Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cooling recipes that will make you sweat

I love walking, and I usually do a lot of it in the summer. People in my neighborhood know me from my enormous sun hat. In the past few days, they have seen a lot less of me marching past, trying to remember not to sing along with "Flagpole Sitta," "House of 1000 Corpses," or "Amish Paradise" blasting through my earbuds because I don't want to look any crazier than I already do. Once the temperature is in the upper 80s/ lower 90s, I stay home and sing along in the privacy of my own room. I'm sure the neighborhood is relieved.

Being trapped in the house because of the heat made me think Cooling Dishes for Hot Weather (Melanie de Proft, 1956) would be an appropriate book for the week.

I think my favorite thing about the cover photo is the knowledge that the big platter taking up the entire bottom half of the page does not even represent a recipe in the booklet. It's simply described as "smoked salmon slices with slices of cucumber and tomato." The cover (emptily) promises that summer is a lazy time!

The parfaits initially seem easy too. They are just vanilla and strawberry ice cream layered with mint syrup and whipped cream, but the book does expect readers to make their own ice cream, whipped cream, and syrup, and those facts are more in line with a lot of the recipes within.

At least making ice cream is relatively cool work, which is not the case for all the recipes:

Yes, Chilled Lima Bean Soup is served chilled and all, but it comes with a BIG but. Cooks are supposed to make the lima beans from scratch. That means a minimum of an hour of cooking the beans in a hot and muggy kitchen, and that's not even counting the hour of the hot pre-soaking or the additional time cooking aromatics, simmering the softened beans in consomme after the initial cooking, or trying to force the whole hot mess through a food mill.

All that-- heating up the kitchen and the cook, making the whole place extra muggy-- for bowls full of cold lima baby-food does not deserve the label of a tantalizing cooling dish.

To be fair, some chilled soup recipes are a lot less complicated:
Chilled Water Cress Soup takes only a few minutes of cooking before a nice long chill. Of course, since it's mostly pureed water cress, parsley, and celery leaves in a bouillon base, it's probably going to look like lawn clipping soup. Yippee. I can only hope the sour cream and radishes will help distract from that sad reality...

If you need a sandwich to go with your cold soup, you could always make a target sandwich:

Okay, they only sort of look like targets. Triple-Ring Sandwiches provide more good examples of the "unnecessarily complicated" recipe variety.

Yeah, you could make a cottage-cheese-and-pickle filling, an egg salad filling, and a ground-ham-and-cheese-with-tomato-soup filling, cut a round loaf of pumpernickel bread crosswise, then cover it with concentric rings of the (revolting) fillings you just spent an hour making.

Or you could just throw some cold cuts and sliced bread on the table and yell, "Dig in!"

And now, because nothing cools you down like a picture of a couple in old-timey swimsuits coming out of a beach changing room that is apparently built right in the ocean:

Have a happy Wednesday and stay cool!


  1. Our bathing beauty looks like she's wearing gladiator sandals. And I'm w/ you about cold cuts for dinner!

    1. She wants to be prepared for anything! Swimming, fighting.