The heat sometimes takes away our appetite and it’s a blessing considering we have avoided most of our favorite summer activities. On Sunday we played tennis for two hours, throwing our hands up and surrendering to sweat. It was fun, but towards the end I started to feel numbness in my jaw (um, what?) and we stopped to hop in the air-conditioned car and head home.
Watermelon is one of those refreshing treats that I could eat all summer, appetite or no. Even at a good barbecue with all of the sides, I always have room for one sweet wedge of watermelon. I have been craving it for weeks now and decided to pick up one, then two. They are messy and sweet and pretty pink; all good things in my book.
Fennel came as part of our CSA and I was inspired by a drink I saw from Kimberley of The Year in Food a while back where she muddled fennel and gin. I chopped up my fennel and added it to a mason jar with vodka and let the two consort overnight. I thought the sweet watermelon and licorice flavor might go well together and I think they do! Marc noticed it was missing something and suggested a squeeze of lime. I must admit that he was completely correct and the lime is essential. Lemon would work nicely, too.
You can choose whether to strain your watermelon or not. I personally enjoy the little bits of watermelon flesh that cling to the side of the glass.
Recipe: Watermelon Cooler with Fennel-Infused Vodka
Inspired by The Year in Food
Makes 6 drinks
4 C. watermelon puree (you’ll use less than 1 small watermelon)
4 oz. fennel-infused vodka (you need 1 fennel bulb and vodka-make the night before)
1 1/2 limes, juiced
1. Pour 1 1/2-2 C. of vodka (this is more than you need for this recipe) into a mason jar (or reusable glass container). Chop one fennel bulb and add to the vodka in jar. Tighten lid on jar and refrigerate overnight, shaking occasionally. Strain before using.
2. In a glass pitcher, add watermelon puree, 4 oz. of fennel-infused vodka and the lime juice. Stir and refrigerate. Serve with ice and lime wedges.
This makes 6 lightly spiked summer sippers. Add more fennel-infused vodka for something stronger.
Vodka tip: Friends of ours (Hi Bruce and Nancy!) told us about Tito’s vodka and we love it. It’s very smooth, filtered 6 times and very reasonably priced. It’s made in Texas, too. When we picked it up at the liquor store, the lady that owns the place mentioned what a good choice we made. The 1.75 liter bottle is just under $30.