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. 


Watermelon Granita

6 cups watermelon seedless (or seeded if you must) OR one tiny watermelon
1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
juice of a lemon
Blend the watermelon in your blender until it reaches a very smooth consistency. Pour into a glass bowl. Mix in the sugar and lemon until sugar dissolves completely. Place in the freezer and set the timer for 30 minutes. Every thirty minutes for four hours or so, scrape the top and sides of the mixture to distribute the forming ice crystals. When it's just past the slushy stage. Serve in little glass dishes or cups. A lemon twist is a nice garnish. If you leave it in the freezer overnight, you can always take it out for about 30 minutes and crush it back to granita stage.

I believe I should give Emeril Lagasse credit for this recipe. My recollection is that it came from the book jacket of his fabulous kids cookbook, EMERIL'S THERE'S A CHEF IN MY FAMILY. My youngest prepares his Fettucini Alfredo to our great delight!

September 06, 2009

Our Gals

This photo seemed to suddenly appear on the counter of my barbeque this week. Magically, the day after my neighbor removed years of jungle growth from his backyard. It may be someone who lived in our neighborhood. Though for me it has a Midwest sensibility. Or is that Hollywood? There is the possibility It is one of those nameless photos placed in a frame as it's readied for display and sale. 
Whoever they are, whomever they belong to, I like them. I love the collusive head touch. The color of their dress. The expectancy of secrets, plans, joys, meals and tears shared. All that comes with being a gal with our wonderful, deeply meaningful friendships.  
As I gaze at the girls on the yard I get to feel the pleasure of my mom and her 60's Club that met every Tuesday night at one of the neighborhood homes just to be the girls in the neighborhood. I live filled with the days on end language of my own sweet sister and I turning over every conversational stone possible. And then I feel the giddiness of high school conversations, every day, especially the phone chats with Gail. The hours of gabbing with Val in college at the donut shop when we should have been elsewhere. The deep working and praying it through with Krissy. The wonderful discoveries of Momhood with Michelle. The trading fours of a conversation with MP. The knowing love of MT. The company of Mary. The way Lori really listens. And the delight of "reasoning it through" with Jemma.
I love the sitting on the bed and talking face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart with my own girlie. The list is long. I live with the joy of the women on the journey and the gals who walk in the neighborhood. What would I do without those girlfriend words, "You're singing my song, sister!"
For me this is what abundance and blessing looks like. 
Rich and with a touch of a giggle.


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