The Ultimate Summer Quencher: Watermelon Agua Fresca

Watermelon Agua Fresca

While I ate my share of fancy food in Austin, it’s a simple food cart that has been on my mind since we left. At Veracruz All-Natural, the migas breakfast tacos were unbelievably fantastic, which makes sense since they border on legendary, but it was the watermelon agua fresca that inspired obsession.

It could have been because we had drank a good amount the night before and then walked 2 miles in 90 degree weather to the cart, but one sip of that agua fresca was enough to knock my socks off. Sadly it’s one of my biggest vacation regrets that we never made it back for a second one.

And oh, we wanted to — in fact, every other day we tried to plot a trip back to the cart. But every time something else distracted us (either in the form of brisket or beer).

To make it up to me, last weekend my husband brought me home a huge watermelon. We shared a meaningful look and then I immediately turned to google.

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Welcome to my house, please don’t lick the walls…

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

Almond, banana & cherry smoothie and a different type of mimosa

As if it wasn’t obvious enough that my life is immersed in culinary culture, it is particularly apparent when you see all of the jars of paint samples in my house. See, my husband and I have been trying to agree upon a color for our living room (and kitchen and bedroom) so we’ve been buying sample after sample to test out on the walls.

Our living room now boasts some fun (and delicious sounding) modern art:

tasty sounding paint colors

Oh cornbread…you looked so good on paper, wow, were you ugly on the wall.

After a long uninspiring battle with various shades of yellow, we have changed tactics and moved on to blues. Last weekend my husband suggested I paint an even larger section of the living room with sea salt (so far the front-runner) to see if we both still like it.

To get my strength (and sanity) up, I made a smoothie. A fabulous smoothie, in fact. I based it on the banana almond smoothie from the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse but added a few extra goodies to coax it into excellence.

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Hey there little lassi, come say hello to me…

Strawberry Coconut Lassi

What you should be drinking right now!

It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend in Portland. I spent about three hours on Saturday sweltering in my sunny backyard, working up the motivation to run some errands. While I waited for my lost ambition to find me, I made this delicious concoction: a coconut-milk twist in the Indian treat, the lassi.

I’ve never actually had a lassi before (and upon writing this discovered it’s pronounced luh-see which makes the title of this post little weird) but I can say this version was pretty magical. I got the recipe from my beloved magazine Bon Appetit, where a whole mouth-watering section of the newest issue is dedicated to strawberries.

I literally couldn’t wait to blend one up and the ingredients list is so short, I happened to have everything on hand to make it. Well almost everything, but happily buttermilk can be faked with milk and a squeeze of lemon juice!

Strawberry Coconut Lassi

What can go wrong with strawberries and coconut milk?

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The Cider Press Rules

Apples, apples everywhere

Did you catch a hint of John Irving in that title? If you did, we must be kindred spirits. The Cider House Rules is one of my favorite books, and every time I started typing anything about cider, it kept popping into my head. I couldn’t shake it.

Anyways, if it were required of me to make rules for a cider press party, it would be a simple task.

  1. Buy apples (basically so many apples that it’s overwhelming)
  2. Invite friends (think like Tom Sawyer, more people=less work for you!)
  3. Make good food (this way your friends can’t blame you when they feel used)
  4. Spend the afternoon drinking beer and making delicious fresh-pressed cider

It’s that easy! And, when you see all of the glorious fresh cider come pouring out, it’s also pretty damn exciting.

Here’s some scenes from my first cider press party, which took place the weekend before Halloween.

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My kingdom for a coffee…

This mug contains everything that is good in the world!

I like coffee a lot. Which is slightly ironic because when I was younger, I hated it with a passion. I did eventually discover the allure of espresso while in Italy but I didn’t get the obsession with sweeter coffee drinks. This was about the time that Starbucks was becoming hugely popular and restaurants were almost required to buy espresso machines because everyone wanted a mocha or latte at lunch. Suddenly coffee shops were opening everywhere, even in teeny tiny Kodiak, Alaska, and people were drinking fancy flavored coffee constantly it seemed. Except for me.

There wasn’t much to do in our town, so nearly every day my best friend Nikki Sea and I would walk downtown just to meander about. Usually we would end up at the same little coffee stand, next to a record store. I would religiously order an Italian cream soda and Nik would always order a “black and white” (which after an embarrassingly long time I finally discovered was simply a vanilla mocha). Every time we would swap drinks so the other could taste a sip, and every time the drink was passed back to its owner while we mirrored looks of exaggerated disgust.

Slowly I grew more interested in her drinks and less enthralled with my still delicious, yet slightly unsatisfying Italian sodas. Finally came the day where I ordered (a la When Harry Met Sally) “one of what she’s having.” And from there, it was all downhill.

coffee goodness