As much as I love summer (in small, not-too-sweaty doses), I’m much more of a winter foodie sort. The recipes that get me in the kitchen are the kind of calorific, starch-laden dishes that keep us warm in the colder months. You know the things I mean – the rich, meaty stews, the syrupy puddings with lashings of custard, the crispy roast potatoes dipped in gravy. Right about now, I bet you’re shouting ‘STOP! I do not want to hear of such things! It’s 30 degrees out! Be quiet and fetch me an ice cold drink and a lemonade sparkler lolly’. My point is that in these slightly warmer temperatures, being in the kitchen does not excite me in the slightest. When thinking of suitable summer cuisine, my mind draws a blank. Which means that salad becomes pretty boring, pretty quickly. The same goes for sausages. And….well that’s all I’ve got, sorry. And for those shouting ‘But it’s summer! Let’s have a barbecue!’ – well, we’ve just come home from school, the kid’s are hot and bothered and grumpy (as am I), so let’s not, eh?
So for all of you who live in the real world, how do you solve the dilemma of boring hot weather food? I don’t think I’ve got all the answers, but here’s a few ideas that might stop you throwing an iceberg lettuce out of the window in frustration…
How about what you usually eat, but just….colder? Ok, I don’t mean exactly the same, but with a few changes here and there. Where you might serve some buttery boiled potatoes in the autumn, you can still boil the pototoes just do them a bit earlier, and instead of adding adding butter, stir in some plain yoghurt and mint sauce and voila – minted potatoes! Same goes for homemade potato salad, which I’m sure I’ve mentioned on a previous occasion, seeing as I hate shop bought potato salad with a passion. Just add a bit of mayonnaise, salad cream, chopped spring onions and seasoning to them. Other summery starch requirements could be met with a bit of cous cous. It is ridiculously easy and quick to prepare and you can add what you want to it, or rather, what your kids will eat, to it.
Those salads….seriously, I’m getting fed up with them already and we’ve still got six weeks of summer left…possibly. How do you make them more interesting? Well one way is to add a bit of spice. There are countless Thai salads recipes available that can provide a main meal as well as a more enticing side option. And talking of spice, there are plenty of much warmer countries out there then ours who find spicy food more then adequate in scorching hot temperatures. So before you baulk at the suggestion of a curry on a hot and balmy evening, thinks about where the curry might have originated from and what sort of temperature it might be enjoyed in over there. You can always leave out the more filling elements and go for a lighter vegetable curry with some homemade flatbreads and a cucumber raita.
So instead of being annoyed with the effects that summer seems to have on my culinary ‘skills’, I’m going to embrace the opportunities it gives. The family’s fruit intake definitely increases, and a simple tea of cold meats and cheese, pitta breads, dips and… um, salad could not be quicker to prepare on a baking hot day. I just need to make sure that the salad is the most exciting salad known to humankind, that’s all. No biggie.