During a normal Kodiak summer, our Emerald Isle is a refuge for travelers escaping the heat of Texas, Florida, Iowa and the like. But when Kodiak tied the all-time record of 86 degrees F. last week, even our B&B guests requested fans to cool down their rooms.
Several topics became common denominators at the breakfast table. First, the “dog days of summer.” What exactly are they?
“Google it!” declared Janice from Pennsylvania. And so we did.
The dog days or dog days of summer, says Wikipedia, are the hot, sultry days of summer. “They were historically the period following the rising of the star system Sirius, which Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. They are now taken to be the hottest, most uncomfortable part of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.”
That sounded a bit extreme for my taste, so I wandered over to the Farmer’s Almanac which says that the term Dog Days of Summer means the 20 days before and 20 days after this alignment of Sirius with the Sun, which is July 3 to Aug. 11.
During this period, the Sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, which is the brightest star and part of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. (This is why Sirius is sometimes called the Dog Star).
On July 23, Sirius is in conjunction (a close approach) with the Sun, And because the star is so bright, the ancient Romans believed it actually gave off heat and added to the Sun’s warmth. This accounted for the long stretch of hot, sultry weather.
Another topic that shared by visitors is food. During our own version of Dog Days, I made extra batches of sun tea (with the help of Sirius, of course) and cooked a lighter fare. Here are a few recipes I’d like to share:
Green Pea Hummus
This dip is a fresh twist on traditional hummus with the addition of green peas from snap pea pods.
1 cup green peas
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup avocado or tahini
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika (smoked is good)
Black pepper to taste
Place green peas in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Place peas and beans in a high-speed blender with remaining ingredients. Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down blender as needed. Taste and season more as desired. Makes about 3 cups.
Tzatziki is traditionally made with plain yogurt, but since I don’t eat dairy products (milk, eggs, or cheese) I set out to create my own version. Use it as a sauce on salmon, halibut; or on sandwiches, wraps, steamed veggies, and salads.
1/2 medium sized cucumber
1/2 block medium-firm tofu, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBL lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 TBL fresh dill, chopped or 1 tsp dried dill
Handful of mint leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste
Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and add to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse a few times until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. Store in the fridge. Makes 1.5 cups.
Cucumber Ginger Lemon Mint Water
Search for this recipe on the internet and watch your screen fill up with health claims, from skinny belly promises to reduced flatulence. Sure, mint is high in anti-oxidants and ginger is a natural remedy for nausea (including seasickness) but for me, it’s just plain thirst-quenching good.
1 peeled cucumber, sliced
6 to 8 slices fresh ginger root
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 lemon, sliced
8 cups (2 quarts) water
Add all ingredients to water. Chill overnight. Strain if you like.
To wrap this up… So, it’s true our hottest days did not fall between July 3 and Aug. 11, but we’ve certainly experienced hot and dry weather this summer. Does this mean we’ll have an early winter? Cold winter?
What do you think? Send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.