by Arleen M. Kaptur

Ah! the month of July - hot, hot, and hot. Meals still have to be prepared and they should awaken very sluggish appetites. The food should not heat up the kitchen or the cook. The flavor should be brisk and the colors bright. So - what do you prepare when the temperatures soar but the desire to cook and stay in the kitchen is at an all-time low?

Try some of these menu ideas and maybe they will just hit the spot! Grilled salmon steaks, buttered pasta with garnish of parsley, cucumber spears in Russian or French dressing, orange sherbet *** Chili dogs on a bun, grilled potato wedges, baby carrots in lemon butter, brownies with vanilla ice cream *** Triple-decker club sandwiches (your choice of meat/cheese), creamy coleslaw, fresh string beans, strawberry ice cream *** Ravioli (meat or cheese), seasoned with Parmesan and chopped basil, broccoli spears, fresh garden salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radish, your favorite cookies *** Grilled ham steaks, grilled sweet potato halves, sweet peas with onions, pound cake slices with strawberry/raspberry/blueberry topping and whipped cream *** Creamed chicken or beef on toast points, melon wedges (watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.), spinach salad, assorted cupcakes *** Barbecued pork or beef on a bun, corn on the cob, garden fresh sliced tomatoes with slices of mozzarella cheese and drizzled with Italian dressing, rainbow sherbet or ice cream *** Panfried steak sandwiches with onions and sweet peppers on French bread or rolls, sliced fresh peaches, lettuce wedges with Thousand Island Dressing, Chocolate cake slices *** Meatloaf slices, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, milk shakes *** Antipasta Platter(deviled eggs, sliced cheeses, salami, olives, tomato slices, onions, etc.) Assorted bread basket, lemon ice *** or try an It's Raining Picnic on your back porch or covered patio when refreshing summer rains come - Fried chicken, corn nibblets, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, and jello for dessert with lots of fresh lemonade or iced tea. Decorate with the food in a picnic basket, checkered tablecloth, and napkins, and paper plates, and cups. ***

How about going down to a nearby lake or stream and having a tailgate picnic? Using a portable grill, have some hamburgers or hot dogs, buns, condiments, watermelon slices, garden salad, and a lot of fun! For a tailgate picnic try these: baked beans, fruit slices, chips, crackers, fruit juices, cookies, doughnuts, relishes - mix or match and you have a great meal right there - put that tailgate down and spread a nice cloth, put the lawn chairs around, and enjoy the sunset or the beauty of the season!

When the kids are a little down on energy and enthusiasm, give them their own "Hobo Lunch" sacks to take outside and enjoy. Peanut butter sandwiches or their favorite luncheon meats or cheese, carrot or celery sticks, giant sugar cookies, or pudding or jello in self-serve cups, and some fresh fruit. Tie in a colorful bandana, run through the end of a stick, and set them off on adventures in the backyard. Don't forget to include a wet paper towel in a sandwich bag for clean-up after eating. Let them fill in the adventures and the fun just comes naturally!

These are just suggestions for fast, easy meals when the temperatures of Summer heat everything and everyone. You still want great meals but without the time, or work. ENJOY!

©Arleen M. Kaptur 2002 June (An excerpt from the Living is Easy-Summertime cookbook by Arleen Kaptur)

About the Author
Arleen Kaptur has written numerous articles, booklets, and the novel: Searching for Austin James
Websites: http://www.arleenssite.com

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