Looking back, last week felt like a marathon so it came as no surprise that I decided that this weekend was going to be spent at home taking emergency-only trips out of my apartment. I felt like doing nothing except drinking iced tea, catching up with Exile on Main St, and reading Jeffrey Eugenides new book The Marriage Plot. I haven’t put it down since I picked it up on Saturday afternoon, and with the 80 degree “heat wave” we experienced this weekend in Los Angeles, I enjoyed the iced tea, the Stones and the novel from the comfort of my couch. My only distractions were my cat and the slight breeze that came through my windows every couple of hours.
Actually I have to be honest, I had not one drop of iced tea this weekend. Sure, that was what I was most looking forward to, but once I thought about it I found a better idea. I set out to made a batch of agua de pepino con limon from Fanny Gerson’s fun, summery cookbook, Paletas, which debuted last summer. I suggest you give it a whirl next time you’re at your local bookstore or library; it has many delicious recipes, from popsicles to aguas frescas, to brave the heat. I gave my Dad a copy last year for Fathers’ Day, and received a few beautiful pictures of the pretty ice pops he made for him and Maki when the thermometer hit over 100 degrees back East.
Having spent some time during my younger life south of the Mason-Dixon line, Los Angeles heat is bliss compared to the sticky beast we have down South. For the hot and humid days I spend back in Virginia, a tall glass of sweet tea with more ice than tea remedies even the hottest afternoons. Here in Los Angeles, and back in Seattle too, I had yet to find the perfect fix for my thirst on a hot day, until maybe this weekend. Angeleno restaurants have a made a funny habit out of cucumber water, and while I don’t completely get it, water is refreshing and cucumbers are too. It was fitting that Gerson’s cucumber cooler spoke to me.
As soon as I opened the book I decided to veer from the recipe. I took the proportions and method almost entirely from Gerson, but I added ginger and lime zest and substituted honey for sugar. The result was a soothing sea-foam green beverage that was far too easy to consume that afternoon. An agua fresca with cucumber, ginger and lime.
Agua de pepino, limon y jengibre con miel
Cucumber, Lime and Ginger Cooler with Honey
6 cups water
1-inch knob of fresh ginger
1 tbsp honey
1 large cucumber
Gerson suggests the following preparation for the cucumber, “Rinse cucumber well. Leave the skin on, cut off about ½ inch from one end, and rub the two flat surfaces against each other (this helps remove any bitterness). Discard the end piece and repeat with the other end.
Zest the lime rind and juice the lime. Remove the outer skin from the ginger knob and slice. Cut the cucumber into thin slices and place in a blender with lime, zest, ginger, honey and 6 cups of water. Blend until all ingredients are completely pureed.
Using a fine mesh strainer Strain into a carafe. No visible particles should pass through the strainer. Refrigerate until read to serve, and enjoy over ice with a lime twist for garnish.
yields approximately 6 cups.