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A Granita for the End of Summer

Here's to summer. Maybe you went fishing. Maybe you swam in a large body of water or a swimming pool, or maybe you just stood in a stream letting cold water rush over your feet.

Maybe you rented a cabin in the woods or a rundown beach house. Maybe you backpacked or day hiked or wandered aimlessly around your neighborhood.

Maybe you grew a garden--beans, tomatoes, corn, squash--or maybe you just had a plant or two. Either way, you watched something grow to fruition. Maybe you even got to eat some of it.

I hope you read a book. At least one. I don't even care if it was a real book or a digital one, because I know folks are doing that these days. I hope it was good and that it made you feel human in that way that only books can.

I hope you had a chance to sit outside with friends long after dark, maybe around a fire or maybe not, soaking up the warm summer evening. I hope there was cold beer or good wine or sparkling cider if that's your thing.

I hope you ate your fill of tomatoes (they're still kicking, so it's not too late), sweet corn, peaches, and berries. Even if you can find them year-round at the supermarket, they won't be the same until next year.

More than anything, I hope summer has been good to you, and that you've taken full advantage. I hope you were able to push aside the busy for a moment or two and really take it all in--how wonderful and astonishing and colorful and delicious life can be--because it's those small wonders that make you whole.

Other articles you might enjoy: Cantaloupe Agua Fresca, Roasted Cantaloupe, Basil Shortbread

Basil-Watermelon Granita
Serves 8 to 10

Grind in a food processor:
           1/2 cup granulated sugar
            1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
           6 cups cubed watermelon
Blend the sugar into the watermelon juice, then run it through a fine sieve to remove any large or grainy particles. Add:
           Juice and zest of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons juice)
Pour the mixture into an 8 or 9-inch square pan and freeze. Every 30 minutes, take the granita out of the freezer and scrape it with a fork. The mixture should be completely frozen after a few hours. Serve in glasses with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Combine in a small saucepan:
     1/2 cup sugar
     3 tablespoons water
     1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, seeds reserved