My Beautiful Wonderful Watermelon & Farming the Yard Part 3

Get this: Monday, August 3rd, was National Watermelon Day! 

So, not wanting to miss out on a reason to party, I celebrated the wonderful watermelon and by association, so are you 🙂 And, eventually we’ll head back out into the yard to visit our thirty-three varietal wine grape vines.

Our son, Peter came by the other day 

and regaled us with this recipe that his mother-in-law, Mimi had served him a couple of weeks before. “Mom, you gotta try this recipe,” he said. This coming from the guy who wouldn’t eat my polenta because it sounded too much like, “placenta.” I was game.

Vegan Watermelon and Coconut Milk Greek Yogurt Salad with TajinSpice

Serves 4  Prep time 15 minutes

  • 1 small watermelon
  • ½ cup coconut milk yogurt
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3 limes zest and juice
  • 2 Tsp Tajin Classic Seasoning (if you don’t have any Tajin seasoning, you can make your own by combining ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp of chili powder.)

Vegan Watermelon Coconut milk greek yogurt Salad with Tajin Recipe

  1. In a bowl, combine yogurt, lime juice, zest and a sprinkle of sugar.
  2. On a plate, scatter watermelon fries and sprinkle with Tajin classic seasoning.
  3. Serve with dip and enjoy.

This recipe is from abbeyskitchen.com.

I took some liberties with the recipe and tweaked it some. Abbey takes her time and derinds the watermelon, and cuts it into fries. The yogurt sauce is for dipping. I, on the other hand, just chunked and combined all the ingredients in a bowl, which worked great too. I served it to my brother whose wife is a chef, and my cousin’s wife, (also a really good cook) and they raved. Along with the zucchini fritters, and a green salad, it made a perfect summer lunch.

Farming the yard (part 3): 

Rick quit drinking alcohol 36 years ago!

Bless his heart. During these long years of sobriety he has been on a mission to find a really good replacement. No luck with whiskey or tequila 🙂 And he’s never been a big fan of sodas, though we have found a couple of really good non-alcoholic beers, Buckler and Claushaler which I serve in a mug with a refreshing squeeze of lemon. And a big shout out to Run Wild IPA Non-Alcoholic Beer, www.athleticbrewing.com, Ricks newest discovery.

“We’re beer lovers at heart. But we also love being healthy, active and at our best. These conflicting passions created an internal struggle. Why couldn’t these loves live in harmony?” said the founder of Athletic Brewing. If you want to treat yourself to a fine tasting libation, check er out. We bought it on-line and had it delivered to the house, another plus.

Alice, my sister-in-law, and an accomplished chef, 

has always made sure to have a special drink she has researched or created to serve Rick. Twenty-years ago, we were their guests for Thanksgiving Dinner. She came out with this beautiful bottle of what I thought was wine for Rick.

I remember thinking, “What?”

She saw the look on our faces, and immediately explained what it was she was serving us; Mosto d’ uva, in other words, a varietal wine grape drink, 0% alcohol. My tastebuds were in heaven as qualities of the deep robust flavor of red grapes lit up my senses; in one word, wonderful. Rick, with his eyes closed, took tiny sips, relishing the moment. I being a gulper, couldn’t get enough

The bottle came home with us, 

where Rick found in tiny numbers at the bottom of the back label, a phone number. He was obsessed with how the Mosto was made into such a delectable, sensible drink. So, of course he called. And, unbelievably, especially since it was a Sunday, somebody answered the phone: the importer in Chicago. They talked for an hour.

Mosto d’ uva is a product of first squeezing the grapes and according to Italian law, may also contain a little alcohol, but our musto is totally non-alcoholic,” explains Lorenzo Guerzoni. “Our mosto is made by following an ancient recipe from our ancestors called carpada, which means cracked peels. We cook the peel and juice together at 60 °C.

Originally, our mosto was born in order to make a typical pudding with flour, but now we sell it mainly as a drink,” continues Guerzoni. “American people really like it for its body and sweetness, and because it’s non-alcoholic.” www.lacucinaitaliana.com

Mosto d’uva maintains all the antioxidants and beneficial properties of the grapes and wine, all without the alcohol!

( Pinot Noir )

Being a farmer, 

Rick’s thinking has always been, if someone can do it, so can I. Our Sunday drives were not leisurely tooling around country roads to take in the beauty, but essentially checking out what the other guy was planting, how his crop looked, and should we have planted the same 🙂

The first years experimenting with the grapes we gleaned from vineyards around northern California. We came up with a pretty good wine grape juice. We bought bottles which we sterilized, a fancy corker and ended up with ten cases of our own mosto d’ uva stored in Anni’s bedroom. This was her first year at college, and was surprised when she came home to a room full of boxes of juice.

( Rick and my 90 year old Mother de-stemming by hand the Pinot Noir. She’s threatening to unionize. )

It all ended one night after getting into bed, I heard a distinctive popping noise and then Rick heard another. We raced to the bedroom to find, our precious juice was fermented in the heat, and was blowing the corks up into the ceiling. Ten cases lost. I kind of grieved… Alice got wind of what had happened and suggested pasteurizing the stuff.

“Can we do that?” I asked. Rick was already at the computer looking the process up. Essentially it comes down to bringing the juice to 165° and holding it there for eight minutes, and then you need to reduce to 45° as quickly as possible. He was pouring the juice back into our large stainless steel pot, and got her up to 165°, while I ran to the store to buy bags of ice where we were going to put the bottles for the chilling. Unfortunately, once it had fermented, it tasted like very sour beer. So, down the drain. And back on the road for some more gleaning.

Nailed it. The pasteurizing the key.

The mission changed, from figuring out how to make our own, to buying a vineyard or buying some land and planting our own. Sundays, again were spent taking long drives out in the country looking for a perfect piece of ground. It became increasingly apparent buying the land was not going to happen. We ended up purchasing a cool mid-century modern home beautifully landscaped with lots of exposure to the sun. In the late fall of that year, Rick went up to our friend’s vineyard, picked through the vines cuttings, and selected the ones he was going to root over the winter in a bucket of damp sawdust. All of this to me for some crazy reason, I found thrilling.

Out came the landscaping, as he prepared the ground where he was going to put a row of grapes; seven vines in all; two sangiovese, three petite syrah, and two carnelian. In the meantime, we bought a bladder of sangiovese wine grape juice delivered in a bucket from Italy, and a bucket of pinot noir from France. We had to buy another refrigerator to store all of the bottles of our mosto d’uva.

The next year, Anni bought Rick for Father’s Day, nine pinot noir plants. Rick removed all the bushes and godforsaken ivy from the side yard and planted those precious vines in neat rows of three on an elaborate trellis system. Our yard became a favorite with walkers in the neighborhood who enjoyed the goings on. Rick even asked the couple living right next to us if they would want to share crop their yard. They laughed and laughed, not realizing he wasn’t kidding.

As life happens, the years fly by with it’s seasons marked with what we were growing and harvesting in our suburban yard. “What you see depends on how you view the world. To most people this is just dirt. To a farmer, it’s potential.” Doe Zantamata

Join cookingforyoumylove.com next week where we’ll continue with Farming the Yard (part four), and you can read all about the evolution of our ‘mosto’.

( Isn’t my t-shirt adorable… FYI, I bought it this spring from an online sight called, Fashioncosy. What I didn’t know is it came from China and took 5 months! )
    1. Hey Pete, Your kids will go crazy on this one..It’s so good to hear from you 🙂 All is reasonably well here. Getting ready to harvest the Zinfandel and Merlot later today. We’re so lucky!
      love to the family

  1. Love this story. Did you happen to listen to Harry Styles catchy song, Watermelon Sugar, on National watermelon day? Just seemed appropriate ;). That salad looks delicious and I’m anxious to try it out. Lots of love to you and Rick. Thinking of you often and how you ended up with behemoth sunflowers. Mine are rather puny in comparison so far.

    1. Thanks for the Harry Styles tip, I’m listening right now; beautiful!! We’re going to save some of our seeds from those gorgeous sunflowers; such a sweet reminder of sweet Nancy! love you 🙂

  2. Yummmmm! Nothing beats a cold watermelon in the summer. Well, except maybe homemade ice cream. 😝🍦. But that’s not great for our waistline.

    I can’t wait to try your non-alcoholic wines! I’m not opposed to alcohol but sometimes you just want something without the buzz (did I just say that!) I’m sure Rick has heard of Buonafide non-alcoholic wines from Italy? 👅

    Thank you for the Muir love fest of food and drink! Sending you energy for a great, healthy week my friend! ❤️

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