Rum Roasted Strawberry Milkshakes
A few weeks ago I had a delicious and healthy strawberry "shake" at Juice Press. It was actually a half bottle designed to entice little yogis who are hopefully not on juice cleanses but do need a snack. As soon as I took a sip something magical happened. It tasted like red gingham aprons and open fields filled with clean winds and wildflowers. Yes, it was that good. It reminded me of when I was little. Simple, sweet strawberries. The cycle of seasons syncing up with our memories, holding us in place and propelling us forward. Marcel Proust would have called this involuntary memory, and in his case it was a small cookie that provoked powerful reminiscences about his childhood. Some of the pleasure involved in remembering is the fact of our forgetfulness. We are surprised by loveliness.
No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shiver ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disaster innocuous, its brevity illusory…. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal.
I had what you might all a "Madeleine moment". It inspired this roasted strawberry milkshake and its jubilant toppings.
Memory is a component I often consider in cooking. How can a dish re-create a moment or a feeling? What can I help conjure up for a dinner guest and friend? Comfort food is not just comforting because it might have a lot of butter in it, comfort food contains some of the strongest associations we have with the past, our families, and ourselves. Memory is sacred to me because it helps me to look more deeply at what is around me now. A strawberry ain't ever just a strawberry. These dishes and desires continue to feed us long past their material presence. Whereas Proust's cookie made him temporarily forget that he was mortal, my milkshake reminded me of just how human I am: touched by the smallest things, married to my senses, bound by memory.
This milkshake also comes with a song. Discovering the music of Molly Drake, mother to Nick Drake, has been a trip into a different time that feels familiar. Her music was never released in her lifetime, but it will astonish and transport you. Her song, "What Can a Song Do to You?", poses the question that I ask all the time with food. In her tune, a melody she heard on an "ordinary street" had the power to re-awaken memories and feelings from the past. But can it do even more than that?
what can a song do to you? can it waken a memory sleeping? can it call back a day when your heart fled away into somebody else's keeping?
what can a song do to you? can it bring back a spring in December? can it make with each each note such an ache in your throat that you find you can still remember?
what can a song do to you? can it kindle a flame that was dying?
The only thing I like better than a good answer is a bunch of good questions...in song form. What food or dish brings back memories for you? Make this milkshake and listen to a tune. Just think of it as practice for summer.
Rum Roasted Strawberry Milkshake & Graham Cracker Cookie Bark
(recipe makes 1 shake but multiplies in the presence of friends!)
1 cup fresh strawberries, tops taken off and cut in half
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
3 teaspoons of melted butter
3/4 cup old fashioned vanilla ice cream
1/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoons sugar
1 can coconut cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 oz rum (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare the strawberries. Melt 3 teaspoons of butter and add maple syrup. Toss strawberries in this mixture and then put in the oven to roast. Roast for 20 minutes or until you can see a thick juice forming on pan. Remove from oven and separate strawberries from juice and let cool. Save the juice to drizzle on the shake later, or to reduce into a thicker sauce. While strawberries are cooling you can make the graham topping (recipe below). After strawberries are cooled, add them to a blender with 1 tablespoon sugar, ice cream, 2 tablespoons of coconut cream, vanilla, milk, and rum. Blend on milkshake or smoothie setting until it looks thick and creamy. Top with whipped coconut cream, rainbow sprinkles and graham cracker bark. Sip with a fancy straw!
Graham Cracker Bark
1 cup graham cracker crumbs ( I used Annie's honey bunny grahams)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 stick butter melted
zest of 1 lime
In a plastic bag or between waxed paper, crush graham crackers or tiny bunny shaped cookies. In a small bowl add brown sugar to crumbs, melted butter, and lime zest. If the mixture does not seem wet enough, add a little more melted butter. Push mixture onto cookies sheet, shaping into a flattened square. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool. The bark will harden and then you can break it or cut it into any shapes that you may want.
Coconut Cream Whip
3/4 can coconut cream
pinch of sugar and vanilla extract
Coconut whipped cream is very easy, especially when you purchase the cream as opposed to the coconut milk. Take your handheld beaters and whip the cream just as if it was heavy cream. This only takes a few seconds. I chill my can of coconut cream beforehand, and I suggest that you do as well. Wondrous cold clouds of cream!
I am very excited about a new adventure I am about to embark upon. I have a feeling that it will produce some wonderful memories and some new dishes to share with you. Back soon. Sit in the sweet sunny spot my friends!