Thursday, July 5, 2012

What do I Eat When it's 100 Degrees Farenheit?

It doesn't feel like I've eaten much this past week, certainly not enough to warrant writing about. The last actual meal I made was on Tuesday: beef stew alongside a new loaf of bread - and a whole quart of it is still tucked into the fridge. The thought of it re-heating on the stove makes me sweat a little. And it was good too - worth the heating of the kitchen to reduce sinewy stew meat (nearly two years old, from the deep freeze) to soft, silky beefiness. Finally I made good use of the pontack sauce, judiciously adding a few tablespoons after the beef browned and the heat evaporated the accumulated juices. I was happy to note that beef and elderberries get along extremely well together, and secretly, I patted myself on the back at the deliciousness that occurred with next to no help from me.


Yesterday was the 4th of July, historically one of my favorite holidays in part because there are no expectations for it other than to eat (and make cool desserts). Just 8 days at the start of July separate the birthdays of my Husband and Kiddo, and in-between these cake-events, I made a pan of lime bars. Part of my melancholy today has to be due to the sugar consumption I have made every excuse for indulging in lately. I returned to my old ways (gone since last year!) completely today when instead of greeting the morning gently with a glass of water and then a relatively nutritious fruit smoothie, I welcomed it voraciously with a fat slice of chocolate layer cake eaten like a madman over the sink. I only wish I were exaggerating.

Sugar is a demon for me, the more I eat it the more I feel like a total addict - licking the bowls of frosting clean with a spatula and depositing it directly into my mouth. To my defense, I made the frosting from powdered sugar I had made in my Vitamix. I'd challenge anyone to stop eating chocolate frosting that has a slight crunch to it; it's like frosting made with malted milk powder without the too sweet, malty aftertaste. It makes your teeth hurt, but not so much that you can stop yourself from shoveling it in. It's frosting that makes you know you have a problem.

4th of July breakfast.

Yesterday I made waffles with white flour, blueberries and ample amount of maple syrup adorning them. They weren't even sourdough, just plain, quick, all-American waffles. I guess I really am making every excuse to eat sweets these first days of July, and the least of them is that it is just too dang hot to eat much more than mouthfuls of sugar. After breakfast, I didn't eat again until we grilled out late in the afternoon.

I have also made a few batches of ice cream this week, using Jeni's Splendid method I first read about last year when she was profiled in Saveur. Recently I found her aptly splendid ice creams book at the library, and I really have never had finer vanilla ice cream. July's heat has me oogling the salted caramel, the goat cheese with sour roasted cherries, the olive oil with salted pumpkin seed... Oh, how easy it is for me to give in to sugar addiction! So many I'd love to try, and so few days left in my sugar binge. I just keep telling myself that it's only a few days until the next birthday, and then I will have no more excuse to make and eat desserts. I will go back to my austere dining habits and behave myself. But I will keep Jeni's website in my browser so I can visually indulge.

mushroom pate

But there were actually meals of a non-sugar nature. They consisted of a few bites of my potato salad, augmented with red pepper and plenty of hard cooked egg. (When it's hot, not much tastes better than a little bowl of potato salad for supper. I do believe that's my Gram talking right there.) There were several meals of thick slices of bread, spread with curried mushroom "pate". I got that recipe idea from the back of one of my co-op newsletters, and I don't think there is much I could do to ruin it no matter the substitutions I make. It isn't really very pretty, but my, it sure is tasty. Especially when it's cold from the fridge after a day or two of lingering. (Click the photo above for the recipe.)


I ate taco(s) today courtesy of my best friend, but ate too many of the accompanying salsas with chips and could only manage to eat one of the two after driving around in my a/c-less car for the morning. It was a lunch I will remember always, because we are both budget minded right now, and this 10$ spent may have well as been 75$ to me especially. But I have the most gracious friends who look out for me and pick me up when I need it the most. I could seriously cry thinking about this taco, but instead I blinked it back and remembered this peanut-arbol chile salsa I've made a couple of times. Also from Saveur a while back, that salsa will be made as repayment, a garnish for my own tacos that I'll invite my friends to eat. And it makes my own tacos every bit as good as eating out tacos, but sometimes it's the eating out that you need for inspiration and encouragement.

So maybe the heat is getting to me. I am so thankful for the air conditioning in my house, that its 1970's shell is still pounding away and hasn't decided to give up the ghost. For all of my Mexican roots, I must be northern in my blood much deeper since I wilt fast in heat and grow grumpy, unhungry, and solemn. I have to work hard right now to look for the happy things, though they are most definitely there. I hear all over town that the heat should break tomorrow by 10 p.m., and then I will bake cupcakes with pirate flags, altering my favorite Dorie Greenspan chocolate cake with billowy, marshmallowy frosting to please some 6-year-olds as much as to please myself, a day or two left in my sugary early July. And then, after I recover from all the sugar, I'll venture back outside and enjoy some more hospitably warm days, hopefully back in the double digits.

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