Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Just Getting Out of Town Could Kill Me
What's cooking? Minted Honeydew Sorbet

Once again, I’ve made the trip north for the summer. Closed up the house, stopped the newspapers, forwarded the mail, and turned the thermostats up to 82º. Threw out strange leftover bits of sauces I once thought surely I’d use, a few cheeses that were already rock-hard and one or two that appeared to be turning into early life forms. Ironed two sets of sheets and half a dozen shirts I won’t wear until September, and spent more hours than I should have watching the finals of the trials to choose the U.S. teams for the world bridge championship. Then I made minted honeydew sorbet, after which I stayed up half the night packing.

Why the sorbet? you ask. Because I had this lovely, ripe honeydew melon in my kitchen, and I just couldn’t see carrying it on the plane north. Throwing it away was not an option, and I couldn’t offer it to my neighbors at that hour. I’ve never tried freezing melon, but by the time you’ve cut it up into small enough pieces for that, you’ve done most of what you need for the sorbet, and I do love sorbet.

It’s so predictable. My husband had left days before, so I thought I had “all this time.” And you know what happens when you have “all this time”? You – or at least I – get lulled into the sense of time standing still. I gaze out to the horizon of the calendar, where whatever deadline exists, and it all seems very far away. A sort of peace settles over me and I breathe deeply, inhaling the luxury of unfettered hours.

What a fool I am. I should trade my rose-colored glasses for a telescope, so I can more clearly see the deadline as it races toward me. I’m sure I could use the sleep.

On the other hand, here’s what I get for my troubles:

When I arrive home in September, I’ll have lots of clean shirts to wear, with no need to do wash for at least a couple of days.

Also on re-entry, the sheets on the bed will be clean and ironed. There’s really nothing like sleeping on ironed sheets.

There’ll be no strange odors hanging out in my kitchen, and I’ll be able to retrieve a Diet Coke from the fridge without passing out.

And best of all,
I’ll have a stash of minted honeydew sorbet in the freezer for a treat.

There’s no need to wait until you have to go out of town to make minted honeydew sorbet. Just thinking about it, the Kitchen Goddess recommends that you head out to the store now. The light, clean taste is perfect for a summer dessert alongside chocolate chip cookies or brownies. It’s also not too sweet, so works well on its own as a palate cleanser between courses. I will warn you that the color isn’t always the best – like here, where it’s sort of an olive green. (Even the folks at eschewed photography for this recipe. But the Kitchen Goddess is at least honest. Make the stuff anyway – it’s delicious.)

Melon season isn’t really until at least July, but you can already find decent ones at the grocery store. Look for creamy white or creamy yellow skin, very smooth. Pass on the ones that are green or greenish white – melons will not ripen after they’re picked. No bruising, cuts, or dark spots. Press on the end of the melon opposite the stem; if it gives just slightly, take it home.

Kitchen Goddess note: If the Minted Simple Syrup seems familiar, it should. I’ve used it in Cold Sugar Plum Soup (July 18, 2012) and my 21st Century Gelatin Salad (June 26, 2010). In my kitchen, frankly, it’s a staple. Especially in the summer months when mint is good in anything. It will keep in the fridge for about as long as it takes to use it up. I put it in iced tea and yogurt, or just a dash in ice water with a squeeze of lemon. Very fresh.

Minted Honeydew Sorbet

Adapted from Gourmet magazine, August 1998

Yield: Makes about 4 cups

Special equipment: ice cream maker

For the minted simple syrup (from Gourmet, August 1998):
1½ cups packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

For the sorbet:
½ of a small honeydew melon
1 cup minted simple syrup
¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

Make the minted simple syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine the water, the sugar, and the mint. Bring to a boil, stirring only until the sugar dissolves. Boil 2 minutes and remove from heat. Strain out the mint and reserve the syrup.

Make the sorbet:
Remove the rind and seeds from the melon. Cut enough of the melon into cubes to make 3 cups. In a blender, add the honeydew, the simple syrup, the fresh mint leaves, and the lemon or lime juice, and purée until smooth (about 2 minutes). Chill the mixture at least an hour, then process in an ice cream maker to desired consistency. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

Mint in my kitchen garden.

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