Cold for Hot, Hot for Cold

As I started writing this, the morning weather was, as one radio announcer used to say, “quiet and introspective.”  Read “gray and cloudy”.  But I really prefer his take on it.  Anyway, the temperatures were cool, and it felt like rain.  Rain, and perhaps soup.  What? you say.  Yes, soup.  In my life, weather affects not only what I wear, but what I want to eat, and what I want to cook.  So, those quiet cool days make me think of soup.  Maybe a light vegetable soup.  Or frittata, a lightweight egg dish with red, green, and orange peppers diced, shredded cheese of some sort, and even thin slices of fresh tomato.  This goes over well on days like that too.

Which leads me to weather changes.  Now, the weather has cleared, the sun came out, and the temperatures rose. Unfortunately, so did the humidity!  Hot days are one thing, but hot days with humidity are a completely different thing.  Those high-humidity days, where I feel like I’ve migrated to a Florida summer, means I don’t feel like either cooking or eating.  My body still complains that it’s hungry though, so I throw in stuff that’s quick.  A smoothie with yogurt and blueberries goes a long way, and I don’t have to cook it!  Even a glass of raspberry lemonade‒with real raspberries­–will do the trick.  Ice water with cucumber slices?  Sure.  Orange slices are even better.  And you can strip off the orange’s meat with your teeth.  Best not to do this when out with friends.  But at home?  Anything goes!  You know what?  At my age, anything goes anyway!

Just plain hot weather, without the high humidity, finds me foraging in the refrigerator for stuff that will create a salad.  Romaine and fresh spinach provide a nice cool base.  Then throw on everything you find: radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini strips, bacon, tuna, cheese, sunflower seeds, mushrooms…Shall I go on?  No?  Well, yes, we all have our special toppings.  Same with salad dressings.  I love Marie’s Asiago and Peppercorn, but my husband loves…nothing.  No dressing at all.  That tastes good too.  Whatever suits your fancy.  How about tomato slices sprinkled with shredded mozzarella and fresh basil?  A little salt and pepper.  Refreshing!  A whole meal, if you fill up a dinner plate.

Even though November is here, sometimes I’m still sticking with summer.  I’ll usually pivot in October, however, when the leaves are turning.  Although, my favorite apple, Ginger Gold, is available earlier, so…maybe I did cave in, at that point, and acknowledged that fall was appearing on the horizon.  

With really cold weather, I look forward to chili, hot apple cider, slow-cooked beef stew, or goulash and such.  Cold weather food should be hot!  I’ve gotten past the spicy phase of hot, but I’ll never give up those winter foods.  Lasagna and garlic bread taste so much better when it’s cold outside.  How about fresh bread?  Granted, that’s great anytime, but when the house is closed up, the fragrance of baking bread is so enticing.  Heavy peasant, or whole wheat, or pepperoni bread, they’re all welcome in my kitchen.  They go so well with pork roasts cooked in the crock pot with onion slices and carrots and potatoes.  Oh, yum!  Plus, there are always leftovers to make pulled pork sandwiches.

Even simple foods taste better in the cold weather.  One of the favorites?  Tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches.  Toss a couple of cubes of sharp cheddar into the soup and voila! pot o’ gold!  Top the sandwich with a handful of shredded cheddar and run it under the broiler just long enough to melt that golden layer.  Mmm-mmm!

Soon, the meteorologists will be warning that there’s a huge snowstorm coming, with high winds and dropping temperatures.  What to fix for dinner then?  Oodles of choices.  So, bundle up, light the fireplace or a few candles, and warm your insides and outsides.  Food warms the tummy, but it warms the heart and the soul as well.  Bon appetit!