Am sure you all read the news where the Met Department has predicted an 'above normal' summer for the year with 'moderate to severe heat wave conditions'. I don't know about you but my mind just went blank as I read the news. Anyone who knows me will tell you of my zero tolerance of the Indian Summer. And I still haven't forgotten last year's Summer. It was brutal, long, unforgiving and there was no respite till June. And to make matters worse, Winter was such a mild one this year. February, that month of blooming flowers and pleasant weather was this year, uncomfortably warm. It is not an one-off event. Freaky weather is increasingly becoming frequent. Every year is turning out as the hottest year ever recorded.
This is just wrong. We need to start thinking more seriously about changing weather patterns. About how we've allowed the green cover of our cities to deplete as they made way for concrete roads and shiny malls or let our rivers dwindle to resemble sewer drains. Of how each one of us has contributed to this mess and needs to make amends personally, however small the effort may seem. We need to make the effort to adopt solar energy for our energy needs at home and take up the responsibility to personally grow more trees. To use less plastic especially those blasted, ugly plastic bags that mar our cities and countryside. To make intelligent food choices that reflect locally grown produce because I think, we all agree, climate change is happening right now and it isn't sparing any of us.
And for any loon out there, who thinks climate change is a hoax, I ask you to come and spend the next three months in India, without any access to any kind of air conditioning or cooling comfort. And once you are done, then we will talk!
While I despaired over the coming onslaught of Summer, I found a recipe for strawberry paletas in Yossy Arefi's 'Sweeter Off The Vine'. Paletas are ice pops made from fresh fruit and Yossy's are made with strawberries and campari. I, instead, took my inspiration from a strawberry mojito. So, in went mint, lime juice and rum to flavour these ice pops.
You can leave out the rum, if you wish, you will still enjoy them. And for those, who love their rum, don't go overboard or else these pops won't freeze. Be open to experimenting with any other fruit of your choice. And yes, I could have called them ice pops but how much more exotic does paletas sound. Makes you wanna put on a sombrero for the occasion.
The absolute juvenile pleasure of enjoying an ice pop is ever intact. You may not be able to escape Summer but for a few minutes, these have the power to help you ignore it. Summer, Be kind!
Strawberry Mojito Paletas
Makes one 3-4 ice bars, depending on the size of the moulds.
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1/2-1/3 cup sugar (depends on how sweet the strawberries are)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons rum (optional)
- 2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
- Heat the water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar in the hot water. Remove from the heat and add the chopped mint leaves. Let the mint leaves steep in the sugar syrup for at least half an hour.
- Hull the strawberries and slice them in half. Strain the sugar syrup of the mint leaves.
- Add the strawberries, mint sugar syrup and lemon juice to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Taste the mixture and adjust the level of sweetness if necessary by adding more sugar.
- Stir in the rum and then pour the mixture into the pop moulds and freeze until completely firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.