Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Watermelon Basil Margaritas

With the possible exception of Butternut Squash Plugged With A Bottle Of Grain Alcohol, I really can't think of a more perfect fall cocktail. Because I don't know about where you are, but back here in Brooklyn, it's as humid as the inside of a dog's mouth, and seedless watermelon remains widely available, if not in the farmer's markets, at least in some of the less discerning bodegas and fruiterias. Can we, in the name of refreshment, agree to temporarily forget about what that long-distance trucker once told me about the horrorshow inside his rig after 3 days of hauling strawberries coast to coast? Because it probably applies to watermelon too. I should've posted this back in July, when I was at the summer palace, but I was too busy drinking Watermelon Basil Margaritas and overlooking the fact that Inky was doing her mandatory homework packet. (I thought it was one of those optional mandatory type of deals.) Any parent who makes their kid do homework in the summer is either way more compliant than I am, or severely lacking in the Watermelon Basil Margarita Department... Anyway, if I delay this recipe until next summer, I'll forget to publish it at all, and then I'll owe myself a kill fee, which, however large it is, will not be sufficient to cover the price of a seedless watermelon in Cape Cod.

Watermelon Basil Margaritas

Rather than coming home from the grocery store in a timely manner, push it by swinging by a nearby thrift store you had somehow never noticed before, in the 15 years you've been coming here. Your choice will be justified by a barely used electric juicer, still in its original box, priced to move at a mere 5 bucks. Arrive home an hour later than expected. Remember, if you want to find that juicer, it's essential to leave the children at home with their father. Don't forget to buy an armload of dying plants for a dollar a pop, and schlep them and your new juicer down route 6A on foot. (Given your conviction that you will accidentally manslaughter someone every time you get behind the wheel, it's best to leave the automobile in the grocery parking lot, and only drive it when you absolutely have to, like when you have to get $230 dollars worth of groceries home. Told you them seedless watermelons ain't cheap)

Denude the basil plant you've been babying since your first trip to the grocery, the day after you arrived. If you did not bother to transplant it to a bigger pot, you will have just enough. If you are one of those who immediately moves your basil to a cast-off bathtub or an abandoned truck tire so that it will bush out, 30 or so leaves should do you.

Put the leaves and 2 teaspoons of sugar in the bottom of a pitcher, and muddle the holy pesto out of them with a wooden spoon. I feel you that 2 teaspoons of sugar seems a tad on the skimpy side when you've spent half the summer drinking mojitos at four tablespoons a pop, but don't worry. You'll still manage to pack ten extra pounds into your bikini by summer's end.

Bravely pour three quarters of a cup of tequila, and one quarter cup of triple sec into that pitcher, even though you generally oppose Sarah Jessica Parkered-up takes on classic cocktails. I swear on a stack of Bibles, this is an entirely different animal than a chocolate martini or a green apple Rob Roy.

Now, haul out the juicer and feed that watermelon, rind and all, into its freshly assembled maw. Just kidding about the rind. Reading instructions all the way to the end is an important part of comprehension and compliance, or so Inky told me. She redeemed herself after the Summer Homework Debacle by being one of the two kids who turned her paper over instead of starting to follow the elaborate instructions outlined in an earlier step of a 10-step "quiz", the 10th step of which was "Do not follow any of the instructions in steps 1 – 9. Turn your paper over and wait quietly for your teacher." She was rewarded with a piece of candy, and, maybe even the possibility that her mother will forget to make her do next summer's homework as well.

Don't despair if you don't have a juicer. Your child can still do well on a 10-step faux quiz and you can still have Basil Watermelon Margaritas! The thing about the blender at the summer palace is, it's only good for using as a pitcher. If you plug it in and turn it on, the only thing that happens is it smells like burning. Those of you without juicers must have blenders, yes? If not, the thrift stores are full of blenders! Or go to the discount store and get a cheap one. You don't need to spend a hundred bucks on an Oster Contemporary Classic Beehive unless you're married to me and it's my birthday and I want it in orange. It's too overqualified to liquify watermelon. I could liquefy a watermelon with a marshmallow! However you do it, if you're not using a juicer, you'll need to strain it through something – a strainer, some cheesecloth, your husband's pantyhose – in order to have that Shirley Temple pink, sweet, clear juice.

Moisten the rim of four glasses – one if it's just you, Billie Holiday and your loneliness – with something, a rag dipped in watermelon juice, your tongue, your husband's pantyhose... I would say a lime, but these margaritas don't call for lime juice! That's great news because the only thing more expensive than seedless watermelon out there on the Cape is limes – 2 for a buck at the Orleans Stop N Shop. This is why all visitors to the summer palace must bring me limes and lots of them.

Pour the watermelon juice into the pitcher.

Dip the rims of the glasses in a saucerful of decent salt, not Mortons or those little packets you take home from the airplane. Add some ice, and divide the contents of the pitcher between them.

Promise your friend, Mrs. Big Sarah X, that you will not scandalize her Waldorf community by publishing a photo of her drinking alcohol while her children are Angelic Forest Sprite In The Moss knows where!

Next up: The chicken wings devoured by a certain Waldorf parent, who shall remain not only nameless but pseudonymless as well. (Photos available on request.)

Got any good ideas for my juicer? Lay 'em on me!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ayun, I'm such a fan of all your books (first discovered you with No Touch Monkey, and devo your child-oriented books while pregnant) and I keep your blog on my Yahoo feed, ever hopeful that a post will pop up. I welcome your return from the Summer Palace with a big Hooray!
(The little one is enduring her first-ever cold, so the watermelon margaritas may have to wait... who brings a sick baby to the store to buy a watermelon?)

1:15 PM  
Blogger Ayun Halliday said...

Why, thanky, Meg!
I hope the baby feels better. Until she does you have leave to drink the ingredients straight from the bottle.

3:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't specify how much watermelon to use, or you do but my reading comprehension sucks. Or both.

A assume a small dulcinea seedless watermelon will result in flames emanating from my nostrils as I fall flat on my face in salty alcohol.

Should I go for a largish one? Or will that fail to sedate me? Because if I have to "make the dinosaur talk" or answer the question "why is Maya doing X" where the person asking the question is Maya and only Maya would know the answer so why is she asking me? one more time I don't even have to finish that sentence. I think I'd be a much nicer mom if I were a pothead.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Ayun Halliday said...

Well, I got out my calipers and figure, you need maybe 1/4 of a big one, or one of those tiny, square ones that costs a hundred bucks in Japan.

Judging from the photo above, you'll be in good shape if you fill up a big mixing bowl.

Look at it this way, if your melon's too big, you qualify for more tequila!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Morekelkel said...

Love these margaritas. I used the recipe for them in last month's Martha Stewart Living. This one seems like pretty much the same thing. Great summer drink!

9:07 PM  

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