Minty Watermelon Cucumber Salad (Vegan)

Get ready for summertime in a bowl! This fresh and juicy watermelon salad is bursting with flavor thanks to sweet watermelon, crisp cucumber, bright mint leaves, zingy onions, a hint of spice from jalapeños, and crunchy pepitas (or pistachios). It’s al…

Minty Watermelon Cucumber Salad (Vegan)

Get ready for summertime in a bowl! This fresh and juicy watermelon salad is bursting with flavor thanks to sweet watermelon, crisp cucumber, bright mint leaves, zingy onions, a hint of spice from jalapeños, and crunchy pepitas (or pistachios). It’s all beautifully balanced with salty vegan feta and a zesty lime dressing. Where do we sign up!?

This is a plant-based take on the classic combo that you don’t want to miss!

Minty Watermelon Cucumber Salad (Vegan) from Minimalist Baker →

Watermelon Slushie

The watermelon slushie is an ultra refreshing summer drink! All you need is three ingredients for this icy treat. Here’s…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

The watermelon slushie is an ultra refreshing summer drink! All you need is three ingredients for this icy treat.

Watermelon slushie

Here’s an icy treat that’s absolutely ideal for summer. Who needs ice cream when you can have a Watermelon Slushie? Blend ripe melon, lime and a little sweetener and you’ve got one deliciously refreshing sweet puree to sip. It’s a hit with adults and kids alike! Our 4-year-old went crazy over it, and we love that it’s a healthy-ish treat to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Ingredients for a watermelon slushie

This watermelon slushie is the perfect summer treat because it’s laid-back and no-frills. All you need is 3 ingredients, plus ice! Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

  • Ripe watermelon (do not attempt this if it’s not ripe!)
  • Lime
  • Sugar

All you’ll do is blend these ingredients until they form watermelon juice, then add ice until a slushie texture forms. Here are a few things to note about the texture!

Watermelon slushie

Achieving the perfect slushie texture

The texture of this watermelon slushie is icy yet loose. Because it’s not a watermelon smoothie! Here are a few things to note:

  • Want it frostier? You can add a few more ice cubes. But the more ice you add, the more diluted the flavor becomes. Don’t add too much ice! When we tested with 4 cups of ice instead of 3, the flavor was too mild.
  • Enjoy right away! The slushie texture is perfect right out of the blender. It does melt quickly, so make sure to enjoy it right after you make it. It doesn’t store well!

How to find a ripe watermelon

The most important thing for a watermelon slushie? Find a ripe watermelon! Don’t even attempt to try this with an unripe melon: no amount of sugar can make up for the lack of flavor. Here’s what to know about finding a good melon:

  • Shop in watermelon season. It’s the best way to find a sweet, juicy melon.
  • Look for the field spot. Most watermelons should have a patch on the bottom, which is where they were resting on the ground before being picked. If the patch is yellow, the watermelon is ripe (if it’s white, it’s unripe).
How to Cut a Watermelon

Why to drink a watermelon slushie

Why make a watermelon slushie? You might not need convincing, but here’s what we think:

  • Watermelon is high in lycopene, an antioxidant, which studies show could help curb your risk of cancer and diabetes as part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s also got loads of vitamins. (Source WebMD: Health Benefits of Watermelon)
  • It’s very hydrating. Watermelon is 92% water, so it’s super hydrating!
  • It’s frosty and delicious. The best reason? It tastes incredible.

More healthy watermelon drinks

There are so many ways to drink watermelon! Here are our top healthy watermelon drink ideas:

This watermelon slushie recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Print
Watermelon slushie

Watermelon Slushie (3 Ingredients!)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 small or 2 large
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The watermelon slushie is an ultra refreshing summer drink! All you need is three ingredients for this icy treat.


Ingredients

  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 3 cups ice

Instructions

  1. Chop the watermelon into cubes. Blend the melon, sugar and lime juice until it becomes liquid.
  2. Add the ice and blend until a slushie consistency forms (resist the urge over-blend). Split between 4 small or 2 large glasses. If desired, garnish with fresh mint and a watermelon wedge. Enjoy immediately: it does not save well. 
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Drinks

Keywords: Watermelon slushie

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie

This strawberry watermelon smoothie is full of juicy flavor! This 3 ingredient recipe is a deliciously healthy treat. Here’s a…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This strawberry watermelon smoothie is full of juicy flavor! This 3 ingredient recipe is a deliciously healthy treat.

Strawberry watermelon smoothie

Here’s a smoothie recipe that’s so simple and so utterly delicious, it’s jumped to the top of our favorites. Try this Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie! It’s sweet and delicious, with just the right juicy flavor with no added sweetener. It’s a great snack or even works as a healthy dessert after a summer meal: it’s just that good! Our 4 year old could not stop sipping it, and neither could we.

3 ingredients for a strawberry watermelon smoothie

This strawberry watermelon smoothie has the least ingredients of any of our smoothie recipes. But it’s one of the top in terms of flavor! There’s something about the melon and berry combination that’s pure summer. This one has a bit of nostalgia for me: I created it based on my favorite smoothie at the mall growing up in the 1990’s (ha!). It’s actually much better than the inspiration. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Frozen strawberries: These bring in sweetness and an icy texture
  • Watermelon: Make sure it’s perfectly ripe, in season melon
  • Banana: A room temperature banana combines to make the perfect creamy texture and accentuates the sweetness

Simply throw them in the blender and puree it up. It makes the perfect sweet tart, fruity flavor!

Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie

Find a ripe watermelon!

The most important advice for this smoothie? Make sure your watermelon is ripe! It’s not worth making this smoothie with out of season watermelon, which can be tart and tasteless. Here are a few tips for shopping:

  • Shop in watermelon season. If it’s out of season, it’s much more likely to be unripe.
  • Look for a yellow field spot. Most watermelons should have a patch on the bottom, which is where they were resting on the ground before being picked. If the patch is yellow, the watermelon is ripe (if it’s white, it’s unripe).

Ways to add protein to a strawberry watermelon smoothie

One thing to note about this strawberry watermelon smoothie: it’s just fruit, so it doesn’t have protein. That means it’s best served as a treat or a way to drink your vitamins, not as a meal replacement. But if you’d like to add protein, you can feel free! Protein makes it filling and more suitable for drinking as a snack or breakfast. Here are a few protein adders:

  • Chia seeds. Add plant-based protein and fiber with chia seeds! 2 tablespoons chia seeds adds 4 grams protein and 11 grams fiber (see this Chia Seed Smoothie).
  • Protein powder: Use a high quality vanilla protein powder (some notes on buying a good brand are in this energy balls post).
  • Almond butter or cashew butter. 1 tablespoon nut butter adds 4 grams protein. This does compete with the flavor a bit, and dulls the color of this smoothie. But it works!
Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie

Flavor variations

Want to mix up this strawberry watermelon smoothie to have different flavor variations? Here are a few things to vary, change or add:

  • Mint or basil: Add a handful of mint or basil leaves for an herby variation
  • Blueberry: use 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • Raspberry: use 1 cup frozen raspberries and 1 cup strawberries
  • Strawberry blueberry: use 1 cup frozen blueberries and 1 cup strawberries
  • Mango: use 2 cups frozen mango
  • Pineapple: Use 2 cups frozen pineapple

More fruit smoothie recipes

Strawberry is the number 1 fruit to add in fruit smoothie recipes! Here are a few more variations on the theme:

This strawberry watermelon smoothie recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

Print
Strawberry watermelon smoothie

Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie (3 Ingredients!)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 3 small or 2 medium smoothies
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This strawberry watermelon smoothie is full of juicy flavor! This 3 ingredient recipe is a deliciously healthy treat.


Ingredients

  • 3 cups frozen strawberries
  • 3 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1 banana (room temperature)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Smoothie
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Healthy

Keywords: Strawberry watermelon smoothie

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Our 22 Juiciest Watermelon Recipes for Summer

Watermelon is as intimidating as it is delicious. It’s the ultimate summer fruit, yet its refreshing charm can be diluted by the sheer obstacle of dealing with one. Lugging it, chopping it, storing it—it can be daunting. The hulking melon, like m…

Watermelon is as intimidating as it is delicious. It's the ultimate summer fruit, yet its refreshing charm can be diluted by the sheer obstacle of dealing with one. Lugging it, chopping it, storing it—it can be daunting. The hulking melon, like most things in life, is always scarier before you dig in. Quarter it, put your apprehensions aside, and consider your options. These 22 watermelon recipes for summer make such quick use of the seasonal fruit that you might even want to buy two. 

1. Tomato Watermelon Salad With Mint Vinaigrette 

Cool off on a hot summer day with this refreshing fruit (yes, fruit!) salad made from two kinds of tomatoes—cherry and heirloom varieties—plus an entire pound of watermelon. Dress it up with a light citrus vinaigrette accented with fresh mint leaves.

Read More >>

Watermelon Sorbet

Try this 3 ingredient watermelon sorbet recipe, a refreshingly icy summer dessert! Each bite is an explosion of pure juicy…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Try this 3 ingredient watermelon sorbet recipe, a refreshingly icy summer dessert! Each bite is an explosion of pure juicy fruit flavor.

Watermelon sorbet

Are you a sorbet fan? Then you absolutely must try summer’s best dessert: Watermelon Sorbet! I’ll admit, we’re chocoholics over here. But this sorbet is definitely up there when it comes to summer treats! Each bite is an explosion of pure juicy fruit flavor, with a smooth, frosty texture. When we made it for our 4 year old, he said, “I could eat this every day.” Even better: it’s incredibly simple to blend up!

What you need for watermelon sorbet

Skip the store-bought stuff, because watermelon sorbet is so simple to make at home! All you need are 3 ingredients. In fact, it seems impossibly simple. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to assemble:

  • Ripe watermelon
  • Lime juice
  • Sugar

Why is the sugar needed? Well, when you freeze anything, it dulls the flavors. You’ll want to add just enough sugar so that the flavor pops when it’s frosty. We found this recipe sweetened it just enough to complement the fruit, but not so much that it’s intensely sweet.

Watermelon sorbet

Necessary equipment: an ice cream maker!

An ice cream maker is the best tool for the job with sorbet! While you can make no churn sorbets, the absolute best texture is with an actual ice cream maker. (Trust us!) It’s a great investment, as you’ll be able to make sorbets and ice creams all season long.

Here’s the 2 quart ice cream maker we use. It’s a great gift idea, too! Use it as a housewarming present or a fun surprise for ice cream lovers. We’ve had ours for years and it holds up well!

The churning process: eat right away, or freeze 1 hour

Once you blend up your watermelon, lime, and sugar, you’re ready to churn! It takes about 20 to 25 minutes for the watermelon sorbet mixture to freeze. Here are a few notes about the process:

  • Eat right away for a soft-serve style texture. Our favorite way to eat it is right out of the ice cream maker! If you’re making it for guests, churn it up while you’re finishing your meal.
  • Or, freeze for about 1 hour for a scoop-able texture. You can also pop it in the freezer and freeze 1 hour. Then it forms into scoops like you see in the photo.
Watermelon sorbet recipe

Make ahead & storage info for watermelon sorbet

Here’s the golden rule when it comes to watermelon sorbet: homemade sorbet is best the day it is made. Why? Freezing homemade sorbet overnight freezes it into a solid block. So it’s best to eat when it’s freshest! You can eat leftovers the next day if you like: we’ve found a few tricks!

  • Make it up to 2 hours in advance. It will start to freeze to the edges of the container, so give it a good stir before serving.
  • Leftovers save 1 day, but defrost 20 minutes. Blend if desired! Leave out the container on the counter until it defrosts a bit. To revive the texture, you can also give it a few pulses in a blender or food processor. This helps it to come closer to the texture after churning.

More great watermelon recipes

When it’s summer, we’re watermelon obsessed! There are so many great ways to serve this tasty melon outside of a summer dessert. Here are some favorites:

This watermelon sorbet recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

Print
Watermelon sorbet

Watermelon Sorbet (3 Ingredients)


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1 quart (4 cups)
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Try this 3 ingredient watermelon sorbet recipe, a refreshingly icy summer dessert! Each bite is an explosion of pure juicy fruit flavor.


Ingredients

  • 6 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup ice

Instructions

  1. Chop the watermelon. Place in a blender and blend until a smooth juice forms, then add ice and blend again.
  2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze for 20 to 25 minutes. The texture will be icy and creamy at this point. If desired, place in a container and freeze for 1 hour for a harder texture that forms into scoops. You can freeze up to 2 hours day of (stir before serving). Freezing overnight makes a very icy texture. If you have leftovers the next day, allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. To improve the texture, you can pulse in a blender or food processor if desired.
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Frozen
  • Cuisine: Sorbet

Keywords: Watermelon sorbet

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Watermelon Smash

The watermelon smash is a refreshing summer drink that pairs melon with lime, rum and vodka. Serve over crushed ice!…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

The watermelon smash is a refreshing summer drink that pairs melon with lime, rum and vodka. Serve over crushed ice!

Watermelon smash

Here’s a watermelon drink idea that’s the definition of refreshing: the Watermelon Smash! This fruity spin on the classic Whiskey Smash is delicately sweet, the best combination of pure melon with fresh mint. Pairing vodka and rum adds intrigue in flavor (though you can opt for just vodka for simplicity). Serve with crushed ice, and it’s a stunning signature drink for sipping poolside or next to the grill.

What’s a watermelon smash?

The watermelon smash is a spin on the Whiskey Smash using watermelon, fresh mint, and vodka. The Whiskey Smash originated in the Victorian era as a cooling summer cocktail, and was first published in a bartender guide in 1887. That first smash had lemon, mint, whiskey, and sweetener, and served with crushed ice. Many variations have popped up over time, like the Berry Vodka Smash and the Gin Basil Smash.

The watermelon smash is another fruity spin: for this recipe we used both vodka and rum to bring extra nuance in flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Watermelon cubes (or watermelon juice)
  • Fresh mint
  • Vodka
  • White rum
  • Lime juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Crushed ice
Watermelon smash drink

How to make crushed ice!

The most characteristic part of a smash cocktail? The crushed ice! What’s the best way to crush ice? Luckily, we’ve tried a bunch of methods and found the best way. And no: you don’t have to whack at ice with a rolling pin! Here’s the best way to crush ice:

  • Place the ice in a blender.
  • Fill the blender about halfway with cold water. This is the important part! The water helps everything blend to a uniform size.
  • Pulse until it’s uniformly crushed! Then strain. Pick out any large chunks with your fingers, but this method should result in a great texture.

How to make a watermelon smash: 3 tips

Once you’ve got your crushed ice, let’s get started! Here are a few tips for making this drink (or skip right to the recipe below):

  • Use watermelon cubes or make the juice. If you’re planning to make more than one drink, make Watermelon Juice in a blender first.
  • Muddle the mint gently to release the oils. Here are all our tips on How to Muddle Mint, including equipment.
  • Use vodka and white rum for best flavor, or go just vodka. We love the flavor combination of both! But if you don’t have rum on hand, just vodka is good too.
Watermelon smash

More watermelon drinks

Watermelon is our favorite summer fruit for cocktails! Here are a few more of our top watermelon drink ideas:

Print
Watermelon smash

Watermelon Smash


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The watermelon smash is a refreshing summer drink that pairs melon with lime, rum and vodka. Serve over crushed ice!


Ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped watermelon (or ¼ cup watermelon juice)
  • 4 large mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 ounce* vodka
  • 1 ounce white rum (or use all vodka)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons simple syrup
  • Crushed ice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the crushed ice.
  2. Add the mint to a cocktail shaker and muddle it gently. Add the watermelon cubes and use the muddler to release all of the juice. (If you’re using watermelon juice, simply muddle the mint first then add the juice in Step 2.)
  3. Add the vodka, rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice and shake until cold.
  4. Fill a lowball glass with the crushed ice, then strain in the drink. Garnish with additional watermelon slices and mint.

Notes

*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Watermelon smash

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Tequila Watermelon Skewers

Watermelon tequila skewers are insanely fun and refreshing! The zing of the alcohol watermelon combo will impress everyone. Here’s a…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Watermelon tequila skewers are insanely fun and refreshing! The zing of the alcohol watermelon combo will impress everyone.

Watermelon tequila

Here’s a deliciously refreshing summer recipe that you need…stat. It’s a bit of a crazy idea, but stick with us here: Watermelon Tequila Skewers! Yes, you’ll most often see watermelon and tequila paired in a cocktail (and who could turn down a watermelon margarita?). But sprinkle some over watermelon cubes and it’s absolute genius! Here’s how to make this tasty party trick.

Want drinks instead? Go to Watermelon Drink Ideas.

Ingredients for watermelon tequila skewers

This novel idea for summer entertaining is courtesy of Alex, who had the crazy idea of sprinkling tequila over some cubes from our watermelon salad. It had the best zingy, sweet tart flavor that was intensely refreshing! We knew we had to turn it into a party treat. Here’s all you’ll need:

  • Ripe seedless watermelon: make sure it’s a best quality, sweet ripe melon!
  • Fresh mint: Just a few leaves bring big flavor, and they’re perfect for garnish
  • Lime juice
  • Tequila
Watermelon tequila

Why the alcohol watermelon combination works

You’ve probably heard about a vodka watermelon, where you make a hole in a watermelon and pour in a whole bottle of vodka. We’ve heard mixed reviews of this stunt, and most people say it doesn’t work. Since we don’t like wasting alcohol (especially an entire bottle), we haven’t tried it.

So why not use just ¼ cup tequila to try this tasty appetizer or treat? The way that tequila brings out the zing of the lime and the sweetness of the watermelon is unbeatable. You really do have to try it to believe it!

How much alcohol is in these tequila watermelon skewers? The overall alcohol content is very low. The recipe of 6 servings has just a little more alcohol than one classic margarita.

Mix the ingredients and chill 1 hour (or not…)

All you have to do to make this recipe? Combine the watermelon, tequila, lime juice, mint: and then wait! It tastes best when it’s nicely chilled and the ingredients have a little time to meld together.

Don’t want to wait? That’s ok too! It tastes good right away, and even better if you start with a chilled watermelon. But for best results, chill 1 or 2 hours before serving.

Alcohol watermelon

Serve the watermelon tequila juice in shot glasses

Here’s another genius serving idea for these watermelon tequila skewers (courtesy of Alex, of course!). You’ll notice after refrigerating the skewers that juice builds up at the bottom of the container. Yes, it’s all that delicious watermelon tequila lime goodness that’s just oozing out of the fruit!

You can use that too: just strain it though a cocktail shaker into little shot glasses! It makes the cutest presentation and one sip of the liquid? It’s drop dead delicious.

Let us know if you make these alcohol watermelon skewers in the comments below: we’d love to know what you think!

More watermelon recipes

Got melon? Here are our top juicy watermelon recipes to cool off this summer, with a focus on that alcohol watermelon combo:

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Watermelon tequila

Tequila Watermelon Skewers


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Watermelon tequila skewers are insanely fun and refreshing! The zing of the alcohol watermelon combo will impress everyone.


Ingredients

  • 4 cups cubed ripe seedless watermelon (about 2 1/2 pounds or 1/4 medium melon)
  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) tequila
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, plus more leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place the watermelon in a large bowl and sprinkle with the lime juice, tequila and chopped mint. Toss until well coated.
  2. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day (it’s best when it’s freshest).
  3. To serve, place watermelon chunks on cocktail picks or short skewers. If you’d like, use a cocktail shaker to strain the remaining juice from the bottom of the container into shot glasses, to be enjoyed along with the watermelon!
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Chilled
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Watermelon tequila, Alcohol watermelon

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

3 No-Cook Dinners for When You Want to Turn off the Stove

It’s the end of the long workday (or the start of an extra-long week) and we’re hungry. Like, “can’t-think-straight” hungry. Luckily, Food52 contributor EmilyC wants to do all the thinking for us. In Dinner’s Ready, her monthly column on weeknight wond…

It's the end of the long workday (or the start of an extra-long week) and we're hungry. Like, "can't-think-straight" hungry. Luckily, Food52 contributor EmilyC wants to do all the thinking for us. In Dinner's Ready, her monthly column on weeknight wonders, she shares three simple, flavor-packed recipes that are connected by a single idea or ingredient. Stick with Emily, and you'll have a good dinner on the table in no time. Today, three summery meals that let us rev up the flavor but keep the temps down.


Every summer, I reach a point when I practically banish my sheet pans and skillets from my kitchen. Not that I don't love them (trust me, they’ll be in heavy use this fall for dinners like this and this!), but many days it’s just too hot and sticky to turn on my oven, stand over the stove, or even fire up the grill come dinnertime.

Read More >>

Strawberry Watermelon Sorbet (5 Minutes)

While daydreaming about watermelon sorbet recently, I threw a few things in the blender hoping for an easier, quicker method, and the results were shockingly good. So good we went back for seconds…and thirds.
This near-instant sorbet is made wit…

Strawberry Watermelon Sorbet (5 Minutes)

While daydreaming about watermelon sorbet recently, I threw a few things in the blender hoping for an easier, quicker method, and the results were shockingly good. So good we went back for seconds…and thirds.

This near-instant sorbet is made with simple frozen fruit, like strawberry, watermelon, and banana, and dairy-free milk or coconut water. The texture is creamy, slightly icy, and refreshing, and the taste? It’s somehow reminiscent of cotton candy.

Strawberry Watermelon Sorbet (5 Minutes) from Minimalist Baker →

The Very Best Thing to Do With Your Watermelon Rinds

Shortly after I turned 20, my family moved from central Illinois to Southern California, swapping snow boots for sandals; we also traded in two apple trees for a grove of lemons, avocados, pomegranates, figs, and jujubes. A few years ago, I started my …

Shortly after I turned 20, my family moved from central Illinois to Southern California, swapping snow boots for sandals; we also traded in two apple trees for a grove of lemons, avocados, pomegranates, figs, and jujubes. A few years ago, I started my quest to grow heirloom vegetables, which frustrated and rewarded me in seemingly equal quantities—only a few hinona kabu turnips came up the first year, but the dan hobak (known as kabocha to most folks) immediately blanketed the backyard, flowering with dozens of sweet squashes-to-be.

My mother, who grew up on a farm in South Korea, was overjoyed that she could be outside all year round —even after she fell from the top of her fig tree and broke her little toe. “Look at all these figs I picked!” she exclaimed, sitting on the ground with her toe swelling up. “Make sure you take all the figs inside and wash them right away, or their juice will attract bugs,” she instructed my father when he deposited her on her bed, shaking his head and going to call the doctor.

Read More >>