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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

watermelon gin fizzes


biting off more than I can chew

Do you grind your teeth at night? I’ve done it since I was very small—I ground my baby teeth completely flat. My mom could hear me creaking and gnashing as I slept, unaware. Even though I’ve worn my night-guard faithfully every night since I was fourteen (I can’t go to sleep without it), the grinding has caused serious damage over the years. Apparently, one’s enamel can only hold up so long to such abuse.

A few weeks ago I went in for my annual dental exam, and learned that in addition to the two crowns (complete with root canals) I already possess, I’m looking at getting four more in the next few years. My teeth are splintering from decades of grinding. Now I know why my dental floss keeps breaking—the sharp edges of cracked enamel are slicing right through it.

I came home and thought about this. A lot. This seemed like an important message.

Looking back, after I quit my office job three years ago, I devoted myself to a series of projects dear to my heart: the bakery, the farmers market, the CSA, and the Alaska farmers market non-profit. But I realize I bit off more than I could chew. Maybe because I can’t seem to digest these monstrous mouthfuls during my waking hours, my sleeping body chomps and gnashes away all night, trying to masticate them into manageable morsels.

Instead, I’m just reducing my molars to rubble.

So I’m working on more effective ways to chew and swallow my outsized mouthfuls, and I’m learning how to take smaller bites in future. I’m finding the joy in letting go of projects that will be fun for others to undertake, and I’m learning to say “no thank you” to extra obligations.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to STOP grinding my teeth; after all, I’m asleep when I do it. But I’m hopeful that by slowing down and simplifying my life as much as I can, I will reduce the pressure on myself, and in turn, on my molars.

I’ve been ruminating on this post for a while now (please forgive the dental puns—I promise this is the last), and was stumped for an accompanying recipe. But then I thought of the perfect solution: refreshing and delicious Watermelon Gin Fizzes! First, they require no chewing. And second, these drinks send a clear message: “RELAX! TAKE A BREAK! STOP WORRYING!” If you aren’t into alcohol, just skip the gin—these yummy drinks are wonderful either way. Just make sure you sit down and relax when you drink yours. Sip slowly and imagine melting into your chair.

watermelon gin fizz

The idea for this drink came from an Eating Well magazine a few summers ago.

important notes:
1) You can get all the ingredients for this drink from Costco in the summertime.
2) I like to put my gin in the freezer, and everything else in the refrigerator (ginger ale, watermelon if it’ll fit, and limes). If you think of it ahead of time, you can even stick your pint glasses in the freezer.
3) You can add 1 or 2 ounces of gin, to your taste.

ingredients for 4 drinks:

half of a large (preferably seedless) watermelon
several limes
1 can ginger ale

1. Cut the watermelon in half and cut the rind off the outside with a sharp knife. (Be careful not to cut yourself—this is sort of an unwieldy process.) Cut the melon into approximately 1-inch slices, then cut the slices across so you have tall columns, about 1 inch square. (Take out the black seeds, if there are any.).  Reserve a few pieces of watermelon for garnish, if you want.
2. Put the lid on your blender, but remove the little insert in the middle of the lid (or just keep the lid off—but it will be messy).  Turn your blender on, and while it’s going, slide the strips of watermelon through the lid and pretend you have a juicer. At first, you’ll want to cover the top up with your hand so the juice doesn’t spray out, but after you’ve got several pieces in, it doesn’t make such a mess. When you’ve got a blender-full of juice, puree for about a minute, to really pulverize the pulp.  Pour the juice into a pitcher and keep going until you’ve got as much juice as you want. (You can freeze the juice for later if you want to blender the whole watermelon now and make more drinks next week.) 
3. If you kept some pieces of watermelon for garnish, cut them into cubes. 
4. Squeeze several limes to get at least ½ cup of juice.
5. You can make everything ahead up to this point.  Just make sure and put everything back in the ‘fridge until you’re ready to serve the drinks.

To make the drinks:
Put a handful of ice cubes in the bottom of a (preferably chilled) pint-sized glass. 
Add to the glass:

1/3 cup ginger ale,
2 tablespoons lime juice, and
1 to 2 oz. of gin (to your taste) in the glass. 
Fill to the top with watermelon juice.

Garnish with watermelon cubes and sip in the sunshine! 

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