Thursday, August 18, 2011

Watermelon and Lime- Ice Pops and Aqua Fresca

It's not often that flowers inspire something to eat but when I picked up these flowers and starting shaping this arrangement I realized how much I love the colors of watermelon and lime together. They are both cheery as well as refreshing and cool. The more I thought about it, the more my mouth watered.

Since there doesn't seem to be an end in sight yet to the hot weather, I've decided to keep focusing on recipes that will help cool us off. Watermelon and lime are two perfect examples of fruit that do that well.

So here is a recipe that makes a wonderful ice pop as well as a refreshing and tasty drink over ice.

Watermelon and Lime Ice Pops
Watermelon and Lime Ice Pops

Forget the store bought who knows what is in them type popsicles and look no further than your produce department to make your own ice pops.


*  About 4 cups of fresh watermelon
   (I left the seeds in)

*  Juice of one lime

*  A big squeeze of Agave Nectar
   (maybe 1- 2 Tbsp) depending on        the sweetness of the melon you         have

*  1/4 cup water (optional)

*   Pinch of sea salt

Blend all in a blender and pour into mold

Using the molds pictured, I filled almost to the top, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top for expansion. This keeps the liquid from sticking to the top.

I placed the top in place and let the pops freeze for about 2 hours.

Then I placed the sticks into the mold. This keeps the sticks from either floating up or sinking all the way to the bottom.

I chose to use the kind of molds with sticks, as opposed to the ones with the plastic sticks so that I could remove from mold when done, store and reuse the molds.

After frozen solid, let thaw a few minutes and pull from molds.

Now if you don't want to freeze this into pops, you can just pour it over ice and enjoy it as

Watermelon and Lime Aqua Fresca


Monday, August 8, 2011

Mountain Getaway and Fresh Peach Ice Pops!

Our Cabin in the Woods
We were actually just on vacation! We decided to escape the heat of the California desert and head up into the mountains. So here we were in Big Bear Lake, California where we had made a little log cabin in the woods, our home away from home. Up here at an elevation of around 7,000 feet the weather is cooler, the pine air is refreshing and the nights are just plain lovely.

Heirloom Tomatoes
Our first stop upon arrival was to hit up the local Tuesday Farmer's Market. We made it about an hour before closing time and managed to scurry around and buy some wonderful produce from the local farmers. This particular market is interesting in that they make all the farmers submit photos of their actual farms for their website. "No fakers here" being their motto. All farmers are from within a one hundred mile radius and most from the high desert region.

We met a woman who had a tomato stand- just tomatoes and a few different peppers. She had so many kinds and an absolutely gorgeous selection of heirlooms. She gave us a sample of one of her red tomatoes and it literally melted in my mouth- amazing!

We picked out some wonderful varieties and I knew even before we got in the car that we should have bought a lot more tomatoes!  We also picked up fresh peaches, grapes, seeded watermelon, apricots, fresh lettuces, lemons, limes, and berries. There was also a french gentleman selling his wife's fresh bread. We actually bought some wheat rolls for Rich to make tomato sandwiches- his favorite snack. The only ingredients with these were wheat, salt and yeast- hmmm. Very light and airy.

 I Love Farmer's Markets!!
I love to talk to the farmers, hear their stories and learn about the food. So very interesting!

Mon Chapeau Neuf
I kept seeing these fabulous hats wandering around me and I had to track down where they were coming from. A lovely gal had a booth with hats that she had made by hand. They are a little oversized, rumpled and indestructible and with the big flowers and lace bands they really spoke to the romantic in me. She had several different fun colors making it hard to decide. I went with the more neutral shade and donned it immediately. So glad I did! I love it!

So vibrant and colorful- Doesn't it make your mouth water?
Our next stop, since our cabin was not ready was to hit up a local restaurant called BLT's, sporting an outside deck for dogs and their owners. Lili was very happy sitting under the table watching the other dogs under their tables. They even had a portion of the menu for dogs that included things like chicken and kibbles, hot dog and kibbles, burger and kibbles, you get the picture.

For people they had the most amazing fresh Signature Salad, one of the few places around that included more than just lettuce, meat and cheese in their salads and believe me I read a lot of menus before we headed up.

This salad had five varieties of fresh lettuce and another five varieties of fresh fruit plus a sprinkling of walnuts and a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette- Delicious!

So after getting settled into the cabin which was adorable by the way, I decided to make something cool and refreshing to go along with the cool and refreshing theme of our trip. I put those little fresh peaches from the market to good use.

Fresh Peach Ice Pops
Nothing like fresh ripe peaches!

Last year we went the whole season with never having a ripe peach! We bought lots of them but they were always hard and unflavorful, and never ripened. This year we have been fortunate that Trader Joe's has been selling crates of local fresh peaches. A peach should smell ripe at the time you buy them. They should have that lovely peach aroma at the stem. If you buy at farmer's markets they will usually let you sample one. Our local market closes for the summer due to the heat but this farmer up here in Big Bear let us just eat one to test and they were delicious!

Ice Pop Ingredients- Peaches, Honey and a little water and some pop molds
Peach Ice Pops

Blend up some ripe peaches
Add in a touch of water to get things moving in the blender
Sweeten to taste with a mild honey or agave
(My honey turned out to be not so mild and overtook the flavor of the peaches.
 I ended up making them again with a light agave and it was much better!!)

 Pour into molds


I promised to keep it real with this blog and tell you even the not so good results and tips and tricks that I learn along the way. This little experiment was a good example of this. Not sure if my raw honey turned on me but it took on a strange flavor with my recipes this week. I ended up remaking these with agave and they were wonderful! 

I will need to hunt down a local raw honey vendor, since out farmer's market is gone for the summer. Local honey is always best as it is kind of like gradually vaccinating the body against local allergens, a process called immunotherapy- like allergy shots.  Stay tuned for more on this adventure.

Another not so great item for these ice pops was the molds. I do not recommend the ones pictured here at all! They were some cheapies I got at Target or Walmart, I can't remember which but I was so frustrated with them either not coming out of the mold or just the sticks coming out, or them coming half way out leaving the other half to be washed down the drain that I ended up "donating" them to the cabin when we left. I have ordered some new molds and will let you know how those work out with a new recipe that I am dying to try out when they arrive. 


Here are some pictures from around town:

I just adore hollyhocks

 and they were everywhere.

So pretty!

Daisies always make me smile!

I also love American flags.

We got a kick out of these chairs out in front of a pub.

Next Post: We head out hiking, picnicking and exploring around Big Bear Lake but only after setting out the sun tea!


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