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14 July 2010

cooking in the heat

summer meal, together

Danny, Lu, and I sat at the table on our front porch, our faces hungering for the small breeze that blew through the trees. The day had left us sweltered. After weeks and months of grey clouds and 56°, we finally had some sun.

All around us, people were complaining. It's too hot. And it probably was — our faces were soaked in sweat, as were the backs of our hands when we wiped the sweat from our noses and cheeks. The fava bean plants in the garden drooped lower as the day progressed, the bean pods raised like arms in the air, pleading for a little relief. Just a few moments in the sun and our scalps started to sting with sunburn. Normally, I would have complained too.

However, the heat felt like it was baking that long, cold spring out of us. We drove to the beach, slathered ourselves with sunscreen, then watched Lu run toward the water without fear and a big grin on her face. Her little pigtails killed us. Afterwards, Lu splashed in her her pool underneath the cherry tree. Danny and I sat beside her, drinking iced tea, laughing. Later, we all shared blueberry yogurt popsicles. Lu ate the cold treat with such seriousness, contemplating each bite so entirely, that we were happy just watching her.

Then, we ate dinner.

Danny grilled halibut on the barbecue, along with kohlrabi and leeks he had marinated in ginger, tamarai, soy, and rice wine vinegar. I made my favorite salad of the moment: cubes of watermelon, slivers of lemon balm and mint, salty feta, and a lime vinaigrette. We ate a big green salad made of lettuce and arugula from our garden. We hadn't turned on the oven all day. There was a cold NA beer for Danny, ice water for me and Lu, plus a pile of books on the table for reading.

We piled food on the plates, hungry after a lovely afternoon together. I stood on my chair to take a photo, then I put away the blog and anything else to do with it. We said our thanks and dug our forks into the food.

I know that it's far more sweltering in much of the country than it is in Seattle. (We're back to the 70s here, and Danny's cooking at the stove as I write this.) What are your favorite dishes to make in the heat? How do you feed yourself when the thermometer bulges at the top?


At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Kate @ Savour Fare said...

After a very cold (for LA) and long spring, we've finally sprung into summer here. I could eat a BLT or a BAT every day in the hot weather, and the heat in the kitchen is minimal. Grilled sausages and cold leftover succotash is another simple favorite, and I've been on a gazpacho kick -- this weekend I made white almond garlic gazpacho with green grapes -- served it cold with a room temperature Spanish tortilla.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Lib Stewart said...

At home in the South(when I was much younger :-))we had "cold suppers" for most of the summer. Food was made in the cool of the morning for meals throughout the week. We had things like chicken salad, potato salad, slaw, congealed salads, pimento cheese spread, green salads, fruits (watermelon-with seeds :-)) and homemade ice creams and sherbert. Yum!

At 11:47 AM, Blogger Cove Girl said...

I usually have something that doesn't require a lot of energy to make, both physical & electric, like salad, or take-out. I do like me some corn on the cob though also. Simple & easy because I'm not usually hungry when it's hot outside.

I couldn't find it in my heart to complain about the heat last week because I had just returned from Washington DC, where the heat & humidity really were unbearable. I just wish I slept better in the heat, but that's about it.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger NicoleD said...

We've been grilling to keep the heat outside during this 90 something degree heatwave in Michigan. I also made a panzanella, mmmmm.

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Kari said...

We are in the midwest, and the heatwave of July is upon us. 107 today with the heat index. We often have a warm meal early in the day and find it satisfying to have what my kids call "snacky dinners" right now for our evening meal. Their favorite: a quinoa breakfast brownie, fresh fruit salad and some sprouted nuts or seeds. We even like to do yogurt parfaits and a boiled egg (cooked in advance) or a simple curried meat salad. Good stuff in the heat and allows us to slip off to dream land sans-sweat.

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Raw bar! Clams and oysters, on ice. A chewy bread, a runny cheese, a salad made with whatever's ready in the garden.

And beer. Always beer.d

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Alessa said...

We've been having 95 to 100° for the last week, which is really, really hot for Germany. I ate a lot of watermelon and for supper I made different kinds of pasta salad. I make up a double batch of pasta and keep half of it in the fridge for the next day. The staples I usually put into the salad are diced tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers and spring onions. Depending on what else I have in the fridge or the pantry, I add feta chees, corn, black olives, dried tomatoes, green asparagus, little pieces of sausage or chicken breast, leftover vegetables... anything really. Drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some salt, fresh ground pepper and herbs like thyme or oregano... it's really yummy. :-)

I've also made Gazpacho (with cucumber, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, white bread, a little water and a little vinegar, put into a blender and seasoned to taste) and it's a very quick and summery meal.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Best Wishes, Marie said...

amazing simple food lend themselves to the heat. almost anything, chopped and drizzled with a little olive oil.

and the beverages, juice cut with a little sparkling water and some fresh herb spigs. oh yum.

i just ordered you book off of can't wait to take it on vacation with me !!

william sonoma grilling cookbook giveaway. spread the word, please.

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Chrystal said...

Anything cooked on the grill with a potato salad, and cold watermelon.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger cdrushin said...

Omelets and chicken salad or fruit salad are my normal too hot to bother with cooking meals. Also cold marinated veggies.Hot weather also just begs one to eat homemade icecream and fruit juice popsicles.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Banannas said...

I tend to eat a lot of BLTs and veggie dips. Well-chilled watermelon and Asian pears are also staples!

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Pam said...

My favorite summer breakfast/lunch/supper is a cold pasta fruit salad. I'm not gluten free so I can eat it but it's pasta (the twirly kind), a tub of yogurt, and essentially whatever fruit you want to put in (they suggest apples, canned mandarins, banana, grapes & some frozen orange juice). I try different variations (the only one I didn't like involved key lime yogurt - but it was still edible!). It makes a huge batch & keeps extremely well in the fridge (as in a good week!) I also eat a lot of "made up" salads - right now, I'm eating spinach, chicken, a plum, a nectarine, cheese, croutons & a raspberry vinaigrette dressing for supper.

Oh! I also love to use the crockpot for summer meals! No heat in the apartment, it's ready when I'm done work, we're all good!

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Lucie said...

An oldie, but a goodie - Greek salad with ripe tomatoes, cold cucumbers, salty feta and a dressing made with a splash of juice from Rick's garlic pickles and lemon juice. Maybe some fresh herbs, if I have them. Mmmm!

At 7:20 PM, Blogger H.Peter said...

Kohlrabi. I love it. Not so common here in North America.

Bacon, Tomato and Avocado Sandwich on GF Italian Flatbread. My favorite summer sandwich.

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please join me in celebrating the HOT that we call weather here in Phoenix, AZ. Shauna, I am so happy you finally got some sun. Let me know when you run low in sun cuz we have lots of that down here. Today was a wonderful 112 degrees!!! YAY!!! Wanna come down and BBQ with us? Enjoy the rest of your week Shauna and Family!! Jennifer Ketterer

At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our ethnic roots show throw at mealtime, heat included!
Everything we cook is stovetop, from dessert to bread. Kababs, rice with veges, pita, and falafel- all amazing as leftovers, hot or cold. But illasi is our favorite- a mango yogurt smoothie with agave put in the food processor (also makes amazing pops).
I also hear the raw-food craze is awesome in this heat. Who can argue with no cooking?!

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Usually a nice assortment of antipasto-salami, meats, cheeses, breads/crackers, etc. Sometimes a batch of carnitas pulled from the freezer, thawed, barely heated, then served atop corn tortillas, with salsa, veggies, etc. Makes me happy for that day I spent cooking carnitas, with the oven and/or stove on for hours. It pays off!

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Lauren Denneson said...

Without a doubt, one of my favorite hot-weather meals is a Greek salad. This is how you do it the right way: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano and freshly grated black pepper. Then, you toss in a few kalamata olives with pits. In my experience in Greece, the feta is served as a brick on the side and you slice a hunk off for your salad and break it up as you go.

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous marcella said...

Big salads - greek salad, taco salad, chinese chicken salad, grilled veggie salad with blue cheese on it. We don't get much HOT here, but the days we do I don't even like to stand over a hot grill. Fortunately the hot days match the awesome summer produce days so there's lots to work with.

At 5:44 AM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

We've been eating a lot of simple salads at our house too...I'm happy with a giant pile of slaw in a tart vinaigrette when the heat is sweltering - my current fave is a green cabbage slaw with lemon/anchovy/dijon vinaigrette with some shavings of aged gouda and toasted slivered almonds. I could eat that every day this time of year.

Like everyone else, we're doing our best to keep the heat outside, and grilling meat and veggies out there.

At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Amy (Minimally Invasive) said...

Since it first warmed up on the east coast, I've been making a lot of Vietnamese rice noodle salads with whatever vegetables and grilled meats we have in the fridge. It's a beautiful thing, really.

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Sho said...


Summer is when we have our taco nights. I put everything out on the table, and it is make-your-own! We also eat a lot of cottage cheese in the summer. It goes great with fruit salad. I love marinated cucumbers with onions. Anything that I can make on the stovetop in the morning and eat cold for dinner is great. Deviled eggs and meatballs are good examples. Quinoa salad with lima beans.

I have heard that some people use the slow cooker on the porch in the summer. I guess they have an outdoor outlet and a way of keeping the animals from getting to it....maybe a screened porch.

Take care,


At 8:33 AM, Blogger Nimble said...

I love my slo-cooker. That's what I do the meat in. And then fruit and salad or just quick things on the stove top. My favorite thing lately is to microwave corn on the cob in its husk -- way less time and energy than boiling the big pot of water.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger The Blushing Bride said...

It has been lovely in Portland, and feeling grateful for the sun that's finally ripening our tomatoes, and grateful to finally feel good after being gluten free for two weeks, I made a warm lentil salad last night that was really tasty. I imagined I was making a pasta salad, mixed up a red wine vinaigrette with fresh herbs and ground pepper and a touch of agave nectar, then chopped carrots, onions, green olives and basil and added the warm cooked lentils. It was very satisfying, and I imagined having it for breakfast too with a poached egg on top. Except this morning I think I will make your blueberry polenta pancakes with the fresh blueberries we picked this weekend.
Thanks for existing, gluten-free girl and chef!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Annie Speicher said...


Also, I had broccoli and kohlrabi from my CSA that I refused to turn the oven on to roast, so I made a slaw. I never liked slaw, but it'll do when it's hot.

And marinated cucumbers are excellent and easy.

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous samcarter said...

We don't own a grill, unless you count the fire pit out back with a repurposed grill from an old Weber grill that came with the house. We rarely fire it up.

I use my crock pot. We're having meatloaf tonight, courtesy of the crockpot; we've had cakes baked in the crockpot and homemade pasta sauce simmered all day in it.

My guys do not like salads, or i'd make salads for dinner. Alas, they like their old fashioned food.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Family style caprese! Chop it all up, throw it in a bowl, let is macerate a couple of hours on the counter, then dig in! If we are really hungry we will add cooked pasta to it. It is more like a really chunky gazpacho. Some times we will just have a cheese and fruit plate. other times, hummus with chips or crackers, guacamole with vegies. We don't work in hard labor so we tend not to eat heavy at night, saving our meat for lunch when we really need it. It is hot here in Texas. sometimes we just eat ice cream for supper and not worry about anything else. Not to often though.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Deliciously Organic said...

What a lovely post! When your daughter is older this blog will be such a treasure for her.

The air force has always sent us to hot and flat locations so long hot summers have always been a norm for me. I make lots of salads and let my husband grill the meat when he comes home. We also make lots of mojitos, margaritas, and popsicles. For the popsicles, I let the kids pick the fruits, we juice, and then pour and freeze.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Pencildancers said...

Tons of salads. As I write today it was cooler here 90 degrees. We do BLT with basil too. I tried the basil for the first time last week. Amazing little spark to the sandwich.


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