I couldn’t escape the heat by running off to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a few days (it was in the nineties there as well), and there’s no escaping it here in New Hampshire. It’s July 18 and, by my memory, it’s been seriously hot since the Fourth of July weekend. An unusually long stretch, with very little rain to refresh either people or gardens.
With a few simple strategies, it’s not impossible to stay comfortable. Chilling out with a good read in the backyard was an excellent start today. Sipping an iced basil watermelon cooler took the afternoon heat down a few degrees, cooling my core while I relaxed.
Watermelon means summer to me. I crave it, more than any other summer food. In fact, I crave it several weeks before local watermelons are ripe on the vine. This summer, I tried to wait, but I just couldn’t.
I was inspired by a cooling drink of iced springwater with watermelon and basil that I enjoyed at the Mill City Farmers Market yesterday morning, before leaving Minneapolis to head home. Light, barely sweet with the flavor of fresh watermelon and basil, and incredibly refreshing, it was the perfect drink after a long walk to the market. Although it was just after 8 a.m., the temperature was rising well into the eighties already.
Watermelon may actually be one of the healthiest foods a body could choose to crave. It’s loaded with B vitamins and is a powerful source of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamins A and vitamin C. Antioxidant molecules are capable of preventing other molecules from oxidizing and producing free radicals that can damage cells, setting off a disease process in the body. Eating an antioxidant-rich diet is key to preventing cancer, heart disease and maintaining good health in general.
Watermelon is also rich in magnesium and potassium, making it a great natural alternative to energy drinks. And, of course, it’s hydrating as well.
I froze one-inch chunks of watermelon, three inches deep, in the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar to give my cooler an extra chill. When the chunks were frozen and the jar frosty-cold, I added a chopped sprig of fresh basil from the garden and filled the jar to the brim with ice and cold water.
Delicious, cool and refreshing to the core.
Here’s to another week of hot, sunny, beautiful summer days.
Now, where did I put that book?