I know, I know, I shouldn't complain; the East Coast is experiencing record temperatures and brown-outs are rampant. I have single poignant image in my head of my friend Emily holed up in the chill cave of her bedroom (the only room that has an AC unit), trying to get her baby daughter to sleep through the worst of the heat. So my heart goes out to you East Coasters, we at least have our constant breeze off the water here. But oh, I had become so used to moist vagaries of Seattle spring weather...the mountains engaged in their usual disappearing act behind clouds, the misting rain, the cool nights when an open window was all that was needed .
Now the air turns tepid at dawn and is stifling by noon. A water glass set down on the counter immediately begins to sweat. The body is overcome by torpor and seems to thicken, while the heart shrinks and wants nothing more that to retreat salamander-like under a cool damp stone. Where are all my clear thoughts, my goals, my aspirations? All wilted and sluggish, all melted and overcome. Im reminded of a Shel Silverstein poem that I read as a child. I always found the last stanza to be sinister and yet accurate.
I've tried with 'lectric fans,
and pools and ice cream cones.
I think I'll take my skin off
and sit around in my bones.
It's still hot!
That right there is the difference between the dog days of summer and the freezing nights of winter (though both are equally uncomfortable). When you are cold you can easily put on more clothing, but when you are hot you can only take off so much before you are left with no recourse. It gives you a nasty feeling of futility. And trying to see the bright side, as I always do, I think to myself, maybe that is the lesson in it. There are many things in life that the human will cannot overcome, that sometimes we must put our heads down and give in to inertia, maybe even enjoy (on some level at least) the idea that for once, nothing can possibly be expected of us, and that we have nothing that needs accomplishing. We must simply sit idle, and indulge in a sort of bizarro hibernation.
In closing, here is a recipe for a cool and refreshing sandwich that will at least get you through the afternoon. It is reminiscent of a British tea sandwich, but sized more towards lunch proportions.
Asparagus and Prosciutto Sandwich
1 small bunch fresh asparagus
2 tbs good thick sour cream (Im crazy about Nancy's Cultured Sour Cream) or creme fraiche
1 green onion or several chives, finely chopped
2 slices of bread (homemade preferred of course)
1/2 a lemon
2 slices of prosciutto
Trim and peel the asparagus and cook for 4-6 minutes in a pan of boiling salted water. Immediately plunge into an ice water bath and set aside
Spread one slice of bread with the sour cream or creme fraiche and sprinkle withe the chopped green onions or chives.
Arrange the asparagus spears on the bread and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over them.
Drape 1-2 slices of prosciutto over all, top with the second slice of bread, and voila!