Monday, April 14, 2008

Hot Days, Cold Foods

Appraising Your Success
The end of the week is a good time to review the past week of your SWEET Life and count up your accomplishments. Your goal is 5-6 times per week for each aspect of the SWEET Life: Sleep, Water, Eating, Exercise, and Tranquility. If you didn’t achieve some of your goals for the week, then next week, focus on those areas more and think about how to fulfill them more consistently.
How do you feel at the end of this week? Are you better rested? Do you feel relaxed? Are you more energetic? Do you feel generally healthier? Continue with the SWEET Life and you’ll experience all of these feelings!

Topic of the week – Hot Days, Cold Foods

I’ve had this idea for a cookbook for a few years, but I’ve never found it or anything similar in a bookstore. I may have to write it myself, although I am not a recipe-creator; I am a recipe-follower. The cookbook I want is: Hot Days, Cold Foods, a cookbook for those days, like Saturday, that are so hot that you don’t want to cook or create heat in your kitchen.

There are certain requirements for these recipes. They can be cooked, as long as they don’t create a lot of heat in the process. For example, cooking in the microwave doesn’t create heat in the kitchen. Ditto for a rice cooker, slow cooker and other self-contained, small appliances. The stove and oven, of course, create a lot of heat in the kitchen; however, a toaster oven doesn’t generate a lot of heat. Moreover, something that can be prepared quickly on the stove won’t heat up the kitchen too much.

Most picnic cookbooks or outdoor cookbooks don’t meet my requirements because they include things baked in an oven, like scones, roasted or broiled meats or vegetables, casseroles, pizzas, or things cooked on the stove, like boiled eggs, pastas, potatoes, or vegetables; or soups.

Williams-Sonoma has a lovely book, “Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook”; however, the recipes don’t make me think of outdoor living at all! Finally, I read the introduction to find out that the idea is “eating with the outdoors as the backdrop.” Well, shoot, my kitchen table is near a window; just about anyone’s got the outdoors as a backdrop!

Some hot days, cold foods are obvious. Marinated salads, cold sandwiches, and sushi come to mind. Also, eggs cook quickly on the stove. Sandwiches are infinitely diverse by changing sliced bread to a pita, tortilla or other type of wrap, bagel, focaccia, roll, croissant, etc. Sandwich spreads can go way beyond mustard and mayonnaise to hummus, pesto, barbeque sauce, pickle relish, salsa, salad dressing, and specialty mustards or mayonnaises. Vegetables can include much more than lettuce and tomato, like cucumber, roasted peppers, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, olives or tapenade, etc. All of this, of course is in addition to the usual array of meats and cheeses. The same is true of salads. After choosing your salad base, be it lettuce, spinach, potatoes, pasta or macaroni, couscous, rice, bread chunks (for panzanella), etc., there’s an unlimited variety of salad vegetables, meats, cheeses, dressings, etc. to combine together.

Other hot days, cold foods require a little thought. For example, couscous is great because you only boil a little water, and then turn it off, so the stove is only on for about 5 minutes. In addition, sweet potatoes, sliced, or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into chunks, are great grilled. There are also waffles, which cook in their own machine. Moreover, build your own burritos don’t create a lot of heat because you can cook thinly sliced meat quickly on the stove, heat refried or black beans in the microwave, and cook Mexican rice in a rice cooker. Another idea is a “leftover salad” with last night’s leftover meat, veggies, and starch, chopped and tossed with oil and vinegar. For example, I made one the other day with leftover: grilled sausages & asparagus, microwaved acorn squash, and couscous; tossed with Trader Joe’s Lemon Dill sauce. They were all “hot days, cold foods” the night before, and became a delicious all-in-one lunch salad the next day. In addition, the night before, you can marinate salads or meats to grill the next day. You can also make coffee the night before and refrigerate it; then drink it iced with breakfast.

Grilled foods are included because that’s the one time many husbands will volunteer to cook. Personally, the idea of cooking on a hot grill outdoors in the heat sounds like a double disaster to me, but I’ll plan an entirely grilled meal, if I know my husband will gladly cook it. That meal could include any grilled meats; a variety of grilled veggies, and starches might include grilled potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic bread, etc. I try to be creative and put as much on the grill as possible so that I have less to cook myself!

If you have any ideas for hot days, cold foods, recipes or cookbook suggestions, please let me know. I’d like to have a repertoire of choices to have and to share when these hot days come around!


Williams, C. (ed.) (2002). Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook. Menlo Park, CA: Oxmoor House. p. 11.

Keep living the SWEET Life!

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