Well, I did my best. Reports of an impending onslaught of heat and humidity were flying so I dragged the air conditioners out of the garage and hoisted them into a couple of windows. I have to tell you they weigh a ton or maybe it just seems that way. It was tough work but I was willing to make the sacrifice. I just knew that if anything could forestall the approaching wave of steamy air, my advanced preparation was it.
Like most people in northern New England, I resist the lure of cool, conditioned air. I can’t be sure but I think in must have something to do with the nine or ten months we keep our windows sealed up tight. Summer is a celebration of fresh air. It is a joy to tear open the shutters and throw up the sash. Come September, we’ll be opening fewer windows and closing them by late afternoon.
I suppose I could bite the bullet and invest in central air conditioning. I could but I won’t. Instead, I rally around the mostly true clichés that we Yankees mutter every summer.
“It’s New Hampshire. It doesn’t get all that hot.”
“It’s New Hampshire. It always cools down at night.”
“It’s New Hampshire. There’s always a nice breeze.”
“It’s New Hampshire. When it gets really hot, a thunder shower cools things down.”
“Come on, it’s New Hampshire. We get, what, maybe three really hots days and nights a summer.”
On top of being a New Englander, I lived in Switzerland for a couple of decades. And guess what? You got it; there was no air conditioning. Not in houses, not in stores or restaurants or even offices. Yes, I shared an office building with a couple hundred people and it was not air-conditioned. It was air-cooled but no one seemed to know what that meant. Since you’re dying to ask … yes, there were times when the office felt (and smelt) like a boys’ locker room during a heatwave in Louisiana. On the plus side, there were no fights over the thermostat and no space heaters hidden under desks.
Anyway, when I bought my house near Pleasant Lake, there were half a dozen almost-new window air conditioners in the garage. The former owners were from California and didn’t share my New England mindset. These west coast transplants didn’t last long in the land of four seasons, three maybe four years. I’m not sure if our icy cold winters or hot, humid summers did them in. It could’ve been both. They said they were moving west again to be closer to their kids.
I’ve been known to curse those Californians. After all, if those air conditioners weren’t in the garage, I wouldn’t need to lug them around twice a year. Thankfully, I didn’t keep them all. I’d be exhausted before I got them installed. I sold a couple and held on to a few. Just in case.
There you have it: the confession. I’m not the purist I pretend to be. While I draw the line at spending thousands on central air conditioning, I’m not totally adverse to throwing a unit into a bedroom window. Particularly if it was free in the first place. Free – the Yankee blessing and curse that fills our attics and garages with things we hardly need.
Stay cool and bon appétit!
1 baguette, sliced
Garlic-Basil Oil (recipe follows)
2 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
Sea salt to taste
Preheat the grill to medium-high.* Place the bread slices on the grill and cook until golden, about 1 minute per side.
Remove from the grill and, while the bread is still warm, generously brush with Garlic-Basil Oil. Add a generous spoonful of tomatoes, sprinkle with sea salt and chopped chives and serve.
* You can toast the bread on a grill pan or in the oven but the end result will not be as delicious.
2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped basil leaves
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put the basil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small food processor or blender and pulse to chop and combine. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and process until the basil and garlic are finely chopped and incorporated into the oil.
Let the oil sit at room temperature for up to 60 minutes or in the refrigerator for several hours to mix and meld the flavors. Serve at room temperature.
Store any extra Garlic-Basil Oil in the refrigerator.
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Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016