Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Eating in the Heat
We've been having some really hot days recently - temps in the 30's with the humidex making it feel well over 40 (that's 90's and over 100 respectively in American.) This week we expect to hit 36 by Thurs with no relief in sight. For the first time in my life I am grateful for the air conditioning that sneaks in from the apartment vents below us- it doesn't do much in the rest of the house but if I shut the bedroom door it's at least bearable to sleep in at night.
To make matters worse we haven't seen rain in weeks either. Yesterday we were expected to get hit with some big thunder storms but they somehow skirted by us here in Toronto, hitting west, south and east of us but delivering only a smattering of raindrops here on the way by. My gardens are still surviving but the rainbarrel is dry and the containers on the roof have to be watered daily. I'll be hooking up the hose to the kitchen sink today and giving everything a good soaking before refilling the rainbarrel myself. I don't know if it's the lack of water but everything seems to be in a lull right now; the lettuce is done, the bush beans are slowing to a trickle but the climbing beans are just starting to flower. I don't have any cukes or summer squash yet and the tons of tomatoes are still still a ways from ripening- at this rate I'll be lucky to eat one before I leave for England next week!
The most noticeable effect of all this heat is on my appetite and I find I'm not very enthusiastic about preparing food either. When it's too hot to cook, too late for salad greens and too early for tomatoes, what do you make? Yesterday I went to the Sorauren Farmer's Market hoping for inspiration and came home with a loaf of olive bread, a cucumber, some fresh onions, a zucchini and a patty pan squash.
I'd never made cucumber gazpacho before but it seemed easy enough and I used what I had on hand to come up with a variation that was exactly perfect for this heat wave.
1 good size cucumber - I used a field cucumber and didn't bother to seed it but you can if the seeds are large.
1 green pepper, seeded - I picked a very small one from one of my container peppers
1 hot pepper seeded (I used a jalapeno)
1 glug of olive oil
splash of red wine vinegar (to taste- you could use lemon juice or balsamic too)
1 clove of garlic
handful of onion greens- I cut the tops off a fresh red onion- you could use spring onions as well
1 sprig of fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste.
Chop the veggies in chunks. Add everything to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth- I had to add about 1/2 cup of water to thin it slightly. Pour in bowls, and drizzle with good quality olive oil. (I also added a touch of brine from a jar of pickled hot peppers to mine because I like heat when I'm hot but the Russian is a bit of wimp- he doesn't like olives either so guess which bowl is mine!) Chill before serving.
Serve with a piece of dense bread to soak up the remainders and you have a perfect meal for a hot summer night! I wish I'd bought more cucumbers.