The last week has been one of the busiest that I've had in a long time. Work was crazy busy, requiring longer hours than usual, so long in fact that I wasn't able to pick up my CSA share for the week. Luckily the farm offers a great option for when you can't pick up, where they will donate your share to the local food bank, so I was more than happy to let my share for the week go to those who need it more. My long days barely left time to cook, much less document anything in to a blog entry!
The other thing that's kept me busy was that we are moving my daughter to a larger bedroom and I gave myself the project of building some shelves in the closet, taking up most of the free time I did find. We're moving my daughter because her current room needs to be turned back into a nursery for our second child who is due in just about a month! My wife's pregnancy has not been full of many cravings, with the one exception being watermelon. We've been going though nearly a whole watermelon every week for the last couple months!
So after a busy week of work combined with the excitement of preparing for a new addition to the family, I wanted to make something that appropriately summed up these two things but was also simple, since that bedroom is still not done! A nice cocktail can be a great way to unwind after a long, busy day of work and since there is plenty of watermelon around, this seemed like the perfect time to write my first drink post. So here are two delicious watermelon drinks that are a perfect companion to have at your side when it's time to relax. One with alcohol and one without (you know, in case you are 8 months pregnant).
Watermelon, Mint and Gin Cooler
1 1/2 oz Gin
4-5 fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 oz freshly pressed watermelon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (optional)*
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz seltzer water
Mint sprig for garnish
*Simple syrup is made by boiling 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. You should allow this to cool completely and chill in the refrigerator before using. This ingredient is optional and you should taste your watermelon juice first to see how sweet it is then adjust the level of syrup to your taste.
Chop up about 1 cup of watermelon chunks and remove any seeds. Place in a food processor and puree, and then strain the puree into another container. Reserve the juice and discard any solids left in the strainer. In your cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves (use the handle of a wooden spoon if like me, you don't own a muddler) then add the 1.5 oz watermelon juice, simple syrup (if you don't use this, substitute with an equal volume of watermelon juice), and lime juice. Close the shaker and shake for 20 seconds then strain into your cocktail glass over ice. Top off with seltzer and garnish with a sprig of mint.
For the non-alcoholic option, I went as simple as I could (well, I guess it could have been simpler to just drink the juice straight) by making agua fresca. A drink common in Mexico and Central America, it is little more than water and sugar mixed with fresh fruit juice. Easy and refreshing, agua frescas are a great way to use up fruits that are a bit past their prime.
Watermelon Agua Fresca
2 cups watermelon chunks, seeds removed
Water (flat or sparkling)
Chop up about 2 cups of watermelon chunks and remove any seeds. Place in a food processor and puree, and then strain the puree into another container. Reserve the juice and discard any solids left in the strainer. Pour the juice over ice in your glass to about 2/3 full then give it a taste. The watermelon was nice and sweet, so I skipped the sugar, but you should add it to your taste, mixing just a little in at a time. Finally, top off with water. Flat water is traditional with agua fresca, but we prefer it with sparkling. Finish off with a squeeze of lime juice and then serve with another lime wedge for garnish. It will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator if you want to make a big batch. Believe me, you'll be happy to have it around!