Finally! Finally!!! I don't care how many exclamation points I use for these two words, because they are well deserved. Finally, warmth has come to Edmonton. And we seemed to have completely skipped over spring, going to straight to summer, which, to be perfectly honest, that is absolutely fine with me. So to celebrate, the first thing I got out was my trusty popsicle maker.
Oh popsicles, I have missed you! There is something so innocent and happy about a icy cold popsicle that takes you right back to childhood and memories of running after the ice candy man and begging the parents for an extra two rupees on the way to school, so we could splurge on a bright, artificially coloured ice candy, after a hard school's day, that turned our tongues a blazing red or orange and put us on a sugar high for the rest of the evening. Or every day after school, when we would head into this tiny 'goodangadi' or corner shop, conveniently located right outside the school gates and buy ourselves a tasty, chilled freezie for 50 paise (less than a half a penny) that we would then suck on all the way back home.
Of course, mother dearest would be horrified and threaten us with all sorts of dire consequences if we spoiled our appetite for dinner, notwithstanding all the diseases we would get from the contaminated water. But we were young and our immune systems were healthy and that was all that mattered when it came to these tastes of childhood.
And then one grows up, and the tastes of childhood fade back into hazy memories. One of the reasons I keep up with this site, despite numerous time pressures, is because every time I make a meal or dish from my childhood, it reminds me of all those old memories that I cherish and love and my nostalgia translates into the writing on The Tiffin Box.
That said, the recipe that I am posting today has a completely different context to it, and is the taste of my twenties (gah, old, old me...)
I moved to England in my very early twenties, to work on my PhD. I was lucky enough to be funded, but I was also heading on a new adventure, all alone, away from my family, my close friends, my country and my continent, even. It was with trepidation that I packed my (overweight, of course, I am Indian) suitcase, crammed full of huge sweaters and giant winter coats (yep, no fashion sense either) and landed at Heathrow with a head full of Enid Blyton-esqe dreams. The reality of living in London was hard at first, and it was certainly an adjustment from India, but I was young and life stretched full of possibility and wonder.
I also met Kay in the first week of being in London and we started dating soon after :) This certainly eased my transition into the Western world and I loved being independent and was lucky enough to make some wonderful friends, some of whom I still keep in touch with.
British food, on the other hand, I took to very easily :) Even though I was introduced to fish and chips by my Ethiopian flatmate, Mexican food via the Scottish one, and Japanese food with the Italian... every new cuisine I tried was a revelation and I was hooked from day one. Living in London, different kinds of ethnic cuisine were just a tube ride away, and I revelled in the freedom of not eating Indian food everyday and was super excited every time I went for new types of food.
At the same time, I was also being introduced to alcohol as well :)
While we did surreptitiously drink in India, be it the odd beer here, a couple sips from Dad's vodka there, a few rums and cokes at weddings (easily disguised as cokes, you see :)), women drinking in India wasn't generally encouraged. I had my first chilled glass of white wine at my Italian friend D's house, and that was another experience I took to (rather too) easily.
But it was when I had my first Pimm's Cup at our friends A and C's garden party that I was truly in British cocktail heaven. For those of you who have never heard of Pimm's, its a gin-based liqueur and is traditionally served at English garden parties (or pretty much anytime during the very short British summer). A Pimm's Cup is traditionally made with Pimm's and either ginger beer or lemonade, and served in large jugs filled with an assortment of fruit, including cucumbers. This refreshing, delicious concoction goes down eeeeeeeeeassssyyyy... and as soon as summer shows up here, my Pimm's is brought out almost straightaway, and its definitely my drink of choice, not least because of all its associated memories of my adopted homelands.
Following the success of my Mojito Popsicles last year, I was encouraged to try out this amazing drink in popsicle form. And once I succeeded in my task, I honestly have no idea why on earth I didn't think of this brilliant way to serve up Pimm's either. These popsicles were Amazing... with a capita A! I flattened ginger ale (couldn't find good ginger beer here, unfortunately) and prepared Pimm's for freezing by boiling away some of the alcohol, then filled up molds full of fresh fruit. I then poured in the ginger ale, added a titch of mint syrup, topped with Pimm's and I can only say, this for me, was a very special twist on this great British classic. I just honestly couldn't get enough of these, and I had to keep reminding myself that they are still quite boozy, but the flavour was as close to the traditional Pimm's Cup that I just couldn't resist. Of course you can play with the combination of flavours all the time. All I can say is that this summer is going to be a good one, haha!
And of course, these are deliciously, wickedly adult too. Sometimes that can add a great deal of enjoyment to a childhood favourite as well.
Here's to the summer, and enjoy!
Makes about 10 Pimmsicles, depending on the size of your molds
1 1/2 cups Pimms No. 1 (375 ml)
2 cups ginger beer or ginger ale (500 ml), flattened (leave open overnight in your fridge)
2 tablespoons mint-infused sugar syrup (see recipe here)
Place the Pimms in a heavy saucepan, and bring to the boil. When boiling, time it for exactly 2 minutes, then take off the heat and pour into a heatproof container. Let cool.
Stir the mint syrup into the flattened ginger ale.
Peel and thinly slice the kiwifruit into rounds. Wash and slice the cucumber into rounds, as well (don't bother peeling it). Hull and slice the strawberries.
Gently place a slice of kiwifruit or cucumber or strawberries, or all three, in each of the popsicle molds. Pour in the mint-ginger ale mixture so that it fills up about two thirds of the mold. Then pour in the prepared Pimms, leaving a little space at the top, and stir very gently, so the mixture stays two toned.
Top with popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.
Run lukewarm water over the popsicles to unmold and enjoy!