Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The end of summer

Wow. I'm not sure what happened to summer. One minute I'm graduating on Mother's Day in Durham, North Carolina, and the next I'm canning late August tomatoes in the kitchen of our new home in southern Michigan. It's been a busy, delightful, challenging three months as we adjust to our new life here...and I can't say I've done much writing. But I've read a lot, including Kathleen Norris, Wendell Berry, Barbara Kingsolver, and (drum roll, please) a myriad of cookbooks. Yes, cookbooks! By some odd miracle I have overcome 35 years of kitchenphobia--including the fear of knives, boiling water, hot ovens, and fractions (shudder)--and discovered that I actually kind of enjoy cooking. Quite a lot. It helps that our new kitchen is spectacular, that we've signed up for a weekly share of produce with an Amish farmer, and that someone, somewhere, invented the food processor.

On the writing front, there's the slow chipping away at a novel, the opportunity to contribute chapters for two different book projects, writing various curricula, the continued development of rites-of-passage material for families of teen girls, and shaping a book proposal or two. And meanwhile my speaking schedule will kick into high gear starting in mid-October (details can be found here). After a two-year sojourn camping out in the reference library at Duke Divinity School, I'm grateful to find that I'm still employable as a freelancer.

Normally I sign off with a quote, but (just in case you didn't think I was serious about the whole cooking thing), this time I leave you with--yes, you guessed it--a RECIPE. For chilled watermelon soup. It's sort of my own concoction based on other recipes out there, so you'll want to keep taste-testing to balance the various ingredients. It makes a great lunch soup or first course. Enjoy!

8 cups fresh local watermelon, seeded and cubed
1-2 cups plain yogurt
2-3 Tb white wine vinegar (some recipes call for 1/3 C)
1-2 Tb lemon juice
2-3 Tb sugar
1 bunch fresh mint, reserving some for garnish

Combine SIX cups of watermelon and the smallest suggested amount of each ingredient in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste the soup, then add more of each ingredient as needed (if you add more yogurt, you will need to add more sugar). The consistency should be thick enough to be creamy but not as thick as a smoothie. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Ladle into small bowls (I use glass pyrex ones that I've chilled in the fridge). Garnish with remaining watermelon cubes (I pile them in the middle of each bowl) and a sprig of mint. Makes 4-6 servings (or more?). NOTE: If you do this in a food processor, you are maxing out the liquid level--trust me, I learned the hard way--so you will want to do this in several batches. Onward!

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