Get Dressed

I came to a curious realization recently. How this came about I do not know but I did. Yours truly is very observant and just a pinch bit sneaky so buyer beware. When Matthew leaves the house in the morning, up goes the thermostat. When he returns in the evenings, down it goes again. In terms of temperature, I am actually quite comfortable with this arrangement. I can attribute it to my five years spent in Germany, which taught me the true definition of grin and bear it. In earnest, I think these old bones can acclimate to any temperature. My first summer in Deutschland saw a record heatwave. In fact, I think it was Europe's most serious heatwave since the 16th century. France was hit the hardest. Crops were decimated. Vineyards had to harvest their grapes early. It was quite terrible really as elderly people in neighboring countries were dying. Apologies, this sounds vulgar but it's true. 

Touch wood my office had a very powerful AC though I will say that most of my colleagues didn't think it necessary. Believe it or not, I think that many Europeans simply don't like air conditioning. Or deodorant for that matter but that's another story for another post. Many of my peers had to trek to work in their three piece suits (the German corporate world is very formal) to grin and bear it. Wearing pantyhose during those months was no picnic. Yes, at 22 I wore stockings, trouser socks and tights to work. No bare legs here. That July and August, I took the U-Bahn to work early and stayed late simply to take advantage of the cold air. On weekends, our only reprieve was the local movie theatre. They showed B list movies in English and served salty popcorn alongside ice cold Becks beers. Keep 'em coming we said. I remember one particularly desperate evening. It was bedtime and I tried to get comfortable in my steamy room never mind my two bay windows were wide open. An annoying mosquito sang in my ear for what seems like half the night. After that miserable affair, I bought a fan. The heat didn't seem to bother my German neighbors too terribly. Buck up we did.

After that first inferno summer of 2003, touch wood at the time we saw smooth sailing from there on out. It's not that it didn't get hot during the summer. It was certainly warm but nothing that a couple of cold ones on a blanket in the park couldn't cure. Or if it really became uncomfortable indoors, we took it outside. During the summer months, it doesn't get dark until well past 10.00 PM. Everyone and their brother spends ample time on balconies, in outdoor cafes and of course, beer gardens. A cause of our location on the Rhein River, there was always a breeze. During these warmer months, we put ice in our drinks that we made at home (another novelty in Europe). I one time ordered ice and was brought a saucer with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it. Communication foul here. We drank chilled Spanish white wine (by the case) and went to sleep with all the windows and bedroom doors open to our balconies. Talk about living on the edge. We also ate light. When it's 80 degrees outside and you're without AC, the last thing you want to do is turn on an oven or the stove. The same goes for hairdryers. That first summer my hair was comical. I wore big earrings and bright lipstick to minimize the impact.

You know temperature management was the same during the long, cold and wet winter months. Dusseldorf was compared to the Seattle of Germany. During the December months, in the afternoons the sun would set between 3 and 4 pm. If snow was in the cards, sometimes earlier. After my first winter, I learned why tanning beds were so common. People visited them to stock up on Vitamin D and keep the doldrums at bay. I went once or twice. That or they hopped on planes to warmer locations. We visited Tenerife, Canary Islands twice my first year. We hit up Sicily my second year. Spain a handful of times. Wherever there was the promise of sun and a beach, we were on it. Everyone simply adjusted and we caught on quickly. We didn't have central heating but rather inconspicuous electric water heaters in every room. In fact, the first time I saw one I thought it was a towel warmer. Not quite Ms. Breyer. Up and down went the knob to ensure a bit of comfort. I frequently sat around in a cardigan or fleece.  This is just how we rolled back then. Everyone did. Sleeping at night was utter bliss as we would crank up the heaters, open the windows and dive beneath our goose down comforters. It was almost impossible to rise in the mornings. Those newer apartments offered heated floors. Talk about leading edge technology.

But alas back to modern day Charlotte and this intense heat. Whilst at home, I keep all the fans going. I have upped my water intake to 3 liters (with ice and lemon or cucumber in every glass thank you very much). In the past week, I have cut salt out of my cooking. Also, I am not here that much. I am shocked by how busy I am despite not working. I am a gallivanter - just like both of my folks so there you go. So long as the master of the house is comfortable, all is well in the world. I used to take ownership of the thermostat. Down, down, down it went with my command. The actions of my nimble fingers were evident in the monthly bills. Clearly this explains why we have a new thermostat gatekeeper. I am also the guilty culprit in my parents homes. Up a bit here and down a bit there and get out of the house before any questions are asked. I am perhaps revealing too much. Anyway, hot child in the city this one.

The below salad dressing is dynamite. I am adding it to my artillery. The citrus pairs beautifully with the cumin to lend a warm but subtle flavor. For other salad dressing suggestions, check out a previous post I wrote. Now that the hot weather is upon us here, salads make lovely main courses and accompaniments to a myriad of meats. They are light, refreshing and super healthy. Of course especially so when you dress them yourself. Stay cool.

Cumin and Lemon Dressing

2 tsp cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
Pinch of salt 

Mix everything together and you're in business. Stores nicely in a mason jar.

Zesty Chick Pea Croutons

1 can of chick peas - drained

2 TBS coconut oil - liquid form
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp paprika

Gently toss the garbanzo beans with coconut oil, lemon zest and paprika. Spread out evening across a cooking pan. Roast at 400 to 450 for 30 to 40 minutes. They should be nice and crispy once finished. Don't let them burn (my first batch did). Finish off with a generous pinch or two of kosher salt. You can leave it out too if you like.

For This Salad

Peel the leaves from a head of washed, crisp romaine lettuce. Drizzle the dressing on top. Finish off with the garbanzo bean croutons. If you are really feeling special, you can grate some hard cheese on top.

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