cantaloupe granita.

It's confusing outside - the calendar says Autumn but the weather says early Summer and that throws off my culinary instincts and I end up making frozen desserts rather than hot chocolate or mulled cider or apple pie. Basically, I've got a fever and the only prescription is more baking.

This poor cantaloupe has been sitting in the fruit basket for two weeks. In its lifetime, the surrounding neighborhood went from upscale shiny apples and sunshine colored lemons to speckled-black bananas and a butternut squash that will probably see the trash can before dinner. It's been a hard two weeks for that melon. It started to turn soft and that's when you know it's make or break - you either slice it up and eat it, the juice running down your forearms over the sink, or you mumble about what a shame it is to throw out a melon and why did you buy two? (They were on sale.)

Me? I pureed the heck out of it, squeezed in a little lemon juice and scraped-scraped-scraped until it turned into icy flakes of cantaloupey granita.

I've been in a sort of over-stressed state lately where I seem to get a bellyache from nearly everything I eat and this was the perfect remedy of a last of summer hurrah on the grill - it's fresh and smooth, the clean taste of pure melon on your tongue rinses off your tastebuds and, dare I say, carries that cooling sensation you get after you brush your teeth.

I might skip Crest from here on and out and just swish a few forkfuls of granita around my molars and call it a night. I also take brownies to my dentist every time I go for a cleaning, so I doubt even he would be surprised by my latest shenanigans.

If you've never had granita before, you should know that this is not at all like ice cream. Although Justin and I went to a pumpkin patch this weekend that served homemade ice cream being cranked by a steam engine and that was disappointingly icy rather than creamy, that's not the intention of ice cream. Granita is more like a smooth Italian ice but it melts quickly on the tongue so there isn't much crunching required. I hate the sound of crunching ice, it drives me mad when my sister shoves her hand under the ice dispenser and chomps down a handful on her way out the door. [Chills.]

Take advantage of this before all the melons go to pot and we're left with turnips at the grocery store. I trust you'll do the right thing.

Cantaloupe Granita
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 medium-sized melon (cantaloupe or honeydew)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1/4 cup water
Pinch of salt

Peel the melon, split it in half, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the melon into chunks and puree in a blender or food processor with the sugar, citrus juice, water, and salt. (You should know that as I write this, I realized I forgot to add the water but it still turned out fine. I've never made/had granita before so I don't have anything to compare it to, but it was delicious.)

Pour the mixture into a plastic container about 8 x 12 inches and with at least a 2 quart capacity. Freeze the container, uncovered, for 1 hour. After an hour, it should start to freeze around the edges. Take a fork and scrape the mixture toward the center, breaking up the larger bits.

Return the dish to the freezer, then check the mixture every 30 minutes afterward, stirring each time and break up any large chunks into small pieces with a fork until you have fine crystals of homemade granita. If at anytime it freezes too hard, leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes until it is soft enough to be stirred again.

Serve with whipped cream or straight up. Make enough for 4.

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