Paul Bunyan Wannabes

Yesterday Scott had a day off and we decided to be productive with that time and rent a sawzall with an extra long blade from our neighborhood hardware store and trim some trees. At least that’s what I thought we were doing. However, when I got outside I saw this.

“What are you doing?” I asked Scott. “Cutting down the tree in two sections.” Scott nonchalantly replied. “Really?!” I thought. We had talked about wanting to cut down some trees for some time now, but Scott never seemed to think that we could do it on our own and that we needed professional help—and I could see his point. “Oh, ok. I’ll hold your ladder.” I said, thinking that Scott was crazy, but at the same time admiring his brave, take charge attitude and rejoicing that we were going to reclaim our front yard from the wild.

So we went at it with full steam ahead. We cut down that tree and then Scott moved on to the next while I trimmed off the branches of the fallen tree and threw them into a pile. It was hard, sweaty work and the blade of our sawzall was the first to show it. It became so hot that the metal bent and warped into and “S” shape. Still, we plowed on cutting down our third tree. Since we only had one saw I had to use our long-handled snips to cut off branches that would normally be too big for it. Being my competitive, determined self I faced each branch with defiant resolve as I straddled it and place the handles of the snips on the inside of my knees and adducted with all of my might “grunting” like Maria Sharapova. Dead, brittle branches brought out my inner Lara Croft Tomb Raider. I came after them swinging the snips around my head as I galloped toward the branch, bringing the snips down yelling “hi-yaa!” as the branch snapped and shattered. I finished the deal with a “tough guy” shrug and looked menacingly around at the other branches as if daring them to challenge me.

Scott, meanwhile, was having a tougher time with the now possessed “S” curved sawzall. It vibrated terribly, seemingly going nowhere at all, and had a mean kick-back when the blade got caught in the wood that would jam his arm. On our fourth, and last, tree he’d had enough and tried to push and kick the tree the rest of the way over. When that didn’t work, I suggested tying a rope around the top and pulling while I pushed. Still no luck. Then Scott thought he’d tie the rope to his truck and pull the tree down with that. “Brilliant” I thought, that always works in the movies. Excited, we tied the rope to his car and I took pictures and cheered my man on.

The excitement was short lived. The rope snapped.

We tied it again, the rope snapped again in a different place. Disappointed, and knowing that Scott needed a break, I grabbed the sawzall and told the tree it’s time had come and I went at it. It hurt my arm and my hands and my wrist, but I bit my lip and tried harder. I dislike sissies and I didn’t intend to be one. The jiggling and snapping of my arm to and fro at the mercy of the psychotic will of the sawzall only made me angry as I gripped the beast tighter and forced it further into the tree. With my adrenaline waning, I stopped to rest with my thumb throbbing from a newly formed blister. Scott took over then, and with my pushing and him sawing we were finally able to topple that tree!

After we cut down that tree we decided to stop. So what if our yard was in shambles and it looked like a tornado had passed through?

We were hot, sweaty, sticky, covered with dirt and sawdust, exhausted, dehydrated, short on patience, and, just to top it off for good measure, a bee stung me. Yup, we’d had enough. After showering, speeding to McDonalds with our free smoothie coupons, and then guzzling the smoothies down in delicious silence punctuated with the occasional “Ahhh,” we started to feel better.

For supper that night I made a delicious, vegetarian meal that Scott declared was in the Top Five of Any Meal in Durham. For Scott to rank something vegetarian that high is a great compliment. I toasted tortilla shells in the oven so they’d become crisp like a cracker, spread on a slightly sweet and smoky black bean purée, and topped it with avocado slices, broiled tomatoes, black beans, and peach slices that had been tossed in a cumin-lime vinaigrette. Simple, fast, refreshing, and delish—sounds like a keeper to me! I hope you enjoy!

Avocado Salad on a Tortilla Spread with Black Bean Puree

While this is great as a meal, it can also be served as hors d’oeuvres. Also, depending on the tortilla used, I believe this could also be a vegan recipe. Finally, I think some thinly sliced red onion would taste and look great on this if you would like to add it--I didn't because a certain person doesn't like ANY raw onions.

Serves 2

2 whole wheat tortillas
nonstick spray (I used olive oil spray)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 medium-large onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice from 1/2 a lime or about 2 tablespoons
1 Tablespoon water
1 avocado, sliced
1 peach, sliced (You can substitute with a mango (very sweet) or pineapple (more tart) if peaches are not good.)
About 14 grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper
VINAIGRETTE adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) honey
1/2 Tablespoon toasted cumin seeds or around 1/3 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I did not have this b/c I didn't have any on hand, but I think it would be better with cilantro)
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.
While the oven preheats, sauté the onion in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown (this is where the sweetness comes from in the black bean paste). When the onions are almost done, add the garlic about 30 seconds before removing the pan from the heat. Put 2/3 of the black beans in a food processor with all of the onion and garlic, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (this gives the paste the "smoky" flavor), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 Tablespoons lime juice, and 1 Tablespoon water. Puree the mixture until a smooth paste forms.

Spray each sides of the tortilla with nonstick spray and lay flat on a cookie sheet. To prevent tortilla from bubbling (see picture below), try poking holes in the tortilla with the tines of a fork. Salt and pepper halved tomatoes and arrange skin-side down on the baking pan next to the tortillas. When oven is preheated, toast the tomatoes and tortillas for 10 minutes or until the tortillas are crisp and hard. I cook the tomatoes because we like them better this way but if you're a raw tomato lover you can certainly skip this step!

While the tortillas and tomatoes toast, make the vinaigrette. Combine in a bowl lime juice, vinegar, honey, cumin, cilantro and whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Peal and slice the peach and avocado* and place slices immediately into the vinaigrette so the avocado slices don't turn brown.

When the tortillas are cool enough to handle spread on your black bean paste.

See that big air bubble I got? Don't worry if you have this, your tortilla will just be all the lighter and more crispy for it!
See, you can hardly tell it was there.
Top with tomatoes, the rest of the beans, and the peach and avocado slices, straining the vinaigrette from them as you take them out of the bowl. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over it all for lots of flavor, but make sure you don't end up with too much vinaigrette on your tortillas as they'll turn soggy. Cut into slices and enjoy!

*First halve the avocado and remove the pit/seed. Then take a knife and slice through the fruit, but not through the skin, longways to get nice long slices. Then, take a spoon and carefully scoop the fruit out and separate the slices with you fingers.


  1. Lol! I laughed like crazy when I read your post. Sounded like something Heath and I have tried. :0

    YUM! I am so going to try the black bean stuff. :) Forgive me for my lack of recipe name...lol.

  2. Oh way, way too hard a day for me! AND a bee sting??? no way!!


  3. This post made us laugh! Mostly because about a month ago we decided we needed to trim a few trees around our house as well, so we got an estimate and it was way too much! We figured we could do the job ourselves, right? It took ALL day and at one point Jon had climbed up in a tree and was sawing away! Then we had to get rid of all those branches and had three cars full to haul away to the dump. I don't think Scott and Jon should quit their day jobs anytime soon to become tree trimmers :) We hope you are transitioning well to your new home, let us know when you are back in Sioux Falls!