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very lucky

Recipe: mexican grilled corn salad

Rounding hairpin turns, blinded by the rising sun, I squinted at the clock on the dash. I was late. But you can’t step on the gas and hurry because there are all those Honda Civic-sized potholes to dodge as well as wild animals to watch for. I figured if they’re there, great. If they’ve already moved on, so be it. It is what it is, my first morning NOT dedicated to a trail run or a hike, but to photograph moose. I was in luck.

it seems all they ever do is eat

and eat

Our local moose have a feeding pattern in summer that draws the photographers out each morning like flies. They feed in the low meadows and then move on up to higher ground. It varies. Sometimes they will hang out until well after noon and other times they’ll sneak away only to return later. It’s their home. About 100 moose live in the Brainard Lake area alone, plus more in the surrounding mountains. These are my neighbors.

time to move on

way too close for my comfort

I managed to catch the tail end of the show, about 15 minutes’ worth of shooting. No biggie. I just wanted to see and maybe photograph moose and was able to do both. Chatting with a few gentlemen who were also shooting the moose, I learned they traveled a couple of hours just for this. They do it once a week. When they learned I lived nearby and ran/hiked here all the time, one fellow smiled and said with the utmost sincerity, “You are very lucky.” I nodded to confirm this statement – yes, I am VERY lucky. We wished one another well and said good-bye.

On the drive back home, I thought about luck. It would be easy to look at all of the negatives in my life (and I’ve had my share, thank you) and let that set the tone for the rest of my life, but what’s the point in that? Wallowing in self-pity has never been my cup of tea. There are so many more positives from a simple sunrise to helping a stranger to cherishing every hug from my mom to packing a lunch for Jeremy. I’m just grateful to be here, really. Sometimes I think about how much time I have left – I don’t really know how much time I have… it could be another 40 years or it could be a few days. Regardless, time is short. Life is short. There isn’t enough time in another 40 years to do everything I want let alone waste it on bad relationships, jonesing, terrible food, buying “stuff”, being unkind, not being honest, trying to be someone I am not, worrying what others think of me. It’s taken me a few decades to get to the point where I can trim away most of the “bullshit”, but it’s liberating and I think it makes my life feel lucky. It certainly feels GOOD.

The other day I went hiking in the high country with my friend, Erin (another Erin, but both of my Erins are awesome ladies), and her pup, Banjo. How nice to have much-needed doggie time as well as friend time. I love it when you find someone who doesn’t need to talk the talk, because she totally rocks the walk. That’s Erin. We spent the entire day hiking, foraging, and talking under sun, clouds, and pouring rain. When we weren’t chatting it up on the trail, I just sang “Banjooooo” in rhythm with my stride because he’s such a good and sweet boy. It made me think of my little Kaweah and how utterly bad she was on the trail (but cute!).

erin holds a mushroom (a kind i don’t eat)

banjo is such a good pup

and the wildflowers were out in force

clouds move in over the lovely alpine lake

Erin just had a major birthday and I wanted to do something nice. I thought of baking a flourless chocolate cake and packing it up to the high country to surprise her. Or maybe making French macarons to bust out at the lake. But the reality was that my schedule was overly full, so I bought her a Chuao bar (triple nut temptation dark chocolate – Jeremy’s favorite), tied a ribbon on it, wrote a card, and called it good. Jeremy commented that the old me would have stayed up late baking, lost sleep, and been exhausted and not enjoyed my hike. It’s true. The current me has a little more sense (just slightly) than the old me.

The idea of keeping things simple is a good one. That’s why this corn salad is so appealing. It’s like the Mexico City-style roasted corn, but it’s easier to prepare and way less messy to eat. I found the recipe on Kevin’s site, Closet Cooking, which is a great blog full of cheesy, melty, juicy, amazing recipes. Since summer is in full swing, we must partake of the corn.

chipotle powder, salt, garlic, green onions, jalapeño, lime, mayonnaise, corn, cotija cheese, cilantro, vegetable oil

My recipe deviates from Kevin’s a little bit because I prefer to use my grill. If I can grill instead of using the stove top, I will do that – especially in summer. The corn is charred on the cob and then cut off the cob whereas Kevin cuts the raw kernels off and then chars them on the stove top. But if you don’t have a grill or you don’t want to grill, just do it Kevin’s way. The point is to make the corn salad and put it in your belly.

shuck the corn

brush with vegetable oil

grill to lightly char the kernels

cut the kernels off the cob (carefully!)

Aside from the corn, the rest of the ingredient preparation is straightforward. Grate the garlic, juice the lime, chop or crumble everything else. If I weren’t photographing the steps for your benefit, each item would go straight into a giant bowl. How easy is that?! Super easy.

grate the garlic

juice a lime

lime juice, cilantro, charred corn, mayonnaise, green onions, cotija cheese, jalapeño, garlic, salt, chipotle powder

pour in the lime juice

add the cotija cheese

If you make this salad, be sure to taste it as you go. Every person has different preferences. I reduced the amount of mayonnaise from the original recipe, but you might like more (or none!). Pretty much everything can be tweaked to your liking and should be. We enjoyed the salad with some skirt steak tacos. Serve this with your summer barbecues. It’s ideal for entertaining too.

garnish with extra cheese and cilantro

great side salad for tacos

summer on a plate

Mexican Grilled Corn Salad
[print recipe]
modified from Closet Cooking

4 ears fresh corn, shucked and cleared of silk
vegetable oil for grilling
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, grated
2 green onions, sliced thin or chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juice of
3 tbsps Cotija cheese, grated plus extra for garnish
2 tbsps mayonnaise
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder (or to taste)
salt to taste

Brush the naked ears of corn with vegetable oil and grill over high heat until the kernels begin to char. Turn the cobs as each side is lightly charred until the cobs are done (about 10-16 minutes depending on your grill and other weather factors). When the corn is cooked, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cobs (please be careful!). *Alternative*: If you can’t or don’t want to grill the corn, you can cut the kernels off of the raw ears, then brown the kernels over high heat and some butter in a skillet or frying pan. Place the cooked corn kernels, jalapeño pepper, garlic, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, Cotija cheese, and mayonnaise in a large bowl. Mix everything together. Season with chipotle pepper powder and salt to taste. Garnish with extra cheese. Serves 4-8 as a side salad.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

mexico city style roasted corn with chipotle mayonnaise grilled corn and chilpotle soup lobster corn chowder corn prosciutto pizza

23 nibbles at “very lucky”

  1. meg says:

    Love the moose photos! This recipe looks delicious!

  2. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    I think today I am lucky for corn! We all often take for granted what it is we have each day. I would say you are lucky to have seen these moose-and what perfect moose they were. Honestly, I can’t believe how close these guys got. I have heard that moose can be quite dangerous if they have a place they want to be! Gorgeous photos. Banjo is too! Lucky you to have such a beautiful day!

  3. Pey-Lih says:

    I really enjoyed reading tonight’s blog….especially about the old versus the new you! You sound a lot more relaxed and happy with yourself, which tells me you’re happy with your life right now. GOOD FOR YOU! :-) You are right….life is short, better to trim away the b.s.! Amen to that. Oh, and thanks for the recipe!

  4. Becky says:

    Colorado is so beautiful. What a great shot of your friend and her pup!

  5. Geena says:

    I found your blog about 6 months ago, and I be been working my way through your oldest posts. I really enjoy your tips and adventures. Don’t you want to come to New Zealand to do some “tramping”?

  6. Kristin says:

    Love moose, and yes, those guys are way too close for comfort! My daughter is an awesome Erin. She would be great to forage with for mushrooms because her eagle eye would spot them, but she wouldn’t eat them (she’s awesome, but too picky!). I think the trimming of the bullshit is the best thing about getting older, and you expressed it so well. The recipe looks & sounds amazing!

  7. Erin Block says:

    The “current” no bullshit, uber-kind and thoughtful you, is such a wonderful person. I admire the way you look and tackle life… you’ve quickly become one of my heroes. The triple nut temptation was DELICIOUS! (Jeremy has good taste.)

    I feel very lucky indeed.

  8. Debbie says:

    What a wonderful day for you. Thank you for sharing!

    Tell Erin I LOVE her dog’s FACE! Those eyes!!! It is wonderful to hike with a “good dog.” We have a McNabb…best dog ever. She has amazing manners and is known by one and all as “WhatAGoodDog!”

  9. Thekitchwitch says:

    Whoa, that one moose got close! I love mexican street corn, so I’m definitely trying this!

  10. Robin says:

    wonderful photos and story!

  11. Eileen says:

    This is exactly the kind of thing I like to make with the fresh summer corn! So spicy and smoky and delicious.

  12. Becky says:

    Thanks for sharing the amazing moose pics! I LOVE moose and never get to see them (I live in BC yet it seems that we don’t get nearly as many as you do in Colorado!)

  13. jill says:

    It’s best to be REAL. That’s what makes people special. You are way up there. xo, j

  14. Kristen says:

    Made this last night and it was delicious. We aren’t a cilantro family (I know, I know!!), so I added fresh parsley and upped the green onions. This will be repeated weekly, for the rest of the summer for sure.

  15. July says:

    Someone stole your recipe and pictures and passed it off as a Vietnamese dessert

  16. Saturday 1.0 | LIQUID SUNSHINE says:

    […] it was that bad.If you are looking for something to read on this rainy Saturday, I would suggest this post (it has some great photos AND a recipe). I also read this about Minimalism this morning. The whole trailer renovation thing has also made […]

  17. Honeybee says:

    Mmh, that looks delicious! The kids adore sweetcorn, I a “reduced” (no chipotle, no jalapeno, cheese on the side…) version – *sigh* ;-) would to down a treat! I totally adore the pictures and stories from your hikes and runs, too. My husband and I used to go hiking quite a bit before we had children. Now it’s only every now and then but we enjoy it so much when we get the chance!

  18. Melissa says:

    I love every single thing about that paragraph you wrote. And I love YOU. Much much.

  19. jenyu says:

    meg – thanks!

    Abbe – yes, moose can be quite dangerous. They don’t have very good eyesight either, so if they feel threatened and start charging, it’s best not to be in their way! Corn is awesome. It’s one of my favorite parts of summer ;)

    Pey-Lih – thanks, and you’re welcome!

    Becky – Colorado IS beautiful, but I actually think there is beauty everywhere, we just need to see it. That said, Colorado sort of hits you over the head with the beautiful :)

    Geena – I’ve been to NZ three times! We tramped or mountaineered on all three trips and want to return. It is one of my favorite places on the planet <3

    Kristin - xxoo

    Erin - awww, you're one of my heroes :) And we are both very lucky people. MOUNTAIN RECLUSES UNITE! ;) xoxo

    Debbie - Banjo is a super sweet good boy and I'll be sure to tell Erin that you love his face. It is a very cute and expressive face!

    TKW - yay!

    Robin - thanks!

    Eileen - anything with summer corn is awesome in my book :)

    Becky - wow, I would imagine BC would have TONS of moose!?!

    jill - aww, love you! xo

    Kristen - hey, if it works and they loved it, then yeehaw!!

    July - thanks for the heads up. Not sure what I can really do, but I'll leave them a note.

    Honeybee - it's easy to modify the recipe to suit anyone's tastes :)

    Melissa - love you too!! xo

  20. JaneM says:

    You’ve hit a few of those deep potholes in your life but… that is just the way it is sometimes. You will be fine. And wait until you get into your 60’s, wooo-hooo, you will be truly liberated (take it from an old broad)! :D

  21. Mrs Ergül says:

    The mooses didn’t look so huge until the “too close for my comfort” photo! Too close for mine too ;-)

    Can’t agree more on not sulking with the unfortunate things that happened in our lives and moving on to embrace and the good and the better. Just met a kindred spirit who tipped me a recycling bag because the one I brought wasn’t enough to contain the things I have. I count all my blessings, big or small. And I know you do too.

    I love having corn in salads though i rarely do because one ear is too much for one salad. But ears of corns dedicated to one salad?! So gonna try it!

  22. Melora says:

    This salad drew raves from my husband. We had no green onions or chipotle, so I subbed in a bunch of radishes and pimenton dulce instead. I also used a LOT of cilantro because it was on its last legs – tabouleh-esque in the greens proportions. It was delightful and will be repeated for sure. Love the moose. My sister had one that spent many winter days on her patio in Jackson years ago – we called her Moosie-Poo, despite her enormousness.

  23. CoffeeGrounded says:

    This salad is a beauty! We have two birthdays coming up that usually are combined into one celebration. This would be lovely alongside some pork ribs and hot wings. Thanks!

    Jenzie, I love how you are rocking Life! I couldn’t agree with you more about nature. Living in this concrete jungle rattles my nerves to no end, but aging settles me back into my bones. There’s something about a simple walk, a visit with friends, digging in the gentle earth that help to round out Life’s rough edges. I was made even more aware as I awoke to see my brother celebrate his 65th birthday today.

    Those difficult things that muck up our daily lives simply have no control over our souls when we are caught up in being grateful.


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