Dang, y’all. It’s hot. Yesterday was 103, with 75% humidity. It’s supposed to be the same today. mumble mumble high pressure system mumble Dante’s inferno I told y’all I’d whine about the heat back in the January when I was all smug about it being 65 and stuff. It’s early this year. Normally it doesn’t get like this until August. I’m sure it’s either Geo Bush’s fault or maybe Obama’s or quite possibly BP’s or maybe the Tea Party’s and Sarah Palin depending on who you ask. I blame God because He’s the one who controls the weather, last time I checked. Only can you call it blame when you’re a Presbyterian Reformist and think God has a plan for everything even the hot weather and Lily’s weird skin thing? Yeah sure, it’s blame but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a very good reason (even though as a lowly rag of a human I can’t see it. A hot rag, in the sun, sweltering and probably souring and making the laundry smell funny)
Which, speaking of funky laundry, #4 came home from camp with a big ol’ bag full of seriously soured laundry. I guess that’s what camp is for. Also a few unrecognized items, a shirt that wasn’t his, missing socks and shorts, and I am fairly sure some other mother went through her son’s clothes and wondered where those shorts/socks/towels came from. It is why you send them to camp with cheap, worn out stuff. It is also why God invented bleach, to deal with camp clothes.
CJ is looking for a vehicle. Craiglist, people. I know there are folks there that sell access to assorted body parts, but there are also people who sell items like used trucks for $1000, which is what we’re looking for. And found several. Now to follow up on them. That’s his job, only he hates talking to answering machines so I am doing the talking. Which is totally his job but I am as anxious for him to have a vehicle as he is, maybe even more. So I am willing. Anyway, he’s found 4 possibilities, just needs to follow up on them. 2 of them are quite close by, too. One of them needs some work but is the same thing as the dead truck in the backyard, and the work it needs can be done with parts from the dead truck (the dead part of the truck is not related to the stuff that needs doing on the other one).
So, I am avoiding the heat. I was outside at 6 am setting up to water the gardens, because after 8 the sun is RIGHT THERE on top of everything making us all unhappy with the state of things except that it is also making tomatoes ripe which is a Very Good Thing…oh yea, had the first one yesterday on a sandwich and there really isn’t anything like a nicely ripened fresh from the garden tomato. Unless it’s that first basket of snow peas in March, or the first watermelon in July…or the still lovely roses on the table at Christmas
Terry, alas, cannot avoid the heat. It’s a textile finishing mill he works in, that averages 115-120 degrees and 100% humidity in the summer. Brutal conditions, even with fans everywhere and coolers of gatorade for the staff. He comes home soaked and smelly, jumps in the pool and drinks a jug of cold water. The other day he sighed and said he wished he had a normal job. I wish he did, too.
Summer, of course, with it’s abundance of fresh vegs and heat, means Salads. It’s too hot for green salads, by this time the greens are bitter and bolting, but there’s other lovely things you can make with the beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers and beans and an eggplant or twon and all those wonderful peppers that come on like gangbusters this time of year. My all time favorite is Panzenella, which I’ve posted before but am putting up again because it’s SUMMER and what’s better than that?
A loaf of Italian or French bread, cut or torn into bite sized bits
some olive oil
salt and pepper
Toss the bread bits with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so until they start to brown and are nice and dry.
6 cups assorted chopped vegetables (tomatoes, squash, mild Vidalia onions, green and red peppers, cucumbers, roasted corn cut off the cob, carrots, celery, whatever…6 cups worth chopped)
a cup or so of pearl fresh mozzerella or crumbled feta
a can of small olives or sliced olives or Kalamata olives pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Balsamic or rice vinegar
salt and pepper
a spoonful of sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley, a mix of all of them)
mix together really well then mix into the chopped vegs/cheese/etc in a GREAT BIG BOWL
Right before serving, mix the toasted bread in with the vegs and stir well so the bread kind of soaks up the dressing, but serve it before the bread gets soggy.
now, some panzenella recipes have you soaking the bread in water and squeezing it out before mixing up. Personally I think this is kind of gross and I prefer the crunch of the toasted bits.
You can also add seeds to this like sunflower or pumpkin.
It’s all about technique, not about ingredients, other than the bread, of course. The vegs can just be whatever you dig out of the fridge. When we have.
Another favorite recipe is chicken broth. Now, I love a roasted chicken. I think I could eat it twice a week and be happy. I also love to cook with chicken broth, whenever a recipe has a grain in it like rice or quinoa, chicken broth is called for instead of water. However, there are salt issues with store-bought broth. Some of it has MSG, almost all of it has salt to a degree that I can’t use it. SO! I make my own and it’s pitifully easy. This broth recipe is good for chicken, beef, pork, whatever bones you happen to have. I make it and keep it in the freezer. Here’s how you do it:
bones (chicken, beef, pork) with a bit of meat attached. Ok when you roast a whole chicken or cook legs and take the meat off, or cook a chuck roast with a bone in it, or pork chops with bones…whatever. Just take the bones after you’ve cut the meat off and put them on a roasting pan. Toss them with a little bit of oil and whatever seasoning you like (I like to use Mrs Dash because it’s salt free), then roast at 400 degrees for about an hour until the bones are good and brown. Then put them in a crock pot with some vegetables- I use an onion, a couple of carrots, some garlic and a stem or two of fresh herbs and cover with water. I kind of chunk up the veg, nothing fancy, and I don’t even bother to skin the onions or peel the carrots. Put the crock pot on low, and let simmer overnight and until whenever you can get to it the next day. Scoop out the stuff, skim off the fat, and let it cool until it’s easy to handle. Put into containers (ziploc bags, cartons, whatever) and freeze. you’ll get a nice brown broth that it rich and full flavored without any chemically-whatever msg/sodium blah blah preservative mess. I measure mine to 4 cup bags because that’s what I generally use when I’m cooking. Plus I have a 1 gallon crock pot so I know how much I’ll get each time.
I use it in soups, when I’m cooking grains, anything that generally calls for water but is a savory dish that is improved by using broth.