Over Easy is a weekly food column by a 20-something woman who can barely cook an egg and just wants to learn how to throw together an elegant three-course meal for her friends.
Summer’s almost over, and I’m pissed. Did I take advantage of it? No. Did I go to the beach, or go camping, or wear a sundress, or take part in any activity generally associated with summer? Also no. I enjoy sweaters and AC and Netflix and the indoors.
But still, I love summer. I love seeing the sun on a regular basis, and all the flowers, and how everyone’s mood seems to collectively lift, as if we’ve all shoved our angst and irritation into the closet for the fall, next to the old boots and winter jackets. Because even if, like me, you don’t take advantage of all the activities summer has to offer, it’s nice knowing they’re available. That’s what makes summer feel full of hope and possibility, and I’m not ready to see it go. Which is why, in an attempt to cling to the few weeks left of it, I decided to make the most summery treat I could think of: popsicles.
When I was little, ice pops were my snack of choice during the summer. Some parent or hungover camp counselor would come outside with a big cooler, and all crafts/swimming/nose-picking ground to a halt as herds of small children thundered over to grab their favorite flavor. (Mine were blue, pink, and in a pinch, purple or red. Green was lame and orange was for sickos.) Everyone had their own method of consumption, but I liked to take my time. I’d carefully snip off the edge of the plastic tube, right at the top so as not to lose any of the high-fructose corn syrupy goodness inside. Little by little, I’d push up tiny slivers of ice that I would lick off and press up against the roof of my mouth, letting the sugary neon ambrosia melt onto my tongue, dyeing it bright colors that I would then march around and proudly display.
Although I still firmly believe the traditional ice pop is almost impossible to top, I wanted to try something a little more grown up. After poking around for a bit, I found this recipe from food blogger Isadora at Food52 for strawberry, rhubarb, and lime ice pops that are, according to the recipe, “refreshingly sweet, and so easy to make!”
Before I made them, however, I had to buy popsicle molds. So I went to the Bed Bath & Beyond near my work where, no matter how many times I go, I inevitably get lost and spend at least half an hour trying to navigate my way through towering aisles of pillows and knives and “Wine o’clock” aprons towards the exit. A note: I have never murdered anyone, and I truly, truly hope I never will. But stuff happens, and if I ever find myself with a body to dispose of, you better believe I’ll be dumping it in that BB&B because guess what, no one will ever find it!
Somehow I did manage to make it out of the Bed, the Bath, and the Beyond with popsicle molds (and new dish towels and teeny little bowls I have no use for but that I thought were cute) and was able to pick up strawberries, rhubarb, and limes on my way home. The recipe calls for 2 ½ cups of diced rhubarb, which it says is about two stalks. When I diced up my two stalks, though — after first reading an article about how to dice rhubarb that told me to peel off the tough outer strands — I only had about 1 ¼ cup. Maybe my stalks were puny? In any case, I decided to half the whole recipe, so I cut up three-fourths of a cup of strawberries that I mixed with the diced rhubarb and poured into a saucepan with one-sixth cup of sugar, one tablespoon of honey, one-half tablespoon of water, and one-half tablespoon of lime zest.
I cooked this on medium heat for 20 minutes. Although the recipe says to “stir occasionally,” because I was only making half the amount, I had to stir the jammy, shallow mixture often to make sure it didn’t stick to the pan and burn. I probably should have just used a smaller saucepan, but I did not.
When it was done, and there weren’t any big chunks of fruit left, I let the mixture cool for ten minutes, poured it into my newly acquired popsicle mold, and left it in my freezer overnight.
The next day, I got home from work feeling amped about my fancy popsicles. Maybe I’d eat one on my stoop, looking super cool and casual, like I’m a person who regularly sits outside instead of on her bed, in the dark, buried in 4–6 blankets. Maybe I’d go to the beach this weekend, or wear a sundress, or happen upon an impromptu drum circle and dance in the middle with my eyes blissfully closed and also I wouldn’t be wearing a bra. It’s summer, and I have popsicles, I thought. Anything is possible!
The popsicles, it turned out, did not feel the same way. I tried to pull the first one out to no avail. I ran them under hot water for a few seconds to loosen them up, like Isadora’s recipe suggests, and then tried again. The plastic handles all came out quickly and cleanly, but the obstinate fruit remained in the mold.
I gave up, grabbed a spoon, and began scooping the mixture into a bowl. As I was doing this, I took a bite, and froze. The popsicle — or rather, the sorbet? — was incredible. It was, as one Food52 commenter had cautioned, very limey, but I found that delightful. That, paired with the tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the strawberry, gave it a bright, sour-sweet flavor that reminded me a lot of tamarind. It was so good. I felt high. I greedily spooned some more directly into my mouth, then paused just long enough to scoop the rest into a bowl that I took up to my roof.
It wasn’t an ice pop, sure. But I savored the popsicle turned sorbet in the same way I did those neon sugar tubes, taking smaller and smaller bites and letting them melt slowly on my tongue in the hopes that the bowl would never end. As I ate, I looked down and watched people walking their dogs, and laughing, and arguing, and getting home from work, and going to dinner. An ice cream truck jingled its way down the street, and I could smell someone grilling nearby. The sun began to set, and a crisp breeze blew through my block, the first sign of colder weather to come. Watching it all, I recognized the twinge of loneliness summer always brought when I was a kid — the nagging suspicion that everyone else was off having adventures without me, that I was missing out. Was I missing out now?
Then I got bored, and sweaty, and after gathering up my spoon and now-empty bowl, went back inside to watch Netflix.
My report card
My Overall Performance: B+