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Archive for the ‘frozen treats’ Category

About a week ago, author Emily Nunn (@emilyreesnunn) posted a very simple frozen treat on her Instagram feed that she called “peach soft serve” – just frozen peaches and buttermilk whirled up in a blender. I swooned a little. Not only do I love peaches and buttermilk, together and separately, I loved the simplicity of it all. While I had no frozen peaches, I did have a big bag I’d just picked up at the farmers market that smelled so good it made me a bit dizzy. I had buttermilk hiding in the back of my fridge (that stuff lasts forever.) I had a blender. More pressing, I had an ice cream canister hogging up all kinds of space in my freezer and a need for that space. I was inspired.

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Last Friday was National Gum Drop Day, another in the long, often times puzzling, list of made up food holidays. I thought I had an idea for this one. I really did. I did not. While working on the Peco Brittle (peanut-coconut brittle) a few weeks back, I remembered something else my friends mother used to make that I thought was delicious: Gumdrop Cake. As I recall, it was a simple chocolate cake baked in a square pan, studded throughout with gumdrops and slicked with a simple chocolate icing. I seem to remember I liked it. I think I was wrong. It is horrid. And it kind of threw me off my game for a few weeks.

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As a kid, I spent about 99.5% of my summer bouncing from one neighbor’s pool to the next. Such is the life of an Arizona suburban kid. As soon as our mothers would set us free in the morning, we’d race out the door in our bathing suits, gather our posse together – the Martocchia twins across the street, the Higgens girls to the left and the Janovski girls to the right – and descend upon one of our houses like a pack of rabid, swimming wolves. Our days were filled with endless games of Marco Polo, complicated synchronized swimming routines, diving competitions, gymnastic tricks and hundreds of rounds to see who could hold their breath underwater the longest. We were a group of deeply tanned, bleached blonde kids with chlorine induced bloodshot eyes. Summer zombies. Occasionally to break up the daily swimming sessions, we’d jump on our banana seat bikes and ride to the 7-Eleven several blocks away for a treat. Indicative of the time, we were probably barefoot, definitely helmetless and absolutely unaccompanied. Ah, the freedom of the 70’s-80’s!

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I adore buttermilk and anything made with buttermilk. It is a favorite ingredient of mine: biscuits, soups, cakes, pancakes, custards. All of it! Occasionally, when I can get my hands on some really good cream and am feeling particularly motivated, I’ll even make my own butter, separating and working out the buttermilk that I will then make into really fantastic biscuits, of course. Warm, beautiful flaky biscuits to cradle alarming amounts of homemade butter, of course. Try it. You won’t be sorry.

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Peaches are my very favorite fruit, without a doubt. My birthday is in mid-August, exactly the time when peaches hit their peak in my area. It’s serendipitous so to celebrate, I usually buy a big bag at the farmers market and gleefully eat my way through. Nothing makes me happier. This year there was a bit of a kink in this plan. I was in France for my birthday and by the time I got home, peak season had passed. I’d also missed the sour cherries, the apricots and the best of the blueberries but this is the price I pay to travel during the best fruit months of the year. I know this. I accept this.

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I’ve never been much of a soda drinker. The six Diet Cokes a day? Not me. Once in a while, I’ll make an exception. For example, there’s always whiskey in my Coke and I have a real soft spot for Squirt, that deliciously sweet grapefruit soda that is my go-to when I’m not feeling well. I also occasionally enjoy a spicy ginger ale and a cold cream soda. Man, I do love a cream soda.

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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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