Berry Coconut Freezer Pops

Here we are at the tail end of the school year and I can tell you that I have been learning a lot lately. Take this week for example: I learned not to skip adding the potatoes to the skillet when roasting a chicken because the oven will become a grease covered, smoky mess. Coincidentally, I also learned how to clean my oven (steam cycle!) I learned that you can only say “yes” so many times before you have to say “no” to keep your sanity in check. Also, it is much harder to say “no” after initially saying “yes”. So hard! I’m also learning how to stand, which sounds even crazier than the first two, but while at a Pilates class, the instructor reminded us all to stand equally on both feet and not to lock our knees (room for air between the joints). This is called “active standing”. Locking the knees is called “passive standing” and I realized that I stand that way all the time. No wonder my hip joints and back hurt. So yes – I am learning how to stand. Lastly, I am learning how to create meals using what I have on hand and this is the most exciting of all the lessons. School is in session!

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I started volunteering at a cooking school down the street from us and one of the classes was called “Cooking by the Seat of your Pants” by Becky Selengut. I have basically talked about this class nonstop since that night. It was was one of those aha moments. She talked about how to taste food a

nd the different ingredients needed to make balanced food, which is the most satisfying. The food made in class contained ingredients she had on hand and she didn’t use any recipes. This is my dream way to cook.

When I started out cooking a few years ago, I didn’t know how to roast a vegetable and had to Google search EVERYTHING. I didn’t know how to cook a pork chop or what tarragon tasted like. I can’t even tell you how many times the smoke alarm went off while I was cooking. So, I’ve spent the majority of my energy on learning how to cook and keeping the seasonings to salt, pepper and olive oil. I also use recipes religiously. But after listening to Becky and hearing the different ingredients needed to create all these different flavors, I realized that I had all of them sitting in my cupboards. What I don’t have is the experience to put them together in satisfying interesting ways…..yet.

Which brings me to the other thing that I learned from Becky. Curry is one of those dishes that you can make using a variety of leftover vegetables and proteins. According to Becky, coconut milk and curry paste will be your best friend on a busy Wednesday night. Well, I have a real soft spot for curry and now seem to not be able to go a week without whipping up a pot. This week I didn’t use the whole can of coconut milk (another lesson I learned – don’t skimp on the coconut milk!) but no matter – I had another concoction in mind for the remaining.

Unlike curry, popsicles are one of the foods I have made quite often. chocolate pops,  smoothie pops, vanilla pudding pops – pretty much any recipe I see. We have had blue skies and sunshine this last week and I had my first after school request for a popsicle. I basically ran into the kitchen to comply and I encourage you to do the same. The coconut milk is sweet, smooth and creamy and the berries add that tart contrast that is irresistible.

Berry Coconut Freezer Pops

This recipe is so quick and versatile! Feel free to substitute any combination of frozen or fresh berries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups organic strawberries, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups organic blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus 2 tablespoons for coconut milk if layering popsicles)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk

Directions:

This recipe made 8 popsicles. Fill each mold half full of coconut milk and set aside. Combine berries, water, sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Warm on medium-low, stirring and crushing fruit occasionally. Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for a couple of minutes. I used a potato masher to really smooth out the fruit but you could keep the chunks. Pour mixture into a glass measuring cup and gently pour over the coconut milk to fill the molds the rest of the way.  Take a knife and gently swirl the two flavors together. Freeze for an hour and then add popsicle sticks. Continue freezing until firm (3-4 hours more). Enjoy!

Directions for layered popsicle:

In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the coconut milk and stir to combine. Divide equally among the popsicle molds. Continue as above. Omit swirling with knife.

 

Blackberries with Whipped Cream

My childhood best friend lived on a gravel road just outside town. Baby kittens, Nintendo, and a rope swing made her house one of my favorite places to be. But the real kicker was the garden. It was glorious! Tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and the raspberry bushes were my favorite. The garden stretched on and took up most of the front yard. Perfectly straight lines, with each plant given exactly what it needed.  Abi’s mom would ask us to go out and bring in the goodies but I would probably eat more than I carried inside. Plucking ripe berries off the bush and crushing them into my mouth one by one, I would scour the bushes, leaving none behind.

As an adult, I still get that same joy of finding the summer-ripe berries, eager to be picked.  This time of year, wild blackberries are exploding all over Seattle. I went to a local park last week and picked some while my kid’s played at the baseball field with a ball that happened to be left at home plate. Lucky us!

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I like to keep berries simple, just a little sugar and whipped cream. My dad remembers eating fresh berries covered in cream as a child, and I couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy them myself.

The cream is whipped thick with a touch of added vanilla. I wanted the berries to be slightly sweet so I sprinkled granulated sugar on top and let it sit a bit to create its own sweet juice. I think you could eat this for breakfast or dessert, whichever you choose.

I hope you are all enjoying the sweet rewards of summer, too!

xoxo,

Rachel

Blackberries with Whipped Cream

To make the whipped cream, make sure to buy the highest quality of whipping cream you can find. You want the ingredient list to be only “cream”. I used Smith Brothers here in Seattle.

Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Place the bowl and whisk of the stand mixer in the refrigerator or freezer. Wash and rinse berries in a colander and pat dry. Pour into a small bowl and sprinkle sugar over berries. Let sit for 20 minutes, and stir gently. The berries will release some of their juices and a bit of syrup will pool at the bottom of the bowl. This is good!

Once the berries are almost ready remove the bowl and whisk from the refrigerator and pour the cold cream and the vanilla into the mixer bowl. Whisk on medium high (5 or 6 on a stand mixer) for 5-6 minutes, until firm peaks form. Watch closely! I processed mine a bit too far the first time and it turned to butter!

Give the berries a stir to incorporate the syrup at the bottom of the bowl and divide into 2 bowls. Top with whipped cream and serve immediately.