Sira-Sira Store: Niño break

IT’S pretty obvious that summer is officially here—the heat intensely blisters our skin by day and drenches our back with sweat by night.

This summer is no ordinary one. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the country will experience or is experiencing a mild El Niño phenomenon.

The compounded situation has dried up rice fields and human tongues alike. Because they feel they have cotton in the mouth, people drain out watering holes just to satisfy their need for liquid first aid, beer included. Aside from protection like hats and umbrellas, people have found out that since they can’t beat the heat, they might was well join it with some ingenuity.

There are many ways people handle the heat. Let me count three ways: Swimming in the pool; going to the cinema to chill out while watching Insurgent; and overstaying in a favorite cafe to absorb all the airconditioning the place can muster.

You actually don’t have to go farther than your house to make something out of the heat. Yes, on the cheap too. You can do homemade heat-breakers at your own pace. Normally, you would have to buy books about beating the heat or searching the Internet for ways. Your Uncle Ober will make it easier for you right here.

Melon-coolie. Secure two pieces of cantaloupes. Reserve one half; cut the rest into tiny cubes. Mash the reserved cantaloupe and set aside. Make the dressing by mixing one cup of powdered milk with one cup water and stir until all lumps are gone. Adjust the consistency if you like by adding more milk and water. Add one cup vanilla ice cream and mix well. Add sugar to taste, then pour over cubed cantaloupe. Chill well. To serve, ladle out portions in chilled individual bowls. Add ice cubes if you like.

Kini kinilaw. Thanks to a feature in Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, I got an idea on how to give Cebuano kinilaw a new twist. In Soho’s summer food feature, the chef added sliced chicos to the kinilaw nga isda. My version uses pink buongon or pomelo segments.

Toss cubed tangigue in vinegar to remove the fishy smell. Gently squeeze and drain. Add minced ginger, onion, green onion tops, chopped finger chili and seeded tomato, and mix well. Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and incorporate with the fish mixture. Chill well. Just before serving, add chilled pomelo segments.

Cool as cucumber dinner. Make this cold meal ahead of time. To make the sweet-sour cucumber, peel one cucumber and slice into paper-thin circles; do the same with one radish. Mix them and squeeze out as much of their water as you can.

Make the marinade by mixing two tablespoons cider vinegar, three tablespoons white sugar or to taste and salt to taste. Heat the mixture but don’t boil it; then pour over the cucumber medley. Rest in the refrigerator to pickle and chill. To serve, drain the marinade and place salad in a bed of lettuce.

Make chicken salad by flaking one whole boiled chicken breast. To this, add enough mayonnaise to moisten; drained pineapple tidbits; seeded and cubed one-half cucumber; a squeeze of lemon to taste; salt and pepper to taste. Chill.

Eat this cold meal with wheat bread. It is best enjoyed in front of an electric fan. Find your favorite fun show (avoid those that make you cry) and have a casual TV dinner on the sofa with the family.

Summer is here to stay. We are in a tropical country, remember? That’s why we need to find ways to stay cool beyond cold lemon drink and watermelon slush.

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