Avocado Corn Salad with Midori

Tonight was a little unusual. First of all, 91 degrees in Seattle today. Puget Sounders are pathetic in the heat. All the fans are sold out at Costco, we make a science out of complaining, and ridiculously long for the rain we moaned about last week. I'll add to the complaining and say toddlers tend to get quite lethargic and fussy in the heat, and I'm thankful for the rapid drop in temperature tonight.

And I was making dinner when Yancey said, "See you later, babe." What?! I forgot he had his first union meeting tonight (God, how the organizational psychologist in me would love to be a fly on the wall), and I was just puttering around in the kitchen, preparing for a leisurely night together.

Luckily, my long-lost friend Midori was dropping something off tonight, and I convinced her to stay for dinner. There's nothing worse than laboring over a salad and being left serving it to small children. Your perfect children may appreciate salad, but mine don't. Midori and I met in Bellingham while going to Western, crossed paths again a few years after that in Seattle, then lost touch 8 or 9 years ago. We've connected again because of this blog, and she was one of my earliest (and now most loyal) readers. What a gift it was to catch up on our lives. Since we've last seen one another, we've both had two children, changed careers, and grown a lot happier and relaxed, we agreed. She got to see first-hand my packed fridge, dirty dishes, and tiny corner of the kitchen table that I clear for photographs. Thanks, Midori--how wonderful to see you.

My lettuces are coming up, and before Midori came I had just picked a bowlful. Every gardener blathers on and on about how satisfying this is. $%*! I can't help myself. It's satisfying. I'm a new gardener--this is my fourth year with a veggie patch, and I'm not the most attentive gardener in the world. But I'm doing it!. And I had some corn, avocados, and tomatoes from Young's (the Asian market up the street from my house). This was one of those weeks that I actually left too many blank spots in my menu--before I went to pick Oscar and Wyatt up from school, I looked in the fridge and realized Youngs was in order. All five of us tramp in there after school--Milo and Loretta in the double-stroller, and Oscar and Wyatt camping out on the rice bags while I hope for perfect avocados or green beans. They all beg for Cheetos, but we only get those on Fridays. If we go in there on a Thursday, for instance, we have a talk before we go in about how we're not going to get them until tomorrow. They were understanding today, but Loretta has been known to bawl all the way home.

So this little salad was all the cooking I could do tonight. We didn't have bread or anything, and I let the kids eat frozen yogurt and graham crackers. No wonder kids like summer so much.

P.S. Midori is a photographer, so I got fascinated with my Canon G10 all over again.  There's a zillion buttons on it that I don't use.  I took this grainy photo of Loretta while I was cleaning the kitchen and letting her crawl all over the kitchen table. Gotta love that rascal.

Avocado and Corn Salad
Serves four.  You could use spinach or less perfect lettuces than mine (have to rub it in) and it would still be delicious.

4 ears corn or 1 1/2  c. frozen corn
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, diced
4 big handfuls washed greens
2 large tomatoes or 4 roma tomatoes, diced
handful washed and chopped cilantro
tortilla chips, coarsely crumbled

For dressing:
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp. ground cumin
plenty of salt and pepper
juice of one lime
4 Tb. canola oil
4 Tb. olive oil

If you're cooking ears of corn, this is how I do it to make sure it stays crisp:  Drop the ears in a big pot of water, and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let the corn sit for 10 minutes. Pull it out, let it cool, and then cut it off the cob.  If you're using frozen corn, just cook to package directions.

For dressing:  Combine everything but the oil, then slowly whisk in oil to emulsify.  The reason I always do my dressings this way (instead of shaking them or stirring everything at once) is because, it you get too much oil, it's hard to correct.  If you do it this way, you have more control.  Always taste  your dressings along the way. They make the salad.  For this one, it's particularly important that it's salty and limey enough.

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and very gently toss with the dressing (using your hands).  Dish onto plates and eat with old friends.