How we beat the heat

I already told you about strawberry daiquiris. Now it’s time to share some other creative methods.

1. Stick your head over a fan hang-dog fashion.

Let the wind whip through your curls.

Quit when your eyeballs dry out.

2. Get a shower and then lay on in the shade on the front porch and draw pictures.

3. Pluck flowers and stick them behind your ears, in your hair, and between your lips.

This has nothing to do with staying cool but who cares.

4. Put a scratchy polyester lace ballroom gown over your clothes and stand over a fan.

Do not be dismayed when young bohemians stick their heads under your billowing skirts to see your underwear, or shorts, as the case may be.

If you are still not cool enough, stuff two rolls of toilet paper into the bodice of your gown.

Now, even if you aren’t cool temperature-wise, you are certainly cool in the other, clearly more important sense.

5. Sit under the fan in the cool-ish living room and read books.

6. Close the kitchen blinds.

7. Make up fan games, such as affixing a large hanky to the fan so that it billows madly.

Then drop clothespins onto the hanky and watch them fly all over the room.

8. Fill up five gallon drums with icy water and submerge.

Get out when your fingers curl.

9. Make mint tea and guzzle it frequently.

10. Sigh happily when the sun slips over yonder mountain ridge.


Last week was the first time I ever made a mint tea concentrate. And due to all the dire weather predictions for this summer, I have a hunch this new skill of mine will get called into service more than once.

To make the tea, simply cut an enormous pile of mint sprigs (I used apple mint) and rinse them off in a sink full of cool water.

Make a sugar syrup, pour it over the leaves, and let it steep for a goodly number of hours. Strain, add some lemon juice, and ladle the concentrate into containers and freeze. (For step-by-step instruction, see Zoe’s post.)

This recipe makes a huge amount of concentrate—I put several quart jars of concentrate in the fridge and the rest in pint jars in the freezer.

As for the tea itself, it is delicate and refreshing. Last night my exhausted husband guzzled a whole glass and then smacked it back down on the table hard enough to make the ice rattle.

“This tea is perfect!” he roared.

“Not too sweet?” I asked.

“No way! It’s perfect!”

Mint Tea Concentrate
Adapted from my cousin Zoe over at Whole Eats & Whole Treats

Zoe says that a 12-quart kettle full of leaves equals about 2 ½ pounds of mint. I didn’t weigh mine.

I keep fretting that the tea is a little too sweet. Even after running the numbers and learning that there’s only 3 ½ tablespoons of sugar in every 2-quart pitcher of tea, I think I might cut back on the sugar next time I make it, maybe only use 2 ½ pounds instead of 3.

Also, her recipe calls for the juice of just one lemon. I used a couple lemons and several glugs of lemon concentrate and still think the tea could stand some more acid. My husband disagrees.

12 quart kettle stuffed full of mint sprigs
3 pounds sugar
1 gallon water
juice from 1-6 lemons

Gently rinse the mint leaves and pack them into a large clean stockpot. Put the sugar and water in a separate kettle and bring it to a boil. Pour the hot syrup over the leaves, pushing the leaves down into the syrup and then placing a heavy plate on top to keep them submerged. Put a lid on the stockpot and let the tea steep for 12-15 hours. Strain the leaves, add the lemon juice, and ladle 1 ½ cups concentrate into little plastic containers or pint jars. Freeze. (Or store in the refrigerator if using within a couple weeks.)

To make tea: mix 1 ½ cups concentrate with 6 ½ cups cold water to make 2 quarts of tea.

This same time, years previous: nothing is lost on the breath of God (Wayne’s death)


  • Anonymous

    My brother and I thought that we found the perfect way to beat the heat one hot summer day. We set up a tent in front of the refrigerator and propped open the door into the tent. We got into big trouble when we were caught, but later that week dad said, "This heat is ridiculous," and had someone put in central air.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Margo, the advantage is convenience. No need to dirty cups or cut leaves or heat water for steeping. Simply dump a couple cups into the bottom of a jug and fill the rest of the way up. It's SOOOO easy.

    Also, it feels good to use (most) all the mint in one go and then let it grow back again. Makes me feel productive.

  • Marie M.

    That ball gown. Beautiful. Where did it come from? Looks like something Bette Davis would wear in a black-and-white movie from the 1940s.

    Here's THE solution for beating the heat. Spend the summer in San Francisco. As Mark Twain was purported to say when asked where he spent the coldest winter: A summer in San Francisco.

  • Second Sister

    I love the mint tea in summer… Since I was always just me, I used to make it in my own quart jar and then fill it the rest of the way up with ice for instant ice mint tea. I left the leaves, ice and lemon slices (if I had lemon) all in together. It looked cool, tasted cool and cooled me down, too!

  • Zoë

    I think I'll get a container of concentrate out right now…

    I'm glad you're liking it! I'll have to try more lemon and see what Brad thinks (he drinks most of it).

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