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by Liren Baker

Liren Baker is the voice behind the blog Kitchen Confidante, where she shares taste and inspiration in the kitchen. Inspired by the beauty of food, what it represents, what it invokes, and what we can create out of it, she shares recipes and images that remind her of her heritage, her childhood in New York, and the vibrant culinary culture she has learned to embrace in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she currently lives.

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  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • When the warm winds begin to blow and the green hills of Northern California are at their most brilliant, I find the outdoors irresistible. Neighbors finally emerge from their homes, and on these bluebird mornings, I love seeing the cyclists pedaling down the hilly roads, the runners pounding the pavement. Everyone seems to be training for something around here.

    For me, I also try to find every excuse possible to be outside, which can be a little challenging when you love to spend time in the kitchen. So I bring the outdoors in by focusing on fresh and beautiful ingredients, and pare down my cooking style for less fussing over and more time enjoying my food, preferably al fresco.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Salads grace every meal at my house, and I am a firm believer that if you know a good, basic recipe, you can always create more out of it from the season's freshest ingredients. Summer salads, for me, utilize a good base of avocado, tomato, red onion, herbs such as cilantro, and a healthy squeeze of lime. Once you have this, you can riff through the whole summer with whatever catches your eye at the market. For me, today, that means mango.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • In this salad, I pair the gorgeously hued mango with inky black beans—not only is this summer salad colorful, it is incredibly good for you. Full of rich nutrients and an excellent source of protein, it makes a perfect pairing for whatever else may be gracing your dinner table. I love it with a simple grilled chicken, and it also works beautifully with fish or a pork chop. But the best part of it all: having more time to lounge at the patio table and enjoy the beauty that summer has to offer.
  • Photo Credit: Liren Baker
  • Mango & Black Bean Salad

    Serves 4

    It doesn't get any easier than this. Feel like changing it up? Go for it! Add some plump corn kernels, freshly minced mint, or whatever colorful veggie strikes your fancy. Make the most of whatever is fresh this season.


    1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
    2 mangoes, peeled and diced
    1-2 ripe avocados, diced
    1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced
    1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
    handful cilantro, finely chopped
    1/2 jalapeno, minced
    1 lime, juiced
    salt & pepper to taste


    Combine ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Toss and enjoy!

    - Liren
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