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Archive for the ‘frozen treats’ Category

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On a random weekday before the July 4th holiday, a friend and I decided to take a little road trip. She was in the midst of selling her condo and I had just wrapped up a series of stressful meetings. Our nerves were frayed and we needed a change of scenery so we decided to go to a few Michigan beach towns and buy some blueberries. A short drive, less than two hours, and we were enjoying a much-needed change of scenery. The day was absolutely gorgeous; one of those bright sunny, breezy days that plants a smile firmly on your face. We had lunch, went whiskey and beer tasting, roamed a local farmers market, wandered in an out of antique shops and art galleries and hit a favorite produce stand.

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It’s grotesquely hot around here. I know, its mid July, it’s supposed to be hot yet somehow I’m caught by surprise. Mother Nature fools with us, you know? She’ll sneak in a couple absolutely gorgeous days then, BOOM, 90 degrees with 90% humidity. My energy goes down as the temperature goes up, as does my motivation to cook anything. During times like this, I only want to eat two things: watermelon and ice cream. I eat and ungodly amount of watermelon and ice cream during these sweltering weeks.

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A few weeks ago a made a slew of ice pops from large amounts of fruit I’d stockpiled in my freezers. They were great: simple to make, easy to grab and really delicious. I gave most of them to a friend whose 13-year-old triplet nephews were about to descend upon her for a summer vacation. She needed them more than I, for distractions and rewards if nothing else. Plus she gave me a pineapple in return. Fair trade. The hit of the lot were the pina colada pops I whipped up on the fly and with a pineapple in hand, I decided to make some more. Sort of.

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In my mind, date shakes conjure visions of vintage roadside stands near Palm Springs, heat mirages waving up from the melting asphalt and palm trees baking in the impossibly bright desert sun. Here’s the rub: I’ve been to Palm Springs exactly once, never saw a roadside stand and certainly never drank a date shake and yet, the image is strong. What’s up with that? I suspect my impressions of the Palm Desert have been formed by the issues of Sunset my mom received when I was a kid. It’s my most plausible explanation. Curious, I did some research and learned that date farms proliferate the Coachella Valley around Palm Springs and date shakes have been a popular item at the big farms in the area since the 1930’s. The shakes are typically just dates, milk and vanilla ice cream blended until smooth but it’s always seemed a bit odd to me. Dates in a shake? It took a long flight to the other side of the world to convince me otherwise.

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C’mon, we all know Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer regardless of what else is going on or where the weather stands. It’s also, in my world at least, the start of the summer fruit season. Right now it’s only rhubarb at the market but strawberries are starting to appear followed quickly by the berries, cherries, stone fruits and melons in rapid sucession. With this also comes my habitual need to buy everything in sight. When all that gorgeous fruit is popping, I simply cannot help myself.

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Today is Cinqo de Mayo, the day that commenmorates the victory of a Mexican battalion against French military forces in 1862 near the city of Puebla. It’s not a national holiday in Mexico, however, large celebrations do take place in some areas of the country, primarily in the state of Puebla. Growing up in Arizona, it was always bigger than Mexican Independence Day in September and we always celebrated it with margaritas and enchiladas. Classy. This year, rather than enchiladas, I’ve been on an ice cream kick. Big time. Earlier in the week it was horchata with strawberries, today it’s a take on one of the best cakes ever: Tres Leches.

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I do so love a good, cold glass of horchata, that milky ivory-hued beverage often found in taquerias that, if good, tastes like liquified rice pudding. Many places buy it premade or premixed or whatever, but if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon a special little gem that makes it from scratch. A place that soaks rice and almonds and cinnamon sticks for a good long while to extract every flavorful bit out of those seemingly innocuous ingredients. When done right, it’s a magical thing.

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