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.