Last weekend I took time to do something I don't do nearly often enough—relax. I put away the computer, closed the textbooks, and spent some quality time with my family. While I did do some baking in the kitchen, most of the weekend was spent enjoying home cooked meals, conversing over the dinner table, and wandering about in the great outdoors. After a long, difficult month, the few days I spent recuperating have left me feeling like a brand new person. There's less stress, more laughter, and a better outlook on the months to come.
We need to remind ourselves to take breaks more often.
This summer in particular, I've been feeling a little sun-starved. It's halfway into July and I haven't detected a trace of any of my traditional tan lines. While I only have a few more weeks before I wrap up my masters degree, I can't help but stare longingly out the window, wishing my textbooks would disappear and I could go outside and play. My inner camp counselor misses the day of running in the grass, having picnics in the sun, and listening to the silly stories of excited children.
One of my favorite parts of summer is eating popsicles when the weather feels like it can't get any warmer. The act becomes a competition as I try to lick up the frozen treat before the sun melts it into a puddle at my feet. Popsicles were a part of camp culture, the reward for a well-played game of capture the flag. The aftermath of sticky faces and bright colored tongues was a mess I would never wish away.
Last weekend, during an overcast morning, I wanted to bring a little of that sunshine into my kitchen. With a pint of strawberries in the refrigerator, it took only a few minutes to transform the fruit into frozen treats. Once the sun found its way out from the clouds, I took one out from the freezer and enjoyed it on my balcony, savoring the feeling of the sun on my face and sweet berries on my lips.
A week later, I still have a few left, waiting for moments when I can take a break in the sun.
Frozen Strawberry Bars are a delightful summer treat. Strawberries are macerated in sugar to sweeten and bring out the flavor of the fruit. Half of the berries are left sliced while the other half is pureed with orange juice. The fruit is layered in the popsicle molds with the puree, creating a frozen bar that has a great bite. These popsicles are refreshing for those hot summer afternoons.
Frozen Strawberry Bars
Yields 6-7 popsicles
1 lb (450 grams) strawberries, sliced
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or more depending on the sweetness of the berries)
1 cup (240 ml) orange juice
In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the sugar over the sliced strawberries. Gently stir until dissolved and allow to macerate for 10-15 minutes to release the strawberry juices.
Take half of the sliced strawberries and process them in a food processor with the orange juice or blend the strawberries and orange juice together with a blender.
Spoon the whole sliced strawberries into the popsicle molds, dividing them evenly. Next, spoon the pureed strawberries into the molds, filling the molds until nearly to the top to allow room for expansion. Insert in the popsicle sticks and freeze for 4-6 hours, or until completely frozen.