When it comes to summer cooking, it’s important to remember what our tools are. We have the grill, of course. The permission to eat only salad for dinner, and a few good dressings ready to go. We have marinades, and homemade ice cream (like salads, you have my permission to eat only that for dinner as well), and we have straight-up raw produce that tastes good without an ounce of work. Then, we have popsicles.
The summer before last, a friend of mine told me the story of the popsicle that saved her. She was in New York with her kids, tromping through the hot streets on one of those days where the pavement radiates heat right up through your whole body. She was hot, parched, hungry, and grumpy, and her kids were in an even more drastic state. Then, as she tells it, a popsicle stand appeared right there in front of her. It was manned by friendly, beautiful people, and it offered just a few flavors of pops–combinations like “nectarine tarragon” and “raspberry basil” all listed on a chalkboard. She said it was the best popsicle of her life.
Oh, Brooklyn, there you go again. And when I finally made it down there that summer, I had one too, and it was the best popsicle of my life (raspberry basil, for the record).
Fast forward to last summer, and it turns out that People’s Pops is making a book. And when Jennifer May (who, lucky me–photographed The Homemade Pantry) called to ask if I’d be willing to help out with props for the shoot, all I could think of was the ENDLESS POPSICLES I would eat in the process. And that’s how I ended up in Crown Heights with the contents of my entire prop cabinet, eating popsicles with my favorite photographer. Now that was a good job.
My copies of this sweet little book arrived a few weeks ago, and before I even got to sit down with it, Sadie had made her first batch of pops.
Now, she’s unstoppable. The book is organized by season, and we’re squarely in the summer chapter now, looking forward to blueberries, peaches, and nectarines. The flavors are so good in this book: roasted red plum, cantaloupe and mint, nectarine, honey, and chamomile. There’s boozy pops too–those are off limits to Sadie, but as soon as the ice pop mold is free, I’m going for it. But it’s the method and the ratios that have really revolutionized pops around here. For years, I’ve been making icy popsicles that you suck the juice right out of. Successful only in that they’re cold and sweet, but disappointing in all other ways. But these pops! By making a simple syrup and combining it with lots and lots of fruit, no more icy pops. And at the rate Sadie’s pumping these out, I’m thinking of putting her in a black T-shirt and a hipster hat out front with a chalkboard that lists her flavors. We could have a bit of New York right up here in the Berkshires (and not the kind that drives slowly and doesn’t use their blinker- we’ve got that already!)
So yup–I’ll say it, this is about all that’s being cooked around here lately. There’s been some potato salad here and there, and a sliced tomato or two. We’ve been busy! Working and running around, and doing our best to get into the river on a regular basis. Rosie’s made herself a bow and arrow, and she’s getting pretty good at it. Sadie’s learned how to do laundry, and so now we all have perpetually unfolded laundry on our beds. So we’ll have popsicles for lunch. In July, this is what cooking looks like around here.
What does cooking look like in your house these days? Do you need some fantastic popsicles for lunch? Tell me all about it. I’ve got an extra copy of this beautiful book, and I want it to be yours. You’ve got till Monday night to enter, and then you could be making pops by the end of the week.
(thanks to Ten Speed Press for the book, and to Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell, and Joel Horowitz for creating such a good one, to Jen May for pulling me into it, and my sister, Maia for taking the photos for this post while my camera is hanging on for life at the Nikon hospital)
Strawberries and Cream Pops
from People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop, Nathalie Jordi, Dave Carrell, and Joel Horowitz
Just over 1 pound strawberries, hulled (Sadie used frozen, and that worked great)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons simple syrup (make that and a bit more by combining 2/3 cup water and 2/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is transparent)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Optional: 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Puree the strawberries in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl or a large measuring cup with a spout. Add the simple syrup and cream and stir well. Taste the mixture, and if it doesn’t pop enough add the lemon juice. Transfer to your ice pop molds, insert sticks, and freeze for 4 to 5 hours, or until the pops are solid. Transfer to plastic bags to store in the freezer.