Posts

Cool Off Fast! – Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca Recipe

by Sandy Swegel

My basic remedy for hot July days is to bend over and run the hose over my head, but a more attractive and effective way to cool off is to make an Agua Fresca (refreshing water), the great fruit or vegetable drink of Mexico and other southern regions. I’ve been making Agua Frescas all weekend.

The Agua Fresca I first enjoyed from my friend Alfredo’s family was cucumber and lime juice.  Then one day we had watermelon Agua Fresca and I was in heaven.  Both were very cooling and refreshing.  What intrigued me most is that these were two of the foods my acupuncturist recommended to me.  TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has diagnoses of “heat” in the body.  I often get this diagnosis and my doctor suggests three vegetables/fruits that are especially cooling to the body from a TCM energetic point of view…not just temperature:  Cucumber, celery and watermelon.  Turns out that ancient wisdom from TCM is the same as ancient wisdom from Mexican families. “Gotta love it” as a friend says.

There are lots of recipes on the web, but the concept is simple:

Blender 6 cups water 1 pound of Fruit or vegetable:  cucumber, watermelon are traditional. Also try melon, raspberries, strawberries, celery, herbs like lemon balm or basil or mint. Sugar (to taste) 1/4  to 1/2 cup.  Lime to taste. Run the blender to pulverize the vegetables or fruit and lime.  Strain if needed. Pour over ice cubes and add mint or cucumber slice or lime slice garnish.

Variations: Slushy:  Use only half the water. Run the blender a second time filled with ice cubes to get a slushy drink. Sorbet:  Make an agua fresca and put it in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes to make sorbet. Alcohol:  Rum, tequila or vodka added make excellent drinks or sorbets!

Stay Cool and Be Happy.

Photo credits:

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/raspberry-mint-agua-fresca.html

Cool Off Fast! – Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca Recipe

by Sandy Swegel

My basic remedy for hot July days is to bend over and run the hose over my head, but a more attractive and effective way to cool off is to make an Agua Fresca (refreshing water), the great fruit or vegetable drink of Mexico and other southern regions. I’ve been making Agua Frescas all weekend.

The Agua Fresca I first enjoyed from my friend Alfredo’s family was cucumber and lime juice.  Then one day we had watermelon Agua Fresca and I was in heaven.  Both were very cooling and refreshing.  What intrigued me most is that these were two of the foods my acupuncturist recommended to me.  TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has diagnoses of “heat” in the body.  I often get this diagnosis and my doctor suggests three vegetables/fruits that are especially cooling to the body from a TCM energetic point of view…not just temperature:  Cucumber, celery and watermelon.  Turns out that ancient wisdom from TCM is the same as ancient wisdom from Mexican families. “Gotta love it” as a friend says.

There are lots of recipes on the web, but the concept is simple:

Blender 6 cups water 1 pound of Fruit or vegetable:  cucumber, watermelon are traditional. Also try melon, raspberries, strawberries, celery, herbs like lemon balm or basil or mint. Sugar (to taste) 1/4  to 1/2 cup.  Lime to taste. Run the blender to pulverize the vegetables or fruit and lime.  Strain if needed. Pour over ice cubes and add mint or cucumber slice or lime slice garnish.

Variations: Slushy:  Use only half the water. Run the blender a second time filled with ice cubes to get a slushy drink. Sorbet:  Make an agua fresca and put it in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes to make sorbet. Alcohol:  Rum, tequila or vodka added make excellent drinks or sorbets!

Stay Cool and Be Happy.

Photo credits:

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/raspberry-mint-agua-fresca.html

Harvesting Melons

Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

by Sandy Swegel

My gardening buddies had an ice tea party at a nearby market farm this week.  Long hot summer days are ripening melons and we were eager to do some taste testing, but how do you know when melons are ripe?  They all look great.  They have a good size.  We were crouching among the plants thumping and sniffing, trying to find a perfect melon. And somebody pulled a beautifulOregano 952700-BBB baby watermelon that was the darkest green…we figured it had to be ripe.  Nope, cutting it open revealed flesh that had only just started turning pink.  If only there were some way to glue the melon back together.

Farmer Mimi finally took pity on us and showed us how to know if melons are ripe.

She grows two general types of melons in her field:  watermelons and “slip” melons such as cantaloupe and muskmelons that slip off the vine when they are ready.

The slip melons are easy: they are ripe when they easily slip from the plant when you tug lightly. If they don’t come off the vine easily, leave them a few more days.  Muskmelons will also smell wonderful when they are ripe.

Watermelons don’t slip but they are just as easy to know when they’re ready if you look at the plant.  Very close to each fruit, a tendril grows.  It’s usually green and curly.  When it dries up completely and turns brown or black, the fruit is ripe.  That was so much easier than thumping every watermelon in sight.

We also got a great growing tip for getting lots of melons.  Melons like hot days and warm nights.  Here in Colorado, we have hot days but the nights cool off. Good for us but not so much for the melons.  Mimi told us that black plastic mulch under your melons will significantly increase how many melons you get and speed up how soon they are ready.

In these hot summer days, we definitely need more melons.

For everything you ever need to know about harvesting melons, using plastic mulch and knowing when to harvest: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1262.html