Happy 4th of July weekend! I just wanted to put up a short post before the long weekend, to have something nice and refreshing for you to look at when you stop by. Plus, it seems as though we're all looking around food blogs for ideas for picnic- or barbecue-appropriate foods and drinks (I certainly am), so here is my contribution.
Somewhere in my parents' house is a photo of me, at age 2 in southern China, gnawing on a slice of watermelon bigger than my head. That I'm able to hold up this huge watermelon slice is pretty amazing. There is syrupy juice dripping down the side of my arms and, if you look closely, on the edge of my mouth too. Sitting next to me is my 3-year-old cousin, concentrating on his own watermelon slice, but seemingly edging away, as though I would steal his at any moment.
To say that we, as toddlers, had watermelon for dessert everyday in the summer is not an exaggeration. To escape the stuffiness of houses in the summer in Guangzhou, my cousin and I would bring our slices outside to courtyard and see how far we could spit our seeds. This, of course, attracted armies of ants, which our parents were not too happy about. We tried to remedy this problem by showering them with a watering can, but in hindsight, not spitting seeds on the ground at all would have been a better idea.
My summer watermelon consumption has declined as an adult, but it's still not summer to me until the grocery stores start carrying whole melons. The day summer begins is not summer solstice, but rather the day you haul a watermelon home, set it on the counter, and whack it open while trying not to lose too much juice to the floor.
And instead of simply eating big slices, why not also make watermelon drinks? Here's an easy sparkling watermelon lemonade I adapted from High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking, by Associated Press food editor J.M. Hirsch. You can make a pitcher to serve at a summer barbecue, or, just for sipping at home. You can also add a splash of vodka, depending on the time of day.
What drinks do you make for the 4th, or any summer cookout?
Sparking Watermelon Lemonade
Makes 4 to 5 drinks
- 5 cups cut-up watermelon flesh (about 1/4 of a large watermelon)
- 1 cup lemon juice (about 5 lemons)
- 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more if needed
- 1 liter club soda
- Vodka (optional)
- In a blender, combine the watermelon, lemon juice, and sugar. Puree until smooth. Add more the sugar if the mixture seems too tart.
- Pour the mixture into a pitcher with ice or chill in the fridge. When you're ready to serve, pour about halfway up a glass filled with ice and top off with club soda.
Adapted from High Flavor, Low Labor.