New England, like every other place in the country I’ve lived, has the saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”
The difference between New England and South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin is this: here, that statement is actually true.
Case in point: Monday, I had to fire up the furnace, because it was freezing in the house. And only 38 outside. Saturday, we had a record low high temperature for the day: 48. Today, Thursday, it is 90, with a heat index of 94. This pattern (bloody fricking freezing followed immediately by sweltering hot) has been repeated three times in the last four weeks. Last night, we had thunderstorms that are impressive for this area – but would have been pretty much a Usual Spring Evening in Texas or Wisconsin. The difference here is that in Texas or Wisconsin, those thunderstorms would have happened because an approaching cool front with nice dry air ran head-first into a big swampy mass of hot steamy air. The result being that when the storms were over, it would cool down. Not here. When those storms were over, around midnight, it started getting warmer and stickier, to the point where 1am found me going through the house, closing all the windows, and turning the air conditioner on.
Today, it is every bit as disgusting as any nasty May day in Houston. And Houston can get pretty darned vile in May. This is right up there. Dewpoints hovering just under Miserable (70), temperatures hovering around Bake (90+) and an Ozone Alert. Ugh.
It’s kind of sad when a person walks outside into a revolting steam bath and says “Ah, yes, just like home” with a sigh of satisfaction.
The bad news is that there’s no way in hell I can work the Wonder Horse when it’s like this. I don’t need to put this kind of stress on his body or mine. We’re not used to it. He can’t decide whether to grow in his winter coat or to shed it out. I might be used to this weather by July, but not when I had to put a sweater and warm socks on three days ago. Not even Texas has weather this psychotic. Texas weather is more impressive, I’ll grant that. But certifiably insane? No. Not to this degree.
The good news is that I haven’t lost my Houston Know How in the last decade of living away. This is grilling weather. Only someone every bit as nuts as the weather itself would be heating up the kitchen by using the stove or oven in weather like this. This is why the Good Lord Gave Us Gas Grills. Yes, I know, I’ve just invited caustic commentary from the Charcoal Briquet Crowd. I, myself, love the smell and flavor imparted by the good old charcoal grill. However, when it’s 94 outside, I want the convenience of going outside, turning a knob, pressing a button, and returning to the air conditioned climate of my Great Indoors. I do not want to stand about flicking matches, and repeatedly checking to make sure the briquets are ashing over evenly, and then rearranging them once they’re good to go. That’s just more time in the sauna, to my thinking.
So today featured a Festival of Marinade. A balsamic, oil, garlic, honey marinade for the fennel bulbs. A mustard and watercress marinade for the salmon fillet. And – best of all – a tequila lime marinade for tomorrow’s chicken. That one left my kitchen smelling like a fresh margarita. All afternoon I’ve had to resist the urge to break out the blender and whip up a frozen concoction. All I need now is a six string and a blown-out flip-flop.
Tequila and lime and steamy hellish heat. Feels like home. Anyone seen my lost shaker of salt?
Marinate the chicken overnight.
Juice of 6 limes (approx 1 C)
½ C tequila
½ C orange juice
half a bunch of cilantro, chopped
large fat jalapeno, deseeded and minced
2 T chili powder
1 t salt
generous grinding of black pepper
6 chicken breast halves with skin
Mix marinade in bowl. Add chicken, coat, cover, chill overnight, turning a couple of times.
Preheat grill to medium and brush rack with oil. Grill chicken until cooked through, turning twice. Chicken should be cooked to temperature of 160.