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August 11th,
written by Mariel

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a bit of a predicament. My dad informed me, with 5 days notice (only 1 of which was during the weekend), that he had signed me up to provide treats during the coffee hour following the main service at my parents’ church. The problem was not necessarily the short notice – I’ve already proved I can handle a church-treats function with a minimum of planning ahead. The problem was my mother’s decree, put in place this summer as soon as the weather turned warm: that I would not be allowed to use her oven unless it’s below 68 degrees outside.

“Why not use your own oven?” you might ask. I’d consider telling you to shut your face. Then I would think better of it, and explain why your question is cruel and well met with a curt response.

Unfortunately, I am no longer a member of grown-up society. I traded in my apartment and all my precious junk (now residing in storage) for a twin bed I slept in when I was a grade-schooler and a tiny room off the side of my parents’ dining room, in order to go to culinary school and turn my obsession with cooking and eating into a career.

While I have been blundering my way through cooking for the family with no oven for a few months now, the church treats were a crystallizing experience. What I learned that weekend is best revealed in the following list of Dos and Don’ts. I find this list is useful both for summer cooking and cooking for groups (who am I kidding these are life lessons right here):

  • DO make sure there is enough room in the fridge or freezer before you walk up to them with an ungainly container of food expecting to be able to cram it in there. Especially if the appliance in question is not yours (not-at-all-pathetically roomy), but your mom’s (stuffed with what must be supplies for a possible nuclear holocaust).
  • DON’T, when facing a time crunch, use that leftover homemade ice cream your family won’t eat or allow you to throw away. Maybe the people you’re feeding won’t know it’s past its prime, but you will, and you will be ashamed.
  • DO make sure you fit your ice cream scoop to the cones you’re trying to serve. Tiny cones + regular-sized ice cream scoop = spills, long waits, & the sneaking suspicion in the minds of your customers that you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • DON’T assume that because it’s written that way in a recipe, you can avoid some of the unbendable cooking rules because the all-knowing “test kitchen” did. For example, if you’re covering cookies with chocolate, make sure you temper it beforehand (or, in my case, learn how to temper chocolate, then employ said knowledge)! Otherwise, the cookies may taste fine, but will be covered with an embarrassing white bloom.
  • DO plan ahead a little with fruit juice popsicles. If they’re supposed to have 2 layers of different juice, you’ll have to wait for the first layer to freeze before you move on to the second. Popsicles are also quite informed by the first “DO” in this list. Finally, if your 2 layers are supposed to be different colors, perhaps employ a little food coloring. Especially if you would prefer neither of the layers be pee-colored.
  • DON’T hang around long enough afterward for anyone in charge of keeping the church atrium clean to notice you’re the cause of the ice cream drips everywhere.

I hope these lessons are as helpful to others as they have been for me. They’ll be on my mind as I prepare a hopefully less stressful no-bake feast for churchgoers again this week! And if you’re eager to improve on my beautiful yellow popsicles, here’s the recipe:

[DDET Passion Fruit-Guava Popsicles]

Passion Fruit-Guava Popsicles

I got this recipe from the July issue of Bon Appetit and warped it into what you see below. The beautiful picture accompanying it is from the magazine, but I’m sure it’s possible to create pretty popsicles without the help of a food stylist, even if I wasn’t able to the first time around! Be warned: I was not able to find popsicle sticks in any of the grocery stores I tried. I had to go to a craft store. And even then, I just barely was able to get away with only 50, instead of the 1000 they wanted me to buy.

Makes 8

6 T sugar, divided

2 T fresh lime juice, divided

11.5 oz passion fruit juice or nectar

11.5 oz guava nectar

8 3-oz disposable plastic cups

8 popsicle sticks

Stir passion fruit juice or nectar, 3 T sugar, and 1 T lime juice in a 2-C measuring cup (or bowl, if you’re good at pouring) until sugar dissolves. Divide mixture among the 8 plastic cups. Cover the cups with squares of tinfoil and put a popsicle stick through each tinfoil cover all the way into the cups. Put the cups in a muffin pan or on a tray, and freeze in the freezer until the juice is frozen, about 3 hours.

Meanwhile, stir guava nectar, remaining 3 T sugar, and remaining 1 T lime juice in another measuring cup or bowl and chill in the refrigerator until the passion fruit juice is frozen.

Carefully remove the tinfoil covers from your (now-frozen) popsicle cups. Divide the chilled guava mixture evenly among the cups, then put the tinfoil tops back on. Freeze the popsicles until completely frozen, about 4 hours.

To serve, run a little warm water around the outside of the plastic cups (if the popsicles won’t come off on their own) and remove the cups.


According to Bon Appetit, these keep for about 4 days. I served mine on the first day, so I don’t have any information about that. As far as color goes, mine ended up light yellow, with no real distinction between the layers. I wonder if adding a few drops of food coloring in either of the juice mixtures would improve the color? If you’re not sure where to get juice nectars, I find them in cans like pop cans in the Hispanic aisle or sometimes the juice aisle at the grocery store.


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