What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance! -Jane Austen
You may have heard that Western Washington has experienced some inelegant weather. It is only my devotion to understatement that allows me to consider “heat wave,” an adequate descriptor for this sweaty inferno.
I bought a blow up pool, I succumbed to watering my plants, and I moved into a tent in my yard. The intemperance of the weather has made it impossible, or at least unthinkable, to use the oven. My dinners have been either The Salad of Many Colors, or a simple green salad, with grilled salmon and scallions. I ask my husband to do the grilling since then I don’t have to cook and I get to criticize his methods.*
We eat this meal with brown rice. My rice cooker’s instructions are in Japanese, but fortunately, they have a Korean and Chinese translation included. I fill the cooker with rice and water in random amounts, then push whichever of the four buttons (all emblazoned with indecipherable symbols) that strikes my fancy. It turns out perfectly every time. My husband even used it for quinoa.
I didn’t post in July because I spent much of the month hunched over my little blue camp stove, making enough black bean quesadillas to reach to the blue moon and back. The first camping trip of the month was to Fort Flagler, (supreme beach combing) Salt Creek, (magical tidal pools) and the wildly gorgeous Lake Crescent, with my good friend Gregory and her girls.** This beauty of a lake, brilliantly blue beneath Mt. Storm King, makes you realize there are just not enough synonyms for “crystalline.” Here I am beneath its diamond depths.
The second trip was spent encamped, cheek by jowl, with every other resident of the state, (or at least the noisiest ones) at Lake Chelan State Park.*** As I said, I made a lot of faux-mex food. But I brought this quinoa salad along, as well as a tuna salad, a raft of peaches and my older daughter’s first homemade granola! The granola was coconutty and delicious though, spoiled by baked goods, my daughter claims that cereal is a “woefully unromantic breakfast food.” She reads a lot.
The grapes were a great addition to this dish, though they fought with the tomatoes. I made it from every leftover in my fridge, which can result in unlikely bedfellows: quinoa, fresh mozzarella, butter lettuce, cilantro, mint, (a questionable addition) grapes, tomatoes, olive oil and red peppers.
Camping involves much lolling about on the beach in my day tent, promising the children ice cream, so it’s not very aerobic. If I don’t pack mostly healthy, fresh foods, I end up complaining about the way my swim suit fits, claiming I accidentally put it in the dryer. Plus, I can’t have my wits clouded by empty calories. I need brain food if I am going to remember to reapply sunscreen to my pale, see-through youngest daughter every 20 minutes and recall all the decluttering tips in the stack of Better Homes Than Yours magazines filling my beach bag to bursting in hoarded, dog-eared piles. If I get rid of them, who will tell me how to get organized?
I am now somewhat weary of the grilled fish meal. When I purchased the first one, I asked the fish guy if it would grill well. He replied, “You can grill anything. I grill everything.” “Cake?” I asked. He paused, lost in thought. “Brownies,” he said reverently, “I’ve grilled brownies.” I love the ingenuity of my fellow Washingtonians in the face of relentless, ecologically inappropriate temperatures! Until it rains again, pass the grilled brownies.
*Happy Anniversary, Honey. You were a mere cameo in this post, but in life, you remain the hunky leading man.
**Second deepest lake in Washington at 624 feet
***Deepest lake in Washington and third deepest in U.S. at 1,486 feet