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Seriously Simple: When there's no kitchen, go for no-cook summer dishes

| Saturday, July 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Chris Shorten
Chilled Avocado Soup with Cucumber Tomato Salsa.

Wouldn't you know it? Upon returning from a dreamy Alaskan cruise, my husband and I were met by my daughter, whose first words were, “Now don't freak out, but there has been a flood in your kitchen.”

I didn't freak out — until we came face to face with my beautiful redone kitchen that I had painstakingly designed down to the intricate backsplash.

At first glance, I just saw fans everywhere. Only after a few seconds did I discover that the cabinets had been ripped out, as well as my beautiful walnut floor. I took a deep breath and thought, well this could be a fun experiment in cooking “camper style” while they renovated the kitchen. So, a month into insurance adjusters and contractor bids, I am making the best of it.

Because it's summer and hot, I took “the glass is half full” attitude and decided I would come up with clever ways to make it through construction with only a little sink, blender and microwave. I think you'll appreciate this cool avocado soup and the smoked salmon pinwheels along with some other simple ideas that you can enjoy with or without a working kitchen. Let's face it, it's hot and humid out there, so turn off the oven and grill, and try a few of these ideas when the very idea of cooking is just too much for you.

Cucumber Avocado Soup With Tomato Salsa

1 large ripe avocado, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces.

1 large European cucumber, unpeeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 12 cups chicken stock

14 cup finely sliced green onions

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

12 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons favorite fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons favorite fresh tomato or tomatillo salsa, for garnish

In a food processor, combine the avocado and cucumber, and process until smooth. Add the chicken stock, green onions, lemon juice, sour cream and salsa, and blend until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Serve in small cups with a dollop of salsa on top.

Serves 4.

Smoked Salmon, Herbed Cream Cheese and Cucumber Pinwheels

If you're planning for a crowd, these pinwheels multiply easily.

1 10-inch flour tortilla

2 tablespoons favorite herbed cream cheese

2 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

6-inch piece European cucumber

Spread the tortilla with the herbed cream cheese, making sure to cover to the edges. Cover evenly with the salmon slices.

Take a vegetable peeler and peel six 6-inch long cucumber slices. Arrange the thin cucumber slices over the salmon.

Tightly roll the tortilla up, cut the ends off to be even, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 15 minutes to let the ingredients set. Remove the plastic wrap and cut into 8 pinwheel slices. Place in a storage container and refrigerate until eating.

Serves 4.

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