The Orange Slate

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Heat Wave

July 17, 2013

This week in D.C., it. is. hot. Let me say that again. It’s that time of year when I just avoid going outside. I briefly scamper out to water the crepe myrtle in the afternoon, looking around suspiciously as if I was in enemy terrritory.

I am such a wimp. Mark still bikes to and from work in this weather and just drinks some extra water. I refuse to even acknowledge that these temperatures exist. They don’t, in fact, in northern Michigan, and weather everywhere should imitate the example set forth by that place.

So I keep myself busy in air-conditioned places like my living room and car and pretend that it’s a balmy 72 outside. Which it is not.


Yesterday, for instance, I kept myself cool in the local Social Security Administration office. Not normally my locale of choice, but a mistake on my new (married) Social Security card forced me to spend two hours there in line. Not my happiest morning. Not my worst, either, since I freely acknowledge my addiction to people-watching and the people-watching material abounded between the elderly woman concerned with the child-bearing habits of her younger neighbors and the fight that broke out in line, for which there seemed to be no particular cause besides general boredom.

Did I mention that I also try to cook cooler foods when the heat is raging? Something about standing over a hot stove for hours when heat warnings are being issued doesn’t fit. Sometimes I just want a dinner tha is quick and light and happy. A picnic when picnicing is impossible, one might say.

I’d eat gelato every night for dinner if I were single, probably. But being married puts a damper on behavior like this. Last night was an exmple:

(9:04 p.m.) Emily: “I want one of those peanut-butter cookies.”

Mark: “Did you eat enough dinner?”

Emily: “Dinner was hours ago. I’m starving.”

Mark: “I biked 12 miles today and I’m not starving.”

Emily: “You don’t want a soft warm peanut-butter cookie?” (Notice my attempt to gain a partner in crime.)

Mark: “Not really.”

Silence ensued for about 30 minutes.

(9:34 pm) Emily: “I’m seriously famished. I think I’m dying. I need to go eat some of those cookies.”

Mark: “You’re going to turn us into one of those fat married couples.”

Emily: “Do you want me to die? I’m hungry!”

Mark: “Go eat. I’m not hungry.”

*More silence*

(10:04 pm) Emily: “You sure you don’t want to come eat cookies with me? You said it was important for us to do things together.” (Notice my subtle attempts to guilt him into joining me in my late-night search for food.)

Mark: “You are ridiculous. Go eat something if you’re hungry. I don’t like to eat this late. It’s bad for you.” (He’s so irritatingly reponsible sometimes.)

Emily: “It’s also bad for me to starve.”

Mark: “Then go eat. Just please don’t expect me to follow you in this fat-finding adventure.”

Don’t worry, dear readers. I promptly consumed enough peanut-butter cookies for both of us. No regrets.

But gelato and cookies aside, my favorite go-to this time of year is pasta salad. It works well because it’s a salad, a main course, and a side all in one. The recipe can be modified depending on the contents of the fridge. It takes about 15 minutes and the clean-up is minimal.

Pasta Salad

Pasta – 1 box, any shape.

Black large pitted olives – 1 can

Musrooms – 1/2 lb

Bell Pepper – 1 red

Nuts – 1/2 cup Pistacios or chopped walnuts or pecans

Celery – 3 stalks

Cherry tomatoes  – 1 handful

Fresh oregano  – 1/8 cup

Olive oil – 1/2 cup + 1 tbl.

White Wine vinegar – 1/4 cup

Balsamic vinegar – 1 tbl.

Garlic – 1/4 tsp.

Pepper – 1/4 tsp.

Sugar – 1/4 tsp

In a small pot, bring water and a 1 tbl. of olive oil to a rolling boil. Pour in pasta and boil for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, chop black olives, oregano, bell pepper, nuts, celery, and mushrooms. Combine with cherry tomatoes. 

Drain pasta and rinse in cold water until cool. Combine the pasta with the chopped vegetables in a large bowl and chill in the fridge. Meanwhile, whisk 1/2 cup olive oil, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, pepper, and sugar together in a measuring cup. Blend thoroughly and chill for 15 minutes.

Immediately before eating, blend the oil and vinegar mixture again and pour generously over the salad. Toss lightly.