I can barely walk Luke the Wonder Dog in all this heat. We open the front door, only to be blasted backward with eyebrow-singeing heat waves. He has figured out how to walk in the shadows cast by buildings later in the afternoon, but the 11:30 walk is brutal. The sun is relentless and steadily broils the tops of our heads as we scurry around the clumps of blooming crepe myrtles, through a parking lot shimmering with heat, around the corner, through the sun-crisped weeds, trekking over the undulating brick sidewalk, and eventually pull ourselves back into the coolth of the house. The walk only lasts about 20 minutes. He lies panting on the chilly tile bathroom floor for half an hour, and I change out of my literal sweats. Again. Remind me in the dead of winter how much I enjoy summer, please.
Luckily, when I am barely strong enough to turn another page of my current mystery novel, I have a cool summer dinner strategy. I have a stash of farm-fresh vegetables, some good bread, with a couple of bottles of cheap white wine cooling merrily in the fridge. There are Popsicles in the freezer. I can check dinner off the Worry List – it can practically make itself. The trick is to acquire and actually use fresh vegetables. All too often I forget about the cucumber, and a week later I find a baggie of green goo in the bottom of the vegetable bin. It is a sad business when a cucumber oozes away.
Here is a list of summer vegetables and some staples I try to have on hand to relieve my heat prostration:
Onions (green, purple and Vidalia)
Tomatoes (heirloom, Roma, Campari, canned)
Zucchinis (this is summer after all, and folks will soon be piling these home-grown
beauties, anonymously, on your front porch, in the dead of the night!)
Basil, basil, basil
Anchovies (I’d rather not, thanks)
Bacon (because you can add bacon to just about anything and make something
And here are some lovely, cool and easy recipes. The Chez Panisse Ratatouille is listed in case you need to show off and don’t mind standing at the stove for a little while. We are having some business acquaintances over for dinner next week, so I think we will try to impress with that. But if it is too hot for me to abandon Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers with that nasty trip wire murder in Essex, I think the Little Observationist Gazpacho will fit the bill admirably. I might up the dessert ante a little bit, though, and slice some peaches over bowls of vanilla ice cream. Yumsters. I do love summer. Remind me again this winter…
We like this salad, but surprisingly, Mr. Friday (who is such a caper devotée) prefers it without the capers. You try it and let us know.
If you have ever longed to live a charmed life in London you should visit this highly entertaining blog: http://www.littleobservationist.com/ Ex-pat Stephanie travels, takes excellent envy-inducing photos, wines, dines and gets to preview the Royal Chelsea Flower Show among her many London adventures. It is one of my favorite blogs. This is a recipe she shared this week when her husband prepared Jorge’s Refreshing Summer Gazpacho:
Our super cool friends at Food52 are always looking for new and quick and tasty. We love this Fresh Hot Salsa with some warm tortilla chips and some cold beer:
It can’t get much easier or tastier than this Rachel Ray Tomato and Onion Salad:
The Smitten Kitchen even helps us combine dessert fruit with the main course, cutting down on the number of dishes to be washed and overall prep time, Chopped Vegetable, Watermelon and Feta Salad:
Slice and dice to impress with Chez Panisse Ratatouille:
“Summertime, oh, summertime, pattern of life indelible, the fade-proof lake, the woods unshatterable, the pasture with the sweetfern and the juniper forever and ever . . . the cottages with their innocent and tranquil design, their tiny docks with the flagpole and the American flag floating against the white clouds in the blue sky, the little paths over the roots of the trees leading from camp to camp. This was the American family at play, escaping the city heat.”
― E.B. White