Friday, April 9, 2010

A breath of fresh air

I have a few nicknames for the summer of 2009, including "The Summer that Felt like Spring" (it rained for the first two months), "The Summer I Slept at the Barn" (my beautiful, wonderful horse kept getting sick and injured), and "The Benthic Macroinvertebrate Summer" (I identified so many aquatic larvae that I would see them in my sleep). But mostly, summer 2009 was The Lonely Summer. Most of my friends were away for the summer, and I spent too much time in the lab or at the barn to meet too many new people. Luckily, I liked my lab-mates and my horse was good company.

I did make one good friend over the summer, who helped me move out of my apartment, let me crash on his couch, and was generous with his time. As if I weren't indebted enough to Ross for being a kind friend when I needed one, there are two more things I owe him for. Firstly, he taught me that the best thing to do when grilling was to rub sweet corn with chili powder before I wrapped it in tin foil and grilled it, then to squeeze lime over it before I ate it. I will never again waste grilled corn by putting butter and salt on it.

Secondly, he invented a drink and named it "a breath of fresh air." It just contains gin, tonic, and grapefruit juice. We drank it with his housemates one night, and ended up swimming at midnight in a local pond. One of the things I remember most clearly about that night was that the trail in the woods leading to the pond was so dark that I couldn't see where I was stepping, although I drank enough gin not to worry. I also remember that it got suddenly light when the trees cleared and we reached the good swimming rock. Now I don't condone mixing drinking and swimming, in retrospect it was a terribly irresponsible thing to do, but that night was a breath of fresh air in my summer, and for that I'm not sorry.

Like I said, I am grateful to my friend for his kindness and for those two recipes, and I'd like to think that I contributed something worthwhile to our friendship as well. I'd like to think that I brought some important things to the table too, namely the ingredients for my peach salsa. Earlier in the night before the drinking and the swimming, I assembled this salsa to go over our grilled shrimp, but his housemates ended up eating the extra with bowls and spoons, like a sort of savory fruit-salad side-dish. The combination of sweet and acid is refreshing and delicious, and I would recommend it over grilled shrimp or served in a big bowl with tortilla chips for scooping.

I made this peach salsa again for my birthday dinner last week, and it was just as a big a hit as it was last summer. I love the colors in this recipe, it looks like confetti!

Peach salsa

3 *peaches, slightly under-ripe, coarsely diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped

*this recipe also tastes great substituting mango for peach, if that's what you have available

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, and serve at room temperature.

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