Don’t let the heat get you down – here’s some strategies for staying cool!

Oooo-la-la!  Shutter those windows, draw those blinds, the sun is going to try to hammer it’s way into your house today.

This year I got serious about keeping the heat out.

My husband bought me a piece of foam core insulation for our East window.

My husband bought me a piece of foam core insulation for our East window.

Our bedroom window faces East, it’s the first window to get the morning light. And how. It also sits right over our driveway, where the pitiless sun beats on the gravel all day. Before we covered the window, this room would  be over 80 degrees by 9am. We bought a vinyl blind, and then some “black out” curtains with a rubbery lining. Still the heat would beat it’s way in. Last week my husband bought this foam core at Home Depot – a quarter inch  of this stuff is supposed to be comparable to two inches of standard insulation. I believe it.

Here's what it looks like with the bedroom lights turned out.

Here’s what it looks like with the bedroom lights turned out.

Curtains closed - Dracula's closet!

Curtains closed – Dracula’s closet!

Wow, unbelievable difference. I still shut that bedroom door during the day, but that room stays more comfortable now, it’s not a little sweat box. An interior door isn’t that much insulation anyway, the bedroom was definitely influencing the thermostat.  I work mostly at home – but I know what it’s like to come home from work, through the asphalt jungle,  to a baking hot house. This is a good solution for keeping your place cool while you’re gone all day. 

Sometimes you just have to hide from the sun – ever hear that story about Apollo (the sun god) and Zephr (the wind) about who was more powerful? These stories always bother me – the gods apparently have no consideration for the feelings of the average mortal. The two of them spy some poor bastard traveling along a road, a nice cloak hanging around his shoulders. Zephyr says, “watch me hang that dumb cape in a tree,” and he gives a good blow. The man grabs his cloak around himself holds on tighter and tighter as Zephyr huffs and puffs, and finally gives up. The sun smirks and moves in, all charming and shit. He starts to caress the man’s shoulders, gives him a little kiss on the forehead, and what do you know, the cloak is off, and the man is considering ditching it.

There you go – the sun is so sneaky. You go outside in the morning and you’re all, “ooooo, morning breezes, yah…” But as Apollo climbs up on his high horse, the power starts to get to him, and he turns into kind of a task master. The other day I was watering my container plants when I noticed, my face was raining! I had to make a move on the horse trough, oh yeah, it was good. I put an old bucket in there so I can sit in it without the absolute shock of full body immersion. Just a quick – “oooooo-WEEEE!” and back to work. By 10am me and the dogs were making a fast boogie for the house.

I had a snack waiting for myself in the fridge.

This is hummus, a tasty treat made from mashed garbanzo beans, tahini (roasted sesame seed paste), and olive oil, with salt, pepper, parsley and garlic for seasoning.

This is hummus, a tasty treat made from mashed garbanzo beans, tahini (roasted sesame seed paste), and olive oil, with salt, pepper, parsley and garlic for seasoning.

You can buy hummus all pre-made in a convenient plastic container at the store, but it’s expensive and you have to eat it fast, it’s very perishable. Even canned  garbanzo beans are much cheaper, and the dried beans are pennies a serving.  But, I suggest you try some store bought or restaurant made hummus before you try to make it yourself, so you know what it’s supposed to taste like.

Garbanzos  are easy to cook – if you start with dry beans, you just set them in a bowl of water the night before, then rinse and boil them for about half an hour the next day. The  canned beans save you the soaking, but you should still give them a good rinse, and then 20 – 30 minutes on a high boil. They’re done when you can crush one between your fingers, almost as soft as a chunk of boiled potato. A quick rinse again and into a dish for mashing – some people use a food processor, I like the potato masher, easier to clean. I use a cup of dry beans, which comes out to two cups cooked, about the same you get from a can. 

To the mashed beans I add at least two tablespoons of olive oil and five to six tablespoons of tahini.  Tahini, a paste made of roasted sesame seeds,  is the expensive part of this recipe, and the perishable part. You’ll  pay about $9 for a good jar of tahini paste. It will  be separated into oil and paste like good peanut butter, you have to stir it. Taste it once it is smooth and creamy – if it’s the slightest bit rancid, take it back to  the store and demand a refund, or don’t go back to that store. I bought a jar of “Once Again” at Raleys, and  it’s delicious, I spread it on my toast straight. This is one of those food products you either develop a taste for and work it into your diet, or you stop buying it because you’re sick of throwing out half the jar when you don’t use it fast enough.  It will keep for a month or two in the fridge, but I’ve learned to use it faster than that.

The olive oil, tahini and garbanzo beans have a very rich taste on their own, but I also add salt, pepper, garlic, and, lately, fresh dried cilantro  from the garden.  I like this stuff on crackers, on celery, on a slice of bread…

Nothing beats fresh hummus on a fresh piece of bread.

Nothing beats fresh hummus on a fresh piece of bread.

or on a nice pizza bread. That’s how I’ve been making pizza lately – I make the crusts in the morning, like those Boboli breads you can buy at the store,

Here is a naked pizza bread waiting to be attired in all the most tasteful fashions.

Here is a naked pizza bread waiting to be attired in all the most tasteful fashions.

and then we just load on the  ingredients and warm them up quick at dinner time. Sha – ZAM!

Some leftover chicken, last bit of a bell pepper, some Penne olives, floated on a sea of homemade tomato sauce - all dressed up and ready to eat.

Some leftover chicken, last bit of a bell pepper, some Penne olives, floated on a sea of homemade tomato sauce – all dressed up and ready to eat.

or just a little prosscuito, pineapple, and parmesan.

or just a little prosscuito, copa, pineapple, and parmesan.

Hummus is a topping you don’t have to bake – you just smear it on, maybe with a little roasted garlic. 

The heat has come on quick and shocking this year after all that molly-coddling we got with a late spring, those ginchee rain showers, weren’t we special! Well, Mother Nature has taken off the kid gloves, time to think! 

Now that I got all my chores done, I’m going to take a nap under a ceiling fan. Viva la Siesta! 

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