Friday, July 3, 2009

Keeping it cool

When I was training to be a missionary in Hungary, our teacher gave us a less-than-helpful warning about the summer we were about to encounter in Budapest:

You think you've been hot before? Just wait.

Coming from Houston, a city with a similar summer climate (100% humidity, 100% of the time), I thought I was more then prepared to meet the heat. It's not til I arrived that I discovered it actually is possible to survive a summer sans A/C. It's just not very comfortable.

From June til September, I was in a perpetual state of sweat. When we were offered cold watermelon for a snack, I wanted to rub my face in it. When we weren't offered ice in our drinks because "it would make us catch cold," I wanted to curse. On our days off, we would go to the farthest grocery store in town, not because it was cheap, and not because it had good produce, but simply because it had A/C.

As I mentioned earlier, Houston is in the middle of a heat wave. Tomorrow, we're scheduled to break another record--hottest 4th of July ever. In honor of this historic occasion, I bring to you three tried-and-true methods to beat the heat. So if you're planning a summer jaunt to Eastern Europe... I hope you're taking notes.
  1. Stick a bucket of ice water next to your bed. If you're anything like me, sleep and sweat just don't mix. Just swing those legs over the side of your bed, stick those feet in the ice water, and enjoy the shock as the cold sting moves from your feet to the rest of your body. Repeat throughout the night.
  2. Stick a fan above the bucket of ice water. It's homemade air conditioning, and it works. We kept multiple buckets of ice around the apartment--once it stopped working with the fan, we found it was still cold enough to work splendidly for trick #1.
  3. Stick a cold rag on your face or neck. In a bind, it also works quite well to use your handkerchief (aka sweat rag). Just pull it out of your pocket, wave it in the air a bit to cool it down, and place it on your face. Listed last because it's not as long-lasting or satisfying as the first two. But not bad for a momentary chill thrill.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Berry Brulee

To celebrate Mom's bday on Monday, Julie and I put together this delicious dessert, courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. It's a great summer treat--light and fresh and, best of all, very difficult to mess up.

Berry Custard Brulee
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (we used 4 t. flour)
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons light dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or halved strawberries


Start with the custard. Combine 2 T. sugar and the cornstarch in a little saucepan. Then add the milk, egg, and finally some heat. Keep stirring over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Immediately pour it into a bowl, and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk sour cream and vanilla into the custard, then cover it and chill anywhere from 2 to 24 hours.

To serve, divide berries evenly among four dishes. Spoon custard over berries. Then set aside.

Now for the topping. Heat 4 T. sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt. Shake the skillet to move the sugar around, but do not stir. Once it looks all melty, reduce heat to low. Now you can take out that wooden spoon and stir until it's a nice golden color. Quickly drizzle caramelized sugar over each dessert. Serve and enjoy.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A state of euphoneria

(Forgive the title--Ryan loves puns.)
This is my new cell phone.

It's cute. It's little. It comes fully loaded with Guitar Hero. All the basic essentials to look for in a phone. And for the last 3 weeks, I was sure it was broken.

When I finally took it in to T-Mobile to rant about my rights and try and get some free stuff, I found out there was nothing wrong with the phone and everything wrong with me.

Me: (handing the phone over) Yeah, it's Nokia, so, you know. I hear lots of people have problems with this one.

Phone guy: Hmm, ok. (Takes out the battery)

Me: Oh, I've already tried that. Didn't work. Yeah, it's definitely broken. Yall have anything I can use til its fixed? Or keep? For free?

PG: (Presses hidden power button. Phone turns on.) Oh. There ya go. Gotta press the power button to turn it on.

Me: Oh. Ha. The power button, huh? Right. (Grabs phone, kicks his shin, and runs out of store)

Seriously? Am I 100 years old or something? I never even saw it sitting there.

Then I started to wonder. Maybe I didn't want to see it there.

It's no secret that I enjoy life without a cell phone. Ryan gets more calls for me on his phone than I get on my own. When we were dating, I went a whole month without one, and life was good. Since they couldn't get ahold of me any other way, friends actually stopped by to visit. I'd get personal invites to events. I had nothing to charge at night. Nothing to silence. Nothing to drop and dent. Not a bad gig.

Ryan remembers that time a little differently than I, and, because of that, I caved and bought another one. Though, now that I know where that little hidden power button is, I just may put it to use. And turn it off.