By Lydia Statz
Though the current heat wave brings to mind a very different F-word every time I open my door, for a long time my summers have revolved around three basic tenets: fruit, frozen treats, and family.
Admittedly, fruit wasn’t always a major part of my life. I was a picky kid and for the first twelve years of my life the only fruit in my diet came from grape jelly, popsicles and Curious George fruit snacks. Things immediately changed in high school when I started working at Poyer’s Farm Market. Suddenly my world was filled with succulent, mouth watering local fruits, or as local as you can get in Wisconsin. Nowadays, I’m a fruit snob as a direct result. Michigan blueberries and peaches can’t be beat, and you haven’t lived you’ve eaten a tiny homegrown strawberry, still warm from the sun. You don’t have to turn up your nose at supermarket produce like me, (don’t even get me started), but I think we can all agree fresh, ripe fruit is probably the best part of the season.
Don’t let my fruit diatribe trick you into thinking I’m a health snob though. If there’s one thing my parents taught me, it’s that a summer day isn’t complete without a heaping bowl of bedtime ice cream. In my life there are three certainties – death, taxes, and a gallon of ice cream in my parent’s freezer year round. And if you open the door and are proven wrong, it’s in the basement freezer. This has been true for generations, and while it might not be traditionally “healthy,” I think the only thing worse for your constitution is to deny yourself of all frozen goodness when the mercury is hovering in the 90s.
The only other sure thing summer brings, besides hay fever, is family. I come from a large family. Large as in, don’t-even-try-to-beat-me-because-I-win-every-time large. We don’t all gather in one place very often, but every summer of my short life has included at least one family reunion, either on my mom’s or dad’s side, often both. Sometimes on the same day. The setting can be variable – we’ve met at a yacht club, a city park, and an uncle’s farm complete with a jumping mule and hay rides, but no matter the attire you can be assured of lewd jokes, a lot of men who look exactly like my dad (on his side, obviously) and more food than could ever possibly be consumed.
This week I rolled all of these ideas into one and made a batch of Nonny’s Frozen Fruit Cocktail. Though I never had the chance to share it with my grandma, my mom has made it countless times since, and it’s always the perfect summer treat. Fresh fruit, juice and sugar mixed and frozen couldn’t be easier to make and the result is just what you need on a hot summer evening. Or morning, I don’t judge.
Nonny’s Frozen Fruit Cocktail
- 3 c. water
- 3 c. sugar
- 3-4 bananas, sliced
- ½ c. lemon juice
- 1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
- 1 – 16 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1 lb. strawberries, fresh or frozen
Combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Slice bananas and mix with lemon juice. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9X13 pan. Freeze at least six hours. Serves 20.
One last note from Nonny, handwritten in the margin: “Some people like to pour a little 7up or Squirt over it before serving, but I never cared for it.”