Just a thought... Life is like eating a watermelon, you know you're going to get some seeds; just spit them out and take another bite. [Jeff Steinmann]
Before we get to today's journal...
August 16th: a date on which both the Queen of Soul and the King of Rock 'n' Roll left this world. There have been millions of words written about Aretha Franklin, who passed yesterday of pancreatic cancer at age 76, and all I will add to them is this: in an age of female singers who equate volume with power or passion, her voice rose above them all. She used her glorious gift to raise us up, to make us feel and to marvel at the sheer perfection of her instrument and talent.
There will be always be powerful voices, but none more so than that of Aretha Franklin. Like that of Elvis Presley, who died in 1977, her music will live on; like The King, her first name will always be a genuflection and prayer of thanks to the gods of music. May she rest in peace.
So, I don't want to be that person - you've heard the Back to School ads on the radio already, I'm sure - but, yes, there are two weeks left before Labour Day. Two glorious weeks. And it wasn't until this past week that we stopped into a neighbourhood Tim Hortons and got our first iced cappuccino of the year. We used to start the season with one and then we knew summer was finally underway. So it was about time. What are we all waiting for?
I've already made my favourite cold cucumber soup (easy to make if you just Google and find a recipe with ingredients you have or a list that you like) but I was ordering a watermelon salad on our trip that made me wonder why on earth I hadn't pulled out this favourite yet!?!
As usual, I looked up recipes and, just as I suggested above, found ones that featured elements that I wanted in my salad. What I ended up with was a mixture of different recipes wherein I picked and chose from my favourites. So you'll forgive me if I ad lib a bit here, but to me (except for baking, of course) that's the best part of being in the kitchen!
First, the ingredients: a pre-packaged mixture of arugula and baby spinach. That was the basis for the salad, served on a big platter, as you see above. I laid out the greens, tearing the spinach into bite-sized pieces. Then I added some tiny rings of a cut and separated green onion. Subtle, but still there. Onto that mixture I spread a thin layer of sliced cucumber: in this case I used six of those little sweet guys you find all packaged under cellophane together, but any thinly sliced English cuke will do, too. Feel free to add some basil leaves if you have them, or even a bit of fresh mint. Whatever floats your boat!
Over this mixture I placed melon balls from half of a watermelon; they'd already been drained and dried off as much as one can with a melon. Easy so far, right?
In a small cup, I mixed two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of fresh lime juice, give or take, depending on your taste. Into this I ground some sea salt and mixed up the dressing. I drizzled it over the greens and melon.
Now comes the fun part: sprinkling about 1/3-1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese over the whole mixture. So lovely. Then add fresh ground pepper to taste and get set for the "artistic" part.
This element comes thanks to Facebook visitors who told me that I'd have had a much easier time with the mini Caprese salad appetizers I blogged about here a few Fridays ago, had I used a thickened balsamic sauce. I found lots of varieties of just that - flavoured with everything from garlic to pomegranate - in the deli section of our local grocery store. In a back and forth zigzag, I drizzled the lovely thick and sweet sauce over my salad creation and voilà! Instant summer on a plate.
I hope you'll give this a try and remember, whatever you choose to put into it is up to you! The arugula/spinach was an idea I'd seen posted and thought it would add an extra element to the salad. If you happen to be going to a gathering and wish to take it, I'd prep the ingredients in advance (especially the watermelon) and assemble it when you arrive. It was very well received and I won't wait until next summer to make this easy, cool and delicious treat for guests - or just for us - again!
Take care and if you have any questions, be sure and email me at the link above.
1 package (I bought a plastic square container) of greens of your choice. Arugula and baby spinach is a nice mix, but not real baby spinach - that's cruel.
Fresh basil leaves and/or mint leaves whatever your garden grows, Ms Contrary.
2-3 green onions (optional)
Juice of 1/2-to-1 lime. Whatever's leftover from your last Margarita or gin and tonic binge.
2 T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper (fresh ground pepper or why bother?) to taste
Watermelon in chunks or balls, as much as you want. I used half of one large melon.
Crumbled feta cheese (about 1/2 cup). You can buy it that way in a little shaker (also deli section) or be adventurous and crumble your own!
1/4 cup (guessing here) thickened balsamic vinegar. If you can't find it in a squeeze bottle in your store - check the deli section - you can make your own reduction (Google it) and let it cool before you drizzle it on your creation.
Good luck and I know it'll be GREAT! Just be sure there's not too much watermelon juice on the plate or it'll dilute your dressing. Have a lovely weekend and we'll be back with you here on Monday.
(@erindavis on Twitter)