I once read or heard that people who can’t cope when the thermometer reads over 80° suffer more than others because their capillaries are closer to the surface of their skin. I asked Dr. Google to corroborate my claim—but nothing. There was something vague about endothermic reactions and vasodilation, but nothing that would encourage the coddling of those of us who moan quietly but consistently when it’s hot.
I may start a support group. We would meet in those inexplicable places—hospital rooms, movie theaters, airplanes, Costco’s vegetable room—that are always frosty. Shawls and warm socks would be provided because we also don’t like it too cold.
Fox News seems to gloat about the current weather pattern that is trapping the subversive upper left coast under a suffocating “heat dome”—NORTHWEST TO HAVE HOTTEST DAYS EVER!!! PORTLAND SWELTERS AT 115!!; SEATTLE STEAMS AT 110°!!; LACEY SUFFERS THE MOST AT 108°!! Well, not maybe the last one.
As long as we protect the flowers from the hottest sun and water them constantly, they don’t see to mind the heat. Bob’s wildflowers are glorious—red and pink poppies, blue batchelor buttons, pink, red, and white cosmos, fluffy lavender things, tall white daisyish ones, purple cup-like flowers, blue lupine, and golden California poppies in full bloom, with the promise of more to come. The azaleas have outdone themselves, the snapdragons are short but mighty, and the Swiss chard roars along.
The birds wake us up in the morning cheeping and twittering but fall silent round 11:00—either overcome with the heat or cooling off in the woods. They come around for a morning bath and line up on the retaining wall for their turn. Big fat robin goes first, leaving just enough water for the chickadees and juncoes. It is absolutely silent outside after noon–dogs are in, walkers stay home, next-door-motorcycle-guy doesn’t ride, mowers sit in the shade, power cables melt, freeways buckle. The sun rules.
I’m sure that in other parts of the country, life goes on when it’s over 100, but here in Puget Sound, everything stops. Don’t you youngsters roll your eyes, but I swear, summers were never like this in the good old days. Every June when I was a kid, we used to come from the Midwest to visit our grandmother on Vashon. The kids slept out on the porch and at bedtime you could hear us howl about how cold it was out there. Needless to say, our complaints went unheeded; Muth and Normie piled on blankets, added winter underwear, dug out the wooly socks, let the dog cuddle in, and we survived—but I swear, you could see your breath in the morning.
Ginny told me about a cold chili-oil noodle recipe from the NYT cooking app that we both tried and loved. My version borrows from the China Moon cookbook but is simpler. If you don’t like spicy, just substitute the oil of your choice for the chili oil.
Cold tomato noodles
Cook 1/2 pound noodles (I used dried udon, but rice noodles, soba noodles or linguini would do just fine) until just done. Drain and rinse until cool. Remove excess water and add 2 tsp. chili oil (or use TJ’s Chili onion crisp but beware—it’s spicy), 1 Tbs. sesame oil, 1 Tbs. rice vinegar, white vinegar or, if you have it, Chinese black vinegar, 1 Tbs. fish sauce, I Tbs. soy sauce. Combine.
Peel and seed two large tomatoes, squeeze out the juice, and dice in a coarse chop. Let drain for a bit in a sieve. Season with salt and pepper.
Thinly slice 6 or so green onions, trimming off the tough end part. (I have a disturbingly aggressive clump of garlic chives so I used those), chop one bunch cilantro, and if you have basil in the garden a fistful would go nicely.
The addition of cooked broccoli florets are good, bean sprouts or cooked cauliflower would be grand, diced blanched zucchini would work, leftover roasted vegetables would be sublime. Whoops, I was going to use frozen shelled, cooked edamame beans—maybe next time. Any leftover cooked protein—pork tenderloin, chicken, tofu—is a welcome addition. Maybe there’s even some fermented black beans stuck in the vegetable bin.
1 tablespoon ginger: minced fresh, jarred, or (my new favorite) frozen cubes from TJ’s.
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
I had some Chinese XO sauce and used a bit of that
1 tablespoon vinegar (see above)
A glug of bottled sweet chili sauce
Couple squirts agave or a few sprinkles of sugar
Check out your refrigerator door shelves for an interesting Asian sauce you may have forgotten about—hoisin, black bean, okonomiyaki, creamy sesame—and add a glug of that.
Add 1 cup of sauce, vegetables, and protein to cold noodles. Toss well with your fingers. Let sit for 10 minutes. Taste and add more sauce if you like; the noodles should be flavorful but not soupy. At this point, the noodles may be sealed and refrigerated for up to a day. Bring nearly to room temperature before serving, and check if the noodles have absorbed the sauce and add more if desired.
Just before serving, add the bean sprouts, basil, and coriander, tossing lightly to mix.