Monday, June 29, 2015

A cold supper for a hot day



I don't know about you, but we're not even out of June, yet, and the heat is a problem for me. Fortunately, I baked 4 loaves of bread last week, and we still have 2 loaves left. No heating up the kitchen for next few days, I'm afraid.

Cold suppers are it for us, for now.

So, Thursday evening, I got together with my think-tank (my two daughters) and we brainstormed what dinner on the hot evenings should be. One of them suggested ham sandwiches, and the menu morphed from there. Here's Friday's cold supper.

Friday's dinner

  • Ham and cheese sandwiches, on whole wheat, spread with mock pesto
  • Seasoned, oven-roasted tomatoes topping a bed of lettuce and spinach
  • Fresh cherries
  • milk, iced tea and ice water to drink (our ice maker is working overtime)



Mock Pesto

Our basil looks pretty great, this year. In cooler summers, I've had straggly-looking stands of basil. Not so, this year! I've been using it to make a mock pesto, to top baked chicken and spread on sandwiches.

I use a couple of large handfuls of fresh basil leaves, garlic powder, salt and pepper, oil and pizza cheese (a blend of mozzarella and provolone), whirred together in the food processor. If I had Parmesan cheese and pine nuts, that would be wonderful. But really, this tastes pretty amazing, with all of the basil. And it's definitely a "more is more" condiment. The more I spread on an item, the more delicious said item is!

An Easy-day Salad

For the salad, I roasted the canned tomatoes in the early morning hours, in our counter-top, toaster oven (to reduce the heat-up of the kitchen). (See this post for instructions on oven-roasting canned tomatoes). When cooled, I cut each tomato half into strips, coated with more oil, dried oregano, a bit of vinegar, salt and garlic powder. Then chilled the whole bowlful for the day. At serving time, I spooned the roasted tomatoes over beds of garden greens. And that was the most cooking I did all day.


In this heat, I can only do so much physical activity. On Friday, I did my gardening as early in the day as I could. I had the day's cherries picked by 9 AM. Then I used some of the rest of my time to set up July's budget, take care of Monday's bill paying in advance and do some menu planning for this week. At that point, I was worn out from the heat. A tall glass of iced tea and a chair on the deck were about all I could take.

How about you? How do you handle summer's warmer days? What are your favorite no-cook dinners?

33 comments:

  1. We have had an unseasonable cool June and our nights are delicious for sleeping. We are comfortable in our home and don't need AC yet.

    We are able to cook inside without it being too much of a problem. One evening last week, I had thawed some of those 29 cent per lb. chicken quarters and ripped the skin off (we don't eat chicken skin) and breaded the pieces with seasoned flour, egg, and back into the seasoned flour and fried it lightly in my electric frying pan on my patio. I finished cooking it in the oven. That was really good and cheap.

    As we enter the full summer (July/August/September) I suspect we will have the hot temps. and then I will need to rethink my cooking. I do have a nice screened in porch and I could do something in there and there is the great outdoors and the grill!

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Using your patio with small appliances is a great idea. If it continues to stay too warm to cook, here, I can move my toaster oven onto the deck, to a table near the electrical outlet. Our BBQ is an option, too.

      Yesterday morning, before church, I baked more chicken. Then at dinnertime, it just needed a quick reheating in a vegetable and pasta dish, keeping the kitchen more comfortable throughout the afternoon and evening.

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  2. We have had an unusually cool and wet spring, so are still cooking normally. I think the hottest we'll have this week is about 98. Not as pleasant as a few weeks ago but not 113, either, lol. When it starts getting into the triple digits, I definitely try to use the oven less. One thing we've done is use one of those big roasters with an extension cord out on the patio if we need (or really want) to bake something. We'll do pizza on the grill or salads with meat as well, but rarely do a cold sandwich for dinner.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      I think 98 is pretty toasty, myself!! Saturday, here was in the low 90s (deck was 120 -- in full sun), and felt too hot to cook at all, for me. We had peanut butter sandwiches, salad, fruit and ice cream. No cooking at all.

      I think how hot something feels is in large part what a person is used to. It's relative.

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    2. I'm sure that is true. I don't like heat and would prefer 70's to low 80's all summer (not sure where that would be, New England?) having grown up in Ohio. But the a/c can usually keep up till we get in the triple digits so it's doable.

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    3. Oh, Cat, I can't even imagine triple digits (except what we get on the deck). Best of luck to you, with this summer's heat!

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  3. Looks delicious, Lili! Kudos to the whole planning crew! :) Sara

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    1. Thank you, Sara! I rely on my :planning crew" for input on a regular basis!

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  4. Here in Southern Ohio, we have had some hot weather in June as well. It's been mostly in the upper 80's to mid 90's. Do you have a higher humidity? We frequently have hot weather with high humidity. I think that makes the heat so much worse. It's not only hot, but it also feels wet and sticky.

    Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      You are right on the humidity. It varies, here. Sometimes the high temps mean very low humidity. But as yesterday turned out, it was warm and very humid. I hung a load of wash to dry and it just didn't dry at all, the humidity was so intense. It looks like it will be a better day today. Here's hoping your weather isn't too unbearable for this coming week!

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  5. It has certainly been hot and humid here too...low 90s and hardly a breeze. We don't typically plan our meals (one day I will have to give planning a try), but yesterday my husband made some pesto too. We also make a mock version, instead of pine nuts we substitute hemp seeds. But Sam's doesn't carry these anymore, so we are looking for another substitute. I suggested flax seeds, and seems that may work. Plus in researching about flax seeds, I've found out that it can substitute eggs:

    It can
    also be used as a replacement for an
    egg in some recipes such as muffins or
    pancakes. To replace one egg, use one
    tablespoon flaxseed meal plus three
    tablespoons water (or other liquid).

    http://www.post-polio.org/edu/pphnews/pph21-2p8-9.pdf

    YHF

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    1. Hi YHF,
      You can also use almonds in pesto. In fact, I haven't used pine nuts in years. I usually use almonds. I've used ground flax seeds for a binding agent in place of eggs. It works well for binding ingredients, but doesn't do anything as a leaven. I think it also holds a little moisture, too, though not as much as applesauce would. Give it a go and tell me what you think.

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    2. I am definitely putting flaxseed on my shopping list. At Wal-Mart, whole flax seeds seem a lot cheaper by weight than flax seed meal, also whole seeds store a bit longer than the meal. I may grind my own meal to use in baked goods and pesto...can't wait to try this in muffin recipes.

      YHF

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    3. YHF,
      for simplicity in cooking/baking, you can grind batches of flax meal for use, then simply refrigerate the meal, until use. The oils in flax seed deteriorate quickly, at room temps, but hold for much longer in the fridge.

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  6. It has been pretty hot here too. This weekend it rained a lot & that helped cool things off for a couple days. I took advantage & used the oven a couple nights. We get the humidity too. I had to laugh, a friend from here who has lived in Texas for the last 10 years was in & we went to dinner the other night, we were going to sit in the outside dining area. She got out there & said it was too hot & wanted to sit inside instead. I said I thought it was hot in Texas & she said it is but it is dry heat the humidity really gets me now.
    When it is hot I try & use the BBQ grill, stove top, crock pot or toaster oven as much as I can. Do you have a crock pot you could use out on your deck as well as the toaster oven?
    Rhonda

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    1. Hi Rhonda,
      No crockpot right now. I do have a hot plate, however. If it gets way too hot this summer, I'll move the hot plate and toaster oven outside. Thanks for asking about a crockpot as that made me think about what appliances I do have that could go outside.

      Yesterday was a bit cooler, with clouds and a tiny bit of sprinkles, but the humidity was bad. Today, we're back to the heat. The sun will go off the deck in another 2 hours, and then it will be bearable on the deck again.

      I never, ever thought Texas had dry heat! I thought it was humid there, too. But maybe inland it's drier? At least where I live, this is unusual, and in a week, we should return to milder temps. I should not complain.

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  7. I can totally relate --- it has been extremely hot where I live too. we've been living on tomato sandwiches, and other meals that don't require heating anything up. Luckily I cooked up a large pot of pasta just before the heat wave, so we also used that for one bowl salads, with lots of veggies added, etc. We've done Greek salad, asian peanut salad and more. We've also taken advantage of our crockpot -- today we're doing a roasting chicken in it, which will provide us with more options for sandwiches, etc. Wishing you cooler temperatures soon.
    Jayne

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    1. Hi Jayne,
      Good thinking to cook up a large pot of pasta before the heat hit. A friend was telling me that she had planned spaghetti for Saturday night's dinner, so was cooking the pasta in the late afternoon, and her kitchen was 91 degrees F! All of that steam, too!

      I tried to get most of the cooking part of dinner done early again, today. That should help again, today.

      Hoping your heat wave breaks soon, too!

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  8. Well... I realize this is off in crazy lady land, but when it gets really hot here I drag out my homemade solar oven to cook with. I've yet to attempt to roast a whole chicken in it, but cut up pieces roast fully in about 2-3 hours. Of course, it's not really "roasting" since it cooks at around 285-300 degrees, and you have to keep the lid on the pot to make it work, but it comes out tender and flavorful.

    We haven't had much hot weather yet in Denver, only a few days above 90, but I might try the crock pot in the garage as the summer wears on. Otherwise, 'tis the season for canned beans! 3-bean salad is one of my favorites, as well as black bean, corn & sweet pepper relish.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      no, not crazy lady land at all! If I lived where you do, I would totally put the effort into building a solar oven! Do you have to move it around much throughout the day?

      Yum, the black bean, corn and pepper relish sounds very tasty!

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  9. While the heat of summer can be miserable, I like it sometimes because it forces to relax because it's too hot to do much. Sandwiches, cool drinks, and retreating to the basement for games is the name of the game.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      I'll be right over! That sounds like a wonderful way to spend a hot summer evening!

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  10. H Lili,
    We have had hot weather for San Diego high 90's I have a pot of chicken,bell peppers,onions,and potatoes going on the porch right now I am using a hot plate and a large dutch oven. Friday we had pinto beans from the crock pot cooked on the porch outside, I used to live were it got to 120 so for me it is very normal to cook outside I would love to have a solar oven they are so pricey. I pinned a few things on thermal cooking with insulated bags it sounds like a great idea. We have been having a lot of sammys salads and smoothies I also ate some beans cold the other day added avocado it was so yummy hope it cools off soon
    Blessings,
    Patti

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  11. I forgot also use my bread machine outside to bake bread and I have been using you muffin recipe to make loafs of sweet bread for lunches. I found the bread machine at a yard sale about 10 years ago. The woman selling it said the paddle in the bottom would not come out well I have been using it like that for 10 years it also has a rice setting and a jam setting.
    Blessings,
    Patti

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    Replies
    1. Using the bread machine outdoors is brilliant!

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    2. Hi Patti,
      I didn't think of using the bread machine outdoors. What a great idea! Mine just barely works, but maybe it will get us through this summer, on the deck. Thank you for that!I'll check the instructions for what else I can use mine for. I got mine second-hand as well, so just have a few pages of the manual, photocopied.

      I have seen instructions on making solar ovens, inexpensively. I don't know if making your own solar cooker would interest you. Cat from EcoCatLady made her own. Thermal cooking with insulated bags also sounds intriguing.

      Tonight's dinner will be a warm one, but I plan to cook it all this morning, and reheat at dinnertime. That works for us, as well as sandwiches and main dish salads.

      Do you get much maritime cooling where you are in San Diego? I grew up in Orange County, in 2 different towns. The town that was inland was hot all summer. But the town near the water cooled off nicely every night, so we never felt overly hot, and had no A/C r even fans in the house. That's the difference being near the water can make.

      Aside from the heat, I hope you're enjoying a lovely summer, Patti!

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    3. Thank you I will check into making my own solar oven sounds fun. I wish we were a little closer to the coast. I would love to get part of that marine layer and the cooling that comes with it. We are out n east co. so it gets pretty hot out here. Maybe someday we will be able to move closer to the coast. I would love that. Your blog s such a blessing to our family. I stopped in at an ethnic market and found there mark down section 25 bananas ripe ready to freeze 99 cents. 10 avocadoes, tomatoes,onions garlic,peppers ripe ready to make Mexican food giant bag 99 cents.It s my new favorit produce place.
      Blessngs,
      Patti

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    4. Hi pAtti,
      I am so glad to hear that you've found an ethnic market for produce, with great prices, locally. And what a haul with the bananas, avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers!! That's amazing!
      I keep watching for new ethnic markets to try, whenever I'm out in a new area of town. I found one the other day, which I'll stop in next week to see what they have.

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  12. I live in Alabama so I expect it to be very hot from mid-May through mid-October. When I bake it is either early in the morning or late at night. All daytime meals are cold and dinners are either grilled or various salad meals.(Though, occasionally I will put the crock pot on the deck and let it do its thing outside) We do have a/c which makes life bearable and I swim just about every day which also helps. (Except it is really too hot to dry my hair so I clip it up and mostly wear it semi damp all day)

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    1. Hi Anne,
      And this is where I feel ridiculous about complaining of heat! Alabama must get hot and muggy. I always feel I can learn a lot about surviving the heat from friends like you living where heat is the norm for summer. So thanks for the reality check!

      Yes, cooking and baking early in the day is the only way to tolerate the heat of the kitchen! I've got some bananas to bake into banana bread this morning, and will need to get to it soon. Once the sun comes onto the deck, I have to keep the kitchen back door closed all day, with no hope for a breeze to cool the kitchen.

      All daytime meals are cold is a good way to deal with heat. Last night's dinner had a couple of salads with it, and there were leftovers to use for today's lunches.

      Have a great day!

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    2. One of my aunts lived fairly far from town and had the best plan ever. She had an open air (roof over it so it stayed dry) summer kitchen where she could do all of her food preservation. Nothing is hotter than being in a steaming kitchen using a pressure canner. Betty was able to do it all outside, but could also bake delicious huge biscuits for breakfast or cakes without heating the house. I am not sure how I could have the same set up since I have only a yard, not acerage, but I wish I had the money to give it a try

      Delete
    3. One of my aunts lived fairly far from town and had the best plan ever. She had an open air (roof over it so it stayed dry) summer kitchen where she could do all of her food preservation. Nothing is hotter than being in a steaming kitchen using a pressure canner. Betty was able to do it all outside, but could also bake delicious huge biscuits for breakfast or cakes without heating the house. I am not sure how I could have the same set up since I have only a yard, not acerage, but I wish I had the money to give it a try

      Delete
    4. Anne, your aunt's outdoor kitchen sounds like the perfect set-up for summer canning!

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.