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I can’t remember the last time I swung on a swing set.
I can’t remember the last time I ran barefoot through the grass.
I can’t remember the last time I spun around in circles for the explicit purpose of making myself so dizzy I’d fall down.
Summer isn’t the same as it was when I was a kid. Back then, it meant freedom. Back then, it meant going to a different park every day of the week. Back then, it meant digging holes in the sand looking for sand crabs at the beach.
Today, summer seems to pass by in a sticky, hot blur. I go to the office instead of the park. I dig my way through a filing cabinet instead of a pile of wet sand. Summer “freedom” in the traditional sense of the word doesn’t exist any more — at least not in the way that it used to.
So I look for other ways to enjoy the summer. I eat ripe nectarines over the sink, letting the juices dribble down my chin without regard to my physical appearance. I paint my toes an offensive shade of neon pink and wear multi-colored sundresses that clash with everything.
And I make popsicles.
There’s something oddly contradictory about making popsicles. It feels grown-up to be creating something so readily available by scratch, but at the same time, also a bit like child’s play. The flavors — in this case, honeydew and lime — are clearly meant for adults. They leave a tart and tangy impression on the tongue that would make most children cringe with displeasure. To my more mature tongue, it tastes like a delightful non-alcoholic frozen cocktail begging for a shot of tequila and salt shaker.
This is a good thing.
The process of making the popsicles, however, is easy enough that a child could do it. With the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer Juicer Attachment, juicing four limes is a breeze. When set to stirring speed 6, the juicer efficiently squeezes out every drop of limey liquid, and the strainer beneath catches the stray seeds and pulp before it empties into a bowl underneath.
Again, child’s play.
The lime juice is then blended with chunks of ripe honeydew melon and a simple syrup made from fine sugar and water, and then poured into popsicle holders. I like using neon pink star-shaped ones that match my offensive toenails. I also like using a tea pot rather than a funnel to deposit the slushy puree into the holders.
And then, when all is said and done, I like to slurp them, one-by-one, as though I am trying to suck summer out of each sticky bite. I let the juices run onto my sundress. I eat them so fast I get an ice cream headache. And I close my eyes and imagine that I am experiencing summer just like I did when I was a kid.
It feels good. It feels… like freedom.
Honeydew Lime Popsicles
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2004
Yield 6 to 10 popsicles
¼ cup superfine sugar or regular granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 (3 ½-lb) ripe honeydew melon, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
Special equipment: 6 to 10 Popsicle molds and sticks
Dissolve sugar in water by stirring if using superfine or by heating in a small heavy saucepan if using regular granulated (then cool).
Blend half of melon and half of lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add syrup and remaining melon and lime juice and puree until smooth. Force puree through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-quart glass measure or bowl, pressing on solids and then discarding them. (I skipped the sieve step.)
Pour mixture into molds and freeze until slushy, about 2 hours.
Insert sticks, then freeze popsicles until completely hardened, at least 6 hours.