August 31, 2009

It's Hot

This weekend in Los Angeles was strange; the weather was hot, the fires burned visibly over the hills and the air quality was ugly. In short, it was a perfect weekend to stay inside and eat popsicles. So, I decided to join the Central Los Angeles Critical Mass on Friday night and get outside. Nothing like a long bike ride around Hollywood to get the blood flowing. Actually, I dropped out on the 25th mile, but word on the street is that the 300 person bicycle gang kept on going straight through downtown to stop traffic until the wee hours. Next month, I'm making it to the 40th mile if that's what it takes to finish. For the rest of the week, I am going to stay inside and give it a rest. While my legs thanked me for Friday's workout, my lungs are not pleased. With this heat and smoke, neither are yours, I'm sure. But before you turn up the air, heed the warning of the DWP and try not to blast your AC. With the combo of heat + fires + energy consumption, we could be in for a potential blackout. That being said, try everything you can to cool off. Here are some ideas:

For your belly:

Dad's Shrimp Ceviche
While this isn't exactly ceviche, it is the recipe I knew growing up. Maybe dad's way of introducing me to ceviche? Probably, but either way it is a yummy salad and best eaten with crackers.

1 lb. fresh bay shrimp
1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/3 bunch bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cocktail sauce
1/4 serrano chile
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 garlic powder
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients in a bowl and serve chilled.

Spicy Gazpacho
Extremely easy and healthy, this Spanish soup is great for a day when you don't want to turn on the stove.
2 cucumbers, diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 serrano chile, chopped and seeds removed
juice of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour into food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Chill for 3-4 hours. Serve.

Heirloom Tomato, Basil and Watermelon Salad
People seem to always go back for seconds with this recipe. You can use the other half of the watermelon for the granita.

1/2 large seedless watermelon, cubed
7-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 heirloom tomatoes, cubed
3 oz. crumbled feta
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or to taste)
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except feta into a large bowl. Sprinkle feta on top. Chill before serving.

Watermelon & Mint Granita
This can be made with other fruits such as peaches or blackberries or if you're feeling saucy, add some vodka or rum to the mix.

5 cups (about 3 lbs) seedless watermelon, cubed
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sugar

Blend the watermelon in a food processor or blender until smooth. Mix the watermelon puree, mint, lime juice and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13" metal pan and place in the freezer. Place the mixture in the freezer and every 30 minutes for 3-3 1/2 hours scrape the mixture with a fork until it has a sno-cone consistency. When done, scrape again and serve.

Blueberry Orange Smoothie
This is a simple breakfast that will keep you cool on your way to work.

1/2 bag frozen blueberries
1/2 bag frozen strawberries
3 cups of orange juice (adjust for consistency)
2 cups of lowfat vanilla yogurt

Combine berries and juice in a blender on highest setting. Add yogurt and blend until smooth.

For your body:

Cucumber Spa Water
Why is it that if you throw some cucumber in water you just drink more?

1 gallon of water
1 cucumber, sliced (not peeled)
6-8 mint sprigs
1 lime, sliced

Mix this all together and drink up.

Cool Lavender & Lemon Foot Soak
If you keep your feet cold, the rest of your body should cool down and you'll have delicious smelling feet.

2 cups baking soda
1 teaspoon almond oil
5 drops lavender essential oil
1/2 cup of dried lavender
1 lemon cut into round slices

Fill a soaking bucket or bowl with warm water. Add all of the ingredients except for ice and stir. When the baking soda is dissolved, add the ice until the water is cool and soak feet.

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