When summer’s furnace cranks on, no one really feels like cooking or even firing up the good old Weber. Alas, the only thing we might be inclined to make is reservations. Here are some seasonal tips for keeping cool, calm, hydrated and energized until autumn breezes in.
Yin for Din: In Asian traditions there is a delicate balancing act between the principles of yin and yang, the former representing cooling foods that induce cold energy and a calming effect on the body, the latter “heaty” or heat-provoking ones. Typical cooling foods include bamboo shoots, bananas, crab, lettuces, particularly bitter Romaine, seaweed, melons, cucumber, yogurt, pineapple, turmeric, assorted mushrooms, especially criminis, and various white-hued roots. These yummy yins are salty and lean, rife with potassium, soggy and wet, and thrive with little sunlight.
The steamy yangs, on the other hand, are sweet, fatty, hard and dry foods that contain a lode of sodium, and sprout under the blazing sun. Some examples of “heaty” foods are ginger, cinnamon bark, soybean oil, coffee, onions, apricots, liver, beef and red peppers. So when you want a cooling sensation, amp up the yins, or add some to balance your spicy yangs. Pair a juicy, chilled slice of melon (honeydew, cantaloupe or the quintessential fruit of summer, the mighty watermelon), or some mineral-rich vegetarian sea treasures (nori, arame or kombu) with a plate of fried rice or spicy noodles to put out the fire.
Give it Some Juice: Keep your kitchen cool by “cooking” with acid instead of heat. Lemon, lime and other lip-puckering citrus juices make a wonderful marinade to denature the fibers of assorted proteins, so you will not need to apply heat to safely prepare these assorted offerings.
Whip up a batch of seafood ceviche with deep-sea scallops, wild-caught shrimp, snapper and salmon, blended with chopped red onion and cucumber, cilantro, a Technicolor of heirloom tomatoes and chunks of Hass avocado in an intoxicating lemon-lime marinade to cool your heels all summer long.
Mint Condition: Toss some fresh, exhilarating mint leaves into your summer salads, stir-fries, iced teas and lemonades, pilafs and taboulis, or top off lamburgers, grilled chicken and frozen treats. This heady herb with cooling and soothing properties and an invigorating perfume perks up heat-induced logginess.
Worth One’s Salt: A brief lesson in Chemistry 101 will teach you that tossing a tablespoon of salt into a tub of icy water will lower the liquid’s freezing temperature, creating an arctic bath to quickly chill your beer and wine bottles, along with carbonated drinks. Cheers!
Going Coconuts: The sweet, murky water from the hollow cavity of a raw, young coconut (ideally 5 to 7 months) is a refreshing, hydrating drink with a mother lode of vitamins, especially balancing B’s and immune boosting C’s, minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc), amino and fatty acids, digestive enzymes, along with fluid-replenishing electrolytes from its rich potassium store. Drink straight up, blend in smoothies, or freeze in ice cube trays and toss in assorted drinks.
A Coffee Break: Cut back or eliminate caffeinated coffees, teas and sodas, along with alcohol as these diuretics cause precious fluid loss. Stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day, made more palatable with a splash of pomegranate juice, a few squirts of lime, lemon or tangerine juice, or some cucumber slices or fresh berries tossed into an icy pitcher. Electrolyte drinks are also important to restore lost fluids, especially post-exercise.
Soup Up: Sweet or savory chilled summer soups showcase the season’s bountiful beauties bursting with vibrant colors and sun-ripened flavors.
Indulge in a slew of these refreshing liquid salads from avocado lime bisque and shrimp saffron pistachio to raspberry vichyssoise and fresh minty sweet pea.
Sweet Golden Gazpacho
3 large yellow heirloom tomatoes, chopped
2 large ripe mangos, peeled, cubed
½ cup melon, ripe, cubed (your choice, cantaloupe, casaba)
2 yellow peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup fresh squeezed orange or tangerine juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup diced sweet (Vidalia) onion
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Method: In a food processor, puree the tomatoes, peppers, onion, wine, juices and cilantro. Blend in mango and melon chunks, and season to taste with salt and cayenne. Chill for three hours. Ladle into Champagne flutes or martini glasses and garnish with twists of lime or orange rind, or fresh mint sprigs. — firstname.lastname@example.org