Don’t sweat it

Can I just tell you how hot it is down here? OMFG. For one, it’s 99 degrees and it’s only noon. But at least that’s midday and not just some random-ass heat in the dawning light of the morning. Chris and I got up early today to do a short training run, since we’ve been neglecting our outdoor exercise in favor of all but crawling inside our air-conditioning vents. We figured that 7 am would be cooler, and we’d be able to crank out some mileage before the sun showed it’s miserable whore of a face. It was cooler, since we’d finally gotten some rain last night. When I say cooler, mind you, I don’t mean “cool.” Just cooler than, say, the river styx. But about 15 minutes into our run we saw the first rays of light and immediately afterwards felt the torturous, relentless heat of San Antonio summer. We stopped at 5 miles. We were drenched in sweat, with it pooling in our belly buttons and running in torrents into our eyeballs. Ick.

We went home and took quick showers, got dressed, and packed up the dog to drive down to the farmer’s market. I wore my new hot pink sundress, which I got for $9.95 clearance at American Eagle, and which I adore. Bad choice, it turns out. You see, when it’s that hot and humid outside, water just kind of condenses on your body. It can’t be sweat, since it’s not like I was exerting myself (except when I had to body-slam some lady in order to get the last basket of new potatoes). But whatever it was, Chris’s shirt was drenched through, and I felt a bead of moisture, bold from the lack of a waistband, trickle all the way from my neck, down my back, across the not-insignificant obstacle of my butt and down my hamstring to my knee vicinity. I was MORTIFIED. Sure, nobody could see it, but it was still a horrible experience. I finished my shopping, grabbing a big hunk of blue oyster mushrooms, and hauled hiney back to the car to crank up the AC. We are NOT cut out for this kind of weather. I don’t ever recall sweating in Colorado. Not even while running. It’s just too cold and dry for such indignity.

The point of this story was not to completely gross you out by talking about sweating. Nor was it to make you pity my Texas existence. No, it was to make a very important point, namely “I went to a farmer’s market.” I haven’t made anything out of my loot just yet, but I will tonight.

I adore farmer’s markets. There’s something so fresh and wholesome and at-one-with-the-earth about them. And they’re a foodie wet dream. Tiny tomatoes, so sweet they’re almost a dessert, large, potent onions, and the greenest of greenery. It’s ambrosia. I’ve really been craving that kind of Amish homeyness lately. Colorado’s been having glorious, rainy, summery weather, and I’m so jealous that I’m puce.

Last night I cranked out some dinner that felt completely familiar and cozy. This recipe reminds me of my mom’s cooking, but with my own twist. I love the foods that transport you to younger years without really trying. I don’t mean like Nutty Bars, which actually just transport me to pilfering $.30 from my dad’s change jar before grade school so I could painstakingly lick each molecule of peanut butter and chocolate from each individual wafer layer, trying desperately to make it last for the entire English period so my brain didn’t spend any time actively rotting in the back of my head from boredom. I mean the hearty-family-’round-the-kitchen-table kind of transport.

It’s so simple. Just inexpensive (albeit grass-fed) stew beef from the WhoFo, dredged and braised in a liquid of red wine and vegetable broth. There were supporting players, like 12 cloves of minced garlic, a sliced sweet onion, some carrots, some peas, and some caramelized tomato paste for depth of flavor. They just kind of hung out in the background, making friends with the spices of bay oil and thyme. After 2 hours of simmering, the whole thing was fall-apart tender and the sauce had thickened into a salty, rich, and tasty nectar that coated each piece of beef and each vegetable, without being so viscous as to bully the senses. The whole lot was poured over real Amish egg noodles and served all mixed-up in a bowl. Perfect. Zero finesse, zero fuss, but absolute comfort.

It helps that we crank the AC down to about 68 degrees on occasion, just so we can enjoy a warm meal without our bodies being like “Hey, assclown. It’s summer. Make me a salad and hook me up with a slice of watermelon.” That type of eating is all fun and games when there are 4 seasons. You can look forward to cold winter food during the summer months, while eating salads and watermelon. Then in the winter, you can look forward to fresh, light meals in the summer sun. Here? Not so much. It’s always summer and never the 4th of July, or whatever Mr. Tumnus would say about the hellaciously hot version of Narnia.

7 thoughts on “Don’t sweat it”

  1. Yeah, stupid 3 seasons instead of four. It's like Spring for 3 months, Summer for 6 and then Fall for 3 months. There is no winter. I cannot celebrate Christmas in shorts. It will not be done.

    So, instead, at the first hint of cooler weather, I go crazy baking apple stuff (apple pie, apple dumplings, and I think this year I'll try Tarte Tatin). I have, however, found out this is not a rarity on my part, but that all Yankees do this (not necessarily with apples, but with something that just screams "cooler weather is here."). Of course, it never does get cooler.

  2. Your mention of "Amish" in this post reminded me that I would be very interested in a Spiteful Chef exploration of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. Could be hilarious. Shoofly pie, anyone?
    Aunt Tracy

  3. You know, I went for a run this evening. I waited until about 8:30… we'll say because it was cooler, but really because I was napping. Short run, but I was trying to do some speedwork — intervals kick my butt. I came into the house, and realized that my skin was a little bit moist to the touch, but the moisture had not accumulated in droplets or anything.

    At this precise moment, I am eating cherries I bought at the farmers market this morning.

    Colorado misses you.

  4. You have 3 seasons? That's one more than we have this year….winter and, uh, not winter. For the first time in years our summer is unseasonably COOL (reached a high of 24C today!) and I'm loving it. I sweat like a mofo, which horrifies me to no end. I don't like sweating, but I especially don't like sweating PUBLICLY.

    A few summers ago I was working, one disgustingly hot day, on the patio of a bar. It was a "would you like some sweat with your fries?" kind of day and I was slick. Gross. But grosser, by far, was when all of a sudden my molded cup bra reached a point of saturation and EXPLODED LIQUID onto the front of my shirt in two perfect arcs, like I had an debilitating lactation accident. I still get angry at the sun when I think of that.

  5. You warm my heart. Btw, when Huck and I went to the Whofo last week and bought grassfed stewing beef I made almost that same recipe, only with new potatoes instead of over noodles. Probably wasn't as tasty as yours, but it didn't go to the dogs, either. I did take a bit to Grandma Alice who dearly loves her comfort foods.
    Laurel and I did two farmers' markets Sunday; all you can stuff in a bag for $5.00 at one! Love, Momma

  6. You should try that rag├╣ with a little of the trotter gear I just made. It'll smack the lips right off your face.

    It sounds crazy, but we've not yet had more than a couple real summer days this year. Some nice ones, but cool. Right now it's maybe 70 and raining again. I'm almost- ALMOST- wishing for a day like you describe, though maybe with a tetch less of the ass sweat.

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