07 July 2010

Salad is good for the complexion.

"Is there anything colder than ice?" - Me, to my sister, while about to order at the Dunkin Donut's drive-through.

Holy Moly Cow!
(to quote my 5 year old nephew.) It has been HOT these past 5 days. Hot and humid. I'm talking in the high 90s for both temperature and humidity; the air is like pea soup. This is the kind of heat where you sweat even during a cold shower. (That's Moxie in the photo at the top right: she's passed out on the floor in the hopes I may drop something but without the energy to be more active in her pursuit of food. Ever know a Lab not to actively beg for table scraps? Seriously, it was THAT hot!)

I know, I know-- all you folks who live in Louisiana, Alabama, Florida are saying "suck it up and get some A/C." But you're forgetting that this is MAINE! Aside from the fact that a lot of our houses are old and can't tolerate a ton of electrical appliances, I moved here because I like all 4 seasons, and I like them on the cool side. I mean, I don't even drink hot beverages! I like my tea and my coffee iced. I like my clothing dry and not sticking to me. It's one of the reasons I moved to Maine-- well, that and there are fewer people and more trees here. That combination makes me a much sweeter person than I was in Connecticut.

Anyhow, I digress: in the midst of this crazy heatwave, my husband and his mother had birthdays. So, as per usual, we did a joint birthday party-- my first event in the new house, so the pressure was on. We had a cookout because it's summer and it was the day after Independence Day and it seemed appropriate when I made the decision 10 days prior to the biggest heat wave in decades.

So yeah, what do you make for a cookout when it's "wicked freakin' hot" up here and we're all not used to it? The heat makes even me lose my appetite for food, and instead, start dreaming about IV fluids that have been chilled before administration. And though we are of tough New England stock, there is no reason to be stoic at times like these. My solution, then, was: SALADS!! Nothing says summer to me like cold salads. Bean salad, potato salad, pasta salad, cabbage salads-- whatever is in it, it just has to be flavourful, colourful, and above all: COLD! And to wash it all down? Sun-brewed iced tea! Preferably sipped whilst chilling in the kiddie pool. Ohhhh, yeah!

Since I am drinking it right now, shall we start with the Sun Tea? Yes? Very good, then:

Sun Tea
source: I have no idea but s/he should get a medal. Or at least a cupcake.
yield: 2 liters

12 tea bags of your choice (I highly recommend green tea for its healthy properties and light flavour)
2 liter glass jug with air-tight cover (I love this one-- from King Arthur Flour, of course)
Water to fill jug, preferably filtered

Drop your tea bags into the jug. Add the water. Put jug outside in a spot that gets good, direct sunlight. Leave for about 30 minutes-- more if you like stronger tea or plan on adding a fruity flavour to the final product, or if you want to eventually add lemonade to make an Arnold Palmer. (I think I left mine out for 2 hours while I was inside baking a cake. I know, I should probably have added gingko biloba to the tea, right?) Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the tea bags and then stir the tea briefly to ensure an even distribution of the tea's flavour. Add fruit if you desire or add to some lemonade, if that is your taste and times being what they are. Chill in the refrigerator and/or pour over ice when serving. Sip delightfully, preferably in your favourite shady spot with a good book.

Chickpea Salad
source: My husband and me!
yield: a lot (roughly 8-24 servings)

3 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 can green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths (or thereabouts)
1-2 red/orange/yellow bell peppers, chopped as you prefer
sugar snap peas, about as much as the palm of your hand, cut in halves or thirds
cherry/grape tomatoes (however much is aesthetically pleasing)
kalamata or black olives (optional)
8-16 oz. feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1-2 cans tuna fish in water, drained (optional)
cilantro to taste
salt & pepper to taste
balsamic vinaigrette, enough to get all the ingredients wet
olive oil

In a small bowl, add tuna fish and break up the pieces with a fork. Add just a drizzle of olive oil-- enough to moisten the tuna fish. Put in the refrigerator to chill while preparing vegetables. Put all the vegetables in a medium to large bowl. Add the cilantro, the cheese, and olives. Add salt & pepper, then the balsamic vinaigrette. Mix thoroughly. Add the chilled tuna fish to the vegetables. Mix gently. Put in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold as a side or as a main dish.

No comments:

Post a Comment