Well, the hellish hot heat has returned with a slavering, evil-eyed vengeance and that means two very important things: 1) salad, and 2) cold drinks. (It means much more than this, of course, such as: I hate summer. I am confronted again with the climatological conundrum of winter vs. summer, i.e., you can keep putting on more clothes if you’re cold but at some point, even if you’re about to boil, you can no longer take clothes off.)
A mixed bag of facts relating to the above: The irony of more daylight accompanied by the fact that it’s often too hot to safely go outside, or at least too hot to comfortably sit on the deck and eat dinner. I’ve got some weddings to attend next month, which means pretty dresses and lady shoes, but my feet are noticeably paler than my legs because I don’t wear lady shoes when I’m gadding about town. I wish I liked ice cream better. I’m soon going to take my cat Columbo to get all his fur save that on his head and paws shaved off and he’s going to suffer less but he’s going to look like a total idiot. I’m growing my own kale.
But right now, what’s important is salad (especially if it contains kale) and cold drinks. I eat salad every day anyway but when it’s too hot to boil water for tea, never mind cook, it becomes the object of all my devotion and my primary relationship; my north, my south, my east, my west; the Regis to my Kathy; the way Kanye needs Jesus–all this is how I need salad.
Salad is a versatile little beastie, it is, but what’s most important is that it needn’t be cooked and that it contain lots of vegetables, especially greens. I tend to go for the fully loaded salad, i.e., on top of the greens, every veggie I have on hand (beets, radishes, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, green onions, celery, olives, avocado, etc), berries such as blueberries or sliced strawberries, and some kind of protein such as smoked or herbed tofu.
But, my friends, the dressing is as important as the greens. I do sometimes skip dressing entirely or just sprinkle some lemon or lime juice on top, but that’s usually when the salad is accompanying some larger, heavier entrée. The thing about dressing…for a long time, I tended to skip it because all the recipes I had called for approximately one gallon of oil per tsp of herb or spice. I’d make this bloody huge plant-based juggernaut of goodness and then strangle it with a bunch of fat almost completely lacking in nutritional value. I began to wonder what the hell I thought I was doing.
It’s taken awhile but I’ve built up a substantial but still growing cache of oil-free dressings that rock my world. Here’s one of my favourites, and it’s infinitely easier than pie:
Miso Vinaigrette from Christina Waltermyer’s The Natural Vegan Kitchen
1/3 cup shiro miso
1/3 cup water
1/4 rice vinegar
2 tbsp minced chives
-Blend the first three then stir in the chives. That is all. Yum.
Now, for the cold drinks. I met a transplanted Irishwoman yesterday; we bonded over growing up in cold rainy places and then being forced, as adults, to deal all of a sudden with unremitting sunshine and heat. I recommended keeping cold tea in the fridge all day, an idea I got from my bestie Catastrophizer (who actually grew up here but also dies the death every time the thermometer starts its devilish journey towards the 50s (Celsius)). She keeps good green tea in the fridge all day and it’s extremely refreshing. But a few days ago, I discovered a cold tea that everyone, but maybe especially east coasters and Brits, will really be able to get behind:
Colleen’s Cold Orange Pekoe
Place one teabag of your cheapest orange pekoe in a mason jar. Fill half full with cold or room temp water. Add a few ice cubes. Let it steep in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Remove tea bag and fill mason jar to top with cold milk of choice. Damn, that’s fine!
Seriously, this tea has been keeping me conscious and sane. And also full of pity for people who don’t drink tea.
But there is iced coffee, which is also a lovely thing indeed. And I’ve just learned this very day that it’s especially fine when it’s an iced soy latte made with chocolate soy milk instead of regular. I tell you, it is things like this and not the invention of the wheel or fire or peanut butter that proves that humans have advanced thinking capabilities. Actually, maybe it is the peanut butter. But the iced chocolate latte is a close second.