Heatwave Survival Tip (no.1)

by Marina Chotzinoff

Just when I was enjoying a belated and perfect spring, Denver cranked up the heat and reminded me what summer has been like these last few years. Thankfully our 1907 house with the two layers of brick with an air gap for insulation is just barely starting to warm up so I’m not yet working in my underwear. But leaving the house smacks you right in the face with a wall of thick, HOT. And don’t even start with the “but it’s DRY heat.” Because that is just as irritating as the “but we NEED the moisture” was during our 9,000th snow storm this spring.

I should point out that it has only been hot for a few days and my current grumpiness is likely in anticipation of the next three months. Especially with my yard recently razed to just a field of hardened dirt, no garden even started yet. And so I am working on focusing on that which is good. And cold. Today so far this means going to the freezer to fetch two wonderful, frozen cubes of watermelon. Each was steeped in a basil, mint, lime simple syrup, then dusted with either earthy, smokey urfa pepper or lime zest, mint and salt. They cool you down instantly and the flavors blossom as they begin to melt in your mouth…the lime and mint playing off the heat of the pepper and vice versa.

I suggest you make some stat and hunker down. It’s going to be a long summer.

1 “personal” watermelon
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup mint
1 lime, zested, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili of choice (aleppo, urfa, powder)

Cut watermelon into 1/2 inch thick slices and choose the smoothest, seedless parts to cut into cubes you could comfortably chew on. Eat the rest while you cook.

Reserve a few mint leaves. Bring water and sugar to a boil, then reduce to simmer and simmer basil and rest of mint leaves for a couple minutes. Turn off heat and steep until cool. Stir in 2 T lime juice and marinate watermelon in mixture for several hours or overnight turning once or twice.

Finely chop mint leaves and mix 1 T with 1 T lime zest, 1/4 t salt and 1/2 t sugar. Put on plate and spread out into a thin layer. Do the same with the remaining 1/4 t salt and chili. Take a watermelon cube and dip one side into the mint/lime mix. Place on a plate with mint mixture on top. Do the same with the remaining pieces alternately dipping in chili mix and mint mixture (you could probably dip in both, omitting the extra salt, but I enjoyed taking a spicy bite, then a tangy one). Freeze until solid. Eat!

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