My parents live in a neighborhood adjacent to a development with several windy, hilly roads and not too much traffic, perfect for a run when the weather is decent enough. I’m not one for combining physical exercise and the beaming heat of the sun, so my brother and I take advantage of this area for outdoor training in the evening and occasionally in the morning, as it tends to be a little cooler. It may be more of a workout for me, as he tends to put his cross country skills on their low setting when I ask to run with him. Still, my brother and I each get a lot out of not only spending time together but working at our shared interest of running.
The lengths of our runs vary; although I always ask how long he is interested in venturing out, my energy level tends to dictate our mileage. My brother, on the other hand, seems like he could run forever, quickly, and happily. Even though I always give myself something to train for, like a 5K, the Broad Street Run or the upcoming half marathon (yes, I’m crazy and no, I’m not ready) the biggest reward for me is the time I get to spend with my little brother. We always have an interesting conversation, or at least I listen and gasp for air while he tells me about all of the fun, exciting things he is experiencing in high school. It’s not always a deep, philosophical conversation but at our finish line I’m always left confident the kid has a good head on his shoulders.
Here and there our runs are interrupted by my heavy, burning calves in need of a good stretch. More often, though, we pass a few houses with the sweet scents of a hot grill wafting in our direction from their back yard. Whatever my brother and I happened to be talking about is forgotten, and our run concentration is broken. We then find ourselves discussing steak, burgers and anything else you can throw on the grill grates as we both imagine our dad working hard on our grill, preparing a summer feast for us to replenish our overworked leg muscles upon our return.
Summer scents always bring to mind a handful of my favorite memories, like these evening runs with my little brother. In a few weeks, though, those scents will be shelved until next year. Though my palette is raring to go for a warm pot roast, fall beers and Sunday football, every other nerve in my body is holding on for dear life to the summer of 2011. To help ease the transition, I cranked up the grill, grabbed some soon-to-be out of season ears of corn, and practically bathed in the delicious smells that traveled off of the gas-powered outdoor cooker.
Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa
2 ears of corn
1 – 14 oz. can of black beans
1 – 14 oz can of black eyed peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced
½ cup of cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 lime
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
Soak ears of corn with husks still attached in a large pot of water for approximately 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium heat and place corn on grates. Turn occasionally and cook for approximately 15 – 20 minutes, as the sides char. Remove from the grill and allow to cool. Peel away husks and silks. With the flat end of the ear on a cutting board and the ear standing vertically, carefully cut kernels off and place into a large bowl. Drain canned beans and add to bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Let sit in refrigerator for about 30 minutes before serving.
Though the corn requires the most work, it is not really the central part of this recipe. Two completely different varieties of beans grace this dish with their presence and they soak up the awesome flavors of everything else the longer you let the salsa sit in the fridge. Raw red pepper and jalapeno bring zest, crunch and color; however the latter adds more heat than you would assume. Fresh lime juice and cilantro bring freshness and authenticity while the balsamic vinegar and cumin, bring a different yet welcome flavor. Just the like the lime, the vinegar’s acidity balances the salsa but the added touch of tartness compliments the smoky addition of cumin spice. The mellow burst of flavor from the spice goes well with the sweet, grilled corn. Served with chips, the salsa is a great snack but can also be added to your morning eggs or rice, for dinner.
With summer coming to a close, I will be taking advantage of cooking outdoors while I can and will be stocking up on things that will soon be out of season. The scents of grilled dinners that my brother and I encounter on our evening runs will soon be coming to an end, which is a little depressing. Until I realize our evening runs will now smell like the fun fall foods I’m eagerly anticipating.