I thought we might see the odd critter in our new garden - which is tucked up against a mountain - but I hadn't figured on scorpions, and am going to think twice now about walking barefoot in the garden at night.
Then, this morning, I was alarmed when my husband complained that he was burning and itching all over: had - shudder - a scorpion burrowed into the bedclothes? Then I remembered that yesterday my daughter had - in the interests of science, you understand - 'tested' my canister of pepper spray . I'd laughed it off, and told her to wipe up any residue. 'What did you clean up the mess with?' I asked her now, the penny slowly dropping. 'With dad's bath towel!' she yelled.
Finally, scratching in the fridge for breakfast, I found a big bag of prickly pears I'd bought a few days ago and forgotten about. They were the last thing I wanted to touch, feeling as creepy and crawly as I did, but I am just smitten by this most beautiful and refreshing fruit (see my earlier post) so I put on a pair of gloves and turned them into a granita. This is a delicate ice with an ethereal flavour: so easy to make and perfect for a hot day.
Prickly Pear Granita
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) water
4 chilled prickly pears, peeled (click here for peeling tips)
the juice of a lemon
Place a large, flat metal dish (a clean roasting pan is ideal; a ceramic one will do) in your freezer and turn the freezer to its lowest setting. Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Peel the prickly pears, chop roughly and place in a blender. Blend to a thick pulp. Measure the pulp, place it in a bowl, and add the equivalent amount of cooled sugar syrup (keep the rest in the fridge for future ices). Stir in the juice of a lemon.
Pour the mixture into the frozen dish, which should be smoking cold by now, and place back in the freezer. After about half an hour, or when the mixture starts to get slushy, scrape and scratch the mixture with a fork to form crystals. Continue scraping and scratching every twenty minutes or so, so you end up with a pile of icy, fluffy, crystalline flakes. Set a timer so ensure that you don't forget to scrape: if you do, the mixture will harden and you will have to start all over again.
Half an hour before serving, put some martini glasses or small dessert bowls in the freezer. Pile the granita into the cold glasses and serve immediately. Garnish with a scorpion. Kidding.
Makes about 500 ml; serves 4.
|The scorpion I found in my garden|