Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Anna Sultana’s Rum Granita, Full Buck Moon and the longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century

A couple of years ago, during another heat wave, I posted the recipe for Ma’s lemon granita.
It was something we grew up with, as Ma often had it in the freezer during the summer.
She always served it to us when the thermometer rose.

Our parents, I noticed, had something similar, but a bit darker in colour.
They were having rum granita, which has a bit of a kick.

Granita uses a simple syrup as a base for a cold dessert.
it’s not as fruity as a sorbet.
But you can serve it plain or with as much fresh fruit as you want.

Granitas don’t require any special equipment at all.
All you need is water, coffee, a bit of sugar, and your favourite alcoholic beverage.
Don't wan't alcohol? No problem. The lemon granita is a crowd pleaser. 


If you decide to use a spiced rum you should know that they can have a spicy chocolate flavour.
Vodka also gives a kick, without the colour or chocolate taste, if you want something lighter to serve with summertime fruits.

As with the lemon granita, the measurements are a starting point.
If you want it sweeter or stronger, no problem.
Adjust the amounts of coffee and / or sugar.
It’s like making a cup of instant coffee.
You don’t exactly measure the coffee crystals or the sugar. You just suit yourself.

If, after you've first placed the container in the freezer, the slush has become as hard as a rock, don’t panic.
You can leave it at room temperature and eventually it will be soft enough to scrape.

If, when you are ready to serve it, it has frozen too hard, let the granita sit at room temperature for a few minutes. Then work the mixture with the fork.

                        Rum Granita

Serves 8-10 servings

In a small pot combine 
1/3 Cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Cup cold water
Stir over medium heat to make a simple syrup. 
Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pot from heat.
Set the simple syrup aside.

Place in a large container 
1 Cup ground coffee
5 Cups cold water
Stir until completely blended. 
Allow to sit at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours.

Strain the cold brew through a fine sieve and discard the grounds. 
Stir in
the reserved simple syrup 
1/2 Cup rum, or other alcoholic beverage

Transfer to a 9 x 13 inch metal pan and cover with plastic wrap. 
Place in the freezer for 45 minutes. 

Remove and scrape the mixture with a metal fork or spoon, then return it to the freezer.
Repeat this step every 30 to 45 minutes for about 4 hours.
You want the mixture to resemble shards of ice.

It can be served as is, or with berries or sliced fruit.

About the sky, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

The Moon’s closest companion in the sky is our ringed-planet Saturn - so close they fit within the same binocular field. Look to the South to spot these two only 2 degrees from each other.

July 26 - Mars comes into opposition in our sky for the first time since May 2016. At opposition, Earth as the third planet from the Sun passes between the Sun and a superior planet which in tonight’s sky is Mars. This results in Mars shining at its brightest in the skies.

July 27 - Full Moon! Longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century! At 4:20 p.m. EDT there will be a Full Buck Moon.
This also presents the longest lunar eclipse from 2001-2100, lasting a whole 1 hour and 43 minutes. There is a catch however - if you live in North America you won’t be seeing any of this historic event as its primarily visible in the Eastern Hemisphere. Read more about it here. 
The planet Mars will reach “opposition,” the moment when the Sun, Earth, and Mars form a straight line. When a planet reaches opposition, it lies exactly opposite the Sun in the sky: It rises at sunset, reaches its highest point in the sky at midnight, and sets at sunrise.

July 30 - Catch the daytime Moon this week! No matter where you are on Earth, look to the West after sunrise to see it in a clear blue sky during the day. The Moon is now in a waning gibbous phase causing it to rise after nightfall and setting westward after the Sun rises.

July 31 - Mars will come within 35,784,000 miles of Earth at 3:50 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, which is within about 1.1 million miles of the closest it can possibly come.

Just so you know… starting on July 26 there’ll be a Mercury retrograde in Leo. It will last until August 18, when Mercury goes direct.

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