By Gini Rainey
Living in Texas during the summer can be quite a challenge for someone who grew up just a couple hundred miles south of the Canadian border. I don’t believe I will ever get acclimated to the heat here. I came close at one point, before I had a heat stroke in Puerto Vallerta, but that’s another story!
This week we are lucky enough to be facing some record temperatures and I can honestly say that as many times as I told myself during the chilly winter temperatures we had this past winter how much I would appreciate those days in the summer…those thoughts have totally been wiped out thanks to the 100°-plus weather we’ve been blessed with recently.
Growing up it seemed like we had a lot of hot days in Minnesota, and while we didn’t have air-conditioning, we managed to stay semi-cool most of the time. It was always great fun to run through the water-sprinkler or find a shady place to play a quiet game or two. One of my favorite things to do was grab a book and climb about half way up one of our apple trees. Not only had this tree been gracious enough to grow a couple of branches that actually crossed each other and made a great sitting spot, but it usually had some yummy apples just ripe for the picking.
My mom would get around the heat of the kitchen by baking apple dumplings (from the benevolent apple tree) early in the day and making great salads for dinner that were a welcome relief after the heat of the day dissipated. One of my favorites she would make was a macaroni and shrimp salad that still works well today in the Texas heat. In fact, I just finished making one for dinner this evening.
Although I haven’t been able to find the tiny little macaroni “o’s” like she would use (the lighter pasta goes well with the shrimp), today I cooked a 1 pound box of Barilla® Ditalini in 6 cups salted water until al dente. While the pasta was
cooking, I diced half a medium white onion, 3 stalks of celery, 2 avocados, and 3 hard boiled eggs. When the pasta was cooked, I drained it and rinsed thoroughly with cold water to reduce the temperature and poured it into a large serving bowl along with the diced ingredients. I then put a cup of Miracle Whip® (I’m sorry, all of you dyed-in-the-wool mayonnaise users, but Miracle Whip® adds a needed zing to this salad), 3/4 cup of milk, ½ teaspoon freshly ground green peppercorns, and ¼ teaspoon salt (feel free to adjust your seasonings) into a covered jar and shook to blend. I folded the dressing into the salad along with a pound of small steamed shrimp and it is now refrigerating until I serve it later today with a tomato cucumber salad and fresh baked rolls. Dessert? What else but a frozen Key Lime pie! Now if that isn’t good summer eating, well then I don’t know what is!