Last Week's Lunchbox: Stories and Mango Salad

I'm at work right now, using my lunchbreak to make an entry. Work is awesomely busy recently, and while very satisfying to have something to do during the day especially in the countdown to grad school (classes start end of August!) eating has become secondary, something to do on the go between subjects. This is so vastly different from what I'm used to that it is almost puzzling, and I realize I am insanely spoiled by a 35-hr work week in a mildly paced environment. The reason things picked up is because we're currently running a study on chocolate craving, and it's a pretty hot topic. The only thing I don't like is there are literally pounds of chocolate in my office, and I cannot eat any of them but instead must talk to other people all day about chocolate. It is good, but it is also very bad.
Several things involving food happened to me recently.
The first: I totally missed Elena's Muffin Monday 2, and I even made muffins but just didn't get it all together to get them. So here they are: Nigella Lawson's Peanut Butter and Snickers muffins, straight from How To Be A Domestic Goddess. After I let them sit for a day, I can assure you: yes, they are every bit as good as pb and snickers sounds. They are goopy burnt caramelly peanutty bits of delightfulness.

The second: I ate Oreos dipped in milk for the first time ever over last weekend. You know what? They're actually pretty tasty. Seems there's a reason all of America eats them that way. I am still not budging over the milk in cereal thing, though - that's still flat-out wrong.
The third: Last week I took a trip to Trader Joe's to find - of all things - chocolate for work. They didn't have the chocolate, but they did have lots of stuff I wanted including a mango chili vinegar which I'm going to get to later. I went to check out, and the very nice cashier man got all excited when I hit an even dollar amount. I didn't get it, but he explained that that means I got three Tiki Tosses (read: Nerf basketball) and I could win a free item up to $7 if I got it in. I missed horrendously, but the kind manager let me do a total girly underhand throw that somehow wormed its way in. I was torn between being thrilled that I won and embarassed that it took such a wimpy way out to do it, but hey, free stuff makes up for a lot. I sat my groceries down with the cashier and perused the shelves a bit, and ended up with a package of beef. I went to show it off, they were all very excited for me and were about to wave me off. Except that none of us could find my groceries. It seems the woman behind me must've taken my bag. I then had to reshop for all my groceries. Everyone was incredibly sweet about it, laughing with me instead of at me - even while I threw the basketball - and not only did I finally get my groceries and my free bool kogi/bulgogi, the manager gave me a bouquet of mini white roses for my patience. People: seven bucks goes a long way. I'd never heard of this before. I love them.
I have also decided I love mango chile vinegar and urge you to seek it out. It is tasty beyond belief.
Once I had it, I knew it deserved a dish to stand out in. Sometimes, when you think about concocting something in your head without having tried it, you make it and it comes out really, really bad. I know, I've been there, and I've made some really hideous things that originally sound great (beer cheese soup, anyone?).But sometimes you think about it, and you try it, and it's so good I can't be bothered to write more because I want to lick my Tupperware. It is a mango salsa with everything that my grocery store had on sale for Cinco de Mayo, and a conglomeration of several different recipes - I couldn't decide what one sounded best so I threw everything in together. It is loaded. It is sweet. It is spicy. It is savory. It is smooth and it is crunchy. And it is here, pictured sans avocado and tomato so they don't get soggy. It is this week's (ok, ok, last week's) Lunchbox.


2 Tbsp mango chile vinegar, or other fruit or white wine vinegar plus some chile flakes
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
salt and pepper to taste
1 large ripe mango
1/2 English cucumber
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 c frozen sweet corn, thawed
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 small ripe tomatoes
1 ripe avocado

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and lime juice. Slowly, while whisking, drizzle in the oil. Using a fork, whisk in the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dice the mango. (For useful mango-preparation tips, check out Rachel of Coconut and Lime's recent helpful post - I wish I'd found it sooner!) Seed the cucumber and dice. Add the mango, cucumber, beans, corn, scallions and cilantro to the bowl with the vinegar dressing. Gently fold to combine.
Before serving, dice the tomato (seed it if you like) and avocado and gently fold to combine in with the other ingredients.
The salad recipe makes two very generous portions, and will keep refrigerated and covered for a few days if you don't have the tomato and avocado in already. I ate it with some seared swordfish sprinkled with more vinegar, but it would go well with almost any fish and chicken as well for the summer.