commentary and sources of information than hot news, it doesn’t really matter how long that takes.

Later, when I migrated to corporate communications, I learned that most readers will take about 11 seconds to scan a page, starting from the top left and working to the bottom right. I can’t cover that amount of space on a page displayed on the web, not matter how much time I have. A headline catches my eye, so I click on a link to see the full article. And off I go, link after link, until I lose any sense of where I was in the first place. And I might never get back to page 1.

With a section of the paper open in front of me, however, I can scan the headlines, read a few paragraphs under one, and move on to the next item that interests me. Reach that bottom right corner and ... turn the page. Lovely. And when the last page gets turned, I can truly feel that I’ve read the paper.

So yesterday, when I finished reading Sunday’s Times, I was hungry. For lunch. And what I found on the kitchen counter were a bunch of avocados, though I couldn’t remember why I bought them. Luckily for me, I also had the other ingredients necessary for a great spring lunch of cold avocado soup and a green salad.

This soup is so easy to make, it’s almost embarrassing. Takes maybe 15 minutes, including the time you need to peel the avocado. Smooth, rich, with a nice, herbally taste. And the inclusion of the ice means you don’t have to stick it in the fridge and wait for it to get cold. For a spicier version, add more jalapeño.

Kitchen Goddess note: Canned jalapeños are one of those indestructible foods – you rarely need the whole can for a recipe, so once you take what you need, pour the rest into a jar – not back into the can – and refrigerate them. They’ll last 1-2 months. How do I know? Check out my new favorite place on the web:, which calls itself “Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide.” You’ll find answers on all kinds of storage questions, information on shelf life, tips on freezing foods you’d never have thought to freeze, and more.

Spicy Avocado-Cucumber Soup

Serves 6.

1 large, firm-ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1 English cucumber (about 3/4 pound), sliced into ½-inch pieces
8 ounces plain low-fat or no-fat yogurt
3-4 tablespoons of a mix of fresh parsley and chives (depending on the taste you like, you can skew the mix to be more or less of either)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon chopped jalapeño (without seeds)
1 cup small ice cubes

Put all ingredients into a blender, and blend on medium high until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Menu planner: I served this soup in juice glasses as the starter to a light summer dinner including potato salad, fruit salad, and grilled shrimp.

On my kitchen counter right now: orchids, mint, and marjoram.


  1. Yum!!! I just made it because I had all the ingredients except for jalapeño,and I used sriracha instead(plus a little red onion and garlic :) ) Very refreshing - I met you at Debby Sedwick's house several weeks ago, and look forward to seeing you again. Thank you.

    1. Wow, Michele -- that's fabulous! Now I feel like we'll be having lunch together. Am not much of a fan of red onion, but the sriracha sounds good, and the garlic sounds daring. :-) I read somewhere recently that you can blanch garlic to make it mellower but still get the flavor. Maybe I'll try that. Keep in touch!

  2. Yet ANOTHER delicious and delightful blog! I will be making the soup very soon (aprés grocery shopping).
    Loved taking a peek at your desk...and have already clicked on the website you recommended and will be stuck there,
    of my own free will, for some time to come! Thank yewwwwwww!
    Eileen in Atlanta

    1. So glad you liked the post, Eileen. That shelf guide website is indeed addictive -- so much so that I'm posting more about it tomorrow!

  3. ah, this brought back memories of my very first dinner party as a newlywed. only thing anyone remembered was the avocado soup, and not in a good way! i did not know how to tell a "ripe" avocado. ended up actually flushing most of it. i have since improved a bit in the kitchen.

  4. Hen -- You can always make me laugh. So many things we've learned over the years!

  5. Maybe we are just used to reading news on print, that is why we have not yet fully adopted to the latest paperless office. But it doesn't matter if you opt to read news the traditional way, it's your preference. Adapting to paperless technology, however, is greatly helpful to companies that have bulks of paperworks.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughts. I'm sure paperless technology has helped enormously -- in the reading world, I expect I'm a bit of a Luddite, so am just glad there's room for both!