Salad Days

12 Jun

Do you hear that? That rushing noise?

My View, Under the Tree

That’s the sound of people up and down the East Coast, especially me here in New York City, breathing a sigh of relief that the heat wave is over.

I don’t know what it’s been like where you are, but here? It’s been hot. So hot. In fact, it’s been so hot that yesterday morning when I got up and the radio told me that it was going to be only 86°F and only 56% humidity, I sighed with happiness. So hot that I was happy and excited to go to work on Monday because my office is air conditioned. So hot that all I ate for four days was salad.

The Dog Days

Yes, we’ve got an air conditioner, but neither of us like using it. This may be crazy, but it sure does help with the electric bill. Instead, we like to get creative with our ways to keep cool.

One great way too cool off is to befriend someone with a backyard. For two wonderful summers I would hang out in a friend’s, beer in hand, feet in a kiddie pool full of ice water. It was blissful, and fun. Keeping a bag of frozen peas in the freezer is also handy. One very hot, very unemployed summer, I would sit in front of my fan with a wet towel over my head, frozen peas on the back of my neck, and my feet in a bowl of ice water. Apparently my feet get very hot.


But, my all time favorite way to keep cool is to visit the Museum of Natural History. Most of the halls are bathed in a soothing, dusky half-light, and intense air conditioning. Of special note is the Hall of Ocean Life, which, with all the watery (and might I add beautiful) dioramas, can’t help but cool you down. I’m especially fond of the otters, but if you’re in desperate danger of melting, might I suggest you spend some time contemplating the walrus.

The soothing, watery hall is great, but there’s another room at the museum that I feel is the best place, possibly in all of New York city, for halting a core meltdown. Can you guess? Okay, I’ll tell you. As unlikely as it may seem, it’s the Hall of Minerals and Gems.

So Hot

It’s a funny room, like your best friend in 6th grade’s parent’s den. You know, the one with a sunken fire pit and shag carpet on the walls… But you know what? It’s incredibly dark, almost painfully cold and, with all the carpeted levels, it’s even possible to pull up a dark corner and take a nap. I’ve never done it (Who? Me? Napping in a museum? Never!), but I’ve seen others doing it.

But that’s not what we did this weekend. Instead, we pulled up a tree on a bluff overlooking New York Harbor in Owl’s Head Park. There was a very strong sea breeze wafting off the harbor. Under our chosen tree it was at least 20 degrees cooler. It was lovely.

New York Harbor

The park is perfect for watching ships and boats come and go in the harbor. If you’re a fan of tug boats (and really, who isn’t?), this is the park for you. There’s dozens of them pulling and prodding, herding and cajoling the scores of enormous tankers making their way to the Port of New York. I think next time I’ll bring my binoculars, and a picnic.

Owl's Head Park

Sadly, we hadn’t planned that far ahead this time. Seriously, it was too hot to think ahead like that. So after a few hours we headed home for dinner. We whipped up our third, delicious bodega veggie salad of the weekend. On Saturday we made a dilly cucumber number and a zippy, Moroccan-esque carrot ditty (kind of like these pickles, but in a bowl) and on Sunday, a kitchen sink chopped salad.

Zippy Moroccan-esque Carrot Salad

This heat wave came too early. It was too hot to cook, but there were no fresh, seasonal veggies to help make is seem worth it. I don’t mind a stretch of days in the 90s in late July or mid-August, at least then there’s produce in the markets. You really can live on tomatoes alone during those dog days. But early June? No thanks Mother Nature! The peas aren’t even out yet!

Dilly Kirby Ditty Salad

But, we survived, with the help of some salads. I’m sure there are more hot days, and thus, delicious salads to come, but just in case it’s really, really hot out, and you can’t find me in the kitchen, you’ll know where to look.

I’ll be the happy lump under the mica display.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Zippy Moroccan-esque Carrot Salad and Dilly Kirby Ditty Salad.

Zippy Moroccan-esque Salad

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: none!

  • 10-12 small thin Carrots, scrubbed and cut into thin slices or half moons
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Date Syrup or Honey
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Pimenton de la Vera
  • Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • Caraway Seeds
  • Ground Coriander
  • Dried Pepper Flakes
  • Cayenne
  • Dried Cloves
  • Garam Masala
  • 1 Preserved Lemon, flesh removed and chopped finely
  • Fresh Mint, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Harissa, Shatta or Rooster sauce

Put the carrots in a big bowl.

Make the base of the dressing with red wine vinegar, olive oil and the date syrup or honey. It should be tart-sweet.

Sprinkle over the carrots (you will know best which flavors you want more or less of):

  • A pinch of Pimenton de la Vera
  • A large pinch of mustard seeds, caraway seeds and dried chile flakes
  • A very large pinch of ground coriander
  • A very small pinch (or shake) of cayenee pepper and dried cloves
  • A medium pinch of Garam Masala
  • The Preserve Lemon

Pour the dressing over the carrots and mix. Allow to sit out for at least half an hour, then taste. Adjust the seasonings as necessary. It should be very zippy and have a nice level of heat. If it does not, add a dollop of the harissa, shatta or Rooster sauce and the minced garlic. Let it sit for a few more minutes and, just before serving, add the chopped mint. Mix and enjoy!

Dilly Kirby Ditty Salad

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: none!

  • 1 large Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 Persian Cucumbers or 2 English Cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Date Syrup or Honey
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 large bunch Dill, chopped
  • small handful Mint, chopped

Put the onion and cucumbers in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and garlic, mix.

Make a simple dressing of the vinegar, date syrup and olive oil.

Add the dill and mint to the bowl and pour the dressing over. Enjoy!

20 Responses to “Salad Days”

  1. Jean June 12, 2008 at 7:30 am #

    Great photos. We had the heat wave, too, in Cleveland. And then 2 nice days (air-conditioning fee) and then heard it’s on its way up again today, about 89 with high humidity – so brace yourself — it’s coming your way. Stock up on those bags of froze peas!

  2. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) June 12, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    Ugh. I was in New York earlier this week to experience the extreme city heat wave. Wish I’d been able to hide out in the museum with you, instead of being at an outdoor event at our granddaughter’s school. By Tuesday night, I was too hot to eat anything at all (a great way to diet, but not something I’d recommend on a regular basis), but a nice cold pickle from the fridge would have been wonderful.

  3. Ann June 12, 2008 at 8:45 am #

    You actually went outside?! Other than my trip to the farmer’s market Saturday I spent the worst of the heatwave under a wet towel in a horizontal position near the air conditioner.

    Your salad looks so refreshing!

  4. Julia June 12, 2008 at 8:52 am #

    The heat wave was just awful, and I totally agree about it not being the right season for cooling food to cope with it. My body was craving cucumber and tomato salads and watermelon, but none of those things are truly in season at the farmers markets yet. Thanks for the Moroccan carrot salad, it’s on my to do list to make this summer!

  5. Terry B June 12, 2008 at 10:15 am #

    Ann—We have the same affection for the Field Museum here in Chicago, for many of the same reasons. There is a slight mothball smell when you enter the museum that is oddly comforting. Can’t remember if the American Museum of Natural History has that same smell or not. And as a kid growing up in St. Louis, my two cool, comforting places in that city’s notoriously hot summers were the St. Louis Art Museum and the neighborhood branch of the library.

  6. Melissa Bailey June 12, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    Ugh I agree this heat wave has been awful. Here in Mass, we had a thunderstorm 2 nights ago that was so windy, it knocked trees over everywhere. And I am not talking about some little saplings, I’m talking huge trees that have been around for 40+ years. We didn’t lose power that night, but most others on our street did. And since there were branches and such on the power lines they had to shut the power off (ALL DAY) in order to work on fixing the lines. Needless to say, yesterday was a HORRIBLE day. No A/C, no fridge, no fans… and NO INTERNET!! AHHH… oh but it’s over, ok, I scared myself for a second there. Take care during the hot months to come.

  7. EB June 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    Oh my god! I have the exact same feeling about the Hall of Minerals and Gems! I had a weird fascination with that particular room. I’m loving this salad recipe by the way. Looks cool and yummy. When I lived in NYC and there was a heatwave I would dunk the bedsheet in the tub…get it all soaked… wring it out and then put it in the freezer. After it froze in there for a bit I’d take it out and put it on top of the bed, lie down (preferably nekked) and crank the fan. Ahhh good times.

  8. Christina June 13, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    When I was in college in DC, I worked at a florist near Dupont Circle. During summer lunches, when I’d want to be out of the cool of the florist but not dying from the heat and humidity of the city, I’d sometimes take refuge in the cool dark of St. Matthew’s Cathedral. It’s funny how the heat forces us into places that we may like, but never really completely appreciate until summertime.

    This Moroccan carrot salad is making me hungry. I must go eat lunch now.

  9. daisy from downunder June 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    i really do sympathize with you , i hate the hot weather,once the temp goes over 30 degrees i don,t go outside the front door,my air con is never off,at the moment here in Adelaide Australia its lovely and cool,12 degrees at 11 am, good cooking and eating weather,the nights are getting cold now,i,m having to put the heater on,i love it,hope you don,t get too many heat waves!stay cool,love your photos and your site its great.

  10. Marie June 14, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    Great leafy pics. My garden fried while I chilled in Canada. Time to start over,.

  11. Julie June 15, 2008 at 3:56 am #

    That was a fierce heat wave for early June. These salads look perfect for hot weather. And I like all of your ideas for staying cool. Going to an afternoon movie is another great way to stay in cool air conditioned darkness.

  12. David Santos June 15, 2008 at 6:46 am #

    Excellent post. Nice pictures. Nice dogs. Good persons and cery nice colors.
    Happy day

  13. Meryl June 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    Great looking recipes — and, yes, it is a relief the heat wave is gone. In Michigan, with storms and power outages, it makes for some long and sweaty nights. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog so much, I hope you don’t mind my adding it to mine.

  14. annabel June 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm #

    hello! the heat wave is indeed incredible. after coming back from cool europe i was slammed into the heat of being just north of the equator. singapore is blistering hot sometimes and you can fall asleep because of the heat and sit still and sweat. i think it may be over 30 degrees and my air-con’s on now. no choice, singapore has the same awful humid hot temperature all year and gets worse in summer. at least nyc is cold to freezing in winter. good luck with heat!

  15. ann June 17, 2008 at 5:44 am #

    Jean — It came, and now it’s gone. I hope it cool and breezy where you are too!

    Lydia — I’m sure I lost a pound or two in that heat, too! It was just too much. I’m glad you survived the trip to the city!

    Ann — Ha ha. That sounds like a wonderful plan for the next heat wave! I’ll need a gelato walla as well though.

    Julia — Watermelon! Yes! That is exactly what I was craving. Watermelon plain. Watermelon with feta and balsamic. Watermelon granita. Mmmm.. those all would have been so wonderful.

    TerryB — Oh! The Field Museum! I bet if I lived in Chicago I’d have to be pulled kicking & screaming from that place on a near weekly basis. And the library. Yes, how could I ever forget summers spent in the Kinderhook Library.. Sigh… I’ve just been swept by the most overwhelming (and not unpleasant) wave of nostalgia… Thank you :-)

    Melissa — Oooof! I’m glad you made it through that one in one piece! It sounds very scary.

    EB — HA! Nice to meet another gem-room fan! I knew there had to be others out there, each time I visit, there’s just too many knowing folk walking around looking at the “gems.” Nice trick with the sheet. I’m worried it would be a little too soggy, but, it’s definitely one I’m going to sock away for a hot day.

    Christina — Aha! Yes! Churches of all stripes are a wonderful place to escape the heat. I’m quite partial to them as well. I hope your lunch was delicious!

    Daisy — It always blows my mind when someone from the Southern Hemisphere drops by and comments. It’s so easy to forget that half the world is experiencing opposite weather… I’m such an American sometimes. I hope you’re enjoying your Autumn! It really is a lovely time of year :-)

    Marie — I saw the pictures!! I’m so sorry! I hope everyone will be alright!

    Julie — Yes! An afternoon movie! I mean, that’s kind of why movie houses were invented in the first place! I can’t believe I forgot that. Some nice strawberry pannacotta would have been a perfect dessert for those salads, let me tell you ;-)

    David — Hi, welcome and thanks. Those are very kind words.

    Meryl — Yep, you nailed it. I think I’m only just catching up on my sleep!

    Annabel — I’ve heard that about Singapore, the hot, hot heat. I’d still like to visit someday though, if only for the chicken rice. Don’t envy us our winters too much. They’re equally as awful as summer, but the opposite, with snow! Stay cool!

  16. Simone June 17, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    We tend not to make it out of the dinosaur exhibit, consequently I’ve never been to the Hall of Minerals and Gems. Glad you liked my hood. There’s going to be some kind of environmental summer solstice celebration on the 69th Street Pier this weekend you might want to check out. Also have you been to the Sunset Park hill for an awesome view with a pool? BTW, I found your blog through Pink of Perfection.

  17. ann June 17, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    Simone — Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I do love the dinosaurs too, they’re wonderful. And your ‘hood is fantastic! I love it to pieces. I do love Sunset Park, we walk to it frequently, it is fantastic. I’m hoping to go swimming there this summer.

  18. michelle June 17, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    that carrot salad is on my list. i’ve been living on this salad but i can’t eat it ALL summer, no matter how much i like it. love the flavors in the carrot!

  19. Sarah June 18, 2008 at 9:45 am #

    Thank you for the tip about Owl’s Head Park (what an awesome name!). It sounds like the perfect place to go when the next, unfortunately inevitable, heatwave strikes. BTW, did you notice how cooooool it was this morning? 60-something degrees!

  20. ann June 19, 2008 at 6:53 am #

    Michelle — Uh, yeah, I’m in love with your salad too. So I guess you could say we’ve got a little case of salad lovefest around these parts. I wonder what the cure is? ;-)

    Sarah — Hey, no prob! It’s a great park, and I agree, I just love the name! And yes, I did notice how awesome it was yesterday morning! I went for a run and my toes were actually a little cold. Made me run even faster I guess :-)

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