Chilled avocado

Chilled avocado soup: Chilled avocado and cucumber soup and smoked salmon for days that are too hot to even think about cooking. (TCA Photo)

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 wood 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.

Since it's summer and really hot, I took "the glass is half full" attitude and decided that 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.

Chilled avocado soup with tomato salsa (see below)

Prosciutto and sliced melon:

-- Wrap prosciutto slices around ripe melon slices.

-- Scoop melon balls and wrap prosciutto around them; skewer the melon with fresh small mozzarella balls and serve on a platter.

-- Make a salad of assorted melon slices, torn pieces of prosciutto and sliced avocados; squeeze some fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of herbs and black pepper.

Store-bought Gravlax or smoked salmon with mustard sauce, assorted pumpernickel or favorite rolls:

-- Serve the salmon pieces on cucumber rounds

-- Make Pinwheel Sandwiches (see below)

Sliced summer tomatoes with basil leaves, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar:

-- Intersperse sliced mozzarella or burrata between the tomato slices and drizzle with pesto vinaigrette (combine pesto with favorite vinaigrette)

-- Make a relish of diced watermelon and feta cheese, and scatter on top of the sliced tomatoes

Rotisserie chicken:

-- Serve chilled cut up chicken with assorted mustards

-- Chop up the chicken and add toasted walnuts or almonds, small grapes, and curried mayonnaise or yogurt dressing

-- Use chopped or shredded chicken in a crisp Romaine salad with slices of jicama, raw corn kernels, shaved parmesan cheese and sweet cherry tomatoes, herb vinaigrette