Hot weather is a favorite topic of conversation for Southerners. We know our summers are hot. They always are and always will be but that doesn’t stop us from talking about how hot is and complaining about it. We do a lot of complaining about the heat. We can’t help ourselves. We listened to our parents, grandparents and great grandparents complain about the heat. Who are we to break the tradition? So, we complain and complain and complain. We not only complain about how hot it is, we worry about everyone else getting too hot. We encourage people to stay cool. We tell them, “Sit down right here and cool off. Lawd, it’s hot weather. Can I get you something cool to drink?”
Granted, it’s easier for us to stay cool now than it was back in the day. I remember the days prior to air conditioning. All my school days were spent in the Deep South and I never experienced an air-conditioned classroom until college. I know hot. But, we survived, nonetheless. And we complained. We still complain.
Cold drinks are a necessity. We can’t get enough of them. I drink gallons and gallons of water. I consume much more water than any other beverage. After I have coffee in the morning, I drink water for the rest of the day. As much as I love water, it’s nice to have a special beverage occasionally. Southern Sweet Tea and Fresh Squeezed Lemonade are favorite standbys that I make often and drink from time to time. Here lately, I’ve had a particular taste for lime. I like the contrast to lemon and it provides a different flavor profile. However, I don’t care for straight up limeade too much. So, I came up with a limeade concoction using another of my favorite fruits: strawberry.
Strawberry season is over for us so I used frozen strawberries instead of fresh. An out of season strawberry is about as tasty as styrofoam. Frozen is better. Next strawberry season, I’ll use tasty strawberries from Plant City, FL.
I used a simple syrup for sweetening. If you don’t want to use sugar, try a natural sweetener such as honey or agave nectar and adjust the amounts accordingly. The amount of simple syrup depends on the sweetness of the strawberries. You might not need the full amount.
I made a double batch because I wanted to freeze some of the purée to have later. Pouring it into ice-cube trays would be logical. However, I don’t own any ice-cubes trays. I used my mini-muffin tins instead. Spraying with non-stick spray before filling made them easy to pop out with the tip of a sharp knife.
I’ll use two for each glass and let them sit in the glass for a few minutes until they start to get slushy before adding the wine. If you can’t wait for the ice cubes to get slushy, just put them in plastic bags and beat them with a rolling-pin. You can use another object other than a rolling-pin to do the beating. That was just a suggestion.
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Strawberry Limeade Sparkling Cooler
The amount of simple syrup needed will depend on the sweetness of the berries. You might not need the whole amount. The proportions below make a double batch. Use some now and make the rest into ice cubes for later use.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 pounds (6 cups whole strawberries without added sugar)
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup loosely pack mint leaves
1 (750 ml) bottle sparkling wine or 1 liter ginger ale or lemon-lime soft drink, chilled
Add water and sugar to a small saucepan to make a simple syrup . Heat until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool. Once cooled, add simple syrup and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor. Blend until smooth.
Place 1/2 cup strawberry purée into a glass. Slowly pour in 1/2 to 1 cup (depending on size of glass) of sparkling wine or ginger ale or lemon-lime soft drink. Stir well before serving.
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