We bitch and moan about the heat because, frankly, it's our prerogative as Houstonians. But underneath it all, we're in love with summertime in Texas. We want to make out with it, in fact, because of all the goodies that will come our way over the next few months, plus some things we can have all year but just taste better when it's 102 degrees outside.
10. Iced Coffee
Given that the sweltering starts early here in Houston, you may already have begun to indulge a craving for cold, cold caffeine. Unless you've developed an addiction to those fancy, flavored-and-blended coffee concoctions Starbucks calls "Frappucinos," save yourself some money by making your own cold-brewed iced coffee at home. Keep a jar in the fridge and it will power you through many a humid, Houston (is that redundant?) morning.
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, dewberries, oh my! Plucked from a bowl with fingers, dropped into bowls of cereal, yogurt or ice cream, baked into cobblers, buckles, crumbles, slumps, clafoutis and grunts, berries are sweet little gems of summer goodness.
8. Grilled Meats
The caveman inside each of us is awakened when the smell of grilled meats wafts through the sultry air. Burgers, brats, pork chops, steaks; this is the time of year to grill it all (even a veggie burger if your inner caveman is vegetarian). Clean-up is easy, and you don't have to heat up the house. Win!
7. Ice Cream & Milkshakes
Listen, it's not like we need an excuse to eat ice cream any other time of the year, but it's far more satisfying to slurp down a cone or a cup full of frosty goodness when you're wearing a tank top and sweating like a pig. There's plenty of places around town where you can satisfy your craving, from Ben & Jerry's to The Chocolate Bar to your grocery store's freezer aisle, but if you have never been to Hank's on Main, consider this an order to remedy ASAP.
6. Tropical Cocktails & Beer
Tequila Sunrise...Mojito...Piña Colada...Sex on the Beach...Daiquiris...We in Texas enjoy the privilege of consuming excellent margaritas any time we damn well please, but some drinks are best left for summer, when we're either on a vacation or desperately need one. And while we love beer in all seasons, it's especially satisfying to throw one back while sitting in a lawn chair, slathered in mosquito spray, listening to the cicadas go to town.
Hot day + picnic table + newspaper + watermelon + large knife = happy.
Lucky for us, peach season in southeast Texas has already begun. Hit up your local farmers' market for a bag or flat of locally grown, fuzzy-skinned beauties that will leave you with juice running down your arms and a big grin on your face.
3. Snow Cones
Sno Cones, Shaved Ice, Hawaiian Ice, Italian Ice, Water Ice, Raspado. Whatever you grew up calling them, chances are you have a childhood or teenager-hood memory of standing around in the sun, scuffling your flip-flops and waiting in front of a cart, shack, or roadside stand for one of these babies. To replicate that experience, check out Mam's House of Ice in the Heights or stop by one of the many refresquerias in our fine city.
Peel back the husk of sweet summer corn, and clinging to its cob, you find juicy kernels of goodness, full of promise. Grill them up and serve simply with butter, salt and pepper, or transform them into elotes, slathered with crema, squeezed with lime juice and sprinkled with cayenne. Slice the corn right off of the cob into salads, into a pan for creaming, or into fritters for frying.
We're not sure what heaven will look like, but we're pretty sure it's going to smell like ripe tomatoes on the vine. Sure, they spoil us for the rest of the year (you know that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when you slice into a hothouse tomato to discover it's pink & mealy on the inside?), but the brief season is worth the bliss. Fry 'em up green, slice the red ones into a BLT, blend up some fresh salsa, or just eat one over the sink like an apple.