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  • Writer's pictureAmelia

The Planet Is On Fire! (But at least I have this nice cold drink)

I have not been a conscientious blog-writer of late. This is probably because I hate writing blogs when I don’t have anything to write about, or when do I have something better* to write, or when I have, frankly, absolutely anything else to do. So unless something inspires me to write a blog post, I tend not to do so. I try.

I swear I do.

I come up with ideas for blogs. I look at things and think: “Oh, that’s tangentially writing-related. I could write a post about that,” and I even start to write the posts.

But unless I honestly feel moved to talk about the subject the post just doesn’t happen.

My computer is littered with half-written posts that seemed like an acceptable idea at the time.

I’d say: “I promise I will do better at this.” But I’m pretty sure I won’t. My next post will probably be a list of all the books I currently have piled up in my bathroom, or something inane like that.

Right now, however, it is horribly hot, the rest of the week is bidding fair to be horribly hotter, and the past three days were horribly hotter yet, and if there is one thing that I feel truly passionate about, it is a nice cold drink and a quiet sit-down, in the shade, with a book.** So, for anyone who feels similarly, I offer here my one-size-fits-all recipe for granita. Not the kind you serve in fiddly martini glasses at parties, with a sprig of mint on top and an uncomfortably long spoon.

The kind you drink. I say recipe, but honestly it’s more of a “Do this thing, and then this thing, and then this very important third thing and then you have a drink.” The things go as follows. Thing number one: Make a simple syrup.

This sounds both fiddly and pretentious but it is neither of these: just stick equal amounts*** of sugar and water in a pan, heat it up till it all dissolves, leave it for a bit longer and you’re done. If you want to add mint sprigs, or bits of the peel or zest of the fruit you’re planning to use then go ahead. Just fish them out when you’re done, so they don’t get stuck in the straw. Thing number two: Juice some fruit.

I generally use citrus fruit of some kind, which makes the juicing part relatively easy (you can even do it with a fork if you have to), but if you want to spend your time crushing blackcurrants or what-have-you then more power to you. It’ll probably taste delicious. You need about four times as much juice as syrup, but again adjust this to your personal taste. Dilute the result with a little cold water if you want to. Thing number three: Almost freeze it.

If you have an ice-cream maker this part is easy: just mix the juice and syrup together, put them in the machine to churn for a bit, then ladle out the granita before it gets too stiff. If you let it go too far, and it does get too stiff, then leave it for a while to get soft again.

You can do your own jokes: I’m too hot and tired.

Yes, yes, that’s what she said.

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, put it in a tub in the freezer and leave it for about an hour.

After an hour, take out the tub and attack the nascent ice-floes with a fork until they break up and mix into the chilly liquid beneath. Keep doing this every half hour till it reaches a slushy, drinkable consistency.

Granita recipes will mostly tell you that this takes four to five hours, but ignore them: they’re talking about the kind of granita you eat with a spoon. You want something you can slurp with a straw.

A couple of hours should do it. Ladle the result into cups or glasses, apply straw, put on sunglasses and drink while pretending you’re on holiday and not just seizing a few moments respite from the overwhelming fug of a country that builds for rain and cold and not for humidity and heat.

In the foreground an off-white mug sits on the corner of a faded, light wooden table. The rest of the table extends past the boundary of the photograph. The cup is mostly full of a pinkish-peach sludgy substance which is, in fact, grapefruit granita. An obnoxious reusable metal straw has been inserted into this mess and is sticking out of the cup to the left. It is quite a short cup, but it is a very long straw. The result looks rather like an old fashioned car radio antenna (Do they still have these? I don't drive so I wouldn't know). In the background the overgrown pile of weeds that I call a garden is doing a passable imitation of rustic greenery. There is a basketball propped up against the fence. It is not my basketball. No one in this house even plays basketball. I have no idea what it's doing there. Never mind. Just pretend I'm into sport.
I promise you it’s bliss.

You can even skip all the syrup making and juicing stuff entirely and just make coffee granita by making a pot of coffee, pouring it directly into whatever vessel you plan to almost-freeze it in, then adding as much sugar as you like directly to the hot liquid and stirring until it dissolves. Let it cool, then follow the Very Important Third Step and it’s done. If you add finely chopped or grated dark chocolate it tastes exactly like one of those drinks from the long, anecdote-heavy recipes that swear you’ll “Never Buy Over-Priced Coffee Drinks Again.” I’ve tried those recipes, but they never work. No matter how many homemade coffee drinks I drink, I still keep finding myself stuck in the city centre, with my laptop and nowhere to spend the next two hours but the local coffee shop. I must be doing something wrong. I also did something wrong when I made today’s granita.

Actually I did everything wrong, but I still wound up with a drinkable beverage at the end of it all, so I suppose this recipe is genuinely foolproof.

I was going to tell you what went wrong, but I’ve already written enough for one post, so I shall save my tale of folly for another day and go and drink my grapefruit granita before it melts.

Look at that. A plan for another post. I’m telling you: this is the best recipe ever. *The Wolf-finder General **I suggest The Vicar Man

***By volume.

If you have cup measures use those. I find about half a cup of each does the trick nicely, but you may want more sugar than that so adjust accordingly.

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