Friday, July 31, 2009

Hot Weather Dinners

The last few days in the Pacific NW have been scorchers. Places like Seattle and Portland are experiencing 100 degrees plus while the rest of the nation seems to be enjoying mostly 75-90. Clearly there is a great big bug in the planetary punch cards because this is not the way things are supposed to run. Now would be a good time to investigate the fashionable (finally!) topic of climate change. However, I think the majority of my readers are up to speed on that one, and really I'd rather discuss the all important issue: dinner.

Making dinner when it is so hot out is not something most people want to contemplate. Not only do you not want to turn on that stove or oven, but the heat also suppresses appetite. Many solve this problem by heading for an air-conditioned restaurant. We tried that a few nights ago, and the result was an absolute herd of people with the same idea. Therefore, on a hot night, I prefer to find my own ways of coping with the food question.

The perfect solution is salad bar dinner. My mom used to do this all the time when I was growing up. On any hot day she would make things that would end up being cold by dinner time. Our house was quite comfortable in the morning and afternoon, but by evening it would be sweltering. Cold dinner served on the shaded porch was perfect.

All sorts of things might go on the menu. Dishes such as potato and broccoli salad with garlic vinaigrette, deviled eggs, sliced peaches with cinnamon, Greek salad with real feta and olives, coleslaw, and iced cucumber salad with dill were all common. She grew all the veggies in her massive garden, and harvesting was part of the fun. We (actually I should check with my brothers to see what they remember) loved these dinners because they were delicious and because they were a departure from the norm.

Did I mention that we all sat down to dinner together nearly every night? That was simply expected of every family member who was home, and we thought nothing of it. Of course you would sit down to dinner, otherwise you might not get any food. Lest this sound too sickeningly Rockwellian, I'm sure there was plenty of name calling, potty humor, and argument. Nevertheless, it was nice.

So I've made several salad suppers recently. They are not nearly as good as my mothers. Not all the produce comes from our garden, but I am inordinately pleased when I can add a handful of our own tomatoes or a few leaves of rainbow chard. If this heat continues, I may start to run out of ideas, but then we can just move over to the wonderful realm of sandwiches...

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