The first thing I noticed as I walked into my daughter-in-law’s kitchen was the bunch of fresh basil she had snipped from her herb garden. As a cook and one-time gardener, I’m always appreciative of a well-grown sprig of basil. I have a small plant in my condo kitchen, but its pale, blotchy leaves look pathetic.
A round of buffalo mozzarella and several heirloom tomatoes sat nearby as Lisa put the finishing touches on a colorful platter of Tomato Caprese. Further down the counter, a wooden bowl filled with a mixture of crisp lettuce leaves needed only to be tossed and served. Ears of corn, already stripped of their silks and husks, waited to be dropped into boiling water at the last minute. From the window, I could see my son hovering over rows of burgers sizzling on the grill.
Trying not to drool on the counter, I began taking photos of the cookout in progress. I moved about the kitchen, clicking here and there, rearranging the basil leaves, polishing the heirloom tomatoes with my sleeve, moving the caprese closer to the light, and flicking food specks from the edge of a bowl. My kids have come to accept my interruptions to their cooking and eating, considering it an inconvenience that comes with having a food blogging mother and a small price to pay for keeping me happily occupied.
Like a curious Lois Lane sensing a “juicy” story, I inquired about the contents of the punch bowl, that was filled with an pinkish-colored drink emitting a scent of freshly cut mint.
“It’s watermelon punch,” Lisa said. “It has lime juice, watermelon juice, and mint, but very little sugar, because it’s naturally sweet.” I had never seen or heard of watermelon punch. (Food blogger love it when they learn something new.) I took a swig and sure enough it was pleasant and refreshing; a good alternative to iced tea or lemonade.
I later found that Martha’s Stewart offers directions for carving a serving bowl from the halved watermelon. When I observed that carving a bowl from a rind might be more trouble than breaking out the punch bowl and cups, Lisa agreed.
Lisa’s recipe, from Williams-Sonoma, was called Watermelon Agua Fresca. It’s a name that undoubtedly came from Mexico, where street vendors sell the popular drink. Watch this breezy You Tube video entitled Watermelon Agua Fresca and see how to concoct a more intoxicating version.
I’ve always contended that lard makes the flakiest pie crusts. It’s what’s used in most store bought varieties. Lisa’s recipe comes from Williams-Sonoma’s Pie & Tart. It’s an all butter pie crust, that calls for cutting the chunks of cold butter into the flour.
After an evening of good food and much laughter, I left with a slice of pie, a baggie of basil, and tons of photos. All were put to good use.