"The Martian" by Andy Weir & raspberry-nectarine popsicles
Is it just me, or is everyone obsessed with space these days?
At first I thought it was just me, because I read Andy Weir's excellent novel The Martian in a little over a day earlier this month. Then I realized, no, it's just a great time to care about space. Between the New Horizons Pluto flyby and the discovery of Kepler-452b, it seems Americans are more interested in extraterrestrial affairs than we've been in a long while.
That's why this is the perfect time to read The Martian, whose titular character is not a little green man but astronaut Mark Watney, presumed dead in an evacuation attempt and inadvertently abandoned on Mars. The story is surprisingly funny, considering it's about a man stranded on a remote planet with limited supplies and no way to communicate with the rest of humankind. It's fast-paced and thrilling, with a good mix of surprise and suspense along the way.
As Watney figures out how to survive the 1,412 days it will take the next mission to reach Mars on supplies meant to last only a month, he demonstrates again and again the unlimited potential of human ingenuity. He also won me over with a personality defined by grit and good humor — a combination many of us Earthlings can't manage, even in much better circumstances. (Matt Damon is the perfect choice to play Watney in the film adaptation.)
It's also a story grounded in science. I haven't fact-checked it, but Weir says in the end-of-book interview that the science is accurate, and I'm inclined to believe him. You might think that would bog the story down but, on the contrary, the science gives it life and makes it seem that much more feasible.
To recap: Yes, I am recommending a book filled with science involving several chapters of a man essentially talking to himself that doesn't even feature aliens. It sounds weird, but it's cool — just like space.
Know what else is cool, or rather, cold? Popsicles. These raspberry-nectarine popsicles resemble the Red Planet, frozen and craggy, cloudy and studded with surprises. For Watney, the planet becomes a temperamental home, providing him freezer services while simultaneously throwing every possible weather and terrain obstacle in his path. I could go on about the the way tangy syrup of melting nectarine pulp mixes with the sweet surprise of frozen raspberries, but that would be ridiculous. As with The Martian, overthinking these popsicles would take the fun right out of them.
- 2 ripe nectarines
- handful frozen raspberries
- honey or simple syrup, to taste
- coconut water, if desired
Peel and quarter nectarines, then puree in food processor. Taste and add honey or simple syrup if desired, then run food processor again to incorporate.
Drop raspberries into bottom of popsicle molds, then fill with nectarine puree, adding raspberries occasionally along the way. Fill to the top of the mold. If raspberries are the last layer (where the popsicle stick goes in, top off with coconut water to hold everything together.
Insert popsicle sticks and place mold in freezer for several hours, or ideally overnight.