I feel the end of summer vacation coming on. It feels like curled toes at the edge of a cold swimming pool I am not quite ready to jump into. The month of August is the Sunday of summer and I have promised myself to prolong the sense of freedom that goes with loose-fitting timetables indefinitely. My plan is to outrun the seasons by intermingling spontaneity with life’s daily necessities.
Throughout the warm summer I have assembled foods rather than cooking. Weekends have been luxuriously filled with visits to farmers markets and taking home baskets full of new harvest fruits and vegetables.
In the midst of making watermelon granita one lazy afternoon, I marveled at the amount of rind left on the countertop. Rather than discarding them I decided to conduct a kitchen experiment by putting the rinds in a big pan of water to chill in the refrigerator.
A few hours later I was happy to see that the water had turned pale pink. It tasted refreshing without the sweetness of its coral colored part. Watermelon-rind infused water turned out to be this summer’s favorite refreshment. In life’s experimental laboratory — the kitchen — the greatest discoveries happen by chance. Enjoy watermelon-rind infused water as long as the season permits and use the rinds of any organically grown melon to make an original and simple refreshment that looks especially beautiful in a big enamel or aluminum mussel pan.
When Indian summer shows up, use the peels of figs, the stones of plums and the stalks of your garden herbs for a mix and match flavored water that fits with the Sunday picnics of the season.
- the rinds of one small watermelon
- six-twelve stalks of fresh green herbs . like basil . mint or dill
- two liters of fresh cold water
Cut the bright, juicy flesh of the watermelon into cubes for a picnic dessert, to add to a salad or to make granita. Slice the rinds into wedges. Put them in a pan or enamel bucket large enough to accommodate the rinds. Cover them with cold water. Add the stalks of the fresh green herbs available to you. (My personal favorite are the stalks of fresh basil, but mint, dill or even cilantro works well too). Allow the water to infuse at least an hour and up to four hours. Serve the refreshing water with loads of ice cubes or with a wedge of lemon at your next picnic.
Serve this water with breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks.
The students at the Prairie Farm Corps in Grayslake, Illinois loved drinking this water with lunch under the shade of the trees this summer.