When life gives you way too much watermelon

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Watermelon makes great juice to enjoy on its own or use as a great mixer for a summery cocktail.
John Lehndorff | Boulder Weekly

People look at you kind of funny when you’re standing in the produce department with a watermelon on each arm. I was weighing the options and getting some upper body exercise.

One melon was very small but convenient, which makes some sense for one person. The other was a monster, a watermelon from the old days, and three times as big. It even had some seeds. Yet, they each cost exactly the same.

I went for the bargain and spent a couple of days eating watermelon at every meal, but I still had most of a melon left over.

Some years back I was reviewing an Indian restaurant, Masalaa in Aurora (which also had a small eatery on the Hill in Boulder). To chill the curry burn I looked at iced tea and mango lassi and then the waiter said: “Would you like to try some fresh-squeezed watermelon juice?”

The tumbler of chilled, unadulterated watermelon essence was a revelation, one of a handful of food memories from the past I can call up and taste in my mind with no hesitation. It was the perfect foil and counterpoint to the complexly seasoned filled dosas and stews. I’ve only occasionally encountered watermelon juice in the years since.

I figured: How hard could it be to make? I don’t have a juicer so I attacked the watermelon with a serrated knife and started running chunks through the blender. I strained it through a colander and got a thin smoothie-like consistency. The puree or juice can be frozen in cubes to make a sort of sorbet. If you use a strainer or cheesecloth you end up with this pure reddish, pinkish liquid that speaks to you on a hot summer day.

If you wish your watermelonade to speak louder, use it as a base for a cocktail enhanced with a Boulder County-distilled vodka.

The Cherry Bag Secret

In one of my diverse gigs I write about growing and selling fruits and veggies for the national trade publication Produce Business. In talking to retailers for the magazine I asked them about the relatively recent use of colorfully printed plastic standup bags used extensively now to sell grapes and especially cherries. I was told that the sales of cherries in supermarkets had increased significantly in part because of the bags and not because they’re pretty. Many shoppers don’t realize they don’t have to buy the whole bag of Bing or Rainier cherries. You can empty the bag, pick the cherries and put them in a standard paper or plastic bag in the quantity you need. That directive obviously doesn’t apply at farmers’ markets, where stone fruit is often sold by the bag. By the way, Colorado’s Western Slope growers are predicting a record year for peaches, apricots and cherries. 

You Are Eating Your Beets

Superfoods that enhance health are hot this year. According to a recent report from Datassential MenuTrends, the fastest growing vegetables that appeared on fast casual restaurant menus were not lettuce, tomatoes or potatoes (although they remain the top three produce items). With growth of 140 percent, butternut squash is huge, followed by lots of roasted cauliflower (80 percent), kale (41 percent), garbanzo beans (35 percent) and zucchini (35 percent). Close behind are edamame, baby spinach and beets.

Food News

Ozo Coffee Company offers education classes for roasting, brewing and serving. (Eli Kalen, manager, Pearl Street)Susan France
Ozo Coffee Company offers education classes for roasting, brewing and serving. (Eli Kalen, manager, Pearl Street)

The recently announced Boulder Food Park opening around July 4 at 2775 Valmont Road has been re-christened the Rayback Collective in honor of the longtime Boulder business that had occupied the site. … World of Beer is open at 921 Pearl St. in the former Bacaro space, offering hundreds of ales from all over. … Boulder’s Ozo Coffee is offering coffee roasting, brewing and serving classes for home nerds and professionals (ozocoffee.com). … Two cultural and food celebrations worth checking out this week: Gyros, spanakopita and flaming cheese are on tap Friday-Sunday at the Denver Greek Festival          (thegreekfestival.com). Somen (cold noodles), teriyaki chicken, SPAM musubi, sake and panko-crusted hot dogs are on the menu Saturday and Sunday at Denver’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival (cherryblossomdenver.org).

Taste of the Week

Say this mantra to yourself slowly, savoring each word: Dutch Apple. Peanut Butter Cup. Chocolate Banana. Blueberry. Coconut Cream. Buttermilk Custard. Towering Lemon Meringue. Peach Crumb. Double-crusted Tart Rhubarb. Repeat as necessary. These are among the dozens of sweet and savory pie favors dished every day by Louisiana natives Lance and Jackie Thorne at one of Boulder County’s hidden gems: Loaf & Ladle, 1134 Francis St., Longmont. The small eatery, open only 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays, also serves homey fare, including gumbo and sandwiches.

loaf and ladle 1Kim Long
Loaf & Ladle in Longmont offers dozens of both sweet and savory pies every day.

WORDS TO CHEW ON

“When writing a recipe, one records a moment in time which can never be duplicated exactly again. A recipe is a teaching tool, a guide, a point of departure. You have to follow it exactly the first time you make the dish. But as you make it again and again, you will change it, you will massage it to fit your own taste.” — Chef Jacques Pepin.

The venerable chef, author and PBS star makes his annual appearance at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic Friday through Sunday with a host of food experts including Andrew Zimmern and Boulder’s Bobby Stuckey and Richard Betts.

John Lehndorff is the former Food Editor of the Daily Camera and Dining Critic at the Rocky Mountain News. Read his blog at: johnlehndorff.wordpress.com. Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on Boulder’s KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, streaming at kgnu.org).