The last three days, I think I’ve been on my first faux-cation. That’s right. A vacation that’s not real. It’s not like I’m actually even on vacation but just not going anywhere, which is a staycation. I’m not on one of those. I just emerged from one of the more intense periods of work I’ve ever experienced, culminating in a hugely successful film festival. It was fun in that mind-bending, 17-hour work day sort of way, ya know? Rewarding, exhilarating, but exhausting. And since we wrapped up late on Sunday night, it has been nearly impossible to force myself to do ANY activity that remotely resembles work: putting dishes in the dishwasher, cooking at all (seriously, I feel like I’m at the beach, we’ve been eating at restaurants with patios to take advantage of the nice weather), grocery shopping, nothing. Each time I’ve tried to get something done, I drift into daydreams of real beach vacations, lazy days in the sun, and the slower pace that simply MUST be coming soon.
But I miss you guys. I miss testing recipes, playing with food, editing photos, and writing to you. So I finally got myself back on track, though admittedly, the “recipe” that follows is vacation-inspired, and possible even in a stress-triggered faux-cation.
I made some dang strawberry ice.
Why? Because summer is coming, which brings lemonade. And strawberry lemonade is the best lemonade, and hiding strawberries in ice cubes seemed like fun! It’s an easy, splashy way to step up your beverage game at summer cookouts and spring brunches. And all you need to make it is ice, sugar, water, and your favorite ice cube tray.
Now I know what you’re thinking: why do I need to add sugar to strawberries that are going to be in an ice cube? Aren’t they sweet enough already? And the truth is yes, they probably are. But adding just a little bit of sugar to fresh-cut berries will allow their juices to release, providing a slurry of perfectly sweet strawberry juice in every ice cube. It will be the first thing to melt when added to your drink, giving an instant strawberry surge to your lemonade, sparkling water, or other favorite beverage.
The strawberries are divided into the cubes and then topped off with water (obviously). I froze mine overnight, but if you have small ice cube trays and a killer freezer, you might be able to get away with a shorter period of time.
And then, you have ice! Scarlet-studded gems of just a bit of sweet and just a lot of fruit. They will freeze solid, but may be a bit sticky (sugar doesn’t freeze) on the outsides. Admittedly, I think I was prepping the photo above just before Kevin Ware’s leg broke, and I got a bit distracted. Hence the puddles. So I promise they won’t melt immediately, but once they’re out of the tray, into the drinks they should go.
On vacations and faux-cations for all.
Adapted unabashedly from Joy the Baker
1 pint fresh strawberries
2 T granulated sugar
Slice strawberries into small pieces and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and stir gently with a spoon. Set aside in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to allow berries to release their juices. Spoon berries into an ice cube tray, evenly distributing them until used up, filling each cavity about 3/4 full. Add water to tray until each cavity is full. Freeze overnight.
Use cubes to chill lemonade, sparkling water, or any other strawberry-worthy cold beverage.