It's so damn hot this week I could wring myself out and fill a kidding pool with sweat. That's not too much of an exaggeration, mind you. It's been reaching the triple digits here with enough regularity that you could cook an egg to it (and probably do it on the sidewalk).
The new house has good insulation and trees so high they provide excellent shade, and while I worry that they may snap and crash into the roof one day during a winter windstorm, that's a disaster I'll worry about later. For now, shade. Glorious shade. It keeps the house under 85 degrees for the most part, which isn't too bad.
Now, we were going to do some other energy saving tricks to keep the heat down. We had glorious plans to install an attic fan to suck all the stale heat out from above, and two ceiling fans in order to move cool air around inside. Sadly, these plans were dashed when we first turned on the original furnace.
The power company had come in and turned it off. In fact they had taken a sharpie and scribbled on it, "Dangerous! Do not turn on! Seriously! ~SMUD" along with a very official looking sticker that had a lot of legal mumbo jumbo and symbol for fire and a symbol of a skull. Seriously.
Well, we decided to just double check anyway because maybe it was salvageable, yeah? It goes on, the pilot light clicks, and out shoots a huge fireball engulfing the entire furnace closet and scorching the walls pitch black.
Oopa! The joys of home ownership.
After trimming the left eyebrow to match the severely singed right one I immediately called Sears and bought myself a shiny new $3000 furnace. Hoo-fuckin-ray. Let me tell you, for three grand they could at least have it come in colors. Can I at least get it in zebra print?
So yes, that killed the ceiling fan and attic fan budget. We're surviving off of the original air conditioning unit. It was installed in 1986 and is so weather torn the name, instructions, warning stickers, and identifying markers have all been bleached or worn off to a state of complete illegibility if they're even there at all. So far it's held out, but I don't give it much longer.
To cool down we're resorting to old tricks. Opening the windows for a breeze, cold showers with Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap (which has a peppermint oil in it that chills the skin), ice cream by the gallon, plenty of peppermint iced tea, and tower fans here and there. On truly hellish nights I do what my Kansas City grandmother taught me and keep a spray bottle of water by my bed. You mist yourself a bit and then let the fan's cool air run over you. It sounds a bit much, but in a humid Kansas City summer with air so thick you can spread it on toast or in bone dry Nor Cal heat it's a lifesaver.
There's also been a lot of popsicles. Usually with booze in them because I need to catch up with my family members who have already identified their drinking problems and joined AA. I don't keep juice on hand too often, so really I just take some fruit, a bit of wine, and some simple syrup and pop it in a blender or food processor.
The fruit can vary from strawberries to honeydew to peaches. Use what's overripe and what's in season. The wine just has to match the flavor of the fruit: i.e. reds for berries and plums, whites for peaches, melons, and apricots. Simple, right? Sake works too, if you have it.
I usually make simple syrup once a month to add to iced tea. Equal parts sugar and water brought to a simmer and then stored in a clean bottle in the fridge for up to a month. I flavor the syrup depending on my mood; vanilla bean, lavender, rosemary, peppermint, etc. Right now I have a delightful bottle of elderflower syrup made by a friend and that's been seeing plenty of use in sweltering glasses iced tea and chilled champagne.
This particular white sangria popsicle I made using what was around the house. A peach so ripe is was weeped juice at the touch, two soft apricots, and some freshly picked strawberries from the neighbor. I used an unfinished bottle of sauvignon blanc from the other night and a heavy pour of the elderflower syrup.
It's fruity, boozy, sweet, and tart. A fantastic way to combat heat so oppressive it puts Mussolini to shame.
What are your methods for keeping cool? Please let me know because, really, we are dying.
White Sangria Popsicles
Makes 8 popsicles
5 ounces sauvignon blanc
4 ounces of simple syrup (flavored as desired)
2 cups of hulled strawberries
2 apricots, pitted and chopped
1 large peach, pitted and chopped
Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until it is all liquefied with only a few bits of fruit. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Pop out of molds and eat.