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After moving out of my parent’s home many years ago I have only lived in one other place that had air conditioning. It was like an unknown luxury walking into my own apartment and feeling air that wasn’t balmy or oven-like. Sleeping with the sheets on, actually blow drying my hair, and being able to get dressed without sweating were things to savor, but sadly that apartment didn’t last too long. I love my home in Los Angeles, it’s the old Hollywood style I’m drawn to and my husband and I have created a pretty cozy environment with the unique touches that make us the couple we are, but for how personalized our home is, the truth is that it is hot…and lacking air conditioning. Charm comes at a price and in this case vintage means sweat it out. When the large windows don’t capture any breeze you can almost see the hot air float in place, making everything it touches uncomfortably warm. When the days drag on like this I do everything I can to stay in the kitchen as little as possible. Turning the oven on sounds like torture and a quick saute over the flame is about all I can handle. Raw chicken on the menu tonight. Instead, cold items are what I crave, along with the freshest ingredients possible.

One weekend after a leisurely bike ride into an adjacent neighborhood, iced coffee from my favorite stop, and a loop around the local farmers market, I picked up a small basket of multicolored tomatoes along with a bright green avocado with that familiar soft touch signaling its ripeness. I try to savor my weekend mornings, making it a ritual to head into the neighborhood early so the vendors are still selling the best of their crops and happy to give you samples or extra loaves of bread. Biking home with a bag full of vegetables and a kraft paper bundled bouquet of flowers I savored the cool breeze that my warm apartment was lacking.

Once home, I opted for a messy top knot and my old denim shorts to wear while gliding through the kitchen, chopping and slicing the ingredients for my salad. A fresh squeeze of a soft meyer lemon and a handful of bright green onions were thrown into the single mixing bowl containing cold quinoa and the vegetables picked up at the farmers market. The avocado kept its vibrant hue thanks to the citrus dressing and the rainbow of colors looked rustically gourmet. It was one of those lazy Sundays where the car didn’t leave the garage and my face only donned a layer of sunscreen and a swipe of mascara. The rush of Monday felt like it was days away and what would normally be a tortuously hot evening in the kitchen was replaced with a refreshing cooking session of clean eating sans heat. Granted, the evening weather didn’t bring any break from the high 80’s temperature, but as my husband and I sat with our big bowls of chilled quinoa, tomato, avocado, green onion, and meyer lemon dressing a life without air conditioning didn’t seem that miserable at all. Disregard the furry black cat trying desperately to stretch her body long to stay cool.

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Cold quinoa, avocado, tomato, and green onion salad with lemon dressing – Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup small cherry tomatoes sliced (look for multicolored ones)
1 avocado diced
2 sprigs of green onion diced small (green and white parts)
1 medium Meyer lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Instructions for salad:
– Cook quinoa according to package, transfer to mixing bowl and place in fridge to chill for one hour.
– Slice cherry tomatoes and green onions, adding to bowl of quinoa.
– To dice avocado cut in half and remove pit. Use a small knife to cut horizontal and vertical lines creating a grid. Run knife carefully around to outside then scoop dices out with a spoon. Add to bowl.
– Gently mix the ingredients making sure not to break up the avocado.

Instructions for dressing:
– Add juice of one lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper to a jar.
– Seal lid tightly and shake to combine.
– Pour contents over the salad so everything is well coated.
– Eat right away or place in fridge to chill further.