Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How Drought and Heat Can Make For A Miserable Summer If You Let It

Texas heat in the summer is miserable enough. It's hot, suffocatingly hot ,but this year with temperatures above 109 degrees  in the middle of a drought, it is worse. Tempers flare,  and what would be annoying any other time becomes unbearable, especially in a car that never seems to get cool before you get to the next stop. Grilling is out unless you want to have a heat stroke.

 Then there is the whine made by the cicadas as they mate. The sound is a constant loud noisy humming sound such as a light fixture about to blow. This year they seem to be breeding and eating at a ferocious rate in their hurry to mate and die.

Shopping is done early in the morning or late at night when the temperature drops below 100 degrees. Coolers are carried in the car with ice packs.  Otherwise food is melted, cooked, wilted when you put it in a car exceeding 250 degrees.
I carry water to drink and an atomizer to spray my face and neck to cool off. It's like planning for a major event to go anywhere.
 Plants are dying, and gardens are being robbed of what vegetables are produced by the squirrels, raccoons, and birds who are suffering.
I had two cantalopes. Beautiful things. Yesterday morning they were gone. They  disappeared into the night. Not even a remnant was left. Somehow, I didn't mind.   I had already decided to give up on a vegetable garden this year and let the animals and birds have what is there because I feel sorry for what they are experiencing.  My water bill and electricity bill are approaching the federal debt but I know by October the weather will be nicer and I live with that expectation.

However, there is one thing besides a few herbs left. And that is the lemon cucumber.

The only produce not  taken by the animals were these lemon cucumbers. I bought the plants thinking  it would be interesting to try a cucumber that had a lemon taste.
These vines produce large numbers of cucumbers, but they look nothing like the long green cucumbers and have no cucumber taste. About the only resemblance to lemons is the color.They are hard, much like winter or acorn squash and very difficult to peel so after one attempt I quit.

I carefully harvested them and researched the web trying to locate recipes. And there really are some available.  Finally, I decided the best thing to do to get them to taste  half way decent was to serve some pesto on them made with basil.
Some notes about growing these plants.

They have long vines and will grow on bean cages and everywhere else.

They need to be kept watered and need warm weather, a plus in Texas.  They should  be picked before they are too yellow, otherwise they get very seedy.
 One of the easiet things to grow here are herbs. With proper water, they do well. Basil, oregano, thyme, are thriving in this heat.   Basil leaves crushed in the mortar pestle, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Parmesan and a little garlic and pinenuts or walnuts make a good addition to these lemon cucumbers.

And the final result will suprise you.

Now I'm going to get myself a big glass of sweet iced tea and rejoice that I have another day to enjoy.

What are you doing to keep cool if it's hot where you are?


Anonymous said...

109 degrees! I live in Wisconsin and it's much cooler 71 degrees. What does that feel like. And how do you make sweet ice tea?

Ruby Johnson said...

Warm up your oven to 500 degrees. Stick your head in for a minute and that's how it feels. On my patio, it was 118 in the shade last week. I can't wait for cooler weather.

The recipe for sweet tea is:

3 cups water

2 family-size tea bags or six regular tea bags

1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves

1/2 -1 cup sugar

5 cups cold water

halved orange or lemon slices,

1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and stir in fresh mint (optional). Cover and steep 10 minutes.
2. Discard tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour tea into a 3-qt. container, and stir in 5 cups cold water. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired with orange or lemons. You can use splenda if you want to avoid sugar.The mint is optional. I just happen to like it.

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