Cooling off tips

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Okay, it is official: Whining Time is now in session. It's September and it's STILL hot! The evenings and mornings are a little better, I have to admit, but by this time of year I understand what people in the Mid-West mean when they say they have cabin fever after a winter of snow storms. We don't have to shovel the heat like they do snow but after months of heat, aren't we all still looking for ways to keep cool?

What we wear can make a difference. My jeans have not seen the light of day for weeks. Who can stand that thick material when it's 106 degrees and the humidity is mounting from the oncoming monsoon? Since I feel shorts are too confining and not always appropriate for certain occasions, I end up wearing a lot of long skirts so air can flow around my legs. You can dress these up with a cute t-shirt and chunky jewelry. On the more casual days, I wear what I consider my uniform: a t-shirt and yoga pants. Very few people would recognize me if I wore anything else. What I do to make this a 'cool' selection is I select brands that are made from the new 'dry' fabrics. Nike has a line called 'Dri-Fit'. The material is a composite, or blend, of three materials (synthetic material as a supportive base layer, mesh for lightweight breathability, and TPU film as a top skin) pressed together with hotmelt. This fusion produces a super-strong mechanical bond of the layers, as well as a unique aesthetic, and a superior breathability. It pulls away the sweat to help keep you dry and comfortable while you are exercising, hiking, or running errands. It kind of acts like an evaporative cooler where your skin stays dry but the material is damp and allows air to flow through it. I love wearing the clothes I have made from this. Not only do I feel cooler, they are very comfortable.

Speaking of running errands, trying to stay cool during one of those tortuous times is my least favorite part of living with the heat. The car seems like it just gets cool and then I have to stop again. There are a few things I've done to make it a little less wearisome. I try to keep old towels in the car to drape across the steering wheel and my seat belt. I have a shade for the front window but it seems there's always sun shining in on the sides of the car, too. This is also good for those kids' carseats.

I live outside of city limits so when I run a bunch of errands, I am usually gone for a good part of the day. I have a small ice chest that holds about 2-3 water bottles and I throw some loose ice in or one of those blue blocks you freeze in the freezer of your refrigerator. This keeps my water cooled down and I don't have to stop (at one more place!) to get more.

To cool off my body I use a couple of different things. I have in my glove compartment some instant cold packs that you might use for injuries or migraines. I give it a good squeeze then rub it around the back of my neck and pulse points on my wrists and back of my knees. This cools me off real quick and feels awesome. There is also an item that can be used as a bandana around your neck or head while you're exercising or just need something to wipe yourself off. It's called a Chilly Dana made by frogg toggs.
The material is similar to the Nike Dri-Fit and is a patented process of three layers of a nonwoven polypropylene material with a center layer of micro-porous film. Because the pores are 20,000 times smaller than a water droplet, moisture cannot penetrate yet it breathes extremely well. What happens when you soak this material is it retains the moisture for several hours but it also feels very cool when you wipe your skin with it. This is a great item for kids are getting overheated while at soccer, football or baseball practice. They can keep it in their sports bags or wrap it around their necks while their practicing. One more thing to have for them along with all that water and sports drinks.  You can find these at Bed, Bath and Beyond or go online to:

And who hasn't opened up their car door and feel that blast of heat come out at them? Like a 1,000 degree oven, isn't it. Opening windows and blasting the AC helps, but there is still the 'musty' smell if your car has been sitting for a while. I keep a bottle of peppermint spray in there and spray it around before I drive off. It not only cools down the hot air, it makes it smell so good. The peppermint gives you the illusion of being cool. And I don't care if it's an illusion, I just want to feel cooler!

I have an older friend who used this fun trick while growing up here in Arizona: She would stick their sheets in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and make the bed right before going to bed. She said the sheets were a little chilly at first, but would keep them cool for a couple hours. They also used to put ice in a hot water bottle and put it at the foot of the bed for your feet to rest on.

My appetite isn't the greatest when it's so hot so I find myself eating small portions throughout the day. When I was researching this online, I found an article that talked about grazing throughout the day as opposed to eating one or two big meals. Something about the body heating up trying to digest a heavy meal. It also said to avoid eating too much protein (meats like pork, beef or chicken) or at least keep them to a minimum since the body heats up digesting these, too.

Some of the world's hottest places - Latin America, India, Thailand - happen to serve some of the worlds's hottest foods. Scientists have argued for years over why this is the case, but the most likely reason is that spicy foods make you sweat without actually raising body temperature. Once your skin is damp, you'll feel cooled by its evaporation. My guys should be the coolest dudes around (in more ways than one!) since they make and consume lots of salsa! I've included their favorite recipe so you, too, can be cool!

One other food item that might be missed during these hot months is brownies. Who can turn their oven on when it's over 100 degrees outside? I found a fun recipe to make them in a crock pot. And they were good! Try this recipe on those days where you just can't stand going without that chocolate treat!

It's September, for goodness sake; cool weather is just around the corner! Right?

Nathan's Salsa

3 anaheim chiles, chopped *see notes
3 serrano chiles, chopped *see notes
3 jalapeno chiles, chopped *see notes
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 15oz can stewed tomatoes (make sure it's 'stewed')
1 TBS cilantro, chopped

In food processor, place chiles and onion with sharp blade process to desired consistency. Some like it a little 'chunkier.' Place contents in bowl.

Place tomatoes and stewed tomatoes in processor and process to desired consistency. Add to bowl and stir until all ingredients incorporated. Add salt, to taste and chopped cilantro. Add more cilantro, if you want.

*notes: If you want a spicier recipe, keep the seeds and membranes intact and include with the rest of the chiles. If you wish a less spicy taste, remove seeds and membranes before processing. There are lots of grocery stores carrying Hatch chiles these days, so if you want to use those instead of Anaheim, do it!

Slow-Cooker Triple Brownies

Non-stick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% dark chocolate--yum!)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)


Lightly coat 5-quart slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray. In small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Place butter and chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each until chocolate is melted. Add sugar, stir to combine. Stir in eggs, slowly, to avoid 'curdling.' Add flour mixture, walnuts, and chocolate chips and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Transfer to slow cooker and smooth top.

Cover and cook on low 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 minutes. Remove insert from slow cooker and run a knife around edge to loosen brownies. Let cool completely in insert on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Turn out onto a work surface and cut into squares. I found that my slow-cooker cooks faster than others. Mine cooked in about 2 hours (fast!) and I then followed the rest of the directions. You need to adjust the cooking time to what suits your own slow-cooker.