Fanny is feeling the heat. She's loosening off her ruffled collars, slipping into something more appropriate for the sudden and unexpected heatwave that has just descended upon us, and pondering ways to 'stay cool'. Fanny wants to make 'life cooler' for everyone. She has a few tricks up her not-so-cool polyester sleeves that she has picked up on the Continent, where temperatures soar in the summer (just in case you didn't know that), over the years...
The first has nothing to do with food at all. It is something which is hardly ever copied on this Island either. No, here we tend to open the windows wide open and draw back the curtains or blinds in the hope of making our kitchens cooler. Silly us. The French have the right idea - they draw their shades over open windows so as to exclude the heat of the sun. This does result in a whole new set of kitchen skills to be gained however, but Fanny thinks it is worth it. Who needs to see? French families, she notes, seem to be able to work by braille they draw so many curtains and blinds down until the sun goes away. Maybe try cooking in a blindfold to get used to it.
If that doesn't appeal, Fanny recommends big jugs. Yes, her homemade lemonade is an excellent thirst quencher, and great big jugs of it are essential. Or perhaps something to suck on? Homemade ice lollies cost practically nothing and they reduce those hot weather grizzles and whimperings miraculously. If your issue is keeping things moist in the heat, Fanny recommends greaseproof paper. To cover your sandwiches that is in the refrigerator, to keep them fresh for hours, with a damp muslin on the top.
Fanny hopes the we will all stock up our freezer compartments with ice, just to be ready for any heatwave that comes our way. She recommends moving frozen cubes from moulds to bags to allow more cubes to be frozen in the moulds. Keep going until all your available freezer space is used up, you can never have enough ice cubes. Especially for an emergency chilled soup. Fanny's favourite is Iced Tomato and Courgette, or Potage de Paradis Glacé to those cool dudes on the continent.
Fanny blitzes (or passes through a sieve) skinned tomatoes with gently steamed, peeled courgettes. She adds a pinch of caster sugar, lemon juice and rind, onion juice (I grate it) and soured cream. Serve with ice cubes. That's it, unless you want to make more elaborate version. Fanny always teases. This involves making small cucumber balls and adding a few sprigs of mint or parsley. How elaborate. The soup is really tasty, with or without added balls. I think the onion juice makes it very savoury, but still fresh and 'cool'. Fanny is on hand to rescue one last problem which commonly comes with the heat. If yours gets limp and flabby, just pop it into a jar of cold water with a lump of charcoal in it. It should firm up nicely. Cool down, she's on about Cucumbers.