Over the weekend I bought a whopper of a watermelon from a nearby farmer for four bucks. I thought it looked like a cucumber on steroids, as it must have been over twice the size of my melon (head)! The farmer’s son offered to carry it to my car, but I figured a little melon-style weight lifting would be good for me (no, I did not do squats but merely an isometric bicep exercise for a few blocks).
I strapped the melon in the backseat of my car and continued the morning’s shopping. As luck would have it, I found a small set of French knives on the clearance table at Williams-Sonoma and snatched them up as well. I would be embarrassed to show anyone the knife I used on a daily basis for food prep. Let’s just say that I am lucky to have all digits intact.
Left alone with that melon, a cutting board, and my new upgraded tools, I was a happy and well-hydrated sweet chopping fool. I didn’t know how glorious it could be to cut things with proper knives (in infomercial voice, “it was a breeze!”). Juicy red chunks for snacks and smoothies, circle and straw cut-outs to freeze as flavorful ice cubes, and the (often sadly discarded) rind to put in a pie, a strawberry-watermelon rind custard pie. The slight rue on the edges of the pale rind visually reminded me of rhubarb, so I treated it as such, following my grandma’s rhubarb custard pie recipe, using rind in place of rhubarb and adding some chopped strawberries to the mix of watermelon rind, nutmeg, and eggy custard, mmmmm.
Currently finishing the last slice of pie with some cold milk and drying the dark green skin of the watermelon in the 80-degree sun. Soon it will be pulverized to a powder state and used as a colorant in some handmade paper for another small project of mine. Whoppermelon, you obliged me well.
Here’s another recipe where the measurements are up to you. Ingredients: fresh peaches, brown sugar, wonton wrappers, butter, and whiskey. Once the peaches are sliced (or diced), sprinkle them with brown sugar (I used smoked demerara sugar, but brown sugar is also good). Place the peach mix on top of wonton wrappers. Fold over and pinch edges together using water or egg white as adhesive. Fry one minute on each side in hot oil. Drain and cover with powdered sugar or browned butter whiskey sauce. To make the sauce, brown some butter on the stovetop, then whisk in some whiskey and brown sugar. Cook till it reduces to a near caramel state and pour over tops of fried peach wontons. Voilà: crunchy dough, spiked glaze, sweet steam, and warm August peaches, intersecting in one juicy wonton bite.
Last week my mom spent a day researching the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington at the library where I work, so we had a lunch date downtown! We walked to a sit-down restaurant where I ordered a falafel with a side dish of celery salad. I enjoyed so much of that chunky crunch that I made up my own salad at home based on the combination of flavors on my lunch plate that day. It’s a great dish to prepare on a night when you crave the catharsis that accompanies chopping vegetables, and now every time I eat it I will remember the intrigue of Mary Custis Lee and that fun lunch.
For the salad:
Chop up celery, dates, and red onions.
Whisk together apple cider vinegar and honey.
Toss it all real good.
Sprinkle crumbled feta over top.
Turn a side dish into a meal:
Add crispy bacon and/or roasted chickpeas to the pile.
You didn’t think I just took pictures of the ground cherries, did you? When I gave the Wabash county farmer three dollar bills for a box of ground cherries, he kindly handed me a Kennedy half-dollar in return, along with a photocopied paper collage of hand-typed recipes. I felt like I won a prize, and I wasn’t even playing a game. I went with the one called Anna’s Ground Cherry Pie and changed up the filling due to the fact that I didn’t have any lemons on hand, and because I thought that ginger would be a nice complement to the fruit. I believe the product was a pineapple upside-down cake/cherry pie hybrid. Delicious with canned air cream and fizzy ginger beer.
Ginger Ground Cherry Pie Filling
3 cups ripe ground cherries
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons ground tapioca
Cook everything but tapioca over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Mix in tapioca and continue to stir until thickened. Remove from heat and cool.
While the filling cools, prepare the dough (I halved the recipe, because I only needed a top crust). Once filling is cool, pour into an unbaked pie shell (or in my case a buttered casserole dish). Cover with top crust and seal the edges. Bake at 400-degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350-degrees and continue to bake for 25 minutes.
Pie Crust from The Amish Cook… she uses apple cider vinegar in her crust, which I think is nice. I also sub unsalted butter for shortening from time to time.
In a parking lot on a card table before a rusty pickup truck.
Nestled beside zucchini logs and onion bundles.
Spilling from a flimsy wooden box.
Pocket-size paper lanterns?
Husks grass to blush.
Petite globe fruit packages.
Green apple, roasted pineapple flesh.
New ritual for the summer pre-meal ceremonies.
Shucking corn, snapping beans, unwrapping ground cherries.
I am bringing these buttery cocktail cookies to the cookie mountain! Did I mention that the bride is a letterpress lady? Subtle in bourbon and perky with lime, these are slightly crumbly cookies that melt in your mouth. Can’t wait to celebrate with Jarrid & Emily!
Bourbon Lime Butter Cookies
4 oz. (one stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons bourbon
zest & juice of 2 limes
1/2 large egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
Beat the butter, sugar, salt, bourbon, lime zest and lime juice together until creamy.
Mix in the egg yolk completely.
Add the flour and mix just until incorporated.
If you want to cut out shapes:
Roll dough into patties and place between two large pieces of plastic wrap.
I use this method to keep the cookies from becoming too dried out.
Roll over top of the plastic wrap until the dough is thin.
If dough is difficult to cut out, chill it until it hardens a little and use a little flour or confectioner’s sugar with your cutters.
If you want to slice cookies:
Roll dough into a log, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge (freezer if you can’t wait), and slice when ready to bake.
Before baking, preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line your baking sheets with parchment.
Bake 8-10 minutes. About 2 dozen cookies.
I’m doing some cookie testing, because it’s fun, and because I got this snappy wedding invitation in the mail that also invited guests to contribute a “kick-ass” cookie to the celebration’s cookie mountain. This couple is awesome, and I want to bestow some worthy-tasting and fun-looking cookies to that sweets sierra.
First up, aesthetics and edible letterpress! I tested out my letter pressed cookie cutters on some basic sugar cookie dough. I have a feeling that a shortbread cookie will better hold shape and impression more than the flopsy sugar cookie recipe. I have it in mind to come up with a cocktail twist on a basic butter cookie inspired by the bride and groom, so TBC…
In the meantime, I tested the letterpress look using the ! cutter/stamp. Sometimes a lone ! is the vaguely perfect expression of a thought or feeling inside of me. In sentences, I try not to use them too much. If it bothers you, you’ll have to either ignore it or forgive me; I get excited.
Remember the Seinfeld Episode where Elaine is accused of haphazardly using exclamation points?
Jerry: You’re out of your mind you know that.
Jerry: It’s an exclamation point! It’s a line with a dot under it.
Elaine: Well, I felt a call for one.
Jerry: A call for one, you know I thought I’ve heard everything. I’ve never heard a relationship being affected by a punctuation.
Elaine: I found it very troubling that he didn’t use one.