Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beating the Heat

STILL no baby. Every day we get closer to the induction, but I'd really prefer he was born naturally. Inductions are expensive, and silly me didn't check to see how much of it was covered by our medical plan. The heat must be getting to my head.

As I've mentioned, we don't have AC. So in general I try to keep the heat down in the apartment with cheap, natural methods. The biggest no-brainer there is turning off the lights when we're not in the room. And also sometimes when we are. The shades are usually drawn in the living room because that's our biggest vent, and the sunlight coming in is WARM. But even with the blinds closed there's enough light coming in to comfortably read by. So the lights in the apartment are usually out until about 5 or so, which also does wonders for our electric bill.

Another, more fun way I keep the heat down is by having a gorgeous garden. That might not seem right, but believe me, it is. If you have a porch garden, and water it in the morning before it gets too hot, the water evaporation has a lovely way of cooling the apartment naturally. In addition the shade that some of those plants can afford really helps. I'm not talking full sized tree shade, but some tomato plants grow in excess of 6 feet, and if you can get the RIGHT kind of vegetables, you have almost no need for a shade canopy by your patio table. Pole beans, climbing squash, and some pepper plants are perfect additions to tomatoes, and will cast enough shadow to keep at least part of your patio cool.

Which brings up another topic. Not cooking.

I would, at some point, like to start adding recipes for the things I cook to this blog. However, the heat has made it pretty hard to do, since to beat the heat I haven't been cooking. But that in and of itself is a pretty good topic, so let's address it.

Not cooking is a fabulous way to beat the heat of Summer. And I don't just mean going out to eat in an air conditioned restaurant and letting some poor sap slave over the stove for you. I mean preparing simple, fresh, and refreshing dishes in your home that would satisfy the average raw food enthusiast. I say this because, well, I don't do vegan. I love cheese too much.

Fresh Garden Caprese Chopped Salad:
Tomatoes: diced
Cucumber: diced
zucchini: diced
bell pepper: diced
Basil leaves: 1/2 inch long ribbons
Fresh mozzarella: shredded
romaine and iceberg lettuce
spinach leaves
if you like, you can also add some cold meat. Sometimes I cook a chicken breast or two the night before, around 11 or so after it gets cool enough to run the stove, and dice that into the salad. Sometimes I just use pepperoni and call it antipasti salad.
toss with either a light Italian dressing, or a vinaigrette.
I know this isn't really "Caprese" since that's only tomato, basil, and cheese, with olive oil and vinegar, but it IS a fabulous cold salad that has enough stuff in it to serve as a good meal. AND you can grow pretty much all of this yourself, at the same time.

I love growing Zucchini, but this year we don't have any. I got my usual one plant, but I didn't get my transplant in time. In general a household will not need more than one zucchini plant per growing season. Two if you really love zucchini. Zucchini is a notorious summer grower. The newer zucchini grower will buy a few of the inoculous and tiny looking seedling plants, maybe 4 or 5, and shortly find him-or-herself inundated with the long green fingers. They'll tell themselves that they'll find something to do with the 5 or 6 extra zucchini they've grown, and maybe they'll make zucchini bread or something. The next week when they look outside and realize they have 5 or 6 MORE extra zucchini they will have a moment of panic. Then they'll remember the neighbors, and will simply walk over there with some fresh produce. "Oh hey," they'll say, "I have some extra home-grown veggies, would you like some?"

A month into the growing season they will be tired of zucchinis. The neighbors will be tired of zucchinis. Zucchini bread will have given way to new and adventurous styles of stir-fry, strange jellies, and green versions of almost everything the un-educated zucchini grower knows how to cook.

I discovered our landlord has planted zucchini plants in the now-communal garden area near the pool. I am no longer sad about my lack of zucchini plant, as (true to first-time growing form) she has four plants.

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