Run with it
It is 12:26 pm on June 23. I’m sitting at my desk in the window, which, if you were considering it, is a bad place to put a desk. What a person needs behind a desk is something sturdy, galvanizing, like a wall. Otherwise you’ll wind up spending your time as I am today: watching the world’s most subtle breeze blow through the branches of the neighbors’ tulip magnolia, wishing I were eating a cheeseburger.
I’m slowly emerging from New Book Insanity. I am so relieved, so glad to have this book behind me and out in the world, and also so, so, so tired. Elated! Tired! Dead!
(But hey, Spokane: I’m going to be in your town tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 24. I’ll be reading at Auntie’s Bookstore at 7:00 pm. Come keep me awake!)
Speaking of book events, there’s a question that’s come up often at these events – a question that, I’m sure you’ve noticed, comes up often in any conversation with or about working mothers – and that is, How to do you do it all? I don’t think I’ve answered the question very clearly when it’s been put to me, because ha ha haaa haaaaaaa I do NOT do it all. I don’t think anyone does, of either sex. I hardly remember what I’ve said said on the topic – maybe something about the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people, people who believe in what you do and want you to do it? That’s very important. But I’ve been thinking about it today, and I want to add something: take a look at this blog. It’s a good barometer. I do not have an editorial calendar, and I do not post on a schedule. This blog is the place where I come to practice writing, to keep myself limber, and I do it because I love it. If I’m in a good rhythm with posting here, it’s because Delancey and Essex are miraculously free of crises for a little while, June is sleeping like a champ, and I’m probably staying up later than I should. If I’m posting less, it’s because those non-blog parts of my life are keeping me busy, and in the hours when they’re not keeping me busy, I am dead and/or eating popsicles.
I can’t believe that it’s already almost July. It makes me want to hunker down at home and get my fill of very ordinary summer things, like riding our bikes to the farmers’ market (with June in the bike trailer wearing a tiny helmet and Brandon and me singing, La la la la la, la la la la la, helmet song to the tune of “Elmo’s Song,” because la la la la la, wearing a helmet is SO FUN!), buying those very expensive and very good raspberries from Alm Hill and eating them all at once, taking June to the neighborhood P-Patch to look for garden gnomes, and drinking a nightly Campari and Tonic. (I like a standard Campari and Soda, but I might like this even more. Try it! Niah, our bar manager at Essex, told me yesterday to try garnishing it with a castelvetrano olive, but I was halfway through my glass last night before I remembered; sorry, Niah.) June was sick last week, so I made a chicken soup, but mostly, the kind of cooking I want to do right now is not really cooking, but basic chopping. Some scrambled eggs, at most, and lots of big salads with crunchy radishes, cucumbers, and feta. And then a popsicle, which is little more than a smoothie, frozen.
When Delancey first opened and I was still in the kitchen there, we had a popsicle on the menu, and I once wrote about it here, in a raspberry yogurt version. That was four years ago, and because I’m a creature of habit, I’m still making them: with strawberries in June, raspberries in July, blackberries in August, you see where I’m going. I’ve made the strawberry version twice in the past two weeks, and because strawberries (“dobbies,” as June says) are already starting to peter out, I wanted to hurry up and write about it. If you haven’t yet made popsicles this summer, get on it. My popsicle guru Stephanie, of the beautiful site 3191 Miles Apart, has lots of other popsicle ideas, if you then want to really run with it.
This strawberry version uses less sugar than the raspberry one, and it also uses less yogurt, so it has a particularly bright, clean strawberry flavor. You start by tossing the berries with sugar and a few drops of kirsch or vodka – the alcohol will help to keep the pops from freezing too hard, without interfering with their fresh fruit flavor – and then letting them sit until their color deepens and they release lots of dark, glossy juice. Then you scrape it all into the blender with yogurt and a little lemon juice, zizz it, and then pour it into molds. (Don’t forget to taste it: it should taste a little sweeter than you’d ideally like, because it will taste less sweet once it’s frozen. That’s the case for anything that you eat very cold.) The resulting pops are electric pink, a color usually reserved for bougainvillea and nail polish, only this time, you lucky thing, you get to eat it.
Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz
A word about popsicle molds: I use these silicone ones, which I learned about from the book Modern Art Desserts, by Caitlin Freeman. (And high five to my talented friend Leah Rosenberg, who called my attention to the Zurier Pops recipe and inspired me to get these molds. Leah, when I bought strawberries last week, I meant to make Zurier Pops, but I got lazy. But I still will. I swear.) Anyway, if you’re using silicone molds like mine, which are soft and pliable, don’t forget to set the molds on a sheet pan before filling them! That way, they’ll be easy to transport to the freezer. And don’t forget to insert the popsicle sticks into the mold before filling, either. It all sounds obvious, but you never know.
I also have this popsicle mold, but we loaned it to a friend (ahem, Katie), so I haven’t been able to try it yet. I’ll report back. I have a feeling it’ll be better for very liquid-y pops than the silicone molds, which might leak. Lastly, if you’re using vodka shooter glasses, which is what I used when we served popsicles at Delancey, you’ll want to pour the mixture into the glasses; freeze them for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the mixture begins to set; insert the popsicle sticks; and then freeze them until they’re hard. To serve, briefly run the sides of the glass under tepid water to loosen the popsicle, and gently twist the stick as you lift.
I should tell you that these popsicles are not as smooth, texture-wise, as churned frozen yogurt – or, for that matter, as commercial popsicles. They’ll be a little icy, even if you use the kirsch or vodka. The texture doesn’t bother me. I like it.
Trim the green leaves from the strawberries, and quarter them (or, if they’re small, halve them; it doesn’t really matter much). Toss in a bowl with the sugar and kirsch or vodka, if using, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Set aside at room temperature for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Scrape the strawberries and their liquid into the jar of a blender, add the yogurt and lemon juice, and process until smooth. If you want to remove the seeds – though I usually just leave them be – set a strainer over a bowl (or other vessel) with a pour spout. Press the mixture through the strainer to remove seeds. Divide the mixture among popsicle molds of your choosing, and freeze until hard.
Yield: depends on your molds. I get about 8 when I use my 4-ounce silicone molds.