Take the Bite out of Dog Days
BY DEBORAH SALOMON
Upon us now are the dog days of summer - an especially dangerous bout this year.
The phrase refers to the period when Sirius, the Dog Star, rises with the sun. Then, even Fido needs A/C.
Extreme heat affects the appetite. Eat and drink accordingly.
Sippable fruit smoothies and spoonable veggie mixtures make sense. They are cool, flavorful and nourishing. All you need is a blender and two or three ingredients, primarily ripe melon and fruit juice/fruit nectars. Ripe is the operative word: This is a good way to use up bruised or soft fruit. Just cut and peel away the blemishes. The resulting smoothie may have small bits of fruit, for texture.
My fearless concoctions include:
n Cantaloupe-orange: Melon needs to be very ripe, almost mushy. Proportions aren't important. Puree small chunks of peeled, seeded melon. Add orange (or pineapple) juice until consistency of a milkshake. Drink immediately; mixture separates but can be reblended. Cantaloupe also blends well with mango or papaya juice/nectars. Nice served with crushed mint leaves.
n Honeydew-it: Ripe honeydew has a sensuous, exotic aroma and flavor. Puree melon chunks, add lemon or limeade (from concentrate is fine), white grape juice or pear nectar; blend again.
n Peach Melba, almost: Chop soft-ripe peeled peaches. Blend with cranberry juice, cranberry-raspberry juice or, for a double whammy, peach nectar. Nectarines work well, too.
n Water, water, everywhere: True, you must remove seeds from even "seedless" watermelon. Puree watermelon chunks with cranberry or grape juice for stunning color. Otherwise, apple juice, pink grapefruit juice or lemonade.
n Pulpy pineapple: Fresh pineapple does not blend smooth but the refreshing flavor's worth a few bits. Chop pineapple and blend with pineapple juice, lemonade or pina colada nectar.
n Maybe you want a sweeter smoothie for a mid-afternoon perk. With sherbet/sorbet the combinations are endless: lime sherbet with lemonade; orange sherbet with orange juice or lemonade; raspberry sherbet with cranberry juice. Lemon or lime sherbet with grapefruit juice - tartly fantastic.
n Slurpable gazpacho: Dog days are glory days for ripe, dripping-with-juice garden tomatoes. Dip a big one in boiling water and slip off skin. Chop directly into the blender. Add 2-3 cups V-8 juice, a small peeled, seeded cucumber, a few basil leaves and a dash of hot sauce. Blend until chunky-smooth. Pour into tall glasses, top with a dollop of reduced-fat sour cream. Eat with a long-handled spoon. Add a grilled Swiss on sourdough sandwich and you've got easy supper for a hot night.
Finally, the obvious - so how come nobody does it anymore?
n Homemade ice cream soda: a scoop of ice cream, flavoring syrup, a bit of milk and freshly opened (for maximum fizz) club soda. Try coffee ice cream and chocolate syrup. Sip until the liquid's gone, then scoop out the remaining ice cream with an iced-tea spoon to make dog days not only bearable - but satisfying.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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