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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hot or Not

I am so tired of being hot.  And by hot I mean, hot as in the temperature, not hot as in "she is so hot".  This is because I am 54 years old, and let's face it, there's only so hot, as in "she's so hot," you can be at 54. And there is an unlimited amount of hot when it comes to hot as in the temperature.

There are those women out there who, even at (the advanced age of) 54, are still hot.  Good for them.  At this point, I'm just happy that nothing is sagging too offensively, and that the radiation tattoos kind of blend in with all the sun damage my skin endured back when I was, in fact, actually hot, as in "she's so hot".  I suppose with the right lighting, I might still pass for somewhat hot, but I'm not sure, and I don't want to ask Ted because he'll just say I am because that's what he's supposed to say.  And he won't look because he "already knows" what I look like.

There are also those women who have hot bodies which , when you see them from behind you think, "wow, that's some body on her".  Then she turns around and she's about 70 years old, with skin that looks like it spent way too much time laying on a chaise lounge in Palm Springs.  She's also wearing skinny jeans which were not designed for a 70 year old body, no matter how hot said body happens to be.

To be fair, I used to think 70 was old.  Now I think 70 is pretty much middle age,  Everything is relative.

But back to the weather.  It's been so damn hot and humid that I am sweating pretty much all the time.  Add to that the fact that we are in the midst of a massive painting/redecoration project in our house, and you can just assume that tempers are hot too.  I think my painters, who I love the day they start whatever project we're embarking on, and hate by about a week in, are taking un permanent residence on my third floor along with all the crap that Ted can't live without.

Anyway, because it's been about a thousand degrees outside, and because it's Wednesday, and that means it's NYT Dining day, we had a cold dinner.  Yup. Cold as in chilly.  No cooking.  No fuss, no muss, no bother.  Well, maybe a little muss and bother because there was chopping and blanching and tossing involved.  But on a scale of one to ten, ten being "she's so hot", this dinner was a ten.  Not a ten because of the hot factor, but instead it was a ten because it was so cool.  And as we all know, cool is often just as good as hot.

Recipe:  Spicy Pearl Couscous Salad
David Tanis, New York Times, July 16, 2014

For the Dressing:

2 tablespoons lemon juice, more to taste, plus zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 red Fresno chile, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup olive oil

For the Salad:

1 pound very small new potatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 sweet bell peppers
1/2 pound Romano beans or green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 pound pearl couscous
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
Small bunch mint, cilantro or parsley, for garnish


In a small bowl, stir together lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, turmeric, cayenne, chile, caraway, cumin and cinnamon. Whisk in olive oil. Set aside.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put halved potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and roast cut side down until tender, about 15 minutes.

Roast bell peppers whole under broiler, over a gas burner or over hot coals until skins are blackened and blistered, 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside to cool. Using a paring knife, split peppers lengthwise and scrape away seeds and charred skin (do not rinse). Cut into 1/2-inch strips.

Drop beans into salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Meanwhile, boil the couscous in abundant salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes, then drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Blot dry.

Put couscous in a shallow salad bowl. Add roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes and beans and season with salt and pepper. Add dressing and toss well to coat. Add potatoes and toss again. Taste and adjust for salt and lemon. Garnish with mint, cilantro or parsley leaves.

YIELD 6 to 8 servings

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