White on ice

Tupperware Avalanche is playing indoors these days, and our thermal-legged Barbie is our newest funster.

See, here, she’s outside, baking in the 101-degree heat, nekkid as a jaybird. But take her inside where it’s cool or shove her in the fridge and her thermal leggings, or crotchless tights, appear. Cuz you need them in an ice bath, that’s why.

We rarely turn on the stove in the summer anyway, but with the troops planning mutiny over the long parade of sandwiches meals, and the heat wave enduring so long, we’re definitely venturing into experiments. For instance, our Spring Roll Salad.

We take the conventional ingredients of spring rolls, but we make a salad from them. Hoisin grilled pork chop, bean threads, mango, Vietnamese salad stuff, lime sauce. Tastes like a spring roll, but not as messy.

Bean threads look like rice noodles but they’re made of mung bean flour so they’re higher in protein. Just pour boiling water over them and let them sit about 10 minutes.

InterAsian Market on Nolensville Road in Nashville now has bags of “mixed mint” that includes three herbs for spring rolls or Vietnamese salads. One is mint, and the other two are a delicious mystery. One is a long, saw-tooth leaf and the other is a jointed stem of smaller, smooth edge leaves that smell and taste like clean river water.

Using ketchup or Thai fire ketchup on the pork chop gives you those ever so slightly charred edges that have a tasty caramelized flavor. It was sensational in combination with the flavorful leaves, tangy garlicky fish sauce and slick cool bean threads.
When it was over I breathed a sigh of relief — one more dinner without the stove.

Have you ever noticed that Barbie’s legs don’t spread? We’ll work on that and report back. Meanwhile, tell Tup what you cook when it’s too hot to cook.

Lime Sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup hot water
¼ cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 fresh hot chile (or dried)
Dissolve the sugar in the water. Add the remaining ingredients. Chill for 15 minutes at least. Makes 1 cup.

Char-Grilled Pork Chop
hoisin or garlic bean sauce
1 pork chop per person
Combine ketchup and hoisin. Coat the chops and grill until just barely cooked through, but be sure the sugar on the chop caramelizes. Cut into strips or bite-size pieces.

Spring Roll Salad
Bean threads, one bundle per person
Mint, about ¼ cup leaves per person
Cilantro, about ¼ cup per person
Basil, about ¼ cup leaves per person
Shredded carrots, one medium per person
Mango, sliced
Chopped peanuts
Pour boiling water over the bean threads and let stand 10 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cold water until cool.
Divide the noodles among plates. Top with herb leaves, carrot, mango and pork chop, Just before serving, pour a generous amount of lime sauce over the salad.

Flyin my pickle freak flag

Keep your fillet with béarnaise — to me, a grilled chicken sandwich with wasabi mayo and bread-and-butter onions is an unmatched culinary experience. It’s weird, I know.

I’m entering my pickles in the fair this year. I like the chances for my bread-and-butter watermelon stix and bread-and-butter relish for sandwiches and hot dogs. I love that crazy acid-yellow color of the pickles when they first go into the jar. They look like a science experiment gone off the rails.

After a lot of experimentation, the thing I most love to pickle is watermelon rind. It stays firm for a year or more. And never has the squishy texture that a cucumber can sometimes have. And you can cut it into any shape you like. Heh heh.

I’ve tried a lot of bread and butter recipes, and the best combination of flavors comes the recipe included in the Ball Blue Book. It uses a lot of mustard seed, peppercorns, celery seed, ginger and turmeric. (But the vinegar proportions are way off — you need five cups of vinegar, not three. I should really write and tell them, so they can correct the recipe, but I don’t have time, so trust me on this.)

As I read the State Fair catalog, I fretted about which category was the best fit for my pickles. Fortunately, there’s an “other” category. It’s the story of my life.