September 11, 2009

Holding the flavor of summer

I really have no reason to wish for summer's end. I live in a beautiful part of the country. The weather is hot and lovely, but the chief signal to the end of summer has appeared. School is back in. The trees are still green. Flowers in bloom. Pools still perfect for an afternoon swim. But a neighbor down the street has marked the change of season by decorating her door with paper fall leaves. Not I.
Dinner the first day of school was barbecued steak and  a green salad of summery crunchiness. There was no dessert planned but we behaved like we might in the middle of July and went for little cups of summer delight at our neighborhood Yogurtland (a brilliant execution of make your own frozen yogurt -western states, I hope you have one nearby).
The second night we had grilled hot dogs and fennel slaw (another brilliant recipe from my FNBFFL - Melissa D'Arabian) with corn on the cob. So as my eldest went off to do homework - it was with a heart full of family foot dragging on the letting go of our time in the season.
Last night I starred the watermelon on my kitchen counter dead in the eye and knew we had another summer extender at hand - the granita.
My first encounter with the granita was at a family coffee roaster about one hundred miles from my home. I was on a reconnaissance trip of sorts for a new business pitch for work. The first sip slayed every frozen cappucino or coffee soda I'd tried forever. Coffee, sweetened and with a mix of milky creaminess and ice crystals all throughout. Since then I've made several versions - and ventured into the full granita category even making one from applesauce*.
This one particular granita delighted our palates and our hanging on to summer hearts. Icey watermelon with just a hint of sugar to heighten the rich melony flavor and bit of lemon. The trick to the granita is attention to the forming ice. As it freezes a quick stir from the top and sides of the bowl just about every half hour makes the just-past-slushy texture perfection.
So that night, we ate our granita on the yard with the patio bistro lights. The sound of a pool splash from next door and the unspoken promise that we won't mention the word fall until it's official arrival by date, temperature and the pile of leaves on the ground from the Ginko tree across the street. 
Until then, we'll go to school, do the homework, even play the sports of fall, but we'll do it with the facing into each other of summer and a ear of corn on our plates. 

* http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/applesauce-granita-with-maple-yogurt-recipe/index.html

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