When it comes to putting a healthier spin on baking and sweet treat making, I think we know by now that I’m not really an all-or-nothing type of person. As is evident by the recipes and philosophy in the pages of Real Sweet, I’d sooner jump off the roof than try to pretend that a brownie made with black beans makes life worth living. Of course, there is something lovely and virtuous about wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, and still find a way to treat ourselves, but I think there’s a way we can get there without resorting to trickery or deprivation masquerading as comfort food.
So far this summer, I’ve made good on my promise to slow down and recalibrate a little after finishing my cookbook manuscript. And just as I was getting stuck, thinking about what kind of recipe I might want to share with you now that I can make ANY RECIPE I WANT TO, EVER, the always entertaining and so-hilarious-somebody-ought-lock-this-boy-UP Billy Green of Wit and Vinegar announced the second coming of Popsicle Week. And BAM, I suddenly had the glittering inspiration to pull together a frozen tasty treat for all y’all. Internet friends can really be the wind beneath your wings like that sometimes, I’m telling you.
Taking part in Popsicle Week is no easy task. You’re basically joining a crew of people who not only develop great recipes, but fabulous photos on the regular. (I made these babies last year, which I’m realizing look a lot like the ones I made this year but believe me, they taste quite different.) I’m not even going to try and compete with all the other fantastical pops and posts out there this time around, but I can at least feel confident that my post is (probably) the only one that will mention Bill Cosby.
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I can’t stand our kitchen cabinets. Although made of solid wood and relatively enormous in size, they drive me batty on a daily basis. Yes, I realize this is a First World Problem of the highest order, but still. I can count on one hand how many of the drawers and doors actually line up and/or close neatly. I can also count on one hand the number of times I’ve been whacked in the head by turning into a cabinet that has somehow swung itself open after I’d closed it just seconds before. They are Attack Cabinets.
As it happens, said cabinets were designed and built decades (and decades) ago by a former owner of our house, who apparently fancied himself a cabinetmaker. When I picture this man building the cabinets, I also picture his wife, who was apparently a much more supportive and tolerant spouse than I, occasionally passing through the kitchen, observing her husband’s work, shaking her head a little, and yet somehow never once reminding him of the mantra “measure twice, cut once“. I wish I could go back in time, find that woman, and beg her to please speak up because those cabinets would be driving me crazy 50 years later.
The one thing I don’t mind about the cabinets? Their color. Sure, I’d love to have a tricked-out, modern, bright, and airy kitchen with gleaming white cabinetry (that actually stays closed, and opens with a glide rather than a sputter). But I guess the one bonus to having cabinets designed during the Mad Men era is that it’s been long enough that their golden hue could almost be considered Retro Fabulous. If you squint. And also if you stop calling the color Totally Nonfunctional Ancient Cabinet Maple Stain, and instead call it something like Mid-Century Modern Dulce de Leche Gloss.
I’m trying to work with what I’ve got, people. I’m really trying, here.
In honor of the fact that we’re getting the heck out of the dreary, chilly San Francisco “summer” weather for a little family vacation this week, I give you these teeny gems. Because they are so cool, so creamy, so dreamy, they are literally like a vacation for your mouth. It’s the kind of thing that basically leaves you gobsmacked that you’ve not been making tiny banana ice cream sandwiches with vanilla wafers your entire life. Brainstorm!
So…while I’d like to think I’m not one of those pretentious dorkknobs who mull over pastry menus like Biblical passages, I do have my opinions when it comes to sweets. (You might have guessed as much.) For example, dessert should celebrate sugar. Yes, I knooow how sophisticated and fabulous it is when a cheese plate is served as a final course. Maybe my Midwest is showing, but dessert needs to be sweet, people. Also? I covet balance. I want a little sweet, a little salty, a little acid, crunchy, creamy, chewy–and I want it all in one bite. And last week my cravings got in cahoots with my brain and produced a totally insane, Big Mama Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream Sundae. My persnickety dessert nature is now a gift, friends. Now would someone please tell my husband that?
The interwebs are aflutter with popsicles, people! And thank goodness. It seems like everyday there’s something new and terrible splashed all over every freaking webpage, making me question why I chose to raise children in this crazy, sometimes scary world. I’d say we could all use a little sunshine in frozen form these days, don’t you think? YES. Let’s do exactly that.
Now, before we go any further, I will address the elephant in the room: COCONUT. Probably one of the most polarizing things in the universe next to, say, cilantro and Rachael Ray. People either love coconut or they get visibly shaken at the mere mention of it. For example, my husband and daughter are in the latter camp, which is disappointing. Because I love coconut and so I can only bake something with coconut knowing that I will just have to eat the whole dang thing. Not altogether terrible, unless you consider something like fitting into one’s pants. So that’s why these ice pops are brilliant. Because not only are they dead simple to make, but obviously keep for quite a long time in the freezer. And I don’t know about you, but I’m much more likely to binge on, say, coconut macaroons than something that would give me a crippling brain freeze. Win!
I love the concept of having a summer jam, don’t you? I’m talking about becoming 100-times-on-repeat-can’t stop-so-don’t-try-to-make-me-OBSESSED with a particular song, like a personal anthem of sorts. This song will carry you all the way to September of a given year, turned up loud during long drives and workouts. And then long after you shelve it along with your flip flops, you can pull that song back out in February when you’re about to jump off the roof with Seasonal Affective Disorder and BAM–you’re right back to summery good times. In your mind, at least. Man, I love a good summer jam.
For me, past summer jams include such gems as 1992’s “Tennessee” by Arrested Development and “Under the Bridge” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers–if I hear either of those now, I’m right back to scrunchies, Keds, and inexplicably large t-shirts half-tucked into Umbro shorts. Brilliant. That god-awful “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal? Takes me straight back to 1995, my amazing collection of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, and my first car and all the questionable decisions that go along with that milestone.
(Speaking of questionable decisions while having your first car, I blame the video for 1995’s other summer jam, “Crazy” by Aerosmith. You can’t even tell me that you didn’t want to be in that video, so were you the Alicia Silverstone or the Liv Tyler whilst cruising with your BFF that summer? Be real.)
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