Domestic Diva tips for summer

Spark BannerBy: Jane Fountain
Hot weather is here, and quite frankly, The Diva isn’t real thrilled about it. Of course, I’m not thrilled about the weather when it’s too cold either. By my calculations, there’s about two months of absolutely perfect days and nights. For now, I will just try to stay in the air conditioning as much as possible. Sweating is soooo un-Diva.

Summertime is the best time to use your grill. Well, duh, you say. No really girls, bear with me for a minute here. How many times have you slaved over a hot stove cooking a delicious meal for your significant other? How many times has he done it for you? Now I know there are many men out there who do cook indoors, and do it well. I’m not talking about those rare gems. I’m talking about your average man, who usually at best, can open a can of beans, dump it in the pot, and if he’s spent any time at all in the kitchen, knows enough to turn the heat down and stir to keep whatever it is from sticking. I’ll bet he still leaves the pan for you to clean up. We’ll work on that in another column.

Give a man a barbecue grill however, and watch him turn into Wolfgang Puck. Suddenly, he’s the expert on which is better gas or charcoal. He usually requires special tools with which to cook. No little short handled girly spatulas, tongs and forks for this man, no Ma’am. He needs manly man tools. He’ll also need a cold beverage, usually a beer or three.

There’s a man in my family, a distant relative, who grills some of the best ribs I’ve ever had. He’s particular about it though. Optimum conditions and special equipment are required before he’ll even think about grilling. First – the grill MUST be a Webber.– Charcoal, not gas is required. Nothing else is up for consideration. He must have a rib rack – the one where the ribs stand on end. He piles the coals in a little pyramid in the middle of the grill, douses them with something flammable, throws in a match, and waits exactly 30 minutes before putting on the ribs. With the ribs safely ensconced in their little rack in the center of the grill, he puts the lid on the grill, with the vent holes on the top fully open and positioned at 12:00. After exactly 15 minutes, he turns the top (without picking it up) so the holes are in the 3:00 position, This procedure is repeated every fifteen minutes for an hour until he gets all the way back to the 12:00 position. Then and only then, can the lid be lifted. At this point, the ribs are pronounced done. The ribs are served with a barbecue sauce that he makes in gallon containers. If I had the recipe, I’d share it with you, but he’s not giving it up. Whatever it is, it’s delicious.

Back to my original point. Why stand over a hot stove, when you can send the little man outside. Let him sweat. That’s what men are good at. In a perfect world, having a man do the cooking on the grill would mean that you could relax and take it easy. You girls know as well as I do that this won’t be the case. Chances are, YOU shopped for the food. YOU got it ready to go on the grill. YOU carried him water to tone down the fire, YOU brought him his cold beverage, YOU set the table, YOU poured the drinks, and YOU prepared the rest of the meal, and YOU will be the one who cleans up. Oh well, on paper, the original idea sounded good….

Here is a simple meal that, while not guaranteeing you won’t have to do most of the above, you’ll at least keep away from the heat. There’s no cooking required on your part. It requires just a little 20 minute preparation done in the cool confines of your (hopefully) air conditioned kitchen.

I’ll admit, the first time I heard about this recipe, I had my doubts, but my love for all things watermelon,(except for that nasty bubblegum) made me at least try it. I’ve never served it to anyone who didn’t like it, so I hope you will, too. I’ve included quantities here, but this is one of those recipes that you can tailor to your specific likes. Don’t care for cilantro? Use less, or leave it out all together. Like it hot? Add more jalapeño peppers. This recipe should be made several hours in advance, so all the flavors will blend. Overnight works well. It stays good for several days. It’s also good on nacho chips.

Watermelon Salsa

2 cups watermelon, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 slices of onion, depending on taste, chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1-2 chopped jalapeño peppers
Juice of 1 lime

Chop it up, stir it up, cover it, and put it in the refrigerator.

Now, you’ve done all this advance preparation. Close to time to eat, send your man out to the grill with a place of chicken breast filets. When he has pronounced them done, or after his third beverage, whichever comes first, your main course is ready to go. Add some cold potato salad, or coleslaw, and you’ve never broken a sweat. Not bad, huh? If you absolutely MUST cook something on the stove in order to feel fulfilled, Basmati rice also goes well with this,

Don’t forget your pets during the hot summer months. Make sure they have fresh, clean drinking water. Breeds such as Huskies, Malamutes and Shar Peis don’t get along well in the Southern summers, so be extra careful with them and breeds like them. Keep them brushed – it gets rid of all the old hair, and it will help keep them cooler.

Keep vents vacuumed and filters changed on your air conditioner. The Diva has a Labrador retriever, Bubba, who seems to grow an entire new coat every few weeks. When I finally got around to vacuuming the air vents, I pulled out enough hair to re-stuff the living room chair. This helps on the electric bill, also.

Enjoy your dinner. Play with your pet. Tomorrow, cook something, clean something – and make your mother proud.