FM Radio and Watermelon Juleps

I got a new phone a couple weeks ago, and one of the things that made me choose this particular model was the inclusion of FM Radio. I love radio, which is a good thing considering it’s what I’m studying. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up listening to Radio Aahs and Prairie Home Companion, or because on long road trips we’d listen to old programs on tape (namely the Shadow) and play “The Radio Game” (whoever correctly identified the artist and song gained control of the radio), or because my dad had a short sting as a co-host on KKMS, or because as a kid I had a tape recorder and not a video camera, but I have always had a great affinity for radio.

The year before I started at Northwestern I had been planning to major in business, because one of the dreams I have is to open a B&B offering discounted rates to those in full-time Christian ministry. Business seemed like the most useful major. The problem with this is that I am not cut out to be a business major. I’m sure I would grasp the concepts just fine, and there would probably be parts of it I would enjoy, but overall me going into business would be like Einstein going into theatre. It might go well, and maybe even be enjoyable, but there are other places I would thrive much more.

In December of 2007, Northwestern’s student station, WVOE, broadcasted the first annual 97.7 Hours of Christmas. I had nothing better to do with myself at the time, so I tuned in to as much of the broadcast as I could. It was a blast, and made me realize that radio was something I could actually do. By that spring I was set on being a broadcast student at Northwestern, and here I am.

As much I love radio, I don’t seem to listen to it all that much outside of my car or the occasional friend’s show on WVOE. On the weekends I try to tune into MPR as much as possible, especially for Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me and Prairie Home Companion. But for the most part I don’t have any music on at all, let alone radio. I tend to watch TV instead. Now that I have it on my phone, though, I’ve been listening to radio a lot more (right now I’m listening to Cities 97). And I’ve noticed a weird thing: I’m more productive. Instead of just sitting around watching TV, I’ll listen to the radio and write a new blog post, or work on a story or poem or lyrics, or research something (mostly gardening these days), or wander about the yard surveying what’s growing and dreaming and planning. This could easily be a case of “correlation does not imply causation“, but I also know that when I listen to more music my mood tends to be better.

Another thing that helps my mood is good food. Fresh produce is one of my great loves (local produce even more), and I also like to come up with new things to make and try. Yesterday we had part of a watermelon, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post I had pruned our mint earlier in the day. I already knew watermelon and mint are a popular combination but I’d never actually made anything that used both. So I decided to give it a shot, and came up with what I’m calling a Watermelon Julep. (Fun fact: The word julep comes from the Persian “gulab”, meaning rosewater. By definition a julep consists of sweet syrup, water, and flavoring.)

Watermelon Julep

This was not at all exact. I’m going to keep honing this recipe, and once I have better measurements and any other improvements I’ll post a reworked recipe.

I cut up the watermelon and juiced it by putting it in a bowl and smashing it with a metal meat mallet (say that five times fast). If I were making a large batch I’d probably use a blender, but that seems like overkill for such a small amount, especially with something as easy to juice as watermelon. Once the watermelon was thoroughly smashed up I strained it into a glass (at this point professional recipes would say “discard the pulp”, but I suggest eating it). I’d say I ended up with about a quarter cup of juice. Next I took a few mint leaves (which came from my garden), tore them into smaller pieces, put them in the glass with the juice, and muddled them (meaning I took a blunt wooden utensil, in my case the handle of my citrus reamer, and used it to crush the mint in the glass in order to release the oil from the leaves). I strained the drink again because I didn’t want the mint leaves in the final drink, but that’s a personal preference. I added a couple drops of liquid sweetener, stirred the concoction, and voila! A watermelon julep.

I will definitely be making this again, probably often. I might try increasing the amount of mint, and of course it will be even better once watermelon is actually in season here.

As I was enjoying my watermelon julep, I realized if I’d bothered to take pictures every time I’ve been playing around in the kitchen, I’d probably have a decent food blog by now. I’ll try to remember to take pictures from now on, and with any luck you’ll be seeing more food-themed posts in the near future.

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