Our fog is M.I.A. I’ve lived next to the Monterey Bay for 24 years as of this past April Fool’s Day, and I can’t remember a year in which there have been so many days with temperatures over 80 degrees here at the beach. I just checked on the Weather Underground Almanac: 15 days this calendar year so far, including 4 in January. Generally, once the air here heats to a toasty 75 or so it rises, as air is wont to do, and the void is filled by a cooler marine layer coming in from the sea. Read: fog. Climate change is the new black. My peppers and tomatoes are happy; the dog is miserable; the boy has the swimming unit in P.E. this month so he is just fine. It’s a dry heat, you know. I’m a native Midwesterner, there’s no room here to complain, and yet …


Hot days deserve hot day meals. Here’s a Gayle’s-bakery inspired salad I made on this particular evening. Theirs had shaved parmesan cheese and walnuts, but I have a spouse who shudders at the very mention of walnuts. It’s easy to improvise, though and since I’ve been kind of addicted to pepitas since my San Diego trip a few years ago, they were the salty crunch of choice. And because my inspiration moved south of the border, I added jicama and cotija. Toss with a lemon vinaigrette, and you have a perfect hot-weather meal.*

Hot weather celery salad
Prep time
Total time
Crunchy celery and jicama in a zesty vinaigrette are an excellent hot-weather meal
Recipe type: salads
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup julienned jicama
  • ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tbsp crumbled cotija cheese
  • 1 tbsp citrus juice
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • dash paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Mix citrus juice vinegar, paprika, and olive oil together. Set aside
  2. Combine celery and jicama in a bowl.
  3. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat.
  4. Add pepitas and cotija. Toss again.
  5. Serve immediately.
If you make this in advance, save the pepitas and cotija and add just before serving to preserve the crunch.

My camera must have been suffering from heat stroke as well; I had a hard time getting a photo that was as delicious as the dish. Here goes:

*We figured out the next day that this is strangely good mixed with canned tuna!