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Hot Fun In The Summertime
I lived in central Florida for fifteen long, hot years. This northern girl literally wilted on the vine there. I just could not adapt to the heat. My biggest complaint was that for some reason Florida was no longer regarded as a tropical climate, at least not when it came to business clothing. Whereas previously, a loose cotton or linen guayabera was the obvious and acceptable choice for the blistering weather, nowadays it could be a hundred degrees outside and yet everyone swelters in a suit. I donít get it. Who is making these rules?
Mealtimes tend to have lots of rules, too. Growing up, mealtime was exactly the same at my house, summer or winter. Other than the occasional barbecued hamburger, my Mother produced the same meals day in and day out all year long. 98 degrees, oven on, burners flaming and no air conditioning, it didnít matter. As much as I love to cook, Iím no longer a slave to that line of thinking. When the weather is tropical, so are my clothes and so are my meals. I say, lighten up! Try out these summer meal ideas and see how comfortable the heat can be!
Even if your family demands a hot meal, try incorporating some cold items into the menu. Pasta is still a great option; but make it with a fresh sauce instead of one that simmers all day long. Blanch your vegetables early in the morning (or do extras one day) then marinate and serve cold with a grilled entree. Or roast two chickens, and save one to eat cold the next evening.
Lighten up your sauces - think salsa instead. No flour, no cream, just chopped veggies or fruit to top a grilled chicken breast or broiled fish fillet. If you must use your oven, make it do double duty. Roast your vegetables along with your meat.
Be adventurous and experiment with tropical fruit added to a conventional fruit salad. Add a yummy warm fruit muffin or biscuit (you donít have to bake, let Very Vera do it for you) and an assortment of cheeses. Your family may be happy without a heavy meat entree for a change. The key here is a happy mama. If you serve it up with a smile, chances are it will be eaten with a smile!
Potato and Cherry Tomato Salad (4-6)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Coarse black pepper to taste
2 pounds small white potatoes, scrubbed
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
6 bail leaves, torn into small pieces
Combine oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a salad bowl and set aside.
Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water and cook until knife is easily inserted. Drain, cool to room temperature and cut them into small wedges or slices. Toss them into the salad bowl along with the cherry tomatoes and basil. Allow to marinate at room temperature several hours before serving.
*To keep your cool, cook potatoes early in day and refrigerate until ready to use.
About the Author
Susan Ely is the editor of The Last Bite newsletter, which has been written up in Entrepreneur Magazine. She is a free lance writer, and a chef.
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