As a long-time freelance food writer, Judith Hausman has written about every aspect of food, but local producers and artisanal traditions remain closest to her heart. Eating close to home takes this seasonal eater through a journey of delights and dilemmas, one tiny deck garden, farmers’ market discovery and easy-as-pie recipe at a time. She writes from a still-bucolic but ever-more-suburban town in the New York City ‘burbs.
Photo by Judith Hausman
Last year we decided not to grow melons again. Even those that survived never got enough sustained heat at the right time to sweeten well. But those melon seeds are indomitable. They insisted on coming up willy-nilly and producing anyway this year. I ended up with three softball-sized cantaloupes.
At home many things sprouted amid the geraniums. I had top-dressed potted flowers with compost and planted annuals and herbs in compost-enriched soil so cherry tomatoes and others volunteered and peppers couldn’t be stopped in the petunias. You don’t say no to the even vague promise of melons in the window boxes. A gardenmate had advised me to weed these sprouts out because they never came to much, but I got to about six of them before the squirrels did and about half even ripened enough to be juicy and fragrant. The hard, under-ripe melons might become pickles.
I’m envious of dripping-sweet, summer Southern honeydews, crenshaws and Persians, but since these melons were complete gifts from the compost, I’m delighted with my little darlings anyway. I’ll wait until next year to be harder-hearted about pulling them out.Five Ways to Eat Melons
You don’t need to do much to show off these bonus prizes.
- Use a melon baller to scoop out the melon into pretty, round pieces. Serve chilled.
- Splash the melon balls with orange liqueur and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Make a simple syrup of equal parts sugar and water, in which you steep mint leaves or a mint tea bag. Cool and pour over melon balls.
- Throw in a handful of fall raspberries or sugar and smash some berries into a raspberry sauce to spoon on top.
- Serve them topped with vanilla ice cream or mango, orange, or coconut sorbet and plain-ish sugar cookies.