Summer refresher

June 7, 2013

As good as it is pretty.

As good as it is pretty. Even if it’s upside down.

I’ve become enamored, this summer, of the cucumber lime agua fresca prepared at one of my new favorite restaurants, Park Island Market/Cafe. As I was about to fix myself something to drink, I thought how good that would taste.

“Self?” I said. “You’ve got cucumbers. You’ve got lime. How hard can it be?”

So self got two cucumbers, about 8 inches long, out of the fridge, and the lonely remaining lime (must get more limes) off the counter. Whacked the cucumbers up into about inch-thick slices. Started to squeeze and zest the lime, thought, “heck with it,” and quartered that baby, too. Chunked the whole works into the FoPro. Processed it until it was, essentially, juiced.

Then I got out my handy-dandy piece of cheesecloth , draped it over the top of my half-gallon plastic pitcher, and secured it with a rubber band I’d saved from around the stems of a bunch of broccoli. (Those are great rubber bands. I keep a handful of ’em around the spindle on my paper towel holder. Good and heavy.) Dumped the FoPro bowl into it, and let ‘er drain.

Draining the pulp.

Draining the pulp.

People. If you do not have cheesecloth in your kitchen, Go Get You Some. I think I paid four bucks for a package of six yards of it from the Culinary District; you should be able to find it at any kitchen store, though I don’t remember ever seeing it in the kitchen department at, say, Walmart or Target. It serves for so MANY purposes in the kitchen, but especially when you want to get as much liquid as possible out of a solid, like when you’re squeezing the water out of grated potatoes for latkes. Or you want to get all the juice you can out of two cucumbers and a lime.

I wound up getting about 1 3/4 cup of juice out of the cucumber and the lime. Because I had peeled neither creature, the juice was a vivid avocado-y green. I added to it about a half-cup of Splenda, because Splenda would dissolve more readily in liquid, and otherwise I would’ve had to have made a simple syrup, and that was more trouble than that to which I wished to go. A half-cup is what I use when I make sweet tea, on those occasions when I serve tea to people who want it sweet, but next time, I might cut back a hair on the Splenda in this. Or I might just use more lime. Anyway, I filled the pitcher the rest of the way up with tap water and gave it a stir.

Went outside and snipped me a mint sprig; stripped off the half-dozen lower leaves, scrunched them up between my palms and dumped them in the glass. Added ice and the cucumber-lime water. Used the top of the sprig as a garnish, and voila, there ya go, most excellent cucumber lime water!

You can play with this. If I had more limes, I might use two. I contemplated using a ginger syrup I keep in my liquor cabinet, instead of the Splenda, but opted not to. If you wanted to serve it for a fancy party, it’d be good to  make it double strength, then mix last-minute with sparkling water in a champagne flute, and garnish with a slice of cucumber along with the mint.  I might make some of this, unsweetened, and experiment with using ginger or raspberry syrup, the two I keep on hand most of the time.

Quick cleanup.

Quick cleanup.

Oh. And when it comes time to wash the cheesecloth, I just drape it over the dishes in the top rack of the dishwasher. When I empty the dishwasher, it’s not dry; I drape it over the knife block, and when it dries, I fold it up and stick it back in the breadbox, where it lives.

Hey, I’m gluten intolerant. I don’t keep bread in the  breadbox. It contains GF crackers and breadcrumbs, Lucy’s flea/mosquito preventive (for some reason, that was a logical spot to put it), and a bag of walnuts. And the cheesecloth. Oh, and sesame seeds.

Back to the cucumber lime water. I have a notion I’ll keep a pitcher of this in the fridge all summer long. It’s good stuff. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em try it out, or come over and I’ll pour you a glass.


2 Responses to “Summer refresher”

  1. Kath the Cook Says:

    try this for your summer cold-beverage adventures… totally yummy & spicy

    Homemade Ginger Ale
    • 1 4- to 5-inch piece fresh ginger (about 6 oz.), peeled and cut into small pieces
    • 2 cups sugar ( I use less sugar)
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 2 liters seltzer or club soda, chilled
    • Thinly sliced lemon for garnish, optional
    • 1. Combine fresh ginger and sugar in bowl of a food processor. Process until ginger is finely ground. Transfer to a large saucepan, add lemon juice and stir in 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and cool. (You should have about 2 cups.) Syrup can be made up to 2 weeks in advance. Keep tightly covered and refrigerated.
    • 2. Just before serving, fill 8 tall glasses with crushed ice. Pour about 1/4 cup of chilled ginger syrup into each glass. Fill with chilled seltzer and serve right away, garnished with lemon slices, if desired.

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Yum. Sounds good. I’ve seen a recipe for it, and have actually made some using the ginger syrup I have, but I have to get it too sweet to get it ginger-y enough. How much less sugar do you use? And have you ever tried using Splenda? I have some ginger paste in a tube I could use, just squirt it in a quarter-cup of water mix it up, add some Splenda and make the stuff a glass at a time….h’mmmm…..

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