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8.28.2014

And: FUDGESICLES

I have a child who is about to be two years old. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, but one thing I do not have a lot of thoughts about is a second birthday party. I could take it or leave it. For one thing, June doesn’t understand birthdays yet, so it doesn’t matter to her either way. Also, I am lazier than I let on. When your kid turns one, a party feels mandatory, because you kept a small human alive for an entire year and you survived it and bells must be energetically rung. Cake must be baked! BEERS MUST BE DRUNK! I am here to report, however, that a second birthday party feels much less urgent.


Still, it seems sad to not mark the occasion. My friend Natalie and I were talking about that sometime in July, because her Eero was born in early August and my June was born in early September and we were both feeling lukewarm on party planning. Then Natalie hatched an idea: we could throw a joint party. And: FUDGESICLES.



We split the difference in birthdates and threw the party in mid-August, inviting a bunch of friends to the park for a Sunday potluck lunch and popsicles. (I highly recommend, by the way, throwing kids’ parties in public parks, preferably ones that include playgrounds. That way, the kids can lose their minds on the slides and teeter-totters while the adults toss around frisbees, lie in the grass, whathaveyou. And: it’s FREE.) This particular park has a sloping lawn that points toward Puget Sound, and that morning, there was a dense fog hanging over the hill. We claimed a couple of picnic tables, hauled the coolers across the lawn, and hoped for sun. Natalie and Michael brought two big balloons, and I brought two strings of paper flags that Natalie made for Eero’s first birthday party last year and then bequeathed to me for June’s first birthday party a month later, after which my father-in-law carefully folded them into a Ziplock for safekeeping and I stashed them away in the kitchen closet, and now that I have typed all of this, I guess it could seem like a real bummer to reuse somebody else’s old party decorations?  I assure you, these are some really nice flags. We intend to use them until they fall apart.


Brandon and I bought a chickpea salad, a platter of tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, and a pile of blankets, and Natalie and Michael brought guacamole, Natalie’s famous cucumber dip, chips, water, and a croquet set. As our friends arrived, some with their own children and some without, they brought cheese and fresh fruit, lemon bars, noodle salad, Greek salad, so much food.


At at some point, I noticed that the fog had lifted and my child was running after a crow (GETTA BUHD! GETTA BUHD!) with a croquet mallet in her hand. Then somebody opened the coolers, and popsicles were happening.


We’d agreed that Natalie would make a batch of popsicles with stone fruit, and what she came up with was much more than that: peach with honey and chamomile. I made my usual raspberry yogurt pops (I cut the sugar back to ½ cup / 100 grams, though; not sure why I ever thought you’d need more than that) and, at Natalie’s suggestion, I made fudgesicles, too. She’d never had luck making them, she told me, and I’d never tried. But I like a challenge, or I sometimes like a challenge. I occasionally like a challenge. Anyway, I decided to work on a fudgesicle recipe.

There are a lot of them out there, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. It’s even fair to say that there’s a fudgesicle mini-craze going on right now: Food52, for instance, just ran a recipe for them. My goal was a chocolate popsicle that resembled, at least somewhat, the Jello pudding pops of my childhood. I wanted it to be silky, creamy, dense, and rich, and not even remotely icy, and I wanted the flavor to lean more toward chocolate than cocoa. What I wound up with posed almost no challenge at all, because it’s only a small tweak on Alton Brown’s recipe. (Thank you, Alton Brown.) It uses only five ingredients: chocolate, cream, milk, a small amount of cocoa, and vanilla extract. It also comes together in maybe 20 minutes.  As my aunt Tina, one of June’s namesakes, would have said, What’s not to like? June smelled like chocolate for the rest of the day, and secretly, I hoped she always would.


P.S. I am thrilled to announce that in late October, I will be teaching a four-day workshop on storytelling and personal narrative at the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute. I was a writing student at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute as a teenager, so I am beyond, beyond all number of emotions, to be teaching at Quartz Mountain myself. (!!!) The fee is $605 for in-state participants and $1,005 for out-of-state participants, including meals and lodging. Scholarships and discounts are available for Oklahoma educators and members of arts organizations.


Fudgesicles
Adapted from Alton Brown

You will note that there’s no sugar in this recipe, which means that you need to be thoughtful about the chocolate you use, because that’s what will bring sweetness. Brown calls only for "bittersweet chocolate," but when I tried using 70% cacao chocolate, which I think of as a pretty standard percentage for bittersweet, it made for a very bittersweet popsicle. More bitter than sweet. Brandon loved it, and June ate it, but it wasn’t really my thing. I like to combine two types of chocolate for this recipe: Valrhona “Jivara” 40% milk chocolate, and Valrhona “Manjari” 64% dark chocolate. I use four ounces, or 113 grams, of each. (Yes, they are wildly expensive! I know. We buy them in 3-kg bags at the restaurant, and I regularly steal some for my home use. I am a lucky bastard.) If you don’t want to shell out like that, Scharffen Berger also has a good 41% milk chocolate, and my guess is that it would blend nicely here with either the 62% semisweet or the 70% bittersweet. Whatever chocolate you choose, I wouldn’t recommend going above 64%, at the highest.

And as for popsicle molds, I use these.

8 ounces (225 grams) chocolate, ideally between 45% and 65% cacao
1 ½ cups (355 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
2 tablespoons (about 11 grams) unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Finely chop the chocolate, and put it in a medium bowl. (If you have a bowl with a pour spout, use that! Perfect.)

In a medium (2- to 3-quart) saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and cocoa. Whisk well to dissolve the cocoa, and bring just to a simmer, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat, let sit for a few seconds, and then pour it over the chocolate. Let stand undisturbed for 2 or 3 minutes; then whisk to combine well. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Divide between popsicle molds, and freeze until hard.

Yield: 8 to 10 popsicles, depending on the size of your molds.

8.18.2014

August 18

A couple of weekends ago, we packed up the better part of the restaurant kitchen, crammed it in the back of a pick-up, and drove two and a half hours east to cook an all-day anniversary party for a pair of longtime Delancey regulars.



We rented a big house along the Wenatchee River, about ten minutes from the property where the party was held, and we brought as many people as we could fit inside, including a set of 8-month-old twins and one almost-two-year-old June.




If you’ve ever been to Leavenworth in the summertime, you will remember how hot it gets. It hit 100 that weekend, and no one had air conditioning. The flies were out and biting. But the party guests were somehow still cheerful, playing lawn games, hula hooping, napping in the grass, clambering down the hill to cool off in the river.





Brandon and Co. got up at 6:30 to start smoking a billion pounds of brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder. Ricardo manned the smokers; Brandon and Ben and June ran errands; Amy drove to Idlewild Pizza to borrow their ice cream machine (thanks, Eric!) and churn twenty quarts of vanilla custard. At some point, Cody showed up, and Katie and Kyle and Michelle, and some Campari shandies. I got to sleep in(!) and read a decent chunk of a YA novel (that I, for the record, refuse to feel embarrassed about), and then June and I crashed the party and at least one of us ran around waving a half-eaten hot dog bun like a lunatic.


Actually, I shouldn’t call it crashing. The couple who threw the party had invited our staff to be a part of it, to sit down like everyone else and enjoy it. Of course, it’s hard to actually do that, and between running platters of food and bussing empty plates, we wound up perched on ice chests or leaning against the folding tables of our makeshift kitchen rather than sitting at the table they had set for us. But to have been included was something in itself, because that’s not standard protocol. When you work in a restaurant (or at a grocery store, or as a bank teller, etc. etc. etc.), if you do your job well, your work makes you invisible. Most often, we as customers only notice service when it’s really, really bad, because when it’s good, it feels effortless, natural, so subtle that you can’t really point to it. As customers, it can be easy to forget that someone is working hard to make us feel that way. So it means a tremendous amount to me, and to Brandon, and to all of us, I think, who have ever cooked and served, when we can get to know the people we are working for, and when we are included not only to work, but also to play. And now I am getting sappy.




In this case, they even called us over for a round of applause. WE HAVE LIVED THE DREAM.




Because it was so hot that weekend, the river was only cold enough to take your breath away for a minute (as opposed to permanently), and when I managed to ease myself in, I was rewarded with watching an otter swim by. We are having a summer. Hope you are, too.



7.22.2014

July 22

A month of summer gone already! I don’t want to think about it.

I rediscovered my Fuji Instax over the weekend and have been firing off shots like I were made of money. That’s another thing I’ve decided not to think about. I want June to have photo albums from her childhood - proper, three-dimensional albums! With the requisite wonky Polaroids! Like the olden days! Next up: suspenders and a paper route! - so I’m not allowed to fuss over the cost of film or the stupid, stupid, stupid flash that goes off whether I want it or not. Babies: they get your priorities straight. I appreciate that. Though I wouldn’t mind sleeping past 6:30 again someday. It seems like a small request.


So far this summer, the song I listen to more than any other is Neko Case’s "Guided by Wire." It feels especially right in the car, where I can turn it up loud and sing along. If it’s a really great day, it’s loud enough to make my ears hurt. Growing up in Oklahoma, I carefully avoided any music with a twang: it was what I was supposed to like, and that meant it was terrible. But I don’t have so much to prove anymore, or not in that way. I can say it now: some of my favorite songs have a twang. All of my favorite Neko Case songs have a twang. Long live the twang! Another good one is "Whip the Blankets," FYI. Very sexy.

Last month, I mentioned that I keep a dozen-ish favorite cookbooks on top of my fridge, and some of you asked me to tell you about them. You’re in luck. The good people at Serious Eats got me talking, and you can read all about my most beloved cookbooks (and see a picture of the ones on top of the fridge) over there.

Speaking of getting me talking, perhaps you’ve heard of the esteemed Christopher Kimball, the man behind Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen? I had the great pleasure - and anxiety; Kimball is big stuff - of talking with him about Delancey for America’s Test Kitchen Radio, and the interview aired in July 11th’s episode. To listen, go to America’s Test Kitchen Radio in iTunes, and look for the show titled, "How (Not) To Start a Pizzeria." Our conversation begins at 18:40 and runs for about 17 minutes.

Also:

I love Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s take on the spritz.

A couple of months ago, I read this New Yorker article about extreme cavers, something I knew nothing about, and it so consumed my attention that I sometimes forgot to breathe. The same thing goes for this more recent New Yorker article about the ordeal of the Chilean miners. Visceral storytelling, spectacular reporting.

My good friends Hannah and David created a website called the 1K Project. This month, they invited me to contribute a photograph, and David wrote a 1,000-word story from it.

Columbus, Ohio! I’m coming to you next month! I’m going to eat a totally immoderate quantity of Jeni’s Ice Creams! But most importantly, I’ll be at The Seasoned Farmhouse on August 25, reading from and talking about Delancey (and anything else you’d like to talk about) while we share a three-course meal. Join me for lunch or for dinner; both are ticketed, limited-capacity events.

Hope you’re having a great week.

7.11.2014

I promised

It hit 85 degrees in Seattle today, and here in our city of no air conditioning, that counts as a heat wave. I know: talking about the weather is boring, blah blah blah, but on a cloudless day in mid-July, the best one can hope for, I think, is to have nothing but the weather to talk about.


I come this evening, however, to talk about sour cherry milkshakes. I promised.


Most of us know sour cherries in their cooked form, as the kind of cherry that you bake into a pie. I didn’t know them at all until five summers ago, the summer of 2009, when we were about to open Delancey and I had no idea how to run a station in a professional kitchen, so our friend Renee invited me to hang out one evening at Boat Street Cafe and watch the way her kitchen worked. Renee has a sour cherry tree - Montmorency, I think - in her yard, and that afternoon, she had brought a brown paper grocery bag full of cherries. She probably sensed that I felt awkward just standing in the corner, that I would feel better being useful, so she put me to work pitting them. They were bright red, nearly translucent, and they felt like marble-sized water balloons, soft and full of juice. I could ease out the pit with my fingers, Renee showed me, by pulling on the stem with one hand and gently squeezing the cherry with the other, so that the pit slid out with the stem. While she and her cooks finished prepping for the evening, I pitted the bag of cherries, and while my hands were busy with that, I watched everyone bustle around. Later in the evening, Renee cooked the cherries into a quick jam, I think. To serve with pound cake, maybe? I can’t remember. But I do remember that that was the first I knew of sour cherries. (For that and many other things: THANK YOU, RENEE! Sorry I was grumpy and in Antisocial Work Mode when we ran into you at Barnacle the other day.)

Of course, all this said, we’ve now reached the part of the post where I have to admit that I don’t actually like the usual vehicle for sour cherry consumption, by which I mean cherry pie. I don’t like cooked cherries in general. I am not a real American. On the upside, I’ve discovered that I love raw sour cherries, particularly when they’re whizzed into a shake.







My friend (and Spilled Milk co-host) Matthew taught me about this recipe, which, like a lot of my favorite things to eat, is so simple that it hardly counts as a recipe. You take raw sour cherries and toss them into a blender, zizz them until they liquefy - I thought about typing “are pureed,” but really, they do liquefy; they’re that juicy - and then scoop in some vanilla ice cream and blend some more. That’s it. The result is thick and pale pink, flecked with pretty bits of red cherry skin.  When you take a sip, what registers first is the acidity of the fruit, a kind of light, almost sparkly cherry flavor, and then comes the sweetness, but not too-sweetness, of the ice cream. It was June’s first shake, and I decided not to tell her that it’s all downhill from here.


Sour Cherry Shake
From Hungry Monkey, by Matthew Amster-Burton

The season for sour cherries is short, and they can be hard to find. But keep an eye out: they’re small, bright red, and often labeled as Montmorency cherries. (Or, if they’re dark red, they’re probably the other main sour variety, morello.) You can pit them with a cherry pitter, or you can do it by hand: just pull gently on the stem with one hand while you gently squeeze the cherry with the other. Usually the pit will slip right out with the stem. Usually. (And if not, they’re still easy to pit by hand, tearing them open and pulling out the pit with your fingers. Be sure to do it over a bowl, so as not to lose any juice.) If you can’t get fresh sour cherries, Matthew says that jarred or canned sour cherries (note: not pie filling!) make a good substitute, and that the jarred morello cherries from Trader Joe’s are his favorite.

Oh, and don’t feel as though you have to have two full pounds of cherries on hand to make this recipe! Sour cherries are expensive! I get it. I only had about 12 ounces last weekend, myself, so I just scaled back accordingly, using about one and a half cups of ice cream. We wound up with three small shakes, perfect for an afternoon snack.

2 pounds (900 grams) fresh sour cherries, stemmed and pitted, or 24 ounces canned or jarred cherries, drained
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Put the cherries in a blender or food processor, and blend to a smooth puree. Add the ice cream, and continue to blend until the mixture is smooth and pale pink. Pour into four glasses, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 (12-ounce) shakes

7.06.2014

July 6

We spent half of last week on Lopez Island, staying with friends at the home of friends-of-friends, breaking in our sun hats, making buildings out of driftwood, wearing ourselves out so well that we were in bed before the light was gone, getting reacquainted with summer.



Despite the fact that I seem to have filled my life with a lot of work and obligations and businesses and whatnot, I am not someone who enjoys feeling busy. I do not like to feel busy at all. I also do not like to set goals. But my goal this summer is to have a lot of days like the ones we had on Lopez, summer days like the ones I had as a kid, or even during college summers, after work and on my days off: days with few plans, a lot of sunscreen, and the time and space for reading a new book or sitting on the curb or making a sour cherry milkshake because I had the cherries and, HOLLAAAA!!!, there was ice cream in the freezer. (More on that in the next post.)

I have, once again, been listening to a lot of Talking Heads. Especially the last five tracks on Sand in the Vaseline, Disc 2: (Nothing But) Flowers, Sax and Violins, Gangster of Love, Lifetime Piling Up, and Popsicle.  If the next couple of months follow this pattern, the summer of 2014 has a good chance of resembling the summer of 1998, when I was 19, working in the cheese section of a Whole Foods in Mill Valley, California, and in the early stages of my ongoing fascination-slash-obsession-slash-telepathic love affair with David Byrne. Except now, my clothes don’t smell constantly, nauseatingly, of Fontina.


I’ve also been enjoying the new podcast Death, Sex, & Money with Anna Sale. Nothing passes the time while one is unloading the dishwasher like a good story. This was the first episode I listened to, and I loved it. I also liked this one, with Jane Fonda.



Also, public service announcement: lavender essential oil on mosquito bites! Who knew? Everyone but me? I’m not saying it’s going to make them stop itching entirely, but it helps. If you, like me, find yourself suddenly with a half dozen mosquito bites on your left foot, it will keep you from wanting to tear off your entire leg. That’s something.

Happy Monday!
I’ll be back shortly with those milkshakes.


6.27.2014

June 27

Friday! It’s rainy here in Seattle, as it often is in June. I don’t mind, but I also wouldn’t mind being in a car on the road between Rome and who knows where in Italy, as I was on this day three years ago, when I went over for Luisa’s wedding.*



Let’s go there for a minute.


Maybe to a beach on the Adriatic. Ah.

Earlier this week, I drove to Spokane and back, which is absolutely nothing like a beach in Italy but is still beautiful in its way, and because I was driving alone, I listened to Girl Talk "All Day" very, very loud and did a lot of "dancing," by which I mean flapping my elbows wildly while attempting not to swerve out of my lane. I also listened to The New Yorker Out Loud podcast, which is terrific. Not only did the hours fly by, but I was so fired up by it that found myself attempting to jot notes on an old dry cleaning receipt that I found in the console, and despite the fact that jotting notes on old dry cleaning receipts is not an intelligent thing to do while driving, it felt great to have my brain throw off sparks like that. If your summers, like mine, often involve a decent amount of driving to various getaways (or book signings in Spokane), I highly recommend:

This episode on the rise of vegetarianism.

Or this episode on the Great American Novel.

Or this episode with Jeremy Denk on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which made me itch to listen to Glenn Gould’s performance when I got home.

In other news, I think I will now be a regular reader of Maria Konnikova’s blog.

Also on my list: as soon as it stops raining and the weather gets its act together and the mornings get too hot for hot coffee, I plan to try these two versions of a Shakerato.

I will also soon be making a batch of last summer’s staple: Rachel’s Zucchini with olive oil, garlic, and basil. I might even make it tonight.

I will also be trying to wrap my head around the fact that Delancey was chosen as one of the Amazon Editors’ Top 20 Best Books of the Year So Far. WHAAAAAAT


Last but not at all least, do you remember my mentioning that night in April when a group of bookish musicians called the Bushwick Book Club performed original songs inspired by A Homemade Life? It felt a little weird, I’ll admit, and also wonderful. I wound up grinning so long and so hard that I got a headache. The songs were brilliant, and I’m thrilled to report that my two favorites were later recorded - and that I get to share them with you. The first, "Slow Roast My Tomatoes," was written and performed by Debbie Miller, and the second, "Bread and Wine," was written and performed by Nick Foster and Jazmarae Beebe. I hope you like them as much as I do.



Happy weekend.

* For some reason, some of the photos in my post about Luisa’s wedding look low-res and blurry. They didn’t look that way when I uploaded them three years ago. No idea.

6.23.2014

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.

1 generous pound (about 500 grams) fresh strawberries, rinsed
2/3 cup (130 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons kirsch or vodka (optional)
1 cup (240 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice

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.