There are more seasons than four. Summer is a procession of seasons. The Dandelion Season, the Firefly Season, the Stone Fruit Season. They’re signifiers, signaled by the Appalachian muezzin of the spring peeper’s call. They get us through the long stretches of daylight. The sun doesn’t set until 9:04 tomorrow.
I spent the better part of last week drunk, asleep on a couch and laughing with my family. We spent the week in North Carolina, in a house that used to be owned by my brother that is now a second home to my parents. I ate strawberries with my fingers and fed my dog the egg yolks my mother wouldn’t eat. I got a sunburn that turned my shoulders copper. I didn’t cry when I said goodbye to anyone in particular, but I cried a hell of a lot when I found out my sister was having a girl.
It was 2 hours to the beach each way and the ice melted in the cooler by the time we got there. My grandfather in his jeans, smoking a pipe on the beach. Anachronistic, misplaced, his very presence sitting in the lawn chair representative of every conversation we have together. My mother and aunt tanning on a quilt made by a great aunt, falling asleep with canned margaritas in their hands. We stayed until the gulls came too close. My uncle complained that the seashells were nicer in Florida. My mother complained the taffy was cheaper last year, but she bought four boxes anyway.
This is summer to me. The laughter, the sweat, the incandescent horseflies that reflect the pool tarp. Lazy, awkward, uncomfortable. Each moment was one I used to treasure when I was still in school; and if I didn’t have these small signifiers, they’d all bleed together into one long season.
And between Canned Margarita Season and Fireworks Season, there is Billy from Wit and Vinegar's Popsicle Week. Last year, I made Caramel Corn popsicles, and this year I opted for mango and chili. A chorus, a solstice, the melting of velvet on the tongue. Make these to combat the summer heat; make these to celebrate it.
Mango Chili Popsicles
Makes 4 popsicles (as that is what my mold yields), but the recipe can easily be multiplied.
- 1 cup coconut cream solids (I had to use 2 cans of full-fat coconut milk for this)
- 1 mango
- 1 TB olive oil
- ¼ cup honey, separated
- 2 TB brown sugar
- ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 TB orange juice
- ½ TB vanilla
- ½ TS paprika
- 1 TB chili powder, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 TB white sugar, for sprinklin
- Prior to beginning, refrigerate your cans of coconut milk for 8+ hours until solids separate
- When ready, making sure not to shake the cans, gently spoon out the coconut cream and put into a bowl
- Turn your broiler on high and prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil
- Slice your mango in half and coat with olive oil, one tablespoon of honey, and the brown sugar
- Broil for 5-7 minutes until top is browned
- Remove and allow to cool briefly before spooning fruit into the bowl of a food processor
- Pulse 10 times or until smooth
- Add confectioner’s sugar, orange juice, vanilla, paprika, and chili powder
- Pulse once or twice to combine
- Finally, add your coconut cream and blend for one minute to aerate the mixture slightly
- To make this extra smooth, put mixture through a sieve into a measuring cup (for easy pouring)
- Pour into your molds (this makes four)
- Mixture is thick enough to add popsicle stick before setting into freezer for 6+ hours
- When ready to eat, dip mold in hot water for 5-10 seconds and it should slide out
- Sprinkle with more chili powder and some sugar and enjoy immediately –this is a soft popsicle and will melt fairly suddenly
Make sure to check out all of the other exciting popsicles this week!