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Dinner tonight was just what I had hoped it would be.  It was a complete hodge podge, but end up like a real, lovely little meal.  OK, there wasn’t anything little about it.  I’ll list the complete ingredients for my serving tonight at the end.

I started soaking some black beans two nights ago, and they got sidelined last night. I figured if they weren’t ok, I’d toss them, but I gave it a try and they were fine.  They started sprouting, which I brushed up on from Emily’s post about sprouted chickpeas.  It wasn’t the same thing, but it made me rest assured that it’s alright if beans go a little wacky.  A handful of the black beans had sprouted, and were sort of gross to look at.  I tossed them.  The beans simmered for around an hour 10 minutes instead of the full 90, since they soaked extra.  I chucked in some cilantro, which I don’t think I tasted after they came out.

While that cooked, I measured and rinsed 1/2 cup of my new organic amaranth and threw it into a pot with a cup of water.  (It simmers for 25 minutes, but mine was all absorbed and finished earlier… maybe around 18 minutes.)  Enter my brand-new-but-bought-on-my-birthday red Microplane!  I 100% pretended I was a Food Network chef and zested some orange skin right into the amaranth pot.  It didn’t taste out-of-control like I was afraid it might, but just added a little bit of “hmmm” to the background.

I had a plantain from last week that was black on one end.  I thought that all recipes I’d found for fried plantains and the like had always called for green or unriped plantains, but I found a few last night that promised I could use this extra soft one.  And from this day forward, I’ll be letting all my plantains turn black!

It was soft, a little bit sweet, and so good.  I planned on using 1/2 for dinner and 1/2 in tomorrow’s leftovers lunch, but it was so good, I ate about 1/3 of the gigantic thing right off the plate while wasting time playing with all the other components.  I cut it up in disks (see illustration :-p) and fried it over about medium heat with only nonstick cooking spray.  Nothing fancy like last time when I almost sent the kitchen up in smoke.  After they were done, a little bit of onion went into the used pan with a tsp of olive oil and a little throw of minced garlic.  To heat up at the end, I added a fresh cut-off-the-ear corn-on-the-cob from another dinner.  I found a snack on my back porch from our awesome neighbors when I came home for lunch!

This guy was there, too.  They were both from a tiny little stand on the main road in our town, which makes me feel like I’m in a pretty adorable summer right now.

I’m so picky about watermelon… and while we’re at it, hated cantaloupe until about 7 months ago… but these were both juicy and sweet.  I had my entire planned dessert for tonight in huge lobbed off chunks while I was cooking.  This meal really did keep me in the kitchen for entirely too much of tonight.  But I wanted to get all the pieces just right, and I had to rethink a few components.  And I needed a nice, fancy dinner for once, and lunch will be basically all set for tomorrow.  This photo came out terribly, but this is the mess of pots and pans I was surrounded by all night:

After all the cooking was done, I separated the orange-zest amaranth into two portions and did the same with the (remaining) plantains, and onions.  I measured a 1/2 cup of black beans onto each.  Then I diced up two plum tomatoes from our garden, and sliced up 2 ounces avocado.  I also used an obscene amount of fresh cilantro on top.  (I have never purchased a plant of this before, because I always decide it will go to waste.  However, that’s stupid, as cilantro is one of my obsessions.  When we go out for sit-down fast-food Mexican, the top of my meal is essentially equal parts fire-roasted tomato salsa and cilantro.)  The beans got a good sprinkle of ground coriander (which I might cook in next time), the whole bottom layer got a big pinch of salt, and the mostly-avocado layer got doused in lime juice.  Yum.  Yum yum yum.

Ingredients list:  1/2 cup amaranth, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/3 cup plantains, 1/4 cup corn, 2 oz. avocado, 1.5 plum tomatoes, 2 tbsp cilantro.  Such a feast!  Everyone is in slightly better spirits tonight.  And I think wasting approximately all night cooking kept me sort of mellow.  It’s time to get all my to-dos done for the night…  I have big plans of curling up with a new episode of Teen Mom and falling asleep as soon as my body agrees.

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We must have the courage to allow a little disorder in our lives. -Ben Weininger

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