holiday popsicles!

Sure, it’s 20 degrees outside, but who wouldn’t want to curl up with a nice frosty cold popsicle?

Last week we went to Canada, to visit some family in Vancouver. Vancouver’s winters are pretty mild, but you still have to bundle up to go outside, and I think everyone was a little taken aback when my aunt said that she would bring over some holiday popsicles.

Turns out the holiday popsicles were from Nice Pops, a small business in Vancouver that sells popsicles out of a bicycle trailer in the summer, and makes popsicles to order in the winter. The flavors we tried were:

eggnog and rum caramel
poached pear and mulled wine
spiced cranberry-apple cider

They were really good. It was a little weird to have popsicles in the middle of winter, but the flavors definitely made them feel like part of the holiday, and the popsicles themselves were spectacular. The eggnog popsicle was my favorite, with a creamy rich texture and tasty rum caramel flavor. I also liked the tartness of the cider popsicle, and the pear/wine popsicle tasted wonderfully complex and sophisticated. I was impressed by the Nice Pops owners; it takes some guts to decide to sell popsicles in the deep of winter.

Sadly, Nice Pops is a very local joint, only delivering around Vancouver. When we got back home, I started wondering if there were any artisan popsicle joints around, or if I’d have to get into popsicle making myself this summer. A quick search popped up this post from CityEats DC, featuring Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market and Cafe. Apparently they sell “seasonally accented popsicles” along with other locally sourced foodstuffs. I’ll have to check them out next time I visit DC. Hopefully the trend will reach Howard County by summer.

spinach garlic soup / world’s worst food blogger

I’ll get to the spinach garlic soup in a minute.

See, my friend was talking about his blog, and how he never updated it because it felt too much like work (he researches things and then writes about them for a living), and therefore he felt he had underperformed as a blogger.

“It’s okay,” I said by way of consolation, “I’m a horrible food blogger myself.”

“I’m sure you’re not,” he said, rather automatically.

“I am! I haven’t updated my food blog for months, and it’s been silent between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What kind of food blog is silent between the two biggest food holidays of the year?”

He thought about it. “Yep,” he said, “you are the world’s worst food blogger.”

So there you go. Welcome from the world’s worst food blogger. I have a ton of catching up to do; I think I trailed off before the closing weeks of the CSA, so I’ll need to dig those pictures up from somewhere. Also, I went crazy at the last farmer’s markets of the year (great deals!), and hopefully the bushels (!) of apples in my basement are still doing okay. And my last post is of the kid’s food purees, which seems like forever ago; now, the kid is working on his first tooth, and will enthusiastically gum up rice crackers, Cheerios, and anything he can grab off my plate. Things change fast when babies are concerned.

Anyway, if your holiday season was anything like mine, it was full of overindulgence. Our many dinners with extended family starred delicious pulled pork, brisket laced with chipotle, lamb roasted on the bone, and Peking duck. The dessert plates were even more deadly, with all manner of cookies, candies, and cakes, as well as fireplace s’mores. The waistlines of my pants still fit, but – let’s be honest – rather more tightly than before. So when the New York Times posted up a recipe for Garlic Soup with Spinach, I was excited. A soup with garlic and spinach sounded like a wonderful antidote to all the fat and sugar that I’ve been consuming.

However, after reading it through, the recipe didn’t sound all that good to me. Just two to three cloves of garlic, for four servings? That was hardly enough garlic to justify the name. And what was with the elbow macaroni and the eggs?

So I made my own, with much more garlic, sauteed a little for extra flavor, and a big bag of frozen chopped spinach. The tang from the garlic permeates the soup, the spinach makes you feel healthy, and the turkey stock still made it feel like it belonged in the holiday season.

Spinach Garlic Soup

A generous amount of garlic, minced (I used six or seven fat cloves. I love garlic.)
A pat of butter and a glug of olive oil
About 4 cups of turkey stock (really, any stock would do)
A 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach
A handful (about 1/4 cup) of shredded Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan on medium-high heat, melt the butter into the olive oil. Throw in the minced garlic and let it sizzle for a minute or two, stirring every now and then, until the garlic is cooked but not brown, and the entire kitchen smells sharp and fragrant. Then pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add the spinach to the boiling stock and cover; let it cook for about five minutes, or until the spinach is cooked through. Then take off the heat and stir in the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little sprinkle of extra cheese on top.

We had ours for breakfast, with potato pancakes. (The potato pancake mix was part of a Christmas present from family in Wisconsin — I love food-centric gifts).

spinach garlic soup with potato pancakes

The kid liked the soup so much that I made it again, throwing in some Israeli couscous and letting it cook up before adding the spinach. This soup is so easy to make that I think I’ll be making it regularly throughout the winter. Maybe even with elbow macaroni. I’m still not sold on the eggs though.