Baby, It’s Hot Outside

The combination of heat and burgeoning garden have made cooking pretty simple lately. I make the rounds, picking what needs it, and that’s what we eat, with as little actual cooking as possible. But I still feel motivated to mix it up a little, since it definitely makes the family happier and more engaged with dinner; heat saps appetites and the boy is obsessed with catching butterflies so he’ll dash from the table if he sees one out the window.

The humidity and temperature are creeping up again, and in a day or two we’ll be back at full swelter. I took maximum advantage of the cooler spell to do a bunch of outdoor chores, and now I’m back inside with the A/C on 77 (and on the economy setting) in my little office, working on the next article. Once it’s done, though, I have to clean out the wood shop, which is going to be an orgy of filthy misery. (It’s important that you all understand just how horribly hard it is to be me).

To begin, I took a cucumber, four small tomatoes (they’re coming in early), nasturtium leaves, a big purslane plant, and half a zucchini (every meal includes zucchini in some form or another; I’ve been picking them small to avoid overload) and blended them all smooth with a bit of Brother Victor’s sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt. I put the blender jar in the fridge for an hour to chill, then blasted it one more time before serving.

Gazpacho really is a brilliant invention; the relatively low profile of the tomatoes and the lack of peppers in this mix did nothing to diminish the result: a supremely refreshing and ridiculously healthy first course.

Next up, some good ground beef mixed thoroughly with lots of minced green onion tops and a big spoonful of azuki bean miso, then formed into brochettes. There was some tomato purée left in the fridge, and a bit of heavy cream, so I combined them with some mustard and reduced the mixture to a viscous thickness. I sliced the rest of the zucchini into rounds, and toasted some sprouted wheat tortillas on the stove to soften them, and we headed out onto the porch.

I had lit the shichirin about half an hour earlier, so it was incandescently hot. We grilled zucchini, then the skewers, and made little wraps with them and sauce. Not particularly ornate or complex, but extremely tasty. The kitchen stayed cool and cleanup was a breeze. It’s hard to ask for more in this weather.

4 comments to Baby, It’s Hot Outside

  • Zoomie

    Green pepper in gazpacho is overrated, anyway. Yours sounds perfect.

  • Brooke

    Your brilliance knows no bounds. Ground beef on a stick, hell yeah.

  • Heather

    We've been using the pressure cooker to make rice and just eating shit on top of rice. Can't stand that hot, hot heat.

    I love that frothy, green goodness in a cool glass. Tall drink of water, indeed.

  • peter

    Zoomie: I don't like green peppers; I like red ones.

    Brooke: My upcoming memoir is coincidentally titled "Unbound Brilliance."

    Blanche: You probably would have poured rum in yours when you thought nobody was looking.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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