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It's hard to even think about cooking when temperatures soar into the 90s (I know some of you are enduring even hotter weather, and you have my deepest sympathies). When these days hit, all I can focus on is a big, ice cold glass of coconut water and perhaps a bag of frozen peas tied to the back of my neck with a dishrag.

Guilty pleasures are things you grow into. As kids, most of us had no conception of "fear foods" or "sinful indulgences." We were more interested in the next time Mom would let us have ice cream or how many sour candies we could fit in our mouths.

A few days ago, in one of those rare moments of clarity, I realized that I have two very different ambitions inside myself. Ambitions is perhaps the wrong word. More like voices. Sometimes one voice is louder than the other, and sometimes one voice is completely silent. Sometimes, the voices speak in tandem, and that's when I feel this dichotomy most keenly.

How did Thanksgiving turn into such a scary holiday? Dry turkey, a stressed out hostess, overcomplicated family rituals, charts and timers and how-to guides popping up everywhere. You’d think we were planning a wedding or orchestrating a 10k charity run.

When you tell people you're from the South, they assume hot weather doesn't affect you. "Oh, you're from the South. You're used to it."

And while I do have a lot of experience dealing with hot, humid weather, I don't have a special gene that makes me impervious to unbearable temperatures. Some people thrive in hot weather. I am not one of those people.

Whoever invented the rule that you shouldn't try new things when entertaining probably wasn't an ambitious cook.

Still looking for a last-minute side dish? JOY’s recipe for Becker Gazpacho is a much-loved family classic my father Ethan serves every 4th of July. Served in a big bowl with ladles and 8-ounce glasses handy, this Spanish-by-way-of-Ohio cold soup is a refreshing alternative to coleslaw, especially if you are serving heavier, creamier dishes alongside.

 

Fourth of July… the Everest of grilling season!

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Joy of Cooking App for iPad and iPhone

After three years of collaborative effort with our friends at Culinate and Scribner, it is our pleasure to introduce the Joy of Cooking for iPad and iPhone! Please check out this full-featured, digital version of the 2006 edition. In addition to the recipes and indispensable reference information our readers know and love, the app has many features that are brand new to JOY:

  • Built-in recipe timers (you can have multiple timers going simultaneously)
  • Search for and filter recipes by key word, ingredient, cuisine, season, technique, diet, and more
  • Create shopping lists from within the app
  • Convert any recipe to metric automatically
  • Give voice commands or have recipe steps spoken to you
  • Create menus in the app
  • Share recipes from within the app
  • Color photography

Truly a JOY for the 21st century! Download by directing your browser to www.joyofcookingapp.com. Don't forget to review the app!