7.04.2015

too hot to cook

store-bought heirloom tomatoes*

As a news brief for folks just back from vacation, at home but busy celebrating naked bike rides, legal weed, and Supreme-Court-sanctioned gay marriage, or for those outside playing with fireworks on the slip and slide while eating burgers and potato salad, in fact much of the Northern hemisphere, not just Portland, is currently experiencing a heat wave in early summer, from the entire Western U.S. to Europe to East Siberia. That's right, Siberia.

In my almost-eight years in Portland, I've learned that Summer here typically teases with a weekend heat spike in May, flies south for the whole month of June when it's usually gray, cool (60s), and drizzly, and then actually shows up for its regular gig on July 5th. But not this year.

Oregon's mountain snowpack has already melted off, a month earlier than usual. Oregon and Washington are both under drought conditions (keep in mind that the bulk of both states are not lush temperate rainforests but high deserts in rain shadows east of the Cascades), though not in quite as bad shape as California with its historic drought (and that sad impact on agriculture). Reservoirs and rivers are running lower than normal, with higher water temperatures killing fish. And extra-dry conditions mean the West coast is lined up for an especially strong wildfire season, which has already begun.

So my sense of normal has fallen askew. I grew up with wildfires and endangered fish in the Oregon high desert—that isn't new, only aggravated. But lengthy Portland heat waves in early summer? Heightened droughts, dwindling water supplies, and spreading fires as the new normal in the Willamette Valley? What's next, a big earthquake? Rain in August? (It almost never rains here in August.) As global warming effects ramp up, I can only remind myself of the reasons why I moved farther north in the first place. But on days like today, I wonder if I moved far enough north. . . .


organic California avocado

A few mornings ago when it was still cool-ish in the house, I cooked up a pot of chickpeas and then made a traditional version of hummus, as well as a kale salad, and that's what I've been eating since: salads, with melon or a little grapefruit soda as dessert. I've used the hummus as a dip with lightly fried sliced zucchini or as the dressing for a spinach salad with sweet red, orange, and yellow peppers, sweet Persian cucumbers, kalamata olives, and canned artichoke hearts. Or I'll slap together a pita sandwich with mayo, cheese, scallions, homegrown sprouts, tomato, and avocado. These are the summer foods I usually crave in August . . . except that late-summer came early this year.

So though appetites may have wilted and energy levels melted in all this heat, I've rounded up some summer recipes from the archive to spark menu ideas—because everyone needs to eat at least a little bit each day, even when it feels like an oven outside.


*And yes, I have been known to spend extravagant amounts of money on heirloom tomatoes. How can you not when they look and taste better than all others?

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