We are in the throes of quite a peculiar summer: cold nearly ‘til July, and wet, relentlessly wet. And now steamy—literally. This morning I can see nothing from the windows of the house, save through the trickles, as it is wrapped in a dense and ghostlike condensation. They say that according to the heat index it will feel something like 115 degrees here for what is sure to be an excruciatingly drawn out week. I am accustomed to cozying in for the winter during stretches when more than the dash between car and door or to the mailbox is a little painful. But this? It’s getting old. I want my Minnesota summer. Nights outdoors picnicking and lolling on the grass or on the beach at Lake Minnetonka. Long temperate night walks with bats wheeling overhead. Long suppers on the patio until the sun wanes at 9:30 and the mosquitoes chase us indoors again. One day my Honey Girl and I decided to buck the heat and do our usual walk, and we both suffered mild heat stroke. So much for fortitude. We’re settling in to wait it out now. Taking refuge in movie theatres and libraries. Staring out the wiped window at the rising heat with our paws at the sills like dogs, like toddlers waiting for playtime. Here, thank the Lord for refreshment, is the sweet and ice-cold antidote.
Nectarine Lemon Balm Tipple
Yield: one tall drink
1/3 c. nectarine puree (recipe below)
2 shots lemon balm syrup (recipe here)
1 shot vodka
- In a tall glass filled with ice, stir together the nectarine puree, lemon balm syrup, and vodka. Top up with club soda. Garnish with a lemon balm leaf if you wish.
Yield: one quart of puree
8 ripe nectarines
- Bring a covered pot of water over high heat to a rolling boil.
- Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- With a sharp knife cut an X in the bottom of each nectarine.
- Lower the nectarines carefully into the boiling water.
- Boil until the skin of the nectarines is pulling away at the cut, about one to two minutes.
- Transfer the nectarines from the boiling water to the ice water.
- Beginning at the X, peel the skin from the nectarines.
- Slice the nectarines in half and remove their pits.
- Puree the fruit in a blender or food processor until it is a smooth and silky puree.