Last week was too goddamn hot. Like over 100 degrees for a couple of days hot. Like you could fry an egg on the street hot. Well, maybe not. But maybe…
For most of last week I was just sweltering and schvitzing all day long-on the way to work, at work, home from work, at the gym (with air conditioning that was half working), eating dinner, sleeping. That’s a lot of sweltering and schvitzing. And it’s only the beginning of June! It’s not like this is Texas where it seems to be a billion degrees every day of the year. This is New York-a land of four seasons! June is supposed to be a lovely temperate month-in the 70s and rarely much higher. Instead, for some reason this year (global warming????), Mother Nature decided to curse us with a ridiculous heat wave making me hot all day long.
Can you tell I’m not really a heat/summer person? Right-so I did not enjoy this heat wave. But honestly-did anyone? Even if most people didn’t enjoy it, I feel like I didn’t enjoy it even more. It drained me of energy and gave me motivation to do nothing. All I wanted to do was eat ice cream while blasting the air conditioning that causes my electric bill to skyrocket while someone rubs ice cubes all over my body. Was that a little too much information? Moving on… Anyway, I hate the heat and cooking was the last thing I wanted to do everyday, especially considering we don’t have air conditioning in my kitchen (although one would think considering how fricking small my apartment is the cool air from my bedroom would reach my kitchen without a problem). Adding from the stove/microwave/oven to my apartment would turn it into a literal sauna (I could probably charge people to sauna at my apartment-yup. that hot), was NOT an option. Also not an option: making something different every night. The heat was draining me so much on every level that I couldn’t even fathom making different meals or putting in the energy to think of different things. To come home, open the fridge and having something all ready to chow down sounded like perfection to me. Pure, why-the-frick-is-it-so-hot-but-this-will-cool-me-down perfection.
I remembered that my mom used to make black bean and corn salads over the summer all the time, especially for picnics, and we would eat it for days cause of all the leftovers. A bean salad sounded perfectly refreshing for me. I was trying to think of flavor combos to use, and in my “I’m melting” state of stupor, I came up with something because I had two requirements. 1st: I had a huge bunch of cilantro that I had bought at the Farmer’s Market the day before and I wanted to use. Cilantro is a flavor that reminds me of summer and hot days so it was perfect. 2nd: Lime. I had it set in my head that I wanted to use lime, which screams refreshing (and Margaritas-but that’s for another time) and would keep me cool. Using those two flavors to start with, I built it up adding red onions, cherry tomatoes, a tiny bit of chili powder, salt, pepper and lots (and lots) of cumin. Oh, and of course black beans. I threw this together on that Sunday afternoon-day 2 of extreme heat wave-in about 7 minutes and stored it in an old peanut butter jar in the fridge (a big one). 7 minutes-just enough time that I wasn’t ridiculouly sweating while being out of the air conditioning. I thinking cooking (even without using any heat!) would have been too much for me, so this was perfect.
Each night for the heat wave I ate about a cup of this salad for dinner. Mmm mmm mm good. and Mmm mmm cool. Every night coming home from work/the gym (especially the one evening when my train was 2 hours late and I had to wait in the heat for that long outside in the direct sun) there was nothing more I wanted to do that screw open that peanut butter jar, scoop some salad into a bowl, run into my bedroom with the air conditioner blasting, and eat it slowly while watching Jon & Kate Plus 8. It was a little spicy (but not too much that it woudl cause excessive sweating), a little crunchy and oh so refreshing. As the days went on the flavors meddled even more and the lime juice broke everything down a bit making it more and more tasty. It was truely the perfect meal for a scorcher. On Wednesday, the heat finally broke and I still had about a serving left. Would it still be yummy even though my brain wasn’t sweating? Yes. Still yummy. Still satisfying. Still perfect.
Lime & Cumin Black Bean Salad
1 large can of black beans
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small or medium (your choice) red onion
2 teaspoons of cumin
sprinkle of chili powder
salt & pepper
Combine the vegetables and beans in a large bowl. Add the spices and lime juice bit by bit until you reach a flavor level you like. I used all the juice from both limes, but some might prefer less. I also added some lime zest to take it up just a notch. I suggest that too. Stir it all together, top individual portions with chopped cilantro and eat it on a hot day while you can’t think of doing anything else.