Thursday, July 9, 2009

Beating the heat

Here in Dallas, July is an interminable season of oppressive heat. Scratch that: the weather outside is insufferable, but since this city (along with much of the South - I'm looking at you, Atlanta) would cease to exist without air conditioning, one doesn't actually have to encounter the heat if they don't care to. Today, for example? A stifling 103 degrees. But it's a chilly 65 for those who travel from their apartment to their parking garage to their car to their office parking garage to their office! I digress. For those of us who choose to, sigh... engage with their community and all the unpleasantness that comes with it, I offer my Beat the Heat guide:

First up, what to wear? Pare down to the basics. You look silly covering up in this heat, really. I'm voting for this no-fuss, vintage-inspired dress from Anthropologie in seasonal tomato red, perfect for A) strolling around the farmer's market, or B) seeking refuge on a happy hour patio.

Let's imagine that you chose A) Strolling around the farmer's market. It simply doesn't get any better than the summer harvest, and there's no better season to commit to eating locally and seasonally. (Not sure where your local farmer's market is? Search here.) Everywhere you look, stands are bursting with the most delicious offerings of the year, and what's great about summer produce is that it doesn't take a lot of effort to make really yummy, beat-the-heat dishes. Take yesterday's salad, for example: it perfectly embodies what summer food is all about - nothing required but fresh, cool, crisp vegetables. And no need to turn on that blazing hot stove, either.

Tomato, Corn, Cucumber, and Feta Salad - Cookthink
(Not a fan of raw tomatoes, like my silly life partner? Substitute crunchy red bell peppers instead.)

Now what if you chose B) Shady happy hour patio? Well, then. I present my booze of choice, which happens to pair perfectly with summer onslaught and is described as "a most iconoclastic experience." Really. I'm talking about Hendrick's Gin. So delightful on so many levels. It's cucumber-infused and will do anything you want it to do. Also, as a sucker for good design, you must go and admire the website and packaging. I'll just let Hendrick's' Suitable Summer Remedies page do the talking:
"Very few things pair better with a long balmy afternoon of lazing about the cucumber patch, performing acrobatics in the rumpus room, or playing croquet in the park than a sparkling, cool Hendrick's and Tonic garnished with a cucumber slice." Indeed.

After all that shopping or socializing, you'll no doubt need to wind down with the literary version of a summer spell. My all-time favorite summer novel is one I reread every year about this time, from a woman who can simply do no wrong: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. It's a novel that makes me feel small and humbled and more alive than before. Those are all good things, I think. It sings with green summer and the life all around us like no other book I know.

Stay cool, everyone! What are your Beat the Heat standbys?


  1. I'm fairly certain we are twins who became seperated in the nursery! Love a cool salad on hot summer nights, and Ive read EVERYTHING Barbara Kingsolver has ever written. Prodigal Summer is fantastic, not one of her more widely read books either. I loved it and shared it with my mom who became hooked.

    I'm doing a review of Animal Vegetable Miracle with a give-a-way next week.

    Love the new blog!

  2. Well, twin, know that I, too, hooked BOTH my parents on this book. :-) I love, love, love AVM - talk about an ode to summer eating! (and fall. and winter. and spring.)

  3. Oooo this is one of Ms. Kingsolver's books that I have yet to read! And just in time - my summer reading stack officially diminished to 0 last night!

  4. Also love Prodigal Summer and reread it annually, and I've been meaning to buy some Hendrick's Gin ever since seeing the cardamon rose cocktail that featured it on Design*Sponge not to long ago.

  5. Love that dress. Huge Anthro fan.. you usually can't go wrong in there.

  6. Obvs, I should buy me and Mr. A (H) some Hendrick's Gin.

  7. Cucumber in drinks is fantastic. My personal favorite is a Wimbledon tradition - Pimm's Cup.

  8. Freeze-e-Pops--just re-discovered those...they have reassumed their position as my "beat-the-heat" tool of choice these days!

  9. So sorry it took me so long to get here to your new blog, but i LOVE IT! Beautiful!

  10. Just recently had some cucumber slices added to my Hendricks and soda... LOVE.

  11. first off, HURRAH for you and this! i love it! secondly, bourbon. it helps pretty much everything, but a bourbon and ginger in an old plastic cup on the park bench outside our building -- sounds a little declasse, but then, so am i.

    also, i recently finished ms. kingsolver's book on her year of sustainability. i recommend it to anyone who's interested in eating well and living well -- heat or no heat.


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