12 July 2010

The heat is on

Rice Salad with Mango & Avocado. Combine cooked white rice with cubed mango, avocado, thinly sliced red onion, green onion, salt, pepper, and a vinaigrette made of olive oil and red wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar. Serve cold.

Growing up, I don't ever recall the heat of an Oklahoma summer dictating too much of my life. It's possible that it did, and I just don't remember such things because I was too caught up the joys of summer.

When I was in elementary school, I remember thinking how amazing it would be if we had a Slip 'n' Slide, but somehow I still had a ton of fun running the neighborhood with Teddy, Talia, and, sometimes, my older sister's friends. I spent my middle school summers hanging with my BFFs Jenny and Lisa. We camped in Jenny's back pasture, stuffed Cheez Balls in our mouths until we could no longer laugh and took a few middle-of-the-night walks to meet up with boys. In high school I put my swimsuit on and mowed the yard, went fishing with my boyfriend and took the kids I babysat to the pool. Life, I'd say, was pretty good, not to mention air conditioned.

The climate in the Northwest is generally mild, so complaining about the heat seems silly. There's not much humidity, and even when the days warm up, the nights typically cool everything back down. That's why it seems unreasonable to have central air installed in our 100-year-old home. So, we install window units in the bedrooms to run just while we sleep. And the rest of the day, we spend rotating from one level of our home to the next, searching for the coolest spot. Sometimes it's cooler outside than inside, and sometimes you simply can't get an ounce of relief.

Watermelon Lemonade: Combine one quarter of a medium watermelon, in chunks, with a half gallon of lemonade. Puree in a blender or directly in the serving pitcher with an immersion blender. Strain through a cheesecloth or sieve if you want the pulp removed. Serve over ice.

That's how I felt last week, when, for three days in a row, the temperature climbed above 90 degrees. Yes, I know. I feel ashamed of my Plains State roots, complaining about a summer day in the 90s. But the thing you don't know, and couldn't know unless you lived it, is that when the nights don't cool off enough to really drop the temperature in your house, it begins to get like an oven, just slowly rising hotter and hotter each day. This is fine if you dart off to sit in an air-conditioned office all day, but we're just here. At home, in the heat. When the thermometer inside your house reads 80 degrees at 7:30 a.m., it's going to be bad.

So, hot, and pregnant, I went about my days last week keeping the heat in mind with everything from the clothes I put on to the way I'd do my hair (or not, as it turns out when I don't blow dry it) to the meals I'd make.

We ate rice salads, quinoa salads and pasta salads for dinner. I made no-bake cookies for our afternoon snacks, and, looking for a way to finally finished off a huge watermelon, I made watermelon lemonade to slurp through a straw while I watched Jasper play in the kiddie pool.

I'm fairly certain we haven't seen the last of the heat, and I am sure to be even more pregnant when the next heat wave strikes. I'll put another ban on using the oven. My opinions about the usefulness of bras will change, and I may even have to pull out the swimsuit (heaven help us all). But if I can find a shady spot to drink some watermelon lemonade and fill the pool for the boy, things will all right, heat and all.


Christiane said...

Never underestimate the power of "crack" melon to soothe on a hot summer's day . . .

I'm going to make some this weekend!

The cook in her kitchen said...

It's delicious!