Archive for August, 2009

Watermelon Agua Fresca: Recipe of the Week

I know, I know, it’s been a while.  We were on Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks enjoying the sun.  Just as a reminder, here’s what it looked like:

Vacation- the view from the porch

And this was how we felt about it:



Well, two weeks later and here we are.

Apparently, the fruit farm (Montgomery Place Orchards in upstate New York) our CSA supports is drowning in peaches and watermelons.  The peaches we put into crumbles and pies and ate plain with the juice running all over our chins and making a general mess.  The watermelons have been a slower process.  We’ve been eating them, and I have to say they are maybe the best watermelons I have ever had, but we are about to go away again (it’s Melisa’s & my turn for birthdays) and I had to speed up the eating-through-the fridge process. So today, I cut the watermelons up, put them in the blender, and made agua fresca.  Which incidentally happens to be one of my MOST favorite things of the summer.  It’s SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS and it deserves to be a recipe of the week. Here goes:


Take a watermelon- preferably not one of those overgrown footballs unless you are entertaining a crowd and need alot of agua fresca.  Doesn’t matter if the melon has seed or not (you can strain the seeds out later).

Cut the red fruit away from the rind and stick it in the blender.  Blend! You can use some water at this part if you like, or do what I do and just use a wooden spoon to shove the fruit closer to the blades.

I like to strain the juice into a pitcher.

Add water or ice and sugar, if you wish, to taste.  Mark Bittman (you know I love him) recommended the juice of one whole lime per 8 cups juice, and you know what, it’s good like that.  Do it.

Serve. Take it out by the baby pool, soak your feet and enjoy.  That’s what I would do.

Obviously this is super easy, and sort of appropriate for kids, though there is alot of cutting things.  But I can guarantee it is super delish.

Watermelon agua fresca


Travel Buddies Neck Pillow: Traveling with Toddlers

Hippo Travel Buddies neck pillow, $15,

Hippo Travel Buddies neck pillow, $15,

My kids no longer officially nap. (Insert image of me crying into my iced coffee and pounding my fist on the dining room table here.) It’s a sad thing.

But they do still catch the occasional snooze in the car when they’re strapped into car seats and we’re out for a long drive. It’s great — I’ll take a few minutes of peace and quiet whenever and wherever I can get it — except that they look so uncomfortable. Their heavy heads loll to one side or lean forward and bob around pathetically — the car naps just can’t be good for their little necks.

So while we were on vacation, we bought these awesome, lightweight, super-soft travel pillows called Travel Buddies, from a company called NoodleHead. They’re like a cute, kid-sized version of those neck pillows adults use on airplanes, and they will only set you back $15. Let your kids pick the animal they want (there are a bunch to choose from); ours went for the horse and the blue dog. (The pillows are pretty petite, so they’re probably best for the 6 and under set.)

The hippo‘s pictured here; snag it at

Vacation Notes to the Obamas on Martha’s Vineyard: A Travel Guide for the First Family

As you might have heard, the Obamas are headed to Martha’s Vineyard for their August vacation. Lucky for them, we got here first.

When we initially heard the First Family was headed to MV for vacay, the rumor was they would settle in Oak Bluffs, a spot traditionally popular with wealthy African Americans. But true to form, the Prez went for the less expected — the way less populous, very chill area of Chilmark.

It’s right around the corner from our current vacation digs: the quiet little fishing village of Menemsha.

So, listen up, Barack and Michelle: Here are a few of the great local places to check out — all pre-approved by us.

The Bite — Dear Mr. President: We know you are not a fan of fried food, but if you get a small portion of the fried oysters or shrimp here, you can share them with your family and not feel guilty at all.  And, OH YEAH — there’s a reason there is a line (you’ll know why when you take a BITE).

Chilmark Chocolates — A small storefront selling delish dark and milk chocolate treats. Our advice: don’t go on a rainy day, when everyone’s looking for non-beach activities.  On the other hand,  something tells us you’ll be able to skirt the wait whatever the weather conditions.

Squibnocket Beach — We know you’ll have your own private beach on Blue Heron Farm, but this could be a great chance to mingle with (some of the) regular people without having to eat fried food.  There are several lovely beaches and ponds in this area of MV, but we’re partial to this one and we think you will be, too. Beautiful sandy stretches are accessible via a short walk from (Presidential) car to shore. You’ll need a beach sticker, even as a resident, and it will set you back $25. Have your peeps nab the sticker for you at the Town Hall. (FYI, hate to be a drag in case you’re inclined, but nude sunbathing is prohibited at Squibby.)

The Chilmark Public LibraryAlan Dershowitz was just there when we dropped by one afternoon to check out DVDs for the kids; we bet the locals will be way more excited to see you pop in.

The Chilmark Community Center — An oasis of “up island” public life. Art shows, plays, and guest speakers for the adults, day camp (hello, babysitting!) and tennis lessons for the girls.

The Farmer’s Market — Held at the Old Ag Hall every Wednesday and Saturday. You can have your people purchase beautiful fruits, veggies, baked goods, and specialty food products (try Pam’s Pesto!) for you here.  Don’t miss the gorgeous-hued, “dinner-plate” size dahlias; we were so impressed, we made dahlias the centerpiece of our wedding last year.

The Home Port — A fave Menemsha stand-by for fresh seafood.  It’s pricey, and we don’t want you catching too much flak for cost (we are footing the bill for this holiday, no?). Skip sitting down for the regular menu and go around back for take-out.

A note about cell phone service on the island — It sucks. But we hear that those with the power are setting up new towers so that you and yours can get better service while you’re here. It’s good to be you (and btw, thanks!).

Island tuneage — Our vote is to keep radios and iPods tuned to MVY Radio.

We hear State Road restaurant is fab (sadly we’ll never get there without a babysitter).  And the Pie Lady (look for the sign “Pies and Otherwise”) on the North Road is a must-stop for tasty homemade desserts.  The Community Church in Chilmark does a lobster roll dinner on Tuesdays for $13.  Mmmm.  And LARSEN’S in Menemsha is the place to go for fresh fish and lobster…

If you need any other recommendations, you can reach us here. Until then, have fun on the Vineyard!

Recipe of the Week: Mark Bittman’s Banana Paletas

Ice, ice baby!

Ice, ice baby!; Groovy Pop Molds,, $10

As Chrissy mentioned, we are off on vacation. (And not a moment too soon.) But I thought I’d put up a post while we’re away. Wouldn’t want you to miss a Recipe of the Week!

Up now: Mark Bittman‘s Banana Paletas.

What they are: essentially, pureed banana popsicles; they’re “sweet ice pops,” popular in Mexico

First time we tried them: last summer; we got the recipe from Mark Bittman‘s column in The New York Times

Why we like them: they’re a super-easy summer treat — so easy, toddlers can actually be a help; and they require few ingredients — likely ones you’ll routinely have on hand

Special equipment: popsicle molds; here are some cute ideas from alpha + mom on the best ones out there; and here are recs for molds that are BPA-free, via nature moms blog

Reaction: Jasper talked about making these with mama, and eating them, all winter long.

Thus, they’ve been in frequent rotation in the freezer this summer.

Here’s the recipe:

2 medium bananas, about 3/4 a cup

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar

1. Puree all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Pour into 4 to 6 molds (or more, depending on size) and freeze until solid.

2. Unmold by first running a little cold water outside of molds (actually, I find it’s easier with a little warm water!), then gently pulling the sticks.

Yields: 4 to 8 servings, depending on size of molds. Here’s a link to the ones pictured above.


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