After Hightower’s longtime partner, DeMarco, took her leave of us from this crazy planet, our staff and the board of the Lowdown decided to have a little dinner together in her honor– she didn’t want any kind of public memorial– at hers and Hightower’s house. Laughs, love, and food abounded. Here are our photos and a few of the recipes we shared with each other.


Traditional Guacamole

Contributed to the dinner by Hightower
Adapted from “My Mexican Kitchen” by Diana Kennedy (Clarkson Potter, 2003)

  • 3 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped, with another tablespoon for garnish
  • 4 serrano chilies (seeds and all), finely chopped or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped, with another tablespoon for garnish
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 3 avocados
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, finely chopped, with 1/4 cup tomato for garnish.

1. Put onion, chilies, cilantro and salt into a molcajete, and crush to a paste. (Or purée in a blender and transfer to a mixing bowl).

2. Cut avocados in half, and without peeling remove pit, and squeeze out the flesh. Mash avocado into onion-serrano base and mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup of tomatoes.

3. Sprinkle the surface with garnishes: 1/4 cup tomato, onion and a tablespoon of finely chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.


Contributed by Lowdown publisher and board president, Jay Harris, from his cookbook, Veganish
Adapted from “Shakshuka (Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce)” Smitten, which, SK says, was adapted from Saveur

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 pasilla peppers and 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped. (Many different chili pepper combinations would work just fine, of course. I like this mix because it gives a little, but not too much, heat.)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
  • 2 bay leaves (or 8 curry leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons pimentn
  • 6 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon Izot chili (Turkish chili flakes), or some less obscure type of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaves, all the spices, and the sugar, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Mussels marinara

Contributed by Mac Martinez

  • 24 fresh large mussels (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper

1. Discard any broken shell or open (dead) mussels that do not close when tapped. Wash remaining mussels, removing any barnacles with a dull paring knife. Remove beards by tugging them away from shells.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Cook parsley and garlic in oil, stirring frequently, until garlic is lightly golden. Add tomatoes, mussels, wine, salt and pepper. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until shells open.

3. Discard any unopened mussels. Spoon liquid from skillet over each serving.

Garbage dogs

Contributed by Deanna and Laura
Deanna’s mom would like you to know they were originally called “chip and cheese dogs” and she’s not responsible for the nickname they earned.

  • 5 hot dogs, diced
  • 1 cup rippled potato chips, crushed
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp sweet relish
  • 8 hot dog buns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together and scoop into hotdog buns. Place dogs onto a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until tops of buns are toasted brown.

Hightower’s review of this recipe: “Surprisingly zesty!”