It’s been two months since I told you I was California dreaming and I fear it hasn’t passed. I thought maybe I just longed for warmer weather, but spring has more or less arrived and I no less crave avocados that don’t require a week of hovering to capture their narrow window of edibility. I thought maybe I just needed a vacation, but we took a short one and I still found myself looking at photos from a certain large music festival in the Coachella Valley and thinking it looked kind of fun. (WHO AM I.) And last month, I went down a date shake rabbit hole and I haven’t come out since. At least these we can easily make at home.
Ice Cream/Sorbet Archive
At the outset of this summer, I had only a few things on my agenda: a baby (check!), a garden (check!, but oof*) and as many frozen desserts that do not require an ice cream maker as possible. And sure, from toasted marshmallow milkshakes to swirled berry yogurt (breakfast) popsicles, saltine crack ice cream sandwiches, strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie and raspberry crushed ice, it’s been a good time. But as summer isn’t over, I’m not done yet either.
Among frozen summer desserts, granitas are a hard sell, not matter how you rename them. A coarse, grainy sorbet, they’re the shaved ice of the Italian food world. Sure, they’re insanely refreshing, require no churning and are probably the kind of thing you ought to be cooling off with on a very hot day, but who’d choose them over hot fudge sundae cakes, toasted marshmallow milkshakes, saltine crack ice cream sandwiches or key lime pie popsicles? Nobody we’re going to be friends with, for sure.
Sure, there’s nothing glamorous about carrying a watermelon, so to speak, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I rather enjoy many parts of being pregnant. For example, you get to wear elastic-waist pants all the time. Your hair gets really thick and shiny; I mean, sure, it doesn’t last but if this is as close as I’m going to get in my lifetime to my Pantene Moment, you’d better believe I’m going to revel in it. It’s so very wrong, but I even secretly enjoy the soft bigotry of low expectations as literally nothing I admit — that I’ve been only swimming two times a week instead of three recently, that if I cook dinner twice a week, it’s a triumph, etc. — is met with less than “Go you! That’s amazing!” I even delight in watching people’s expressions change to borderline-panic on the street as they realize this rather normal-looking woman approaching them is, in fact, colossal when viewed from the side.
There are cookbooks and websites that seem to be inspired mostly by foods one might hypothetically desire after consuming a smokable plant now decriminalized in dozens of states. Then there’s the Smitten Kitchen, where recipes are mostly motivated by irrational cravings or failures of self-control. Days like this, I’m pretty sure our disparate paths have led us to the same place.
Almost exactly 5 years ago, in celebration us both signing contracts to write cookbooks, I met a friend* for lunch at a burger joint called The Stand on East 12th Street, and we finished the meal with something the menu declared a toasted marshmallow milkshake. I don’t remember a thing about the burger, but I do know that pretty much every conversation I had in the weeks that followed went like this: “The weather is so nice today!” “It would be perfect for a toasted marshmallow milkshake, don’t you think?” “How is your son sleeping these days?” “Did I tell you about this toasted marshmallow milkshake I had? Let me tell you about this toasted marshmallow milkshake I had.” “Can you believe this Deepwater Horizon mess?” “Toasted marshmallow milkshake, toasted marshmallow milkshake toasted marshmallow milkshake.” You could argue it had some impact on me.
The problem, if there could be one, is that if a 30-something with a kid out of diapers ever says to a group of people, “I have news!” certain presumptions are made. So, to quell any wild ideas before they take off, no, this is not that kind of news. I’m sorry; we’re bummed too.