Tag Archives: American Museum Of Natural History

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.

Leaves

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.

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