Strawberry lemonade popsicles

Strawberry lemonade popsicle

This is the popsicle I was looking for. This is a popsicle everyone in my house likes. It’s not like anything I can buy in a store, it’s easy, and it’s worth the time spent making it from scratch.

I started with Fany Gerson’s Strawberry Ice Pop recipe and experimented until suddenly what I was eating — and what everyone around me was wolfing down — was a definitely a strawberry lemonade popsicle.

Strawberry lemonade popsicles

  • 4 cups fresh strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • juice of one big, juicy lemon

Stir the superfine sugar into the water until it dissolves. (It is worth looking for superfine sugar, because it dissolves so easily. If you can’t find it, you can always heat the water and the same amount of regular sugar together on the stovetop in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Then let the sugar water cool down before continuing.)

Blend the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar water thoroughly. Taste the mixture. When it freezes it will taste less sweet. Now is the time to mix up more sugar water and add it if you think the mixture needs it.

When it tastes good to you, pour it into popsicle molds and freeze.

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Update (August 7, 2013): My favorite strawberries to use are sweet, in-season Chandlers. I just made this recipe with tart end-of-the-season berries and had to use 1 cup of water and 1-1/4 cups of superfine sugar.

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Read-Aloud Handbook 6
The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition by Jim Trelease

I read The Read-Aloud Handbook when my son was a baby, and it made a big difference in how I approached reading with him. First of all, we dove right in with reading board and cloth books, even though he didn’t understand them. I liked them, and he liked sitting on my lap, looking at and touching things. We’d snuggle up multiple times a day and pass some of our slow-moving time reading through stacks of chunky books. I got him involved in turning the pages by wiggling them until he grabbed them. Eventually he started turning them on his own. Now, in his twos, we still read board books, but we also read longer paper picture books, too. He’ll sit still for stacks of them, asking for them one after the other.

Trelease says as boys get older, it’s easy for reading to start to seem like a “girl” thing.  Sometimes moms and teachers are surprised when the boys in their lives don’t love the same books they used to when they were little girls, and it can be hard to be accepting of gross-out books or comic books or magazines. Still, letting boys read the books they’re interested in is key. Trelease also says boys respond particularly well to meter and rhyme — not something I remember being drawn to in kids’ books, myself.

On my own, I probably would not have gone this direction, but now when we see rhyming books about construction vehicles or rockets, we snap them up. My son loves them. I also look for all the books I can find on the topics he’s interested in, rhyming or not. (We have quite a construction vehicle book collection.) And if he seems especially interested in a book when we’re in a bookstore — even if it looks a little boring to me — we get it.

I buy books I like, too, though, and I also buy stretch books — books about holidays or important people or subjects I want to explore together. We look at them together at his pace about five times over the course of a week or two, and we stop when he wants to move on. He usually gets into them, and starts asking for them on his own.

Read-Aloud Handbook 2

At the end of The Read-Aloud Handbook, you’ll find a long, long list (maybe a third of the book long) of highly recommended books for kids at different ages and with different interests.

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Note: I’m linking to the Seventh Edition, but the copy I have — which is in the pictures above — is the Sixth Edition.

We don’t read books before bed (if I can help it)

Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic’s I’m Tired of Reading Out Loud to My Son, O.K.? surprised me. I get that people have different taste, but reading reading picture books with my kid is one of my favorite things to do. Dreading it seems… hard to understand.

But then I realized Lucianovic is talking about reading before bed. Yeah, I don’t like that either.

I’ve only parented one toddler, so I don’t know if what works for us would work for everyone, but around here we read during the day. We get out our books when we need some sync-up time — when I want to snuggle up with my son and calm him down, or when he seems to want my attention in general. If we have a big day planned, I try to read with him for about twenty minutes after breakfast, after he’s dressed, and before we head out the door. It’s a good way to feel connected after nudging him through the morning and before we get in the car and start driving. Sometimes we’ll read after nap time before Gavin gets home from work.

By bedtime, though, I’m exhausted. What energy I have left is for helping him toward sleep as smoothly as possible. I can’t spend it making hippo voices or being excited about…well, pretty much anything.

Daytime. That’s the time to read books.

And we only read books we both like. That’s what works for us — so far, at least.

Our favorite salad dressing

Salad dressing 3

If we serve you salad at our house, chances are good that this is the dressing that will be on it. It’s basically the dressing from this Endive and Apple Salad recipe on Epicurious.

Our favorite salad dressing

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Shake together in a mason jar. This amount of dressing lasts for at least four salads in our house. We store the extra in the refrigerator and, since olive oil solidifies in the fridge, we thaw it out each time in a bowl of warm water while assembling the salad.

Fish in foil and broiled tomatoes for dinner

Whole fish in foil 6
Whole fish in foil

  • Whole fish, butterflied with heads and tails on. We usually use trout, but I think this could work with any white meat whole fish you could wrap up in foil. This time we went with some sort of hybrid bass at Santa Monica Seafood that little one pointed at. (Maybe it was this one.) For trout, we usually make one per person. For bigger fish, you can just cook one and put it on a serving platter.
  • Rosemary
  • Organic lemon, sliced
  • Olive or other oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush the foil with oil. Lay the fish on the foil. Salt and pepper the inside of the fish, and lay a stalk of rosemary inside the fish. Close the fish. Put lemon slices and rosemary on top of the fish. Close the foil to make a sealed packet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish’s flesh flakes. (Twenty minutes seems to be a pretty consistant cooking time for us, regardless of the size of the fish.)

It’s especially nice to serve this with good bread for dipping in the sauce.

Broiled heirloom tomatoes 1

Tomatoes with Asiago Cheese and Fresh Herbs (click for the recipe)

Wanting

Toddlers and desire 1
The other day at the aquarium, little one wanted this truck. It was in an outdoor gift shop — the kind with no doors or walls.

We had just bought a plastic penguin about thirty minutes ago inside, so I didn’t even bend down to look at it. We moved along (under protest) to the shark touch tanks and the penguins and the submarine movie. But he was so sad and so out of sorts. I chalked it up to being hungry or overtired. “Want to go back outside!” he told me, after we left the submarine movie early. Thinking he wanted to see the touch tanks again, I carried him out, but as soon as his feet touched the ground, he ran to this truck. This time, I bent down to look at it with him. I was going to sympathize about how much he wanted it and how hard it was not to get it. But as soon as I saw it at eye level, I realized how cool it was.

If I was two and loved trucks, I would want it so badly. I actually kind of wanted it myself. You fill up the truck tank with water and the fish can FLOAT in the tank. And there’s a submarine that floats in the tank with them.

So we got it. And then the morning was easy. He wasn’t overtired. He wasn’t hungry. He wanted a plastic penguin and he really wanted an aquarium tanker truck, and that was that.

When he picks out his own toys, he chooses things I would not have picked out myself. And he loves them. He doesn’t play with them once or twice and forget about them — he plays with them over and over and searches them out in our house and talks about them. Sometimes if he’s watching a video of a particular kind of truck working, he’ll find the toy version of that truck and try to copy what it’s doing on the couch or our patio table. It seems like he is collecting little models of the things he wants to learn about, and then works really hard to try to get them to do what he sees them do in real life.

The point I’m trying to make, though, is that he knows what he wants. And he’s right. He doesn’t just have a million flickering whims that come and go. He has desire — focused and lasting.

Sometimes — like yesterday — I hear a voice in my head saying, “I don’t want him to be spoiled. He has to learn…” But I never know what exactly it is that he “has to learn” because that phrase — even though it runs through my head — it isn’t really mine. It isn’t really what I think, when I think about it. What does he have to learn? That he’s powerless? That he can’t have what he wants? That even though I could easily help him get what he wants, I just don’t feel like it and don’t care about how urgent and important it feels to him? I want him to have an appetite. I want him to follow his desires. I want him to yearn and to be satisfied, over and over. I want him to reach, to ask, to try. I want him to play with his models of the real world.

And maybe part of me wants to play with them, too.