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Comfort Food

Recipe for Cucumber-Lime Slushie

Some years are hard. You lose a grandmother, a job. For five months you are expecting a baby, and then one day you are not. You grieve and grow angry, then find your strength and begin the work of moving on. 

Comfort comes in many forms. There’s your sturdy, golden little girl still growing strong. A handwritten letter in the mailbox from your sister-in-law. A good piece of pollock for dinner one night, your mother’s phone call. And, of course, the predictable movement of spring toward fall.

Comfort Food

In February, you order seeds. You always have a tough time with cucumbers. What’s better? de Bourbonne for tiny sour pickles? National for dills? The “crunchy and cool” top-seller Cross Country? You settle on Calypso for pickling. The fruits should be dark green with white spines and set a good yield, early. At 52 days, that means cucumbers by the end of June.

In mid-April, you start the seed. You plant it in tiny eggshells, the splintered halves left over from a week’s worth of fried eggs, egg salad, and French toast. The seeds like heat, food, and moisture, and you make sure they get them all. You consult Crockett’s Victory Garden. To really be superior, he says, cucumbers must grow quickly. You want mature fruit in a matter of 10 weeks.

In May, you move them to the greenhouse. They like heat, humidity, and with the plastic still on and a set of soaker hoses going, you create both. You add compost, dried manure, and they grow fast. They begin to climb your trellis, and the tendrils intertwine with the metal and each other and spiral up. Soon there are blossoms, then the tiniest beginnings of fruit.

The weather starts to get hot. The rain of April and May fades into June, and the sun comes out. There is a sense of new beginnings, of renewal. The fruit grows spiny, large. You pick one.

That afternoon in the kitchen, you pull the Cuisinart out. You pulse together ice cubes, water, honey, lime. You add your fruit: ends trimmed and partially peeled, tiny spines rubbed off. Everything comes together into a slushy that’s pale green, almost like moss.

You sit out on the deck with your little girl. You plant your bare feet on the warm stoop, let the wind ruffle your hair. You toast and drink up, drain your glass. Frosty, she says. Yes. You kiss her head, grab the pitcher, and begin again.

RECIPE

CUCUMBER-LIME SLUSHIE

This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day. It’s more grown up than a smoothie, and fancier than your average slushie. It’s great for kids and a very refreshing way to cool down on a hot day. This recipe makes one larger pitcher.

INGREDIENTS

- 1 medium cucumber, partially peeled

- 1/2 cup cold water

- 3 cups ice cubes (about 1 and 1/2 trays)

- 1/3 cup mild honey

- juice of 1/2 lime, plus more to taste

- a pinch of fine-grain sea salt

1. Combine everything in a blender. Pulse until everything is smooth and frosty—watch out for ice chunks or globs of honey.

2. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Serve at once. If you don’t use it all, the leftovers make good popsicles!

About

Elspeth Hay lives in Wellfleet

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