Foodie Fix: Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad

You may already know that I’m a huge fan of salads.  But I’m not talking about wimpy salads with chopped greens, a smattering of grated carrot, a couple of tomato wedges and a bit of bland dressing on top.

Nope.

When I say I love salads, I mean huge salads that spill out of their plates.  I like loud, brash, badass salad parties with beans and peppers and every other vegetable I can find and homemade dressing all trying (though not trying too hard) to keep the party indoors but inevitably spilling out onto the lawn, at which point the police gets called and everyone’s got some serious explaining to do.

I like my salads THAT good.

So, when I want to eat a salad that could get the police called on it for making too much of a scene, this is the first one that comes to mind.  I started making it last year as a way of using up the humongous avocados that fall from the tree in the yard.  It won’t use up an entire bowling-ball-sized avocado (the kind I’m so lucky to get!),  but it’s a pretty snazzy way of using up more normally-sized, run-of-the-mill avocados (like Hass and such) that you can get in supermarkets in North America and elsewhere.

The whole thing is filling and cheap and, apart from the avocado and cilantro,  uses ingredients that are easy to find or easy to keep around the house.  You do, however, need a halfway decent zester–that one is non-negotiable.  Just watch your manicure.

You can also add green peppers and jicama to this.  I’d add the jicama to the mix of black beans and corn, and I’d top the finished plated salad with the green pepper, but you can do whatever your hungry little heart desires.

As usual, quantities are completely flexible and negotiable; just use what you have and what you think tastes good.  This makes enough salad for me and the man to eat twice as a big side for dinner (with a soup or something like that) or for me to eat twice as a main-dish lunch.

Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad

Invite these guys to the party:

  • 1 ripe avocado (2 if they’re tiny)
  • 1 can corn, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1-2 tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped (I use culantro or shadon beni, cilantro’s stinkier and more potent cousin, because that’s what I find here in Trinidad)
  • Zest of half a large lime (or zest of a whole small lime)
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • Small glug (1-2 tablespoons, just eyeball it) of olive oil
  • Couple of scallions, chopped
  • Lettuce (as much as you want to cover your bowl)
  • Tomato (optional, but I like it here)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Then, tell them to please mind the neighbors while they party and keep the kegstands inside, please:

  • Mix the oil, lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper, and cilantro together.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add corn and black beans, and mix well.  This can chill in the fridge until you’re ready to eat (it gets better as it sits, so it’s worth making it ahead of time if you can).
  • When you’re good and hungry, plate up your lettuce, top with as much of this mix as you want, sprinkle with scallions, and then top with cubes of avocado (and the optional tomato, if you’re using it).
  • Eat and try to keep your enthusiasm at an acceptable decibel level.

Rainy Soup Day

It’s finally raining!  After four long, dry, Sahara-like months, we got some rain today.  Yes, it was sprinkly and extremely light and not likely to bring my grass back to its verdant glory, but it was real rain nonetheless.  I’ll take frizz for the sake of my plants (and water supply).

I had originally planned on making a stir-fry for dinner but settled on a vegetable marinara pasta dinner after looking at the state of my vegetables and weighing which ones needed eating first.  However, give a girl some rain and a temperature below 80 F and she’ll get shivery and want soup.  It’s not so bad, being capricious like that, right?

So I made a huge vat of spicy lentil chili soup, from this Wegmans recipe, modified a la me by upping the spice quotient from the positively shy amounts listed and using regular lentils instead of pretty red ones–I’m tired of waiting for the red lentil boat to come to Trinidad to enjoy this soup.  I also can’t believe I made–and loved–a recipe from Wegmans; that supermarket was my undergrad moneymaking gig and I did not ever want to step foot in there again after one too many unfortunate incidents involving rotisserie chicken grease.

Oh well, wonders never cease.  And behold, in its muddy but delicious glory, with very sexy bruschetta toast, tonight’s soup delight:

Makes me (almost) wish it was colder more often.  Only almost, though.

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Other run of the mill happenings included the wearing of the black polka dot skirt with the combo below:

Blouse from Kohl’s, skirt from Marshalls in Puerto Rico, cardigan from New Look in the UK, shoes from Tarjay Boutique, fringe trim by my impatient hand.  My hair has grown like weeds since my December haircut and it takes plenty of self-control to stop myself from hacking at its unruliness.  I just need to breathe and repeat that it’s six weeks until I reach the wonderful Michael (and his talented scissor ways) in Buffalo–if only he could cut my hair in the airport bathroom so no one saw the mess on my head….

After a short and sweet (and speedy) swim, I attacked a very snazzy redo of yesterday’s salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, cucumber, green onion), this time with a spicy dressing of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, tahini, and harissa:

Which was followed by more Bailey’s than a person should drink while at work at a coworker’s farewell. It’s a pretty odd choice for a workplace drink, isn’t it?  I’m not complaining.

I’m now going to Zen myself into a state of relaxed anticipation (is there such a thing?) for tomorrow’s planned four-mile run, to which I’d ideally add a half mile to make up for Wednesday’s dodgy run.  Wise?  Probably not.  That’s why the Zen session is necessary.

The Ten Pool Commandments: What Not To Do at the Swimming Pool

Some days are pool heaven.  The sun is shining  (ok, it shines every day from January to June, but still), the water is debris-free, the palm trees are gently swaying, the smell of toast is in the air. I might even have the pool all to myself.

And then there are days when you wonder what exactly takes hold of people when they take to the water in stretchy fabrics.

Today was a fine example of the latter, but rather than give you the splash by splash, let’s go straight to how NOT to deport yourself in communal water:

  1. Do not do laps on the pool width-ways.  The lines are there for a reason, Mr. Splashing With Your Face Up In The Sun.  Maybe, if no one else is in the pool, you can go the short way and feel like a hot shot for doing more laps that you can brag to your friends about.  And I know that, if you’re a new swimmer, you might not be able to go the entire length of the pool, or you might be pretty scared of the water, period.  That’s fine.  But trust me,  my heart almost busted out through my ears the first few times I hit the pool with my board last year.  I just got a board and a spot by the edge until I was convinced I wasn’t going to drown.
  2. Don’t swim directly next to people when there are a million open lanes or, worse yet, no one else in the pool.  You creep me out.
  3. It goes without saying, but please shower before dipping yourself in.  If I can smell your disgusting sneeze-inducing smell-coverup cologne when you hit the water, you haven’t showered enough.  You need a sponge and elbow grease–get to it.
  4. I’m usually not in the water to chat, so please leave me to my laps.  However, if you stop me mid-push-off to ask me an inane question like “where are you from,” I might bite you (and hope that you showered appropriately beforehand).
  5. It goes without saying, but pretty please don’t sqroak into the water.  If you need to expectorate, you need to turn your ass around and come back another (phlegm-free) day.

And, just like there are rules of deportment to be observed in the water, there are a few that should be observed in the dressing room.

  1. Ladies, please flush the toilet.  Why is it that the pool toilet is always unflushed?  I’ve tested the flushing many times, and it works just fine.  Humidity plus unflushed toilets equal unholy stink.  Surely we are better than that.
  2. I know that it can be awkward to change in front of other people, but don’t sigh and harrumph and carry on and give me the side eye for being in there when you want to get changed.  Don’t sigh because the family shower is in use.  Don’t shoot me evils because you “need” to change in the toilet stall because I’m there.  I know there are body image issues and cultural issues that create discomfort for people, but goodness, my back is turned to you.  And I KNOW you have no problem flashing your goodies (the same ones we share) to all and sundry for carnival.
  3. Do not spend ten minutes grunting in the family changing room.  Swimming can be hard, but unless you’ve just broken a Michael Phelps record there is no need to alert the world of your physical exhaustion.  That, and I have no idea what you’re up to in there, and it’s just a bit gross.
  4. Put a towel down if you’re going to be sitting butt-nekkid on the bench.  Or, better yet, don’t sit butt-nekkid on the bench.  Sheesh, you wouldn’t share water with me so what makes you think I want to share THAT with you?
  5. Gauge carefully who you want to talk to while in a state of butt-nekkidness. I’m not a prude in the changing room, but I also don’t start face-to-face conversations with fully naked folks, so I expect the same.  Wait till I have at least two undergarments to stand in front of me and expect a response.

I can safely say that I saw Pool No-No’s 1,2, and 3 today (and averted what was clearly a No-No Number 4), and that I saw Dressing Room No-No’s 1,2,3, and 4 today.  And it’s not like the pool was that busy.  Oy vey.

If only the kind pool men could wake from their worktime slumber to put up a Miss Manners-type sign and make all naughty rule-breakers do a Walk of Shame (or two minutes in the outdoor shower for all to see), pool time would be much happier indeed.

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Of course, I always dress like a lady after ending a great four mile run with every joyful expletive in the book and when I am preparing to dispense etiquette tips for all and sundry:

Working my skulking creeper pose

Skirt made by moi and revived a week ago by some nip and tuck action, t-shirt from Charlotte Russe (can I admit that this was $3 now?), white cardigan from Britain days (New Look, I think) and the same old Target pointy shoes I love so much, this time in pewter.  Surely grown women don’t own three pairs of the same shoes.  I have never claimed to be a grown woman.

Speaking of etiquette, I had to dispense with most strictures of etiquette (and the white cardigan) to eat my lunch, which was a gorgeous–and very staining–combination of the weekend’s chipotle chicken (the last bits!) and leftover Tibetan salsa (tomatoes, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, scallions, pinch of sugar) over green salad:

Followed by the absolute last bit of the lemon bars that I will eat (I mean it this time):

As for dinner, the day called for something fast and relatively hands-off, so I made a batch of Little A’s peanut sauce and tossed it with thin spaghetti, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and green onion:

Cue happiness at having finished the day’s second shift before the hands-off dinner, after which cue delight at having the time to devise a new 3-mile playlist to dominate tomorrow’s run, after which cue realization that I can watch TWO episodes of Dexter tonight if I stop cueing everything off–and now cue goodnight.